CNET First Look
Asus Transformer AIO: Two devices in oneIt's not the most elegant design, but by offering a Windows 8 PC and a large Android tablet in one device, the Asus Transformer AIO can satisfy the computing needs of multiple users in a single household.
Hi. I'm Rich Brown from CNET. Today, we're gonna take a look at the Asus Transformer All-in-One. So, this is a really unique new system from Asus. It's gonna be available in April for 1299 and it's probably one of the more involved desktops we've ever reviewed here. In its standard configuration which you see here, it's a pretty simple system that's Windows 8. You have a wireless mouse and keyboard, it's an 18.4-inch screen with a 19 by 10 resolution. It's a core i5 chip inside it, a terabyte hard drive, 8 gigs of memory, as well as the more or less expected ports from USB 3.0, analog audio out, SD card, etcetera, etcetera. So, 18.4 inches is definitely small for a standard all-in-one on this price range. What you also get with this system is an Android tablet. You can push the button on the side and swipe over the Android's 4.1 Jellybean OS, you can see it here, and the screen comes off and I have a pretty gigantic tablet to take around the house. And the reason that works is because there's an NVIDIA Tegra 3 chip inside this display, which lets the system function by itself. So, we've seen a couple other systems like this, there's a system from Lenovo coming out later this year and Sony already put one out during the launch of Windows 8 last year. So, like that Sony, the idea with this Asus system is that you're not really gonna take this tablet out on the train or really in anywhere where it's gonna be a true mobile device. It's mostly for taking this screen around and using at some place where you wouldn't wanna use a traditional desktop, say plunking down in the kid's bedroom for a little while, even on a couch to browse the newspaper, and even more interesting with the system, it also has a remote desktop feature. So, it can either hit this mode switch icon or hit this button on the side and the system will automatically go back in new Windows 8 via remote desktop mode. So, the tablet connects back the Windows 8 via WiFi. In order for that to work both the base station and the tablet, it has to be on the same wireless network and you're probably best off if you use a 5 GHz network as supposed to 2.4 gig, which is more common, tends to have a lot of traffic on it. Even further extending the utility of the system, it also has an HDMI output 'cause that means you can connect the standard PC monitor to the base unit, use that as a standard desktop and then pop off the display here and use that as an Android tablet or even a remote in and have two users on the same Windows 8 system via separate monitors. The benefits of Android on the tablet are that you get a clean interface, a giant app library compared to what you'll find in Windows 8 right now, as well a pretty good touch input experience. It's also interesting to have the tablet and the base station sort of work as two separate computers if you want but over all, the concept seems like it would be a little smoother for just running Windows 8 throughout. Granted then, you wouldn't have the multi user experience, but there'd be a lot less fiddling and back and forth within the different OS's and it probably be generally and easier concept that people will understand. It's also worth pointing out that the tablet is heavy. It's not as heavy as the Sony VAIO Tap 20 actually, which came in just under 12 pounds. This is about 5.6 pounds. So, for battery life, we found that the tablet has just under 5 hours of use if you wanna use it for watching movies and in Windows 8 remote desktop mode, it comes in at about 3-1/2 hours. So, there's definitely a drop off there. So, ultimately, of course, the question is who should buy this thing? And right now, it's kind of hard to say. We're gonna have Intel coming out with the next generation of CPUs in the next 6 months or so. They promise better performance, better battery life and hopefully smaller, more lightweight versions of systems like this. Other vendors are also working on PCs with similar design and that it's an all-in-one and a tablet. There's various integrations of how you can do that, of course. But I think by the end of this year, we will see a whole fleet of PCs like this and we'll kinda have a better idea of what we want, what we expect and what good prices. So, all that said, I can recommend the system if you like the idea of a big tablet and you want sort of an extendable desktop and you like Android. The mainstream consumer, though, the system is probably a bit too expensive that recommend particularly with some other PCs, like it come out of the next few months. So, I'm Rich Brown, this is the Asus Transformer All-in-One.