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Asus Transformer T100: a Windows tablet students might like and can afford

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The website reported on December 6, 2013 that the Asus Transformer T100 is "A Beautiful & Powerful Windows Tablet." Should students consider a Windows tablet not made by Microsoft? The answer is likely yes.

Microsoft recently introduced 2 different versions of a tablet computer; the Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2. Both of these tablet versions are upgrades to the previous models without the number 2. The Surface Pro 2 is markedly different that the Surface 2. For starters, the Surface 2 runs Windows RT, which is not the same as the standard version 8 or 8.1 The different operating systems limits the software choices for the RT because many software developers have not, and very possibly never will, develop software for the RT. The bottom line with the RT is that there is a lack of apps and software packages available for this platform. The RT is a risky proposition for students that need to install off the shelf Windows software, or desire a wide selection of popular apps, particularly around social media. The most attractive part of the Surface 2 running RT is that is does come pre-loaded with a version of Microsoft Office. However, this might not be nearly enough to entice students or educators to adopt a tablet that might offer limited software options beyond Office. Comparatively, the Windows Pro 2 runs the same Windows 8.1 operating system used on PC laptops and desktops. This means that the Surface Pro can run any software program written for Windows. That’s a big deal for many students. There are also many more app choices for Windows 8.1 than RT, and the offerings continue to expand. The Surface Pro 2 is essentially a tablet/laptop hybrid; it is the best of both. The biggest downside is cost. The device starts at $899, not including the keyboard/cover, and does not come preloaded with Office. Therefore, the total price of the Surface Pro 2 will quickly exceed $1000. That is a hefty price tag, and is not a price point most students can consider. The question then becomes if there is an alternative to the Surface Pro 2 that is nearly equivalent in functionality but more affordable?

Asus has now introduced a Windows 8.1 tablet; Transformer T100. This tablet runs the full version of Windows 8 so any Windows software can be installed. Additionally, users will have access to the full range of Windows apps. The processor in the T100 is Intel's new quad-core Bay Trail series Atom processor, which is not quite as powerful as the core i5 Intel processor found in the Surface Pro 2, but a report from suggested that the Atom is plenty sufficient. The Atom processor tries to balance computing muscle and battery power efficiency, and it appears to achieve the goal. User will appreciate the expected battery life of just over 10 hours before a recharge is needed.

The T100 comes standard with an attachable keyboard dock, so the tablet becomes a small laptop (netbook) hybrid. It is a personal choice if a 10 inch screen is enough real estate to work comfortably, but that is an overall tablet consideration not specific to the T100. Tablets are not laptops, so careful consideration is necessary to determine how the tablet will be used. Long periods of time using a 10 inch tablet can become a bit tiresome. It is not usual for many students to desire a tablet as their primary computing device because of the small screen size and smaller keyboard. But as an augmentation to a desktop or laptop, this particular device could be attractive to many students.

In addition to the keyboard that is included, so is Microsoft Office. That is a significant savings and makes the price of the T100 even more attractive, which starts at $349. That is a lot of bang for the buck. While the Surface Pro 2 offers a myriad of additional features, students might be just fine with the T100. The full Windows version 8.1, keyboard, Microsoft Office, USB 3.0, micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports, headphone jack, microSD slot, rear camera, and the ability to connect to printer might just make the T100 a great choice for many students. This is arguably a very good dollar value for a Windows 8 tablet, and appears to offer more functionality and flexibility when compared to the RT tablets. Students and schools would be well advised to take a serious look at this product when considering a tablet.



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