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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  • 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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