In use, the Asus Transformer Pad 300 tablet feels identical to the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime with Android 4 (codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich). Its 10.1in glass screen doesn’t feel quite as smooth to the fingertip as that of the iPad but is still utterly responsive to your every touch.
Volume and power aside there are no physical buttons on the tablet, though the keyboard dock has more than enough and then some. Like most 10in tablets the 300 is too heavy to comfortably use for extended periods one-handed, but holding it with both mitts or stood up in its dock weight isn’t an issue.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that, when it comes to the keyboard dock, the Pad 300 actually improves compared to the Transformer Prime. Its keyboard has an identical layout, but keys feel just a tad softer to the touch and offer slightly more click in their feedback, making typing a lot more pleasant.
It’s still a far cry from the typing experience provided by a proper laptop like the Lenovo ThinkPad X121e or even the typelicious keyboard folio of the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, but it brings Asus’ thin tablets closer to the relatively ‘fat’ original Transformer.
The touchpad driver also seems to have received a significant update as it is both more accurate and more sensitive, and it’s now nearly as useful as that of a regular Windows laptop. In part this is thanks to Asus having gone for physical, dedicated buttons rather than the Prime’s ‘buttonless’ approach. These consist of a single chromed rocker bar but don’t display the stiffness or dead zone of so many similar models.
It does still interfere with typing on occasions where your palms accidentally brush it, but the pad’s easily deactivated with a dedicated keyboard key – so overall we have no real complaints. It’s a real shame the the Pad 300’s dock is incompatible with the Prime, and we can only hope we’ll see the same improvements for the Transformer Pad Infinity’s dock when it comes out.
Getting to the Transformer Pad 300’s photographic talents, it sports exactly the same impressive camera setup as the Prime, albeit without the assistance of an LED flash for the main rear camera this time around. The front 1.2MP camera does a reasonable job, adequate for video chatting, while the downright class-leading 8MP rear shooter features a back-illuminated CMOS sensor with an F2.2 aperture and touch-based auto-focus. Video recording of up to 1080p (FullHD) at 30fps is supported. Both pics and video are among the best you’ll get from any tablet, even if that’s not saying a lot.