Review: Asus Transformer Pad 300 (TF300T)

While Android tablets may not have been the most popular in the past few years, beaten at every corner by Apple's iPad, if you are in the market for one the Asus Transformer line has to be one of the best choices available. The line-up of devices stretches back to April 2011 when the original Transformer TF101 was released and since then, two more devices have been added to the line-up, all with the iconic keyboard docking station that transforms the tablet into a notebook (sort of).

One of the two devices is Asus' flagship Asus Transformer Prime (TF201), released in December packing - for the first time - the powerful NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset in a slim and light tablet body with a 10.1" display. Then, just four or so months later, Asus is coming back to the market with a new Transformer tablet: the Transformer Pad 300 (TF300T), also packing an NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset with a 10.1" display.

This does make things confusing. Currently there are two devices on the market with very similar specifications, both from ASUS, both in the Transformer line, and one with a higher model number. The Transformer Pad 300 is supposed to be accompanied by the upcoming Transformer Pad Infinity 700 to be part of the third generation/series of Transformers, but not only has that tablet not been released yet, I don't fully understand why the Pad 300 needed to supersede the similar Prime in this new series.

Anyway, it's probably all in the specs, which you can take a look at below.

Specifications

Just so you can see how similar the Transformer Pad 300 is to the Transformer Prime, I've added the two devices side-by-side in this specifications table and highlighted the differences.

  Asus Transformer Pad 300 Asus Transformer Prime
Product Codes TF300T TF201
GSM Bands N/A N/A
3G/4G Bands N/A N/A
Display 10.1-inch IPS LCD at 1280 x 800
149 ppi pixel density
10-point capacitive multi-touch
10.1-inch Super IPS+ LCD at 1280 x 800
149 ppi pixel density
10-point capacitive multi-touch
Processor NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset
1.2 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU
<500 MHz "companion core"
NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset
1.4 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU
<500 MHz "companion core"
Graphics ULP Kal-El GeForce ULP Kal-El GeForce
RAM 1 GB 1 GB
Storage 16 or 32 GB internal user storage
microSD card slot
32 or 64 GB internal user storage
microSD card slot
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
A-GPS
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
A-GPS
Camera 8 MP rear camera
1.2 MP front camera
1080p video recording (rear)
8 MP rear camera with LED flash
1.2 MP front camera
1080p video recording (rear)
Ports Dock connector
Micro-HDMI
3.5mm audio jack
Dock connector
Micro-HDMI
3.5mm audio jack
Sensors Accelerometer
Magnetometer
Gyroscope
Light sensor
Accelerometer
Magnetometer
Gyroscope
Light sensor
Battery Li-Po 22 Wh non-removable Li-Po 25 Wh non-removable
Current OS Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich"
Waveshare UI
Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich"
Waveshare UI
Launch Date April 2012 December 2011
Size & Weight 263 x 180.8 x 9.9 mm
635 g
263 x 180.8 x 8.3 mm
586 g
Price RRP: US$379 (16 GB)
RRP: US$399 | AU$499 (32 GB)
Price is without the keyboard dock
RRP: US$499 | AU$599 (32 GB)
Price is without the keyboard dock

As you can see the Transformer Pad 300 is basically the little brother of the mighty Prime, weighing roughly 50 grams more and being slightly fatter. Despite this size difference, it actually packs a slightly smaller battery combined with a camera without the flash. On the larger side of the differences, the Prime comes with the better Super IPS+ display and an aluminium body (as opposed to plastic) which gives it a more expensive feel; although this does cause some connectivity problems.

Looking more closely it does appear as though the Transformer Pad 300 is more of a successor to the original Asus Transformer TF101, filling that price bracket with better specs while still leaving the Prime to be the premium, top-of-the-line model. Whether or not the Transformer Pad 300 will be the better value option has yet to be seen considering they are so similar, so I should get on with the actual testing of the device.

