ASUS has revealed a number of new Windows 8 tablets and hybrid devices today. By far the most interesting is the Transformer Book, a line of notebooks that features a detachable screen that allows them to be used as tablets.
The ASUS Transformer Book is described as the "world's first convertible notebook," allowing users to switch between working on a notebook and a tablet by simply detaching the screen. The idea is that the Transformer Book will give its owners the best of both worlds: a portable multi-touch tablet for leisure and a more traditional Windows-based notebook for productivity.
The Transformer Book boasts the latest Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor with discrete graphics, and 4GB of DDR3 dual channel RAM. Storage being provided by a combination of solid-state (SSD) and hard disk (HDD) drives. The Transformer Book also offers USB 3.0 support.
Also present are dual cameras, a front-facing HD camera and a 5MP rear-facing camera.
The Transformer Book ultraportable will be available with an 11.6-inch, 13-inch or 14-inch full HD 1920x1080 IPS displays, all with multi-touch capabilities. The screen can be attached to and detached from a full-size QWERTY keyboard as needed.
This is certainly an interesting idea, and goes to show just how much of an opportunity Windows 8 is giving hardware manufacturers to innovate and come up with reimagined hardware. That said, there are a lot of unknowns that could sink the ASUS Transformer Book.
First is price. As interesting as this hardware is, it will have to be priced carefully. It's unlikely that the market will support a premium price even for such an innovative device. I have a suspicion that this is not going to be cheap, and that could be a problem.
Another unknown is battery life. This device has two battery packs -- one in the main body, and another in the screen/tablet -- and these are going to have to offer up decent mobile performance in both configurations. It's going to need to equal the iPad when in the tablet configuration, and a MacBook Air when transformed into a notebook. Anything less than this will be disappointing.
Finally, there's no word on availability. Given that this hardware is powered by Windows 8 we're not going to see it any time soon, but I'm surprised that there's no guarantee that the Transformer Book will be available at the Windows 8 launch.
All in all, the Transformer Book seems like a good idea, but the devil could be hiding in the detail.