Hybrid computers have truly begun to challenge tablets and laptops, offering the best of both worlds in the body of one, but Asus plans to change the formula once again, pushing past the Transformer design that first started the hybrid movement and making a triple attack in the Transformer Trio.
It’s the first of a new type of hybrid that attempts to bridge the divide between tablet, laptop, and now desktop, with the Trio literally uniting all three form-factors.
To do this, Asus has had to craft a hybrid with two sets of core computing technologies inside of it, not just two operating systems, effectively making a hybrid that has two computers inside.
From a design point of view, it’s just like the Transformer laptops Asus has been known for these past few years, with a tablet screen section that can disconnect from a keyboard dock below, but unlike previous models, there isn’t just a computer inside the tablet, but a computer inside the keyboard dock, too.
In the 11.6 inch touchscreen section of the Trio is an Intel Atom clocked at 1.6GHz paired with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage, and capable of running Android 4.2 “Jelly Bean” when it’s not plugged into the keyboard dock. When it is, however, the keyboard dock’s computer takes over, letting an Intel Core i5 with 4GB RAM and a 500GB hard drive take over, with full Windows 8 available through the screen.
This combination of parts literally makes the Trio two computers in one, and means you can plug the keyboard dock into a monitor and use it like a desktop, keep the touchscreen plugged into the keyboard dock and use it like a laptop, or take the screen out and use it like a tablet with Android instead of Windows.
In fact, if you decide to get creative, you can use the keyboard computer in desktop mode, and play with the tablet in Android mode.
It’s an interesting concept, though one we’re not sure how many people will take advantage of, especially with a price of $1599 when it comes in November.
Fortunately, it wasn’t the only offering from Asus shown this week, with the new Zen Ultrabook coming shortly.
An evolution of the first one we saw a couple of years ago, this new laptop looks sleek, sports a covering of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3over the front to make it uber-shiny, and a 13.3 inch multitouch display support the Quad-HD resolution of 2560 x 1440.
Inside, there’s a Core i7 processor from the fourth-generation (Haswell), with 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth, up to 512GB solid-state storage, and Intel graphics.
Now called the UX301, it will start from a recommended retail price of $1799, though it may cost more to get that high-resolution screen.
If you don’t have that sort of money lying around, Asus will have a more budget friendly tablet laptop hybrid laying around for people to take a look at in the T100 (below).
This model will bring Intel Atom innards together with 64GB storage, 2GB RAM, and the full Windows 8 rather than the RT variant Microsoft brings to its Surface tablets. The Transformer T100 will also bring 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, USB 3.0, and a full version of Microsoft Office Home and Student edition, as well as a 10.1 inch 1366×768 touchscreen.
With an RRP of $599 for a pack containing both the tablet and the dock, we can see students and anyone after a Windows 8 hybrid finding a good deal here, though we’ll know for sure when we have the tablet in for review.
In any case, expect all of these in stores in November, so look for them shortly.