What say you we analyze a tablet available in blue, white or red? What about a tablet that’s priced cheaper than the other quad core model that made the news last year? I’m talking about ASUS Transformer Pad 300 here, a tablet’s supposed to be priced at around 480 euros, but there are people claiming they found it for less than $500 on Amazon (go check out our comments on Youtube). Anyway, let’s get to the review of this interesting device.
This tablet for the masses came to us in the 16GB version, but the official one will have 32GB of storage. The design of this model is pretty much the same as the one of the ASUS Transformer Prime, minus the metal case. The Pad 300 has a plastic case, that doesn’t feel bad or cheap in the user’s had. It has a concentrical circle design, great grip at the back and it’s pretty sturdy if you ask me. We also got a keyboard dock with the slate, but that’s optional when you buy the device. Also, know that right now there’s no 3G on this unit, but a 3G version will be available in the following weeks, in case you want that.
The “Prime for the masses” has all the ports you need, from the microSD card slot to the proprietary ASUS prot that connects to the USB cable and helps connect to the dock to the micro HDMI port that helps you output 1080p content to a full HD TV. The tablet’s specs include a 1.2 GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core processor, the T30L flavour of the CPU actually, so it’s a slight decrease in frequency compared to the Prime. Anyway, know that you also get 1GB of RAM, an 8 megapixel camera at the back and a pretty strong speaker also at the back. The camera has no flash, but we’ll cover that later.
There’s also a 1.2 MP front camera for videocalls and in case you want size, know that the slate measures 9.9mm in thickness and weighs 635 grams. Its display is a 10.1 inch unit with a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, based on IPS technology and LED backlighting. It’s got 10 finger multitouch and another technology worth mentioning is the ASUS SonicMaster audio on this device. Speaking of audio, the speaker at the back is pretty loud and has nice bass, plus this time it doesn’t make the back vibrate like it did on the Motorola Xoom 2 slate.
Moving on to the dock, this one provides you with a full QWERTY experience, a touchpad, mouse buttons, SD card slot, USB 2.0 port and extra battery. The Pad 300 offers 10 hours of battery life, but with the dock coupled you can reach as high as 15 hours. And finally, you should know that the tablet offers WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth as well. On the OS side we’ve got Android 4.0.3, doing a fine job, with perfect multitasking via swiping, screenshot taking by keeping the multitasking button pressed and some nifty ASUS widgets. The system is crazy fast and I didn’t have any lag problems. You really feel how fluid the experience is from our video, so I’m very pleased with the software.
On the multimedia side, the movies look great on the 10.1 inch screen with 178 degree viewing angles and 350 nits of brightness. The tablet plays HD movies easily and .MKV files are no problem. As far as audio playback goes, we have some very nice effects to play with, through a pretty cool equalizer, as shown in the video below. As far as the camera goes, we have an 8 megapixel sensor capable of 1080p 30 fps video capture and there’s a video sample below, an indoor one in case you’re curious.
The camera’s lack of flash is only felt when taking pics in lower light conditions, but outside it’s mint. It’s a 5 element lens that’s doing the trick here and the result is the gallery of pics that we’ve published over here for you to see. Overall, a pretty decent camera and there isn’t anything more I could ask from the device other than that. We’ve performed some benchmarks here and you probably already know that the tablet is only a little under the scores of the Transformer Prime, so you’re not missing anything.
Now, if you want customization, ASUS offers you a widget that shows the battery life of the tablet and the dock separately. There’s also a widget that kills tasks instantly and that cool MyZine widget, that includes a picture gallery, web browser, weather and music player. Moving on to the dock for a bit, some of you may be sad about the lack of backlighting of the keys, but I can’t really complain about that, since the screen of the tablet is bright enough to light the keys, unless you think I’m primitive about that.
Anyway, the keys are well spaced, they don’t feel cramped at all and the connection with the tablet is done instantly. I also appreciate the fact that the dock offers an USB 2.0 port and you can even connect a PS3 joystick to it. You’ll see what I mean when you watch this video review of the game Soulcraft, where I use the joystick. We also reviewed Chrome for Android on the same tablet and we’ll publish both reviews in the following days. As far as the ASUS specific app/software offer goes, you get 8GB of ASUS web storage, which is nice if you intend to store stuff in the cloud and play it on the PC, or backup and sync your files.
Other apps bundled with the tablet are Polaris Office 3.0, SuperNote 1.5 (that allows you to draw, write, record voice, video, attach pictures and whatnot to a note) and App Locker, that allows you to lock with password some of your more secret applications. And then there’s My Library, your collection of Ebooks and Ereading tool and the MyCloud feature, that handles syncing, backup and cloud action. Moving on to the conclusion, what I like about the tablet is the fluid OS, presence of HDMII port, Tegra 3 CPU that behaves great and the 15 hours of battery life you can get from it. Its tiny flaws are maybe the plastic back case, lack of flash and lack of Gorilla Glass protection, but they’re no reason not to purchase this unit.
We give it an 8 out of 10 for design, 9 out of 10 for hardware and 10 out of 10 for a perfect Android experience. The ASUS Transformer Pad 300 is a solid 9 in my book.