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Asus Transformer Book Chi hands-on review at CES 2015

Asus has launched the Transformer Book Chi at CES 2015, a tablet convertible with a super-sharp display that is better than the air you breathe in every way (apparently)…

Here at Recombu, we love oxygen. It keeps us alive to bring you reviews and news of the hottest new tech. But Asus claims to have something even better than this life-giving gas: the Transformer Book Chi, a fresh new tablet packing a keyboard dock, which is apparently ‘slimmer, clearer and more sophisticated than air’. Quite the boast.

Sporting diamond-cut edges, the Transformer Book Chi promises a sleek look and feel. In reality, we prefer the brushed metal finish of Asus’ Zenbooks, but the rubbery Transformer Book Chis at least feel quite rugged and don’t seem to scuff too easily.

There are actually three models of Transformer Book Chi, just to confuse matters, which decrease in size and cost (and also specs) as you go down the list: the 12.5-inch T300, 10.1-inch T100 and finally the dinky child of the family, the 8.9-inch T90. Let’s take a look at all three.

At 720g not including the keyboard dock (and double that with the dock), the Transformer Book Chi T300 is not quite lighter than air but it’s also not too ridiculously cumbersome considering the size of the thing. Just don’t expect a light, lovely experience like the iPad Air, which is just over half the weight of the T300. It’s not slimmer than air either (??) but the 7.6mm frame shouldn’t be too much of a struggle to slip inside your backpack. We would’ve tried it, but the Vegas bouncers looked pretty serious.

The T100 is a little slimmer and lighter, while the T90 really is a baby, coming it at just 720g including the keyboard dock. The keyboards seem comfortable to use on all three models, with full feedback as you strike the keys and good key positioning, although some may find the T90’s board a little cramped.

The Transformer Book Chi T300 comes with the option of a 2560 x 1440 TruVivid display, which packs 235 pixels-per-inch compared with the MacBook Air’s 127 ppi. We have to admit, we fell in love a little with our hands-on play. The T300’s Ultra HD screen isn’t just beautifully sharp, it’s also vibrant, powerfully bright and supports strong viewing angles.

You can also pick the T300 up with a Full HD screen if you’re not too obsessed with visuals. Both models pack dual SonicMaster speakers for decent audio output, although it didn’t exactly power through the full-on background chatter in the demo booth.

An Intel Core M processor is packed inside this tablet, the same chip you’ll find in the Lenovo Yoga 3, but Asus reckons the Transformer Book Chi is more powerful and can also put the iPad Air 2 to shame in benchmarking. And the solid-state drive is apparently capable of nippy file transfer, so your apps should all run smoothly. Certainly in our hands-on time, we didn’t see any stutters or troublesome pauses – the only brief waiting periods we suffered involved waiting for the Transformer Book Chi to connect to an online service.

Asus promises eight hours of battery life per charge, something we’ll be sure to test out in our full review.

So, what about pricing and availability? Well, you’ll have to spunk out $699 for the Full HD T300 model or $799 for the sharper Quad HD model. The cheaper T100 starts at $399 and the T90 starts at $299.

All three models will be available to purchase from February 2015 although we don’t have UK prices just yet. Expect the T90 to cost around £200 to £250, the T100 to cost around £300 and the T300 to come in at roughly £500.

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