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Preview: ASUS Transformer Book T100TA Bay Trail Tablet
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Date: Oct 21, 2013
Section:Mobile
Author: Dave Altavilla
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Hands-On: ASUS Transformer Book T100TA Windows 8.1 Bay Trail Tablet
A few weeks back we gave you a first-hand look at the performance of Intel's new, low-power Bay Trail Atom System-On-A-Chip for tablets and hybrid devices. Bay Trail, the follow-on to Intel's Clover Trail Atom design, comes in both dual and quad-core variants and offers better overall performance-per-watt than the previous generation, along with a significantly most robust graphics engine.  At the time, we only got our hands on a few prototype devices and Intel was still tuning drivers getting the solution ready for prime time. 

This week, however, the Windows 8.1 and Intel Bay Trail onslaught begins as both Microsoft, with its Surface line-up, and various OEMs release products to market comfortably ahead of the holiday shopping season.  Today we're giving you a quick preview at the first Bay Trail and full Windows 8.1 tablet to hit our test bench; and it's another Transformer from ASUS, more specifically, the ASUS Transformer Book T100TA.


ASUS Transformer Book T100TA, Currently $399 At Amazon

The Transformer Book T100TA is a 10.1-inch Windows 8.1 tablet with companion keyboard dock that runs a full version of the Window 8.1 OS, not Windows RT.  ASUS also includes Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 and it's powered by a quad-core Intel Atom Z3740 Bay Trail SoC, paired to 2GB of RAM and 32 or 64GB of on-board storage. Along with the keyboard dock and copy of Office, the system retails at $349 for the 32GB version and $399 for the 64GB model we’re looking at here. At those price points, with a companion keyboard dock, it's a solid value.

We've found it on Amazon but pricing hasn't quite settled in yet, so be patient.

Let's give you the video walk-around and hands-on demo, then we'll take a quick look at some early numbers...




The T100TA is a well-built, solid machine that weighs in at just under 2.5lbs.  The display features a 10.1-inch IPS panel with a native resolution of 1366X768.  It's not the highest res display we've seen in a 10-inch slate, but it's still nice and tight enough for this size of device. ASUS notes there's a 31Whr battery on board that will offer up to 11 hours of casual use and 9.5 hours of HD video playback.  We haven't completed battery life testing yet so we'll reserve our opinion here, though we've found Intel's new Bay Trail Atom to be rather power efficient.
 



Note clock speed listed here is 1.33GHz, though the Atom Z3740 will Turbo up to 1.8GHz

Again, this is a full Windows 8.1 installation with the 32-bit version of the OS. As you can see, Device Manager reports the processor is clocked at 1.33GHz though the CPU does scale up to 1.8GHz when fully Turbo'd. It's odd that Windows 8.1 is reporting the core speed incorrectly, though likely the OS is reporting max speed when all cores are utilized. Regardless, this is a speed bin down from the Atom Z3770 chips we tested in our early prototypes. The slower clock speed will bleed off a little performance in some cases but also offer better battery life, in conjunction with Windows 8.1's excellent thread and app management you see above.

Let's scans some quick reference numbers...  








In our general compute throughput tests, The ASUS T100TA and its Bay Trail Atom Z3740 blow the previous generation Clover Trail Atom (Z2760 at 1.8GHz) right out of the water and even manages a victory over AMD's A4-5000 APU in SunSpider.

Let's compare the T100TA to some competitive brand names in game engine testing...






The Nexus 7 numbers you see here are for the current generation (2013) model that was just released.  The ASUS T100TA is able to best both the iPad 4 and the Nexus 7, which is very respectable showing for Intel's new Atom.  As you can see, the T100TA falls a bit short of our Atom Z3770 reference numbers in this tests, though it's able to edge it out in the Physics test, which is likely a result of continued driver and OS optimization since we last tested Bay Trail devices.  We ran tests several times with nearly identical results so we're pretty confident in the numbers.  Note NVIDIA's SHIELD is an actively cooled device but clearly rules the roost here in gaming, though it will be interesting to see how Microsoft's Surface 2 holds up to this same sort of testing when we get it it; which we're told will be any day now, by the way.

So that wraps up our quick preview of the new ASUS Transformer Book T100TA.  Make sure you stay tuned for our full review which will be coming shortly, as well as new offerings direct from Microsoft that we're expecting to put through their paces as well very soon.
 


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