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asus transformer t100 review

18 Mar 2015

Since I’ve started college, the need for a good mobile computer has become pretty important. For years, I worked on a 2013 iMac, but I now have a need for something portable (for writing papers, doing online homework, responding to e-mails, and so on). I wanted to get something that was cheap, and after looking around a little, decided I wanted a tablet/laptop transformer book thingy.

So I bought a refurbished Asus Transformer t100 on Amazon for $199. This was a big win. It was shockingly cheap and I’m impressed with the specs for such a little device. It’s got a quad core 1.3 GHz processor and a 32 GB SSD. It only has 2GB of RAM, which is the only aspect that is underpowered, but I can work with that.

The screen is extremely nice to use. It has a high pixel density (which makes it nice to look at), and the touch sensitivity is accurate (which makes it nice to use). The battery when fully charged lasts me a full day with no trouble, but there is a battery related problem that I will get to in a minute.

The over build quality is decent. The tablet section is thin and light, but is made out of cheapish plastic that makes an audible crinkle when squeezed. The buttons on it are awful, especially the button located below the volume rocker (that acts as a Windows button). They’re mushy and require a fair amount of pressure to use.

The build quality for the keyboard, on the other hand, is much better. The keys are response, despite being small, and the trackpad is reasonably sensitive. The biggest issues I have with the keyboard is the smallish size of the trackpad and a little bump in front of the space bar that makes it difficult to press if your hands aren’t close enough. The keyboard also is as thick, and weighs as much as the tablet.

I’m no fan of Windows, but as long as I avoid software development, it’s not terrible to use. However, I do plan on installing Linux soon. I just have to figure out how to get past the crazy UEFI secure boot crap. I have had some trouble with booting off a Linux USB, but when I figure it out, I’ll put up a post on how to do it.

When I woke up this morning and got ready for the day's classes, I noticed that the battery power was low, despite being plugged in all night. I have yet to verify, but I believe the power adapter has burned out after only a week of use (I really hope the battery is not dead). If it's just the adapter, that's annoying and disappointing, but not a show stopper. I have loads of USB to wall socket adapters sitting at home, and will happily use one in it's place.

Update: It turns out the wall socket I plugged into is broken and won’t supply power unless the plug is held at the correct angle. The battery is fine.

The other big problem is the sensor that detects when the laptop is closed. I would expect the computer to go into sleep mode when I lower the lid, and it does in many cases. However, it commonly refuses to sleep and simply leaves the screen on which drains the battery quickly. I don’t know if it’s a hardware or software issue, but I currently suspect the hardware is simply not sensitive enough. If you prefer to work with it as a tablet most of the time, this is no problem, but if you use it as a laptop, bear this problem in mind.

Overall, I’m impressed with the quality I can get for such a cheap price, but with the price come some expected issues. None of them are radical enough to make me regret the purchase, but you may want to be aware of them when buying. My recommendation is: if you need a PC for cheap, get this tablet. There are plenty of other options out there that don’t stand up to it, especially for the price.