Apr 22 AT 4:00 AM Dustin Earley 47 Comments

ASUS has taken the high-end Android tablet market by storm. There’s already two Transformer tablets on the market, and another premium device is coming soon. That makes four Transformers in total, all varying in specs and price. So where does the ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 fit in? Let’s find out.

1. Internal hardware

The ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 is no slouch when it comes to internal hardware. With very few exceptions, the ASUS Pad 300 features top-of-the-line hardware in every category:

  • 1.2GHz (in Balanced Mode) NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor
  • 1GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 16 or 32 GB of internal storage with microSD expansion
  • 10-inch IPS 1280×800 display with 350 nits of brightness
  • 8MP F2.2 rear camera
  • Front-facing camera
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • 22Wh battery
  • 7.11/10.35/0.38″ at 1.39lbs.

Of course these are just paper specs, but they just so happen to be some of the best out there. And if you read the performance section of this review, you’ll see that they do translate well into real-world use.

2. Build quality and design

Coming in three different colors, Royal Blue (available initially), Torch Red and Iceberg White (both available in early June), the ASUS Transformer Pad 300 will appeal to a wide range of audiences.

From the front, it doesn’t stray too far from the classic black slate design we’ve all come to know and love. But I don’t see that as a bad thing.

On the back, you’ll find textured ribbing that circles the device, along with an 8MP camera and a lone speaker port.

As for what lies around the rest of the device, there’s a front-facing camera and ambient light sensor on the front, a power button on the top left (when held in landscape), a volume rocker, HDMI port and microSD card slot on the left, headphone jack on the right, and ASUS’ proprietary connector on the bottom.

The build quality of the ASUS Transformer Pad 300 is just alright. There’s very little, if any, give to the device. It feels relatively solid in your hands, and is well weighted. The buttons all feel stable, giving only a gentle click when pushed. The rear camera is flush with the back of the tablet.

Still, at the end of the day, it’s just a big plastic slab. And with polycarbonate-, aluminum- and glass-bodied gadgets coming out left and right, it’s hard not to think of the build quality and design of the Transformer Pad 300 as pretty average.

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3. Display

The display on the ASUS Transformer Pad 300 was somewhat of a sore spot for me. It’s certainly not terrible, but it’s not great.

The Transformer Prime TF201 has an IPS+ display. One of the ways ASUS has cut the cost on the TF300 is by dropping the “+.” Is the extra plus worth $100? Not really. But compared to a Super AMOLED display, or SLCD, the display on the ASUS Pad 300 didn’t look as vibrant as I would have liked. At full brightness, it was usable in all conditions, but again, it could have been better.

It’s not the worst display on the market, but don’t expect to be knocked back when you power the ASUS Transformer Pad 300 on for the first time.

4. Software

The software is one of the best things about the ASUS Transformer Pad 300. It comes with a very bare bones build of Android 4.0.3, Ice Cream Sandwich, with some useful additions from ASUS.

Along with the NVIDIA Tegra Zone app, you’ll find a couple other apps for media and file management (like ASUS Cloud storage). That’s really about it. They’re hardly a nuisance, and well worth the trade off for getting Android 4 right out of the box.

As for other ASUS customizations, there several custom ASUS widgets, which I actually found quite handy (especially the battery and weather widgets), and a custom menu in the default settings screen.

I can’t stress enough here how much I love that ASUS has left Ice Cream Sandwich alone for the most part. Not applying ten different layers of animations and skins keeps the Transformer Pad 300 feeling snappy, and I imagine it will help ASUS hasten updates to the device in the future.

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5. Performance

As you can imagine with a Tegra 3 and 1GB of DDR3, the ASUS Transformer Pad 300 was as fast as you could possibly need a tablet to be. It will run any app you can find in the Google Play Store with ease. There was practically no lag when launching apps, and browsing the web (using both the default browser and Chrome) was smooth as butter.

