Look and feel
That slick spiral brushed metal design is back again. In fact, the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity looks almost identical to the Transformer Prime. It’s solidly built but slender and light enough to clutch one-handed, despite being a 10-incher
Ease of use
The Transformer Pad Infinity’s spacious, responsive touch-screen is perfect for browsing around Android Ice Cream Sandwich as well as the web, while the dockable keyboard is a big help for typists. Of course, the compact keyboard does take a little getting used to, and prodding the screen can tip the tablet over
Aside from the dock, which offers a secondary battery and USB port, the Transformer Pad Infinity boasts a Full HD screen that's excellent for gaming and movies. 64GB of built-in storage is buckets of space for music, video and apps
A quad-core 1.6GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor makes this one of the most powerful tablets in existence, more than capable of tearing through games
You get six hours of media streaming from a single charge, or a full day if you limit yourself to web browsing and basic use. The keyboard dock has a secondary battery, doubling life when the two are connected
Asus shook up the tablet world with its Transformer series, a range of Android tabs that convert into mini laptops thanks to a bundled keyboard dock. The Transformer Prime was an excellent recent entry to the series, and we’re looking forward to seeing Asus’ upcoming dockable Windows 8 tablets, but first we have the Transformer Pad Infinity – an upgrade on the Transformer Prime, coming with a steeper price tag.
So what’s changed, and is the Transformer Pad Infinity worth the price hike?
At first glance, the Transformer Pad Infinity looks almost identical to the Transformer Prime. We actually thought we’d been sent the wrong model for review, until we stuck it side-by-side with our Prime: only a slightly darker finish differentiates the two, along with some tiny changes to the edge of the tablet. That great-looking spiral brushed finish is still present, a feature we can’t get enough of.
The Transformer Pad Infinity (left) looks kinda familiar: separated at birth from the Transformer Prime (right)
The Infinity may have a large 10.1-inch screen, but it’s impressively thin at just 8.5mm (more slender than rivals such as Acer and Apple), and weighs a shade under 600g. This makes it comfortable to clutch one-handed in portrait mode, for browsing the web or messing with apps on your commute, but it’s best held with two hands when watching a movie in landscape mode. Every inch of it is reassuringly solid, and the HDMI port, power and volume buttons are well spread across the edges.
Without the dock...
...and with it attached
While the Prime started life on Android Gingerbread before an upgrade to the excellent Ice Cream Sandwich, the Transformer Pad Infinity comes with Ice Cream Sandwich already installed. We’re hoping this will be bumped up to Jelly Bean real soon, but it’s no great shakes. After all, Jelly Bean’s major improvement was smoother navigation and performance, and Ice Cream Sandwich runs like an electro-charged Usain Bolt on the Infinity.
This is partly down to the insanely powerful Nvidia Tegra 3 processor packed away inside the slender chassis. The Transformer Prime also rocked Nvidia’s quad-core chipset, but the Infinity’s processor runs at 1.6GHz compared to the Prime’s 1.3GHz. We blasted through some of the latest action games such as Dead Trigger with almost no stuttering to mar the experience (the only judder we noticed was a tiny freeze each time we started a level). This being a Nvidia machine, you get the TegraZone app for downloading the latest games as well as full Google Play access for all of your app needs.
As for Android itself, Asus hasn’t meddled much with the original Google design. You get five desktops to populate with apps, shortcuts and widgets, and our only real complaint is that the widget selection is rather limited. We did appreciate the Asus Battery widget, which shows you how much charge remains in the tablet and also the dock, and also the Asus Task Manager. Aside from that, it’s your standard weather, mail and clock efforts.
The major difference between the Transformer Prime and the Transformer Pad Infinity is the screen. We liked the Prime’s crisp and colourful display, but the Infinity boosts the resolution from 1280x800 to Full HD 1920x1200, making it ideal for watching high definition movies. We streamed some HD video online and the results were special. The lifelike images were rendered with super-sharp clarity, and nicely understated colours. Our only complaint is it could do with being brighter, as it’s difficult to use with sunlight or other glare reflecting off the screen.
High definition videos look fantastic on the Full HD screen
Movie fans can carry around plenty of films on the 64GB of built-in storage, as well as music, apps and all the other good stuff. Don’t worry if you’re off on a lengthy journey either, as you’ll get six hours of battery life from a single charge (and even longer if you limit yourself to apps and web browsing).
The 10.1-inch touch-screen is also an excellent tool for surfing the web. Your swipes register immediately, as do your pinches and prods, and the speed at which the screen scrolls is perfectly weighted against the ferocity of your swiping.
One of the big USPs of the Transformer Pad Infinity is that detachable keyboard dock, which adds extra functionality as well as a smart means of bashing out emails and essays on the go. The tablet simply slides into the connector and locks solidly in place, giving you instant automatic access to the keyboard.
Granted, it'll take you some time to get used to the shallow travel of the keys and the compact design. Give it an hour or so and you'll be bashing out lengthy diatribes as fast as your fingers can dance across the keyboard, and there are plenty of Android-specific keys for toggling features and opening apps and menus. A mediocre touchpad is included, but we prefer stabbing the screen with our fingers. The only issue comes when the screen is tilted right back, as prodding it knocks the Infinity off balance.
As well as the keyboard, docking the Infinity gives you double the battery life thanks to the secondary battery inside the dock. You also get a USB port for attaching compatible peripherals and memory sticks.
As usual you get a rear-facing camera, for taking snaps on the move. The Infinity’s eight-megapixel lens captures bright, sharp, realistic images that can be viewed back on a full-sized television or PC screen without much graininess. The f2.2 aperture takes in plenty of light, so indoor shots look as bright as outdoor snaps. You also get a flash for dingy interiors and night shots.
The auto-focus snaps on to your subject quickly and photos are taken within a second of hitting the shutter button. You get a handful of options and settings to play around with and tweak your photos, and you can also capture a panorama and Full HD video, which looks impressively sharp when viewed back. Last of all is the two-megapixel front-facing lens, which is perfect for Skyping.
The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity may look just like the Transformer Prime, but it’s a worthy upgrade thanks to its beautifully crisp Full HD screen. An even more powerful Nvidia quad-core processor will keep gamers and media fans happy, and the keyboard dock will keep you productive when you’re not blasting your way through the latest TegraZone titles.