ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi (5Y10) Unboxing, First Thoughts

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

Unboxing the ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi (5Y10) was a delight for me. Tightly packed and carefully arranged contents, a high quality stylus (the Chi Pen), and the reassuring heft of a slim and svelte laptop (let’s call it a laptop for now) that, it’s hard to believe, is actually a 12.5-inch stand-alone Windows tablet.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

Every thing out of the box, clockwise from top left. USB 2.0 OTG cable (for connecting drives and other devices), micro USB male to micro USB male cable (so you can charge the keyboard or your phone via the tablet), laptop charger (a tiny one, too), microfiber cloth (keep that great display clean), related literature, and Chi Pen. At the center is the T300 Chi, serene and compact. 

The T300 Chi, as you’ll see, is not a fan of fixed labels (laptop, tablet, hybrid, convertible, etc.). It’s a tablet that can pair up with any Bluetooth keyboard. It’s a laptop that gives you the pleasure of reading or watching videos while holding the display itself (the detachable tablet). It’s tablet with a stylus so you can do hand-drawn graphic work or do Photoshop intuitively (photographers, I’m looking at you) with a pen, and this tablet-stylus tandem comes with a full-sized keyboard, not the cramped comprises of other low cost hybrids. But then it’s hard to find a keyboard that magnetically snug fits with the T300 Chi tablet like the one that comes in the box.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

So you have all three, the tablet, the stylus, the keyboard. And then the question of what the ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi “really” is just seems silly. Only your needs will define it.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi 5Y10 Specs

12.5-inch 1920×1080 FHD IPS Display
Intel Core M 5Y10 Processor
LPDDR3 1600 MHz SDRAM, 4GB
128 GB SSD, Windows 8.1
Integrated Intel HD Graphics 5300
HD Web Camera
1 x Combo Audio Jack
1 x Micro USB 3.0
1 x Micro HDMI
1 x micro SD Card Reader
1 AC Adapter Plug
1 x Bluetooth On/Off Switch (on the dock)
32Whrs – Tablet Battery
2WHrs – Keyboard Dock
.72 kg (tablet), .7 kg (dock)
1.65cm thin (as a laptop), .76cm thin (tablet)
No Free Office 365 1-year subscription
Free Windows 10 Upgrade
Free 1TB ASUS Web Storage

SRP P39,995.00

 

This is an unboxing after all, so here’s how it went.

 

There are two variants of the ASUS T300. The T300Chi (5Y10) selling for Php39,995, and the T300Chi (5Y71), which has a  Php46,995 price tag. What I have is the more affordable T300 Chi 5Y10. But don’t let that “lower spec’d” look fool you.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

First boot. The power cord goes on the left side of the tablet. 

Here are my first impressions:

The 16:9 aspect ratio of the T300 Chi’s display seems to dictate the form of the entire laptop, which is a good thing. That means a full-sized keyboard and cinema format movies fill the entire screen of the T300 Chi. The same happens to photographs shot in 16:9 format – they will look glorious in full screen.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

The tablet is firmly connected to the keyboard dock via some very strong magnets that, with a soft pull on one side of the tablet, releases easily. Wow.

The full-sized keyboard has no weird and misplaced keys, doesn’t look cramped, and the keys look generously spaced apart. The proof of typing comfort is when a touch-type like me breezes through a quick brown fox jumps over the gosh-darn it uber-lazy neighbor’s dog and I can tell you, nothing about the keyboard seems amiss. A slightly shallow key press is what I noticed, that’s all. The keyboard is also not backlit.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

The T300 tablet and keyboard dock are thin. Micro USB charging port seen here on the dock. You can also see here that the hinge part of the keyboard is raised, for a bit of typing comfort and so the display can recline further back. 