Gaming was also great on the Transformer Pad 300. The touch screen was adequately responsive and made for an all-around great gaming experience. Games that normally struggle and choke out on my Nexus S were a totally different experience on the tablet. My favorite game to play around with while using the Transformer Pad 300 was Draw Something. Paired with a capacitive stylus, it was was super fun.

To get an idea how this real-world performance plays out in benchmark form, check out the numbers below. On the left you’ll find the numbers for the Transformer Pad 300, and on the right you’ll find the numbers for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7.

CFBench Native – 19247 / 12927
CFBench Java – 5762 / 3126
CFBench Overall – 11156 / 7046
Smartbench 2012 Productivity – 3340 / 3057
Samrtbench 2012 Gaming Index – 2275 / 1625
Antutu total – 9373 / 6416
Antutu Floating Point CPU – 2363 / 1518
Antutu 3D Graphics – 1175 / 1230
GL Benchmark 2.1.4 – Egypt Offscreen – 62 / 48
GL Benchmark 2.1.4 – Pro Offscreen – 81 / 67
Quadrant – 3722 / 3480
Browesermark – 112870 / 78971
Sunspider 0.9.1 (lower is better) – 1784.2 / 1978.9
Moonbat on Chrome (With web worker set to 1) – 1757.6 / NA
Moonbat on Chrome (With web worker set to 4) – 3155.4 / NA

6. Cameras

The cameras on the ASUS Transformer Pad 300 are really pretty “meh.” Meaning they aren’t great, but they aren’t terrible.

In good lighting, like outdoors or in a lightbox, the 8MP rear camera was fantastic. Both photos and videos were very impressive. In low lighting conditions, however, the camera struggled to focus at times and failed to pick up details. The same can be said about the front-facing camera.

Because of this, the Transformer Pad 300′s cameras get a general rating of average. They perform much like you’d expect a tablet’s cameras to perform. They get the job done, but they could be much better. Here’s some sample images from both cameras, along with two sample videos in good and bad lighting from the rear camera.

IMG_20120420_201335 IMG_20120420_201341 IMG_20120420_201406 IMG_20120420_201812 IMG_20120420_201816 IMG_20120420_201830 IMG_20120420_202811 IMG_20120420_220131 IMG_20120420_220138 IMG_20120420_220146 IMG_20120420_220151 IMG_20120420_220153 IMG_20120420_220236 IMG_20120420_220242 IMG_20120420_220246 IMG_20120420_220254 IMG_20120420_220306 IMG_20120420_220320 IMG_20120420_220441 IMG_20120420_220519

7. Battery

According to ASUS, the battery on the Transformer Pad 300 will last around 8 and a half to 10 hours when put through moderate to heavy use. I found this to be fairly accurate. Checking emails, Facebooking, Twittering, gaming and watching videos gave me a good solid day’s worth of battery life. And that’s without the keyboard dock (more on that in a bit).

Realistically, the battery should last you at least an entire work day if you put it under normal use. Keep the display as low as you can tolerate it, put off watching movies until later, and keep gaming to a minimum, and I’m sure it would last even longer.

Factor in ASUS’ built-in power management profiles and the added battery life you can get out of the keyboard dock, and you have a tablet that can go the distance when needed.

8. Keyboard dock

If you’re considering a Transformer series tablet, chances are you’re considering a keyboard dock. That’s what ASUS is known for, and for good reason, too.

The keyboard dock that works with the Transformer TF300 is totally new. So unfortunately, it won’t work with older Transformers. But that’s about the only bad thing I can say about the dock.

Not only does it provide several extra hours of battery life (a good five or more), it boasts a ton of useful features that will turn you into a productivity powerhouse. If you need to transfer files, you can use the built-in USB port or SD card slot on the side of the keyboard.

For tapping out emails or other long-winded blocks of text, the keyboard works surprisingly well. The keys don’t feel too mushy, and the trackpad is fairly accurate with nice and clicky buttons that offer a satisfying amount of feedback when pressed.

