Microsoft has demonstrated in a number of ways that its Surface line of innovative Windows 10 PCs is meant to lead its OEM partners to make better machines. There’s no OEM that has embraced this more than Asus, which with its Transformer Pro line has created nearly identical copies of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4.
The latest model is the Asus Transformer Pro T304, which from a distance is nearly indistinguishable from Microsoft’s version. Asus announced the machine some time ago, and it’s now available for ordering, as Liliputing reports.
The Transformer Pro T304 is a Windows 10 2-in-1 that follows Microsoft’s “tablet that can replace your notebook” tagline. That is, it’s a tablet PC first and foremost, with a 12.6-inch IPS display running at 2,160 × 1,440 resolution that’s the same 3:2 aspect ratio as the Surface Pro 4. The best tablets are also light machines; the Transformer Pro is light at 1.8 pounds and quite thin at 0.34 inches, and it utilizes a very Surface Pro-like built-in kickstand to let it stand upright or angle down to a 155-degree stance.
The device transforms into a notebook-like PC when you snap on the detachable keyboard, which offers 1.4mm of travel — close to the 1.5mm sweet spot for touch typists — and it includes a decently sized multitouch touchpad supporting Windows 10 gestures.
In terms of specifications, the Transformer Pro can be configured with seventh-generation Core i5 and i7 processors, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to a 1TB PCIe x4 SSD. Connectivity is provided by a single USB 3.1 Type-C port, a USB 3.0 port, a full-size HDMI connection, and an audio jack. In this respect, at least, it’s superior to the Surface Pro 4 with its single USB 3.0 port. Windows 10 Hello support is provided by a fingerprint scanner, while an array microphone provides for Cortana voice input. Finally, the Asus Pen is the last piece of the puzzle, offering up support for Windows 10 Ink.
One area where Asus hasn’t followed Microsoft’s lead lately is with pricing. While the Surface line is usually a leader on the high end, Asus has actually priced the Transformer Pro T304 a bit closer to the stratosphere. Want an Intel Core i5-7200U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD? Retailer NCIX lists it at $1,450. That’s more expensive than the Surface Pro 4 at retail and even more so than the discounted prices Microsoft has been offering lately. Note that Asus includes the keyboard and pen.
You can order the Asus Transformer Pro T304 from a few vendors and get it in a week or two. Note that Microsoft could be announcing its own Surface Pro 5 sometime soon, which may offer seventh-generation Intel processors, a higher-resolution screen, and its own USB Type-C connection, if rumors hold true. If you’re not willing to wait, then the Transformer Pro might offer some of the same advantages.