31/05/2013 11:00 | By Cliff Joseph, contributor, MSN Tech

Asus Transformer P1801 review

It's a Windows 8 PC. It's an Android tablet. It's bonkers...

Asus Transformer P1801 (© Asus)

What is it?
The Asus Transformer P1801is an all-in-one Windows PC and the world’s largest Android tablet. Both at the same time.

What’s great?
The PC screen can be removed and used as an Android tablet.

What’s not?
It’s expensive, and an 18.4-inch screen is quite small for a desktop PC.

The bottom line:
A bizarre idea, and a rather expensive indulgence – but you have to admire the sheer craziness that would come up with something like this.

Asus Transformer P1801 (© Asus)

Asus Transformer P1801: Review

We’ve given the matter considerable thought, and we’ve come to the conclusion that the Asus Transformer P1801 is the most barking mad piece of kit that we’ve ever come across.

At first glance, the Transformer looks like a fairly conventional all-in-one desktop PC. It has an 18.4-inch touch-sensitive screen for use with the ‘modern’ interface of Windows 8, and the chunky stand that supports the screen houses a DVD drive, stereo speakers and a collection of USB and other ports.

Asus Transformer P1801: Desktop design

The P1801 is actually quite a decent PC – albeit rather expensive for a desktop machine with just an 18.4-inch screen. Prices start at around £1,200 for a model with a powerful quad-core i5 processor, 4GB of memory, and a large 1TB hard disk.

See also: Sony Xperia Tablet Z review

The screen is bright and colourful, with full 1920 x 1080 resolution for watching high-def video, and the speakers built into the stand produce a strong, clear sound. The Transformer also includes a GeForce 730M graphics card that is capable of handling all the latest 3D games, so you’ve got the makings of a good, all-round entertainment PC there.

Asus Transformer P1801: Android alternative

But that’s just scratching the surface of what the Transformer can do. It turns out that all the computer components are built into the stand itself – which Asus refers to as the ‘PC Station’. This allows you to quickly separate the screen from the PC Station – at which point the screen turns into an 18.4-inch Android tablet.

Yep, that’s right – the Transformer is both a Windows PC and the biggest Android tablet we’ve ever seen. The tablet unit has its own snappy quad-core Nvidia Tegra processor, 2GB of memory and a 32GB solid-state drive, so it works as a completely self-contained Android tablet.

It runs the latest Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) software so you can run all the latest Android apps and games, and we got a full five hours of battery life out of the Transformer, which should be fine for a large tablet like this that will mostly stay at home.

Asus Transformer P1801 Android mode (© Asus)

Asus Transformer P1801: Usability

Of course, tablets are supposed to be mobile devices, and an 18.4-inch tablet that weighs 2.5kg isn’t something that you can hold in one hand or just slip into your backpack when you’re heading out for a quick coffee.

Yet there is a kind of mad logic in all this. The idea is that you can keep the Transformer on a desk and use it as a conventional PC for running Microsoft Office or playing your favourite PC games. But, at any time, you can just grab the screen and take it into another room so that you can watch some streaming video or listen to some music while you’re chopping veggies in the kitchen. It’ll be good for families too, as the size of the screen means that you can lay it on a table and play Angry Birds and other games with the kids.

The PC Station half of the Transformer also includes an HDMI interface, so you can plug another screen into the PC Station and carry on using it as a PC while the Android tablet goes off and does something else.

Asus Transformer P1801 back (© Asus)

Asus Transformer P1801: Verdict

The two-in-one design of the Transformer is either ingenious or insane, depending on your point of view. It’s expensive for a PC, but you do get a super-size Android tablet thrown in as well, and it might well appeal to families who can really make the most of its versatile PC/tablet combo.

One thing is for sure – it’s bound to raise a few eyebrows.

4 stars

Asus Transformer P1801: Available now - £1,230 (i5 processor, 3.1GHz), £1,550 (i7 processor, 3.4GHz) – check the latest prices with Bing.

Also on MSN Tech:
Microsoft Surface Pro hands-on review

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