There’s also a slew of custom buttons on the keyboard dock that are specifically made to control the Transformer Pad 300. If you didn’t want to, you’d never really have to use the touchscreen once the Transformer Pad is in its dock.

For an extra $150, the keyboard dock for the ASUS Transformer Pad 300 is well worth it.

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9. Connectivity

Thanks to the Bluetooth 3.0 chip and HDMI port found on the Transformer Pad 300, it doesn’t get a bad rating when it comes to connectivity. But not having access to 3G or 4G networks takes it down a notch.

In this day and age, a tablet like the ASUS Transformer Pad 300 deserves some sort of connectivity options outside of WiFi. For an extra $50, I can imagine most people would love the ability to put in a sim card and use the Transformer Pad 300 on the road. And who knows, maybe some day, a carrier will pick it up and that will happen. But for now, if you want to connect to the Internet with the Transformer Pad 300, you’ll have to rely on WiFi.

10. Price

The price of the ASUS Transformer Pad 300 is another area where the tablet shines. For $379 dollars, you can buy the Transformer Pad with 16GB of internal storage, no strings attached. For an extra $20, you can double the storage to 32GB. Combined with the $149 keyboard dock, you can have a fully functioning laptop, Android tablet hybrid with a NVIDIA Tegra 3, 1GB of DDR3 and Ice Cream Sandwich for $550.

Compared to something like a MacBook Air or an Ultrabook, that’s almost half the price. Of course there’s going to be some major performance differences, but if you don’t need a top-of-the-line laptop and want something ultra portable to carry around, the price of the Transformer Pad 300 and the keyboard dock combined makes the combo well worth checking out.

ASUS TF3008 / 10

ASUS has proved several times over now that there is definitely a market for high-end Android tablets. With the exception of a slate or two out of Samsung, ASUS rules this sector of the market. As such, I had high hopes for the ASUS Transformer Pad TF300.

It’s incredibly similar to its sibling the Transformer Prime, with only a minor downgrade here or there. Fortunately, the price of the Transformer Pad 300 is set to reflect those changes. At $379 for the 16GB model and $400 for the 32GB model, the ASUS Transformer Pad 300 offers a premium tablet experience for less money than extremely similar tablets on the market. It looks like ASUS has another winner on their hands.

You can buy the Royal Blue ASUS Transformer Pad 300 starting this Monday online and in stores by the week of April 30. Look for the red and white Transformer Pad 300s to launch this summer.

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • Bryan Stoner

    Awesome review! Thank you ;)

  • Vyrlokar

    You tell us that the dock is not compatible with old transformers, but I must ask, did you try it both with the TF201 Transformer Prime and with the TF101 Transformer? They are incompatible, but the dock on the TF300 looks very similar to the dock on the TF101. Maybe it’s compatible with the OG transformer, but not with the Prime?

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      Trust me. Its not.

      • Vyrlokar

        So there are 3 dock locking variants right now? Come on, Asus, why? You’re doing everything ok but this…

        • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Homncruse

          I read somewhere during the release of the TF101 that their profit margins on the tablets themselves are fairly small, but the profit margin on the keyboard dock is substantially larger. That would certainly explain why they’ve made all 3 major releases incompatible with each other. I wasn’t surprised that the Prime’s dock was incompatible, since I’m sure they learned a great deal from the original dock and it was early enough to break compatibility, but the TF201 and TF300 sharing a dock (along with the Padfone) would have been a massive selling point.

  • Oskar Wismierski

    I kind of prefers the metallic design of the prime, however for $100 less it could be a winner ;)

    • Simon

      I would say the design is more ala the Zenbook.

    • epps720

      I wonder if the Prime will drop in price once the Infinity is announced. If so it may be a steal to hold out and get the Prime, even if it will be $50 more than this 300.

