Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi 2-in-1 Ultrabook Review
Design and Aesthetics
Asus constructed the Chi T300 with an all-aluminum unibody design. This convertible machine uses a magnetic hinge mechanism made of neodymium (the world’s most powerful magnetic material) to transform from laptop to tablet mode. In addition to laptop and tablet modes, this hinge also supports flipped and tent modes. The keyboard connects to the tablet via Bluetooth and offers a range of up to 20 meters--the hinge and magnets are strictly to make a mechanical connection.
Because the Chi T300 is made to be used as a standalone Windows tablet, Asus had to place all of the components of the system in the lid of the machine. As a result, when you open the Chi T300, you’ll notice the system is top heavy and requires two hands to open. When placed on our lap the Chi T300 sat still most of the time, but a bump would occasionally cause the tablet to topple backwards.
The Chi T300 takes advantage of the power efficiency of the Intel Core M processor and offers a fanless design with customized thermal management to keep the system cool. During our time with the system, we noticed it got warm but never too warm to hold.
Our test model of the Chi T300 comes with the high-resolution WQHD (2560x1440) IPS multi-touch display with a pixel density of 235ppi. Asus has added its own TruVivid technology which is designed to give wider viewing angles along with clarity and brightness. The screen is indeed very colorful and crisp however the glossy finish of the display often causes glare that makes the screen slightly difficult to view from some angles.
Asus put the power button on the upper left edge of the Chi T300. This placement is a bit unfortunate as we bumped it more than once when adjusting the angle of the display or when we grabbed the tablet to disconnect it from the keyboard dock. There’s a two-color battery charge indicator next to the power button that indicates the battery state based on the color of the light and whether or not it is blinking.
There are a number of functions built into the top bezel of the display. Moving from left to right, you’ll find the microphone, ambient light sensor, camera, camera indicator light, and a second microphone.
The left edge of the tablet contains the power port, speakers, a Windows button, and the volume rocker. On the right edge you’ll find another speaker, a USB 3.0 micro-B port, micro HDMI port, and a headphone output / microphone input combo port. Asus includes a microUSB to full-size USB adapter in the box, so you can easily connect your full-size USB devices to the tablet using this dongle. Even though you’ll have to haul around a dongle to use some USB devices, we like this implementation as it gives multiple use options and also keeps the tablet thin.
ASUS has included its SonicMaster audio technology in the Transformer Book Chi Series as well. In our experience, the speakers sounded average for a tablet or ultrabook. Lows were average for speakers of this type. The maximum output volume was adequate and we didn’t notice much distortion at maximum volume.
On the bottom edge of the Chi T300, you’ll find two hinge holes that are used to securely attach the tablet to the mobile dock. The Chi T300’s built-in microSD slot is also located on the bottom edge near the corner. Because Asus put the microSD slot near the corner of the machine, the magnetic hinge never blocks access to it. Overall, we prefer this magnetic attachment to alternative options we’ve seen that require a release switch.
The mobile dock has a power switch/Bluetooth switch in the upper left corner. A Bluetooth indicator and battery charge indicator are located to the right of this switch. On the left side of the mobile dock, you’ll find a micro USB 2.0 port for charging the dock. When you turn the mobile dock over, you’ll notice four circular rubber feet that help keep the Chi T300 in place on your desk. When the Chi T300 is being used in laptop mode, the machine is propped up on the hinge mechanism so only two of these rubber feet will touch your desk.
Overall, the keyboard and touchpad were comfortable to use. The touchpad supports multiple gestures and functions using up to three fingers. When waking the system from sleep, we occasionally noticed a delay in the ability to use the keyboard or touch pad, likely because it was still in the process of connecting to the tablet.
To charge the mobile dock, you’ll need to use the included micro USB to micro USB cable and connect the tablet to a power source using the included charger. The micro USB to micro USB cable Asus included with the Chi T300 is just long enough to reach from the right side of the tablet to the left side of the mobile dock without having a lot of excess cord sitting on your desk, thankfully.