Asus Transformer Book T100HA review: Small and imperfectly formed
Asus Transformer Book T100HA: Tablet and Laptop modes
As ever, the big question with these 2-in-1 devices is whether they actually function well as both tablet and laptop. Sadly, in this instance, the answer is no. Despite years and years (and years) of experience designing 2-in-1’s, Asus seems to have forgot some of the bare essentials with the T100HA.
Let’s start with the good stuff. As a tablet, the T100HA works just fine. It did very occasionally decide to ignore my fingers prodding the touchscreen, but it was generally responsive enough to not become annoying. The modest CPU and 2GB of RAM do get bogged down with memory-hungry applications such as *cough* Google Chrome, and there’s a bit of lag and judder while navigating around the OS, but it’s fine for prodding your way around the web, watching movies and the like.
For those moments when the onscreen keyboard just won’t suffice, you can reach for the keyboard. This clips home with a couple of magnetic metal prongs and a docking connector, and it does a darn good job of keeping the two tied together. I employed the Shake It Vigorously Until Something Falls Off test, and wasn’t until i shook it silly that one of the magnets finally let go and it tumbled to the ground. Bear in mind, though, that the docking connector only carries data to and from the USB 2 port on the keyboard – the tablet and keyboard actually communicate via Bluetooth, so engaging Flight mode disables the keyboard, which is a mite annoying.
Where it all falls apart, however, is when you actually try to type things – words and such. I’ve never had too much trouble getting used to the tiny keys on Asus’ 10in Transformer Book keyboards, but this is an exception. Not only are the keys small, but they’re also slippery, rattly, and typing feels akin to drumming your fingers on a shoebox. Is it better than using the onscreen keyboard? Yes. Well, marginally so. Unless my memory fails me, the keyboard on the original T100 was nowhere near this bad.
The other thing to note about the keyboard is that it’s made from plastic. Light, insubstantial plastic. The tablet, however, is much heavier – you can probably see where I’m going with this. Put it on a lap, and the T100HA constantly threatens to topple backwards if your thighs aren’t perfectly, spirit-level flat. This isn’t a problem on a desk, but then that presents other problems: as the screen doesn’t tilt very far back it’s pretty much impossible to get the display at the right angle.
The touchpad is the coup de grace. I’d forgotten how mind-bogglingly annoying a bad touchpad can be, and the T100HA’s is all that and much, much less. You can lightly tap, or depress the pad with a plasticky click, but it’s difficult to know when either has actually registered. Click just slightly too far to the right of centre, and you sit there wondering if the intended left-click has registered, or if the Atom CPU is just having a think. Tap again. Wait. Give up. Prod touchscreen. Repeat as necessary. Nil points, Asus.
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