Design

The Asus Transformer Pad 300 is a 10.1-inch tablet, and that means that the amount of design variations compared to other devices are quite limited. Naturally, the front of the device has the IPS display dominating behind reinforced glass, and around the edges is a sizable bezel that aids in holding the device. Nothing is particularly remarkable here save for the 'ASUS' logo in the top left, the front-facing camera to the right of center and a little triangle on the bottom that assists in positioning the docking keyboard.

While the front is protected by glass, the rest of the Transformer Pad 300 is made from plastic. This is one of the major differences between the Pad 300 and the Transformer Prime as the latter has an aluminium chassis, and while the metal does improve the look and feel of the Prime, what Asus has managed on the TF300T is still quite good. You also don't get the connectivity issues I've been hearing about the Prime, caused by said metal casing.

Most of what makes the plastic body acceptable is the way they have put circular grooves into the back of the device. At first glance this makes the Transformer look like it is made of metal, and even once you realize it isn't, you fall in love with how it feels. Not only does it give texture to the device, it also helps with holding it as the grooves prevent it simply from slipping out of your hands.

Other features of the back include the rear camera - with an inset lens to prevent scratches - positioned towards the top, and a rear speaker slit to the left (which is on the right hand side when viewing content). Ideally I would have liked to see stereo speakers as with a device this size it is noticeable when sound is only coming from one side, but I understand that design and pricing concerns may have kept this out of the final design. There's also a shiny metal 'ASUS' logo to let people know what brand tablet you're using.

Around the sides you'll find the 3.5mm audio jack to the top right, audio controls to the top left with a micro-HDMI and microSD card slot visible below that; and a power button on the top left. The bottom features two holes that hold the dock in place along with the charging/data connector in the middle. I know that this connector must be proprietary to function with the dock, but I was really disappointed that there was no microUSB port that would have made data transfer that much easier when you don't have the Asus cable lying around.

Weight-wise the Transformer Pad 300 is in the middle of the 10-inch tablet range at 635 grams (1.40 lb), and so it isn't too heavy to hold or so light you'll drop it. I've used the Transformer Prime briefly and while I do notice the Pad 300 as being heavier, it's not a huge deal considering some tablets like the Acer Iconia Tab are 700g+. The thickness of 9.9mm is also reasonably good, and the way the tablet curves towards the edges gives it a sense that it's thinner.

Generally speaking I like the design Asus has adopted with the Transformer Pad 300; it seems pretty much right for this price bracket device. I will mention quickly that my one beef with the design is that there is a small bit of flex in the build, and the ability to push in the plastic back suggests it's perhaps not as thin and sturdy as it could be. The good news is that in regular use you won't be trying to snap your tablet in half (at least I hope so), so you likely won't notice, but if you're curious the video overview at the bottom of this review shows you the problem.

Display

I hope you've all brushed up on your smartphone display technology via my handy guide, because some of that will come in handy explaining the display present in the Asus Transformer Pad 300. In short: it's pretty good. Now for the longer explanation.

Asus has chucked in a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 IPS TFT LCD panel into the Pad 300, and even though the tablet does not fall into the flagship category, it still is one of the better tablet displays you can get. Cheaper tablets often use TN TFT panels which have lower contrast ratios and worse viewing angles due to the way the crystal twisting works in the panel. This is not the case with the Transformer Pad.

The IPS LCD used on the Pad 300 has very good colors when it comes to a tablet, and of course while it can't match a Super AMOLED Plus or Super LCD 2, it's on par with the PLS TFT panels used in Samsung Galaxy Tab line which use similar technology. It's a far nicer panel than a standard TN LCD like on the original Motorola Xoom or the Acer Iconia Tab line, but falls short of the Super IPS+ in the Transformer Prime and the panel Apple uses for their iPads.

At 1280 x 800 the display is the usual ~150ppi found in most Android tablets currently on the market; it's no 264ppi "Retina" display like with the 3rd-gen iPad but it certainly suffices for this sort of tablet. You will probably be able to spot individual pixels if you try or hold the tablet too close to your face, but the lack of crispness is only really fully noticeable when you compare it to a more pixel-dense display. On it's own I would think you'll have no problem reading books, browsing the web or enjoying your favorite movies in 720p.

