Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi – First Impressions
Asus announced a trio of new Windows hybrid laptop/tablets earlier today and we’ve got hands on with the lot, starting with the flagship of the bunch the Asus Transformer Book T00 Chi.
Billed by Asus as something of a MacBook Air killer, the T300 is a 12.5in tablet with an accompanying detachable keyboard section that allows it to function as a laptop too. Thinner, lighter, faster and with a higher resolution screen, Asus certainly has lots of specs to back up its claim but does it hold up in person? Yes and no.
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi – Design
It is a nicely made machine but immediately it’s obvious it’s not quite up to the standard of a MacBook Air. The chassis is made of metal, giving it that premium finish you’d hope for but the overall impression doesn’t quite hold up.
Part of the problem does seem to be that these sort of hybrid devices are a chunkier and clunkier than normal ultrabook laptops. They can’t taper to quite the same thinness at the front edge and the thick edges of the tablet look odd and top heavy.
However, there are also a couple of specific slipups, like the rather perfunctory looking power switch on the keyboard and the choice to have nearly all the connectivity on the tablet rather than the keyboard.
It’s certainly not ugly but if style is one of your primary concerns when looking for your next laptop or hybrid then the T300 may not be your first port of call. One of Asus’ ZenBooks would instead make a perfect alternative to a MacBook Air.
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi – Features
Talking of connectivity, this is another are where the T300 is left a little wanting. There are no full size USB sockets or SD card slots so adding peripherals and getting photos off your camera is not as convenient.
What you do get is a microUSB 3.0 port, micoHDMI port and headphone jack in the right edge and a microUSB 2.0 port on the left edge of the keyboard.
Elsewhere round the edges, the power button is on the front edge, while a Windows button and volume rocker are on the left edge.
Asus was proud of the fact is had managed to fit in stereo speakers in such a slim device and these are ported though nice micro-drilled holes on the left and right edges of the tablet. It was too noisy to test these in any meaningful way on the CES 2015 show floor.
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi – In Use
The hinge/docking mechanism is an improvement over earlier Transformer devices with magnets now used to hold the two pieces together. There are still retaining pins, and corresponding holes in the tablet, but there’s no need to unlock the tablet – just pull it out – and there’s no unsightly section that overlaps the top surface of the lid/tablet. The magnets are also strong enough that the keyboard won’t fall off if you pick up the device without supporting it.
Also impressive is the screen, which is indeed a noticeable upgrade from the likes of the MacBook Air. It’s crisp and sharp with punchy colours and great viewing angles. The glass finish does make it fairly reflective but that’s a problem inherent to any such touchscreen device.
Looking at the keyboard dock, the keyboard itself is very good with a spacious layout and a good quality key action that made a quick typing test a breeze.
The touchpad wasn’t quite so effortless, with it being a little small and feeling a bit too sensitive but the latter point is likely something that can be corrected by tweaking settings in the driver.
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi – Early Verdict
All told, there is a lot to like about the Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi. It’s well made, reasonably stylish and functionally seems spot on too. However, the styling doesn’t quite rival the all important MacBook Air and the lack of fullsize USB ports is almost unforgiveable. As such, with its price set to near enough match that of the MacBook Air, it may struggle to convince those that still want a premium laptop first and a tablet second.