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A well-designed device with SERIOUS battery and charging issues
on July 8, 2015
I have been using the t100 for a year and a half at this point. My original review posted in 2015 read: "One of the best purchases, for value per dollar, that I have ever made. Ever. I seriously appreciate this device every day." The review was a four star review.
I have downgraded the review to three stars. It is still true that I love this device, but that has only been made possible with the purchase of two items: an Anker Powerport and USB cable to actually charge the thing properly, and an Anker portable power bank to make up for the completely unreliable battery. These ameliorate two major issues with the device that have become a constant annoyance and frustration to me that I have learned to live with over the past year and a half. These cannot be isolated issues for myself, because both my girlfriend and roommate own the t100 and theirs have developed the same exact problems.
1. Inconsistent charging. This device is so picky about charging. The included power brick and CRIMINALLY short USB cable will do the job, but when that cable finally (and easily) broke, I was left with no easy alternatives. I tried order several cheap one-piece chargers from Amazon that specifically claimed to work with the t100 and charge it more quickly; both did in fact charger it faster, about twice, before something went wrong and they began to charge the device to random maximum percentages rather than 100% or not charge it at all. I had to resort to trickle charging with my HTC phone charge (a VERY slow process, but at least it got the device to 100%.)
The Anker Powerport, which claimed to sense device charging needs and deliver the correct voltage, solved this and charges the device perfectly, even with a 6-foot USB cable.
2. Randomly shutting off with absolutely no warning. At this point, I don't feel safe at any battery percentage under 50%; in fact, what just spurned me to re-write this review was the t100 shutting off at 49% battery while I was in the middle of editing a manuscript; thankfully, Word recovered the document. I generally save every 10 minutes, and I STILL don't feel safe doing anything of value on the t100 because it may shut off at any time.
This has been solved by constantly having the t100 hooked up to an Anker portable power bank, which unfortunately negates the t100's biggest advantage, its extreme portability! Add a 4-port USB hub, which is necessarily for productivity if you want a mouse and USB drive at the same time, and it's suddenly pretty hard to write on the bus. The t100 should excel here! Instead, I'm sweating and filled with anxiety any time I'm doing important work on the device that doesn't automatically back up without the portable power bank hooked up.
I have heard that BIOS updates fix these problems, but have not tried myself yet. I have also heard they do nothing. It's up to you if you want to try.
In the end, I do think the t100 is worth the price, but only because that price is very low. It's a super-portable fully-functioning (software-wise) Windows laptop with a really solid detachable tablet function (that I don't use). The hardware, especially relating to charging and keeping that charge, really let it down though. These are fundamental abilities that a laptop needs to function as a portable device, and the t100 fails.
Edit to add: it also has two great features that interact in a bad way. It has four rubber feet on the bottom that grip really well, and the hinge is built in a genius way that lifts the keyboard up for comfortable typing. But! The keyboard getting lifts up picks the rubber feet off the surface and the thing slides around. The engineers for these features must've not checked with each other. It's a shame! You pretty much have to use a bulky case (I suggest the Poetic, it's great), reducing its beautiful sleek light design.
I also remembered some other crippling issues. The wifi card has some serious issues and will often freeze up, displaying my home network when I'm at a coffee shop, and sometimes it will refuse to connect to any networks at all until the computer is restarted. Also, if you ever put the computer into sleep mode or just close the lid, it seems like there's a 25% chance or so that when you open the computer again, it will just be black. Then, you'll have to hold down the power button for several seconds to force a shut off, then press it again to turn on, and it'll display a blue screen as if it's hibernating, but never hibernate. You'll have lost everything. This happens a LOT. Don't ever leave unsaved work open and close the laptop! Actually, I've found it easier on the mind to just save and close everything and fully power down the laptop any time I need to put it away, even for a little while. This really impedes its ability to allow work to get done on the go! Along with all the other issues...also, the touchpad has some quirks, but I won't get into that.
It's a great device when it's kept on, and plugged in, and attached to a USB hub, and you're using a USB mouse and a USB keyboard. But then it's basically a desktop, right?
Edit May 5 2016: What a terrible piece of hardware. I downgraded to two stars. It just died on my at 70% battery while an external battery was attached and actively charging. Again, this was a sudden lose-everything death, as if the battery had been suddenly ripped out of the shell, not a shutdown. I no longer trust doing anything on this computer, and save everything every couple of minutes. I have set my low battery warning to 80% and my critical battery to 50%, at which point it forces a hibernation. It is basically constrained to sit at my desk, always plugged in, but even that doesn't stop the sudden deaths that could come at any time.