The choice of underlying technology is also a good one, with a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 chip, clocked at 1.9GHz, with similar benchmarks to the Qualcomm Snapdragons we saw on smartphones last year.
That’s plenty of power for most of what you’ll be throwing its way, and the inclusion of 2GB RAM matches the sweet spot Android seems to prefer.
Most of the time, the Transformer Pad TF701T handles itself quite nicely, with very little lag across switching apps or loading the menus.
Sometimes, though, it seems to jam up a bit, and you may notice the odd slowdown here and there as we did, especially in some of the Asus-supplied apps.
Switching the tablet on reveals this slight performance hit, as the power button on from standby seems to need a full second to respond, a difference from the immediate springing to attention that other tablets and smartphones tend to have.
When you do get in there, Android might look a little different from what you’re used to. To its credit, Asus has’t veered too far from what the stock Android experience is, but has added a couple of tabs for downloads and frequently used in the menu section, a big homescreen widget, and a slightly different take on the drop-down menu that Android normally comes with.
It’s a slightly more refined Android experience, and it looks nice and is easy to use, so should be good for most tablet users out there.
Some of the multimedia features will delight, though, and while we’re not huge fans of using our tablet as a camera, the inclusion of a 5 megapixel rear camera will be useful to some.
Also useful is the sound, which thanks to the Asus SonicMaster technology is clear and precise, though desperately needs more volume than what it currently has.
Asus certainly has some technology in this machine that puts a big smile on our face (like that lovely screen), but then there are things where we feel the company has taken the cheaper option.
One of these areas is the keyboard dock, which not only feels like a shadow of some of the keyboard docks Asus has produced in the past, but even misses out on some of the functionality of existing Transformer tablets.
For instance, the battery in the keyboard section is much smaller than it normally is. That’s one of the bits we’ve always been impressed with on prior Asus Transformer tablets, because it meant there was so much extra life in the tablet.
But no, that battery is now much, much smaller in the TF701, and is roughly half the size, not the close to the same size it has been in past models. It also means the dock barely gives you an extra few hours. It’s something, sure, but not much, and makes us wonder why Asus didn’t flesh the keyboard section out with a bigger battery.
Also missing is a decent typing experience in the keyboard dock. Maybe it’s because the battery underneath the keys isn’t that big, or maybe it’s because the plastic is too flimsy, but there is just so much flex in the keyboard as you type that this entire section feels cheap and nasty.
This review was typed on it, and while the error rate wasn’t particularly high, it’s still noticeable, with some keys requiring an extra heavy touch. The keyboard is by no means as good as we’ve experienced on prior Asus models, in fact, and we’d say that this is one of the weakest Asus keyboards yet, and is trumped even by the one Asus uses on its Transformer Book T100, a Windows equivalent that manages to produce a more solid typing experience.
Of course, you don’t need to bring the keyboard dock with you, and can always remove it from the dock if you don’t need the keyboard, SD card slot, or full-side USB 3.0 connector.
Regardless of how you plug the device in, you’ll still be forced to use one other thing bugs us, and that’s the proprietary port for charging the Transformer Pad.
It’s weird, because Asus has ditched the unorthodox connector in some of its products, moving to the more commonly used microUSB, but yet not in this tablet. Rather, in the TF701T, you’ll find a thin and long connector that is about half the length of the old iPod dock connector, but very specific to the Asus products.
We wish Asus would move on past proprietary plugs, as it means you’re forced to carry yet another plug style around with you that you don’t want to lose, for fear that it’ll be impossible to find another later on.
A return to the hybrid tablet style for Android almost feels like a half measure, with an update to the excellent TF700T coming up short, and feeling like less of an update, and more of a compromise in some ways.
There are still things to admire here, such as the excellent screen and two batteries, even though the second is smaller than we’d like. Still, it’s not quite the superior brother to the Infinity, and there are better devices coming if you’re looking for an excellent experience from a tablet equipped with a keyboard.
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Excellent screen with a better-than-Full HD resolution; Comes with a USB 3.0 port; Very expandable; SonicMaster sound technology is very clear;
Keyboard lacks solid travel and feels very flimsy; Small battery in the keyboard section, which is so unlike models in the Transformer series; System performance can be hit and miss; Volume could be louder; Asus is still using a proprietary charge plug (why?!);