I was perfectly happy with outdoor readability of the Transformer Pad 300, which is assisted by the IPS panel technology. The glass doesn't reflect too much of the incoming light and the brightness is good enough that you should be able to see what you are doing even in direct sunlight. The tablet does have an automatic brightness mode, although I had problems with the sensor detecting 0 lux when indoors, causing the display to dimmed to the lowest setting. Simply choosing to manually adjust the brightness via the ICS pop-up menu should fix this.

Software

The good news in the software department is that Asus has taken the right choice in choosing a relatively stock build of Ice Cream Sandwich to install on the Transformer Pad 300. They do have what is called their "Waveshare UI", but the added features are few and far between which means I don't have a whole lot to complain about.

If you have used Ice Cream Sandwich or Honeycomb before, you'll know pretty much what you are in for. The homescreens are pretty much unaltered, the lockscreen is the same, the design is the same and all of Google's excellent ICS tablet apps have been left alone, which I am very happy to see. The notification pane has been given a makeover with more quick settings, but Asus recognizes you might hate this and gives you the option to disable it (yay!).

Asus has bundled several of their own widgets with the software, including a clock, e-mail unread, weather, task manager (eh....) and battery widget. There is also a "MyZine" widget that shows a combination of a lot of information including photos, music, bookmarks, weather and more. Some of the widgets I found visually quite nice, but you don't have to use them if you don't want to.

The included on-screen keyboard that Asus went with I found too large and annoying to use, but again Asus recognizes you might not like it and gives you the option to switch to the stock keyboard, which I highly recommend. Generally I would expect you'll be pleased with the interface especially considering the lack of terrible skinning that could have taken place.

Also on the plus side is that there aren't too many bloat applications installed by default, and again you can disable "system" apps if you like in ICS. Some of these apps, such as the TegraZone, Amazon Kindle, Polaris Office and Zinio are worthwhile third-party inclusions that I imagine a lot of people may end up using; or downloading if they weren't already installed.

Some of Asus' in-house applications are also reasonably good. MyNet is a great way to watch content from your local network and, like all of the Asus apps, it has a great tablet-optimized interface. File Manager is a reasonably robust file managing app, and App Locker (which password locks applications) and App Backup (which backs-up app data) I can see being useful as they work without the device needing to be rooted.

SuperNote is one of the applications that Asus touts on their Transformer Pad website, and it is fairly good for an included app. You get the option between scribbling notes using your finger and typing them, and as with most note-taking apps you can import photos, video and voice to help fill out your notes. I was disappointed to find no cloud/online syncing of notes in the application, which makes me lean towards Evernote as a better tablet note-taking app.

On the disappointing end of the scale are the apps associated with Asus' included cloud service @Vibe. After looking at the included apps and features I can't seem to see how this service is a better alternative to the ones already out there. For starters, the included selection of books available for the MyLibrary application, through @Vibe, is laughably terrible and more expensive than competitors like Amazon and Google; no wonder they included Amazon's Kindle app on the device as it's a much better option.

The included MyCloud and Webstorage apps are functionally good, but nothing compels me to use Asus service with 8 GB of free storage over the 25 GB I have with SkyDrive, the 5 GB I get with much better device support in Google Drive, or the ever-popular Dropbox. Simply installing a third-party app that allows me to use any of these other services means that I don't really need the one Asus provides.

Finally, I would recommend steering well clear of the standalone @Vibe app, because everything it offers such as books, music, games, news and more are all served better by other apps such as Google Play, Zinio, Currents, Amazon and others.

Performance

Inside the Asus Transformer Pad 300 you'll find an NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset with a 1.2 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor and 12-core Kal-El ULP GeForce GPU; the fifth companion core is also, of course, included for low-powered tasks. This is paired with 1 GB of RAM and either 16 GB or 32 GB of on-board storage depending on the model, expandable by a microSD card or through the SD card slot and USB port on the keyboard dock.

