When Microsoft first introduced the Surface in 2012, it would introduce the world to the 2-in-1 hybrid computer, where the main computer is a tablet and is accompanied by the detachable keyboard.
But these types of devices didn’t become more mainstream until late 2013 when more came on to the market. All the computer OEMs have tried to emulate the success that Microsoft has seen with their Surface lineup and the Asus Transformer 3 Pro is the best alternative for those looking at the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.
I’ve been using the Transformer 3 Pro for a few weeks now and it’s one of my favourite 2-1 Windows machines to use.
Normally in my product reviews, I would cover design & hardware, software and camera but for this Transformer 3 Pro review, I won’t be covering the camera as much because let’s face it, cameras on tablets aren’t as great as a smartphone camera or a dedicated camera like a DSLR.
Design & Hardware
The most prominent feature of the Transformer 3 Pro is its display. It has a 12.6-inch touch screen with a resolution of 2880 x 1920 (3K) and a 3:2 aspect ratio and a 178-degree viewing angle.
The display looks great from all angles, no matter how you look at it. Videos looks especially great but you shouldn’t stare at a screen for too long (your eyes will eventually get sore).
The Transformer 3 Pro has an all-metal premium design with a fully adjustable rear kickstand but since it’s so large, you’ll need to use two hands. The included keyboard is not as premium as the computer itself but still feels nice. The keyboard also doubles as the cover and is backlit.
When looking head-on at the tablet, there’s one button the top for the power-lock button, the left side has a volume rocker as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card reader. On the right of the device, you’ll find a USB Type-A port, a full sized HDMI port and a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port which is how the device charges.
The device with the keyboard weighs just under 2 lbs and that’s pretty light considering what it’s packing. The Transformer 3 Pro also includes the Asus Pen stylus that is capable of sensing 1024 different levels of pressure, in addition to the keyboard cover.
Inside the Transformer 3 Pro, you’ll find up to a 6th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 520, up to a 512GB SSD with up to 16GB of RAM. The device does have two camera, the front camera is 8 megapixels and has support for Windows Hello which uses facial recognition to login users in. The rear camera is 13-megapixels but I wouldn’t use it for any serious photography.
The battery is 39w Hrs and Asus claims you get get all-day battery life, I was able to get 6-8 hours on a single charge. And the battery has good standby time and it also charges to 60% in under an hour.
The detachable keyboard cover for the Transformer 3 Pro is great and has a good amount of travel with the keys but the trackpad is kind of hit or miss at times but it gets the job done. The device can be changed to a few different angles, thanks to its 155-degree stepless, it can go up to 170-degrees and is great for drawing on the device with the included stylus.
The Transformer 3 Pro starts at $1499 CAD that will get your the Core i5 and 8GB of RAM model, not the Core i7 with 16GB of RAM. The Transformer 3 Pro comes in two colours, Titanium Gray and Icicle Gold and the keyboard cover is also available in four colours.
The Transformer 3 Pro is running Windows 10, which Microsoft says it the best version of Windows yet. Which I do agree with Microsoft, they have made major improvements to their OS. Windows 10 takes the best of Windows 7 and 8.
Even though the Transformer 3 Pro is running Windows 10 Pro, it should be noted that you shouldn’t be using it for super heavy tasks, that’s where a more beefier Windows laptop or desktop will come in handy. In my testing, when I was using the device, there was a lot of fan noise when even just running the Microsoft Edge browser or while idle.
Just like in Windows 8, Windows 10 can be used with devices with and without touchscreens. And unlike Android, there are lots of Windows 10 apps that work well on a tablet. Sure, there might not be as many apps as on Android or iOS but there are alternatives and you can easily install apps that are not on the Windows store.
I was able to easily multi-task on the Transformer 3 Pro and the tablet easily kept up. In Windows 10, there’s even a tablet mode which will bring up the “Modern/Metro UI” that was introduced in Windows 8. And you can easily switch between Tablet mode and the traditional Windows 10 desktop with one click.
Most of the other apps you’ll find pre-installed on the Transformer 3 Pro are standard with any Windows 10 PC.
Some of the sketches I made using the stylus on the Transformer 3 Pro.
The Transformer 3 Pro has two cameras (one front-facing and one rear-facing), the rear is 13-megapixel and the front is 8-megapixels (which also has support for Windows Hello login). The cameras aren’t anything special , they’re nothing compared to the camera on the Google Pixel.
Just like other tablets, cameras on them aren’t that great and shouldn’t be used that often. You don’t want to be that guy who uses their tablet to take photos. Use your smartphone or a dedicated camera instead of using a tablet to take pictures.
If you’re looking for the best alternative to the Surface Pro 4, or you want a great Windows 10 2-in-1 that can also do a bit more, then look no further than the Transformer 3 Pro.
It’s a great device, it’s well design, fairly portable and has all the aspects of a “laptop replacement” that the Surface Pro also has. No device isn’t going to be perfect but Asus’ Transformer 3 Pro offers a great value for those not wanting to shell out for a Surface Pro.
- Beautiful screen
- Great battery
- Premium design
- Keyboard and stylus is included
- Fan Noise
- Okay trackpad