Asus makes some of the most interesting tablets in existence. They're not identikit copies of some other manufacturer's kit, instead offering something different. The Transformer Pad Infinity, like its predecessors, has a fantastic keyboard add-on that skyrockets the tablet's battery life into the stratosphere and makes it a dream to type away on.
But what has changed since the Transformer Prime, a very similar-looking tablet? The Transformer range has gotten even more high-end, with a quad-core processor and ultra-high resolution screen. Packing-in such impressive specs has also ensured that it's far from cheap to buy, though. With the keyboard dock - an essential add-on - the 32GB edition costs around £600. What really shows-up the cost is the Infinity's cheaper cousin, the Asus Transformer Pad 300.
The difference in build is unmistakable, though. The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity is made from aluminium, making it feel just as expensive as, well, it is. Its lid is finished in a pattern of subtle concentric circles, and the inside with a brushed finish - Asus calls it "spun metal".
Two finishes are available, "Amethyst Gray" and "Champagne Gold". And both look the business. The front is topped with ultra-tought Gorilla Glass 2 - not scratched or smashed too easily.
So classy is the look that it's a pity Asus has had to tone it down a bit since the days of the Prime. At the top of the rear is a strip of plastic that's home to the camera lens, the power button and the volume rocker - the Prime's back was a single piece of metal. Why has Asus stepped off the design accelerator pedal? The Prime had GPS and Wi-Fi reception issues due to the design of its bod, and this plastic strip should fix all that.
Aesthetically, it's a shame, though, as the tablet part's shell is otherwise a single piece of metal. And knowing the reasons for the strip, the variance in finish doesn't look too hot.
You get more than just a fancy design for your six hundred quid. The Asus Transformer Infinity uses the Tegra 3 T33 processor, a higher-end version of the quad-core chip seen in the Pad 300, which runs at a higher clock speed than the Prime. In order to keep Android ticking along nicely with such a high-res screen, the Infinity's Tegra 3 chip runs at up to 1.7GHz.
There's 1GB of RAM under the hood, and the tablet comes in 32GB and 64GB flavours - no messing about with 16GB models here. Memory is expandable here too.
Connectivity and Keyboard Dock Design
On the tablet part, there is a microSD slot carved into the metal body, and next to it a microHDMI video output. The USB connector is non-standard - a proprietary jack sits on the bottom edge of the Infinity - but this is easier to forgive than usual as it forms part of the keyboard dock hinge.
Unlike the vast majority of tablets with keyboard attachment, the Transformer Infinity's one works just like a laptop. The hinge is a high-quality thing too, with enough strength to hold its position as long as it's about 30 degrees open or more.
It's a supremely elegant solution. With the keyboard attached the Infinity is still only around an inch thick - the tablet alone is a delightfully slim 8.5mm. And for all the metal on show, it weighs just 599g. It's a little heavy for prolonged one-handed use, but 10.1in tablets don't get a good deal lighter than this. With the keyboard attached, the whole bundle weighs 1.14kg, which is around the same weight as a netbook. Not bad, eh?
The keyboard also adds to the Transformer Pad Infinity's connectivity. There's a full-size USB port, letting you plug in a mouse or external hard drive with ease, and a full-size SD card slot. On the other edge is the same sort of proprietary connector that sits on the tablet's bottom - to let you charge the Infinity while it's in its laptop-like state.
The switch here "unlocks" the keyboard-tablet connection
With a full Qwerty keyboard - minus the numerical pad - and a small trackpad, the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity offers a pretty similar typing experience to a teeny laptop or netbook. Just like the Prime before it, the keys are high-quality and offer a good, crisp action - if a little shallow. There is, predictably, no backlight.
The keyboard makes the Infinity a good replacement for an on-the-go laptop expected to perform basic productivity tasks. However, we'd stop short of recommending it as something to use in place of a full-size 15.6in or larger laptop. Its small size is generally a huge plus point, but to use at home for a mix of work and play, consider an Ultrabook.