Friday, 21 March 2014

ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 Review


I recently received ASUS Transformer pad TF300 for review, I wouldn't be generally reviewing Android tabs on this blog, but the thing that piqued my interest in this product is how its so much like a Tablet and so much unlike it. Its much more usable and enhances productivity of the right user.
The Transformer Pad I received was a TF300TG i.e., its got a Dock and 3G sim module, there are models without 3G sim support and without Dock too.


The Tegra 3 device is clocked at 1.2 GHz with Quad core processor and can be overclocked to 1.5 Ghz on a single core, and sporting a Geforce ULP 12 core GPU, its powerful enough to Game comfortably. More on specifications later, let's look at Hardware first.

Hardware and up close

The back of the Transformer pad is concentric oval textured with ASUS at centre, looks nice but is a dust magnet, that doesn't clean off easily.

On the top left of the Pad, there is the power button, if you are holding it in Landscape mode, on the left side is the volume rocker, below that HDMI port slot and below that the SD card slot.
And also below that is the Sim slot, used for 2G connectivity, but its not call enabled. On the right side is the 3.5mm Headphone jack.
The back side is clean except for the 8 Megapixels camera and a lone speaker, and you have a 1.3 Megapixels front camera too for video calling.


At the bottom of the Tablet is the 40 Pin charging and USB connector port, the same port is used for docking, charging and connecting your Transformer pad to the PC for transferring files.

Display

10 inch 1280x720 Pixels Display may seem less dense to those habitual to seeing the same resolution on smaller displays i.e. Phones.
The Screen is a fingerprint magnet and is supposed to be dirty after slight use, during my usage, I was constantly cleaning it up with the bundled micro-fiber cloth
The display quality and color reproduction is good and this display really stands out in sunlight, so sunlight legibility is really great for a tablet.


Otherwise, the only thing I was unhappy with was the display resolution, it feels pixelated on such a big screen, atleast 900p resolution should be the norm with tablets of this size.

UI and Software

Transformer pad TF300 comes out of the box with Android 4.2.1 and there seem to be no plans to upgrade it by ASUS. The stock rom is purely AOSP based with some cosmetic changes to make it more usable with use of some tools from ASUS. I like how they have bundles no bloatwares and managed to add only necessary tools which you can use daily, one of it is the ASUS resource manager, and Power manager, which helps the users manage their Applications and Battery usage.

Inside the Transformer

CPU : NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-core (4+1) CPU

GPU : Geforce 12 core ULP

Storage : 16GB/32GB EMMC

Network Standard :

HSPA+ UL : 5.76 Mbps/DL:21 Mbps
WCDMA : 850/900/2100
GSM : 850/900/1800/1900,
WLAN 802.11 b/g/n@2.4GHz
Bluetooth V3.0+EDR

The Dock

The Dock is the thing that increases the potential of Transformer TF300 to the maximum.
With surprisingly big and comfortable typing keys and keyboard shortcuts to all the basic utilities, you can use the Transformer just as you would use any Laptop. Comes with Trackpad for navigation so you don't need to touch for usage when its docked. With the dock connected you can use it for a full day with almost 14 hours on screen on time. Without the Dock connected it runs for almost 9 hours on fairly heavy usage.
When its charged up and connected, it keeps charging up you tab for longer usage, if you turn it off and put it down, it keeps charging the tab until the Tablet's battery gets full.


The dock has a sim slot and a USB connecting port for easy usage of USB drives without any OTG cables.
All these features of the Dock make it an integral part of the Transformer Pad, and inches closer to being a Laptop with Android than being a Tablet with Dock.

Connectivity

For connectivity, you have many options, you can use a Sim slot for portable 3G usage, or use WLAN for connectivity at homes and offices. Can't say about connectivity with USB dongles as I didn't use them, but according to other online review, they work.

Performance/Benchmarks and Gaming

The Tablet is a behemoth among other Tablets, its scores 12850 in Antutu, which is more than twice that of Galaxy Tab 2, lesser than that of Nexus 7 2012, which scores almost 14000 in Antutu.
Its scores a comfortable 325 in Vellamo Metal test, which is acceptable for a year Old tablet.
Otherwise, it can run perfectly well many heavy Games like Asphalt 8, Need for speed Most wanted etc. with playable fps, but curiously it lagged on Riptide GP2.


Camera

Camera is so much better than many of the other tablets which i have used, its Auto focus without flash, so that means no low light photography, but it takes daylight photos just as good as any other 8 MP tablet camera, the Auto focus camera stands out when we compare it to other tablets with fixed focus kind of cameras.

To wrap it up.

This is a Transformer Tablet, with enough power in it to be called a work- laptop. The TF300TG shines bright when you compare it to tablets which have much lesser power, and lower battery lives.
But still the Price makes it elusive for normal users who would like an affordable tablet at this range, those who are looking for a Small laptop or Transformer tablet with productivity enhancing Dock may find this device usable for their Daily work life. So the Docking station and the uses it provides it makes this Transformer TF300 an ideal choice for Productivity centric users.

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