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Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 review:

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700

From left to right (top row): Headphone jack, Micro-HDMI, microSD. Bottom row: The keyboard's power connector. Josh Miller/CNET

The TF700's IPS screen sports a 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution. This ties it with the Acer Iconia Tab A700's display as the highest-resolution Android tablet screens available. The Prime's resolution is 1,280x800 pixels, and at first glance it's difficult to see a difference between the two.

On the home screen, text under app icons didn't look that different, until you bring your eyes closer than you would normally. It's more noticeable with text on the Web, but again, the difference doesn't necessarily jump out and grab you. It's not until you're looking at the screens side by side that you start to appreciate the additional pixels.

The TF700's smoother text doesn't jump out and grab you by the throat, but it is missed when you go back to a 1,280x800-pixel tablet screen. Eric Franklin/CNET

The most demonstrable difference between the two was visible when displaying e-books. Possibly thanks to the stark image of plain black text on a plain, white background, the text on the TF700 is obviously blacker and sharper. Compared with the new iPad, which runs at a 2,048x1,536-pixel resolution, it's really difficult to see a difference in text quality and sharpness between the two.

Tested spec Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 Asus Transformer Pad TF300 Apple iPad (2012) Asus Transformer Prime TF201
Maximum brightness (Super IPS+) 422 cd/m2 (644 cd/m2) 331 cd/m2 455 cd/m2 358 cd/m2 (570 cd/m2)
Default brightness 112 cd/m2 135 cd/m2 160 cd/m2 183 cd/m2
Maximum black level (Super IPS+) 0.34 cd/m2 (0.53 cd/m2) 0.22 cd/m2 0.49 cd/m2 0.27 cd/m2 (0.45 cd/m2)
Default black level 0.10 cd/m2 0.09 cd/m2 0.17 cd/m2 0.15 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 933:1 1,504:1 941:1 1,220:1
Maximum contrast ratio (Super IPS) 1,241:1 (1,215:1):1 1,500:1 928:1 1,325:1 (1,266:1)

Thanks to its hardware scalability, I used Riptide GP as a games performance benchmark. Depending on the speed of the tablet's CPU/GPU, Riptide GP will deliver a noticeable increase or decrease in frame rate. Riptide also allows you to scale the game's resolution, with the caveat that the higher the resolution, the bigger the frame rate tradeoff. With the resolution pumped to its highest levels, I was impressed by the TF700's ability to maintain a high frame rate, while delivering high-resolution graphics. The Prime, in comparison, ran at a slightly lower frame rate and didn't look quite as sharp. The game on the iPad however ran at an even smoother frame rate than the TF700 and looks noticeably sharper as well. Of course, the iOS version comes sans the Tegra-powered screen-splashing effects.

Not all games scale as well as this. GTA3 still looks great, but not any better than it does on the Prime. 2D games like Angry Birds on the TF700 looked identical to how they did on the Prime. 720p and 1080p movies run smoothly and look sharp on the TF700, but not any sharper than they do on the Prime; however, subtitles do look noticeably crisper.

Beyond the resolution, the TF700 handles contrast and color much better than the Prime across most apps, displaying images that are more vibrant with deeper black levels.

While the TF700's display retains the wide viewing angles most IPS displays are capable of, when looking at a white background from an off angle, an impression of one of the LCD components can subtly be seen. Annoying if you look for it, but most won't even notice.

The screen feels more responsive than the Prime's when swiping through pages, nearly reaching iPad levels of sensitivity. Apps load quickly (a hair faster than on the Prime) and menus pop up in a snap. Also, there's still that great, smooth Tegra 3-induced, 60-frames-per-second screen transition effect when closing apps or swiping through apps and widgets.

Thankfully, apps like the Marvel comics app take full advantage of Tegra 3's extra horsepower by offering smoother transitions between panels in digital comics. The new 1.6GHz Tegra 3 used in the TF700 calculates these transitions as smoothly as the iPad does, with no visible judder. Hopefully, Marvel will update the Android app to take advantage of the increased resolution. In some comics, I noticed some color banding and the text here isn't quite as sharp as it is in the Retina Display-optimized iPad version.

