Asus Transformer Pad 300 review
By Chris Martin | PC Advisor | Published: 15:47, 03 July 2012
Asus has finally dropped the 'Eee Pad' from its tablet line-up, and its latest Android tablet is the Asus Transformer Pad 300.
The design of the Transformer Pad 300 (TF300T) is in essence a cross between the original Asus Eee Pad Transformer (TF101) and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime (TF201). It has the same shapely curves as the latter but uses a plastic textured shell like the former.
It is a 10.1-inch tablet just like the other tablets from Asus and has almost the same dimensions as the Prime. It is 263 x 181mm, a bit thicker at 10.5mm and heavier at 635g. The Transformer Pad 300 comes in a choice of white, red and blue.
As with the other Transformer tablets, the Pad 300 has the distinctive and unique hybrid design thanks to its removable keyboard dock. This means the device functions as a tablet but also turns into a netbook type machine when attached to the dock.
Due to its plastic casing the Transformer doesn't have the best build quality, especially when compared to the more expensive Prime. A lot of parts of the tablet are a bit too flexible. Most worrying is the plastic rear cover of the tablet section which has too much give.
The keyboard dock is also a bit on the bendy side but importantly the hinge which the tablet slots into is sturdy and solidly holds the two parts together.
Despite the Transformer Pad 300's suppleness it still feels like it's been put together properly.
Despite the face the Pad 300 is £100 cheaper than the Prime, the specifications stack up surprisingly well. Under the plastic covers is the same nVidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM.
This combination fared well in our GeekBench 2 test. The Transformer Pad 300 scored an average of 1,231 over three runs. This is far higher than the Toshiba AT200 which managed 979.
We found the performance of the tablet to be good. Navigation around the home screens and menus is speedy and smooth. The tablet has no problem with opening apps quickly and coping well with multi-tasking. We also tested out 3D games such as Frontline Commando which the tablet ran smoothly.
We only experienced a couple of small problems when using the Pad 300. Firstly the pre-loaded browser crashed occasionally and there is quite a long wait for once waking the device up from sleep before it connects to a remembered Wi-Fi network because the default setting is to never keep Wi-Fi on during sleep. This can be reversed but will use more power.
Asus has fitted the Transformer Pad with 16GB or 32GB of internal flash storage. In addition to this there is a Micro-SD card slot for expansion and 8GB of Asus Webstorage for life.
As we mentioned earlier the tablet has a 10.1in screen. It uses in-plane switching (IPS) technology and has a resolution of 1280 x 800. We rated the displays on the previous Transformers highly and the Pad 300 is no exception. The screen provides a crisp and bright image with good contrast.
The IPS panel provides excellent viewing angles with the only problem bring the reflectiveness of the glass.
Hardware is rounded off with a good set of ports and wireless connectivity. The tablet has a combined headphone and microphone 3.5mm jack and a Micro HDMI port while the keyboard dock provides an additional full-size SD card reader and a USB 2.0 port. Wireless connectivity includes 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS.
We've mentioned the keyboard dock a few times - it is a key element to the Transformer Pad 300. Using the keyboard dock with the tablet is a joy. We found having a keyboard and trackpad in addition to the touchscreen a very useful feature. It also makes transporting the device easier because it docks and folds together like a laptop.
While the keys are small, they are surprisingly easy to use and there are handy shortcuts keys for different elements of Android like Home and Menu. The trackpad is also small but multi-touch input is seriously handy for moving between home screens or scrolling around a web page.
The main problem we had with the dock was the fact it is very top heavy. This was not an issue when using it on a flat surface like a desk but when we had it on our lap on the sofa we found it very eager to topple over backwards.
If you're bothered about cameras on a tablet then the Transformer Pad 300 offers two great ones. The rear is rated at 8Mp and uses a backside illuminated (BSI) sensor. This camera uses a very simple interface but takes decent pictures with its auto-focus function.
The more useful, in our opinion at least, front camera has a rating of 1.3Mp - one of the highest we've seen on a tablet. It produces a good image for things like video chatting although not quite as clear and detailed as we expected.
Asus is a reliable firm for getting the latest versions of software on its products. The Transformer Pad 300 is no exception and has Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out-the-box.
The interface looks slick and there is a reasonable but not overwhelming amount of pre-installed apps. These range from the usual Google set to Polaris Office to a few of Asus' own. There is, of course, access to the Google Play Store to download apps.
Asus has customised the user interface slightly in some places. The most notable change is the notifications and settings bar. This has a slightly different look to the standard one and includes three different performance modes: Performance, Balanced and Power Saving.
The line-up of Transformer tablets offers an amazing amount of battery life. This is largely thanks to the additional battery contained within the keyboard dock. Asus touts a 15 hour life span for the Transformer Pad 300, three hours less than the Prime.
The tablet on its own can manage up to 10 hours - on par with the iPad - from the 22Wh Li-polymer battery and the keyboard dock adds on the extra five via its 16.5Wh Li-polymer Battery, according to the firm.
We found battery life so good that we only charged the Transformer Pad once or twice in the space of a week. It will easily last a few days of use if you have the keyboard dock to hand. Watching a television programme on BBC iPlayer was the kind of task that drained the battery faster, naturally. The important thing is that we never needed to worry about how low the battery was - a rare thing for a tablet.
The Transformer Pad 300 offers an attractive package for a reasonable price. £399 will get you 32GB of storage and the keyboard dock thrown in too. The excellent selection of ports, decent screen, competent performance and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich round-off a solid effort from Asus.