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Split decision: Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi convertible
Two-into-one does go
The aesthetics are helped by Asus dispensing with the usual and, let’s face it, rather unsightly, under-screen Windows home button. That job is now done by a real button that sits on the upper left edge of the tablet below the volume rocker. The power toggle sits just around the corner on the top edge. Not an ideal position if you ask me – it's too easily pressed when you pick the thing up by the lid – but you learn to avoid it.
Speakers are a bit puny but Windows physical button a good idea. Note DC power jack on right
Talking of picking things up. Even though the attraction between the tablet and the dock is more magnetic than physical, you can still pick the whole enchilada up by the screen and wave it around your head without fear of the two parts coming adrift. That’s thanks to the two large metal lugs that locate the tablet. Despite the strong attraction, when you actually want to separate the two parts they come apart easily.
The keyboard doesn't let the side down either. The keys are well spaced and have a crisp, positive action even if they are not quite as nice to bash away on as Lenovo’s AccuType keys. It feels just a bit more loose than the Yoga 3 Pro’s keyboard. The one-piece trackpad is a little small but well positioned and pleasant to the touch. The keyboard isn’t backlit which, given the price, may raise the odd eyebrow.
The dock connector does however have two drawbacks. Firstly, it restricts the degree to which the screen can be tilted back to around 100 degrees. To be fair, if it pushed back any further it would probably topple over, since all the PC gubbins is in the tablet part.
The hinge is very solid and keeps the lid up in any position
Secondly, with no physical connector, there’s no link for power or data. You see the connection between dock and tablet is over Bluetooth so, unlike the original Asus Transformers, you can’t use the dock battery to power or charge the tablet.
Another drawback with the Chi’s design – and another difference between the Chi and older Transformers – is the lack of ports. The Chi’s sockets – all of which are built into the tablet part – amount to no more than one micro USB 3.0 connector, a microSD card slot, a 3.5mm combo audio jack and a micro HDMI slot. That’s not a lot for a machine that is supposed to be as much laptop as tablet.
Now granted, an adapter cable (Asus does supply one but it was missing from my review package) and a decent USB hub will solve the problem but I can still see many people bewailing the absence of a full-sized USB socket and of an SD rather than a microSD card slot. Such are the fruits of the gallop towards ever lighter and thinner machines.
Ports are limited - one microUSB 3.0, one micro HDMI, one 3.5 combo jack and that's it
Powering the T300 is an Intel Core M-5Y71 processor with 8GB of DDR3L RAM. The M-5Y71 is a 1.2GHz dual-core chip and a burst speed of 2.9GHz. As a trade off between power and thermal efficiency (the T300 is fanless, natch) it is pretty much state-of-the-art in terms of mobile x86 chips. The CPU gives the T300 the chops to do the vast majority of things you’d want to do with a laptop and do them quickly. I had cause to use my T300 to edit some HD video using Lightworks and it chomped through the job with impressive speed. 4K YouTube video ran cleanly at full screen too.