For connectivity you get Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n only on the 2.4 GHz bands, Bluetooth 3.0 and A-GPS, all of which work perfectly fine from my experiences; no Wi-Fi or GPS issues here like with the Prime and its metal casing. There are no cellular radios inside the TF300T, and at this stage no 3G model has been released. 

I've already gone over some of the performance differences and benefits of the Tegra 3 chipset over rivals in my HTC One X review, so I won't go on repeating myself about the technical side of the chipset, but it does need repeating that the chip is very fast. Four cores, each clocked at 1.2 GHz, is more than adequate for everyday tablet tasks, and as you would expect there is no lag through the operating system or any of the included apps.

Browsing on Wi-Fi is also very speedy, never needing to re-load or "checkerboard" webpages, instead providing an extremely smooth Ice Cream Sandwich experience. When it comes to apps I have had a few unusual crashes here and there, but these have only been with third party apps so it's quite possible some dodgy coding has occurred.

As NVIDIA's Tegra line pretty much dominates the tablet market at the moment (save for a few OMAP and Exynos chips that have popped up in the Galaxy Tabs), it makes a lot of sense to compare the Tegra 3 performance here with the last-generation Tegra 2. I use a Tegra 2 tablet often, and while there is a difference in terms of speed between the old and new chips, I would go as far to say the Tegra 3 is twice as fast in terms of every day app usage. Most often I expect all four cores are not being fully utilized, and so the only advantage becomes the clockspeed increase of the Cortex A9s between Tegra 2 (usually 1.0 GHz) and 3 (1.2~1.5 GHz).

However when it comes to gaming there is a noticeable difference between Tegra 2 and the Tegra 3 chipset in the TF300T. Tegra 3 introduces an extra four cores into the ULP GeForce GPU, for a total of 12, along with a handy clock speed increase that NVIDIA claims makes the GPU twice as fast as the Tegra 2 chips. I would tend to agree, and as you'll see later, the benchmarks back this up.

NVIDIA's Glowball demo shows off Tegra 3's power

I found the most noticeable difference in performance to come from Grand Theft Auto III. On a Tegra 2 machine, running the game at full graphics is a tiny but laggy while driving and doing other intensive tasks, but it's butter smooth on the TF300T and its Tegra 3, pretty much always managing at least 30 frames per second. Performance in other intensive games like Dungeon Defenders was also applaudable, never showing any signs of slowdown.

On the downside I'm still waiting for some app developers to include support for the Tegra 3 chipset in their games. It's been at least six months since its release, so I'm not sure what the huge problem is here other than laziness, especially for games released after the release of the platform. And yes, I am pointing the finger specifically at you Gameloft, with your despicable device support as I mentioned last week on Twitter.

Now it's time to get into the synthetic benchmarks, and unfortunately I don't have many other tablets with me to do a lot of comparing to so I apologize for the thinness of these charts. At this stage I only have the Acer Iconia Tab A200 (a Tegra 2 tablet) and some benchmarks from my short time with a Transformer Prime, but as I get more tablets to review this will no doubt improve.

In both the processor-oriented tests I performed, the Asus Transformer Pad 300 performed closely to the Transformer Prime, falling just slightly behind on both the tests conducted. In Smartbench 2012, which utilizes all available cores for testing, the Tegra 3 devices pulled noticeably away from the Tegra 2 tablet; but with Vellamo that focuses mainly on individual core performance, the clock speed advantages of the Tegra 3 mean that it just slightly bests the Tegra 2.

With the GPU tests it becomes evident that the Tegra 3 is indeed twice as powerful as the Tegra 2, and this lines up perfectly with what I saw when the Tegra 3 chipset was placed inside the HTC One X. There is no graphics challenger at the moment to the Tegra 3 in the Android tablet market space, with the few competitors not choosing NVIDIA's options lucking out in terms of gaming performance, not to mention a few exclusive games.

What's really good is that you can get the Tegra 3 power of an Asus Transformer Prime for less in the Transformer Pad 300, and it doesn't look like Asus has done anything nasty to make this a clear-cut lesser-powered lower-end system. This doesn't mean that the Prime is a write-off though because you do get a slimmer design with a better display, but it certainly places the TF300T in a great position.

