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The new Transformer tablet from Asus costs less—and yet it still manages to impress us. A follow-up to the acclaimed Transformer Prime, the Tegra 3-powered Transformer Pad TF300T is perhaps the best bargain we've ever seen from an Android-based tablet.
The new Android 4.0-powered Transformer Pad TF300T is a plastic-bodied tablet with a 10.1" 1280x800 IPS display aimed squarely at mainstream mobile enthusiasts on a budget. Inheriting the overall design of its predecessor, the more expensive aluminum-bodied Transformer Prime TF201, Asus' Transformer Pad TF300T is probably best described as a version of the company's original Transformer TF101, updated with Nvidia’s Tegra 3 SoC (hence the T at the end of model number).
Case construction of the cost-reduced Asus Transformer Pad TF300T consists of a sturdy ABS plastic shell (similar to the original Transformer TF101 tablet) available in red, white, and blue color options. In keeping with its mainstream-oriented design, the Transformer Pad features a slightly lower-clocked version of Nvidia's Tegra 3, the platform used to power Asus' flagship Transformer Prime TF201.
|iPad 2 (3G)||iPad 3 (4G LTE)||Transformer|
|Weight||1.33 lbs.||1.46 lb.||1.5 lb.||1.29 lb.||1.39 lb.|
Physically, the Transformer Pad TF300T resembles Asus' Transformer Prime TF201, featuring nearly identical attributes aside from its weight and thickness. At 1.39 pounds, the new ABS-cased TF300T is about one-tenth of a pound heavier than the aluminum TF201, but it also weighs about one-tenth of a pound less than the TF101 it replaces.
The Transformer Pad's heft puts it in the middle of the pack, based on the table above. After spending significant time with Apple's iPad 3, we're convinced that 1.4 pounds is a meaningful threshold. Tablets that cross it are noticeably less comfortable to hold for extended periods of time. Although the plastic TF300T is lighter than the iPad 3, we still feel spoiled after having just reviewed Asus' lighter flagship tablet last week.
Employing a plastic shell introduces certain dimensional changes compared to the TF201 we liked so much, though. Additional curvature in the ABS frame makes the TF300T slightly thicker than the TF201, but a fraction of an inch thinner than the original Transformer TF101. This extra thickness translates to a tablet that's easier to grasp, even if it imparts a chunkier profile compared to the svelte Transformer Prime TF201.
The Transformer Pad TF300T’s layout is similar to its predecessors, employing ports and buttons located in the same places, which facilitate a smooth transition for users familiar with other Asus tablets.
While it's true that Asus' Transformer family shares a common design heritage, the TF300T takes a number of cues from the higher-end TF201. Trace your fingers over the TF300T’s micro-texture outer case finish, for instance, and you discover the same circular weave pattern we pointed out in last week's story, except that it's molded in plastic instead of etched into aluminum.
Aside from utilizing ABS plastic instead of aluminum, the Transformer Pad TF300T has several other features worth highlighting, including:
Bundled software is an important part of a tablet's user experience. However, the brief time we had with the Transformer Pad TF300T before the launch forces our focus on the hardware at the expense of the bundled software, which we might cover at a later date.