Before the $399 iPad 2, before the $199 Kindle Fire, there was the $399 Eee Pad Transformer from ASUS. Like nearly all first attempts in the tablet space, the original Transformer wasn't perfect, but it was quite possibly the best try outside of Apple at the time. And unlike most of the Android competition at the time, it was priced sensibly at launch.

The $499 Eee Pad Transformer Prime showed up several months later, but not as a true successor but rather an upstream member of the family. Combining Tegra 3, an improved display and a much thinner chassis, the Prime once again took the crown as the best Android tablet on the market.

ASUS hasn't lost sight of its focus on cost however. At CES this year it announced a $250 7-inch Tegra 3 tablet, and today we get the first true successor to the original Eee Pad Transformer: the Transformer Pad 300. Priced at $379 for a 16GB WiFi version and $399 for the 32GB model, the Transformer Pad sheds the Eee label but keeps the spirit of the original Transformer. The Eee brand that launched with netbooks back in 2007 is clearly on its way out as the last of the netbooks will ship this year.

The Transformer Pad 300

The Transformer Pad 300 is more Prime than original. Similar to the original iPad or iPhone, ASUS' first Transformer had a unique ID that never really ended up being reused other than the basic dimensions.

The 300 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, although it's obviously thicker and heavier than the Prime:

ASUS Tablet Specification Comparison
  ASUS Eee Pad Transformer ASUS Transformer Pad 300 Series ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity
Dimensions 271mm x 175mm x 12.95mm 263 x 180.8 x 9.9mm 263 x 180.8 x 8.3mm 241.2 x 185.7 x 8.5mm
Chassis Plastic Plastic Aluminum Aluminum
Display 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 IPS 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 Super IPS+ 10.1-inch 1920 x 1200 Super IPS+
Weight 675g 635g 586g 586g
Processor 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 (2 x Cortex A9)

NVIDIA Tegra 3 (T30L - 4 x Cortex A9)

1.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (T30 - 4 x Cortex A9)

3G/4G LTE - 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 (2 x Krait)

WiFi - 1.6GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 T33 (T33 - 4 x Cortex A9)

Memory 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB
Storage 16GB + microSD card 16GB/32GB + microSD slot 32GB/64GB + microSD slot 16GB - 64GB
Battery 24.4Whr 22Whr 25Whr 25Whr
Pricing $399 $379/$399 $499/$599 ?

The aluminum is gone and replaced by an all plastic back. The 300 doesn't feel cheap as a result and as you'd expect, feels a little less fragile as you're not as worried about scratching the aluminum.


From left to right: Transformer, TF Pad 300, TF Prime


ASUS Transformer Pad 300 (left) vs. ASUS Transformer Prime (right)


ASUS Transformer Pad 300 (left) vs. Apple iPad 2 (right)

The added thickness is noticeable compared to the Prime, but the 300 doesn't feel thick by any means. If anything, it's a bit more comfortable to hold than the Prime as a result of its added girth.

The weight is similarly noticeable, but once again I don't believe it puts the 300 in the category of too heavy. As this isn't a replacement for the Prime but rather a more affordable offering below it, these tradeoffs are fine.

The vibrate motor from the Transformer Prime is gone in the 300, when the volume is down the 300 is truly silent. Just like the Prime there's a single speaker on the back side of the 300 that puts out decent sound for a tablet. You're obviously limited by the size of the speaker but the 300 gets loud enough to play barely audible music while you're running a shower, if that's what you're looking for.

Just as with the Prime, there's a micro-HDMI connector on the Transformer Pad 300 for display mirroring:

The 300 will be available in three different colors: white, blue and red or ASUS has branded them - Royal Blue, Torch Red and Iceberg White. Only Royal Blue is available at launch (this week), with Torch Red and Iceberg white following in early June. 

The Dock & Updated Internals
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  • jackka - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    sigh.....

    i am neither a fan/hater of apple nor android/asus. i appreciate both sides. having said that, let me try to objectively address your "concerns" even though you do a pretty good job of madly shouting like anti-transformer, apple fanatic.

