If you’ve ever looked at an Asus Transformer and wished that it was slightly bigger, had an x86 processor, and ran Windows, I have good news: At Computex in Taiwan, Asus has unveiled just that. Dubbed the Transformer Book, this isn’t some wimpy Atom-powered thing either: This Transformer will ship with a range of Ivy Bridge Core i3/5/7 processors and discrete Nvidia graphics. Like its Android-powered predecessors, the Transformer Book is a touchscreen tablet computer that plugs into keyboard docking station, effectively becoming a laptop (or ultrabook, if you prefer).
Rounding out the specs, the Transformer Book will come in a range of models (11.6, 13, and 14 inches), your choice of SSD or HDD, up to 4GB of RAM. All three models will have an IPS display capable of full HD (1920×1080). There’s a webcam on the front of the tablet portion of the Transformer, and a 5-megapixel shooter on the back. There’s no mention of wireless connectivity, but presumably there’s Bluetooth and WiFi; on the wired side, there seems to be only a single micro-HDMI socket (on the tablet), and a USB socket (on the keyboard/dock). On the software side, the Transformer Book will of course run Windows 8.
Take a moment for this to sink in. At long last, you’ll be able to keep a keyboard dock at home and in the office, and just carry your tablet (and all of your data) with you. As we’ve argued before, this is the future of mobile computing.
According to Asus, this is the thinnest Core i7 computer in the world. We don’t have the exact dimensions, but the pictures suggest the tablet portion of the Transformer Book will be very similar to the iPad — and yet Asus has managed to cram in an SSD or HDD, and a much larger logic board. For many, myself included, the Transformer Book must surely be the perfect fusion of hardware to make the most of Windows 8′s Metro interface while on the move, and the Desktop interface at home and in the office. I mean, damn, Asus even shoehorned a discrete Nvidia graphics card into the tablet; we don’t know which one, but even if it’s something like the GTX 640M (Kepler), we’re talking about a graphics card that’s tens (hundreds?) of times faster than the integrated GPUs found in Android and iOS tablets.
But then the reality sadly, slowly, grudgingly sinks back in. The tablet is positively riddled with air vents. If we assume that the Transformer Book uses the lowest-power Core i7 CPU, the 3667U (17-watt TDP), we’re still talking about a chip that uses at least 4 or 5 times the power of the A5X ARM SoC in the iPad 3. The Nvidia GTX 640M is impressive as far as mobile discrete graphics goes, but it still has a 30-watt TDP. Backlighting those big, bright, high-res screens is another 10 watts at least, too.
With all that hardware packed into that svelte chassis, how much space is left for the battery? Considering battery life was omitted from Asus’s presentation, I would guess “not a lot.” Even if Asus managed to squeeze in a battery that’s larger than the iPad 3, which has a massive laptop-like 42.5 watt-hours battery, the Transformer Book would last less than an hour — versus the iPad’s 9. With discrete graphics turned off (running on Ivy Bridge’s integrated GPU), we’re still only talking about 2 hours — but hey, that’s enough for the commute, or a short flight.
Asus hasn’t discussed pricing or availability, but this is almost certainly a Windows 8 launch device (this fall), and you will most likely have to sell a kidney to afford the top-of-the-range model.