Asus has created another quality convertible by pairing a big, bold 12.5in display with an ultra-thin chassis. A lack of ports and useful software hamper its business credentials, as does the underwhelming battery life, but the Transformer Book Chi T300 offers plenty of power at a fair price.
Thin and light, good performance for the price, large and colourful display, Windows 10-ready
Short battery life, limited storage, no full-sized USB port
From £669; £799 as tested
Processor: Intel Core M-5Y71 (1.2GHz dual-core) or Intel Core M-5Y70 (800MHz dual-core)
Display: 12.5in IPS, 2560x1440 or 1920x1080 resolution
Storage: 64GB or 128GB SSD
Camera: 2MP front-facing webcam with 720p video
Connectivity: WiFi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system: Windows 8.1
Dimensions: 318x192x16.5mm with keyboard, 318x192x7.6mm without
Weight: 1.44kg with keyboard, 720g without
Battery: Lithium-polymer, up to eight hours of battery life
If the Asus Transformer Book Chi T300 looks familiar, it should. Besides the larger, wider screen, it's the spitting image of its 2-in-1 stablemate, the Transformer Book Chi T100.
Looks are far from where the similarities end. Both devices share the same metallic chassis, the same magnetic hinge, the same Bluetooth keyboard connection system and the same enthusiasm for bright, vivid on-screen colours. Nonetheless, the Transformer Book Chi T300 is more than a simple enlargement, and comes equipped to offer a level of performance beyond that which other sub-£800 convertibles - including the Transformer Book Chi T100 - can offer.
The tablet and the keyboard are startlingly slender. The tablet measures 318x192x7.6mm, and the keyboard adds only 8.9mm of thickness. Despite the plus-sized width and solid, all-metal construction, the tablet weighs a comfortable 720g, bumping up to 1.4kg with the keyboard attached. That makes the Transformer Book Chi T300 a hair's breadth thinner than the 13in MacBook Air, and just 100g heavier.
The lack of bulk, besides making it easy to carry around, helps to ensure that the Transformer Book Chi T300 is balanced. It doesn't tip backwards when using the laptop configuration on an uneven surface, which can be a problem with more top-heavy convertibles like the Microsoft Surface Pro 3.
However, there is a cost to this slimness: a lack of wired connectivity options. There's a single dual microUSB 3.0/microUSB 2.0 port as well as a microSD slot and micro HDMI connector, but crucially no full-size USB port. As with the Transformer Book Chi T100, this omission severely sets back the machine's usefulness as an office productivity aid.
In addition, there's no space to hold the included stylus, so it must be carried loose instead. To be fair, the stylus has the proportions of an actual pen, which would make it difficult to slot in on any ultraportable device, but it also proves much more natural to use than slimline designs. We could easily use the stylus for handwriting in OneNote, and it was accurate enough that we didn't need to re-calibrate it out of the box.
The Asus Transformer Book Chi series is notable for its docking hinges, which - unusually - rely on a Bluetooth, rather than physical, connection between the tablet and keyboard, which are held together with magnetic clips.
We're in two minds about this design. It takes about six seconds from switching on the keyboard to it actually connecting to the tablet, a delay which can grow wearisome. And, while the magnets do a good job of securing everything together, the hinge itself is susceptible to wobbling.
Conversely, the lack of physical connectors means the tablet can be slotted in back-to-front, with the keyboard acting as a convenient stand. Also, Bluetooth allows the two components to work together even if not actually touching - ideal for tiny desks, trains and plane seats, with the tablet propped up on a tray and the keyboard resting on a lap.
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