Hands-on with the Transformer Book TX300 convertible ultrabook

ASUS has finally released details about the first Windows PC in the Transformer line. It is both similar to – and very different from – previous products that bare the name.

The similarities are aesthetic. ASUS has given the Transformer Book the same unique metallic finish and quick-detach hinge found on the company’s Android-powered Transformer Prime. The TX300, like previous Transformer products, looks and feels premium. We found that the system offers robust build quality and a simple, sturdy hinge which can be operated with one hand.

Inside, however, the new convertible is quite different from previous Transformers. It runs Windows 8 on an Intel Core processor and also includes four gigabytes of RAM. Long-term storage is provided by 128Gb or 256GB solid state drives. This makes the system both a convertible and an Ultrabook. ASUS claims this is a world first, though that’s not exactly true. Dell and Lenovo have offered convertible Ultrabooks for months.

The TX300’s display offers the same resolution as the Prime (1080p) but is stretched to fit a larger 13.3-inch form factor. The screen looked dark and beautiful in person – and ASUS wisely kept its showcase dim so reflections from the glossy display did not mar the experience.

That’s not to say the Transformer Book is prefect. We thought the system felt heavy and a bit thick overall. Detaching the display for use as a tablet is a great feature, but all of the hardware – including the powerful Core processor – is placed behind the screen. This wreaks havoc with the system’s weight distribution. Users must be careful not to flip the system on its lid.

ASUS is planning to ask $1,299 when the Transformer Book hits stores early this year. That’s a high price, but the hardware in the TX300 is of high quality. Few competitors can match the system’s specs.