Considering the Windows 8 ecosystem’s relative newness, Microsoft’s PC and tablet OS certainly has room to grow in the app department. Wouldn’t it be great if one machine could run both Windows 8 and another established tablet OS such as Android? The newly announced Asus Transformer Book Trio does just that, packing both operating systems into a dockable tablet model. One major caveat though: the Windows portion only works when docked.
Two brains, one package
This division stems from the Transformer Book Trio’s dual CPU and battery setup. As far as we can tell, one CPU resides within the tablet and the other within the dock. The tablet portion of the device holds a 2GHz Intel Atom Z2580 processor, 64 GB of storage, and a 19Wh cell battery. It runs Android Jelly Bean, which is totally not a robotic fruit snack.
Meanwhile, the Trio’s keyboard dock adds a fourth-generation Intel Core i7-4500U processor (AKA Haswell), a 1 TB hard drive, and an extra 33Wh cell battery. The same CPU will also be found in Asus’s Vivo Book V551 (S551 in Europe) ultrabook PC that was announced at the end of May. Haswell chips apparently offer up to fifty percent more battery life than third-generation Ivy Bridge CPUs.
Pressing a special hotkey on the keyboard toggles between Android and Windows 8 – when the Trio is docked, of course. So Android can be used in laptop or tablet mode, while Windows needs the laptop dock. The dock also offers a trackpad.
Divided by necessity
This solution seems to neglect one of Windows 8’s greatest strengths: its touch-centric design. Windows 8 represents the first PC operating system that also works great on tablets. The Transformer Book Trio will of course allow touch-screen controls in Windows 8 mode, but requires the dock to be connected since that part holds the guts used to make Microsoft’s OS work.
Separating the hardware needed for the two operating systems into the tablet and dock is probably the only way to get around having the tablet portion weigh as much as modern day Lawrence Fishburne. And let’s face it; hardcore Windows 8 enthusiasts probably own a Surface or even Asus’s excellent VivoTab Smart. The Trio seems to be aimed at Android enthusiasts first. But it will also introduce those users to the Windows 8 experience, so Microsoft's PC and tablet ecosystem will still benefit from the Android infusion.
Big power in a small package
Image courtesy of Technodify
The Transformer Book Trio carries an impressive 11.6 inch 1080P IPS display. That’s an increase over the Surface’s 10.6 inch screen, and it should make for a slightly better laptop-style experience. But as a whole, the Trio will also be larger and heavier to carry around. At least it won’t die too quickly: Asus touts up to 15 hours of battery life. Though we’re not sure what the difference in life will be between Jelly Bean and Windows 8 modes.
More details to come
The Transformer Book Trio announcement came during Asus’s keynote presentation at Computex 2013 in Taipei. During the same event, Asus announced three other Android-specific devices, and Samsung of course announced the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. So we know Android made a strong showing at Computex, but Asus could still announce more Windows 8 devices (such as a second generation tablet) later this year.
As for the Transformer Book Trio’s release date and price, hopefully those will come soon. Pricing questions aside, what do you guys think about running Windows 8 and Android on the same machine?