Camera

As the Transformer Pad is a tablet, there is a lesser need for having an amazing camera on board as you'll likely take your shots on your smartphone instead. That said, I'm not completely ignoring checking out the camera on the TF300T; which is an 8 megapixel shooter with autofocus and no LED flash this time. There is also a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera - perhaps the most useful camera on the device - used for video calls and the like.

I never expected the camera on the Transformer Pad to be particularly amazing, and the results back this up. In some (read: infrequent) situations you can get some nice shots out of the Pad 300, but most of the time you are left with average, if not mediocre photos. Indoor shots can look incredibly washed out, and in photos where there is a lot of contrasting light, such as the photo below, the TF300T fails to cope with it well.

Over the week I had this device it was pretty miserable every day so I struggled to find a sunny time to take some shots, but here are the best I managed given the weather. Some of these photos are adequate at replicating the subject, but others are lackluster.

Here are some more of the mixed shots I took. The first is a 100% crop of a wide shot that shows pretty poor crispness; the second is an indoor shot taken with a overhead lighting (as there's no flash on the TF300T); the last is a low-light shot that is fairly grainy and unimpressive.

Here is a shot taken with the front-facing camera. It seems slightly out of focus, which is strange considering I was holding the device at a comfortable reading distance. 

Finally we have a look at the video recording of the rear camera, taken at the maximum quality of 1080p at 30 frames per second. The camera understandably suffers from all the same problems in video mode as still mode, and while audio quality is fairly good, there appears to be some shutter lag occurring at certain times throughout the video I took. One good thing about video capture though, is that when focused on close objects the quality/crispness seems fairly good.

Media Playback

Where on a smartphone it's not so important, having a decent rear speaker on a tablet helps when you are consuming media, which is something you'll likely be doing a lot. The Transformer Pad 300 has a powerful, loud rear speaker that is also not too bad when it comes to quality. Of course there is no low-frequency output whatsoever, but for the most part the speaker delivers decent quality up until near full volume where it can become distorted.

I was disappointed to see there was only one rear speaker on the tablet that, in landscape mode, produces sound to the right of the display. Sure, the speaker is loud enough that you'll be able to hear a movie or YouTube video you are watching without needing headphones (though I do recommend headphones), but the audio only coming from one side detracts from the media experience. If only Asus had decided to chuck in an extra speaker, then things would be really very good.

The rear speaker on the TF300T

Through my trusty Sennheiser earbuds the audio output quality of the tablet is quite good, delivering a decent amount of bass with clear mid-tones and balanced high-tones. So far the best audio I have ever experienced from a mobile devices was with the HTC One X and its Beats audio enhancement, and although the Transformer Pad doesn't live quite up to this, it's still decent for listening to music.

Now it's time to check out the results of my usual video playback test. Watching movies and videos on a tablet is going to be pretty important considering the screen size, but unfortunately Asus has gone with the stock Android 4.0 video player which is very under-featured. It does work, as you'll see below, but I recommend using MX Player to get the most out of your device.

Medium Native Playback 3rd-Party Playback
Cordy Gameplay (.wmv)
640x360 WMV3 video @ 3046 kbps
WMA2 2ch audio @ 96 kbps
Perfect playback Perfect playback using hardware decoding
The Big Bang Theory (.avi)
624x352 XviD video at 1082 kbps
MP3 2ch audio at 128 kbps
Perfect playback Perfect playback using hardware decoding
Epic Rap Battles of History 7 (.mp4)
1280x720 H.264 video at 2531 kbps
AAC 2ch audio at 128 kbps
Perfect playback Perfect playback using hardware decoding
TRON Legacy (.mp4)
1280x720 H.264 video at 2461 kbps
AAC 6ch audio at 401 kbps
Perfect playback Perfect playback using hardware decoding
Black Swan (.mkv)
1920x800 H.264 video at 17025 kbps
DTS 6ch audio at 1536 kbps
Perfect video playback but no DTS decoding (so no audio) Perfect video playback with no sound (hardware decoder); infrequent stutters using the software decoder for audio only, which does give sound
THX Amazing Life  (.mt2s)
1920x1080 H.264 video at 9011 kbps
AC3 6ch audio at 640 kbps
Perfect video playback but no AC3 decoding (so no audio). Had problems determining what position the film was at, so there was no ability to seek/skip forward/skip backward. Perfect video playback with no sound (hardware decoder); infrequent stutters using the software decoder for audio only, which does give sound; no seeking available like with the stock player
MysteryGuitarMan  (.mp4)
1920x1080 H.264 video at 2701 kbps
AAC 2ch audio at 128 kbps
Perfect playback Perfect playback using hardware decoding

