Review

Review: Asus Transformer Pad Infinity (TF700T)

Earlier this year Asus announced two new devices that would be making up the second generation of the Transformer Android tablet line-up: the Transformer Pad 300, which I looked at earlier this year, and the Transformer Pad Infinity (TF700T) which I have with me today.The Infinity is the flagship model in the Transformer line, succeeding the Transformer Prime with improved specs.

The tablet continues similar trends to the Prime, including an aluminium shell, 10.1-inch display and a NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor on the inside. Also, as you might gather from the Transformer name, there is an accompanying keyboard dock that essentially transforms the tablet into a netbook; again, this is made from sturdy aluminium and also packs a battery for extra juice.

A big shout-out to Asus, who kindly provided the 64 GB Wi-Fi version of the Transformer Pad Infinity, plus a keyboard dock, for review. Currently there is no cellular model of the Infinity available, but there should be a 4G LTE touting model coming soon, although with a Snapdragon processor on the inside as opposed to the Tegra 3 in the Wi-Fi model.

Specifications

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity is the display, which is the first Android tablet display I have used that packs a resolution of 1920 x 1200 thanks to a 10.1-inch Super IPS+ display. Compared to a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 display, the pixel density has been increased from 149 ppi to 224 ppi, which should greatly enhance how crisp the screen looks.

Other than that you get an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, in this model bumped up to a 1.6 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex A9 plus the 12-core "Kal-El" ULP GeForce GPU and 1 GB of RAM. The device is also quite thin and light, despite the metal shell, coming in at 8.5mm thin at 598 grams.

  ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity
Product Codes TF700T
GSM Bands N/A
3G/4G Bands N/A
Display 10.1-inch Super IPS+ LCD at 1920 x 1200
224 ppi pixel density
Corning Gorilla Glass
Processor NVIDIA Tegra 3
1.6 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU
Graphics "Kal-El" ULP GeForce GPU
RAM 1 GB
Storage 32/64 GB internal user storage
microSD slot
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
A-GPS
DLNA/Wi-Fi Direct/Wi-Fi Hotspot
Camera 8 MP rear camera with LED flash
2 MP front camera
1080p/30 video recording (rear), 720p/30 recording (front)
Ports 3.5mm audio jack
Micro-HDMI
microSD card slot (exposed)
Dock connector (USB, power)
SD card slot (on dock)
USB port (on dock)
Battery Li-Po 25 Wh mAh non-removable
Launch OS Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich"
Waveshare UI
Launch Date July 2012
Size & Weight 263 x 180.8 x 8.5 mm
589 g
Price US$599 for 64 GB model
AU$999 for 64 GB model with keyboard dock

Design

Unlike a certain other company's tablet I recently reviewed, Asus actually knows how to design and manufacture a tablet that is not only sturdy, but looks great and feels every part the cost of the device. The Transformer Pad 300 used grooved plastic, and while it didn't feel bad in the hands, it isn't really a patch on the aluminium shell of the Transformer Pad Infinity.

The model I received uses champagne-colored aluminium, which looks in a class above what you can get with the Pad 300 and other rival tablets. The shell is absolutely rock solid, with no flex to speak of, giving you a sense that the extra cost put in to the shell will protect it from drops and other like abuse. Likewise, the front is covered with Gorilla Glass, which is impeccably tough and scratch resistant to boot.

As you're paying upwards of $600 to get your hands on this tablet, when your hands physically get on the tablet you're greeted with a fantastic premium feel similar to the renowned superb build qualities of the iPad. The display-covered front is as smooth as you would expect, and the back has a familiar cold metal feel that screams at you to caress it for hours.

While the back is mostly aluminium, to prevent the wireless connectivity issues present in the Transformer Prime, there is a strip of plastic along the top edge that houses the camera, as well as the power button on the left and volume rocker on the right. Naturally this plastic strip cannot completely imitate the superior metal below it, but it tries its hardest and the result isn't too bad. Plus, I'd prefer working Wi-Fi over a completely aluminium shell any day.

The left side of the tablet has, towards the bottom, a 3.5mm headphone jack as well as mini-HDMI port so you can output whatever's on your tablet direct to your HDTV. A bit further up is a microSD port, normally exposed to the open air but after you insert a card, it sits flush against the edge.

On the bottom is the dock connecting ports, the middle of which doubles up as a USB connector for both power and data transfer. It isn't the standard preferred microUSB port, but I can forgive Asus as the proprietary connector is necessary for the dock to function properly.

The Infinity also benefits from being thin (8.5mm) and light (598 grams); a definite positive you'll notice after having to hold the tablet for extended periods of time. Understandably adding the dock ads a bit of heft, but if you want to carry around just tablet, the Infinity is one of the most portable 10.1-inchers out there.

