Windows 8 and Android make strange bedfellows, yet Microsoft 's and Google's operating systems are shacking up inside the versatile new $1,299 Asus Transformer AiO P1801 PC /tablet hybrid.
I've had a chance to check it out ahead of its April 12 sales date.
Docked in its PC Station base, the Transformer functions as a small all-in-one touch-screen desktop computer , complete with a wireless keyboard and mouse, 1-terabyte hard drive, built-in CD drive, 3-in-1 memory card reader, Bluetooth and full complement of connectivity options, including ethernet , HDMI, microphone input and four USB 3.0 ports.
It has a quad-core Intel i5 processor, graphics from Nvidia and stereo speakers. You can tilt the screen to adjust the viewing angle. It's perfectly suitable for casual gamers and for folks who turn to PCs to get work done or to be entertained. The whole thing weighs 9 pounds.
But that's not the complete story. Lift the screen out of the PC Station, and you're holding an oversize (18.35 x 0.71 x 11.57-inch) tablet.
It has its own Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 32 gigabytes of solid-state storage, microSD slot, plus separate volume controls and speakers. The tablet runs on a battery, of course, and also comes with its own dedicated power adapter.
A foldable stand lets you prop the tablet at different angles, and a handle lets you tote it from room to room. But given its 5.3-pound weight, and 18.4-inch tablet screen, this is not a portable slate along the lines of an iPad, much less any of the smaller Android tablet options on the market. I wouldn't expect to see a lot of these show up on planes.
Asus claims the battery on the tablet should last about five hours when you're playing high-definition video at full speaker volume. But battery life seems beside the point on a tablet of this size, because you're most likely using it at home or in the office.
The Transformer brings to mind the similar Sony Vaio Tap 20 desktop/tablet hybrid. But where the Sony is an all-Windows computer, the Transformer delivers Windows 8 and the Jelly Bean (4.1) version of Android. The machine's schizophrenic personality is what grabs your attention, and give Asus credit for coming out with a computer that provides choices. You can't help but wonder if this is one of those because-we-can products, rather than a machine that will be practical for most folks, especially when you factor in how much of your computing experiences overlap. The Web is the Web, after all, Netflix is Netflix, and it theoretically doesn't much matter whether you're in Windows 8 or Android. (continued...)
© 2013 USA TODAY under contract with MarketWatch. All rights reserved.