surface-in-goldTablets are the new laptop, it seems. The new hot story on the tech press today concerns Asus’s new Transformer 3 hybrid tablet-plus-keyboards—sleek, expensive Windows 10 devices that seem to be intended to go Microsoft’s Surface one better. At $799 for the Transformer 3 and $999 for the Transformer 3 Pro, these are clearly the new generation of business laptop rather than a handy device you use for consuming media and e-books. (Of course, the iPad tablet costs in that range, too, but you expect Apple devices to be more expensive.)

It used to be that Asus Transformers were dual-boot devices—you could boot into Android or Windows, for a great deal of extra flexibility. You could use Android for tablet stuff, but slap on a keyboard and you had a reasonable laptop  Windows substitute. This is back in the day when Hasbro unsuccessfully attempted to sue for trademark infringement.

But even though Hasbro couldn’t stop Asus, a couple of more powerful villains did—neither Microsoft nor Google was especially happy at the prospect of its operating system sharing space with that other guy’s. As a result, dual-boot tablets are now fairly few and far between. The “Transformer” name seems kind of hollow now, because the tablet really doesn’t “transform” all that much anymore—it just slaps a keyboard on, and any tablet can do that these days.

It’s a pity, really. I could see the versatility of such a device being useful, as it would open the possibility of using some of the more powerful desktop e-book compiling apps on the one hand, and Android’s e-reading apps on the other. That being said, such tablets do still exist—largely made by Chinese OEMs who are too small and distant for Microsoft and Google to want to mess with. I expect to get my hands on one such device for review purposes within the next few days, and am looking forward to discussing how it works out.

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TeleRead Editor Chris Meadows has been writing for us--except for a brief interruption--since 2006. Son of two librarians, he has worked on a third-party help line for Best Buy and holds degrees in computer science and communications. He clearly personifies TeleRead's motto: "For geeks who love books--and book-lovers who love gadgets." Chris lives in Indianapolis and is active in the gamer community.


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