Asus Transformer Book Trio TX201LA review
11.6 in 1,920x1,080 display, 1.7kg, 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U / Intel Atom Z2560, 6.00GB RAM, 516GB disk, Windows 8, Android 4.2
We’ve seen our fair share of detachable tablets and keyboard docks, but the Asus Transformer Book Trio TX201LA is unlike any hybrid device we’ve ever seen. Not only is there a complete Windows 8 system hidden inside its keyboard, there’s also an entire Android tablet packed in behind the screen, making it the world’s first dual-operating system laptop.
Switching between the different operating systems is simple. Detach the screen from the keyboard and you have an Android 4.2 tablet, with the change taking place in an instant. You can also use the dedicated "instant OS switch" button at the top of the keyboard to switch between operating systems when the keyboard dock is attached. The transition takes less than a second and you don’t need to worry about losing your progress either, as each operating system will run in the background while the other one is in use, so you can pick up instantly where you left off.
This means you can use the keyboard and touchpad to control both operating systems, which will be welcome news to those who don’t like using the onscreen Android keyboard or who want to keep onscreen fingerprints to a minimum. It certainly makes browsing the web a lot easier if sites aren't configured for mobile viewing.
Our favourite feature, though, is the ability to connect the keyboard dock to a monitor via its mini HDMI or mini DisplayPort output. As the computer is contained within the keyboard, you can use the Windows computer on a large screen while someone else uses the tablet.
Of course, using twice as much hardware means the Trio is a little bulkier than many hybrids. With a combined weight of 1.7kg (the keyboard dock weighs 1kg while the tablet weighs a mere 700g), the Trio TX201LA feels surprisingly heavy in your hand. The tablet is actually a fraction lighter than the Samsung Galaxy NotePro 12.2 tablet, but its 9.7mm depth is almost 2mm thicker. It’s still comfortable to hold in both hands, but we found we often had to rest the tablet on our lap or the edge of our desk when using it for long periods of time. The Trio’s combined height of 32mm when closed is also considerably thicker than an Ultrabook, but it’s easy enough to fit in a bag when travelling.
The Trio doesn’t have the widest range of ports, but it should cater for most users. In addition to the two video outputs there are two USB3 ports and a combined headphone and microphone jack on the keyboard dock. The tablet has a micro SD card reader that can support cards up to 64GB, a micro USB port and another combined headphone and microphone jack on the base of the device.
The micro SD card is particularly useful as the tablet only has 16GB of internal storage. The keyboard dock, on the other hand, has a 500GB hard disk, so you’ll want to store most of your files here. It’s easy to transfer files between each device, though. The tablet’s storage shows up in Windows Explorer as an additional drive, so you can just drag and drop files from one system to another.