Display

Finally, an Android tablet that doesn't use the aging 1280 x 800 resolution for its display! Here, in the Transformer Pad Infinity, we have a 10.1-inch Super IPS+ display running at 1920 x 1200 - a resolution that allows for 224 ppi. While this isn't as dense as the third generation iPad's 264 ppi display, it is definitely a step in the right direction and the difference compared to older displays is very noticeable.

The WUXGA resolution used with this display allows for text to be supremely crisp compared to a 149 ppi 1280 x 800 display, with edges to individual letters being beautifully sharp. The large pixel count, more than doubled compared to a WXGA display, also means that photos look superb as you gain another level of detail simply not present before.

Naturally it also allows for 1080p videos to be displayed in full, so you might be glad that the Infinity not only packs up to 64 GB of storage but also a microSD card slot; you'll be wanting to load heaps of videos to watch on this fantastic display. Keep in mind though, that the increased resolution will take its toll on the graphics performance as well as battery life, which I'll look at in sections below.

The screen here is also designated as using Super IPS+ TFT LCD technology, which as you might expect improves on the standard IPS panel used in the Transformer Pad 300. Not only are colors vibrantly produced at great viewing angles thanks to a reduced gap between the protective glass and display beneath, but also outdoor readability has been improved over standard IPS displays.

In the software of the Transformer Pad Infinity you can switch between "IPS mode" and "Super IPS+ mode", the latter of which improves the brightness of the display beyond the usual 100% maximum, while performing a couple of other tweaks that enhance how you can see the display outside. The feature works really well, as often if you are reading outside you need an extra brightness boost to combat glare from the sun or nasty reflections.

I continue to be impressed by the technology Asus brings to the table in their Android tablets, and this high-resolution Super IPS+ display sets the bar for any future flagship 10.1-inch tablets.

Software

Note: The software included on the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity is essentially the same as what I saw on the Transformer Pad 300. As such, the remains of the software section of this review have been taken from my Transformer Pad 300 review.

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 Infinity. 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. Both Chrome and the stock Browser is included, perhaps so Chrome desktop users have a familiar go-to point on their new tablet.

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

Like most Android tablets on the market (save for Samsung's), the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity uses an NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset, packing a 1.6 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, plus a 12-core "Kal-El" GPU and 1 GB of RAM. Previous Transformer models using the Tegra 3 have maxed out their CPU at 1.4 GHz (in the Prime), but due to the increased resolution of the Infinity's display the chipset has seen a clock speed boost to compensate.

Apart from the chipset you also get 32 or 64 GB of user storage - in my 64 GB model, 56.3 GB was available to use - plus expansion through a microSD card slot and, if you have the dock, a USB port and SD card slot as well. Connectivity-wise there is single-band (2.4 GHz only) 802.11n Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth 3.0 and A-GPS. As I mentioned earlier, a 3G model will be released soon, but packing different specs such as a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chipset in place of the LTE-unfriendly Tegra 3.

I was surprised to see the Infinity only including Bluetooth 3.0, which unlike the newer 4.0 revision, uses power when turned on and not in use. Single-band Wi-Fi is also a slight disappointment, but to be fair there is still a Wi-Fi bandwidth cap on most mobile devices that prevents any transfer speeds above 65 Mbps, so it's not like you'll be using your full 802.11n bandwidth anyway.

Around the interface and basic apps the Infinity performs as you would expect from a quad-core tablet: no lag, smooth transitions and fast app loading. The increased (read: doubled) pixel count seems to have little effect on the overall performance as the tablet simply flies in apps like Maps, the browser and other everyday tablet apps like The Age and Amazon Kindle.

Compared to Tegra 3 tablets with a 1280 x 800 display, there is a slight performance hit switching to the Infinity with its boosted display resolution, although it's not as much as you would think considering the huge increase in resolution. The increased clockpeed of the processor appears to be accompanied by an increase in graphics clock as well, helping to cancel the effects of more screen real estate to render to.

The Transformer Pad Infinity isn't as fast as the Galaxy Note and its Mali-400 MP4 graphics chip, but it's still a performance beast that allows you to enjoy pretty much all games available at an acceptable frame rate. Plus, as this is a NVIDIA Tegra 3 machine, you'll get TegraZone benefits such as exclusive games made for Tegra 3 tablets, as well as optimized performance in a number of other apps.

Below we have the usual five benchmarks for Android devices.

As you'll notice from the above benchmarks, the Transformer Pad Infinity edges past its Tegra 3 competition in the Prime (1.4 GHz) and the Pad 300 (1.2 GHz) thanks to a higher clockspeed. It falls short to the Exynos 4 Quad in all benchmarks, which highlights just how fast Samsung's chipset is considering the Tegra 3 is also mighty powerful.

