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Ultrabook reviews, guides and comparisons

Initial impressions on the Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA, Transformer 3 T305CA and Transformer Mini T102HA

By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , updated on October 12, 2016

Aside from the Zenbook 3 ultraportable that we covered in a different post, inspired by the Apple Macbook, Asus also recently released a new series of Transformer tablets, which we’re going to talk about in this article.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen new designs from Asus and it looks like their new approach is to study the best device available in a given niche and then launch something very similar, with a few tweaks and improvements here and there. With the Transformer tablets, the “inspiration” comes from Microsoft’s Surface families, and from what I can tell right now, Asus actually did a good job with these new computers.

There are in fact three different tablets in this recent Transformer series: the Transformer Pro 3, a 12.6-inch slate with Skylake Core i5/i7 processors, the Transformer 3, with a similar screen and Skylake Core M hardware, and the Transformer 3 Mini, an updated version of the Asus Transformer Book T100HA 10.1-inch slate.

There aren’t a lot of details on each of them for the time being, but I’ve gathered what we know in the post below, as well as my comments and input on what hides beneath the surface and the beautiful words in the press release, so you’ll know what to expect from these products and whether or not they are worth the wait.

Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is the best Windows tablet available in stores at the time of this article, and although rather pricey, it’s been well received by customers around the world. It excels as a tablet and works decently as a laptop too, when hooked up to the matching keyboard folio.

Update: Our detailed review of the Transformer 3 Pro T303UA is available over here and sheds light on most of the aspects you might be interested in.

Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA specs – official page
Screen12.6-inch, WQHD+ 2880 x 1920 px IPS, touch
ProcessorIntel Skylake Core i5-6200U, Core i7-6500U CPUs
VideoIntel HD 520
Memoryup to 16 GB LPDDR3
StorageM.2 NVMe slot
ConnectivityWireless AC, Bluetooth 4.1
Ports1xUSB 3.0, 1xThunderbolt 3, HDMI, card-reader, headphone/mic
Battery39 Wh
Size299 mm or 11.77 in (L) x 210 mm or 8.26 in (W) x 8.35 mm or 0.32 in (H)
Weightabout 795 g (1.75 lbs) + 355 g (0.78 lbs) for the keyboard folio
Extrasbacklit keyboard folio, 8 MP camera front, 13 MP camera rear, IR camera, 2W speakers, TPM

The Asus Transformer 3 Pro builds on the exact same directions. In fact, Asus even compared their product with the Surface Pro 4 in the press-release videos and materials, so they’re not hiding behind the bush here: they created a nearly identical replica of the Microsoft slate, at least in the outside. Personally, I don’t really mind this, I don’t care who copies who as long as in the end buyers get better and more affordable products.

Anyway, the Transformer 3 Pro gets a 12.6-inch display with a wide-gamut IPS panel and 2880 by 1920 px resolution. That’s BTW a 3:2 screen with a fairly slim bezel around the sides, and of course active pen support. The ASUS Pen is slim, metallic and supports up to 1024 levels of pressure, just like the pen compatible with the Surface Pro. On top of the screen Asus placed an webcam array with support for Windows Hello and face recognition, on the back there’s a 13 Mpx main camera, and on the sides you’ll notice some tiny cuts for the speakers, which fire face-wards, but the openings seem minuscule and I wonder if that’s going to have an impact on the sounds quality. We’ll find out in the future review.

The Transformer 3 Pro is also sleek and solid built. The entire case is made out of aluminum, so it looks well and should prove sturdy. The edges seem nicely chamfered, so I’d expect this thing to fit well in hand, especially since it’s thin (8.5 mm). We don’t know anything about its weight though, but should be somewhere around 770-800 grams (1.75 lbs).

On the slate’s sides you’ll find the IO, with one full-size HDMI port, one USB 3.0 connector, a microSD card-reader, a 3.5 mm audio jack and an USB 3.1 gen 2 port, or in other words a Thunderbolt 3 port, a certain feature the Surface Pro 4 does not offer.

