The unit of the ASUS ExpertBook B3 Detachable B3000 we tested was an engineering sample.
Running Windows on an ARM-based machine had been a thing since the release of Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface RT. Fast forward to today, we first reviewed one more Windows laptop that is powered by a Snapdragon chip more than a year ago – and today is the second laptop running a Snapdragon chipset.
This is the ASUS ExpertBook B3 Detachable. It’s a weird combination of hardware and software – but is it feasible? Let’s talk about it today.
As the name suggests, this is a detachable machine. What it means is that inside the box, you get the tablet itself, the back cover that also acts as a kickstand, and also the keyboard. All of them are meant to be used together.
The overall design is nice. Its compactness is a plus point. The kickstand’s design is also very innovative as it can make the tablet stand in either portrait or landscape, or inverted. The stand is also supremely sturdy, so the tablet definitely wouldn’t topple.
But the denim material on the kickstand and the keyboard is something that I think wouldn’t last long. It’s difficult to clean and for our unit here, the sides already started fraying.
Opening up the cover reveals that this tablet is using a 10.5-inch IPS LCD screen with a glossy finish. Of course, it is also a touchscreen since it is a tablet after all. While I am usually okay with bezels on a tablet so that we can hold the device properly, the bezels on this ExpertBook B3 Detachable are just way too thicc.
We also tested the color accuracy of the screen and found out that it can reach 98.18% of sRGB and 87.4% of DCI-P3 color gamuts and with low Delta E numbers too. Pretty good.
Even the brightness is decent. ASUS advertised that this tablet can go up to 320 nits of brightness and our colorimeter did report 331 nits – and that’s still not enough for outdoor usage, but good enough for indoors.
The keyboard is fairly decent but needs some time to adapt to the smaller surface area of each key. I can get used to it pretty quickly since I am already using the Apple Magic Keyboard anyway.
The travel distance of each key on this keyboard is actually fairly good and it needs a fair bit of force before it bottoms out.
The keyboard also is lifted up by snapping a part of it to the screen, creating a few degrees of inclination on the keyboard for better typing. However, this also means the Windows taskbar is difficult to be touched, and the keyboard tends to flex a little while typing at the opposite ends of the keyboard – and it also has this echo chamber effect while typing.
Of course, you can also use the keyboard flat if you want, and avoid the aforementioned flexing and echo chamber sound.
The trackpad is fairly squished at the bottom here – but it tracks well and has decent palm rejection – so no complaints here other than the tiny size.
My biggest complaint though, has got to do with two things – the performance and the operating system. Our unit of the ASUS ExpertBook B3 Detachable comes with this list of specs:
You see, the Qualcomm chipsets are based on ARM architecture, however, Windows is originally made for x86 architecture. This means that all the existing software – including the operating system – will either:
- have to be rewritten specifically for ARM; or
- have a translation layer to translate x86 codes to ARM
I won’t go much in detail about it in this video, but just know that Windows on ARM is still very sluggish and it’s painful to even navigate the web using this machine. Opening Microsoft Edge – which is using the ARM version on this laptop – is sluggish. Maximizing and minimizing YouTube videos is also sluggish.
I tried Chrome but it’s worse since Chrome has no ARM version available for Windows. This is the biggest disappointment since I thought it would’ve been improved since more than a year has passed since I last reviewed a Windows Snapdragon laptop and Windows 11 was launched – but no. Nothing has changed.
Even the boot up time takes forever, by the way.
To add salt to injury, the ASUS ExpertBook B3 Detachable also comes with a stylus, by the way. It’s an active stylus that needs to be charged and it works okay overall – it’s just the lack of applications that this tablet can run. We can now either use the Microsoft Paint, or the Microsoft Whiteboard. I mean, the stylus is fairly decent – but the performance on this tablet can sometimes lag while using Microsoft Whiteboard too.
Okay, back to the ASUS ExpertBook B3 Detachable. Around the tablet, we have the power button and the volume rocker on the top left side, then we have the audio jack and one USB-C port at the bottom right corner. That’s it. This is the one port that is available on the laptop. Want to charge the laptop and transfer files to a USB drive at the same time? Get a dongle. Get your own dongle, actually. Because there is no dongle included in the box.
One good thing about this device though, is that you probably don’t need to charge it that often. For my usage of web-browsing, this laptop can easily last for 10 hours or more. Charging is also simple since it supports USB-PD charging. Once again, I just plugged it into my Ugreen 100W GaN charger and left the included charger inside the box.
However, even with such a long battery life – every minute I spent with the laptop makes me furious. The overall experience of it is just not up to par. You remember the ASUS Vivobook 13 Slate OLED that we reviewed late last year? That tablet with the Intel Pentium Silver N6000 processor felt like a Lamborghini compared to this.
And I’m not blaming Intel or ASUS for this disappointment. It’s because Microsoft did not improve Windows on ARM architecture. It’s been more than a year since I last reviewed a laptop with a Snapdragon chip – and it was still running on Windows 10 at that time. Fast forward to today, and it’s still the same.
Should you buy the ASUS ExpertBook B3 Detachable B3000?
By the way, the ASUS ExpertBok B3 Detachable in Malaysia is only available with this list of specs at the price of RM2,099.
- 10.5-inch FHD
- 4G (soldered)
- 128GB MMC (soldered)
- Windows 11 Pro
I know the ASUS ExpertBook series is meant for enterprises – but please do not waste your money on this. Get a Chromebook or an Android tablet instead. Or maybe even an iPad Air for that matter.
And that’s all I have to share with you. If you want more information about Chrome OS and using Android tablets as a “laptop replacement”, then watch it here. Either one will be a better choice than Windows on Snapdragon.