Asus Transformer Pad TF300T review
At current prices the new Transformer Pad TF300T simply isn't cheap enough to challenge the very similar Transformer Prime - though that surely must change in time
Review Date: 11 May 2012
Price when reviewed: £399
Reviewed By: Seth Barton
Asus has carved out rather a nice niche for itself with its Transformer line up. These tablet-cum-laptop hybrids consist of an Android tablet with a keyboard dock, which both provides easy text entry and increased battery life. The dock is a clever idea, but key to both the previous models - the original Asus Transformer and the more recent Asus Transformer Prime - was that the tablets themselves were excellent standalone examples.
Having dropped the aging Eee Pad branding, the new Asus Transformer Pad TF300T supersedes the original Transformer, as the basic model in the range. Despite this position, it actually shares a large number of specifications with the Transformer Prime, including the Tegra 3 chipset at its heart.
The most immediate difference you'll notice is that the Pad has a plastic casing, rather than the Prime's metal casing. On the plus side, this means the Pad comes in three different colours (red, white and blue - perfect for patriotic types in this Olympic year), and it maintains the same attractive concentric-ring pattern on the rear of the tablet. This is not the subtle visual effect, as on the metallic Prime and ZenBooks, and instead a textured finish - but it still looks good and it improves your grip on it too.
The plastic here is thicker than the metal is on the Prime, so the Pad is slightly chunkier, with the tablet alone measuring 9.9mm to the Prime's 8.3mm. The weight has risen too, up from 586g to 635g, although it's actually 40g lighter than the Prime is when you factor in the keyboard docks as well (for reasons we'll come to later).
Aside from the finish, the Pad's design is essentially identical to its metallic big brother. The tablet is largely non-descript, except for that aforementioned rear texture. There are front and back cameras, but as with most tablets, even the main 8-megapixel one isn't that great, with fuzzy results and muted colours. Cameras on the latest smartphones, such as the HTC One X, far surpass anything on tablets at present - with the iPad 3 having the best example in this area.
As you're holding it in landscape, there's a volume control on the upper right-hand side alongside the micro-HDMI port. On the left is a headphone socket and the lone speaker - which makes the audio from YouTube video and the like sound a little lopsided. On the bottom of the tablet are the recesses for the keyboard to hook into and the proprietary USB and power charging port.
As with previous Transformers, the Pad has two batteries, one in the tablet and one in the keyboard dock. You can charge either using the supplied cable, and power is transferred automatically from the dock to the tablet when they are connected. The Pad always ensures that the dock's battery is drained first, so if you want to head out with just the tablet it will have the maximum possible charge.
Inside the casing, the Pad is largely identical to the Prime, but it does differ in a handful of notable respects. The first is the battery capacity, with both the main battery and dock battery being smaller than the Prime's. This has had an impact on the battery life, with the tablet scoring just over nine hours in our continuous video playback test, compared to ten hours and 45 minutes from the Prime. The Pad's dock then adds another four hours and 25 minutes to that figure, compared to just over six hours extra playback from the Prime's dock. All that said, you still get an impressive 13 and-a-half hours of battery life from the Pad - more than pretty much any laptop we can name.
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