The ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi is a 2 in 1 device, a Windows 8.1 tablet and at the same time a laptop, courtesy of a bundled keyboard. This model was announced in January 2015 and launched back in March in Europe. Priced at $400 on Amazon, the hybrid involves more premium than usual materials, even for ASUS.

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The design of the tablet involves a 7.2 mm thick waistline and the product weighs 570 grams. It’s quite heavy, being 133 grams “fatter” than the iPad Air 2. But then again, many devices are heavier than that model. The dock is 14.8 mm thick and the tablet and dock together weigh around 1.08 kg. This model is 25 mm longer than the iPad Air 2.

The slate has an aluminum design, diamond cut edges and it’s quite shiny. It has a solid feel, like the one of a laptop lid. Grip is good and the tablet has very big bezels. ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi has a premium build and it connects to the dock via neodymium magnets (powerful magnets made of a rare material). There are 2 latches here to make the attachment and the slate is easy to attach and detach.

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The device feels like a wholesome product, like a laptop and what I noticed first was the nice balance. Unlike some other hybrids, the lid isn’t heavy enough to pull down the entire machine and it doesn’t fall on the back. Upfront the tablet features a camera, while at the back there’s the main camera. At the top there’s the On/Off button, that’s pretty hard to find and doesn’t always respond to touch plus LED and at the bottom there are the latch holes for the keyboard.

On the left there are the volume buttons and Home button, with OK feedback. Here we also find one of the speakers, the audio jack and microUSB port. On the right side there’s the microSD card slot, microUSB 3.0 port and micro HDMI. On the same right side there’s also the other speaker. Overall, the ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi offers a solid and premium design, but I think the screen could have been bigger, considering the size of the slate, maybe even a 12 incher.

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The dock has rubber feet, a comfy trackpad and a 3 position button (On/Off/Bluetooth connect for pairing). There’s a microUSB side port and a solid plastic and metal frame. Now let’s have a look at the hardware. ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi packs a 10.1 inch Full HD display, with 16:10 aspect and Tru Vivid screen technology. It’s an IPS LED backlit unit and inside the slate there’s a quad core Intel Atom Z3775 1.46 GHz CPU of the Bay Trail T kind (clocked up to 2.39 GHz).

Intel HD Graphics are also here, plus 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, 32, 64 or 128 GB of storage, a microSD card slot and a main 5 MP back camera plus a front 2 MP shooter. The connectivity options include WiFi A/B/G/N, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB, microUSB 3.0 and micro HDMI. Microphone and speakers are on the hardware list, plus a 30 Whrs battery (theoretically a 6000 mAh unit). On paper this battery offers 10 hours of functioning time, but in our test that involves WiFi on and brightness at 50%, we achieved 10 hours of HD video playback in a loop.

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We are below the ASUS Transformer Book T100 TA, that scores 12 hours and 40 minutes. We are also below the Galaxy Tab A, with its 13 hours and 9 minutes. Still, the battery is good enough, especially since it lines up to what ASUS promised. Also, the video playback is not very relevant, since this tablet is not for movies, but more for productivity. You should get about one day of regular office work.

The charging takes 3 hours and 14 minutes, which is better than the ASUS T100 TA and its 5 hours and in the same area with the iPad Air 1 and 2, gravitating between 3 and 4 hours. We’ve also got Power Settings, in the desktop mode of Windows, those related to timeout and brightness. Overall the battery is OK and as far as the dock goes, the charging takes 2 hours and a half and you can use it for a day or two.

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On the acoustic side, there are dual speakers on this model with SonicMaster technology. The audio experience is crisp, clear, we’ve got good bass, good volume and this is a pretty loud device. There’s no equalizer here in Xbox Music, by the way. We achieved 83.2 dBA, as tested with our decibelmeter, not hugely far from the 87.6 dBA of the Galaxy Tab A or the 86.3 dBA of the iPad Air 2.

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It’s still loud and I like that the back doesn’t vibrate at max volume. The display of the slate is an IPS 1920 x 1200 pixel one, with 16:10 aspect and Tru Vivid technology. The panel has reduced reflections, 178 degree wide view angles and LED backlight. Bezels are big and while the screen has glare, it’s not huge. Pixels are of the RGB Stripe kind, colors look realistic and the display is crisp, bright and has good details. View angles are wide and brightness reaches 281 LUX, as tested by our luxmeter.

