Asus Transformer Pad 300T

Asus takes the best of the Transformer Prime and cuts the price without too many meaningful shortcuts. The 300T is better than most tablets and notebooks at this price.


9.0
CNET Rating
6.3
User Rating

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Asus has carved itself a niche in the tablet-computer market, one which hasn't been replicated to date. While other manufacturers struggle to find unique selling points to sway tablet buyers away from the iPad, the Asus Transformer series continues to find fans. The 300T is the latest in the series, but it isn't designed to supersede the Transformer Prime. Instead, the 300T is a lower-priced alternative.

Design

The most obvious difference between the 300T and the Prime is the shift in materials used to house these computers. Asus spared no expense with the Prime and its aluminium chassis, while the 300T has a more cheerful, playful aesthetic, being wrapped in coloured plastic. Our review unit is a deep blue, featuring a fine-ridged texture like a giant fingerprint across the back of the unit. This feels nice to hold, and provides grip for the unit — an important element for any tablet.

Curiously, the 300T is heavier than the aluminium-clad Transformer Prime, with a 635-gram weight for the tablet portion only (the dock adds a further 546 grams). It's thicker, too, at 9.9mm, but not so much that it should make any difference to anyone comparing the 300T with the Prime — or any of its other competitors, for that matter.

The combined weight of the tablet and dock is about 1.2kg.
(Credit: Asus)

What will be less obvious to the casual tablet shopper is that Asus has chosen to use a standard IPS LCD display on the 300T, rather than the Super IPS variant that we saw on the Prime. Without the "Super" prefix, this IPS screen may seem like a big step down, but we're not really convinced that it is. Our review unit displays bright, colourful images; crisp, strong whites; and has excellent off-axis viewing angles. Nitpickers will spot the difference with the Prime, but for the price, the 300T beats most other tablet displays (and many notebook screens) hands down.

Docks, plugs and switches

Of course, what makes the Transformer series so interesting is the keyboard dock accessory. In Australia, the 300T SKU is sold with the dock bundled with the tablet, unlike previous models, where there had been options to buy the tablet by itself. Even though a dockless SKU would make for a cheaper tablet still, we feel that this approach is best, as it's the dock that really makes this package worthwhile.

The dock isn't just a keyboard and a stand, the way that many third-party Bluetooth keyboard accessories are. The Transformer dock includes a track-pad mouse with a single selection key, and, more importantly, its own battery. When you connect the tablet, you begin using the dock's battery power first, so that when you undock it and take it on the road, the tablet should still have most of its charge remaining. It doesn't double the battery life of the tablet, but it does expand it significantly — by up to 50 per cent in our tests.

It also expands the connectivity of the tablet alone, adding a full-sized USB host port, an SD card slot to the tablet's 3.5 headphone socket, micro HDMI out and microSD memory expansion. By itself, the tablet is much the same as the other Android tablets we've reviewed so far this year, but with the dock it's much more akin to a lightweight portable computer.

Compared to

Acer Iconia A510 Asus Transformer 300T Motorola Xoom 2 iPad (32GB)
Nvidia Tegra 3
quad-core 1.3GHz
Nvidia Tegra 3
quad-core 1.2GHz
TI OMAP 4430
dual-core 1.2GHz
Apple A5X
dual-core 1GHz
10.1-inch LCD
1280x800 pixels
10.1-inch LCD
1280x800 pixels
10.1-inch LCD
1280x800 pixels
9.7-inch LCD
2048x1536 pixels
32GB plus microSD card expansion 32GB plus microSD, SD card and USB 32GB plus microSD card expansion 32GB
AU$492* AU$599* AU$720* AU$649*

*Prices correct at time of writing, but likely to change.

User experience and performance

Like its big brother, the Prime, the 300T runs on the latest Nvidia quad-core Tegra 3 processor, clocked at 1.2GHz. There's also 1GB of RAM under the hood, which, combined with the Tegra chip, has proven to be a successful and powerful combination for the latest generation of Android tablets running Ice Cream Sandwich firmware. It's not different here, and although the 300T is several hundred dollars cheaper than the Prime, you'd be hard pressed to find evidence of that in the way this machine performs.

The user experience remains largely Google's work, with only some minor adjustments by Asus, most of which are custom-made widgets and Live Wallpaper options. Using the 300T is a smooth, seamless experience; there is very little in the way of processing lag or visual stutters when switching screens and swiping pages. With the dock attached, you get a mouse cursor to control the system, though you can still use the touchscreen if you prefer.