      BTW – has anybody heard any rumors on when the Infinity will be announced?

  • ondore

    Nice review, thank you Dustin. Price is propably adequate, but masses are still waiting for affordable 7″ tablet with Tegra 3. And I did not see any word about GPS – did Asus resign? ;-)

  • vid500

    Great review, and a great tablet.

  • Aleksandar Simov

    I love the review and I think this is one of the best for now… Probably because I’m interested in buying Asus Transformer Pad TF300 ;)

  • Lightning7

    Now let’s see what the Asus Nexus tablet and Transformer Pad Infinity will bring.

  • Craig

    So what’s the story on its gps? Is it fixed with with this model?

    • ondore

      I just read another review and they tested GPS without any issues.

    • Ben Marvin

      Thanks to the plastic casing instead of the metal one on the TF201, GPS should not be an issue at all.

  • jamal adam

    Great review!

  • redraider133

    Asus seems to really make some nice tablets and is one of the best if not the best with updating their devices. Can’t wait to see what they bring out for the nexus tablet.

  • shnuffle

    what’s with the whistling in the two vids?

  • cthonctic

    This is a very nice device and I could really see myself going for it when it becomes available in EU. I was looking at the TPrime for quite some time but simply couldn’t justify the premium expense for a device I want but don’t really need.

    Also, as weird as it may sound, I prefer a “plastic” build to metal as long as it’s premium plastic like on the Galaxy Nexus and the latest generation of non-Fire Kindles. Metal always looks sleek, premium, even sexy… but in everyday usage I feel much more comfortable with devices covered in high-quality plastic.

    • kicost

      i also wanted to buy this instead of TPrime but when I realised that it doesnt have a microsd-in…i changed my mind again….but if the Pad300 beats the TPrime on the benchmarks im sure i’ll buy it :)

      • Peter

        It does have a microSD slot, will take up to 32GB according to ASUS. I have heard of people using the new 64GB cards in them. And the keyboard has an SD slot as well.

  • Shawn Clark

    Sounds like Asus definitely on a role!!!

  • M3rc Nate

    Very nice, and a good read, but i am personally waiting for the TF700. Though the one tablet i could have seen myself buying to hold myself over before the TF700 would have been the 7 inch Asus tablet, but it being nabbed by Google and what not…that wont happen anytime soon.

  • Brad

    Some seriously flawed arguments in this article. Especially the end saying:

    “Combined with the $149 keyboard dock, you can have a fully functioning laptop”

    “Compared to something like a MacBook Air or an Ultrabook, that’s almost half the price. Of course there’s going to be some major performance differences, but if you don’t need a top-of-the-line laptop and want something ultra portable to carry around, the price of the Transformer Pad 300 and the keyboard dock combined makes the combo well worth checking out.”

    Are you kidding me here? I need a laptop in addition to a tablet because of software compatibility, OS performance ease of printing, etc etc etc…

    To even say that you will have a laptop with that combination…and/or to even make a purchase decision between a tablet and a macbook/pc is simply showing that the author has no real insight into the limitations that comes with a tablet w/in the area of software compatibility, multitasking, etc and I must admit it has spoiled my interest in this site.

    • clocinnorcal

      I think its pretty obvious, if you have been following tablets at all in the last few years, that tablets are NOT going to completely replace your typical laptop YET. Until A9,A7,A15 or whatever support X86 OS and software there will always be a gap between them.
      Did you even read the part that you yourself quoted?
      “Of course there’s going to be some major performance differences”

      • Lucian Armasu

        Or until there are enough apps on Android that you don’t need the ones on desktop anymore.

        You can already do printing with Cloud Print on Canon printers and others right now, according to Google.

    • clocinnorcal

      Why cant it be a fully functioning laptop? It has a screen, keyboard and track-pad. I wasn’t aware it had to have full software compatibility to be considered a “Laptop”.

