The Asus Transformer Book Duet is a tablet… and a laptop… that runs Windows… and Android. You can switch from Windows to Android or back again with the tap of a button, and you can switch from a tablet to notebook by clicking the tablet into a keyboard docking station.

With a 13 inch screen, the Duet feels a bit large for a tablet, but it works pretty nicely as a laptop.

The Transformer Book Duet TD300 is expected to launch this spring for $599 and up.

Asus Transformer Book Duet TD300

The entry-level price gets you a tablet with a 13.3 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display, an Intel Core i3 Haswell processor, 64GB of storage, and a keyboard dock with a 320GB hard drive.

Asus will also offer higher-priced models with 1920 x 1080 pixel displays and additional storage in both the tablet section and the keyboard dock.

Each model has 4GB of RAM, a 38Whr battery, and weighs about 4.2 pounds when you use the tablet and dock together.

One thing Asus doesn’t plan to offer is a keyboard dock with a built-in battery. So while some 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrids give you extended battery life when you connect to a keyboard dock, the Transformer Book Duet actually gets better battery life if you use only the tablet portion. Asus says you should get about 5 hours of run time in notebook mode and 7 hours in tablet mode, since the tablet doesn’t have to power the keyboard and hard drive.

What makes the Duet stand out from a sea of 2-in-1 systems is its dual boot features, and in my brief time with the system, it did seem to be able to handle both operating systems pretty well. There’s a quick switch app shortcut that shows up in both Windows 8 and Android and when you tap it, the operating system will switch.

Both Windows and Android run at the same time, so you don’t have to wait for the system to reboot and you won’t lose any data when you switch from one OS to the other.

There’s also a dedicated Android/Windows key on the keyboard which lets you make the switch in notebook mode without reaching up to touch the display.

While Microsoft continues trying to get app developers to write tablet apps for Windows 8, the Duet and other dual OS devices represent an interesting option for consumers. You get a device that can work as a notebook or tablet and you don’t have to miss out on a great selection of apps. There are more than a million apps in the Google Play Store which are now accessible.

But it’d be nice to see a model that weighs a little less and which gets better battery life.

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18 replies on “Hands-on: Asus Transformer Book Duet quad-mode Android/Windows PC”

  1. “But it’d be nice to see a model that weighs a little less and which gets better battery life.”
    I agree give me the Asus T100 slap a wacom digitizer on there, the Baytrail 3770 processor, and bring me android as a dualboot sans the virtualization add 2 more gb of ram. That is my tablet.

  2. what is the point without the arm hardware? I am guessing there is no gps. and a half baked x86 android that will not run half of the play store….most of what I use android for. How had would it be to inbed a real android stick (they are so small) kindof like they did with the trio. If they did that all in the tablet side you could choose if you wanted 4 hours of battery running both or 6 with the i3 or 10 with the ARM. this would give the best of both worlds on the same screen (for real) that having been said I will give them props for the price. If they can get x86 android to a more mature level so I could run all the apps then I’m still short the gps for navigation but, I think it would have to be an i5 before I would bite. Is this really more than a tx300 with some software and one button?

    1. You might be surprised by how many Play Store titles run fine on x86. Most are all Dalvik, many of the rest ship with both ARM and x86 code in the APK, and the rest seem to get by using an ARM-virtualization technique. The i3 is the entry-level model, but i5 and i7 are supposed to be in the lineup as well. Even the i3 should run rings around every one of the crude “stick” devices but we’ll have to wait for the benchmarks.

      1. It’s been a while since I tried x86 android so it’s sound like it’s getting better. Am I the only one who thinks it’s kind of strange that most if not all of the windows based tablets do not have a GPS?
        If they can run Win8 and Android how about Win8/Android/Ubuntu(or Linux Mint) now that on an i5 with an appropriate amount of ram and a GPS. I would be throwing money at the screen and smashing the pre-order button

        1. Most W8 tablets out so far are budget models and they give up certain features but things like GPS are making their way to even Ultrabooks and should steadily become more common.

          It is harder to use GPS with Windows though, but these dual boot systems should help promote OEMs to include more sensors…

          For Android, Google officially supports x86 for over a year now and the developers have had all the NDK’s and other tools updated to easily support both ARM and x86… A quick look at Android devices running on Intel SoCs for example will show they’re already getting the latest version of Android as soon as the ARM models get them and even a year ago Intel was able to claim a over 90% compatibility, which has definitely improved since then.

          While GNU/Linux distros should be as easy to run as they’ve always been, as long as you have updated versions that can work with UEFI instead of BIOS and preferably the system has the 64bit UEFI… 32bit UEFI is the trouble maker that the Bay Trail models are still stuck with but everything should eventually be updated to 64bit in the coming months.

  3. So this isn’t really dual booting then if they’re running at the same time. Looks more like virtualization like the Samsung ATIV Q that may have been canceled due to patent lawsuits. You say in the video that the other OS is running in the background. Are they really running or are they suspended to RAM? How much RAM is being occupied by the backgrounded OS?

    Anyway, after your hands on, how do you feel about using Android on a 13.3″ screened notebook/tablet? I personally don’t see the benefit of using Android on such a device. Kind of like how the Modern UI isn’t all that great on the same device.

    1. No virtualization, it’s actually dual booting but has a custom firmware that lets the other OS be suspended and put into hibernation for the switch instead of needing to be closed and rebooted as traditional dual booting involved…

      Since the other OS is in hibernation, it takes up no resources besides what’s normal for hibernation and the switch can happen in just under 4 seconds…

      While the benefit of Android is for mobile applications it has a much better developed app ecosystem and you can of course better sync data with your other Android mobile devices… The ModernUI app market is still very young and needs more time to develop and this set up means many don’t have to give up so much by getting a all in one instead of risking whether W8 is ready to replace their mobile devices…

      It is of course a better advantage for smaller devices but they’re going to be pretty much applying it to the whole spectrum of products, which may benefit both W8 and Android as they expand from their traditional markets… time will tell but it’s not a bad idea…

        1. Probably, but only if you switch to Windows… Active Connected Standby should work for both while they are the active running OS…

      1. So if people download files in Windows, and switch to Android, the downloads will stop.

        If you run some processing tasks (software build, video processing), you can’t switch to Android to play games while it’s being done. That would be a massive downside, at least to me.

        1. Yes, there’s always a downside to every solution unfortunately…

          But, as this isn’t the only solution you could opt for one of the others… The previous Asus Trio for example ran Android on a separate processor in the tablet half and the x86 PC was in the dock keyboard… Downside there is you could only switch while docked as otherwise the keyboard would need an external display and you’d have two systems running at the same time and use up power that much faster…

  4. Do both OSs truly run simultaneously? I.e. can you connect from one to the other (TCP/IP, SMB sharing, etc.)? Can you run Eclipse, Android Studio, IntelliJ IDEA, Basic4Android, etc. on the Windows side and target the Android side as an ADB test device?

    1. I don’t think so, at least not with this version, as it works with a custom firmware that lets you switch between OS without closing one first. So one OS is put into hibernation while the other is being run…

      1. Ok, that seems consistent with the slow switch then (even if only 4 seconds or so). The advantage is no virtualization performance hit, but it isn’t as useful for scenarios where you want the two “faces” to interoperate. Everything has tradeoffs.

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