Asus Transformer Book Trio TX201LA Review – We’ve seen plenty of Windows Hybrids that try to be both a laptop and tablet in one device, letting you switch back and forth between the two. But the Asus Transformer Book Trio takes a novel triple-pronged approach. You can detach the 11.6in screen of this Windows 8.1 laptop for use as an Android Tablet. You can also connect the keyboard base to an external monitor and use it as a Windows Desktop PC. If you need still more options, you can use it as a laptop and switch between Windows and Android at the press of a button. The Trio really is three computer in one.
Asus Transformer Book Trio TX201LA, Windows PC and Android Laptop
As a Laptop the Trio is light. weighing just 1.7kg (increasing to 1.9kg with charger). Although the wrist rest is plastic, the remainder of the casing is constructed from brushed metal. It looks great and feels exceptionally sturdy.
The Trio really is three computers in one
The Trio is one of those rare laptops we have come across that comes with fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi Built in. Disappointingly, though, the Trio does not have an Ethernet port. You can get round this with a USB to Ethernet adapter. It does not have a full size SD card slot, however there is a slot for a micro SD cards, but this is located on the underside of the screen. This means it’s unavailable for use with the keyboard base when the screen is detached for use as a Tablet. The base does have two USB 3 Ports, and Micro HDMI and Mini DisplayPort sockets for attaching a monitor.
Windows runs on 4GB of memory and a 1.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 4200U processor, so the Trio is fast enough to use as your main computer. The integrated graphics chip is even powerful enough to play 3D games, albeit with less detailed graphics. Unusually for an ultra-portable laptop, it comes with a 500GB hard drive rather than an SSD. The lack of a power efficient SSD explains the Trio’s disappointing battery life (When running on Windows) of just over six hours. Other laptops can last twice as long.
The touchpad is large, smooth and accurate with clicky buttons, and it replicates Windows 8’s touch screen gestures, but these need very precise finger swipes to work properly. Typing was fast, accurate and comfortable thanks to the excellent keyboard, though the keys do not light up in dark conditions.
A dedicated key lets you switch between Windows 8.1 and Android, and the switch occurs almost instantaneously. Although we are not fond of Windows 8.1 because its modern tile interface is poorly integrated with the traditional desktop. It’s still better than using Android with a keyboard and touchpad. Only the most basic keyboard shortcut are supported, and any action that requires you to click and drag using the touchpad – such as accessing the notification drawer or rearranging icons on the home screen – is very fiddly.
It is not all bad though. While you can not use multiple apps side by side in the way you can on some of Samsung’s Android device, you can use mini apps that float on top of the regular apps. You access these via a pop up toolbar and among the included mini-apps are a unit converter, a stopwatch and a dictionary.
Unlike other laptops with detachable screens, the Trio’s hinge was not overly bulky and did not dig into our thighs when resting on our lap. The 11.6in docked screen tilled back quite far, so we had no trouble finding a suitable viewing angle. The screen’s bright with reasonably good colour accuracy. The high resolution of 1920×1080 pixels works fine on Android, but on Windows such a high resolutions on a relatively small screen makes text appear small and hard to read. You will have to tweak the display settings to remedy this.
In Tablet form, the Trio weighs a heavy 700g. This weigh feels unevenly apportioned, especially when held in potrait orientation, so it is not comfortable to use for long periods.
When used as a Tablet, the Trio can only run Android. Although we prefer Windows 8.1’s slicker touchscreen interface to Android’s, this still makes sense. There are far more touchscreen apps available for Android than for Windows 8, even if many of them are just blown-up smartphone apps that do not take advantage of the Trio’s large screen.
While Windows 8.1 runs on the core i5, Android runs on an entirely separate processor – a 1.6 GHz Atom Z2560, which is one of the Intel’s older tablet processor.
Asus Transformer Book Trio TX201LA Specifications
- 11.6in 1920×1080 pixels screen
- 1.6 GHz Intel core i5 4200U dual-core processor
- 4GB memory
- 1.6 GHz Intel Atom Z2560 dual core processor
- 2GB memory
- 16 GB SSD
- 500 GB Hard drive
- Windows 8.1 Operating System
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
- 700g / 1.7kg when docked (PC mode)
- Price $1243