Read more about the Apple launch event
The new iPad is here, and packs many of the features we predicted ahead of its launch. But how does it compare to one of the most anticipated Android tablets of 2012, the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700? We take a closer look at the specs to see what’s what.
Form and design nous
New iPad – Well, it’s an iPad, isn’t it?
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 – Metal finish, great keyboard base/dock
The new iPad looks and feels a lot like its predecessor the iPad 2. It uses an anodised aluminium back, is pretty thin and is designed to be used as-is, while you’re parked on the sofa, in bed or bored on a train. You really need a case if you’re planning on the latter, though.
Without the keyboard base, the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 is much the same. Glass front, metal-coated back and slick-looking. It really comes into its own when the keyboard dock is plugged-in, though. Although the key action’s a lot shallower than that of the original Eee Pad Transformer, the typing experience is great, and the dock protects the screen while not in use – it feels just like a diddy laptop or ultra high-end netbook. There’s no first- or third-party iPad accessory that can match it.
Dimensions and chub factor
New iPad – 9.4mm thick, 652g (Wi-Fi model)
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 – 7.6mm thick, 586g (sans keyboard)
Although the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700’s footprint is larger than the new iPad thanks to its 10.1in screen, Asus’s latest is significantly thinner and lighter than the new iPad. At 7.6mm thick, the Infinity is ridiculously thin.
Oddly enough, the new iPad is actually a bit thicker and heavier than the iPad 2 – flying in the face of the trend for slim and light devices. It has made these body sacrifices for good reasons, though, packing-in a larger battery to keep stamina at a rock-solid 10 hours.
Slim, but not as slim as the Transformer Infinity
New iPad – 10hrs, 9hrs with 3G/4G use
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 – 10hrs, keyboard sock provides extra 6hrs
Quite how the Asus Transforer Pad Infinity 700 manages to provide great battery life while being so thin and so light is something of a miracle. If anyone believed in witchcraft any more, Asus might be in trouble.
With a thicker body and slightly heavier frame, the similar performance of the new iPad starts to look less impressive. Maybe Apple should apply to join the Asus coven. That said, 10-hour battery life is great for any tablet, outclassing virtually all laptops and providing day-long usage.
New iPad – A5x with quad-core graphics
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 – quad-core Tegra 3 1.6GHz (Snapdragon S4 in Wi-Fi only model)
Here’s a tricky one. The Apple A5x appears to be a bit like the iPad 2’s A5 dual-core processor, but with a much beefier quad-core GPU. The Tegra 3, on the other hand, is quad-core all the way. We’re not yet sure which will prove to be more powerful in real-world terms, but Apple claims its chip is twice as capable for graphics. For everything else? We’re not so sure.
To Apple’s credit, gaming is one of the few areas that can, and does, make the most of top-end tablet processors at this point. And while odd-n-interesting tasks like video editing, photo editing and music-making will suck up plenty of power, the iOS app scene is the only one vibrant and lucrative enough to make use of this potential.
New iPad – 16/32/64GB non-expandable
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 – 16/32/64GB, expandable via microSD
Apple kept the internal memory options of the iPad 2, failing to bring us a gigabyte-tastic 128GB version or a cheapo 8GB version. The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity mirrors these choices, with one essential difference - you can expand upon the memory with microSD cards.
Slap a fingernail-size card into the slot and you have up to 32GB extra. Simple. Transferring files is also a lot easier. Running Android 4.0, you can drag and drop files with the Asus, but with an iPad you're stuck with iTunes. That's fine for some, but an unforgiveable annoyance for others.
New iPad – 2,048 x 1536, IPS display, 9.7in
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 – 1,920 x 1,200, IPS , 10.1in
Here, we’re pitting two demi-gods. Both these screens are, by any metric, pretty fantastic. The iPad has higher pixel density, giving slightly more intense sharpness and “pixels? You can’t see ‘em” quality, but in normal use both will impress unequivocally.
The most important differences are in size and aspect ratio. Widescreen and big or squat 4:3 and a little smaller? It’s a point of preference, but we tend to favour the squat aspect. It’s slightly less unwieldy. What about IPS versus IPS "plus"? The plus bit supplies an extra hit of brightness when needed, which is useful when trying to use a tablet outdoors.
A glossy screen finish makes top-end tablets like these very prone to reflections, making the screen less visible unless the backlight is really cranked up. We’ll have to see how the new iPad’s non-supercharged backlight compares when we get one in to review.
New iPad – 5MP, autofocus, no flash, 1080p video
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 – 8MP, autofocus, LED flash, 1080p video
Specs-wise, the Asus camera thoroughly outperforms the new iPad. It has a higher-resolution sensor and – most importantly – an LED flash. Without one, you’re stuffed once the sun stops shining (unless you carry around studio lights wherever you go).
No flash? No way.
However, we weren’t hugely impressed with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime’s similarly-equipped snapper, and if it uses the same model, the iPad may be able to grab superior shots in perfect lighting conditions. As we live in the UK, though, the Asus camera will be much more useful to most people.
And yes, we’ve banged on about it before but we still don’t think that rear cameras are particularly important for a tablet. Video call cams are fine, but going out taking shots with a 10.1in device makes you look like a plonker.
New iPad – Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, 3G and 4G LTE options available
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 – Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, 3G and 4G
Both these tablets offer excellent wireless connectivity. The most impressive of the lot, 4G LTE, is of pretty much no use to us yet, though. Elsewhere, mobile phone networks have their own LTE networks up-and-running, but in the UK you’ll have to wait at least until next year to try it out. By which time, we’ll all be talking about the “new iPad” again, except it won’t be this one. Why couldn’t Apple just call it iPad 3? Answers on a postcard.
4G is the future, though, offering speeds up to a ridiculous 73Mbps in the new iPad. Of course, you’d never see these sorts of speeds once a small horde of gadget hunters was hogging up all the bandwidth, but any upgrade is an upgrade, right?
In terms of non-wireless connectivity, the Asus wins out. Although it uses an annoying proprietary socket like the Eee Pad Transformer and Transformer Prime before it, rather than a microUSB, there’s a microHDMI video output for easy piping-through of video to a TV. Boy, would we have loved to see one of those on the new iPad.
New iPad – iOS 5.1
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 – Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
It’s the eternal question of this mobile tech age – iPhone or Android? It’s not an easy one to answer. Ice Cream Sandwich is much more flexible, letting you customise the look a bucketload. It also looks pretty good – much better than Android 2.x did on the first Android tablets. iOS is less buggy, offers smoother operation and much better apps. There are 200,000 iPad apps, but few Android apps have had lots of effort put into tablet optimisation. At present, iOS has the edge - although we're sure plenty of people would disagree. Do you? Let us know in the comments.