Two Heads Really Are Better Than One!

ASUS Transformer AiO-01

ASUS Transformer AiO P1801

ASUS Transformer AiO P1801 Review

Author: Craig Jones

Once again flexing their “innovation” muscles, ASUS shows that it still has a few tricks up its sleeve when it comes to making us all say “Ooooo”. Unveiling it’s near production-ready sample of the Desktop/Tablet hybrid at CES 2013, ASUS has conjured up an incredible piece of tech that breaks the boundaries of ‘conventional’.

Overview
We may have seen the All-In-One before, but this one harbours one distinctive difference. Sure it has a touch screen  but this one detaches completely to become a stand-alone tablet running Android Jellybean. The ASUS Transformer AiO P1801 has a serious case of multiple personality disorder. Think Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk.

On its own, the 18.4-inch display is a Tegra 3-powered Android tablet. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, has 32GB of internal storage and a 1080p resolution display. The ASUS Transformer AiO P1801 is not a tablet you can simply slip into a handbag though. The thing is gigantic. It’s also quite heavy. At around 2.5kg for the tab alone, this is a house bound tablet. However, for web browsing while on the sofa, it should prove a pro. Like any good tablet, it uses a responsive capacitive touch screen, capable of 10-point multi-touch. Its 1080p resolution may not seem all that pixel-packed when stretched across 18.4-inches (it has far fewer pixels than an iPad 4), but in person it still manages to look pretty impressive thanks to its IPS display. There are a few connections on the tablet itself too. There’s a microSD slot allowing for expandable storage (up to 64GB), headphone jack, Kensington lock and miniUSB port.

However, most of the connections are on the desktop base, including four USB 3.0 ports, Multi Card Reader, Headphone and Microphone inputs, another Kensington Lock, and an Optical Drive Slot (Multi-DVD).

Coming in a multitude of flavours sporting Intel i3, i5 and i7 variations, with storage capacities of 1TB or 2TB, the Transformer AiO certainly keeps up with its more reserved competitors.

Size and Screen
The Transformer AiO P1801 has an 18.4″ Full-HD 16.9 IPS LED Backlit Display. Even for a desktop this is impressive, but to have it double as a standalone Android Tablet is nothing short of mind blowing. As a computer that runs both Windows 8 and Android, you might assume the ASUS Transformer AiO P1801 will automatically switch between the two operating systems when plugged into the dock. However, a button on the side of the desktop dock does this, letting you use Android while docked too if you wish. You also have the option of adding an external monitor, should you wish to continue to work on the Windows 8 platform while the kids commandeer the Tablet to catapult vexed birds at some mischievous green pigs.

The addition of 10 Point Multi-Touch technology makes full qwerty typing a breeze with missed keystrokes being a non issue. Toting a resolution of 1920×1080, and a ppi of count of 119.72 gives the Transformer AiO beautiful colour reproduction, and some great viewing angles, which gives the added appeal of it being multi user friendly, Ideal for photo and video sharing.

Software
Making the Transformer Aio stand out even more is its capability to ‘Dual-Boot’ both Windows 8 and Android Jellybean 4.1.

While docked you have the option to run in its native Windows 8 configuration, or at the flick of a switch located on the side of the tablet, you have the ability to convert to the Jellybean platform.
The tablet can also use the ever-versatile Splashtop software to run Windows 8, effectively beamed from the base station using a direct (and automatic) WiFi connection. ASUS estimates the range is somewhere between 30 and 40 feet. While some of us may dream of a tablet that runs both operating systems simultaneously, it would certainly drive up costs and power consumption.

In either case, the versatility of the Transformer AiO is ground-breaking stuff. The ability to remove the Tablet from the dock and continue working in a Windows environment is a unique and satisfying experience.

Processor
Panning for a more philosophical approach,‘two heads are better than one’, ASUS has packed a rather meaty punch into both sections of the Transformer AiO.

The Desktop/Dock houses an Intel Ivybridge CPU, offering i3, i5 and i7 models. While the Tablet boasts the Nvidia Tegra 3 chip. Making this device in either configuration a force to be reckoned with. Combine that with 8GB of RAM and a Graphics Chip sporting 1GB of dedicated vRAM, and you have a device that is comparable to most mid to high end desktops. This is sure to make light work of even the most memory intensive programs such as Adobe After Effects/Premier, and could well end up putting its ‘All in One’ competitors to shame.

Camera
The addition of the 5 mega-pixel front facing camera located at the top of the ‘Tablet’ half of this hybrid All-In-One, allows easy access to video conference applications such as Skype or Google Hangouts. Which means there is no need to take up any of those precious USB 3.0 ports and trailing wires around your tidy minimalistic desktop.

Built in Geotagging makes for an unusual inclusion considering the ‘Tablet’ portion may be a little too unwieldy for it to accompany you to an off the cuff photo shoot in the middle of nowhere.  And even though I can’t imagine it being used for the more traditional self portrait style photography, or any other variation for that matter, it’s nice that ASUS included an LED flash nonetheless.

Battery
No official specs have been released detailing the size of the battery, however ASUS has mentioned that the expected battery life for the Tablet is around 5 hours. Powering the 18.4″ Full-HD screen is no easy task, so the 5 hours is rather impressive.

Who Is It For?
Ideal for those of us that hate being tethered to confines of a desk all day and want the freedom that the ‘Tablet’ form factor offers, while still maintaining the performance of a high end desktop.

Value for Money?
Considering the ‘2for1’ aspect of the Transformer AiO, at only $1,299 (£820 at current exchange rate) you certainly get a lot of bang for your buck. You would be hard pushed to get two separate devices offering equivalent specs for that sort of money.

Final Thoughts
The Transformer AiO is a prime example of ASUS pushing the envelope on hardware design and functionality. That being said the Transformer AiO is certainly an odd duck when it comes to hybrid computers, but with both Windows 8 and Jelly Bean running smoothly it could potentially replace a whole host of other devices in the home. It’s an All-in-One that should satisfy users wanting the best of Microsoft and Google worlds. Its 18.4” Tablet configuration says “Why not go bigger”? Taking the words right from the mouth of Huawei when they released their 6.1” smartphone.

Like the Asus Padfone, it’s a gadget that pushes at the boundaries of tech convention, and in doing so repels and attracts in more-or-less equal measure. It may not be heading for grand success, but credit where credit is due to Asus for having the stones to make bring such an idea to fruition.

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Tech enthusiast, with a passion for the written word.

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Posted in Desktop PCs, Reviews

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