Battery life is great, as we alluded to above. Without the dock, the 300T has similar longevity as its nearest competition, clocking in at about 7.5 hours of continuous video playback with the brightness pumped up to its maximum setting. Add the dock and its battery, and the running time leaps up to a very impressive 12 hours. That's enough to entertain you on a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, minus two hours for eating and napping.

Overall

Android tablets have seriously struggled to keep pace with the momentum of Apple and its iPad. With its Transformer range, Asus has created a compelling reason to reconsider an Android tab, with an ingenious dock accessory and much-needed extra connectivity. The 300T doesn't bring anything new to this concept, but it does make it cheaper. At its current price of AU$599, the Transformer Pad 300T is cheaper than a Wi-Fi-only iPad with a comparable 32GB of storage, and is competitively priced compared to other Android tablets from Acer, Samsung, Motorola and Sony. It's up to you whether you prefer the premium aluminium build of the Transformer Prime, but, all things considered, we'd opt for the 300T.

It's not just the tablet shopper who should consider this device, either; the 300T stacks up well against netbooks and 11-inch notebooks, as well. You'll need to make sure that you can get all of the apps you need to cover your workflow (basic Microsoft Office documents are supported out of the box), but its outstanding battery life and its 1.2kg combined weight should sway you, and its screen is far better than what you'll find on notebooks in this price range. It's definitely worth a look.

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Post comment as
biancoceleste
8
Rating
 

"Great tablet."

biancoceleste posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Performance and battery life. Near stock UI.

The Bad:Screen is nothing special. Asus proprietary port.

First time tablet owner and am enjoying this one after a month of ownership.

Build quality and hardware are great. UI being near vanilla Android is a plus.

Would have given a 10 if the screen was better and it used a micro USB port instead of the proprietary one.

I haven't got or used the keyboard attachment as I simply wanted a tablet and don't need it.

I use it mostly for games, reading the news and internet browsing.

lplusg
1
Rating
 

"Last Asus I will buy"

lplusg posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Never worked long enough to know

The Bad:Everything

Bought one three days ago after reading your review, after a full over night charge I turned it on yesterday.
I did not think it was running well.
And I was right after 20 minutes it black out never to return again.
Returned to store today and was given my money back no problem.
Sales person's comment was "you are not the first mate, as soon as the stock is gone so are we"
That does not ring well.

 

AlanB3 posted a comment   

I recently bought a tf300t( only the tablet, no keyboard station). I have to say this tablet has without a doubt exceeded my expectations. Transferring files between my laptop and this device is quick and easy. Simply drag and drop( any files, music, movies, ect.). The android platform is open market and doesn't attempt to place a"$" on everything, so you own the music or movie not rent them(Itunes). While it's true that Apple does have more applications, its not by much. At least not with any significant applications. Any important applications are made available for both platforms by now, unless you need another application to make fart noises. Also the android platform does have flash support ( you can easily get flash for your device if it didn't already come with it), where as Apple does not and will never have flash support. The keyboard dock is a great conecept, but you must keep in mind that this is a tablet. Although with a little ingenuity you can accomplish many things, it is ultimately still a tablet. So if you want a laptop, buy a laptop. Though it may seem I dislike Apple products, this isn't true. I am a big fan of their products, but I'm also a fan of logic and facts. If you're already within the Apple ecosystem, than maybe that has weight on your decision. I personally care more about function than to be an elitist.

ElizabethAPM
5
Rating
 

"Smart Idea, could really be improved..."

ElizabethAPM posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Portable, USB, detachable keyboard

The Bad:No Adobe Flash Player, the amount of problems I'm having

The Asus Transformer Pad is a really smart idea. It is lightweight which makes it even more portable than a normal laptop. I love the way it has a USB port, that is really handy. The detachable keyboard makes me love it more. I hate typing on a tablet, so this would have really helped me. But if I had known about all of the problems it has (I got it as a Christmas present) I wouldn't have gotten it. Firstly, When I charge the Asus the keyboard will sometimes not charge. I don't know if the keyboard is supposed to die 2x quicker either. My mousepad on my dock does not work either. It was for a while (Like not even 24 hours), but then it stopped. My tablet also disconnects from the dock occasionally. This is unacceptable!

I cannot believe this does not have Adobe Flash Player! It is not on the Google Play Store and when I go onto the site, it says you need Adobe to view it! That is a load of crap. Next time, Add Adobe and fix all those damn problems!

