Since that onset of the iPad, we’ve seen the exorbitant growth of the tablet industry. While the iPad still leads the industry in sales, other brands, particularly those running the Android OS, are swiftly gaining ground on those numbers, with predictions of Android sales surpassing those of iOS just over the horizon. You can find a multitude of brands of Android Tablets on the market now, from little known brands such as Pantech all the way to the names of giants like Samsung.
Somewhere in the middle you have a company named ASUS. Now, just a few years ago I would never have imagined ASUS in the PC, Laptop, and Tablet market. They were a hardware manufacturer, and one of my favorites at that. I have not built a computer in the past 10 years that hasn’t had an ASUS Motherboard at its core. The reasons for that are their high standard of quality, excellent customer service, and overall reliability.
Those standards have not been lost on any of their new devices, especially the Transformer Tablet line. I was fortunate enough to receive a TF-300, which is one of the tablets I’ve had my eye on for a long time. When comparing it to the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which is similar in power and mobility, ASUS gives consumers an extra 16 GB of memory for the exact same price tag. At $299 for 32gb, that’s a steal. If memory is still an issue, no worries, they also include an expansion slot in the side for a Micro SD card that will read up to an additional 32gb. I don’t ever see the need for more than 64gb in a tablet any time in the near future.
If tablet gaming is your forte, the TF-300 is the perfect fit, coming out of the box with not only Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), but also the powerful NVidia Tegra 3 processor. It can handle even the most graphically intensive mobile games on the market without even a hiccup. Being a gamer myself, it’s been really fun being able to browse the plethora of games and demos on the Play store as well as the Tegra marketplace that comes pre-installed on the Transformer. Don’t let the “pre-installed” phrasing worry you though, the tablet is actually extremely light on bloat-ware, which is a plus in today’s market where everything seems to come loaded down with “manufacturer recommended software.”
Not everything is rainbows and unicorns, though. While the tablet does run great out of the box on ICS, I did experience some freezing and application crashes before the first major Firmware update. It was extremely frustrating at first, but ASUS was swift in their updates and this only lasted about a week before a firmware flash was downloaded and I was prompted to install it. This seemed to fix the issue for the most part, and I’ve only had two or three software lockups since then, and all on the same app. This leads me to believe it’s just an app problem at this point and has nothing to do with the current OS version.
My other testing scenario came with my work travel. This really put a test not only on the durability of the tablet, but also battery life and its ability to stream Netflix. It has held up fabulously in all instances. For a battery operated device running such a powerful processor as well as a crystal clear screen and wifi, I expected the battery life to be utter crap.
Fortunately, this is not the case. I had charged my tablet before leaving home on a business trip, but then forgot my charger sitting on my kitchen table when I left the house for the airport. I had downloaded a magazine to read on the plane ride, which I did. I used it periodically throughout the days while I was gone, as well as streamed Breaking Bad on Netflix each night in my hotel room. I made it home with a little under 20% battery life remaining… five days later. I was pleasantly surprised.
So, why the Transformer name? Sounds like it should turn into something else. That was my original thought at least. Well, it does – sort of. ASUS was smart in this regard, and it was probably a good marketing scheme too. The only problem is that the “Transformations” can cost quite a bit of money. What they currently offer as the first transformation is a Keyboard dock; this has a built in battery that you can charge, which means when your device is docked, it will actually recharge, as well as use the battery from the dock first before using the battery life from the tablet.
While the keyboard dock can be a great investment, especially if you loathe typing on a screen as much as I do (even though I’ve come to get used to it), the TF-300T – the official dock – will set you back between $120 and $150. I was also fortunate enough to receive one of the keyboards as well, and can attest to its functionality. It’s a great add-on if you can afford it, but the price can definitely be a turn-off, especially if you just threw down over $300 on the tablet. ASUS has plans to offer other Transformer peripherals in the future, such as a speaker dock, but for now there is only the keyboard.
With power, efficiency, and mobility as its prime objectives, the ASUS Transformer TF-300 delivers beautifully. If you’re looking for a decently priced Tablet with excellent application support, then look no further than this. With full Google Play support, you will find any Android app you could ever need.
If gaming or media is your main concern, the Tegra 3 processor will fit your every need. And since I didn’t mention it earlier, the Tablet also has bluetooth functionality, allowing for a Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 controller to be linked up seamlessly with a simple app. This means that if you’re so inclined, you could load up OnLive and stream pretty much any game that you wish right to the tablet. And hey, with the HDMI Out, you could run it right on your TV, making the need for a console obsolete.
With the Android ICS operating system right out of the box, you get the latest and greatest of the Google backbone, as well as free updates to all near-future OS updates, with rumors of a dual boot to Windows 8 also possible (this is not confirmed, just a rumor at this point). Having used an iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab in the past, I can say with authority that this is the best tablet I have used to date, and give it my highest recommendation.