Asus Transformer Pad TF300 Evaluation

Asus' Eee Pad Transformer, aimed at the iPad 2, was launched with great gusto last year as it bridged the gap between tablets and netbooks and acted as both form factors via its TF101 docking station. The Eee Pad tablet was equipped with a 10.1-inch IPS multi-touch screen (1280 x 800) and a 1 GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 SoC. In addition, the device was loaded with 1 GB RAM and 16 GB to 32 GB flash memory.

The Eee Pad Transformer was a competitive Android tablet on its own, but much of its appeal came from the docking station mentioned above, which allowed for additional usage scenarios, especially those that required a hardware keyboard or other peripheral devices. The TF101 provided a keyboard and touchpad, added 6.5 hours to the device's battery life, and offered better connectivity via two USB 2.0 ports and a card reader.

At the time, we thought the Eee Pad Transformer was a bargain. The 16 GB version (with docking station) costs just $ 505. That figure was lowered slightly later in 2011 when Asus unveiled its $ 620 Eee Pad Transformer Prime with the new 1.3 GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 with 32 GB to 64 GB of storage. Although it shipped with Android 3.2 Honeycomb, it has since received an update for 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich.

While the Transformer Prime's price hike was technically justified, it has weighed on some buyers' upper budgets. To address this issue, Asus released a cheaper version called the Transformer Pad TF300T, which includes the same Tegra 3 SoC and costs just $ 520 with a docking station ($ 385 without). You're probably wondering if the savings are worth it, and that's exactly what we hope to discover …

Inside the transformer pad TF300

In contrast to the Tegra 2 with numerous different models, the Tegra 3 (code name "Kal-El") only has one – at least for now. Like its predecessor, the Tegra 3 uses the 40nm design process and is based on the ARMv7 CPU instruction set. While the fastest Tegra 2 model had two cores clocked at 1.2 GHz, the Tegra 3 has four cores at 1.4 GHz and can be overclocked to 1.5 GHz using a single core.

The Transformer Pad TF300 has 16 GB or 32 GB of internal memory and a microSD slot for optional memory expansion as well as a 2-in-1 audio jack (headphones / mic-in) and a micro HDMI port. Asus includes two cameras, 1.2 MP in the front and 8 MP in the rear. The rear camera photo quality is excellent for a tablet and we found it to be worlds better than the original Eee Pad Transformer. Video is also much improved.

The TF300 has a 10.1-inch ISP screen with LED backlighting WXGA (1280 x 800) with scratch-resistant glass, a viewing angle of 178 ° and 10-finger multi-touch support. The only difference between the Transformer Pad TF300 and the more expensive Transformer Prime is that the Prime has a Super IPS + panel, which is lighter for outdoor use.

Wireless connectivity includes 802.11b/g/n@2.4GHz and Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR – the latter is appreciated by people planning to use a mouse with the system. The TF300 uses a 22 Wh Li-Polymer battery that is said to have an operating time of 10 hours. This is a slight downgrade of the 25 Wh Li-Polymer battery in the Prime, which, according to Asus, offers a runtime of 12 hours.

The TF300T Dock also has its own 16.5 Wh Li-Polymer battery, which extends the operating time by a further 5 hours for a total runtime of 17 hours. According to Asus, these claims are based on battery life tested in power saving mode while playing a 720p video with 60 nits of brightness.

During testing, we found that both batteries often run out of juice after about 15.5 hours, which is a huge strain. Without the docking station, the Eee Pad Transformer will last for at least 9.5 hours, which makes Asus' estimate pretty accurate.

The docking station also features a full QWERTY keyboard and trackpad that turn the Transformer Pad TF300 into a netbook-like computer. There is only one USB 2.0 port on the dock. This is an important addition as Asus excluded USB on the pad itself. A second card reader (MMC / SD / SDHC) is also located in the dock so that you can expand the memory even further. It's worth noting that the USB ports support flash drives with NTFS.

The docking station can be attached to the pad with a 40-pin connector. When connected to the socket, the tablet battery is charged via the docking station.

The Transformer Pad TF300 also has various sensors, including a G-sensor, a light sensor, a gyroscope, an e-compass and GPS.

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