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Asus Transformer Pad 300 review

Ardjuna Seghers

By

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Editors choice

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Summary

Our Score:

10

User Score:

Pros

  • Superb value
  • Well-built, still thin and light
  • Quad-core yet excellent battery life
  • Keyboard dock adds connectivity and battery
  • Full HD video plays smoothly

Cons

  • App selection still inferior to iPad
  • No 3G option
  • Top-heavy docked design requires care on lap
  • Poor speaker positioning

Key Features

  • 10.1in 1280 x 800 IPS screen with Gorilla glass
  • Tegra 3 quad-core CPU 1.2GHz
  • 1GB of RAM, 32GB storage plus 8GB web-storage
  • SD, microSD, USB 2, microHDMI
  • Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi N
  • Up to 14hrs battery life (with dock)
  • Manufacturer: Asus
  • Review Price: £399.99

Intro

We awarded the original Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime a perfect 10/10 score, for while it was not without its issues, it was as close to perfect as a tablet had yet come. In fact, the only negative was its slightly high asking price of £500, which was excellent value for what you were getting but not particularly affordable. As you may imagine then, we were pretty excited when we first heard Asus would be releasing a cheaper convertible tablet with the same great Tegra 3 quad-core internals and same game-changing keyboard dock with extra battery. That tablet is called the Transformer Pad 300, model name TF300, and it lives up to our high expectations in so many ways. However, at the same price as Apple’s new iPad 3, can it overturn Apple's finest?

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For those new to Asus’ ever expanding Transformer family, the original Transformer, Prime and Tab 300 all share a common core concept: a ‘convertible’ Android tablet with (sometimes optional) keyboard dock that essentially turns it into a highly portable laptop, akin to a high-end netbook. Given that the Transformer range are pretty darn good tablets without the dock, the fact that this accessory not only gives you a hardware keyboard but also expands the connectivity and nearly doubles the battery life is the cherry on the already scrumptious cake.

Differences to the Transformer Prime

So how does Asus manage to shave £100 off the Prime’s price, and what exactly are the differences? Most noticeably, the Prime’s gorgeous aluminium chassis has been replaced with a plastic one, with both thickness and weight increasing slightly in the process.

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However, the textured plastic is not prone to unsightly fingerprints, provides a far better grip, and negates the Prime’s Wi-Fi and GPS issues. Overall then, this ‘downside’ could actually be considered an advantage. It will be available in a range of colours too, including navy blue, white and red. Initially blue will be your only choice, with red and white to follow.

The second, less ambiguous change is that the Prime’s eye-searingly bright 10.1in Super IPS Plus display has been replaced with a more regular IPS panel of the same size and 1,280 x 800 resolution but a much lower brightness, which puts it on a footing with most other premium Android tablets in this regard.

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Last and least of the 'big' ones, memory capacity is limited to 32GB (at least for the UK) rather than the Prime’s optional 64GB – but unlike on the iPad and several other Android tablets, memory is expandable with not just one but two SD card slots, so this really shouldn’t concern most users. The rear camera has lost its LED flash too, but again we can’t see this being a huge complaint.

The only other supposed downside to the Transformer Pad 300/TF300 is that its Tegra 3 processor has a slightly slower standard clock speed of 1.2GHz compared to the Transformer Prime’s 1.3GHz – but honestly, you won’t notice the difference at all in real-world use.

David Horn

May 9, 2012, 2:51 am

I'm inclined to think that Asus have screwed up their tablet line-up for this year.

Having used an iPad 3 there's no way I'm going for a low resolution screen any more, but I'm equally aware that the Transformer Prime with a 1080p screen was announced over six months ago, and isn't due a UK release for several months still.

So at this point I'm now reluctant to buy a tablet which I know is significantly out-of-date at release. Asus should have played their cards closer to their chest and announced the 1080p version and released it shortly afterwards.

At least when Apple commit to a release date they mean it.

Ed

May 9, 2012, 1:59 pm

An intriguing logic. While you're right to criticise Asus' slow launches, the products themselves are still class leading - it's not like other products are superseding them in the time between announcement and launch. Also, with regard the screen, the iPad 3 is nice but I certainly wouldn't be dissuaded from another tablet solely because of it. Moreover, the 1,280 x 800 resolution used here means this tablet has a higher pixel density than the older iPads already. The iPad 2 is 132ppi, Transformer is 184ppi and iPad 3 is 264ppi.

TechVegan

May 9, 2012, 3:44 pm

While I see where you're coming from, having the only 10/10 scoring tablet out this year is hardly "screwed up".

Being a 'screen snob' myself I also regret the delay with the higher-resolution Infinity, but if I had to pick right now, I would go for the extra functionality, flexibility, connectivity, battery life, etc over the iPad 3's admittedly lovely high-rez display.

And the Transformer Tab Infinity WILL come out this year, so "for this year" might be overstating the case regardless.

JonDavid

May 9, 2012, 4:02 pm

I am surprised by this review. I used the Prime for a little while and really did not like it, although it is very fast. Side by side with an Ipad and Galaxy Tab the screen looks poor, highly reflective and lifeless colours. The dock connector also feels like it will break at any time. I can't see how this more basic one could be better.

Lee Marshall

May 9, 2012, 5:45 pm

I think the screen on my Prime is superb, yes it's not as sharp as the latest iPad but it is still incredibly bright, colourful and has good contrast. It's truly superb for movie playback.

The dock/power connector does not feel that strong but I haven't had any problems with either of them.

