Home / Mobile / Tablet / Asus Transformer Pad TF103

Asus Transformer Pad TF103 review

Andrew Williams

By

Updated:

1 of 20

Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103
  • Asus Transformer Pad TF103

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Capable 64-bit processor
  • Versatile hybrid design

Cons

  • Low-resolution screen
  • Tablet part is a little thick and heavy
  • Gaming performance a little disappointing
  • Keyboard predictably feels a bit cramped

Best Deals for Asus Transformer Pad TF103

  • ebay

Key Features

  • Quad-core Intel Atom Z3745 CPU
  • 10.1-inch 1280 x 800-pixel IPS screen
  • Removable keyboard dock
  • Manufacturer: Asus
  • Review Price: £179.00

What is the Asus Transformer Pad TF103?

The Asus Transformer Pad TF103 is a supremely low-cost hybrid. A mere £180 gets you an Android tablet that slots into a keyboard dock, turning it into a netbook-style laptop.

When hybrid rivals such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 charge you £100 or more just for the keyboard, the TF103 seems almost alarmingly cheap. The closer you look, though, the more compromises you see, finally proving this is a decent deal rather than the bargain of the year.

With slightly larger low-cost hybrids out and far better entry-level tablets available, the Asus Transformer Pad TF103 is a compromised solution on both fronts. However, if your demands on both the tablet and laptop ends are strictly casual, it makes a lot of sense, especially now the price has dropped significantly from its original £260.

SEE ALSO: Best Laptops Round-up

Asus Transformer Pad TF103 – Design

The Asus Transformer Pad TF103 looks quite a lot like the first Transformer tablet, which we reviewed all the way back in 2011. Three and a half years isn’t a lot in every field, but it’s an aeon in tech.

When surveyed as a tablet, the TF103 appears dated. The wide bezels and chunky 10mm body are things we’ve seen filter out of most tablets over the last couple of years, but they’re here loud and proud like the kid who brought a briefcase to the first day of school.

Switch things up and view the Transformer Pad TF103 as a laptop, of course, and that all changes. Budget laptops are always a little dowdy, and thanks to its small frame the TF103 is among the neater computers you can get at the price. The clear difference to note, though, is that this ‘laptop’ runs Android where budget notebooks run Windows 8.1 for the most part. While there are plenty of office apps for Android, the experience won’t be quite the same – bear this in mind.

SEE ALSO: Best Tablets Round-up

To switch between its dual roles as laptop and tablet, the Asus Transformer Pad TF103 uses a smart hinge arrangement, with a button in its centre releasing the tablet part. For what's a relatively young type of gadget, there’s a nice old-fashioned thunk, clunk tactility to the mechanism.

It feels sturdy, too, with the core hinge made of metal rather than plastic.

The rest of the Transformer Pad TF103 is rather more basic. Its tablet part is plastic aside from the glass front covering, and quite heavy by recent standards. You wouldn't want to hold it one-handed. However, the finish on the back is at least nice and soft, making it comfy to grip with two hands.

The keyboard base is all plastic, with a hollowness that ensures it feels about as cheap as it is. It appears to be very similar to the keyboard base of the Asus T100, a Windows hybrid now available for around the same price. We’ll get onto what its typing experience is like a little later.

SEE ALSO: Best Cheap Tablets

One of the key draws of some of Asus’s other Transformer hybrids was that they offered secondary batteries in their keyboards that could boost stamina massively, making the hours of battery life available reach double figures. However, there’s no such feature here.

Consequently, battery life is merely respectable rather than remarkable. When playing a looped 720p video, the Asus Transformer Pad TF103 lasts for 8hrs 45mins off a charge. That’s not too far off the 9hrs 30mins promised by Asus.

We did note that the battery dropped much, much more quickly when 3D gaming – you should only expect a few hours of play if you’re going to push the TF103 that bit more.

SEE ALSO: Best Android Tablets

Still, despite the lesser battery life and chunky frame of the tablet part, it’s still ridiculously convenient in several respects. Keyboard and tablet together weigh 1.1kg, which is MacBook Air-like, and it’s small and light enough to carry around like a notepad between rooms or – if you’re at work – meetings.

The connectivity is fairly well suited to the dual roles the Asus Transformer Pad TF103 offers, too. There’s a full-size USB port on the keyboard base, letting you easily attach a mouse or external hard drive, and both a headphone jack and microSD slot on the tablet part.

With a Micro USB socket for charging the battery, Android mobile users can use their phone charger to top up the TF103.

There’s 16GB of internal memory, which naturally sounds like nothing when budget tabs will often have 500GB hard drives. However, it’s a fair amount for an entry-level Android slate.

