The Bottom Line
May 11 2012 - With the introduction of the more affordable ASUS Transformer Prime, the company has provided much of the major features that made the Transformer Prime such a compelling Android tablet. It still uses the fast quad-core Tegra 3 processor, the high resolution rear camera and optional expansion dock. Now, consumers will miss out on some of the premium features by sacrificing the metal finish, long battery life and the thinner profile. For the majority of consumers, they will be more than willing to make these trade offs such that it will be the tablet of choice in the $400 price range.
- Strong Performance
- Android 4.0 Software
- Doesn't Suffer GPS or Wi-Fi Problems Of The Prime
- Thicker And Heavier Than Prime
- Lower Battery Life Than Competition
- Internal Speakers A Bit Soft
- 1.2GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (Cortex-A9) Quad Core Processor
- 1GB Memory
- 32GB Storage
- 10.1" WXGA (1280x800) Mutlitouch Display
- 1.2 Megapixel Front Camera, 8 Megapixel Rear Camera
- NVIDIA Tegra 3 Graphics
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Dock, micro-HDMI, microSD, 3.5mm Audio Jack
- 10.4" x 7.1" x .39" @ 1.4 lbs.
- Android 4.0
Review - ASUS Transformer Pad
May 11 2012 - The ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 is essentially a scaled back version of the Transformer Prime but costs a hundred dollars less. Thankfully, they decided to keep the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad core processor. Performance does drop off a bit compared to the more expensive sibling as the clock speed was reduced from 1.3GHz to 1.2GHz. Even with this drop in performance, it still outperforms the plethora of tablets that are based around the dual core Cortex-A9 processors such as the Tegra 2. This does put is slightly behind the other Tegra 3 based tablet in the Acer Iconia Tab A510 which costs $50 more this this model.
Another big change with the Transformer Pad is the screen. While the Transformer Prime features the IPS+ display that offers some very strong colors and brightness levels, this tablet uses just a standard IPS panel. The primary impact is in the brightness levels which isn't a problem indoors but does make it harder to read outdoors. In addition, the viewing angles are a bit less the IPS+ panel. It is still wide enough for most situations but its something to note. It certainly falls well short of the much more expensive Apple New iPad with its high resolution retina display.
The overall tablet construction also made a number of changes. Rather than the metallic finish of the Prime, the back panel is constructed of plastic with a textured finish that makes it similar to the spun design of the Prime. The thickness of the tablet has increased. Thickness is now .39-inches which is larger than even the bulkier Apple New iPad. The weight of the tablet has also increased to 1.4 pounds which is a bit lighter than the Apple. Both of these measurements are smaller however than the competing Acer Iconia Tab A510 which is the closest competition to the Transformer Pad.
Thankfully, the new plastic body design of the Transformer Pad has an added benefit. The Transformer Prime had an unfortunate issue with the location of the antennae for the GPS and Wi-Fi. The reduced range and clarity was such a problem that a hardware fix was issued by ASUS. This is not an issue at all with the Transformer Pad.
One feature that surprisingly did not change from the Transformer Prime is the cameras. The rear camera still uses the eight megapixel sensor. This is the highest resolution sensor available in tablets and is capable of the 1080p high definition video. The one small difference here is the removal of the LED flash. While this is a bit disappointing frankly the LED flashes have extremely limited range where more tablets don't benefit much from them.
The Transformer Pad is also the first of the ASUS tablets to ship with Android 4.0 installed. This actually improves the overall stability of the Android platform and provides a smoother overall experience. ASUS keeps the interface of the OS to the standard design which helps keeps things from being too cluttered. They have preloaded some software onto the tablet but they are for the most part useful.
The battery pack inside of the Transformer Pad is also a bit smaller than the Transformer Prime. Rather than a 25WHr capacity pack, it uses a smaller 22WHr capacity rating. Now, with the variable processing of the Tegra 3 processor, it should still provide some good battery life. In video playback testing, the tablet was able to run for eight and a quarter hours. Now, it is important to note that this was set in the balanced power mode. There is a power saving mode that should extend running times but it lowers the clock speed of the various cores. This falls roughly two hours short of the Tranformer Prime, Acer Iconia Tab A510 and the Apple New iPad.
Just like the Prime models, ASUS offers an optional keyboard docking station for $150. This will double the size of the tablet but also adds an additional 16.5WHr capacity battery, keyboard, full size USB 2.0 connector and a standard SD card reader. For roughly Now the keyboard is smaller than many netbook models which makes it a bit more difficult to use but it still is much easier than trying to type on the tablet screen. It should also add roughly four more hours of video playback.