ASUS Transformer Pad 300 Review

22 thumbs up
ASUS didn’t mess with a good thing by overdressing Android’s stock Ice Cream Sandwich, but the company did bake in a few tweaks of its own.

The home screen is well-organized, with pertinent information such as the time, date, and weather prominently displayed, and there’s just a lone row of frequently-used apps at the bottom, including Browser, YouTube, Camera, Gallery, SuperNote, Music (Google), the Google Play Store, and Gmail.



     

Over in the lower right corner of the home screen, you can bring up ASUS’ Quick Setting panel with single tap. From there you can see your network connection status, battery status of both the dock and tablet, and a quick link to settings. There's also a section where you can set the tablet to Power Saving, Balanced, or Performance mode. (Note that previous Transformers had “Balanced” and “Normal” modes.)

WiFi and Bluetooth, the screen’s auto-rotate, silent mode, and auto sync can all be toggled on and off, and there are brightness controls and notifications of various items such as whether or not the tablet is docked.

     

ASUS kept its home screens nice and uncluttered, leaving the user to add most of his or her preferred widgets. Indeed, there are widgets aplenty, which are accessible from the main apps page. One notable ASUS widget is MyZine, which gives sort of a snapshot of various activities and items such as email alerts, music, weather, and photo slideshows. There’s also an ASUS Task Manager widget that shows apps usage percentage and a bright ASUS Battery widget, as well.

     

ASUS’ file manager is simple and straightforward, with subfolder access that keeps you on track with a left-side file tree, as well as shortcuts to your Picture, Camera, Music, and Download folders.

The Settings area features a nice data usage app, which will of course be more handy if and when ASUS packs in 3G or 4G capabilities. ASUS put in its own Customized Settings section within Settings, which includes controls for a variety of features such as screenshots, performance modes, touchpad and mouse functions, and battery options. There are plenty of other goodies onboard, too, including MyNet, AppBackup, MyLibrary, MyCloud, TegraZone, AppLocker, and Movie Studio.

Thanks to Ice Cream Sandwich, the Transformer Pad 300 also has better overall responsiveness than previous Transformers, some font improvements for more pleasing Web browsing, and WiFi Direct, which enables content streaming between your devices.

The 8MP camera is about what you’d expect at this point in time from a mobile device’s camera: it’s good--very good, actually--but not great. Images are excellent with natural light and slightly less impressive indoors. Indoor shooting is made more difficult by the absence of a flash, which is a feature that was present in the Transformer Prime.


     

However, ASUS isn’t ignoring the camera performance here; it has a backlit CMOS sensor to reduce image noise, f/2.2 aperture (the Transformer Prime’s camera offered f/2.4), and a five-element lens. Further, the camera can shoot video at 30fps in full 1080p HD; it doesn’t get much better than that on a tablet.

The camera interface is nominally different from what we saw on the Transformer Prime--the look of the shutter button has been tweaked and the settings and options are organized a little differently--but it’s largely the same. Probably the most notable difference is in how the zoom control works; the Transformer Pad 300 has a neat half-moon slider on the right side of the screen that fits the thumb’s arc perfectly.

The UI offers a thumbnail of the last image you took at the top of the screen; below that is the focus control and shutter; and below those are buttons for selecting between the camera, camcorder, or panorama feature. There are myriad settings you can play with, including different lighting situations, white balance, dynamic autofocus, and a slew of different scene modes. Further, you can incrementally adjust the exposure settings, choose between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios, adjust the ISO (up to 800 maximum, it appears), and more. Also note that there are plenty of editing options in the Gallery app when it’s time to work some magic on your images.

When in camcorder mode, the setting options change a bit. You can shoot in 1080p, 720p, or 480p, adjust the time lapse interval, and opt for a variety of wacky in-camera effects and backgrounds. If you have kids, the camera app alone is something they could become obsessed with for an entire weekend.

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You have failed to understand that the 300 is not a replacement for the prime, so saying the issue that prime performs as good if not better than the 300 is a silly. On top of that the 300 is is £100 cheaper than the prime which is still suffering from gps issues.

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TDuberry, sorry but we'd disagree with that statement. We weren't claiming the 300 is a replacement for the Prime. It is a replacement for original Transformer though, which makes it an alternative to the Prime. So, saying performance isn't demonstrably better than the Prime isn't off base. This is an option in the market versus the Prime, which is understood clearly. It has fewer features and a lower price, it's apples and oranges but people always want to understand performance.

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Very informative. Thanks for the review Dave.

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So if I can get this plus the dock for cheaper than an iPad, is there still a reason to get the iPad?

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CDeeter:

So if I can get this plus the dock for cheaper than an iPad, is there still a reason to get the iPad?

I say no unless you are already part of Apple's ecosystem.

 

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I don't know if i am misreading or something...but does the 300 have 3g support or not?

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No, there is no cellular connectivity in the device at all.

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how heavy is the keyboard attachment?

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All of 546 grams, according to the article....

Henri

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Hey Dave,

I don't want to speak for everyone out there, but there is alot of us wondering what is the best tablet for my dollar amount, or the "biggest bang for my buck"? What is your personal opinion on the tablets?

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