      Also something you quoted from the author.
      ” the price of the Transformer Pad 300 and the keyboard dock combined makes the combo well worth checking out.”

      With emphasis on “worth checking out.”

    • Jonathan Rung

      Many android tablets (mostly the more popular ones) have Ubuntu builds that you can set up to dual-boot with relative ease… I know that wasn’t the argument the author was making, but if a traditional OS is holding you back from considering it a viable option, just wait until someone brings ubuntu to the TF300. Then you’ll have one of the best android tablet experiences on the market + a laptop alternative (with keyboard and ubuntu), which is pretty good for under $600.

      Obviously, if you don’t like android or tablets, then your $600 bucks would be better spent on a traditional laptop or desktop, but the author is assuming that you do, in fact, want an android tablet (why else would you read the review?).

      Wow, DDR3, really? That’s impressive – in fact, is that a first for Android? My TF201 blows your benchmarks out of the water, but it’s running CyanogenMod 9, I’m sure the TF300 will get there.

    • WlfHart

      Considering the leaps and bounds tablet remote desktop has come… I could completely replace a work/school laptop with a tablet/keyboard dock. Now if one wanted to not have a desktop sitting at home to remote desktop to, it all comes down to just what software you need. A large portion of people that made the netbook boom what it was only use their computers for web and word processing. Both tasks may be comfortably accomplished by tablet software these days.

    • anna

      Everyone has there own oppion. If you don’t like it don’t come back.

  • skugern

    I am also pleased with the fact that there is little to no bloatware – I hope more manufacturers take note.

  • skyflakes

    I’m definitely buying this!

  • spazby

    waiting on the high def asus…

  • triangle

    Nice review. Quad core tablets seem to be the way to go and this is the cheapest available today. I’m still waiting to see what they bring on the low cost 7 inch tablet.

  • FlexPuke

    …so all the 300 is, is a TF201 with a not-so-good screen and $100 chopped off?

  • Lane Chapman

    Is this the Royal Blue version that you reviewed or is it just a grey reviewing unit?

  • Cat Craven

    That’s more like it. A transformer pad that’s actually affordable. Especially the 32GB version. You’re not exactly gonna find a cheaper quad-core tablet with 32GB of storage anytime soon lol.

  • awundrin

    What a nice review to read. I’m very impressed with this tablet. Love the color choices too. Way to go ASUS!

  • Chucky

    I bought the TF300. My first foray into android, up until now using my wife’s iPad. Disappointed at the difficulty and hoops you must jump through to print from the TF300, particularly web pages such as receipts etc that you want a hard copy of. The iPad has its limitations but it finds wireless printers by itself and prints straight to them – not so the TF300. Still I am happy with it and looking for a browser or app that will print web pages.

    • Ankur Jain

      Does it have a SIM card slot? there are differing views and i think lack of SIM slot can be a deal breaker for me.

  • Ankur Jain

    Hi there, very useful review and I really want to buy it… differing views though about the SIM card slot. Some say that the slot is very much there.. here is one link that says that.


    Also, the user manual says that TF300TG/ TF300TL models have slots. Could you kindly advice? Lack of SIM card slot is a deal breaker for me really…

  • Dosca

    Its quite slow because of the bundled apps

  • hansdekleine

    Yesterday I received an OTA update. After installing it it seems to be more stable. Google Chrome was too laggy at first, now it is very useable, so it is my preferred browser again. The compass still isn’t working as it should.

    Android-version: 4.1.1
    GPS-version: 7.9.13
    BT: 10.33
    Camera: TF300T-000128
    Kernel: 3.1.10
    Build: JR)03C.WW_epad-

  • Ezy03

    Asus rocks for tablets!

  • Joe

    Im not to concernedabout a sim card slot my phone has hotspot .

  • chris

    does asus tf300 had SIM CARD SLOT???????????

  • Roger Grubbs

    Yes it has an sd card slot. You can put a 64gb micro sd card in this baby. Im on one right now.