While the Transformer Pad 300’s OS is mostly stock ICS (Android 4), Asus has thrown in a few handy apps. Primarily there’s Polaris Office, one of the better productivity suites for Android that includes basic Word, PowerPoint and Excel functionality. SuperNote combines no-frills painting and image editing with note-taking.
App Locker lets you put passwords on your apps, particularly handy when kids have access to your tablet. Meanwhile App Backup, much as its name suggests, backs up all your apps and settings to external storage, very handy if you want to lend your tablet for a bit or even upgrade to a next model. Asus also offers its own Cloud service called MyCloud, which you can use in conjunction with your 8GB of web storage.
As mentioned, despite sporting a quad-core CPU Nvidia’s Tegra is fairly efficient, and the quoted battery life for the Transformer Pad 300/TF300 by itself is 10 hours, half an hour longer than the Transformer Prime. The keyboard dock actually packs a smaller-capacity battery though with 15hrs instead of 16, so expect around the same overall battery life for the two combined as with the previous champion. Indeed, for HD video playback at 50 percent screen brightness the Pad 300 lasted nine and a half hours, while with dock attached it managed 14 hours in the same scenario.
Value Compared to iPad
The value situation has changed significantly from when we first looked at the Prime. Then, the market’s leading tablet was the iPad 2. A 32GB iPad 2 cost £499, while the 32GB Transformer Prime with keyboard dock (!) was only a few pounds more. You were essentially getting a piece of hardware that was faster, thinner, better connected, with a far superior screen and keyboard dock for only a little extra, leaving software as the only possible reason to go Apple. Now, though, the new iPad has an unmatched Retina display and the most powerful graphics chip of any tablet, and its starting price is the same £399 as the Transformer Pad 300.
However, if we’re comparing apples a 32GB iPad 3 will still set you back around £480. That’s £80 more for a heavier tablet with less battery life (remember, the Pad 300 comes with its dock by default here in the UK), far less connectivity, no expandable memory and no keyboard. Unlike with the iPad, the Pad lets you type in relative comfort, you can use the tablet for almost two full days before charging, you can output video to your TV/monitor and insert memory cards from your camera without expensive adapters, you can plug in USB memory sticks and peripherals full stop (even with its USB adapter the new iPad doesn’t recognise memory sticks), and you can play back all types of media.
If you’re after gaming or want the latest apps first the iPad is probably still the best choice, but if you want to use your tablet for work as well as play or you watch a lot of video, the Pad’s the way to go.
Value Compared to other Android tablets
Compared to the Android competition, the situation’s even more straightforward. To mention but a few rivals, the 32GB Sony Tablet S, using a dual-core Tegra 2 SoC rather than the Pad 300’s Tegra 3, will set you back £380. Unlike its successor, Tegra 2 won’t run demanding 1080p video smoothly and won’t even give you a smooth in-OS experience. The tablet S furthermore doesn’t last nearly as long on a charge, doesn’t come close on connectivity, and obviously doesn’t give you a hardware keyboard.
Likewise for the Tegra 2-sporting Motorola Xoom 2 (£380, 16GB) and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (£390, 32GB). Considering how much that £20 extra gets you, the Transformer Pad 300 truly is a bargain, and remains unrivaled until other manufacturers bring out next-gen tablets. If you are on a strict budget though, it's worth remembering that some of the aforementioned tablets can be had in their 16GB incarnations for under £300.
Closer to home, unless you must have the Transformer Prime’s metal finish and slim lines, or you desperately crave its sunlight-readable display, we see little reason to pay £100 more for it – especially since the 300 has a slightly nicer keyboard. Only the Transformer Pad Infinity with its 1080p screen and optional 3G might tempt us away.
With its Transformer Pad 300 - or TF300 to give it its model name - Asus has done it again. For under £400 you get a convertible 10in tablet with an IPS screen, Tegra 3 quad-core power, oodles of connectivity and battery life, and a keyboard dock that transforms (if you’ll pardon the pun) it into a genuine productivity tool and basic netbook equivalent. Essentially you get the same smooth 1080p video playback, console-quality gaming and great overall experience as with the Asus Transformer Prime for £100 less, making Asus’ latest convertible tablet an easy recommendation.