Asus Transformer Book T100HA review: Small and imperfectly formed
Asus delivers a cheap, affordable tablet with netbook talents, but the keyboard doesn’t do it any favours
Remember when netbooks were the darlings of the tech scene? Ah, those were the days. Asus became synonymous with the low-cost portables, and was arguably the first to ace the formula (Yes, I'm talking about the original Transformer Book T100), so it’s no surprise to see it keep the pint-sized dream alive with yet another addition to its Transformer Book range.
Partnering a 10.1in tablet with Windows 10 and a clip-on keyboard, the Transformer Book T100HA attempts to rekindle that 2-in-1 netbook magic – and all importantly for only £230.
Asus Transformer Book T100HA: Design and features
If you ever clapped eyes on Asus’s recent Transformer Book T100 Chi, then you know what to expect. The T100HA isn’t quite as dashingly chiselled and handsome – the magnetic clip-on keyboard is now plastic rather than metal – but while it's a touch on the chunky side, it looks and feels pretty smart for the money. Our review sample came in a bright, peppy aqua blue – and you can choose from white or pink if those take your fancy – but fans of more sober palettes can always opt for the dark grey version instead.
Build quality is something of a mixed bag. The tablet's metal back gives it a solid, sturdy feel, and while it isn’t the lightest tablet on the block – it weighs a middling 580g – it’s comfortable to hold thanks to the gently curved edges. The keyboard, on the other hand, feels decidedly plasticky and cheap. All told, the keyboard and tablet weigh a modest 1.04kg, which is more than light enough to carry around day-to-day.
Upfront, the 10.1in display is pleasingly bright and clear, and as it uses IPS technology, the wide viewing angles mean that it looks good whichever way around you’re holding it. The resolution isn’t high at 1,280 x 800 pixels, but for a budget Windows device, that makes sense: the lower resolution means that you don’t have to battle with awkwardly miniaturised menus and icons in applications.
Behind the scenes, one of Intel’s new-ish Atom x5 processors takes the helm, and it’s this which helps the T100HA power through the 64-bit installation of Windows 10. Excitingly enough, gaming performance has taken a leap forward with this generation, too – but I’ll get into more detail about that later in this review.
Asus Transformer Book T100HA: Display and connectivity
Thankfully, the T100HA’s display is a ray of sunshine by comparison. There isn’t the eye-pampering depth of colour that you get from the best tablets, but it’s a solid all-rounder. Brightness pumps up to a very respectable 350cd/m2, which is bright enough to be useful in most situations, and contrast is a rather impressive 1,034:1. All told, it makes watching movies and tapping around the internet a very pleasurable experience, and it’s by far the T100HA’s finest moment.
Asus has packed in a pretty decent assortment of connectivity. There’s a microSD slot for expanding on the tablet’s 64GB of eMMC storage, a micro-HDMI output, a micro-USB connector for charging the tablet with the supplied USB adapter and cable, and a headphone output, too. The presence of dual-band 802.11n and Bluetooth 4 is reassuring for the money, too.
That’s not all, though, as it gets far more exciting once you peer around the T100HA’s left-hand edge: Asus has only gone and squeezed in a USB-C 3.1 port. You can’t charge the tablet from it, which is a shame, but shell out for an adapter cable and it means you can get data on and off the tablet at USB 3 speeds – which is darn handy for offloading files and freeing up space on the 64GB drive.
There’s also a 5-megapixel camera on the rear of the tablet, with another 2-megapixel selfie-sensor on the front, but these are mediocre at best. Snap photos in good light and the resulting photographs are lacking detail and smeared with nasty noise-reduction smudges. Take photos in low light, and the results are plainly awful. I can see the front-facing camera coming in handy for Skype and general video chat, though.
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