Back at Computex in June, Asus introduced its Transformer Book Trio — a computer that could function as both a laptop and tablet and dual-booted between Windows 8 and Android. Now, the company's announcing a new version with a similar mission: the Transformer Book Duet TD300 is a convertible laptop / tablet hybrid that can dual boot between Windows 8.1 and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Beyond Asus' earlier effort, Samsung tried this dual-boot trick last year with its Ativ Q, though the new Asus model looks more like a traditional ultrabook at first glance. It has the standard folding form factor rather than the sliding keyboard that Samsung used and looks quite a bit like Asus’ other laptops. Its 13.3-inch multitouch display features a solid 1,920 x 1,080 resolution; it doesn’t quite match the Ativ Q but should still be solid in most normal circumstances. That 13.3-inch form factor makes Asus' new model a good bit bigger than the older Transformer Book Trio.
Yet another take on the convertible form factor
Befitting its laptop roots, it features a full Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM, and an interesting storage scheme: the tablet itself has a 128GB SSD, while the laptop dock adds another 1TB of hard drive storage. Unfortunately, those laptop roots have also led to a larger machine — the Transformer Book Duet weighs in at about 4.1 pounds, more than most ultrabooks. Unsurprisingly, the tablet portion itself is also thicker than most — it’s about half an inch thick. That’s about the same as the Surface Pro 2, but noticeably thicker than the Surface 2 and most standard Android tablets (of course, it makes up for that thickness by running a full install of Windows 8.1).
However, the real trick is the dual-boot between Windows 8.1 and Android — there’s a one-touch button that Asus claims will let you instantly switch between the two operating systems regardless of whether you’re using the device as a tablet or a laptop. (The company says a switch will take about four seconds.) While that’ll be handy for those who like to switch back and forth on a whim, it doesn’t sound like Asus will include some of the Windows / Android integration that Samsung included on the Ativ Q. (Samsung’s model lets users actually pin Android app to the Windows Start screen — it’s like having the Play Store built into Windows 8.)
Of course, a lot of the Transformer Book Duet’s appeal will rely on its price — Asus is selling the Duet for $599. That's pretty affordable, though we'll have to see how it performs in real-world usage before passing judgement. There’s also no specific launch date yet, and we’re not sure how much demand there is for a device that runs both Windows and Android — if you’re heavily invested in both Google and Microsoft’s ecosystems, it may be a good option. Asus will be showing off the Transformer Book Duet on the CES show floor — we’ll let you know how it looks in person.