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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  • shriganesh - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Asus rocks! My original Transformer got ICS 4.0.3 update just a few days back! ICS is great and shuttering is gone! UI is much better and feels smooth! Reply
  • Netscorer - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Even though I like the idea of dockable keyboard, from practicality perspective we would need to wait for Windows 8 tablet for this to take off. I just don't see Android ICS as a serious notebook replacement. Given the rest of the specs, for only $100 more one can get an iPad with vastly better screen, battery life, GPU and other characteristics that actually do matter in tablet. I am not trying to compare ICS with iOS5 here as both have they merits but we should also consider the maturity of the App Market comparing to Google Play and other Android contenders.
    Finally, ASUS have yet to prove that it can ship any significant volume of their tablets. I wanted to buy the original Transformer but for two months could not find any stock and then cooled to the idea. I was following the Infinity model again with no stock until new iPad was already on the market. What are the odds that ASUS will suddenly release this model in quantity?
    I'm sorry ASUS but for Pad to take off, you would need to price it at no more then $350 (with 32GB of RAM) and a $100 dock. Otherwise no-one outside of the geek community would even consider your tablet as an alternative to iPad.
    Reply
  • Naguz - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    If only they had included a USB port on the tablet itself - along with a display connector you could connect a VGA adapter to for presentations. Reply
  • dreddit - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Hey guys are you sure the dimension for the infinity are correct. If so then the Bezel must be much smaller than the primes, by 10mm either side.
    The asus web site still has dimensions the same as the prime. I hope it is a smaller form factor but with the same 10.1 ips screen
    Reply
  • Lucian Armasu - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Put a dual core (or quad core next year) Cortex A15 chip at 2 Ghz in it, and with a 2560x1600 resolution at 11.6", and I'll take it. There's no way an x86 device with Windows 8 would be in the same price range. It would probably be closer to $1000 than $500. Reply
  • slagar - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    Looks like another fine ASUS product.

    Absolutely second Anand's comments regarding one of these with Windows 8 later this year. I can't wait to see what happens :)

    Thanks for the great info and reviews as always Anandtech!
    Reply
  • Anonymous1a - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    I absolutely love Asus' product range but the only problem I have with them is that they don't have their own direct store. Although the base models are easily available on the internet, finding a 3G version of the TF300 is like finding a needle in a haystack and the only place I found the needle was ebay and at ridiculously high prices (600+) and considering the fact that two models have already come out after it and the iPad 2 has it's 3G version at 529, this is just wayyy too high, with these vendors exploiting the lack of a direct chain and lack of availability of these products. And there was literally nowhere I could the the Infinity or Prime with LTE anywhere. I wish they would, at least, for a few major markets like USA and UK have their own direct online selling point. Reply

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