The Asus Transformer Pad TF300 is reasonably slimline and solid, with Asus' patented spiral design decorating the back. It's comfortable to clutch one-handed too
The Transformer Pad's 10.1-inch touch-screen is perfectly responsive, while the detachable keyboard dock makes it a smart way to bash out lengthy reams of text on the go
The eight-megapixel camera produces sharp shots, although there is a strange haze over some of our snaps. Plenty of storage space plus online cloud storage means you can carry plenty of stuff around
A quad-core Tegra 3 processor is backed up by 1GB of RAM, so the latest games run like a dream
You'll get a full day of use from the Transformer Pad, even if you're obsessed with movies and games. Better than most other tablets we've reviewed
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,5/3/2012 12:52:08 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Excellent detachable keyboard dock, sharp, responsive touch-screen, killer Tegra 3 performance, perfect for browsing the web
Could a tablet that transforms into a laptop be the next big thing? Find out in our full Asus Transformer Pad TF300 review
The Asus Transformer Pad TF300 is the latest dockable tablet, giving you the best of both worlds – a slick and stylish Android Ice Cream Sandwich tablet that converts into a portable and surprisingly usable laptop. We loved the old Asus Transformer Prime, as well as the excellent Asus Slider, and the Transformer Pad is a more-than-worthy follow-up, boasting impressive performance and unsurpassed usability.
If you're after a machine to keep you entertained and productive on the move, this is your boy.
Tip of the iceberg
Breaking from the rather dull tradition of generic black tablets, the 10.1-inch Transformer Pad comes in three different colours: Royal Blue (the version we reviewed), Iceberg White and Torch Red. The front of the tablet is still dark, with the backplate sporting the colour as well as that marvellous swirling pattern. Unlike the Viewsonic ViewPad 10e, the Transformer Pad is solidly built. One corner did creak a little when pushed, but nothing that concerned us.
At 9.9mm it's impressively slender – not quite as slimline as the Toshiba AT200, but svelte enough to slip into a bag or case without much trouble. It's comfortable to grip too, with a 635g weight that's almost identical to the new iPad.
The Transformer Pad certainly isn't short on power, packing the latest Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM into the tablet's slender frame. Combined with the integrated Nvidia GPU, you can comfortably run even the most ridiculously power-hungry games and apps.
RipTide ran like a dream, although that still didn't stop us from smashing into every barrier. There goes our ‘it was all stuttery' excuse. We tried out dozens of other intensive games too, including Bladeslinger and Shadowgun, and all ran without stuttering or crashing.
There's been much speculation over quad-core tablets and phones, and the impact on battery life. The HTC One X already proved that a quad-core phone can still boast long-lasting life, but how does the Transformer Pad fare with its Tegra 3 CPU?
Well, we have no complaints when it comes to longevity. We watched five hours of movies, spent two hours playing with apps and games, messed around online for an hour and streamed 30 minutes of random trailers through YouTube before the Transformer Pad died and had to be plugged back in. That beats the new iPad and most other tablets we've reviewed.
If you're after a tablet for killing time online, the Transformer Pad will be your new best buddy. There's no 3G support, but pages loaded superfast over Wi-Fi and as usual you can search the web by typing words straight into the address bar. Scrolling through busy websites is a smooth experience, with the touch-screen reacting perfectly to our flicks and pinches.
YouTube fans can watch videos directly in the browser, but the likes of BBC iPlayer and 4OD won't play nice, so you can't use those websites to catch up on your favourite shows. Thankfully you can stick your own movies onto the Transformer Pad, to watch on the move.
Video looks impressively crisp on the 10.1-inch screen, thanks to its sharp 1280x800-pixel resolution. We kicked back with a couple of movies and were pleased with the vibrant colours and lack of motion blur, while the wide viewing angles mean you can watch a film with a friend, without the picture darkening. We were also massively impressed by how compatible the Transformer Pad is with all kinds of movie files. Clips that refused to load on other tablets played with no complaints.
25GB of usable storage should be plenty for most people, giving you space for dozens of movies, hundreds of music albums or thousands of apps. Swapping your files across is dead simple – just connect to your PC with the bundled USB cable, and you can drag and drop everything across. No messing around installing extra software. You also get 8GB of free cloud storage, to backup your important stuff, plus microSD and SD slots for expansion.
The Transformer Pad comes with a fair few useful apps pre-installed, including Android stalwarts such as the amazingly useful Google Maps (with full GPS support). You also get a copy of Polaris Office, a kind of mini version of Microsoft Office for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. Google's online market, the Google Play store, allows you to download hundreds of thousands of free and paid-for apps, so you've got no excuse for being bored.
On the back of the Transformer Pad you'll find a sharp eight-megapixel camera for shooting pictures on the go. Its f2.2 aperture sucks in plenty of light to keep your photos bright, but we found that many of our snaps had a hazy quality, as if they'd been through some kind of filter. To be honest, we'd rather take photos with our smartphone, as we feel less ridiculous and it's much easier to wield.
Plenty of detail and rich colours, but there's a strange haze,
most obvious over the buildings in the distance
A portion of another photo we took - you can see the hazy
effect more clearly here
You can capture 1080p video, or shoot a very cool panorama scene when you're visiting somewhere new. Skype fans will also enjoy the front-facing 1.3-megapixel lens, which can be used to make online video chats.
Slide the Transformer Pad into its dock and the two clip together, forming a makeshift laptop. At this size it's actually more like a netbook, those low-powered mini machines that were massive two years ago, and anyone used to a full-size laptop or desktop keyboard may struggle at first with the tiny keys. However, the keys are well spaced and we quickly got used to the reduced size. You get handy ‘Back' and ‘Home' keys for navigating through Android and a touchpad to move the cursor, but the touch-screen remains active when the tablet's docked, so we found ourselves prodding the display instead.
The typing action feels a little mushy, mostly because the keys don't push down far when pressed, but we still massively prefer this physical board to the usual on-screen affairs. If you need a portable machine for bashing out emails or essays on the go, the Transformer Pad will definitely do the job. The dock also gives you a proper USB port, for plugging in memory sticks or peripherals.
The Asus Transformer Pad is the ultimate entertainment and productivity tablet, boasting quad-core performance and an excellent keyboard dock.