The TF700's Web speeds in the default browser were a second or two slower than the iPad's when traveling to the same sites, but matched the Prime on average. Also, when I quickly swiped down long Web pages, the TF700 displayed no visible clipping, once a site was fully loaded. I tried the Chrome Beta browser as well, but didn't experience any noticeably faster performance and saw a few too many clipping bugs to feel comfortable enough to continue using it as a test.

I tested the TF700's theoretical download speed using the Speedtest app, with the tablet less than 5 feet away from our closed network test router. The TF700 delivered performance as high (around the 19Mbps on average) as the Prime, TF300, and iPad.

Three iterations of Transformer tablet. From left to right: The Infinity TF700, TF300, and Prime TF201. Josh Miller/CNET

As a real-world test, I downloaded the 218MB app Deer Hunter Reloaded. These results presented here are an average of three iterations; all three iterations per tablet were within 5 percent of each other.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 Asus Transformer Pad TF300 Asus Transformer Prime TF201
Deer Hunter Reloaded download speed (in seconds) 120 120 118

Speaking of radio wave speeds, GPS performance is much improved over the Prime's and satellite connections are much easier to find. I was easily able to connect to 12 satellites or more depending on my location. Also, the strength of said connections got to impressively high numbers, again, depending on my location.

The 2.0-megapixel front-facing camera performed better than the Prime's 1.3-megapixel camera: images are clearer, contrast is more pronounced, and colors are more vibrant. That said, I wouldn't be keen on using the camera for any artistic purposes, unless you're planning to become the world's most celebrated video conferencer.

The 8-megapixel back camera received an aperture upgrade over the Prime, going from F/2.4 to F/2.2. This increases the amount of light and detail that can be captured in photos and video. Still pictures are detailed, colorful, and by comparison make the Prime's pics looked washed out. Image stabilization in video was high, compensating nicely for many unwanted camera movements. In diffused light situations, the camera doesn't compensate as well as the iPad's camera does, resulting in a white balance that's off, and sometimes blurry images. Also, the TF700's camera doesn't seem to autofocus as well as the iPad's. However, the TF700's camera has a wider lens, it's just as good as the iPad's in situations with ample light, and its LED spotlight -- a feature missing from the iPad -- comes in handy in low-light environments. Overall, the iPad's camera is better, but the TF700's is right behind it and, thanks to some of its features, may be the preferred camera for some.

The TF700's speakers produced sound comparable to the Prime's in volume and quality, but with slightly more clarity. Compared with the TF300, the TF700's sound is clearer, but the TF300's sound is louder. The speakers don't sound as loud or as full as the iPad's, but they're fine for most tasks.

The TF700's battery drained faster than the Prime's over the course of a workday, with each tablet performing largely the same tasks. Asus claims 8.5 hours with the standalone battery and about 13 hours with the keyboard dock attached. Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here. The chart below shows the results of our tests of TF700's battery life in hours when used with the mobile keyboard dock:

Balance mode Performance mode Power-saving mode
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (with dock) 13.9 12.7 13.6

Here are our battery test results in hours for the TF700 as a standalone tablet without the mobile keyboard dock:

Balance mode Performance mode Power-saving mode
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (without dock) 8.5 7.9 8.5

Compared with the Prime, the TF700 has a sharper screen, faster games performance, and improved front and back cameras. Text looks just as sharp as it does on the iPad, but unfortunately, as of now, a very, very low number of Android apps take advantage of the increased pixel count. The faster CPU and RAM translate to speedy app launch times, but similar to the dearth of apps that make full use of the TF700's screen, Tegra 3 has yet to get anywhere near the level of app support it deserves, a full six months into its life. And the frequency of apps that take full advantage of the quad-core CPU needs to pick up if it's going to be anything other than a stopgap. Still, Web speeds are fast, and GPS actually works and works well.

At $500 for 32GB and $600 for 64GB (that's without the dock, with pricing subject to change before the July launch), the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 effectively replaces the Tranformer Prime in its price range. While the iPad is still the best overall tablet on the market, the TF700 succeeds despite the current Android market's lack of support and is the choice for those looking to take the premium Android tablet plunge. Those who already own a Prime, however, will be better off saving their money for the next Transformer iteration.

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