Windows, Android collide in Asus' Transformer Book Duet convertible

In December, Asus teased a new system capable of running both Android and Windows 8. That machine debuted today during a CES press conference in Las Vegas, and it looks rather interesting. Behold the Transformer Book Duet:

This 13.3" convertible features a detachable tablet that runs both Windows 8.1 and Android 4.2.2. "Patented Asus technology" governs the switching mechanism, which promises a "fast, smooth and seamless" transition between the two operating systems. "Fast," in this case, is about four seconds. Virtualization isn't involved; the system is neither Android running on Windows nor Windows running on Android. Asus claims almost zero overhead, so both OSes should be able to harness the full power of the underlying hardware.

Speaking of hardware, the Duet's tablet half houses a Core-based Intel processor likely derived from the Haswell microarchitecture. The entry-level models will have Core i3 chips, and higher-end units will extend into i7 territory. Since the press release mentions Intel HD Graphics specifically, we probably won't see variants equipped with Iris Pro.

In addition to multiple processor options, the Transformer Book Duet has a couple of display configurations. Users will be able to choose between models with 1920x1080 and 1366x768 resolutions. The 1080p unit has an IPS panel, but it's unclear whether the lower-res variant relies on similar screen technology. Both displays support multitouch input, of course.

True to its Transformer name, the Duet features a separate keyboard dock that snaps into the tablet. The dock has USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, and an HDMI connector. In a novel twist, it's also available with up to 1TB of mechanical storage. There's no auxiliary battery, though. Without a secondary unit, the Duet's 38Wh battery is good for only five hours in Windows and six in Android.

Naturally, the Duet has all the trappings of a modern tablet. Its wireless connectivity includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Up to 128GB of solid-state storage is available in the tablet, and another 64GB can be added via the microSD slot. HD webcam? Check. There's no rear-facing shooter, though.

The tablet measures 0.51" (13 mm) thick, and the dock adds another 0.63" (16 mm). Combined, the two weigh 4.2 lbs. Asus doesn't list the weight of the tablet separately, which isn't encouraging. However, we probably shouldn't expect 13.3" Windows tablets to be featherweights—especially not those with full-fledged Core processors. (Update: Asus tells us the tablet weighs less than 2.2 lbs.)

The Transformer Book Duet is due to hit Asia and Europe late in the first quarter of this year. North Americans won't be able to get their hands on the machine until late in the second quarter, when the system will arrive at $599 for a Core i3 config with the 1366x768 display, 4GB of low-power DDR3-1600 memory, 64GB of tablet storage, and a 500GB hard drive. Upgrading to 1080p will raise the asking price by $100.

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