Asus Transformer 3 and Transformer 3 Pro surface at Computex
Having taken aim at Apple with its new ZenBook, Asus set the crosshairs on Microsoft with its latest Transformer. With a keyboard, pen and chipset that will be familiar to anyone who's seen a Surface Pro 4, the Transformer 3 Pro looks like a powerful alternative to Microsoft's two-in-one offering.
Measuring up at just 8.35 mm (0.33 in) thick, the Transformer 3 Pro is 0.15 mm thinner than the Surface Pro 4. Not a huge difference, then, but a difference nonetheless. Just like the Surface, the latest Transformer Pro has an any-angle kickstand offering 170 degrees of articulation and, just like the Surface, it combines with a pen sensitive to 1,024 levels of pressure.
Key to any work device is a good keyboard or, in the case of these hybrid devices, a good keyboard cover. The included Asus Transformer Cover Keyboard is fully backlit, and has 1.4 mm key travel. We'd need to try it out in person to see how it stacks up to the Microsoft Type Covers, but the fact you don't have to pay extra for a keyboard is a nice touch.
Whereas the Surface Pro only has the one USB 3.0 port and a MiniDisplay Port, the new Transformer Pro is loaded with a USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 port and HDMI ports, as well as a standard USB 3.0 plug.
If you spend lots of time dealing with large photo or video files, Thunderbolt 3 with its 40 Gbps transfer speeds and 4K support could be one real calling card for the Asus.
Asus has gone all out on the Transformer 3 Pro's 12.6 inch screen. The 2,880 x 1,920 display has a pixel density of 275 ppi, marginally more than the iPad Pro 12.9 or Surface Pro 4 can manage. If watching movies is your thing, you'll be pleased to know the high resolution screen is backed up by dual front-facing Harman Kardon speakers.
Gamers also get a look in with the Transformer 3 Pro thanks to the RoG XG Station 2, a dock that includes an external graphics card for "desktop-grade graphics performance." Most hard core gamers will likely have a dedicated desktop for such activities, but the idea of being able to use the one device for work and play without sacrificing on portability or performance is an attractive one.
As is the case with the ZenBook 3, the Transformer 3 Pro can be combined with an Asus Universal Dock. Using the USB-C port, the optional dock adds USB-C, USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA and RJ45 LAN ports, as well as an SD card reader. The pen is also an option, although Asus does include the keyboard cover with the tablet.
There will be versions of the Transformer 3 Pro available with Intel i5 and i7 processors, which can be paired with up to 16 GB of RAM and solid-state storage up to 1 TB.
If you don't need all this power, there is a non-Pro version of the Transformer 3 available as well. Although it shares its screen resolution with its bigger brother, it's 100 g (3.53 oz) lighter than the 795 g (1.75 lb) Transformer 3 Pro. It's also just 6.9 mm thick, and offers up a battery life of about 9 hours.
Where it loses out to the Pro is in the power stakes, with a maximum of 8 GB RAM and 512 GB of solid-state storage. The regular Transformer also loses the USB, HDMI and Thunderbolt 3 ports, however it does still use 7th-gen Intel Core processors, although Asus hasn't yet specified which ones.