Transformer Book T100 review: This hybrid fills both its tablet and notebook roles well

Asus has been in the tablet and keyboard dock game for a while now. After several generations of Android based tablet and keyboard dock combinations, the T100 brings the sometimes schizophrenic interface of Windows 8 to its logical home on a hybrid tablet/notebook.

The tablet looks and feels like so many other slates. It’s a 10-inch slab of screen with a few ports and buttons on its edges. The buttons are hidden behind the curve of the tablet so you can’t see them when you look from the front. It makes for a clean look, but they can be tricky to find by feel. On the left side of the top edge, you’ll find the lock button. Moving around the corner to the left edge there’s a volume rocker and a start button. The Windows logo in the center of the bottom bezel does nothing.

ROBERT CARDINDon’t bother pressing the Windows logo on this tablet’s bezel: It’s nonfunctional.

The ports and other slots all live on the right edge of the device: There’s a MicroSD card slot at the top and Micro HDMI, Micro-USB (for charging the tablet), and a headphone jack near the bottom. Two large slots on the bottom of the tablet line up with guide posts on the keyboard dock and the dock port itself. A button on the hinge of the dock releases the tablet when you don’t need the keyboard. It also partially blocks the Windows logo, which explains why touching it doesn’t deliver you to the Start screen.

The 10-inch screen runs a rather low 1366 by 768 pixels. Many higher-end and even mid-range tablets now come with 1080p screens. Despite the low pixel density, the only time I noticed pixels in regular use was when reading while lying on my stomach, putting the screen pretty close to my face. The screen was very clear on the desk or in my lap. The panel is bright and has excellent viewing angles. The brightness also turns down enough for reading comfortably at night without the need for sunglasses.

ROBERT CARDINThe Asus Transformer T100 is a tablet when you want one and a notebook when you need one.

The tablet feels solid despite its cheap-feeling glossy plastic back. The curved edges and back are very comfortable to hold in two hands, but the 10-inch widescreen is too wide in landscape mode and too tall in portrait mode for me to feel comfortable holding it in one hand for any length of time. Like most hybrids in this class, the Transformer T100 comes with 64GB of storage and 2GB of RAM (Asus also offers a 32GB model for $349). But Asus chose Intel’s new quad-core Atom Z3740 processor (from the Bay Trail family), and I was impressed by the smooth responsiveness of the system. I felt no slowdowns or stutters in average use, including Netflix streaming and some light gaming. Benchmark tests confirm the improved performance, with the Transformer Book scoring 10 to 20 percent higher on most tests compared to tablets based on Intel’s older Clover Trail CPUs.

Battery life is also much better. The average 7 to 8-hour run time of the previous generation didn’t need much improvement, but the Transformer Pad T100 lasted 11 hours and 9 minutes in our rundown test. On top of that, Bay Trail-based machines are also capable of running in connected standby, which means the machine draws almost no power while sleeping yet resumes to an up-to-date state (with email and other updates) almost instantly.

ROBERT CARDINThe hinge on the keyboard dock allows you to position the T100 to just the right angle.

That long battery life is all the more impressive considering that unlike Asus’s Transformer line of Android tablets, the docking keyboard doesn’t harbor a second battery. The extra weight would be a welcome addition, because the tablet-and-keyboard combo is fairly top heavy. I feared it would tip backwards while I was typing on my lap. The hinge rotates down as it’s opened, giving the keyboard a nice tilt, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the top heaviness.

The keyboard’s keys are a little more stiff than I like, and their short vertical spacing made even my tiny hands feel a little cramped. It’s still usable for long typing sessions, but it’s just not as comfortable as some others I’ve used.

The keyboard dock has a USB 3.0 port and a little touchpad on the keyboard dock, but it’s barely worth the space it takes up. It frequently didn’t pick up both my fingers for multitouch scrolling or other gestures, and I frequently found myself just reaching for the screen rather than fighting with the touchpad.

The Asus Transformer Pad T100 delivers on the hybrid promise of providing a good tablet experience and a solid notebook experience in one device, for a reasonable price. The keyboard is something of a compromise, but it’s not a deal breaker. And if you want to use this hybrid on a desktop, you can plug in a full-size keyboard and display.

Editor’s Note: This review is a head-to-head comparison with the Lenovo Miix 10. You’ll find the introduction to the story here and the review of the Miix 10 here.

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I worked at Blockbuster off and on all through high school and college.

