We would like to thank Materiel.net for lending us their TX300, which we've been trying to test ever since it was released earlier this year.
The tablet section is made of charcoal grey brushed aluminium, quite an elegant material that stays cleaner than most, with black borders surrounding the display. The keyboard section is made of light silver-coloured brushed aluminium and latches on to the tablet/screen via a plastic hinge into which you slide the tablet. No question here, the manufacturing and materials are excellent, top-notch.
The chiclet keys feel good to type on, although they are a bit slack, and the backlighting is adjustable.
The large touchpad is precise and clickable on three-quarters of the surface, with the lower right and left sections acting as the right- and left-clicks. It recognises all the standard commands such as two-finger scrolling and zooming, plus the Windows 8-specific touch gestures.
The touchscreen is precise and responsive in the Start Screen, but the Full HD resolution makes it more difficult to use in the classic Windows desktop, as items are smaller, better defined and require higher precision.
The tablet has a micro-HDMI output, a headphone/microphone combo jack and a microSD card reader, and the keyboard has two USB 3.0 ports, a DisplayPort, an RJ45 Ethernet port and an SD card reader.
Images taken using a Fluke Ti25 thermal imaging camera
Our thermal imaging camera picked up cool climes all around. 36°C is the hottest it gets, and the fan noise stays equally low, at 35 dB(A) maximum.
The display is a Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) IPS touch panel. We measured the maximum brightness at 280 cd/m², which makes the screen difficult to see outdoors or in especially brightly lit settings. The contrast, however, is 1,000:1, which is excellent, especially for a laptop, making the already wide viewing angles even wider.
The colours are perfectly faithful (Delta E = 2.7), so no tones come out any more than the others. Three and below means perfect accuracy—some screens go all the way up to ten or more, so this is just fantastic. The colour temperature is a little warm (6,000 K), but not far from the ideal 6,500 K.
All in all, this is a superb laptop screen—very few look this good.
The audio was done by Bang & Olufsen, but that doesn't seem to have helped much. The headphone output is fairly standard: it's clean, doesn't have much distortion or saturation, but the volume is too low to feed many headphones.
The built-in speakers have trouble spitting out anything resembling good sound quality, even clearly intelligible sound. And they aren't located in the best spot, either. They're positioned just below the screen, which is right where your hands land when you hold the tablet, so you often end up blocking the sound with your fingers.
The Intel Core i5-3317U processor is the same one that Dell used in the Inspiron 15z, but it gives a performance similar to the Core i5-4200U that equips the Sony Vaio Pro 13. It's a fast processor that can undertake any task at more than reasonable speeds.
The SSD allows the Transformer Book TX300 to start up in 20 seconds and shut down in 14. Those definitely aren't the fastest startup and shutdown times on the market, but it's not bad either (20 seconds and it's on). Besides, this is the type of device that people tend to leave on standby rather than turn off completely anyway. The keyboard also contains a hard drive (320 GB or 500 GB), to add extra storage to the tablet's 128 GB SSD.
With an Intel HD Graphics 4000 chipset (3DMark06: 2122) inside, the Transformer Book TX300's 3D gaming capabilities are obviously bupkis. Smallish games will run fine, but any big demanding games like Crysis 3 are hilariously bad on this computer. Gamers beware.
Mobility / Battery Life
The Transformer Book TX300 has two batteries: one in the tablet, the other in the keyboard. You might think that would give it sky high battery life, but you would be mistaken: it only lasts 4½ hours of continuous video playback (in airplane mode with the screen brightness at 100 cd/m², the keyboard backlighting turned off and headphones plugged in). As a tablet alone, it lasts just 3 hours and 20 minutes in the same conditions. That's quite low compared to other laptops—the Sony Vaio Pro 13 and Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus both last 6½ hours.
The keyboard and tablet together weigh a total of 1.9 kg (each weighs around 950 g), which is light enough to carry around relatively comfortably, but it's still a good 600 g more than the 13" MacBook Air (1.3 kg) and 500 g more than the Ativ Book 9 Plus (1.4 kg).
- Quality screen with high contrast and faithful colours
- Processing power
- Well-designed for hybrid use
- Impeccable finish and manufacturing
- Disappointing battery life, despite second battery
- A little heavy (1.9 kg)
- Sound quality
The Asus Transformer Book TX300 is a great example of a hybrid laptop/tablet. Once the screen is attached, it turns into a true laptop with a high-performance processor and an excellent display. And as a tablet it's perfectly honourable. The biggest downsides: it's heavier and has less battery life than most ultrabooks.