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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  • 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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