Best Deals for Asus Transformer Pad TF103

  • ebay

pablouk

December 15, 2014, 2:08 pm

I would seriously suggest you do not purchase a ASUS tablet of any type, what the reviewer does not tell you is that ASUS refuse to update their software in their Tablets and only support them for about a year at the most from the date of release, so if you want to run the latest Android you will need to install it yourself. (good luck with that)
Also the quality of their keyboards are extremely questionable. So far I have gone through 2 ( I have a TF700F BTW). The connections points between the tablet and the dock are flimsy and not well designed, the Locks don't last very long and are too small. If you use the Docking keyboard when trying to transfer data it will not be recognised by W7 so it will need to be unplugged each time, making the Locks and the port even for fragile.
Further and I think the reviewer is wrong here, unless ASUS have changed their approach they don't like or use micro/mini USB unlike every other manufacture (apart from Apple) you will need their own completely useless Power transfer doc, which means it will not power from the PC.
Yes I don't think very much of ASUS and looking at their Facebook page not many owners do.

PJ Matthews

December 15, 2014, 9:13 pm

You do not have this exact model so that is rather irrelevant pablouk.

pablouk

December 15, 2014, 11:14 pm

So do you think their cheaper model will be better, BTW they use the same Keyboard dock

PJ Matthews

December 18, 2014, 6:24 pm

Well the tablet has a micro usb for charging for a start.

Robert Cross

February 13, 2015, 1:18 pm

My Asus tablet got two full OS upgrades - started on Android Gingerbread, then Honeycomb before getting the (final) Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade. As for support, Asus tablets seem pretty well represented on xda-devs, remember that the Nexus 7 is made by Asus!
No problems with the TF101, the dock locks work fine - maybe you got a bad unit (it happens with every manufacturer).
As to the cable, you're right in that Apple and Asus (in their large screen tablets) don't use the standard MicroUSB cable. Then again, some Samsung tablets (like the Galaxy Note 10.1) also use a different cable.

Cowpocalypse_Now

March 10, 2015, 5:37 pm

There have been some complaints on xda developers about the keyboard but you are referring to the first generation. They are now on their 3rd generation with the TF103 and there have been improvements in that area according to reviews.

I disagree with your OS upgrade complaints. My TF701 has so far gotten 2 full upgrades. It came with v4.2 which I promply upgraded to v4.3. Then about 9months ago Asus released v4.4 (Kit Kat).

Don't know if they will release v5 (Lolipop) for it but there are semi reliable rumors they will. Can also get a custom v5 ROM for it right now (getting good reviews) which I will use if they don't come out with an official one.

MadanKumar Narayanan

April 22, 2015, 10:53 am

Asus TF103C : Worst tablet ever. Purchased this tablet fromhttp://VERY.co.uk when it went on sale before. The first tablet sent failed to charge beyond 59%, had to raise a product support ticket with ASUS customer service and returned the tablet back to VERY under the 28 day guarantee. A replacement tablet was sent which was OK for a month and then has random freezes, reboot and most of all wifi disconnections every 2 minutes. VERY say its beyond 28 days so I have to fight it out with ASUS. ASUS accepted it is a fault with the WiFi card and only offer a repair of the device and not a replacement, thoroughly appalled by the experience form VERY, ASUS and this shitty tablet. Never felt so let down after having purchased a new product. Please invest your money in something else, I think Tesco Hudl is a better deal. The tablet is so laggy, filled with ASUS bloatware, very minimal RAM left for other processes, freezes often, I believe ASUS has hacked the system, No way this appalling tablet gives 30,000+ on Antutu benchmark (which is the same as Samsung S5 or nearly same as Nexus 9 with a 64 bit processor). To add more insult, I have sent it to ASUS for repair, they say it needs a new motherboard and wifi antenna, would you believe, 6 weeks since newly bought. worst ever. Very and Asus shame on you

Craig Goslan

May 22, 2015, 6:35 pm

Works well as a door-stop, but little else

Belinda Chinea

September 12, 2015, 11:21 pm

I'm so sorry for your lousy Asus experiences but mine have not been AS bad. Lol
First of all, I was lucky enough to have learned of their Asus MeMo HD 7 on the HSN
television network..they had it for an extremely reasonable price and sold it, as they
usually do, on Flex payments...one small payment per month, usually between 3 and 4 months! The demonstration was outstanding and so I naturally bought!!
It was Perfect!! Still is..even though I cracked the far side of the right hand screen, it
not only STILL works beautifully.. it's gorilla glass stays intact even though I drop it a few times a week! I fall asleep with it on my lap. Ugh! But really, I can't say enough of this
marvel!!
I also bought the K010 Asus Transformer tf103 10.1 that you own...after trying two other dud brands,and although not as compliant and as quick and shar...p as the MeMo Pad,
it's not so bad. It just is tempermental and needs some gentle coaxing to get it to go where you want it to go..and when! lol
I find that one of the most impotant tips I can offer is ... Settings!! That's where most of the troubles begin and end, in your settings and how they react with your other settings!
Once I figured that out, most of my computer problems became null and void.
What a wonderful thing , huh? Settings..proper settings.
Good Luck,
Yours, Belinda Chinea, NYC

comments powered by Disqus