I worked at Blockbuster off and on all through high school and college. It was easily the best minimum wage job I ever had (admittedly, that’s a fairly small list). The people I worked with were always cool, and managers were usually okay. I mainly worked in a college town, so it wasn’t tough to hit our numbers. It was just a generally chill place to be, working with movies and games. The best part of the job was easily when someone asked for a recommendation, and you got to help them pick out something they’d like.

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Bottle Opening Watch Focuses On the Most Important Hour of the Day

Bottle Opening Watch Focuses On the Most Important Hour of the Day

If the only thing that gets you through a long day of work is drowning your sorrows at quitting time, this enabling timepiece is the watch for you. Five o’clock is the only hour that’s clearly labeled, as far as the Ish watch is concerned the rest of the day is a fuzzy blur. But if you squint hard enough, you can make out the two moving dots that make up the watch’s hour and minute hands.

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Soaring Personnel Costs Threaten Readiness, Hagel Warns

On ‘Morning Edition’: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel talks with NPR’s Steve Inskeep

Health care and retirement costs that already account for a large part of the U.S. military’s budget and are on a path to go even higher could leave the nation with “a military that’s heavily compensated, but probably a force that’s not capable and not ready,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel tells NPR.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“That’s where it’s going, that’s not a subjective comment,” Hagel told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep during an interview that aired Wednesday.

The Pentagon chief noted that personnel costs — including spending on health care and retirement — account for about 50 percent of the military’s budget. “We know we can’t afford it,” Hagel said, and still be able to spend on equipment and other things that are vital to national security. He hopes that the administration and Congress can work together to make adjustments soon that “deal with it, now, in a fair way that doesn’t hurt anybody. It’s like Social Security reform and Medicare reform, if you start adjusting now.”

Hagel also spoke about the effort to bring women into combat roles, saying it has to be done “in a way that makes sense to give women a fair and equal opportunity,” without establishing quotas or other numerical goals.

NPR visited him on a day when he hosted six enlisted personnel for lunch.

An enlisted man himself during the Vietnam War, Hagel said that if he had been given the chance to meet the secretary of defense when he was in the Army, he “probably would have stuttered my way through my chocolate chip cookie” to ask “what is our objective in Vietnam?”

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Families encourage overhaul of pilot training

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prodded by the families of people killed in a regional airline crash, federal officials issued significantly tougher training requirements for pilots Tuesday.

One of the most important changes requires airlines to provide better training on how to prevent and recover from an aerodynamic stall, in which a plane slows to the point that it loses lift. That was what happened to Continental Express Flight 3407, which crashed on approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport in western New York on Feb. 12, 2009, killing all 49 people aboard and a man on the ground.

The crash victims’ families have campaigned relentlessly for nearly five years for changes in federal regulations to address safety issues raised by the accident, including better pilot training. The families won a major victory in 2010 when they persuaded Congress to pass a sweeping aviation safety law. Since then, they’ve kept pressure on the Federal Aviation Administration to follow through on key safety provisions. They’ve made dozens of lobbying visits to Washington to meet with members of Congress and administration officials, and have attended aviation hearings and held news conferences.

Under the new requirements — the most substantial in two decades — airlines will have to provide flight simulator training for pilots on how to deal with a stall.

The captain and first officer of Flight 3407, which was operated for Continental Airlines by now-defunct Colgan Air, failed to notice that the speed of the twin-engine turboprop had dropped dangerously low, an investigation of the crash revealed. The captain, Marvin Renslow, was startled when a stall warning system called a stick-shaker, which violently shakes the pilot’s control yoke, suddenly went off. The appropriate response to such an event would be to push forward on the yoke to lower the nose of the plane in order to pick up speed, while increasing engine power.

But Renslow pulled back hard on the yoke, sending the plane into a stall. At that point a second safety system called a stick pusher tried to point the plane’s nose down, but Renslow again pulled back hard on the yoke. There was little chance of recovery after that, and the plane fell from the sky, killing all 49 people aboard and a man on the ground.

Renslow had not received any hands-on training in how to recover from a stall in the plane he was flying, only classroom lessons, and so was experiencing a stall for the first time, investigators said. Until that crash, the emphasis in the airline industry had been on training pilots how to avoid getting into situations where a plane might stall, with far less attention on how to recover from one.

FAA officials began working on new pilot training requirements as far back as 1999, but made extensive revisions in their work to take into account the safety issues raised by Flight 3407.

“This rule will give our pilots the most advanced training available to handle emergencies they may encounter,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said at a news conference. The new requirements are focused on preventing events that “while rare, can be catastrophic,” he said.

But family members complained that FAA officials are giving airlines five years before they have to implement the new requirements.

