A new budget champion.
According to PC market analyst IDC, the Windows 2-in-1 market is looking to experience a rather impressive 59.5% year on year growth in 2015, making it one of the most important segments to PC manufacturers. It’s no wonder then that we’re seeing a flurry of excellent new 2-in-1 products launching in the tail end of 2015, and last month we checked out the brilliant Toshiba Click 10. Aiming to undercut Toshiba’s $700 product is the new Asus Transformer T100HA, which shaves almost $200 off the selling price. At just over $500, this represents unprecedented value for a 2-in-1, and to our delight Asus hasn’t had to cut many corners in the process.
To our amazement, Asus has used a fully metallic case on the T100HA, which lends it a ruggedness and sturdiness that plastic products like the Click just can’t compete with. Yet it’s still extremely light, weight a mere 580 grams without the base, and a total of 1.04kg with the base in place. We’re guessing part of the reason for this is that the base doesn’t include an additional battery, yet battery life is still excellent as you’ll see in our benchmark results.
This is a 10.1-inch unit, as determined by the size of the screen, and Asus has gone for a 1280 x 800 IPS panel. This is a big downgrade compared to the 1920 x 1080 screen found in slightly more expensive models, but it looks fine in action, with individual pixels hard to spot. Despite the slightly disappointing resolution, we love the image quality delivered by the IPS panel, with brilliant brightness, crisp and accurate colours, and excellent contrast ratio. It really is a new benchmark for image quality at this price point; heck, it even outshines laptop screens that are twice the price.
Asus has included a single USB 3.1 Type-C connector, along with another Type A and one Micro USB. Sadly the last two are only USB 2.0, a real shame given that Type-A USB 3.0 devices are now commonplace. Still, at least the Type-C will stand owners in good stead for future devices. Another Micro HDMI output is included for patching into external displays, while a micro-SD card reader will be handy for boosting the anaemic onboard storage. The keyboard is a little disappointing though, exhibiting some rather serious flex, which is surprising given the metallic case, but it’ll do the job for occasional emails and documents. The touchpad is also a little lacklustre, but thankfully the touch-enabled screen makes this a moot point, as it’s accurate enough to do most of your basic navigation.
The inclusion of 802.11n is nice at this price, and there’s also Bluetooth 4.0 as expected. We should point out the tiny charger that’s included, weighing just 84 grams and connecting via Micro-USB. However, we did notice that when the battery was fully discharged, it would take upwards of 40 minutes of charging before the unit would power on, which could be an issue.
Powering it all is Intel’s Cherry Trail Quad-Core x5-Z8500 processor, which has a zippy top-speed of 2.24GHz. This is fed via a 4GB of LPDDR3 memory at 1600MHz, a very healthy amount for a Windows 10 device at this price point. If there’s one downfall though, it’s the tiny SSD, measuring just 64GB at this price point. Having said that, Toshiba’s Click also only comes with 64GB of storage, and that’s a much more expensive unit. You can pay extra for the 128GB version of the T100HA, but we couldn’t get pricing on this at the time of print.
Given the cheaper price of the T100HA versus the Click, its higher performance result in PCMark 8 Home’s benchmark was a great surprise, posting 1581 versus the Click’s 1277. This doesn’t make it a game-devouring performance-pig, but the T100HA has ample oomph to handle multitasking of normal daily duties like email, web browsing and virus scanning. PCMark also turned in an impressive battery life of 282 minutes.
Toshiba’s Click convertible blew us away last month, but this month the T100HA blows away the Click, being cheaper, faster and more rugged. The screen mightn’t be quite as crisp, nor the battery life quite as impressive, but that’s a small price to pay for such a huge drop in price.