Hands on with the new ASUS Transformer Pro

The last time ASUS launched a Surface-like device was the Transformer 3 Pro and it was very nearly a Surface Pro killer. Parts of the tablet were ahead of Microsoft's, most notably the inclusion of Thunderbolt 3, but it also had its faults.

The biggest of those was, sadly, the paint job. During the course of our review, we scratched it up pretty bad during very careful use. And it's always hard to recommend an expensive device that damages that easily.

More: ASUS Transformer 3 Pro review

The new one simply called the Transformer Pro and it's a very mild upgrade from its predecessor. The first thing to discuss though is the new color scheme: It doesn't really have one. The demo units I saw at a recent ASUS event in London were all just plain silver, like a Surface Pro. Hopefully, this return to a plain finish means no horrendous scratches as soon as you breathe on it.

The Transformer Pro is a high-end 2-in-1 and for the most part this year's model iterates on the hardware found in the Transformer 3 Pro. You'll find 7th generation processors from Intel, for example. Here's a quick breakdown of what to expect.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
250nits brightness
Display Resolution2160 x 1440
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
SoftwareWindows 10 Pro
ProcessorSeventh Gen Intel Core i5-7200U
Seventh Gen Intel Core i7-7500U
StorageUp to 1TB SSD
Memory8GB or 16GB RAM
GraphicsIntel HD graphics 620
Rear Camera8.0MP
Front Camera2.0MP
AudioASUS Sonic Master
PortsOne full-size USB 3.0
One USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3
Full sized HDMI
SecurityFingerprint sensor
Windows Hello support
Weight0.85kg (1.87lbs)

For the most part, the new model is about the same as the older one. The display has taken a hit it seems, dropping from 2880 x 1920 to 2160 x 1440 while maintaining the same physical size at 12.6-inches. That's not necessarily a bad thing since battery life on last year's model was pretty rough. Fewer pixels may help out.

The rest of the Transformer Pro is mostly business as usual compared to the older model, save for the latest processors from Intel. The kickstand still has tons of angles it will operate at, there's still the Thunderbolt 3 port and you still have Windows Hello, albeit in a different form.

The camera array has been swapped out for a fingerprint sensor on the top edge. I can't say it bothers me, so long as there's Windows Hello that's the important thing.

The pen seems largely untouched, which is fine since it's a very nice pen. It's fairly close in size and weight to the Microsoft Surface pen and is really nice to use with Windows Ink. Oh, and there's a pen loop on this year's model. Thanks for listening on that front!

The keyboard cover has also had a makeover, too. ASUS makes good keyboards and that continues it seems with the new Transformer Pro. The biggest difference to the 2016 model is the finish, with the soft touch coating accompanied by a hard, metallic finish.

I like it while, equally, others may not. It adds a little extra sturdiness for sure, but that's not the best part.

Quietly, ASUS also seems to have included an option for the keyboard to have an 8-cell battery that would significantly increase overall use time. No-one really spoke about it but nestled towards the bottom of the specs sheets with the demo units were the details.

This keyboard cover takes the overall weight up to about 4lbs, but it contains a 73Wh 8-cell battery. Almost double the stock battery inside the Transformer Pro. An interesting prospect to say the least, although you'll notice it more in your bag.

ASUS Transformer Pro

Prices for the new Transformer Pro start in the UK from £1,199.99 and some configurations are on sale already. In the U.S. you can get one from around $1,000. Ultimately it looks like this year's model might be a winner, considering how good the Transformer 3 Pro was despite its flaws.

The display resolution drop isn't really noticeable and lets be fair, it's still a high-resolution display for a 12.6-inch screen. The changes are small but important, and mostly fix our criticisms of the older model. We might be a little closer to that Surface Pro killer we've talked about before.

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Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine