Price (RRP): $499 for 16GB and no dock; $599 for 32GB with keyboard dock;
Asus has won us over with its Transformer design of tablets in the past, turning a tablet into a netbook with a 10.1 inch touchscreen slate connecting to a keyboard dock with built-in battery. The third version of the model takes the same formula but cuts back on the premium technology, coming out with something better for people on a budget.
The Asus Transformer Pad TF300T takes what was essentially a previous generation of Transformer – the Prime – and cuts it down for the budget market, ditching the aluminium shell used in ZenBook design and replacing it with the cheaper plastic used in many a notebook.
This material switch leaves you with a product that, while thicker than the prior Transformer, is only marginally thicker than the most recent iPad (9.9mm compared with the New iPad’s 9.4mm) and slightly lighter at 635 grams.
Specs are near identical with the previous generation of Transformer, which is hardly surprising given it was released only a few months ago in February. As such, you’ll find a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor clocked at 1.3GHz driving this tablet, as well as 1GB RAM, up to 32GB storage built-in storage, Bluetooth, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, and GPS.
Out of the box, you’ll find Google’s latest version of Android – 4.0, also known as “Ice Cream Sandwich” – with very few modifications from Asus.
The screen in this model is a 10.1 inch multi-touchscreen, but unlike the Prime, it’s just a regular IPS screen, instead of the super bright SuperIPS+ screen used in that premium model.
A 3.5mm headphone port for microphone and headphones can be found on the far right side of the tablet while a mini HDMI port is on the left side just above a microSD slot.
A keyboard dock is also present in this model, although it can be purchased without this accessory. The dock arrives with a built-in battery, touchpad mouse, USB slot, and SD card slot.
Powering the Transformer Pad is the proprietary connection Asus has been using since the first Transformer (TF101) rolled out last year, with a port on both the very bottom of the tablet section and on the left side of the keyboard dock accessory.
While the new Asus Transformer Pad TF300T is very much a new model, the details shared with its more premium metal TF200 Prime brother make it perform almost exactly the same.
The Nvidia Tegra 3 takes a slight cut in speed, dropping from 1.3 to 1.2GHz, a hundred megahertz drop that’s unlikely to inconvenience anyone, even the most die hard of performance nuts. We certainly didn’t notice any major performance issue, and had no issues playing any games taking advantage of the Tegra 3 chip inside, nor did we find any noticeable slowdowns with applications, browsing the web, or switching between homescreens.
Storage options are also similar to the previous model, with the TF300T offering either 16 or 32GB versions, with both sections of the Transformer supporting upgrades to storage. The tablet section features a microSD slot for boosting capacity on the touchscreen, while the keyboard dock’s SD slot offers both a convenient way to upgrade memory quickly and on the cheap, while also allowing you to look at photos you’ve shot on most digital cameras without a problem. If your camera doesn’t take an SD card, we’re pretty sure you can plug it in over the one USB port found on the keyboard dock.