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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  • B3an - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    "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."


    Thats exactly what i want. I'm without doubt getting a Win8 tablet - The question is which one.

    It will also replace my laptop as theres just no need for laptops anymore once Win 8 is out, atleast for the vast majority of people. I finally wont have to have a laptop AND tablet which is a waste of money.
    Reply
  • B3an - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    Come to think of it, it would be interesting if theres also Win8 tablets + keyboard docks that have i5 or higher CPU's in them. We all know their will be ARM and Intel x86 designs with near ARM power levels and similar thin form factors. But what about the high end with i5/i7? Like the Samsung Series 7 Slate but with a dock. Obviously the size will be bigger and battery life lower, but if the docks also included a battery then this would also last longer than a typical laptop of the same spec. You'd basically have a i5/i7 laptop with longer battery life and a detachable display. Infact i'm finding it very hard to think of a single scenario where a laptop would actually be better than a Win8 tablet + dock?!... Reply
  • bleh0 - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    Realistically You would have to settle for ULV Ivy Bridge i3s/Trinity or Atom/Brazos for decent battery life, Even with that you wouldn't be able to make it as thin as a TF300T. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    Haswell :) Reply
  • kmmatney - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    I'd still rather have a laptop and a tablet separate. There is no way I can use a 10" screen for everyday work. Reply
  • marvdmartian - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Agreed. Wish someone would come out with a 12" tablet. While not as light or portable as a 10" tablet, these old eyes of mine won't have to have a 12" screen quite so close, to read text, at a decent screen resolution (let's face it, what good is it, to be able to read text, when you have desktop shortcuts the size of golf balls??).

    I keep seeing that bendable screen technology breakthroughs are coming closer and closer to reality. To me, the perfect tablet would be one with a flexible screen, that can be folded in half to fit in my back pocket, but unfolded to something in the vicinity of a 13" screen. Sort of like what Sony did, with their split screen tablet...... only without the split screen!
    Reply
  • swimtech - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    I hear that too. Lots of us would like just that - an X86 Win8 tablet but there aren't any yet.

    I have to say though that the latest Ipad with that magnificent display will actually get the job done now. Asus has a great device there with better coming - but for those who can't (or don't want to...) wait there is a device available - but yeah, it's not Windows.
    Reply
  • sigmatau - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    The "vast majority of people" will find a tablet useless for most things. Not sure what planet you live on. I work tablet? Laughable. A tablet for school? Laughable.

    These devices are still for only entertainment. Can you imagine typing notes in class on one of these? Or breaking it out at work and trying to prop it against something?
    Reply
  • Souka - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    I, and other IT folk, use an iPad all the time at work...for work...

    Ditched the laptop and use iPad for moving around on campus and meetings.

    my desktop, or any desktop as I have a virtualized enviroment, works for the real work (planning, making spreadsheets, visio charts, programming, etc).
    Reply
  • Naguz - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Yes, it can be useful *while at work*, but I agree with sigmatau - it is not a work device yet, if you concider that most people either need good excel/calc or writes a lot while at work. tablets can be great @work-devices, but not really workdevices - yet.

    But I don't agree with him on the note-taking bit. Several people I know use tablets for notetaking in class - with a full sie BT keyboard. :) In fact, they are much more efficient than me, who tend to alt-tab my way into my mail, facebook, or tablet discussions.

    That said, the last thing I'd want is x86Windows on a tablet. It's more than slow enough on my i7 desktop...
    Reply

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