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We beat the predecessor, the T100 TA and its 187 LUX, but below the iPad Air 2 and its 354 LUX. Honestly speaking, the panel could be brighter, even compared with midrangers like the Galaxy Tab A and its 432 LUX. ASUS Splendid is available on the device, allowing you to tweak the slate to Normal, Eye Care or Vivid, which are optimal modes for e-reading and movie watching respectively. There’s also a manual color slider, allowing you to make the image cooler or warmer.

Overall, this is a good display for work and play, but it could be a smidge brighter. The camera combo is 5 MP/2 MP and options include timer and exposure, as well as panorama. You can take a picture and then choose the one you want to keep. There’s no pinch to zoom here, but the quality is reasonable for a tablet. Now let’s see the performance. We achieved 36.8 degrees Celsius after 15 minutes of playing the game Riptide GP2, so there’s no overheating.

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The web browser (IE) is fast and comfy to use, while the virtual keyboard is big and well spaced. Emojis are also included here. Now let’s talk benchmarks! We compared the T100 Chi to the T100 TA, the iPad Air 1 and iPad Air 2.Here are the results:

3DMark:

ASUS T100 Chi: 16698
ASUS T100 TA: 10583
iPad Air 1: 14740
iPad Air 2: 21763

GFXBench:

ASUS T100 Chi: 23.76 FPS
ASUS T100 TA: 14 FPS
iPad Air 1: 19 FPS
iPad Air 2: 58.6 FPS

PCBench:

T100 Chi: Disk: 71/160 (Read/Write)
CPU: 44.38/159.74 (Single/multi thread)
RAM: 638.02 MB/s
GPU: 702.54

T100 TA: Disk: 43/142
CPU: 34/132
RAM: 700 MB/s
GPU: 633

Relative Bench:

T100 Chi: 1892
T100 TA: 2101

SpeedTest:

Big delay: 63 ms

T100 Chi: 21/18.51 Mbps
T100 TA: 16/X Mbps

BrowserMark:

ASUS T100 Chi: 1143
ASUS T100 TA: 2737
iPad Air 1: 3594
iPad Air 2: 3563

SunSpider:

ASUS T100 Chi: 378.9
ASUS T100 TA: 415
iPad Air 1: 294
iPad Air 2: 426

The conclusion we draw here is that the T100 Chi is clearly superior to the T100 TA. It even beats the iPad Air 1 in some tests. I’d say it doesn’t suffer from lag, but it does, especially in desktop mode, when you open up more folders. Anyway, the slate runs the game Riptide GP2 on max 3D graphical settings without lag. Now we analyze the software, in this case Windows 8.1. The same classic gestures are here: swipe down to close an app, snapping apps to work in a split screen mode and I noticed that sometimes the swipe that triggers the Charm bar doesn’t work.

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The physical keyboard experience is quite pleasant. Writing is fast and comfy on it, feedback is nice and the trackpad is comfortable to use. You can press the trackpad anywhere to select items you need. I also noticed that the keyboard enters sleep mode pretty fast and often unpairs just when I need it. Anyway, for productivity, your Excel, Word and PowerPoints needs on the go, this should suffice.

The preinstalled apps list includes ASUS Life Cam (camera with effects), ASUS Photo Director (basic photo editing, with frames and text bubbles), ASUS Power Director (edit videos, add background music and filters and other minor editing), ASUS WebStorage (100 GB offered), Line (social networking app) and the famous TripAdvisor. Mcafee is also here, but it’s totally not my favourite antivirus.

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And now it’s time for the verdict related to the T100 Chi. Here are the Pros:

low price
premium design
excellent keyboard dock
good battery
OK acoustics
great backup for Office PC, laptop replacement
good display, although could be brighter

And the Cons:

bugs: on/Off button sometimes doesn’t respond well, side swipes too and keyboard unpairs out of the blue
Windows 8 hour long updates
screen could be brighter
Mcafee is annoying with its popups
the screen has a bit of glare

We give this model a 9.3 out of 10 for design, a 9 for hardware and an 8 for OS and UI. The last grade could increase once Windows 10 comes. The final grade is 8.76 out of 10 for this business-oriented device, a vacation/business device to be honest. It’s a lesser tablet than Android and iOS models, but a better laptop replacement than those.

Once again the build quality is premium and the keyboard is flawless in this price range and product segment.

  • Bob Dow

    Will I be able to inter data from the keyboard when it is disconnected from the monitor?