Again I'm seeing some great playback results thanks to NVDIA's Tegra 3 chipset and its dedicated video decoding processor. Pretty much everything worked once I installed and started using MX Player, although with the two 1080p files I had with surround audio, using the software decoder was infrequently jittery. That said, you could probably watch either of those videos without getting too frustrated, which shows off the power of the quad-core CPU because no other device I've used so far can play the MT2S file well.

Another good thing is that with up to 32 GB of on-board storage complemented by a microSD card slot right on the side of the device, you'll be able to fit loads of your favorite songs and movies without complaint. Also, if you feel like carrying around the keyboard dock, you'll gain an additional two slots - an SD card slot and USB port - that you can use for even more media.

If you do end up purchasing this tablet you'll be happy to know that the media playback of the device is outstanding, only hindered by the single rear speaker. If devices like this consistently dominate my video playback test, perhaps in the near future I'll need to update it with new filetypes and codecs.

Keyboard Dock

The now iconic "Transformer" name for Asus' line-up of tablets of course has to mean something, and that thing is how it transforms into a notebook-style machine through the use of the keyboard dock. You've probably seen stuff about the past Transformers and their keyboard docks, but perhaps not, and this is the first time I've had a proper hands-on experience with it, so let's take a look at the accessory.

The keyboard dock features a six-row keyboard, touchpad with mouse button, several ports around the edges and an extra battery located under the keyboard. When the Transformer Pad is docked in the connector, whose angle is adjustable, the battery inside the dock will charge the Pad if the Pad's battery is getting a bit low, and it can make the Pad last for up to 15 hours when both the tablet and dock are fully charged.

The connector that attaches the tablet to the keyboard appears to be metal, unlike the rest of the keyboard, which makes it very sturdy; your tablet is certainly not going to come out randomly. When the keyboard + tablet is closed (like a laptop), the two together are reasonably thick and hefty, which reduces the portability of the device. Of course this is somewhat necessary to house the extra battery and keyboard components, but I can't help but wish the dock was a bit slimmer.

Taking the tablet out of the dock and putting it back in is very easy: it just requires a slide of the switch or a simple click in to place. If you want to show your workmate a few documents, you can un-dock in less than a second, show them whatever is on your tablet display while walking around the office, before returning to your desk to re-dock and continue editing. You can praise Asus for making the whole experience great.

The keyboard itself is a breeze to use and becomes very useful when you need to type up long emails or documents on your tablet. It also has a range of handy keys along the top row that control brightness, sound, music, connectivity settings, plus a few app shortcuts. The touchpad is equally easy to use, although the mouse button feels a bit cheap and I occasionally had problems accidentally touching the touchpad while I was typing; something I could prevent with practice.

Around the sides of the dock you get a charging/data port on the left hand side - which means you can charge both the tablet and dock at once - and an SD card slot and USB port on the right hand side, which adds greatly to the media capabilities of the device. Plugging in a camera or camera's SD card straight to the keyboard dock allows you to browse all the photos of your recent shoot straight on the TF300T's 10-inch display, which can be very useful.

At an extra $100 on top of the tablet when you buy them in a bundle, or a $150 as a standalone product, the keyboard dock is not exactly a cheap buy, but it really adds to the Transformer experience. The extra battery life it provides can come in handy, and when browsing the web, typing up documents or sending lengthy emails, the keyboard is a really handy addition. If I was buying a Transformer and I had a bit of extra cash to spend, I would definitely add the dock to my purchase.