Apart from all the problems, it is not bad as a tablet. But if you just want the tablet, get an iPad instead. It would be the same for a cheaper price. Asus (or whoever makes these) should really fix these problems. But even if they do, I'm not going to pay the $900 for it when I already have the dud. I'm going back to old-fashioned normal laptops.

Maxxy69
9
Rating
 

"Extremely happy with the TF300"

Maxxy69 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Full USB and card reader in the keyboard dock (my 250gb external hard drive works a treat with it). Top quality screen and graphics Sound quality is surprisingly good It's not an Apple product

The Bad:Didn't come with Flash installed. Couldn't download Flash from the Play store (but downloaded it direct from Adobe).

Awesome little beast, very happy with the TF300 - I do like the keyboard dock, which you really don't have to use if you just want the tablet (really Smokehead, you must be an Apple fanboi)... Love having the full USB in the keyboard dock so that I can plug in my external hard drive. The screen and graphics are very good quality same for the audio, couldn't be much more happier with my purchase.

thecadean
9
Rating
 

"Fast , lightweight, easy to use"

thecadean posted a review   
United States

The Good:Optional custom key pad, long battery life, speakers

The Bad:like all pads, not good in sunlight

Trash the ipad and pick up the most flexible tablit on the market.. I own both the ipad and the latest Asus 300t. Sure the ipad has a metal casing and feels solid. But, when it come to downloading, playing and transfering photos and music the Asus is king. Personally, I like to own my music and have rips my cd collection and photos to my computer. As you know, on the iTunes (read apple rents you your songs) platform, Apple intentionally make it very difficult to transfer between other computers and devices. File trasfers of i-tunes and non i-tunes songs and movies are a snap on the Android platform. Oh- and you can add your own 32 gig memory card... very nice.
The Asus pad is super fast, light and durable. I will be picking up one for each of my 2 college students with the click in keyboard.
Why pay twice as much for twice the problems. Save the $$, Remember this is tech.. and in 3 years your will be trading up to the new latest gadget.

 

creartsculture posted a reply   
Australia

Hi! I'm Mac/Samsung and now thinking about using Asus for a tablet. Maxxy69 made me realise I can use my Google Play account from Samsung, on the Asus (a Plus). And now you suggest my biggest Apple gripe - the clunky song transfers are now easier on Asus! Can you tell me how? Also if you can tell me also is it easy to back up - do Asus use it's own platform or is it just plug and play/drag and drop.

Thanks for your feedback on my Qs.

SmokeHead
4
Rating
 

"Poor design concept"

SmokeHead posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Keyboard

The Bad:Cheap feel, poorly implemented idea

Keyboard is too light - risks the tablet toppling over. USB only on the keyboard, so you'd need the keyboard docked to access USB. Really cheap feel to the unit. The hinge between keyboard and unit juts out and doesn't seem to sit naturally. And at nearly $600, you might as well buy a proper fully-functioning laptop. A really poor design concept in my book - it doesn't know if it's a laptop or a tablet and ends up failing at both. I much prefer the A510 just on look and feel. You can keep your keyboard.

 

creartsculture posted a reply   
Australia

Hi! What is the A510? Thank you am shopping around and not sure whether to buy a tablet or a notebook and trying to avoid Windows ....

 

Im Batman posted a comment   
Australia

Wow... good score, incredible even
So combination of good functionality and price have made it a winning combination.
Must be a worthy competitor!!

Hopefully Android / Google hold true to their "doubling down" on tablets this year and support the developers to produce apps that take advantage of the OS.
The shopper needs to feel supported.

 

Marvin GiffordD posted a comment   

COOL!!

maleerat
8
Rating
 

"ok"

maleerat posted a review   

The Good:price

The Bad:desire

i am looking forward to see the real one in Thailand. The price is reasonable for me. Thank you.




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User Reviews / Comments  Asus Transformer Pad 300T

  • biancoceleste

    biancoceleste

    Rating8

    "First time tablet owner and am enjoying this one after a month of ownership.

    Build quality and hardware are great. UI being near vanilla Android is a plus.

    Would have give..."

  • lplusg

    lplusg

    Rating1

    "Bought one three days ago after reading your review, after a full over night charge I turned it on yesterday.
    I did not think it was running well.
    And I was right after 20 minutes it bl..."

  • AlanB3

    AlanB3

    "I recently bought a tf300t( only the tablet, no keyboard station). I have to say this tablet has without a doubt exceeded my expectations. Transferring files between my laptop and this device is qu..."

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