Much like the famous Old El Paso saying “Why not have both?”, when ASUS dreamed up the Transformer Book T300 Chi, they built in all the benefits of both a laptop AND a tablet. But what’s obvious from the get-go is that this isn’t an ordinary hybrid. With a high-end yet lightweight feel, ASUS have managed to deliver one of the best combinations of performance and portability we have seen to date.
The main highlight of the Chi is the magnetic hinge (or latch, or dock, or whatever you may want to call it). Unlike other hybrids where you had to battle with twisting and turning the keyboard to an uncomfortable position, with the Chi you can simply take the screen straight off. Give it a firm tug and it will detach from the keyboard to reveal what is a slim and very usable stand-alone tablet.
The connection feels solid and is capable of supporting up to 2kg, utilising “the world’s most powerful magnetic material in a carefully-designed pattern”. This means with the keyboard attached we could still hold the computer up by the screen and not have to worry about bottom falling off.
Picking up the machine, the first two things you’ll notice is that it’s incredibly light at just 720g and incredibly thin at just 7.6mm at its thickest point. This is achieved through its fanless design to save on space with the added benefit of making it whisper quiet to use.
The precision crafted all-aluminium casing that gives the machine a very high-end feel compared with some of the cheaper plastics you’ll find in other devices. You’ll notice there’s not too many ugly screws or seams sticking out as well with the edges of the device having been diamond cut.
We didn’t find this a problem, but some of the feedback we’ve read from other users is that the power button could be placed in a better spot as people would accidentally knock it when they tried to adjust the angle of the screen.
The ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi utilises the all-new Intel Core M processor which is the same chip used in the new Macbook. It’s very much designed for the ultrabook/hybrid market and while it’s perfectly suitable for all of your every-day tasks, it doesn’t exactly deliver what other slim hybrids or laptops can for power-users with a much better i5 or i7 chip. That said, we didn’t notice any lag when scrolling through Windows 8.1 on the device. It’s also assisted in the speed department by its solid-state disk (SSD) of up to 128GB, perfect for an ‘on-the-go’ device.
ASUS claim that the device has up to eight hours of battery life but in our tests and from extended use we still had to charge it throughout the day. While the keyboard has a separate battery (for reasons which we’ll explain later) it would be handy if the tablet/screen could also draw some juice from the dock as well.
Simply put, the screen is stunning with a 1920×1080 display producing vivid colours and the darkest of blacks in better than HD resolution. The 12.5’’ multi-touch screen has an orientation of 16:9 which very much feels like a ‘widescreen’ device when you have the tablet docked.
While this is absolutely perfect for watching Netflix or Youtube, the aspect ratio doesn’t quite feel right when you are holding the device in portrait as a tablet. Under the hood the graphics are driven by an integrated Intel® HD Graphics card.
Keyboard & Accessories
As mentioned, they keyboard (or dock) has its own battery built in. Why? So that you can flick the switch in the top left corner and use it in Bluetooth mode with the screen detached. For what purpose someone would want to do this however, who knows?
The good news is that the keyboard is full size and an absolute joy to type on. It’s very tactile with 1.55mm of travel and perfect if you needed to put in a few hours of typing for work or even gaming. There’s also ample space to wrest your wrists comfortably next to the track-pad.
ASUS has managed to pack in plenty of connectivity with a Micro SD card reader, fast 802.11a/c WiFi, built-in Bluetooth™ V4.0, stereo speakers, an audio jack, HDMI Output and a microUSB slot. There’s also a 1.2 Mega Pixel webcam which is a nice feature from the 420px potato you might see in other competing devices.
Processor: Intel Core M 5Y71 1.2 GHz Processor (Turbo to 2.9GHz)
Memory: 4GB DDR3 Memory
Operating System: Windows 8.1
Display: 12.5″ 16:9 IPS HD (1920×1080) with Multi-Touch Screen
Graphic: Integrated Intel® HD Graphics
Storage: 128GB SSD
Card Reader: Card reader (Micro SD )
Camera: 1.2 Mega Pixel web camera
Networking: Wi-Fi 802.11a/c, Built-in Bluetooth™ V4.0
Interface: 1 x audio jack, 1 x microUSB
Audio: Stereo speakers
Battery: Up to 8 hours of battery life
Dimensions Tablet: 241mm x 137.5mm x 7.6mm
Dimensions with Dock: 241mm x 137.5mm x 16.5mm
Weight: 0.40kg (tablet) 0.75kg (docked)
The ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi delivers what is a perfect on-the-go device for work or play. Whether you’re lazing on the couch with the tablet or need to get some serious work done, the Chi won’t disappoint with a premium feel and plenty of performance to back it up. The magnetic hinge is by far the stand-out feature in what is one of the best hybrids we’ve seen on the market.
In partnership with ASUS Australia, we’re giving away an ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi to one lucky reader. To enter, simply sign up to Man of Many’s newsletter in the form below:
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