The Transformer Book TP200SA is a versatile, long-lasting hybrid notebook that won't break the bank. You get long battery life, a nice, crisp 11-inch display and a generous selection of ports in an extremely portable package — all for just $349. That makes it a decent pick for mobile workers with a strict budget, even if its performance and keyboard are sub-par.
The Transformer Book Flip's plastic lid sports a nice brushed-metal effect, but its glossy surface is a real smudge magnet. There's not much you can do to keep it from being spotted with streaks and fingerprints most of the time.
At least the notebook feels sturdy and well made, especially compared to other machines in the price range. I didn't notice any flex on either the display or keyboard deck, which is a perk for workers who plan to do a lot of typing.
True to its name, the Flip has a folding hinge that lets you flip the lid back a full 360 degrees, so you can use it like a tablet. Perhaps more useful for workers is Stand mode, an in-between position that gives you easy access to the touch-screen display. That could come in handy for using touch-based apps in cramped quarters, such as on an airplane tray table.
The Flip's flexible design would be more useful if it supported a digitizer stylus for writing notes on its display. It doesn't, but the omission is expected in a laptop in this price range.
Mobile workers will really appreciate the Flip's superportable construction. At 0.73 inches thick and weighing 2.6 lbs., it's thinner and lighter than competing 11-inch hybrids like the HP Pavilion x360 11 (0.89 inches and 3.2 lbs.), the Lenovo Flex 3 11 (0.86 inches and 3 lbs.), and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (0.75 inches and 3.07 lbs.). In other words, the Flip won't weigh you down on your daily commute, and you'll barely notice it in your travel bag.
The Transformer Book Flip's compact design is a perk for mobile workers, but there's a trade-off: its 11.6-inch screen feels a bit cramped for serious productivity. It's fine for everyday tasks like managing your email inbox and browsing the Web, but feels claustrophobic for screen-intensive work such as viewing large documents and editing spreadsheets. Split-screen multitasking isn't very comfortable, either.
If you don't mind the small size, the Flip's 1366 x 768-pixel display is excellent. It's brighter than competing displays, with crisp text and vibrant colors.
Keyboard and touchpad
The Transformer Book Flip's mediocre keyboard isn't a deal breaker, but it does slightly reduce the machine's potential for productivity. The keyboard offers a shallow 0.65 mm of travel, which is far less than the laptop average of 1.5 mm. That makes typing feel stiff; deeper keyboards would have allowed for a more natural, desktoplike typing experience. At least the keys offer snappy feedback on each stroke, which somewhat mitigates the key-travel issue.
As on other 11-inch systems, the Flip's keyboard is also a bit smaller than standard. Serious touch typists and anyone with very large hands will feel cramped, but most users won't notice a huge difference.
The 4 x 2.5-inch touchpad, meanwhile, felt pretty good, with a smooth plastic finish that lets my finger glide around easily. Mouse movement was responsive, and so were gestures like two-finger scrolling.
The Flip offers far more connectivity options than you'd expect on a system this small. The right side includes a full-size USB 3.0 port next to the
And the left side includes a standard USB 3.0 port, a microSD card reader for expanding the notebook's internal storage, a micro HDMI port for connecting a monitor or projector, and a USB Type-C port. The latter is a nice bonus, since many new smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices are being launched with USB Type-C ports, which allow for faster charging and feature a reversible design.
Don't expect to be wowed by the Flip's performance and you probably won't be disappointed. While it's slower than competing budget laptops, it provides good enough speed for basic business tasks. Performance was reasonably smooth when I tried stressing the machine by streaming HD video while editing a spreadsheet with a dozen tabs open in my Firefox Web browser, though I did notice the occasional hiccup while switching between windows.
Those subjective impressions were backed up by the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance. The Flip scored just 1,315, which trails rival notebooks like the Inspiron 11 3000 (3,406) and Lenovo Flex 3 11 (3,992).
Asus only sells the Transformer Book Flip TP200SA in a single hardware configuration, which comes equipped with an Intel Celeron Processor N3050, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage.
What the Flip lacks in horsepower, it makes up for in longevity. Asus's notebook ran for a seriously impressive 10 hours and 56 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi. That blows away competing machines like the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (6:42), Lenovo Flex 3 11 (6:41) and HP Pavilion x360 (6:26). If you're looking for a portable hybrid that will last through a long business flight — layover included — this is it.
The Flip runs on Windows 10, the latest version of Microsoft's desktop operating system. That's good on a hybrid machine like this one, since Windows 10 has separate desktop and tablet modes, which change the interface depending on how you're using it. Desktop mode offers a familiar Windows layout, while tablet mode makes it easier to use touch-optimized apps, with a full-screen layout and large navigation buttons at the bottom of the interface. You can set the Flip to toggle between modes automatically, or manually activate tablet mode only when you want to use it.
A handful of productivity apps also come preloaded on the Flip, including Microsoft's OneNote for taking notes, and OneDrive for saving your documents to the cloud so they're backed up and accessible from anywhere. A one-month trial subscription to Microsoft Office 365 — which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint — is also included, but you'll have to pay for a subscription if you want to keep using the programs past the trial period.
Do you value battery life over performance? If so, the Transformer Book Flip TP200SA is a steal, offering unbeatable longevity, a vibrant 11.6-inch display and a lightweight, folding design. It adds up to make an excellent value for commuters and frequent travelers, especially considering its ultra-affordable $349 price tag.
If you can't live without a little more power under the hood, though, the $449 HP Pavilion x360 is a better bet. But workers with only basic computing needs might be better off pocketing the $100 and buying the Transformer Book Flip instead.