Asus Transformer Pad TF300T Review: Tegra 3, More Affordable

The Docking Station: Consider Compatibility

Each Transformer's docking station is model-specific, so there's no mixing and matching between the TF201, the new TF300T, or the original TF101. Fortunately, Asus is sticking with $149 as the price for TF300T's complementary accessory.

It shouldn't be considered unrealistic to expect docking station cross-compatibility, especially since Asus uses the same 40-pin data/charging port on all of its Transformer tablets. The TF101, TF201, and TF300T all share the same data/charging cable and charging adapter—why not a universal docking station?

The docking stations feature the exact same layout, with USB and an SD card reader on the right, and a power/data port on the left.

Transformer Pad (TF300) in Transformer Prime's (TF201) Docking Station

Asus' documentation clarifies that its docking stations are not "100% physically compatible." Curious, we put this limitation to the test (probably to our own detriment). When we tried to plug a Transformer Pad TF300T into the TF201's docking station, we were able to use the keyboard, SD card reader, USB port, and trackpad without any problems. Physically, the only issue was that the docking latches didn't lock correctly after carefully maneuvering the Transformer Pad into the docking slot. Charging worked fine, though.

Design differences distinguishing the tablets result in a "mismatched" look if you use the wrong docking station. The TF201’s docking station design is angular, while the TF300T's features more rounded edges. If you're willing to overlook the aesthetic imperfection, this might seem like a good way for current Transformer owners to avoid the cost of an additional station. But we noticed a potential problem that should discourage you from going this route. Plugging a newer tablet into an older docking station automatically overwrites the station's firmware, suggesting an element of specificity in how the batteries for each tablet discharge. We're not sure what effect that process has, so we'd advise against it.

We covered the Transformer's Prime’s somewhat unexpected charge/drain cycle in last week's review. The docking stations feature a separate internal battery designed to work in conjunction with the tablet’s battery. Instead of draining one power source and then the other, the Transformer Prime first allows the main battery to drop to 70% charge. Then, it recharges back up to 90% using the secondary power source before letting it drain again. This cycle continues until the docking station's battery cannot provide any more juice.

In comparison, the Transformer Pad TF300T drops to 70% capacity, recharges to 90%, drops to 70%, and charges back up to 80%.

We weren't able to test whether using mismatched docking stations (for those families with multiple Transformer devices) imposes the original station's charging profile on the target tablet. However, avoid the possibility of a problem altogether and use the dock designed for your tablet.

The docking station’s internal battery delivers a considerable boost to total run time. Our browsing test suggests ~45% longer battery life.

Provided both the tablet and docking station batteries are completely drained, the tablet’s internal battery reaches a full charge first. Charging the Transformer Pad TF300F on its own only takes about 30 minutes less.

  • samuelspark
    Yay. Excellent price/performance tablet. :D
  • burnley14
    Looks like a great tablet. The screen could use a little work, especially the resolution, but everything else checks out well. I too will be interested to see a tablet like this one running Windows 8, could be a game-changer.
  • netadmin
    "Fortunately, Asus is sticking with $149 as the price for TF300T's complementary accessory."

    Maybe it's just me, but I don't see anything fortunate about paying the same price for an inferior product. Based on reviews at other sites, the keyboard dock for the TF300T has a 16 Wh battery compared to the 22 Wh battery for the Prime dock. Is it being suggested that 27% lower battery capacity does not make any difference in price? I understand that ASUS has to make a profit, but would it not be reasonable to lower the price a little bit, at least?
  • vicsrealms
    Looks like a great tablet, but I can't even find the Asus Transformer Prime anywhere. Maybe it the availability is good I may try to manage to pick one up, but i have given up on the Prime.
  • halcyon
    I really would like to see a successor to the Transformer Prime with a display with the same or higher resolution as the 3rd gen iPad. That'd be quite something.
  • xkche
    3 weeks ago i buy a TF101 :( for just $10 less than this price....
  • frabber
    it's 80 euros below retina, it would be a bargain if it had a retina display
  • Stardude82
    Oh... you're in Bakersfield... I'm sorry. :-P
  • mobomofo
    How come no one has pulled the "Does it play Crysis?" yet.
    That joke can't die. We gotta keep it alive people.

    +2 for the Bakersfield joke. Good eye.
  • everygamer
    Anyone get a PS3 or other mainstream game controller paired with the Transformer via bluetooth without rooting?