Usability and Final Words

Thus far I haven't really touched on the usability of the Transformer Pad 300 as a tablet, mostly because it's a topic I've addressed many times before in previous tablet reviews. I do believe a quick summary and update are necessary in this case however.

Fundamentally the Transformer Pad 300 doesn't change the iOS/Android balance, it's simply another great solution in the Android camp - at a lower price than the Transformer Prime. The fact that it doesn't carry any of the wireless issues of the Prime is an added bonus, particularly since it maintains many of the Prime's characteristics that we love (design, keyboard dock, performance, etc...).

As a device purely for browsing the web or sending emails, the 300 is easily in the same camp as the iPad 2. The user experience isn't as consistently smooth, but there are advantages that matter to some - such as the ability to support Flash and the ICS Gmail app.

As a tablet that needs to function as a netbook replacement, the Transformer Pad has an obvious advantage there as well. The Transformer dock remains the best way to turn a tablet into something you can type on for an extended period of time. While I don't believe that Android is any closer to a full blown notebook OS, as a netbook replacement I do believe the TF Pad 300 + dock is already there.

It's not all rosy unfortunately. The past few Tegra 3 updates to ICS for the Prime have decreased stability in my usage, and I saw a handful of app crashes on the 300 during my testing period. I didn't run into any showstoppers but the latest build of the OS on these devices doesn't seem quite as solid as the last Honeycomb build or even some of the earlier ICS builds. The good news is that ASUS and NVIDIA appear to be pushing out updates to these devices quite aggressively, which is unfortunately a rarity in the Android space.

Move outside of the core apps and Apple starts to gain a significant advantage, depending on the apps you're talking about of course. Then there's the UI experience, which for many continues to be a win on the iOS side. Although I still don't really believe that many folks cross-shop Android and iOS. The iOS experience ends up being more appliance-like while Google is building a mobile computing platform with Android. Both have their strengths/weaknesses.

I do appreciate that ASUS continues to deliver a mostly stock ICS experience with a few additions and a handful of useful preloaded apps (e.g. Polaris Office). The additions to ICS are all functional and ASUS tends to rely on its strengths as a great hardware manufacturer rather than gimmicky software to sell its Android tablets. I'd also like to applaud ASUS for offering sensible pricing on its NAND options with the Transformer Pad 300: $20 buys you another 16GB of storage. This is the direction I hope more tablet vendors go in the future.

At the end of the day the Transformer Pad 300 is a good successor to the original Eee Pad Transformer. If you want an upgrade to the original or are looking for an Android tablet at $399, the Transformer Pad is the one to get. If you find yourself looking at the Prime end of the market, then you'll want to wait until this summer when the Transformer Pad Infinity is expected to show up.

What I'm really hoping for is that ASUS is using its experience in building the Transformer lineup and bringing it to market as practice for the release of a truly perfect, x86-based Windows 8 tablet later this year. Give me the form factor of the ARM based Transformer Pad 300/Infinity (along with optional dock), but with the ability to run Windows 8 Pro and I think we may just have the perfect tablet for users who need a notebook for work but want the portability of a tablet.

Battery Life
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  • Hrel - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    I wanted to upvote this. But I'm not on reddit:( Reply
  • hackbod - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    <quote>Google has even added support for external batteries like the Transformer Pad's in Ice Cream Sandwich</quote>

    This isn't true, this is a customization that Asus has done. The power of open source, etc., etc.
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    That was true of 3.0. You have a source saying it isn't in 4.0? Reply
  • hackbod - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    You can look at the source code if you want to confirm -- for example look at BatteryService.java and see there is nothing there for reporting multiple batteries.

    Also I know what stuff we have added to Android in this area, and internal + dock battery is not one of them. :)
    Reply
  • XZerg - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    Is there a USB port or not on the tablet itself? I noticed the charger is usb based, correct? If so, can that port be used to connect other devices such as keyboards and usb keys? Reply
  • Impulses - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    There's no USB port but you can use a 40 pin to USB adapter, it's like $12 (and took forever to come out after the original TF but it's finally readily available as of a few months ago). Other tablets with a micro USB port still require the use of a special USB OTG cable AFAIK, so neither approach is clearly superior. Reply
  • haar - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link


    WELCOME to the niche market!... 80000 transformers sold! lol ...where you have to carry two pieces, a keyboard and screen, so that you can transform it into a notebook that should have been...

    so how is a tablet with a 10 inch screen+keyboard any better than the 11 inch macbook air with win8 ...do you think would you use a 11 inch screen in a laptop for everyday work?... when you answer that question for yourself, then you will know if this transformert ablet is good for you.

    exact how are you going to remove the perception that you are using a "toy"... dont "real" tech geek use "powerful" processors! HUGE screens!, 1337 Ice cream OS's!!!!

    transformer infinity? ... it does NOT exist for sale! why list it in a table?... and because it doesn't exist how can the specs be correct...? making an article 10% ad copy in is beneath Anandtech.com or shoud be!
    Reply
  • crankerchick - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    Including the Infinity in the spec comparison is very helpful for those of us deciding to wait it out. Obviously it is not a available yet and a performance and quality comparison isn't an option yet, but reminding us of the features helps us keep a mental note that there is something more on the horizon so we can decide if what is different spec wise is worth waiting for. The specs are as correct as can be confirmed by what has been released by ASUS. Get over it. Reply
  • TrackSmart - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    Yes, the article was quite informative. I'm researching tablets right now for a relative. The analysis, comparative performance data, and the frank opinion provided in the conclusions were all useful for the decision-making process.

    And for Haar (above), many of us would be buying this as a tablet only - without the dock. And for use as a entertainment / media consumption device, rather than for work. The only useless information here is your rude comment.
    Reply
  • Souka - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    stick the iPad3 screen onto the Transformer Infinity guts... "Winner" :) Reply

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