    1. asus had no problem selling any and all transformer prime that it manufactured. they are probably wishing they could manufacture more and faster so they can make even more money. regardless of your take on the transformer's place in the market, asus is making very good money.

    yes, the transformer comes in two pieces. and any normal person wanting to carry both pieces would carry them attached, just like carrying a macbook air. the two piece design is supposed to give you the advantage of flexible usage at the cost of less rigidity while attached.

    if you are trying to dog on the two piece design, it would make sense to claim that the given design is a bad tradeoff because rigidity is more important than portable flexibility or whatever. but to claim it is bad because you have to carry two pieces around for a "notebook" is just bad logic and an infantile attempt at flaming. you have lost the respect and credibility of any of your logical readers at this point.

    2. the transformer with keyboard costs about half the price of a macbook air. that is a pretty concrete advantage to any rational person. not that it would matter anyway because you are comparing two things in different categories. you seem to have trouble understanding the difference in categories.

    3. rational people base their purchases on what they need/want and what they are willing to pay for it. perception of whatever is pretty irrelevant. unless you would buy a macbook air because you think it would help you look more like a wannabe artist / hipster. that's pretty ridiculous, right?

    4. you can plug your head down a hole and play ostrich, but to the rest of the world the transformer infinity is going to be released in the near future with the known specs. why does it bother you that another product of the same line is coming with some better specs?

    as a final note, you should think more about what you write in your future posts, because what you write shows real fast whether you have any kind of logic and critical thinking.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    What the.. ?!

    You don't have to carry both, you've got the flexibility of taking with you only what you need. Neither a pure tablet nor a pure laptop can offer this. how is that hard to understand?

    And I don't think it's fit for real work either. But it doesn't have to be, if internet stuff, entertainment, IMs and mails are all you want to do. And Anand already adressed this: give us this form factor with x86 and things might get really interesting.

    Listing the Inifinity: Asus has been pretty forward with the specs provided and Anand said it's not available yet. That's perfectly fine and helps to put things into perspective. If "the next big thing" was around you'd want to be told about it, too, instead of spending top $ now on something which might get outdated the next day.
    Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    "While every single Transformer released thus far has shipped with 1GB of RAM, the 300 is the first to use 1.5V DDR3-667. The TF Prime used 1.5V DDR2-500, and the Transformer before it used ."

    The suspense is killing me!
    Reply
  • jjj - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    Almost there but no SD,glossy screen (assuming) and the dock is still way too expensive especially for a more budget orientated SKU.
    Color accuracy is a disaster but that,by now,is to be expected .
    That said,why aren't you pointing out any of the drawbacks in the conclusion,always trying to spin it to point out the positive is not what a review should be.
    Reply
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    Same complaints from me here. Either I missed it, but the reviewer didn't even seem to mention/complain about the loss of expandable memory in the form of microSD that the predecessors had. If I were to get a tablet, I'd like to be able to use it as an e-reader as well, and with a glossy screen, it just won't be happening. Hell, just using it for anything in a room with lots of windows is miserable with glossy screens and all the reflections. Reply
  • sprockkets - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    microsd is listed in the specs for all but the infinity, they might have added it later, just read the article Reply
  • chi23 - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    This model HAS an microSD card slot. It's mentioned in the reviews on engadget and CNET, and listed as a feature on Asus' own site and in product listings (i.e. Amazon)

    As far as to my knowledge ALL Asus Transformer tablets have an microSD slot built right into the tablet (not 100% certain about upcoming Infinity until it's released). This is part of their standard design, and one of the main features that I've been looking for in my next tablet

    I jumped on to post just about this, I don't know why Anandtech missed this in their review, their spec comparison chart on the 1st page is misleading. I was surprised because this was the first review I read on the model and immediately noticed the omission in the chart. All the other sites I mentioned confirm it's still there, I hope Anand will update his review.
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    microsd is listed in the specs for all but the infinity, they might have added it later, just read the article Reply
  • metaldood - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    No mention of MicroSD in review? I see microSD as part of specs everywhere else. Reply
  • andrewcooke - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    should lower/higher leakage be reversed?

    also, will these things run linux at all?
    Reply

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