“It is hard to see any sense of urgency to significantly reduce aviation accidents,” said Karen Eckert, who lost her sister, 9/11 widow Beverly Eckert, in the crash. “That will be a full 10 years since the needless loss of our loved ones in a completely preventable crash and a full 20 years since this training rule-making project was initiated.”

Other changes required by the new rule:

— Pilots’ performance will be tracked and airlines must create a remedial training program for pilots who repeatedly demonstrate deficiencies in skills tests. Renslow had failed several such tests, but was allowed to retake them.

— Expanded training for pilots on how, when they are sitting in the second cockpit seat, they should monitor the performance of the other pilot who is flying the plane.

— Expanded training on how to handle crosswinds and wind gusts. A Continental Airlines jet hit by powerful crosswinds at Denver International Airport in December 2008 while attempting to take off ran off the runway, rumbled over frozen fields and crashed into a ditch, where the plane broke apart and burst into flames. No one was killed, but there were many injuries.

Airlines are concerned that the new training requirements will increase their costs. The FAA estimated the cost to the industry of the new rule at $274.1 million to $353.7 million.


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Biden, A Man Of Many Words, Omits One At Va. Rally: ‘Obama’

Vice President Biden is greeted by Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., before speaking at a backyard rally for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on Monday.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Vice President Biden is greeted by Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., before speaking at a backyard rally for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on Monday.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Anyone waiting expectantly for Vice President Biden to name check President Obama at an election eve rally Monday went away disappointed.

Besides singing the praises of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe at the Northern Virginia event, Biden mentioned Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (favorably) and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (unfavorably). He singled out McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, by name. Biden even referred to his own wife and his father.

But there was no mention of the president. Nor any mention of health care, aside from a reference to Cuccinelli’s participation, as Virginia attorney general, in conservative efforts to restrict women’s health care (read abortion rights) in the state. It was noticed.

Biden’s omission signaled how the Affordable Care Act’s recent troubles have turned the president’s signature domestic legislation from an asset to a liability, if not in solidly blue places like Massachusetts then in purple states like Virginia.

At a rally in Virginia a day before Biden’s appearance, Obama didn’t mention Obamacare, either. He did mention Biden, however.

The vice president’s omission may have also signaled something else. In their new book about last year’s presidential campaign, Double Down: Game Change 2012, due out Tuesday, journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann reported that Obama campaign aides considered dropping Biden from the ticket in favor of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Veteran Obama political strategists like David Axelrod and David Plouffe have denied Biden was ever at risk of being jettisoned.

It’s possible to read too much into such moments, of course. But sometimes a politician says more by what he doesn’t say than by what he does.

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“I Can’t Wait to Vote for You for President!”

Chris Christie
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at the reopening ceremony for the Little Egg Harbor Township community center on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 29, 2013.

Photo by Tom Mihalek/Reuters

SOMERVILLE, N.J.—Chris Christie tells a joke about New Jersey that you could never get away with. At a Saturday night rally in Toms River, N.J., one of the coastal towns brutalized by Hurricane Sandy, Christie begins the story with a warning—kids should cover their ears. They’re covered? Okay: The story starts at a “senior wellness day” in West Orange, as the governor was milling around and talking to likely voters. Christie got a tap on his shoulder.

“This woman said, ‘Hi, governor. My name is Gladys,’ ” Christie recounts, standing on a high school football field, flanked by his family, flags, and four security officers. “I said, ‘Hi, Gladys.’ She said, ‘I’m from Newark, New Jersey. Lived there my whole life.’ I said, ‘Me too.’ She said, ‘I’m 82 years old. I didn’t vote for you last time.’ I said, ‘don’t worry about it Gladys, a lot of people didn’t.’ She said, ‘I’m voting for you this time.’ ”

It sounds, at first, like the story of yet another African-American voter warming to the governor’s charms. The polls that put Christie anywhere from 18 to 32 points ahead of his Democratic opponent, State Sen. Barbara Buono, show him pulling more than a quarter of the black vote. But Christie’s crowd is chuckling. There’s a punch line at the end of this.