In the graphics benchmarks you'll see what Asus has done to compensate the increased resolution. In GLBenchmark, which uses a fixed resolution test, the Infinity shows an increase in graphics processing power of around 22% compared to the Prime and Pad 300. Despite having 125% more pixels to render to, the Infinity is only 14% slower compared to a predicted slowdown of around 40% had the GPU stayed the same.

Again, the Exynos 4 Quad outpaces the Infinity by a decent amount, but it doesn't seem to stop this tablet from being speedy in pretty much all situations.

Camera

Another tablet, another average camera. Not that it really matters though, because I don't imagine photography is high on your priorities list when you go out to purchase a tablet; in fact the entire time I have been testing camera-wielding tablets I haven't had a single legitimate use to take photos other than for the review.

Anyway the camera on the Transformer Pad Infinity is an 8-megapixel shooter with an LED flash, plus 1080p video recording. Unfortunately I was really short on time and not able to have a look at the video recording, but I did manage to snap some shots of various things.

Like with most tablet cameras (and I'm not really sure why), there seems to be a problem where colors are washed out in pretty much every scenario. The dynamic range is low, meaning any indoor shots with windows shows considerable glare, and often shots with low levels of lighting end up with a decent amount of grain from using a high ISO.

Below is a selection of shots I took with the camera on the Infinity:

Media Playback

The Infinity performs, in the media playback department, identically to its lower end brother in the Transformer Pad 300. You only get one rear speaker on the right-hand side, which is disappointing because when you are watching a movie without headphones the sound is definitely skewed to that side. The speaker is loud though, so you should have no problems sharing media with some mates nearby.

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 Infinity doesn't live quite up to this, it's still decent for listening to music.

Also, the video playback test gives essentially the same results as the Transformer Pad 300. You get a wide band of codec support, although if you have 6-channel audio embedded in your movies it is best if this is encoded in AAC rather than AC3 or DTS. The display on the Infinity facilitates native 1080p playback, which means if you have the videos, you'll get superb clarity at what appears to be no performance hit compared to the 720p Pad 300.

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); MX Player no longer supports DTS so there is no sound playback under any mode
THX Amazing Life  (.mt2s)
1920x1080 H.264 video at 9011 kbps
AC3 6ch audio at 640 kbps
Recognized but unsupported Stutters in either video or audio playback, but it looks great on the 1080p display
MysteryGuitarMan  (.mp4)
1920x1080 H.264 video at 2701 kbps
AAC 2ch audio at 128 kbps
Perfect playback Perfect playback using hardware decoding

Keyboard Dock

One of the major optional accessories that you can purchase for the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity is the keyboard dock, which enables the tablet to transform into a 10.1-inch netbook. The keyboard dock provides a hardware, 6-row QWERTY keyboard, trackpad, an extra battery that lasts for around five hours, and a few extra ports.

Like the Infinity, the keyboard dock is made from solid, and expensive-feeling aluminium. At its thickest point, the keyboard is thicker than the tablet at around 1.1mm, so when you dock the two and shut the "lid" the combination is quite thick and hefty; this unfortunately decreases the portability of the tablet, so it's only really ideal if you know you're going to be doing a lot of typing on the Infinity.

The keyboard is small, but far easier to type on than the on-screen touch keyboard. It's still not patch on a full-sized desktop keyboard, but you can easily make do for some quick email typing or document editing - if you haven't figured, the keyboard dock is not an essential accessory for those just using their tablet for a few games and movies.

Apart from the increased battery life and easier typing, you also get a full-sized USB port and SD card slot on the right hand side of the dock. This makes it really easy to plug in photos straight from a camera, or to read documents of a USB stick that a coworker suddenly hands you when you're not at your desktop. Sure, it doesn't turn your tablet into an actual notebook, but it's a handy accessory to complement it.

Battery Life

The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity is reasonably thin and light, but it still manages to pack a 25 Wh battery underneath the aluminium exterior. This means you should find a decent amount of battery power, hopefully lasting a couple of days of moderate usage.

Whenever I have a tablet in my possession I use it most for reading the news, browsing the web, performing quick searches and occasionally watching videos and gaming. I unfortunately only had the Transformer Pad Infinity for a week, but in this time the tablet easily last 2-3 days for this sort of usage, which is definitely above the pass mark for a tablet.

If you were to use the tablet non-stop for a full day, I would expect 8-9 hours of usage - conveniently backed up by my battery test below. Yes, the Transformer Pad 300 lasts longer with a slightly smaller battery, and the difference is almost certainly caused by the higher clocked chipset along with the brighter Super IPS+ display (especially at 75% used through the test).

