Asus can't be faulted for a lack of ideas.
The Taiwanese company has a habit of chucking new concepts at the wall just to see what sticks. Its latest madcap tablet, the Transformer Book Duet TD300, follows in the footsteps of Padfones, Fonepads and Transformer Book Trios – it can switch between full-fat Windows 8.1 and Android 4.1 at the touch of a button.
The Duet's standout feature is impressively swift; Asus claims it can switch between operating systems in 4 seconds, and we struggled to snap the switchover screen, it moved so quickly.
Design and build
Asus is increasingly shying away from the premium spun-metal finish of its early Transformers; the Duet is, sad to say, an all-plastic affair, albeit with an agreeably grippy rear. It needs to be; it's hefty at 13.3in across, and 12mm thick (with the dock adding a further 4mm). Weighing 1.9kg, it's fair to say that it's quite chunky when plugged into its keyboard dock (which it does with a satisfying click). Still, the plastic keeps things reasonably lightweight, though it's fair to say this is no MacBook Air.
A volume rocker and power switch are tucked around the side, though when the tablet's detached from the dock, don't expect to reach them easily.
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The Duet doesn't skimp on specs; you get a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD in the tablet itself, with the dock adding an impressively capacious 1TB HDD. The screen, however, is a bit of a disappointment, offering up 1920x1080 resolution across its 13.3in span. Twin speakers boosted with Asus' SonicMaster technology promise to deliver bangs and booms for your buck, though in the crowded, noisy environment of the press conference, we couldn't make a fair judgement of their abilities.
The dock features an impressive array of ports and jacks; HDMI 1.4, USB 2.0 and 3.0, and even an Ethernet port joining the tablet's microSD expansion slot.
The Transformer Book Duet is reasonably priced – US$600 for the whole package – but much will depend on how it performs in day-to-day use. Whether this is a genuinely revolutionary device or just a gimmick depends on whether you're one of the very specific target market on the lookout for a big tablet that'll run Windows and Android.