You’ll also notice the venting at the top, cause the Transformer 3 Pro is motorized by Intel Skylake Core i5 and i7 processors, which are fan cooled, and I cross my fingers the fan on this one is going to be as quiet and as efficient as on the Surfaces. The other hardware specs include up to 16 GB of DDR3 2133 MHz of RAM and up to 1 TB of NVMe storage. No word on the battery capacity though, but again, it should be on par with the Surface Pro 4 (around 40 Wh), as Asus claims their unit can go for up to 9 hours on a charge.

The Transformer 3 is not just a slate though, it can also work as a notebook. There’s a step-less kickstand on the back and a matching keyboard-folio, which Asus calls the Transformer Cover Keyboard and hooks up magnetically to the bottom of the tablet. It even comes with a raised and a flat position, just like the Type Cover on the Surface Pro does.  The Cover includes a chiclet keyboard with illuminated full-size keys and 1.4 mm drop, whose layout is pretty much identical to what we’ve seen on 13-inch Zenbooks on the past. There’s also a glass touchpad beneath.

So long story short, Asus actually copied the Surface Pro 4 to the finest details here. A future review still needs to shed light on performance, thermals, acoustics, battery life and keyboard quality though, before we get to draw any conclusions on how the Transformer 3 Pro fairs against the Microsoft slate.

Update: Our detailed review of the Transformer 3 Pro T303UA is available over here and sheds light on most of the aspects you might be interested in.

The first impression is really solid though, especially since the Transformer actually offers a slightly larger screen and a Thunderbolt 3 connector. On top of that, it’s supposed to start at $999, so it might have a price advantage over the Surface as well. But for now we don’t have anymore details on availability, pricing and configurations, so we’ll update this section once we know more.

Asus Transformer 3 T305CA

The Transformer 3 is a sleeker and more affordable tablet. It gets a similar screen to the Transformer 3 Pro, with the wide-gamut panel and pen support, but that’s one of the very few similarities between the two. In reality even the screens aren’t the same in practice, as the one on the T305CA is much brighter, as you can see from our detailed review available over here.

Asus Transformer 3 Pro T305CA specs – official page
Screen12.6-inch, WQHD+ 2880 x 1920 px IPS, touch
ProcessorIntel KabyLake Core M CPUs
VideoIntel HD
Memoryup to 8 GB RAM
StorageM.2 SATA slot
ConnectivityWireless AC, Bluetooth 4.1
Ports1xThunderbolt 3, headphone/mic
Battery39 Wh
Size303 mm or 11.92 in (L) x 202 mm or 7.95 in (W) x 6.9 mm or 0.27 in (H)
Weightabout 695 g (1.53 pounds) without keyboard folio
Extras5 MP camera front, 13 MP camera rear, 2W speakers, fingerprint sensor

On the outside, the Transformer 3 is lighter, slimmer and more compact than the 3 Pro. It weighs just shy of 700 grams and its 6.9 mm thin. It’s made from a slab of metal, available in Silver or Gold, so it’s going to get the looks and the sturdiness, but it lacks a kickstand on the back and it’s more limited in the terms of IO. It only gets an USB 3.1 Thunderbolt 3 port on the edges, alongside a 3.5 mm audio jack, a fingerprint sensor with Windows Hello compatibility, a keyboard connector on the bottom lip and a set of four speakers on the lateral sides.

There are also no cooling vents around the edges, and that’s because the Transformer 3 is built on Intel Core fanless hardware. However, from what we know right now, this tablet is going to come with 7th gen Kaby Lake hardware, so it won’t be launched until towards the end of 2016. It will support up to 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD storage space, but we don’t have any specifics on the battery size for the time being.

Asus plans to pair the Transformer 3 with a Transformer Sleeve Keyboard, with full-size backlit keys and 1.4 mm of travel. The sleeve acts as a stand with two working positions, as you can see in the clip below, necessary since the tablet does not include a kickstand. It also acts as a complete sleeve when closed, covering both the display and the back of the tablet.