TechVegan

May 9, 2012, 5:46 pm

@JonDavid:
Thanks for your comment.
Regarding the Prime, it had by far the brightest screen and some of the best contrast of any tablet on the market when it came out, so not quite sure how you gained the impression of "poor [...] lifeless colours". Was the brightness set low?

As to the dock connector, I agree it does feel a little precarious especially in 'laptop mode', but I don't know anyone who has had issues with it yet, and if it were to break that would be covered under warranty.

JonDavid

May 9, 2012, 8:24 pm

As indicated by the review, quite a few people like the screen, but looking at them all side by side in the office doing similar tests, my preference would be for the Galaxy series screens. I definitely recommend people try to physically check out the differences before they buy.

JDunn

May 9, 2012, 9:42 pm

I noticed the rather vague reference to the bundled word processor, Polaris Office.

To describe it as 'basic' is an understatement. Until Android Office software improves this is basically a decent tablet with a keyboard attached - any sub-laptop will beat it hands down even for occasional work.

Hans Gruber

May 9, 2012, 10:27 pm

I had the original Transformer 101 and whilst it had a lot of potential it was marred by some significant faults too.

There were fairly widespread problems with QC and a number of the tablets had severe backlight screen bleed issues, which affected my own tablet also.

The audio on my tablet was abysmal. Both the inbuilt speakers and headphone output were very underpowered. You had to use an amplifier just to get a decent level of audible sound.

As for the keyboard, that suffered greatly with input lag and was a common problem. You could improve its performance a little by turning off predictive text and things but it still sucked so much it meant you couldn't begin to type normally.

The things I really liked about the tablet were marred terribly by the issues I had. But there was no beating the device for responsiveness of google maps and the screen looked great (in bright light at least) where backlight bleed wasn't noticeable.

Anyway, my own tablet was lost in transit on it's second return to get fixed. So that was a blessing really. It was far from a useful or usable tool for inputting text so I don't really regret becoming tablet-less. I remain very sceptical of such devices to this day though I appreciate ASUS at least score points for trying to innovate. They apparently had a high level of returns of the TF101 too and weren't known for reliability so I hope this has since changed. Never had problems with the dock connector though (noted it might not give much confidence for durability as it looks, but with normal use you wouldn't accidentally break it).

JohnMeredith

May 16, 2012, 1:04 pm

I notice that Tesco are now selling the Sony Tablet S for £299...that changes the value stakes a little.

TechVegan

May 16, 2012, 3:08 pm

@Hans Gruber:
Yes, the original was more of a mixed bag, and though it was a revolutionary product, it did have some serious faults - though it's worth keeping in mind most of them were shared by other tablets of that time.
Low maximum volume from the headphone jack was still a potential issue on the Prime but appears to have been fully fixed on the Pad 300, and keyboard lag wasn't noticeable on either model.
I would definitely recommend giving the latest Transformer tablet a try if you loved the form factor :)

@JohnMeredith:
Thanks for your comment.
That's for the 16GB version. The 32GB version (which matches the Pad 300's native storage) is still £379 as mentioned in the comparison in my review.

photonpoet

May 23, 2012, 3:36 am

I'm not surprised by this review. The anti-Apple bias of this site is clear to even the most casual observer.

General consumers such as myself don't care about hardware features like connectivity with TVs, games controllers or keyboards on a tablet device - these are features of computers or games consoles.

Hardware features that do matter on a tablet, however, are the quality of the screen and the speed of the touch response. The superiority of Apple's offerings, on these counts, are immediately apparent to anybody who has tried them.

Hardware aside, what I really object to is the casual disregard of objectivity for the massive and obvious differences between the iOS and Android platforms on nearly every level, from speed, to ease of use, to the quality of the content available on their respective 'app stores'. No additional hardware 'options' can make up for the obvious superiority of iOS in this regard. Ignoring or downplaying this point in the manner that this site's reviewers do again and again borders on deliberate misrepresentation.

Please be objective when you review hardware - we, your readers, come to your site to help inform buying decisions, not be be misled by reviewers which display over-enthusiasm for some platforms/corporations and obvious distain for others.

ElectricSheep

June 11, 2012, 5:21 am

Great review. Before finding this review and after reading most other competitors reviews, I had come to the same conclusion. This looks like a good deal.

A few things: If I can buy an entirely new 3G phone (say, the Samsung Europa) with 3G & WiFi, then why are we still not seeing 3G & WiFi as standard in almost all tablets. It's not a cost or space limitation any more. The crazy £100 premium that most manufacturers charge for a 3G enabled tablet is borderline criminal!

If I was interested in making a purchase *cough* not that i'm seriously thinking of frivolously spending money on a tablet again *cough*, I would find it a photo finish between these three:

Acer Iconia A510
Toshiba Excite 10.1 / AT300
Asus Transformer Pad TF300

Tough call...if I was interested in buying :)

TechVegan

July 5, 2012, 9:08 pm

Glad you liked it!

Not that you're interested in buying of course, but if you had been, I would have to say TF300 out of those three. The keyboard dock/battery just adds so much...

If you had no interest in a keyboard attachment, the AT300 [http://www.trustedreviews.com/...] might be the better bet due to its on-tablet full-size SD card slot and USB.

Ignasi_Garcia

December 13, 2012, 2:16 pm

Asus rocks!

Deebydoo

December 27, 2012, 5:36 pm

Is there a compatible HDMI to VGA adaptor for this tablet?

willow

February 23, 2013, 12:02 pm

No longer supports flash player so what's the point!

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