Connectivity and expansion
Unlike traditional tablets, which have typically have limited expansion and connectivity options, Asus' Transformers have been pretty good about providing a variety of industry standard ports and slots.
The T100's dock drops the full-sized SD slot available on some older Transformers, but it adds a full-sized USB 3.0 port for speedy access to external storage. A microSD slot can be found on the tablet along with the Micro USB port used for charging.
The tablet also features a Micro HDMI port capable of 1080p output. Audio can be piped over HDMI, routed through the analog audio jack, or blasted out of the dual speakers in the rear panel. The integrated speakers are certainly loud, but they're definitely short on fidelity. What did you expect from a budget $350 tablet?
Volume controls are available in the OS and through a rocker button on the side of the tablet. The power and Windows buttons are also located on the edges. We're used to seeing the Windows button deployed as a touch-sensitive icon on the display bezel, so the edge-mounted alternative is a bit of a surprise. I much prefer it, though. Unlike bezel-based buttons, the edge-mounted one is pretty much impossible to activate unintentionally.
The Transformer Book T100 comes with a Micro USB wall charger. As much as I love the charger's matte plastic body (older Transformers shipped with glossy adapters), the 36" cable is a little on the short side. Someone in the accounting department probably decided that cutting a few feet was worth saving a few cents. Thanks to the standard port, swapping in a longer cable shouldn't be too difficult—or too expensive.
Can you believe we've made it this far without geeking out over the T100's internals? Here's the spec sheet:
|Processor||Intel Atom Z3740 (1.33GHz base, 1.86GHz Burst)|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics|
|Display||10.1 IPS panel with 1366x768 resolution|
|Storage||SanDisk 32/64GB eMMC SSD|
|Audio||Stereo HD audio via Realtek I2Scodec|
|Ports||1 Micro USB 2.0
1 Micro HDMI
1 analog headphone/analog microphone
1 USB 3.0 (dock)
|Expansion slots||1 Micro SD card reader (64GB max)|
|Communications||Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
via Broadcom adapter
Chiclet keyboard (dock)
|Dimensions||Tablet: 10.7" x 6.7" x 0.41"
(272 x 170 x 10.5 mm)
Dock: 10.7" x 6.7" x 0.34-0.40" (272 x 170 x 8.6-10.1 mm)
|Weight||Tablet: 1.2 lbs (544 g)
Dock: 1.2 lbs (544 g)
The Atom Z3740 SoC is undeniably the star of the show. This quad-core Bay Trail chip has next-gen CPU cores based on the Silvermont architecture. The cores support out-of-order execution, a first for the Atom family, and there are more of them than in the previous Clover Trail generation. Bay Trail also features DirectX 11-class integrated graphics derived from the GPU in Ivy Bridge. The IGP has a lot more horsepower than previous Atom graphics implementations, and it should have much broader game support, as well.
According to Intel's specifications, the Z3740 has a base CPU frequency of 1.33GHz. The cores can scale as high as 1.86GHz in Burst mode, which is the Atom's version of Turbo. For those of you keeping score at home, those frequencies are lower than the 1.46GHz base and 2.39GHz Burst clocks of the top-of-the-line Atom Z3770 Scott tested last month. The flagship chip has the same integrated GPU and 311-667MHz graphics frequency range, though.
Asus combines the Atom SoC with 2GB of low-power DDR3 memory. A SanDisk eMMC storage device provides either 32 or 64GB of flash, and users can add up to 64GB more via the microSD slot. Kudos to Asus for providing a storage expansion option, even if it's limited to fingernail-sized memory cards.
A collection of checkbox items rounds out the Transformer Book T100's feature list. There's a 1.2-megapixel webcam, an internal microphone, a 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter, and a Bluetooth radio. Gyroscope and accelerometer? Check. The only notable absentees are a GPS unit and a rear-facing camera. The lack of GPS functionality rules out offline navigation, which I do quite frequently while traveling with GPS-equipped tablets. The rear-facing camera I can do without. In fact, if I'm ever that guy taking pictures with a tablet camera, please rip the device from my hands and hit me across the face with it.
Our testing methods
On the next page, we'll compare the Transformer Book T100's performance to that of several other mobile systems, including the Windows-based configurations listed in the table below. Pay particular attention to how the T100 stacks up against the VivoTab Smart, which is based on the last-gen Clover Trail Atom processor. That system was initially tested with Windows 8, and we've run it through the suite again with the latest 8.1 update installed. The T100 is the only other system in the bunch running Microsoft's latest OS.
Our test results cover other notable systems that aren't listed in the table below. We've included numbers from the Kabini whitebook we reviewed in May, for example. This system features a quad-core AMD A4-5000 APU with Jaguar-based CPU cores and Radeon integrated graphics. We also have performance data from the Bay Trail demo tablet Scott tested at IDF. That machine will give us a sense of how the Atom Z3740 compares to its higher-clocked Z3770 sibling.
Where possible, we've thrown in scores from a bunch of other tablets, including Android and iOS-based models. The VivoTab RT even makes an appearance in a couple of the graphs. Speaking of which, let's move on to the performance results. The rest of this page is filled with nerdy testing details that you probably don't need to read. We've provided the additional information for reference—and so that interested parties can replicate our results.
We ran every test at least three times and reported the median of the scores produced. The test systems were configured like so:
|System||Asus VivoTab Smart||Asus VivoBook X202E||Asus Transformer Book T100|
|Processor||Intel Atom Z2760 1.8GHz||Intel Core i3-3217U 1.8GHz||Intel Atom Z3740 1.33GHz|
|Platform hub||N/A||Intel HM76 Express||N/A|
|Memory size||2GB||4GB (1 SO-DIMM)||2GB|
|Memory type||LPDDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz||DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz||LPDDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz|
|Audio||Intel SST codec with 6.2.9200.25166 drivers||Via codec with 220.127.116.110 drivers||Realtek codec with 6.2.9400.4028 drivers|
|Graphics||Intel Graphics Media Accelerator
with 18.104.22.1689 drivers
|Intel HD Graphics 4000
with 22.214.171.12475 drivers
|Intel HD Graphics with 10.18.10.3286 drivers|
|Hard drive||SanDisk SEM64G 64GB SSD||Hitachi Z5K500 500GB HDD||SanDisk SEM64G 64GB SSD|
|Operating system||Windows 8, 8.1 x86||Windows 8 x64||Windows 8.1 x86|
Thanks to Asus for volunteering laptops and tablets for us to test.
We used the following versions of our test applications:
The tests and methods we employ are usually publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.
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