Asus Transformer Book T100 Chi

Over a year ago, I tried the Asus Transformer Book T100. This 10-inch tablet turns into a laptop when you attach a companion keyboard dock.

The T100 has a glossy plastic chassis that is a magnet for smudges and fingerprints. It had a mediocre 1,366 x 768-pixel screen. Overall, it felt like a hybrid netbook, especially with an Intel Atom chip onboard.

Its sequel, Asus' Transformer Book T100 Chi, is a marked improvement, even if it still has a netbook vibe.

  • TECH SPECS

    Price: $599

    Processor: Intel Atom Z3775 (1.46GHz)

    Graphics: Intel HD Graphics

    RAM: 2GB

    Screen: 10.1 inches, 1,920 x 1,200 pixels

    Connectivity: 2 x micro-USB, micro-HDMI, microSD card reader, audio jack

    Battery: 30 watt-hour

  • RATING

    Features 4/5

    Design 3/5

    Performance 3/5

    Value for money 4/5

    Battery life 5/5

    Overall 4/5

First, the chunky plastic body has evolved into a sleek aluminium chassis with a silvery chamfered edge. It is now 7.2mm thick, down from 10.5mm, but weighs more (570g) than its predecessor (550g).

More importantly, the docking mechanism has been simplified. You simply pull the keyboard dock and the tablet apart. There are no buttons to press.

The magnets holding the two together are so strong that the dock is in no danger of falling off when I lift the Chi by its tablet half.

Key travel on the keyboard is surprisingly good. But it does not have a built-in battery or a backlight.

The keyboard connects to the Chi tablet via Bluetooth. When the keyboard is idling, it takes about a second before it registers my key strokes. This is annoying.

There is more. The keyboard dock charges via its micro-USB port. To charge the Chi tablet, you have to use the tablet's own micro-USB port. This is hardly convenient.

Another drawback: Ports are of the micro variety, meaning micro-HDMI and micro-USB. If you intend to use the Chi as a laptop, you will need adaptors. A microSD card is recommended because of the limited internal storage (64GB).

The Chi has a much better screen than its predecessor. Viewing angles are excellent. The 1,920 x 1,200-pixel screen resolution offers slightly more pixels (on the vertical axis) than typical Android and Windows tablets with 1,920 x 1,080-pixel displays.

It means you can read slightly more of a Web page or document. But the Surface Pro 3 (3:2 aspect ratio) and the Apple iPad (4:3) are even better for Web browsing or editing documents.

I also could not help but notice the Chi's thick and ugly bezel, which looks like a relic from an early Windows tablet.

An Intel Atom chip drives this tablet. It is good enough for basic computing tasks and, more importantly, lasted 7hr 35min.

The Microsoft Surface 3 is a better Windows tablet. But the Chi bundles the keyboard dock and costs just $599. A good option if you can get past its minor annoyances.

By Vincent Chang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2015, with the headline 'Asus Transformer Book T100 Chi'. Print Edition | Subscribe