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?
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.
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.
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.