Meet the $349 Asus Transformer Book T100 with Windows 8.1 (Good luck Surface 2)

As the company behind the original netbook, Asus is once again pushing forward with a low-cost but capable Windows(s msft) PC: The company announced its $349 Transformer Book T100 on Wednesday and Engadget already got a hands on. The laptop looks very similar to other products in the Transformer line with a thin shiny casing, yet even at this low price the 10.1-inch display can be removed for use as a Windows 8.1 touchscreen tablet. How can Windows RT devices compete with that?

Transformer T100 Book

Unlike the original Eee PC, the Transformer Book T100 isn’t a chopped down computer. It runs on a new quad-core Intel(s intc) Bay Trail Atom chip paired with 2 GB of memory. The screen resolution is 1366 x 768 and the computer has a micro USB port, micro HDMI, microSD card reader and a full-sized USB 3.0 port on the keyboard dock. Asus says you can expect up to 11 hours of battery life.

It’s a pretty impressive feat to put together such a nice-looking product at this cost. The $349 model comes with 32 GB of internal storage but for $50 more you can purchase a 64 GB model. Asus says the 2.4 pound computer will be available in mid-October.

As an owner of the first netbook — and a few more after that one — I’m intrigued by the device. More importantly, I’m wondering how this will impact sales of Windows RT devices.

Surface RT with Touch Cover

As I noted in January, Intel’s aggressive approach to compete against Windows on ARM chips would kill Windows RT sales. And Microsoft’s Surface 2 is expected to debut later this month: It has to be priced right to have a chance at success. Good luck getting the cost under $349 for a full Windows 8.1 laptop / tablet, I say.