Asus Transformer Pad TF701T review: Packed with features, but fails to fully satisfy

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.7
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 2 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Asus Transformer Pad TF701T has great gaming performance, useful app extras, a sharp screen, and a microSD storage expansion option.

The Bad The tablet is unnecessarily large and seems like an outdated design. The screen's color gamut is limited and cameras produce grainy, unbalanced images. The keyboard dock feels cramped to type on.

The Bottom Line Despite its bulky design, the Asus Transformer Pad TF701T is one of the best 10-inch Android tablet values available, but it's worth your time to also look closely at its competition.

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My initial reaction to seeing the Asus Transformer Pad TF701T for the first time was disappointment. The tablet looks and feels like the Transformer Prime, which game out two years ago, and I'm surprised Asus hasn't made any significant design changes in that span. Thankfully, Asus makes up for the tablet's lack of design innovation by offering lots of useful features at a reasonable price.

For $449 you get 32GB of storage with a microSD card storage expansion option included as well as plenty of useful software extras. It's one of the best deals you'll find for a tablet, but I can't fully recommend it without a few qualifiers, which I'll detail below.

Design
The Asus Transformer Pad TF701T is essentially the same tablet Asus released in 2012 and 2011. Its received a few nips and tucks here and there, but if you've ever used either the Transformer Prime or Infinity, you'll immediately find the TF701T familiar.

Now, the Transformer line has always had sound design, but in a year when large tablets like the Apple iPad Air , the Sony Xperia Tablet Z , and the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 are setting weight-loss records, I must admit to being a bit disappointed that Asus didn't push this design forward in any real way.

The TF701T attached to its optional keyboard accessory. Looks quite familiar. Josh Miller/CNET

It's noticeably heavier than the aforementioned rival tablets. Not to the point of being a struggle to hold, but the difference is there and noticeable. As a person with large hands I can somewhat appreciate its extra-wide bezel, but when it's sitting next to the iPad Air or Fire HDX 8.9, it exudes an undeniable antiquated aesthetic.

Tested spec Asus Transformer Pad TF701 Apple iPad Air Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 Microsoft Surface 2
Weight in pounds 1.28 1.00 0.82 1.44
Width in inches (landscape) 10.3 9.4 9.1 10.8
Height in inches 7.1 6.6 6.2 6.8
Depth in inches 0.34 0.29 0.31 0.35
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 1.0 0.8 0.7 0.7

By placing the volume and power buttons on the tablet's back instead of the top or side edge as is the case on most tablets, Asus makes it a bit more difficult to access these buttons while the tablet's lying on its back. Still, they're easy to find when in your hands.

There's a microSD card slot and a Micro-HDMI port on the left edge. A 1.2-megapixel front camera sits on the top bezel, with a 5-megapixel rear shooter directly behind it on the back. The lone speaker grille can be found on the back.

Asus seems to have followed Amazon's lead, placing power and volume buttons on the back. Let's hope it doesn't do that again. Josh Miller/CNET

The keyboard dock will cost you an extra $150 and includes a USB 3.0 port, full size SD card slot, and an extra battery. However, it feels cramped to type on compared with the Microsoft Surface 2's Type Cover accessory. If my goal was to get actual work done, I'd choose the Surface 2 over the TF701T in a heartbeat, thanks to its more comfortable keyboard and the inclusion of Microsoft Office.

There's nothing inherently bad about the TF701T's design, it's simply a solidly designed tablet lacking any innovative traits.

Software features
As Android tablet manufacturers go, Asus is probably second only to Samsung when it comes to including useful custom software features and apps. The always useful File Manager lets you easily access files and apps, and with App Backup you can (as you might have guessed) back up your apps and settings to an external device. App Locker lets you set up passwords to keep others from accessing apps of your choosing on the tablet.

Splendid represents a refreshing shift in tablet customization. Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET

There's also Splendid, where you can adjust the color temperature, saturation, and hue of the screen. An array of utilitarian widgets are also included, such as a calculator, a video player, and a compass. All can run concurrently with other apps.

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Where to Buy

Asus Transformer Pad TF701T

Part Number: TF701T
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Wireless Connectivity IEEE 802.11a
  • Type Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)