Review: Asus Transformer Pad (TF701T)

The company responsible for pushing forth with hybrid tablets has done it again, building a new Android slate with an uber-high res screen and a keyboard to take with you on the go. Can this replace netbooks, or should you look elsewhere?

Features

While Asus has made more Android hybrid tablets than it seems anyone else, we haven’t seen one for a while.

You can imagine our surprise when the company sent us something new that it plans to release later this year, bringing back the Android-based Transformer series and showcasing a new breed of Android tablet.

Following up from what we saw in the Transformer TF700T back in September of 2012 (was it really so long ago?!), the TF701T is now here, an upgrade of sorts, arriving a year and a bit later.

We’re not sure we get the timing of this, but the new tablet does bring with an assortment of new technology, changing a chip, increasing the display, and doing some other things that should grab the attention of any an Android tablet fanboy.

First up is the screen, and while the TF700T was praised for its IPS+ Full HD 1920×1080 screen, the TF701T one-ups this part by moving to a 2560×1600 display, higher in resolution and in the amount of pixels displays on the 10.1 inch screen at any one time.

Just like prior models, all of the technology sits underneath the screen in the tablet section, with the TF701T upgraded from the Nvidia Tegra 3 chip to a newer Tegra 4 processor, quad-core and clocked at 1.9GHz, and including a 72-core GeForce graphics chip inside. We’re not sure how many games will take advantage of this, but it’s cool to see, nonetheless.

Also inside is 2GB RAM, 32GB storage with support for more through the microSD card slot in the tablet section, and connections over 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, and Miracast’s wireless display technology. You can take pictures too, with a 5 megapixel camera on the back, and a 1.2 megapixel up front.

Asus is relying on Android for this tablet, and out of the box, it comes with Android 4.3 “Jelly Bean,” though we hear an upgrade to Android 4.4 “KitKat” is coming.

Wired connections are here, too, with a microHDMI and 3.5mm headset jack on one side of the tablet, and the Asus proprietary charge connector on the bottom.

You can, of course, choose to dock the tablet with the special keyboard dock designed for this tablet, and that will not only move the Asus proprietary port to the left side, but also add in a keyboard, touchpad mouse, SD card slot, and a lone USB 3.0 port.

Two batteries are included as well, with one in the tablet section that should last for up to 13 hours, while one in the keyboard section will top up the tablet, and provides roughly four hours of life.

Performance

It’s been over a year since we’ve seen anything from Asus in the Android tablet hybrid world, and while we thought the company was done and dusted, moving most of its research to the Windows environment, it appears we’ve been proven wrong, as a new Android model breaks cover to show us how Asus has improved over the past few years.

Let’s start with the good, or even the best, because the Asus Transformer Pad TF701 has one of the best screens out there on a tablet today, showcasing a brilliant 2560×1600 screen on a 10.1 inch panel.

This resolution isn’t just better than Full HD, but on this sized screen, boasts a pixel density of 300 pixels per inch, which is almost 40 pixels higher than what Apple uses on its similarly-sized Apple iPad Air.

Ignoring the numbers, the screen is very nice here, with razor sharp text, virtually no pixelation, and some excellent viewing angles, the latter of which is only hurt slightly by an overly reflective screen.

To its credit, Asus has also provided an application called “Splendid” which lets you change the hue, saturation, and other colour attributes of the screen, making it easy to make this lovely display work best for you.

Overall, this top display is one of the better parts of the tablet, and if this is the future of portable screens, we want more like it.

Such a sharp screen.

The screen is also encased in a metal chassis, with a brushed aluminium back that’s very cool to the touch. It’s nice to see another company embrace high quality materials, and the tablet section doesn’t just feel good, but also weighs only 585 grams without the dock.

Add that last bit, the keyboard dock, which can be connected using automatic locking clips on the dock (and disconnected by pulling on a release switch near the inside of the keyboard dock’s hinge) and the weight pushed up to 1.1kg, which isn’t much more than an ultralight computer.

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