CNET First Look
Asus Transformer Pad TF300The TF300 does not lose much from the previous Transformer model, and actually gains in a couple of areas. At $380 it is currently the best-value Android tablet on the market.
Hi. I'm Eric Franklin and today I'll be taking a first look at the Asus Transformer Pad TF300. For Android tablet fans, the Asus Transformer Prime represented that moment when they could say to their iPad 2 totting buddies, hey, I have something thinner, lighter and at least on paper, more powerful than what you have. Still the Prime has some GPS issues and it's WiFi speed wasn't quite as high as some expected. Also, starting at $500, it wasn't cheap. Enter the Asus Transformer Pad TF300. The TF300 starts at $380 for 16 gigabytes of storage, comes with Android 4.0.3 installed, replaces the Prime's metal unit body with plastic, thickens the body a bit, lowers it's speed of Tegra 3 processor by 100 MHz to 1.2 GHz and removes the flashlight from the rear 8-megapixel camera. Also, we don't get that super ICS mode I enjoyed so much on the Prime. Those are the major changes but let's get into the details. The TF300's body is slightly thicker and slightly heavier than the Prime and over all doesn't feel quite as high-quality as a Prime with it's sturdier, sexier metal body. However, it still included Micro SD and micro HDMI. Both the volume rocker and the power lock buttons are slightly more prominent and there's a headphone jack, microphone pinhole and an ambient light sensor. The back now has these fine grooves to play with and the speaker, now covered by a thin grill, sounds more powerful. The tablet retains the 1.2 megapixel front camera and it's 8 megapixel back camera although it looses the LED flashlight. That didn't stop the rear camera from taking even more impressive pics on what we saw on the Prime and recording smooth 1080p video. 1080p from outside sources ran without a hitch. Software included Asus' useful assortment of custom apps like File Manager, App Locker and App back-up among others. For an extra 150 bucks, there's of course the keyboard dock attachment which the TF3000 easily slides into. The dock has it's own battery, a touchpad, a full-size SD slot and a full size USB. The keyboard still feels a bit crapped from my giant hands and the buttons are a bit smaller than I would like but mostly people will probably feel comfortable typing on it. Although this isn't the same keyboard that the Prime use and the TF300 isn't compatible with the Prime's keyboard. It kinda fits but it doesn't really fully lock in. I really like how responsive the 1,280 by 800 screen with a swipe and navigating has that great 60 fps smoothness that I really appreciate. Asus unfortunately remove the super ICS mode which allows the Prime's screen luminant to get really bright which helps when using the tablet in sunlight. The TF300 screen is still bright enough though. Rip Tag GP seem like it was running close to 30 frames per second with the Tegra 3-enabled screen splashing effect. However, I'm disappointed there aren't more games taking advantage of the Tegra 3's quad-core architecture. Web and upload speeds are slightly improved over the Prime but not quite as fast on what we saw on the iPad. The TF300 design isn't' as thin or sturdy as the Transformer Prime. You also loose the rear camera flashlight and the screen isn't as bright. You do get roughly the same overall speed with slightly faster WiFi performance, a better performing rear camera and an actually GPS feature Asus can tell on it's spec sheet. The TF300 doesn't loose much. It actually gains in a couple of areas and at$380, it's currently the highest value full Android tablet on the market. Be sure to check on my full review for more details. Once again, I'm Eric Franklin and this has been the first look at the Asus Transformer Pad TF300.