Asus Transformer Pad TF300 review: Asus Transformer Pad TF300

The 10-inch screen packs a resolution of 1,280x800 pixels. That's the same amount as you'd find on the original Prime. It doesn't push the Full HD boundaries like the Infinity, which rocks a 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution. It's also not offering much of a challenge to the new iPad, which boasts a whopping 2,048x1,536-pixel resolution.

Still, I found it to be both sharp and bold, making it well suited for web browsing, watching YouTube clips or playing any of the bizarre games you'll find in the Google Play store.

Asus Transformer Pad TF300 screen
The screen is sharp though not as bright as the Prime.

The Prime had a Super IPS+ (that's marketing jargon for 'really, really bright') display that boosted an already bright screen into something resembling an exploding star -- although it did make reading under harsh lighting slightly easier. The boost mode has been abandoned on the TF300 though, leaving just the regular IPS display. It's still bright, so you won't have to squint awkwardly for hours on end.

Aside from having lower brightness than the Prime, the quality of the display is on a par, with wide viewing angles, a satisfying contrast ratio, and no visible colour tint problems. Don't expect iPad levels of clarity, but it's still excellent compared with most tablets.

Software

The TF300 is running on Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), which is the latest version of Google's Android operating system. It's designed to provide a unified experience on both tablets and smart phones. The original Prime shipped with Android 3.2 Honeycomb, but can now be updated to ICS.

Asus Transformer Pad TF300 front open
The simple Ice Cream Sandwich interface is a joy to lollop around in.

Visually, there's very little difference between Honeycomb and ICS. You still get the multiple home screens to swipe through and plonk down live widgets and apps and there's the same list of apps in the menus. It's an attractive interface and one that's rather easy to get to grips with.

Android is still playing catch-up with Apple's iOS when it comes to app support though. The File Manager gives you easy and organised access to your files. MyNet lets you stream content to DLNA-enabled devices on your network, and MyLibrary is an e-reader for reading and purchasing new books. SuperNote lets you write notes with your fingers and you can draw graphs and take pictures or video right from the interface.

Performance

Under the hood you'll find a 1.2GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor. This compares with the Prime's 1.3GHz version. The Tegra 3 is offered on both the Wi-Fi-only and 3G versions, which is noteworthy as the more premium Infinity only has the quad-core chip on the Wi-Fi version.

Asus Transformer Pad TF300 back closed
This beast is among the top performers when it comes to processing power.

The Tegra 3 provided an excellent serving of power in the Prime, putting it at the top of the pile in the tablet processing stakes. It's got more competition in the quad-core genre now, but the TF300 still seems to be lightning fast. Swiping through the home screens was immediate and opening menus and apps was free of any lag -- only a hair slower than on the Prime.

I booted up the CF-Bench benchmark test and was given a score of 10,760 -- almost exactly the same as the Prime, showing that the TF300 is at least on a par with its more premium sibling. By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S2 managed just over 6,000 on the same test. Although it's not a tablet, it's an extremely potent phone, capable of running the most demanding apps, so I'm chuffed at how easily the TF300 beat it.

Asus Transformer Pad TF300 benchmark
The TF300 performed better than Samsung's best gadgets, based on my benchmark tests.

Apps like the Marvel comics app are beginning to take advantage of the Tegra 3's extra horsepower by offering smoother transitions between panels in digital comics. While not quite matching the iPad's smoothness, with some judder evident, it outperforms the Prime. There's also a bunch of games designed for the Tegra 3 chip, which all look pretty amazing, with crisp graphics and mostly smooth gameplay. There was the odd frame rate drop, but it remained perfectly playable.

Using the Speedtest app to benchmark download rates, the TF300 was consistently quicker -- by about 5Mbps -- than the Prime and was only about 3Mbps behind the iPad.

The TF300's battery lasted about two days, matching the Prime's battery life. Asus claims 10 hours with the standalone battery and 15 hours with the keyboard dock attached. You can pick whether you want the Tegra 3 CPU to operate in normal, balanced or power-saving modes. In the former, the CPU runs at full speed. Balanced mode and power-saving mode curtail the CPU speed by using a fifth lower-powered core to save on battery life -- a useful feature that was also in place on the Prime.

Camera

The 1.2-megapixel front camera and 8-megapixel back camera from the Prime are here, minus the LED flash. The front snapper does what you'd expect of it -- it's useful for little more than video chats. The 8-megapixel cam found on the Prime gave some excellent results so the TF300 had a lot to live up to.

Asus Transformer Pad TF300 camera
There's an 8-megapixel camera around the back plus a 1.2-megapixel snapper on the front for video calling.

Sadly, it failed to impress me like the Prime did. Colours weren't as bold and images were generally less sharp and more noisy. It'll do for taking a quick snap of your cat in an Elizabethan ball-gown costume to share to Twitter, but I wouldn't have wanted to spend much time touching them up in photo-editing apps for artistic purposes.

Asus Transformer Pad TF300 camera test
Alas, colour performance doesn't match up to the results on the Prime (click image to enlarge).

It captures video at 1080p resolution though, so you can at least record some daft footage of your mates -- although you will look a bit silly holding up a tablet to record them. The video quality was acceptable for a tablet, but you can get better results from an iPad.

Conclusion

The TF300 falls short in a few areas when compared to the Prime. It's not as thin or as sturdy, and there's no rear flash but the screen is bold and vivid and the Tegra 3 still makes it superbly fast.

At £400, it's the same price as a new iPad, but Apple's market leader is showing the way forward, with the Android operating system still streets behind when it comes to the breadth and quality of tablet apps. But if you're not keen on Apple's slab and prefer the tweakability of Android, then the TF300 presents the best value tablet right now.

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Where to Buy See all prices

ASUS Transformer Pad TF300T - tablet - Android 4.0 - 32 GB - 10.1"

Part Number: TF300T-B1-BL
Low Price: £394.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Wireless Connectivity Bluetooth 3.0
  • Type Android 4.0
  • Weight 635 g
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