Battery Life

Upon first receiving the Transformer Pad 300, I charged both the keyboard dock and the tablet itself to 100% before using them. After taking the dock off the charger I managed to flatten the battery in two and a half days of moderate usage, using it for at least four hours per day, which is pretty good. Occasionally I used the device without the keyboard dock attached (such as for a few hours of GTA III gaming), but once I plugged it back in the dock began juicing up the tablet battery to capacity.

Asus claims the tablet plus keyboard dock can last 15 hours without needing a charge - an expectantly exaggerated value - so I would say you'll probably get around 12-13 hours of usage. The tablet by itself will last a day with moderate usage, but if you are doing more intensive tasks such as a lot of Wi-Fi browsing I would recommend bringing along the keyboard dock for an extra five-or-so hours.

The keyboard dock can increase the battery life by more than five hours

With heavy usage I managed to drain the battery at a reasonable but not huge rate, and via extrapolation (I wasn't going to sit there gaming for hours to test it) I estimate around six hours of intense battery use. Dungeon Defenders is particularly battery draining for some reason, so watch your battery usage to ensure you don't get a surprise when it goes flat.

I'm currently in the process of properly testing the Transformer Pad 300's battery life through a video playback test. The test involves continuous looping of a 720p video at 75% brightness, while in Airplane mode as it doesn't need any internet connectivity, until the battery finally gives out.  The testing is going to take a long time as I also want to do the same test with it attached to the keyboard dock, and I only have limited time with the unit so I hope that I can get it done.

Check back for the final results which I'll add to the table below, and if I have any extra time I will try and get a Wi-Fi browsing battery test done as well.

Device Movie Playback Life
Asus Transformer Pad 300 (+ keyboard dock) 15:39
Asus Transformer Pad 300 10:57

Video Hands-On

As always, I have a short-ish video hands-on overview of the Transformer Pad 300, which can give you a good idea of what the tablet looks like from many angles while going over some of the things I've mentioned above. I also show off the screen flexing issue in the video, so you'll be able to hear and see the effects of that if you were wondering.

The dock also makes an appearance in the video, so if you were wondering how the system docks and un-docks itself, check out around six minutes in to the action.

Conclusion

After spending a good week with the Asus Transformer Pad 300, there is little to hate about the successor to the original Transformer. Sure, the build quality is a little low so there is a small amount of body flex, there is only one rear speaker and the camera is average, but the rest of the device is a really solid performer, especially when the keyboard is involved.

As I originally saw in the HTC One X and also in the Transformer Prime, NVIDIA's Tegra 3 chip is a powerhouse that ensures the TF300T is up to any job you throw at it. Combined with up to 32 GB of storage (plus additional ports) and the great IPS display - not to mention it plays back most popular video formats very well - the Transformer Pad is a fantastic way to consume your media on-the-go.

The keyboard dock, while perhaps a bit thick and hefty, transforms the Transformer into a great work machine for document writing, and the additional battery within is always a bonus. The Pad 300 is suitable for both a work and a play environment when you have the keyboard dock, so it really makes it a worthwhile purchase.

Perhaps the best feature of the Transformer Pad 300 though, is its price. At $100 cheaper than the Transformer Prime for the same amount of storage, it's a no-brainier purchase considering how similar the two devices are; in fact I'd only recommend the Prime if you are after an aluminium finish and a slightly less thick device. Every other time the Transformer Pad 300 is better considering the extra cash you save can go towards the ever-useful keyboard dock.

What's even better? It's $100 cheaper than the lowest-end third-generation iPad, and $200 cheaper when you compare 32 GB models. Even when you spend $499 to get the TF300T plus keyboard dock, you're saving money and still end up with a tablet. Of course, some people may prefer the faster iPad 3 with its Retina display and better app selection, but it doesn't stop this device being a bargain for those wanting an Android tablet.

So I have to applaud Asus, because at this stage the Transformer Pad 300 is in position to be the best Android tablet available.

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