The Asus Trasnformer 3 is sleek, fast and fanless, but it's only going to be available in stores towards the end of 2016

The Asus Transformer 3 is sleek, fast and fanless, but it’s only going to be available in stores towards the end of 2016

One final detail we know right now is the starting price for this device: $749, but we’ll find out more in the months to come though and hopefully we’ll even have a review for this product, so stay tuned for updates.

Update: We’ve spent time with the Transformer 3 T305CA and gathered all our impressions in this post. Check it out for more details.

Asus Transformer Mini T102HA

The Transformer Mini is a follow-up for the Transformer Book T100HA and the previous Transformer Book T100s before it.

Update: We’ve spent more time with the Mini T102HA in the meantime, and our full review is available over here.

In other words, it’s a more compact slate with a 10.1-inch display and Intel Cherry Trail CPUs, thus a fanless slate that will last up to 11 hours on a single charge. We also know that the screen is compatible with the Asus Pen, so can be used for inking and drawing.

Asus Transformer Mini T102HA specs – official page
Screen10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 px IPS, touch
ProcessorIntel Cherry Trail CPUs
VideoIntel HD
Memoryup to 4 GB RAM
Storageup to 64 GB eMMC
ConnectivityWireless AC, Bluetooth 4.1
Ports1xUSB 2.0, 1xmicro USB, micro-HDMI, microSD card-reader, headphone/mic
Batteryup to 11 h
Size
Weightabout 790 g (1.73 pounds) with keyboard folio
Extras2 MP camera front, fingerprint sensor

Build wise, the Transformer Mini is pretty sleek, but lacks the metallic finishing of the more premium options. Its back case is made from plastic from what I can tell and Asus will offer it in multiple different colors. The slate weighs around 800 grams, is 8 mm thick and has a kickstand on the back capable of opening to 170-degrees.

The Trasnformer Mini is a redesigned 10-inch slate with an improved screen, new hardware and a different form-factor

The Transformer Mini is a redesigned 10-inch slate with an improved screen, new hardware and a different form-factor

The sides are pretty straight and house a few connectors: a microSD card-reader, an USB 3.0 slot, a micro-HDMI connector and micro-USB slot, so this device is not going to offer any sort of USB 3.1 connectivity from what I can tell right now. There’s also a fingerprint reader on the back and a front-facing camera on top of the display.

Asus bundles the Transformer Mini with a keyboard-folio, not a keyboard-dock like on the older Transformer Books. That’s why a kickstand is required for desk use. The folio latches magnetically to the bottom of the slate and chiclet non-backlit keys and a decently sized trackpad. Lapability is going to suffer due to the form factor, but the slate+folio combo is lighter and more portable than the slate+dock were on the previous iterations.

The Transformer Mini is expected in stores towards Fall and should sell for around $400 with the Keyboard Folio included. Follow this link for our in depth impressions gathered in the review, and this one if you’re interested in the latest T102HA configurations and their updated prices.

Final thoughts

On a first look, this new line of Transformer slates seems solid and looks like It could be worth the wait. The market for such products isn’t huge, but if Asus manage to deliver on what they’re promising right now, they’ll be able to grab a bite at each level with their range of three different devices.

I do hope they’ll do a good job with quality control though, and I also hope they’ll actually be able to have these Transformer 3 tablets in stores sooner than later. We’ve seen Asus products announced at Computex in the past that took many months, even years, before they became actual products. Right now, there’s a lot to like about these devices, but 6-months from now they might not be as attractive.

Anyway, this pretty much wraps up this post for the time being, but stay tuned for updates in the future. If you have any questions or things to add, please get in touch in the comments, and if you’re after a 2-in-1 ultraportable similar to the ones presented here, but don’t want to wait, you should check out our detailed list of 2-in-1s available over here.

Andrei Girbea, aka Mike, Editor-in-Chief and a huge fan of mobile computers. Since 2007, I've only owned smaller than 12.5" laptops and I've been testing tens, if not hundreds of mini laptops. You'll find mostly reviews and guides written by me here on the site.

21 Comments

  1. human overpopulation

    June 1, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    asus transformer 3 pro not been fanless like the acer alpha switch 12 is a deal breaker. While the latter does not have thunderbolt 3. Sooo, keep waiting, no moneys for them.

