Windows 8 tablets will continue to emerge at price points similar to laptops. As the technology unfolds, Asus has issued a serious challenge to the tablet market. Set for release on October 18, 2013 is a new tablet that combines many of features of laptops and tablets into a single device. This event is likely just the beginning of the marketplace competition that will drive the technology forward, and price points downward.
Asus will introduce the Transformer Book Model T100 at a starting price of $349. This tablet has been initially reviewed at CNET and the specs are readily available. The real world performance testing data is yet to emerge. The most compelling feature of the model T100 is first and foremost that it runs Windows 8; therefore, one can run essentially any Windows based software application on this hardware. A full version of Microsoft Office can be used on the T100. That’s a big step forward for tablet technology. Additionally, the tablet comes standard with a keyboard dock. This creates a tablet that is a convertible; it offers more efficient input via the external keyboard. The fact that the keyboard dock is not an extra cost is significant, especially to students with limited budgets.
At first blush, $349 is an eye catching price, but does come with a few considerations. It is unknown if 32GB of storage is really adequate. Moving to the next price point is $399, and doubles the storage to 64GB. For only an additional $50, this seems worthwhile. Each model comes with 2GB of RAM. While initial reports suggest performance is adequate, more information is needed to see if the Atom based processor and the 2GB of RAM can offer a comfortable performance experience. The screen is a 10.1-inch IPS screen with 1,366x768-pixel resolution. This should provide an acceptable visual experience, but is surely not cutting-edge. The big question will be how clearly fonts and images are rendered while using detailed productivity software like Excel or graphic oriented programs. A tablet does not necessarily need to offer a stunning image, just one that is pleasing to the eye and comfortable for the task at hand.
The most important aspect of the T100 might not be the device itself, but what it will mean for the market in general. While this device is surely better suited to the needs of students compared to many other tablet alternatives, one would have to expect the competition to respond with competing units. Faster processors, better screen resolution, longer battery life, and enhanced hardware features are indeed in the near future. Along with more affordable prices, Windows 8 tablets are making serious inroads.
As for the T100, given the price point and features, this could be a solid offering from Asus that would be a worthwhile consideration for anyone needing a Windows based operating system in a tablet form.