The trackpad, which also seems to follow in the rectagular look of the T300, looks too small, but upon first boot is very responsive and supports the standard gestures, from double finger scroll to pinch to zoom. But keep in mind that you can also do those things on the touchscreen. So, in my head, I have been debating which I would be using more often when I put this to the blogging test – when I write drafts and edit images and open multiple browser tabs and a dozen Windows Explorer windows. I’ll let you know if this rectangular trackpad is too small to use, in the full review.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

Beautiful display. We’ll see about the glare when I take the T300 Chi for some outdoor work. 

There are no full-sized USB ports on the T300 Chi. The goal being slimness, both tablet and keyboard have been slimmed down to impressive levels. You wish previous hybrids were this slim and tightly packed together that they look and feel like a single laptop, which is how I look at the T300 Chi. Anyway, to plug in a thumb drive or an external hard disk or a mouse or keyboard, you need to use the comes-with micro USB to USB 2.0 adaptor cable, and plug it on the micro USB 3.0 port of the tablet. No, sadly, the T300 Chi doesn’t come with such a micro USB 3.0 adaptor cable.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

And that’s where the power button is. There’s also a physical Windows button on the tablet’s left side. 

There’s a microSD card slot at the right-side base of the tablet. Photographers who often use SD cards might initially be pissed, seeing the potential of a Windows tablet with a great screen that can run Photoshop and has a stylus. But those of us who save photos shot on our phones and saved on microSD card may like this.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

Four non-slip rubber ends keep the T300 Chi in place when on a flat surface.

The detachable gorgeous display offers promising usage scenarios. The tablet can be detached from the Bluetooth keyboard. That means you can position the tablet within the keyboard’s Bluetooth range and still type on the keyboard. Prop the tablet up on a stand or lay it flat on the table while the keyboard is on your lap. I can see possibilities with this.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

Intel Core M is designed to eat up less power while delivering acceptable processing power. 

There’s no hard disk in the Bluetooth keyboard, because it’s just a keyboard. What you have though is a speedy 128GB SSD on the tablet itself. This is actually just right, unless you save EVERYTHING on your computer’s harddrive. You can always use an external back up drive or save in the cloud. Or you can dedicated a microSD card and keep it slotted in, just be sure to secure it with adhesive tape.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

Full-sized keyboard. Trackpad verdict in the full review. 

Speaking of Cloud storage, the T300 Chi offers a 1TB free ASUS web storage. You want to think about that seriously if you’ll be using the T300 Chi as your main and always-with-you computer.

There is no Office 365 1-year subscription. While ASUS has bundled MS Office 2013 with the student-focused, budget-friendly T100, it seems the message is that the big boys and girls can afford Office. Still, a man can dream.

The Chi Pen stylus is intriguing, to say the least. 

The Chi Pen, come to think of it, probably deserves a stand-alone post of its own. I’m seriously thinking of doing one. I haven’t tested whether it’s pressure-sensitive, but remember that you can draw with it and that Windows 8 has a great handwriting recognition software (not a lot of people know that) that can figure out even my obscure doodles, as long as I write in English, that is.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

That’s it for now. The ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi will be my blogging kinfuter from here onwards. It’ll be with me during events, during writing sessions at home and in the corners of posh but lonely coffee shops, and in bed as I catch up with season 3 of The Adventures of Frank Underwood.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Review

Beautiful, isn’t it? Full review out soon.

 

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See also: 

Launched and Gorgeous: the ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi and T300 FA are here

Author

Irwin Allen Rivera loves his wife’s cooking so much he’s now twice the man he used to be. His English essay won a Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature in 2012. His philosophical-horror story appeared in Philippine Speculative Fiction 8 (2013). He was managing editor and lead writer of Sites and Symbols 2 (2005), a coffee-table book about buildings in UP Diliman – his alma mater (BA Philosophy; MA Creative Writing continuing). He worked at the UP Diliman Information Office before shifting to web content writing. His sudden fiction, “Notwithstanding Pigs,” initially a Friendster testimonial, appeared in Philippines Graphic (2006) and in Very Short Stories for Harried Readers (2007). He used to write for www.technoodling.net.