- New processor for better multitasking\
- Small and lightweight
- Great battery life
- Similar processor to new T100 (good performance)
- More ports and expansion bay
- More comfortable keyboard and touchpad
- Rear-facing camera
- Cramped keyboard and touchpad
- Limited ports and no expansion options
- Bigger and heavier
- More expensive
- Worse battery life
If you’re shopping for a new Windows laptop this holiday season, there’s a very good chance that you’ll consider spending your hard-earned money on either the affordable Asus Transformer Book T100 or the slightly larger and slightly more expensive T200. The question is: Which low-cost convertible notebook is right for you? We took a closer look at the latest configurations of the T100 and T200 series to help you decide.
Build and Design: Portability vs Upgradeability
Although the Transformer Book T100 was first introduced in 2013, the latest configurations of the T100 series, such as the T100TAM, feature a more refined design with a new brushed aluminum cover. The defining elements of the T100 are still the same: a 10-inch detachable tablet with a keyboard dock, up to 11 hours of battery life, a full version of Windows 8.1, and a 1-year subscription for Office 365 Personal included.
The most obvious hardware change from the original T100 is the inclusion of a newer quad-core Intel Atom Z3775 Bay Trail-T processor running at 1.46 GHz (2.39 GHz burst frequency), a step up from the older 1.3 GHz. The bottom line is that the 2014 T100 looks and feels like a more premium product, and the newer processor means better multitasking performance (more on that in the performance section).
The Transformer Book T200 is essentially a slightly larger version of the T100 featuring an 11.6-inch screen, a slightly faster processor, and more system memory. The T200TA-C1-BL configuration is packed with a quad-core Intel Atom Z3795 Bay Trail-T processor running at 1.59 GHz (2.39 GHz burst frequency) with 4 GB of RAM.
This 2-in-1 also packs an Ethernet port and an extra USB 2.0 port in the included keyboard dock. The most notable design change beyond the larger screen and the extra ports is that the keyboard dock on the T200 features a “Smart HD Bay” where users can upgrade the dock with a standard 2.5-inch laptop hard drive or SSD.
Unfortunately, there is one major trade off besides sacrificing some portability when you step up from the T100 to the T200: less battery life. The larger screen, extra ports, and processor with a faster base frequency all consume more power than the T100, meaning that the T200 gets only 9 hours of battery life at most compared to the 11-hour battery life of the T100.
Keyboard and Touchpad: Sometimes size does matter
Anyone who owns an Asus Transformer Book T100 or is thinking about owning one should know the keyboard and touchpad are annoyingly small. Young students or adults with small, slender fingers won’t have too much trouble typing on the T100’s keyboard, but if you’ve got “man hands,” you better be ready to make a lot of typos. Similarly, the touchpad on the T100 is frustratingly narrow from top to bottom, making it difficult to move the cursor quickly with any degree of precision.
Thankfully, the increased size of the T200 means that Asus engineers had the room to include a slightly larger keyboard and a larger touchpad. This might seem like an almost insignificant thing, but the T200 keyboard dock delivers a far more pleasant typing experience while the new touchpad is just large enough to get things done without making you feel like you need a Bluetooth mouse.
Again, the major tradeoff here is size. You lose some portability by moving to the larger 11.6-inch 2-in-1 but you gain a noticeably better typing experience. The added size might not seem like much of a tradeoff but it makes a big difference if you want to squeeze a laptop into a purse or the “tablet pocket” in a small carry-on bag.
In short, it all comes down to whether you value the more compact size of the T100 or the added comfort of the T200.
Screen and Speakers: Sometimes size doesn’t matter at all
At first glance the T200 has an obvious advantage with the larger 11.6-inch screen compared to the 10.1-inch screen on the T100. However, looks can be deceiving. The truth is that both the T100 and T200 have identical screen resolutions with 1366 x 768 pixels each. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since you may not want 1080p resolution squeezed into such tiny screens, but it does mean that the pixel density of the T100 screen is slightly better than the T200 (meaning images look slightly sharper on the smaller T100 screen).
That being said, 1366 x 768 resolution isn’t anything to get excited about these days. Many Android tablets offer 1080p or greater resolution … even some that are physically smaller than either the T100 or T200. The lower resolution makes it easier to read text at the default settings but the resolution also makes it harder to fit multiple windows on the screen at the same time.
On the bright side, both the T100 and T200 screens are bright IPS displays with vivid colors and great viewing angles. You won’t have trouble watching a movie on Netflix using either device, but the glossy touch screen surface on both devices means that you’ll see strong reflections and glare when you carry the device outside under direct sunlight.
The stereo speakers appear to be identical on both Transformer Books … for better or worse. The speakers are located on the back side of the tablet screen, right where your fingers will likely be when you hold the tablet in a landscape position.
This means that the sound might be muffled by your hands but it also means you can magnify the sound by cupping hour hands as you hold the tablet (similar to cupping your hand around your ear). Unfortunately, this also means the speakers are pointed away from you as you’re looking at the screen.