Asus Transformer Book T300 is both Windows 8 laptop and tablet
BERLIN -- What's better than a Windows 8 tablet? Pipe down, whoever said "any other tablet." The correct answer is a Windows 8 tablet that's also a Windows 8 laptop -- like the Asus Transformer Book T300.
Revealed at top technology show IFA 2013 in Berlin, the T300 is the latest hybrid tablet, which unclips the screen from the laptop to become a tablet, giving you the versatility of a full keyboard and the portability of a slate.
But if you want the best of both worlds, you'd better be feeling strong. Both keyboard and detachable screen are pretty slim, but have some serious heft.
At first glance the T300 is an ultraportable laptop, but press a concealed button and ta-dah! It's a 13.3-inch Windows 8 tablet, too.
The Transformer Book T300 boasts a 13.3-inch 1080p high-definition screen with 10-point touch multitouch. It has a fourth-generation Intel Core processor inside. The processor options are a Core i3-4010U, i5-4200U, or i7-4500 chip, backed up by Intel HD 4000 graphics and up to a whopping 8GB DDR3 RAM.
All this is housed in a sleek case just 11.5mm thin, which still finds room for a USB 3.0 and Micro-HDMI ports -- and that's just the screen-y tablet-y bit. The keyboard dock is even slimmer at 11mm, with a magnetic dock connector that snaps to the tablet to turn into a screen for the laptop. Don't be fooled by the svelte profile, though: it's a heavy proposition.
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As well as the touch screen, the keyboard bit includes a full-size keyboard with backlit keys and multitouch touch pad.
The tablet contains a 720p camera on the front for high-definition video chat, with a 1080p camera on the back.
Windows 8 is the latest version of Microsoft's venerable software, but it looks nothing like previous versions. It's based around colourful squares on your home screen that give you shortcuts to your apps.
Windows 8 is designed with touch screens in mind, so it's not proved popular with people using it on computers. Luckily, on the T300 you have a touch screen, so you can tap the screen rather than using the touch pad. Windows 8 may divide opinion, but if like me you hate laptop touch pad it's a welcome addition.
The T300, shown off at Asus' Intel Developers Forum event in San Francisco, feels solidly built, however, it's awkwardly large and heavy as a standalone tablet. Flying solo, the tablet is noticeably hefty -- I can't imagine holding it for more than 10-15 minutes without getting tired, let alone watching an entire movie on it.
The duality and portability offered through a tablet-laptop hybrid is nice, but for comfort purposes, the dock -- which looks similar to every other Asus keyboard -- seems integral for elongated periods of use.
The tablet has a single speaker on the top-right side that goes a wee bit louder than most tablets, but, unfortunately, sounds like most tablets at its loudest volume: tinny. The rear- and front-facing cameras also performed typically for a tablet, which is grainy with underwhelming color saturation.
There are various vents on the top edge of the tablet, which make me curious about how hot it gets after some heavy-duty use, something we were unable to do with the showroom model.
Performance-wise, the tablet was zippy and smooth. Browsing and loading videos was fast and there were no performance hang-ups, aside from the many Windows 8 updates it required before I got a chance to play around with it.
Check back to CNET for a full review of the Asus Transformer Book TF300 when it becomes available.
Editors' note: This story was first published on September 4, 2013, and was updated with additional information.