“She said, ‘Ever since Hurricane Sandy, every night I’ve prayed for you,’ Christie continues. “I said, ‘Thank you Gladys, that is really wonderful. Kind. I appreciate it.’ She said, ‘A few weeks ago I saw you standing in front of that fire, that awful fire in Seaside Park. I saw you standing behind that bank of microphones, and I have to tell you, for the first time in four years, I was worried about you. You looked so tired.’ I said, ‘That wasn’t my best day. She said, ‘That night I said a special prayer for you.’ I said, ‘Thank you.’ She said, ‘You want to hear it?’ I said, ‘Okay.’ She said, ‘That night before I went to bed, I prayed Lord, please give our governor strength, because I’m not sure how much shit this boy can take.’ ”

The crowd, hundreds of people spread out across the football bleachers, explodes with laughter. “True story!” says Christie. “People ask me, what’s it like to run for governor of New Jersey? That’s what it’s like. You go to a senior wellness event, you go up to this 82-year-old, dignified, African-American woman, she tells you she’s going to vote for you, and she doesn’t hesitate for a moment to use the word Lord and the word shit within two sentences of each other. These are my people! I know this, because I was born here. I was raised here. I’ve spent my whole life here.”

When he was running for president, Barack Obama had a story like this. He was tired, drained, done, hitting the trail in South Carolina even though he was desperately behind in the polls. An elderly African-American woman filled him back up with her chant of “fired up, ready to go!” The chant turned into a mantra that’s still heard at Democratic events.

Christie’s story isn’t so easily copied. It’s about him—his unique appeal, the affect he has on people, the sense of humor he has about his state. At another Saturday rally, inside a VFW hall in Somers Point, Christie adds to the “I was born here” riff by explaining why he’s so true to New Jersey. “No one needed to teach me how to talk in New Jersey,” he says. “No one needed to teach me how to act in New Jersey. No one needed to teach me how to lead in New Jersey. I know you. I’m one of you. That’s why I have so much fun in this job. That’s why you notice how much fun I’m having in this job.”

If it’s a jab at Buono, it reveals just how in control of this race the governor thinks he is. Christie was born in Newark; so was she. The Democrat tells audiences about the early death of her father, her struggles as a single mother, how she survived on food stamps before going to law school and building her career. But Christie’s had an easy time defining her as a throwback to Gov. Jon Corzine, the man he defeated in 2009, and as a negative campaigner with no agenda beyond what the unions command her to do.

The last poll taken on the governor’s race before Hurricane Sandy put Buono down by 16 points to Christie. The first poll taken after the storm put her down by 38 points. Since then, she has never trailed by less than 18 points. This deficit understates how well Christie has outplayed Buono, and the impossible time she’s had looking for a consistent message against him. She’s tried to convince the state’s reliable Democrats to bail on Christie over his opposition to gay marriage, over his thwarting of a gun control bill, over the fact that he will probably run for president. In one of her final TV ads, Buono talks straight to camera about how she’s “the only one running for governor.”

That’s a strange line of attack, given how open Christie is about running for president, and how unbothered New Jerseyians are by the prospect. At campaign stops, he warns voters against getting dazzled by the polls by telling them an anecdote about a woman he met in a diner. “I walked up to her, and she was all excited, big smile on her face,” he says. “She said, ‘Governor, I’m so excited to meet you!’ I said, ‘Well, thank you.’ She said, ‘I can’t wait to vote for you for president in 2016!’ I said, ‘Huh, that’s really nice, but I have an election on Tuesday. I’d like you to vote for me there first.’ She said, ‘Ah, you got it wrapped up.’ That’s the thing that keeps guys like me up at night.”

Democrats don’t really think Buono could have won—not after Sandy—but the missed opportunities were glaring. The most devastating final poll, a Rutgers-Eagleton survey that put Christie up by 36 points, went on to ask whether voters would back Tuesday’s ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage by a dollar. They would—by 38 points. Could Buono have tightened things up, even a little, by sticking to one populist issue the way other losers made it closer by focusing on car insurance (Jim McGreevey, 1997) or property taxes (Doug Forrester, 2005)?

“She keeps saying he’s going to run for president,” says voter Jim Logan at Christie’s Somers Point rally. “Who cares? Some people think that’s a good idea. She shoulda fired whoever was working for her and she should have focused on property taxes.”

Too late to speculate. The governor has steadily won over local Democratic power brokers, even ones who (pre-Sandy) said they’d never back him. Their big idea: Spare the Democrats in the state legislature from the fallout of a Buono rout. It’s working, according to Democratic state Sen. Loretta Weinberg. “We’re up in our tracking polls,” she tells me at a Democratic campaign office. Even that Rutgers-Eagleton poll, which Democrats don’t trust (it was 10 points off in the October race for U.S. Senate) has them up by 6 points in the race for the legislature. Christie’s “cult of personality,” as Weinberg calls it, hasn’t been transferred to Republicans. He’s outspent Buono; Democrat-aligned independent expenditures have buried the Republican candidates down the ballot.






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