Can Asus transform the way we use computers with its 5-in-1 device?
Monday June 2, 2014, 5:04 PM
The Transformer Book V attempts to squeeze five very distinct gadgets into one device and is so original that it might just work. Computex Taipei doesn’t officially get underway until Tuesday, but that hasn’t stopped Asus from revealing a host of new consumer electronics devices a day early in order to capture as much press attention as possible. But, even if the company had waited until the show was in full swing, its new Transformer Book V would not have struggled to attract headlines.
Pushing convergence to new levels, the Transformer Book V is a world first. It’s a Windows 8.1 notebook with 12.5-inch HD touch screen. The screen detaches so that it can be used as a Windows 8.1 tablet. So far, so normal. However, that’s just the start because on the screen’s back panel is a slot. Slide the included 5-inch Android smartphone into it and the Windows tablet becomes an Android tablet. Reconnect the keyboard and the device becomes an Android notebook. Or, remove the handset, leave everything else at home and it’s an Android smartphone.
Unsurprisingly, Asus bills it as “an incredibly flexible device able to excel in any usage scenario.” The only thing it doesn’t do is work as an iPad. Each individual element of the Transformer Book V is well-made and suitably powerful. The notebook uses an Intel Haswell chip and the tablet and smartphone both pack the latest version of Android (4.4 KitKat), plus the handset is the first 5-inch screen phone with 4G/LTE to use a quad core Intel Atom chip. So speed should never be an issue.
Storage is pretty good too. The notebook offers 1TB and the tablet portion up to a further 128GB, and switching between modes and operating systems is simple, just tap on the icon on the screen. In May, Microsoft launched the Surface Pro 3, a premium Windows tablet with detachable keyboard, which it claims was created to address an issue: that 96 percent of iPad owners also have a laptop. If they instead bought a Surface Pro 3, they would have the best of both worlds and could ditch the tablet.
However with the Surface Pro 3 Microsoft didn’t address the issue that unless the tablet portion has access to iOS and a huge range of apps like Apple devices, many people are still going to buy an iPad and use a computer for serious work. Likewise, people who own Android phones and tablets and a Windows PC do so because each device offers different benefits and access to different types of apps and content. Therefore, Asus might actually be on to something with its latest Transformer Book, why push Windows on people when Android is much better for smartphones and tablets and the technology is there to offer both? Especially if it’s competitively priced.
However, Asus is yet to reveal that piece of information, or when it might actually go on sale. And, although the computer was announced at Computex, demo units for the press have not been made available, suggesting that the company might still be ironing out one or two bugs.