  2. Sarig

    June 16, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    I was really interested in the Mini, but it seems the resolution is 1280×800, aaaand the pen might be the Synaptics shite, and no n-trig og wacom.

    So close :/

  3. John

    August 25, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    Does the pen support hovering?

  4. Steve

    August 29, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    For the Transformer 3 Pro T303UA: Does the weight of 1.74 pounds include the keyboard? If not, what is the weight of the keyboard?

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 31, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Just the tablet. The keyboard weighs an extra 0.78 lbs

  5. Jerry

    September 4, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    The table of specs for the Transformer Mini has errors. First, the heading is “Asus Transformer 3 Pro T102HA specs” instead of “Asus Transformer Mini T102HA” specs. Then it lists the screen size as 12.6″ and 2880 x 1920 px, rather than 10.1″ and 1280 x 800 px.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 6, 2016 at 3:42 am

      Hmm, you’re right, thanks for the headsup

  6. Paul

    September 10, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Still fully of mismatch between 102HA text and the spec table eg CPU, weight, gives impression article written long ago and just got new date to get past google filter set to no older than 1 week.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 10, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      It’s pretty obvious the post was written when these devices were first announced and further updated. I appreciate the time to signal the mistakes, I don’t appreciate your tone though. I’m doing my best to have all posts up to date, but that’s not always possible. There’s a very small team behind this website, we don’t have the resources of larger media groups which BTW, rarely update any of their posts anyway. So please be nice :)

      • Paul

        September 18, 2016 at 7:55 am

        Sorry about the tone; it is just that however much one tries to save time by applying a filter to narrow searches down, it just seems many sites deliberately alter some small thing to ensure they are listed in the results despite the reader having shown a preference not to see articles older than a certain date. I am currently under much time pressure, and your article having bypassed my filter was was just one too many that day.

        • Andrei Girbea

          September 18, 2016 at 8:05 am

          Got it, sry again for the inaccuracies. Like I said, I’m doing my best to keep things updated, but there’s only so much our tiny team can do.

          There’s an update date on articles, as I update them often, however the software doesn’t make a difference between a small or a major update. Even a minor text correction for instance would update the date and I can see how that can ruin the experience for some of you guys. Still, there’s no better way to do it right now, it’s either that or just have the original post date, which wouldn’t show in any way the fact that we update our articles.

  7. Kevin Gunter

    September 19, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Anyone know when/where/if I will be able to buy the Asus transformer pro 3 in the USA? After a bit of research it is exactly what I have been looking for. (Tablet with pen/kickstand, detachable keyboard, and eGPU support.) My Surface Pro 3 is great but not enough RAM anymore and if I can consolidate my gaming rig (hence the want for eGPU) and my on the go tablet into one device that would be AMAZING.

  8. Devin

    October 1, 2016 at 12:49 am

    It seems T303UA will be in stock in Taiwan and China a few days later, and that T305CA won’t be available anywhere until November; regarding the rumored T303UAK, I guess I cannot see it until early or mid 2017, but this is the one I really like.

    Probably I should buy a GS63VR-068/021 from US instead of waiting for these tablets. It is really painful to wait so long.

  9. coy

    October 3, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    which one will be compatible to a rumored video card docking base, if there’s truth to it?

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 3, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      The T303UA and T305CA among these mentioned here, which have a Thunderbolt 3 port.

  10. Henry

    October 13, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    The Asus Transformer 3 Pro can be purchased at COSTCO. Just purchased mine on October 12. Sale price going on at $1299.00. To order; log on to COSTCO web page and insert the following in the search menu without the quotes: “ASUS T303UA 2-in-1 Touchscreen Laptop – Intel Core i7 – 2880 x 1920 Display – Windows 10 Professional”. Check it out!

    • m3tpe

      October 19, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      too bad the one sold at costco (t303UA) comes with a shitty generic ssd. they included the sata3 technology vs the higher end mvne pcie ssd. these two versions have 3x difference in read and write speed. pick your poison, i bought one and may be returning it very soon. it’s discounted for a reason.

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