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Asus Transformer Pad TF103C: This hybrid is better for fun than work

Michelle Mastin | Aug. 4, 2014
I enjoyed the Windows-based Transformer Book T100 I tested a few months ago, so I was excited to see how its Android-powered sibling would stack up. The engineers at Asus engineers have now proven themselves to be pros at designing 2-in-1 tablet/laptop hybrids running in both Windows and Android flavors. But the names they've chosen for these two devices are telling: The Windows device conjures the image of a notebook, while the Android device evokes the iPad.

I enjoyed the Windows-based Transformer Book T100 I tested a few months ago, so I was excited to see how its Android-powered sibling would stack up. The engineers at Asus engineers have now proven themselves to be pros at designing 2-in-1 tablet/laptop hybrids running in both Windows and Android flavors. But the names they've chosen for these two devices are telling: The Windows device conjures the image of a notebook, while the Android device evokes the iPad.

The Transformer Pad TF103C is an interesting mix of what Asus has learned from working both sides of the OS fence. It's based on an Intel Bay Trail-class processor — the quad-core Atom Z3745 — that's more commonly found in Windows machines (Android devices are more typically powered by ARM chips). The Android OS (Android 4.4, aka KitKat in this case) can live comfortably in 8GB of storage, and it runs well with just 1GB of RAM, which is what the TF103C has. Windows needs at least 4GB of memory and 32GB of storage — and even then you'll feel pinched when you go to install application software alongside it.

Using the lightweight OS enabled Asus to cut back on RAM and storage, dropping the device's street price to a wallet-friendly $299 — including the keyboard dock.

Using the Transformer Pad

This Transformer feels like so many earlier models in this product family. The tablet half is pleasantly curved, with a soft-touch backing that feels great in your hand. It's slimmer than earlier incarnations — measuring just 0.4 inches thick — and weighs in at only 1.2 pounds.

The main difference between the Android-based TF103C's 10.1-inch display and the same-sized display in the Windows-based TF100 is that the Android tablet's screen has resolution of 1280x800 pixels, where the T100's screen delivers resolution of 1366x768. I'm a fan of vertical pixels, especially in the context of productivity, so the TF103C has the advantage here. The screen also gets both very bright and very dim, making this bedtime reader happy.

Both machines come in at an identical 2.4 pounds with their keyboard docks. That's a good carrying weight for a 10-inch laptop, although the T100 has the option of a dock with a hard drive inside if you don't mind the extra bulk. 

Being an Android tablet, the TF103C doesn't have as many I/O ports as you'll find on a Windows laptop. There's micro USB for charging and a microSD card slot additional storage. You'll need to attach the keyboard to get a full-size USB 2.0 slot.

Media capabilities include a headset jack, stereo speakers, a rather low-res (0.3 megapixels) front-facing camera, and a 2MP camera on its back. The TF103C supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and Miracast (for wireless video streaming to displays that support that standard).

 

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