If the price of the Surface Pro and other similarly equipped tablets has been preventing you from buying a Windows 8 tablet then the recent update to the Intel Atom processor may be your cue to make your move.
A slew of affordable tablets and hybrids equipped with the Bay Trail processor, running a full version of Windows 8, began to be released in late 2013 — the ASUS Transformer, The Dell Venue 8 Pro and the Toshiba Encore among the pack. The new processor allows these tablets to run most Windows apps smoothly, a task that its predecessor, the Clover Trail processor, couldn't handle.
After educating myself a bit on these new devices I bought the ASUS Transformer Book for $399, which included shipping. I chose this tablet/netbook over competitors due to the keyboard dock, the larger screen and the full-size USB port.
The ASUS Transformer has an attractive price point and loads of other features, including Microsoft Office 2013 Home & Student Edition, Bluetooth, Micro HDMI and a MicroUSB. The only thing missing was 3G/4G connectivity, but even the Surface Pro 2 at almost triple the price doesn't offer that. Using my phone I am able to tether any Wi-Fi device at the push of a button so it wasn't the biggest concern.
Specifications for the ASUS Transformer Model Reviewed
OS: Windows 8.1
Processor: Intel Atom Quad-Core Bay Trail 1.33 GHz Processor
Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics
Audio: 2 Speakers and a SonicMaster Array Microphone
Display: 10.1-inches 16:9 IPS HD (1366x768) with Multi-Touch Screen
Storage: 64GB eMMC
Ports: USB 3.0 (This is a part of the keyboard dock), microHDMI, microSD card reader, microUSB
Connectivity: Integrated 802.11 a/b/g/n
Built-in Bluetooth" V4.0
Battery: 2Cells 31 Whrs Polymer Battery
Dimensions: Tablet — 263 x 171 x 10.5 mm (WxDxH)
Dock 263 x 171 x 13.1 mm (WxDxH)
Weight: Tablet and Dock — 2.4 pounds
Tablet only — 1.2 pounds
Out of the box the Transformer booted up in just over 10 seconds. At first glance, the glossy outer shell seems cheap when compared to the likes of the iPad. The outer cover and the screen are also fingerprint-collectors. However, on the plus side, apps open with pep and the touchscreen is responsive.
The hinge where the tablet/notebook separates seems sturdy and the unit locks together with an audible click and a notification sound from the Windows OS. The hinge sticks out a bit in the back and while it's not what you normally see it, it isn't a problem.
ASUS' history in the netbook category becomes apparent when you look at the keyboard dock. The Transformer has a full QWERTY keyboard that seems solid, although the keys are on the smaller size. After some getting used to it, it is serviceable for banging out quick emails or IMs.
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