The ASUS ExpertBook B3 over-promises and under-delivers

The ASUS ExpertBook B3 over-promises and under-delivers

The ASUS ExpertBook B3 on a table.

The ASUS ExpertBook B3 looks pretty good from a distance.

Photo: Jack Wallen

Ah, the smell of new gadgets. For some, it is a scent as sweet as that of the rose. Most of the time when I get to unbox a new device, I’m pretty calm about it. After all, when you’ve had as much technology in your hands as I have, it can get pretty mundane.

But recently I was asked to kick the tires of the new ASUS Expert Book B3and – according to PR material – I’d fall in love with it at first sight.

A rose by any other name.

According to ASUS, “ASUS ExpertBook are the ultimate take-anywhere laptops, designed to be lightweight, engineered to deliver next-gen power, and built with military-grade toughness.”

How not to be excited?

After tearing open the packaging (you know that drill), I took the boxes out, only to find that it wasn’t what I had been led to believe. Instead of a sleek, flagship laptop, I was greeted with what looked like a tablet with a detachable keyboard and kickstand.

My misfortunes did not end there.

After assembling the parts and giving it a full charge, I booted it up to find it was running, sigh, Windows 11. What could I expect? Linux? It would certainly have been a major improvement.

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I’m getting ahead.

Allow me to take a step back.

parts and parts

In the box you will find three pieces that fit together to create the ExpertBook:

  • Tablet.
  • Keyboard.
  • Case back and kickstand.

These parts snap into place by means of fairly strong magnets, and the kickstand hinges are tight, which is one for the pro card. However, the odd purple and gray fabric cover that served as the case (the back sides of the kickstand and keyboard) was frayed around the edges, making it cheap and ready to come undone at a moment’s notice. This could have been because the device was a review unit, but I have no way of knowing.

I received a 10.5″ version of the device, and – because of that small size – the keyboard felt really tight (and I have small hands). Even after using the keyboard for a week, I couldn’t get used to the tight keys and the small trackpad. Combine that with the cheap feel of the keys and the keyboard is quite a hard sell. This may not be the case with the larger models, but the 10.5″ version certainly suffered.

The performance

So let’s talk about the performance of the ExpertBook. The unit I received came with a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 7c Gen 2 processor (1MB L3 cache, up to 2.55GHz, 8 cores) and 4G LPDDR4 RAM. Anyone who’s ever used a modern iteration of Windows knows that 4GB of RAM pushes their luck and the ExpertBook demonstrates that perfectly.

Apps are quite slow to open and window animations and movement are a hassle. It’s not that the performance is so bad that it renders the device unusable, but if you’re used to a more powerful machine, the ExpertBook (at least with the configuration sent to me) will look like a dinosaur.

And then there’s Windows 11. But being a die-hard, long-time Linux user, I’ll recuse myself from commenting on the operating system.

Also: Cool things you can do on a Linux desktop that you can’t do on macOS or Windows

Are there any pros?

In fact… yes, there are. First, the display is quite good. Powered by a Qualcomm® Adreno™ 618 GPU, the 10.5-inch touchscreen (WUXGA (1920 x 1200) 16:10, Wide view, Glossy display, LED Backlit, 320nits, sRGB 121% sRGB 121%) is very pleasant. While it may not be equal to Apple’s screens, this screen is quite charming. Viewing angles are wide and glare is very minimal.

Another benefit is that when you strip the ExpertBook of its keyboard, you have a 10.5-inch tablet that outshines the device when in laptop mode. I actually much prefer using the ExpertBook in tablet mode, especially with the addition of the stylus which is tucked away in the top right corner of the device. The stylus has two buttons which are quite small and take a while to get used to. The stylus works quite well with the B3 in tablet mode.

The ExpertBook B3 stylus.

The ExpertBook B3 Stylus makes tablet mode even better.

Photo: Jack Wallen

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The only caveat to this is that you will need to remove both parts of the tablet (keyboard and rear kickstand) to lose weight as the tablet is heavy. Admittedly, I’m used to using very light Android tablets, so weighing in on a tablet as heavy as the ExpertBook isn’t exactly something I’d want to do in the long run. Even so, the ExpertBook’s tablet mode is quite enjoyable.

The price

The ExpertBook B3 is priced at $599.00, but the big question is, should you buy it? If you ask me, the answer is no. With the combination of a cheap keyboard, heavy tablet, low performance, and Windows 11, this little device just isn’t enough.

Alternatives to consider

If I was looking for an alternative to the ASUS ExpertBook, I would opt for one of the following options:

#ASUS #ExpertBook #overpromises #underdelivers

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