Together with the more up-to-date Asus Tranformer Mini T102HA, Asus has also sent us the Transformer Book T101HA for review purposes. While the latter is quite bit older (it was announced at Computex 2016) than the T102HA, using the device in 2017 is still an interesting and – in many areas – pleasant experience. In fact, the Transformer Book has quite a bit in common with the T102HA but there are of course also some substantial differences. Read on to find out how the T101HA compares with the Transformer Mini and – in general – how it performs in 2017.
About this review
We’ve tested the Transformer Book T101HA in close cooperation with our partner blog 2in1school.ch. There you can find further impressions and remarks (German).
Our review unit featured the following specifications:
- 10.1″ LED backlit HD (1280×800) display
- Intel Atom x5-Z8350 (Cherry Trail)
- 2 GB SDRAM
- 32 GB of EMMC storage (can be expanded with a MicroSDXC card)
- Windows 10 Home
In terms of ports, the T101HA is equipped with the following features:
- 1 x USB 2.0
- 1 x Micro USB
- 1 x micro HDMI
- 1 x micro SDXC card reader
- 1 x COMBO audio jack
Design and Build Quality
When closed, the T101HA is actually quite an attractive and also slightly premium-looking device with its all-metal design available in Mint Green, Glacier Gray (the model we’ve reviewed) and Rose Gold. When you open it though, you notice that you’re looking at a 2-in-1 clearly geared towards the lower end of the market: Both the massive black bezels around the screen as well as the keys of the keyboard do distinctively look cheap.
Also in terms of build quality, you have to take a closer look to notice some flaws. Because generally, the Transformer Book T101HA feels surprisingly well-built with its smooth and comfortable metal surface. But again some little but still crucial details point at the low price of the device: First and foremost, the power button feels extremely cheap and has one of the worst pressure point and level of feedback I’ve ever encountered on any kind of device. It really is a pain to turn on the screen with this button. Luckily though, you can of course turn it on using the screen by pressing one of the keys of the keyboard base. The volume rocker on the other hand, does feel quite good to the touch.
Probably the best thing about the T101HA, though, is its “4-modes-design” allowing you to use the device as a laptop, as a tablet as well as a media consumption device thanks to stand and tent mode. Thanks to the sturdy magnet mechanism you’ll never have to worry that the screen and keyboard part accidentally detach from each other. Thus, I really enjoyed switching between those modes.
In terms of display, Asus has opted for a 10.1″ LED backlit screen with a somewhat dated resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels which results in a pixel density of about 149 ppi. While being far from a super-sharp screen, the quality in terms of brightness and color output is acceptable for the price range – at least when looking at it directly. When you look at the screen in a more “distorted” angle, you’ll notice colors loosing their vibrancy quite quickly and turning into more opaque tints.
The Asus Transformer Book T101HA – just like the T102HA – does come with the keyboard base included. But rather than a Type Cover-like keyboard, the T101HA features a more solid and sturdy keyboard base which might be appreciated by some. In terms of typing experience you definitely shouldn’t expect miracles, though after some practise time you can actually type quite comfortably on the keyboard at a respectable pace. One could of course criticize the rough yet slippery keys which do feel quite cheap but given the price of the device (the 4GB/64GB model is available for under $280) that would be criticism on a very high level.
When it comes to the touchpad, I really have to give Asus a lot of credit for including a Precision Touchpad on this machine thanks to which you can take advantage of all the multi-finger gestures supported by Windows 10. While having a Precision Touchpad doesn’t necessarily mean having a great touchpad, it nevertheless is a guarantor for not having a bad touchpad. And that’s exactly the case here as well. There are of course much better devices out there in terms of touchpad, but for the price the T101HA has a surprisingly good touchpad to offer.
Probably one of the most noticeable differences between the T102HA and the T101HA is the latter’s lack of support for the Asus Pen – an active stylus which resembles the Surface Pen very much both in terms of design as well as in terms of functionality. If you’re not really into taking notes in OneNote with a pen, that’s not such a huge problem. But if you plan on buying a device specifically for writing and drawing, you might want to take a look at the Transformer Mini reviewed here and here (more in-depth but in German).
Positioned on the back of the device, the speakers of the Transformer Book T101HA offer surprisingly good sound quality. Given the price of the device, you of course still shouldn’t expect too much. Nevertheless, the T101HA might just be a great little device for media consumption.
On the front, the Transformer Book T100HA features a 2 megapixel camera which offers decent but not good quality. Sadly, there’s no camera on the back for snapshots.
Powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8350 (Cherry Trail generation) and equipped with only 2 GB of RAM, the Asus Transformer Book T101HA undoubtedly positions itself at the very low-end of the Windows 10 2-in-1 range. While the Atom processor is good enough for daily tasks (see Asus Transformer Mini review) such as web browsing, writing e-mails, editing word documents and watching YouTube videos, you clearly have to patient as things just take a bit longer – and even more so due to very limited amount of usable RAM.
I’ve praised Asus for including 4 GB of RAM on the Transformer Mini as this just gives you a bit more breathing leeway and our review unit of the Transformer Book just about proves that again. Not that the performance is terrible, but you definitely won’t be having 20 tabs open simultaneously with this device. But given that there are also versions of the T101HA with 4 GB of RAM, I highly recommend you go with the more higher-specced model.
A positive aspect of the Atom processor is of course that the fact that it works without active cooling meaning you’ll never be bothered by fan noise.
The T101HA comes pre-installed with Windows 10 Home which runs just fine on the device. Sadly, you’ll also find quite a few programs pre-installed such as McAfee LiveSafe. Unlike the T102HA, the Transformer Book doesn’t have support for Windows Hello.
At the end of the day, the Transformer Mini T101HA is a great little 2-in-1 device with a very affordable price tag. If one doesn’t need an extremely performant device and doesn’t want to take notes with an active pen, the T101HA is a good option for those of you who just want to have a portable and very versatile device for light work and media consumption. But if you’re willing to spend a bit more, I highly recommend taking a look at the T102HA which comes with a fingerprint scanner, an active pen and more reviewed here.
Image source (Header): Asus
Thanks to Asus Switzerland for providing us with the review unit.