ASUS, the pioneer of transformable laptops, has an updated Transformer Book T100 model codenamed T100HA. The design and outlook does not differ much from the earlier T100 series, but with enhancements in line with current computing technology.
Same Form Factor
The T100HA is still a 10.1-incher for the portability that consumers desire. With a combined weight of 1.05kg, the back of the tablet is made of aluminum, while the keyboard is built of plastic. The screen resolution of 1280×800 is sufficient for the size. Personally, I would prefer a larger laptop for better viewing experience, and a larger keyboard for better typing experience. ASUS has to remove some of the keys that I get too used to, like Page Up/Down, Home and End buttons. My palm is also prone to touching the touchpad, which I can easily disable with Fn-F9. Thanks to the generous bezel space, I can hold the tablet comfortably without touching the display.
The glass display can get really reflective under bright sunlight, unfortunately, so it might be a good idea to apply a matte screen protector.
Similar to the T300 Chi I reviewed earlier, the T100HA tablet is attached to the keyboard using strong magnets. This makes the T100HA thinner at the hinge and easier to detach. However, unlike the Transformer Chi, the T100HA is unable to rotate and dock the keyboard for alternate viewing mode. And to prevent the T100HA from tipping over, the angle of flipping open the keyboard dock is limited.
As part of the Windows 10 feature, it detects when the keyboard is detached and automatically suggests to change to tablet display mode.
On the tablet, you get the new USB 3.1 port, a micro USB port which doubles as a charging port, microSD slot, micro HDMI port, audio jack. On the keyboard, there is a full-sized USB port, which I appreciate (the Transformer Book Chi does not have it). The keyboard is powered by the connector port to the tablet so it does not require charging.
Improved Battery Life
The ASUS T100HA claims to last up to 12 hours. Like all other reviews, I do not do any drain test, but I feel realistically I can get about 8 hours before the battery low indicator starts going. It seems that if you use continuously, the battery will last as specified. But if you use the laptop over a few days, shutting down or putting on sleep mode, the cumulated hours will be quite low, maybe 5 hours, before reaching low battery warning. As always, the battery life depends on what you do with the laptop.
The amazing thing is that even when battery level hits 6%, the T100HA automatically goes into extreme power saving by limiting the quad-core processor to 0.5GHz. I was amazed that the “4% battery” indicator remained for 2 full hours during which I used Facebook and YouTube on Chrome, and even played a local video file, albeit with retarded responses. What this means is that during extreme situations, say when you forgot to charge the T100HA, you could still get on with the business. But really, it’s not an excuse since the T100HA can be charged using any portable power bank!
Like most electronic devices, there is no need to drain the battery before charging. Regular charging is highly recommended, which keeps your battery in good shape and does not require you to take too long to charge up the battery. Using the provided charger, the T100HA gets full-charge in about 3 hours. The laptop can also be charged using normal USB charger or power bank but it would take much longer.
To save battery life, I recommend to uncheck the option to stay connected to Wi-Fi while asleep (under Power options), as it will drain the battery. With Windows 10 running on SSD, shutting down and starting up is quite fast, so you might just want to shutdown unless you expect to use the laptop again in a while.
One interesting feature: to check battery life when the T100HA is shut down, press the power button briefly and moments later the screen will display the approximate battery level.
The T100HA holds well for daily productivity work and media consumption at normal processor level. I certainly would not expect the T100HA to serve me for demanding tasks that require the processor to work hard to deliver results, like media editing, high-frame-rate gaming. For daily stuffs like browsing the web, reading articles, watching videos, playing less-intensive games, are no problems for the T100HA.
The dual speakers are placed at the lower sides of the tablet, facing away from the user. They produces bright sounds with no warmth, which comes not as a surprise. I had to cup them with my hands so that the sounds get directed towards me.
The front and rear camera give no surprises: the quality are at best used for web chats or emergency, definitely not for archival purposes.
Verdict: A Better T100 Model
ASUS has kept the Transformer T100 series as their entry-level laptop that is very versatile, portable, and most importantly, affordable. I love the ease of detaching the tablet from the keyboard for portrait use or occasional gaming. I love the super battery saving mode that lasts me hours when the battery level goes dangerously low. I do not like the keyboard size and the lack of some of the dedicated keys that I frequently use.
Like their Zenfone series, ASUS want to deliver value and style to the masses. If you are looking for a 10-inch computing device with over 10 hours battery life for your daily office productivity tasks and some light entertainment, the new Transformer Book T100HA might just fit the bill. Prices start from S$499 depending on configuration, available in red, blue, white and grey.
Processor: Intel® Atom™ ‘Cherry Trail’ x5 series Processor (Quad-core) x5-Z8500 @ 1.44GHz
Operating System: Windows 10 Home (64-bit)
Display: 10.1in WXGA (1280 x 800) IPS panel
Memory: 2GB RAM
Storage: 64GB eMMC
Networking: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
1 x Micro USB port
1 x Micro HDMI
1 x Micro SD card slot, supports SDXC
1 x USB Type-C (3.1) Gen 1 (up to 5Gbps)
1 x headphone/mic combo jack
Ports (Keyboard dock):
1 x USB 2.0
Cameras: 2MP front / 5MP back
Power (Output): 5V / 2A, 10W
Power (Input): 100~240V AC, 50/60Hz universal
Colours: Silk White, Tin Grey, Aqua Blue, Rouge Pink
Size (Tablet): 265 x 175 x 8.45mm
Weight (Tablet): 580g
Size (Keyboard Dock): 265 x 175 x 10mm
Weight (Keyboard dock): 470g
Warranty 1 Year Warranty (International)
Official product website: https://www.asus.com/sg/2-in-1-PCs/ASUS_Transformer_Book_T100HA/