Best value Windows 8.1 tablet

Best value Windows 8.1 tablet

Summary: Looking for the best value Windows 8.1 tablet? Put down the Surface 2 and take a look at the ASUS Transformer Book T100.


Time to take a break from the regular posts to answer a question from today's mailbox:

What's the best value Windows 8.1 tablet out there?

When you think of Windows tablets the first devices that spring to mind are Microsoft's Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 hardware. While the Surface 2 tablets are not a bad investment, there's a tablet out there that I think beats it hands down.

That tablet is the ASUS Transformer Book T100.

ASUS Transformer Book T100
(Source: ASUS)

This is a 10.1-inch 2-in-1 convertible that switches from being a tablet to a notebook. This tablet beats the Surface 2 offering on almost every metric you care to use.

  • Price: You can pick up the T100 for $379 from online retailers such as Amazon, which is a full $70 less than an entry-level Surface 2 tablet.
  • OS: The T100 runs the full x86 version of Windows 8.1, not the ARM-powered Windows RT that the Surface 2 runs. If you want a Surface Pro 2 that runs the full version of Windows 8.1 then you're looking at a starting price of $899.
  • Microsoft Office: Full version of Microsoft Office (Home and Student 2013) versus the cut-down version for Windows RT.
  • Faster CPU: Intel Atom versus Nvidia Tegra 4.
  • Better battery life: 11 hours versus 10 hours.
  • Lighter: 1.2lbs versus 1.49lbs

About the only win for the Surface 2 is the screen size and resolution, which comes in at 10.6-inch 1920 by 1080 compared to the 10.1-inch 1366 by 768 display on the T100. The $899 Surface Pro 2 also comes with 4GB of RAM (8GB optional), while the T100 only comes with 2GB. This might sway anoyone thinking of using the tablet for heavy usage.

For me, the upsides of the ASUS Transformer Book T100 far outweigh the downsides, and it is a steal at $379. 

See also:

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Laptops, Windows, Windows 8

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  • Yes T100 is the best

    entry level Windows Hybrid.
    Ram U
  • Just ok specs

    Only 32GB HDD (5400 rpm) , other than that its good value for money.
    • The website does not say it's a HDD

      It says it's an eMMC. I would think an HDD itself would weigh close to the weight of the entire tablet. But yeah, 32 GB on a Windows PC does not leave a lot of room for apps, even assuming all your data is either on the web or on removable storage.
      Michael Kelly
      • A 64 GB version exists

        I know Walmart and Amazon in the US have it at 380$ (got mine from Walmart).

        And at that price (380$) the keyboard comes with it and the keyboard has a fullsize USB 3.0 plug.
    • $379 is for the 64gb eMMC model

      There is no spinning disk HDD in the Transformer T100.

      Plus is has an SD card slot for 64gb extra storage and a two USB ports (2.0 and 3.0)
    • Not true

      Two versions of EMM solid state memory - 32 and 64 Gb. Not as fast as SSD, but better than HDD.
  • Now I get it

    NetBooks and Laptops are finally evolving into new products due to Windows 8.1. Many people were not sure how hybrids would work, the T100 is a great example on how to do it right. Good work.
    Sean Foley
    • It isn't due to Windows 8.1.

      It is due to new hardware.
  • How does Atom fair for full Windows 8.1 though?

    It's worth mentioning the Asus Transformer android range are excellent too.
    • fine according to James Kendrick... and more

      Who has declared in the past that the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 using the slower older generation Atom the best Windows tablet. I think he mainly does editing and text entry with it but still ... the Bay Trail chips in this generation is quite a bit faster than the previous generation and compares favorably with current generation ARM chips. Benchmark testing shows the CPU is actually faster than ARM CPUs but the graphics CPU is not quite as strong. So if your looking to do typical web browsing and productivity apps you should be more than fine. If you want to run games with intense graphics you may be unimpressed.
      • Arr... graphics CPU = graphics GPU

      • Actually the Atom does surprisingly well running desktop games

        Keep in mind this is a $349-379 computer that is both a notebook and a tablet, so it isn't in the price range of gaming laptops.

        Despite that there are plenty of youtube videos where people demonstrate the T100 playing games at medium/low settings with playable frame rates.

        Half-life2, mass effect 3, Guild wars2, TF2, Dota2, Fallout3, League of legens, minecraft, Civ5, Diablo3, etc.

        Do a search for 'Kyle Muehl' and look at his videos.

        Again it isn't blazing fast high setting gaming, but what other $350 laptop can do that.

        Something else to keep in mind, these are 3D desktop games which are much more demanding than tablet apps. The last generation of atom chips didn't have any problems running 3d tablet games from the app store and Bay Trail has a GPU that is 5x stronger.

        James is right, this really is the best value in a windows tablet. Perhaps even in an entry level notebook.
  • Lacks credibility

    Adrian writing about Windows is about as valid as Putin writing an op-Ed on individual liberty.
    widow maker
    • @ widow maker

      Honestly, there is no comparison.

      Putin is an authoritarian oligarchist who believes in the rule of the few over the many. The election processes are selection based. It can even be called a plutocracy though some may say that is a pejorative usage.

      Adrian is an Internet tech bloggist or blogger. Internet tech bloggers only vary in the extent of their limited sample sizes from among the vast population of devices. This blogging field is still subject to massive fundamental attribution biases. And they are still unable to move away from those biases.

      More importantly, Adrian or any tech journalist views the particle (in this case a device) thinking they can measure the particle.

      In reality, particles are neither particles nor waves. And it is difficult to understand what it is even with quantum theory. We just cannot model nature deterministically at that level, Higgs boson or boson like particle finding not withstanding.
      • Perhaps...

        You're too clever by half. The comparison is simple. BOTH have engaged in actions, assertions and activities that preclude them from bearing any credibility on the subjects I've mentioned. Putin has no credibility on the subject of individual liberty just as Kingsley has none on the subject of Windows 8/8.1. The simile is about credibility, or in this case lack thereof, not a direct comparison of the two men.
        widow maker
        • Great Guru!

          Just who are you, great guru, that you know how much, or how little, credibility Kingsley has re Windows 8/8.1?
          Woody Brown
          • Well young one...

            Unlike you I can read his blogs over the past year and conclude that he lacks credibility on the topic due entirely to his own hysteria. You can of course come to a different conclusion. I really couldn't care less. That's the thing with opinions, mine doesn't need to match yours.
            widow maker
      • And you wonder why you're lonely.

        Seriously, dude.
  • surface 2...

    Has a much better build quality, much better accessories, a much better screen and the T100 doesn't run the version of the Atom processor it should (Z3770). A better option would be the Dell Venue 11 if you need a sub $500 tablet with desktop program support. If you don't need desktop application support the Surface 2 runs circles around the T100.
    widow maker
    • What kind of Atom processor should it have?

      It's already a last generation Bay Trail, much better than most other Atom devices out there which still run the previous generation...