Also, the battery found in the Transformer line's keyboard dock remains unchanged with the Infinity, delivering around five hours of extra juice. When the tablet is docked, the battery in the dock begins delivering juice to the tablet once it dips below 75% and continues to intermittently deliver juice while the two are joined.

Device Movie Playback Life
ASUS Transformer Pad 300 (+ keyboard dock) 15:39
ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity (+ keyboard dock) 13:29
ASUS Transformer Pad 300 10:57
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 9:08
ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity 8:24
Acer Icona Tab A200 6:35

Above are the results of the battery test I conduct, which involves playing a 720p video on repeat, at 75% display brightness and in airplane mode until the battery dies. With the Infinity, 75% is particularly bright so you'll probably find a lower level is more suitable for indoor viewing, which in turn will increase the battery life.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for a flagship Android tablet that packs all the bells and whistles, there are few options that are as good as the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity (TF700T). Perhaps the standout is the display, coming in at a very crisp resolution of 1290 x 1200 on a vibrant Super IPS+ LCD panel that is remarkably easy to read outdoors.

I also have to praise the strong aluminium build quality of the tablet, which compared to the cheap plastic crap we're subjected to from Samsung is a fresh breath of air. The performance of the Tegra 3 chip also holds up well against other flagship tablets, and the battery life hit from the increase clock speed and larger screen resolution isn't too bad at all.

There's also the keyboard dock, which is a great addition for a worker on the go not only because it provides a much easier platform to type on, but also increases the battery life by around five hours. And you won't be complaining about a dodgy OEM skin put on the OS because the modifications made by Asus are minimal, and in some cases removable.

For the 64 GB model plus keyboard dock I was told that would set you back a whopping AU$999, perhaps a bit too expensive for this sort of device considering that can buy you a decent full-sized laptop. I hear in the United States the 64 GB model without the keyboard sets you back $599, which is a much more reasonable price and one that could be easily justified considering the package as a whole.

The Transformer line continues to deliver quality products, and the Transformer Pad Infinity is no exception.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity official website
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16 Comments

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How did it happen that it's being compared with Acer A200, not with Acer A701, which is available for over 3 months already, has 3G support, cost cheaper than TF700T in 32GB version and much cheaper in 64GB version?

coth said,
How did it happen that it's being compared with Acer A200, not with Acer A701, which is available for over 3 months already, has 3G support, cost cheaper than TF700T in 32GB version and much cheaper in 64GB version?

Because Acer hasn't given me one.

I have the T300 model and its great no complaints at all cept for the lack of support from sites to watch shows and I think the speaker could be a little louder when I stream in watch espn.

whitedragon said,
Great review!
One question: Were the benchmarks run with the Infinity in 'Balanced' mode or 'Performance' mode?

In all of my reviews I never change anything from the default settings while testing performance, so it would have been on whatever is the default

Still, picture the Infinity packing WindowsRT - not Android ICS. (It's certainly doable.)

The hardware is plenty capable (even in the TF-300T iteration of the Transformer Prime, which is the model I looked at).

One other note. Asus if you are reading this, please make a desktop dock for the Transformer Book. I could easily see docking this and having all of my peripherals connected via USB and have at least 1 or two external monitors hooked up. Having a stationary dock with my keyboard, mouse, printer, external hard drives/NAS, ethernet, all hooked up and a simple release to "grab my tablet and go" would be a great selling point to businesses and individuals. You could also have a discrete graphics card option in the base so gamers could run most if not all of their Steam games. I'm sure alot of us would love that.

My coworker has one and I got to play with it for a while. We both loved the form factor design and quality of the HW. Where it lacks is the OS. Android is fine for a consumption device, but he was hoping this would be a reasonable replacement for his laptop. Android is just not designed for proper multitasking to make it productive. He couldn't for example have a web browser, telnet session, several notepad docs open, and an RDP session open to work on a server. Its fine if you want to do one or maybe two things at once, but otherwise it was just too cumbersome. We did love the form factor and again the HW was really nice, but we're now looking to the Transformer Book with discrete graphics, a second HD, long battery life, and Windows 8 as our solution. All of these "features" were not final when announced at Computex so we have to see the final but we are very excited about this. We'll evaluate it when it comes out.

Damn detailed review & plenty of pics, nicely done.

To put on your to do list: Clean desk and wipe down your draw - look at that dust!

Osiris said,
Damn detailed review & plenty of pics, nicely done.

To put on your to do list: Clean desk and wipe down your draw - look at that dust!

good thing my desk is never on a review note.