01
Jul
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With the flagship Transformer Pad Infinity (TF700) release right around the corner and the release of the budget-oriented Transformer Pad (TF300) a few months ago, Asus has filled out it's line-up of 10" quad-core Android tablets. Obviously, most people would opt for the highest of the high-end (that'd be the TF700) if they were just looking to blow money. Unfortunately, most people aren't just looking for ways to spend as much money as possible, so instead, they spend enough to cover their needs.

First, I've provided a handy-dandy chart to let you compare the major (and some of the minor) talking points of each tablet. Next, I'll run through a list of the big pros and cons for each, then copy and paste in the conclusion from my review. I've also provided links to the full-length review of each tablet, in case you need more details or want to get a (hopefully) clearer impression.

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So, without further ado, let's take a look at the differences between each of the three 10" tablets offered by Asus and hopefully figure out which one would be the best fit for you.

Spec Sheet

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Transformer Pad 300 (TF300)

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Our Review

Pros

  • Cheap. $380 for a current-gen tablet? Yes please.
  • One of those rare cases where "budget" doesn't mean "underpowered." It may not be the performance king, but it's no slouch.
  • The materials scream budget, but the actual fit and finish isn't bad.
  • It's the thickest and heaviest of the bunch, yet it's still comfortable to hold, even for extended periods.

Cons

  • Even if it is the best deal, it's still a budget tablet. Cheap materials are a dead giveaway.
  • The screen is definitely budget. It's not bad, but the black levels and brightness aren't going to blow you away, especially if you're in a bright room or in the sunlight.

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The colors on the TF700 (right) are more muted than on the TF201/300, but it's only noticeable when directly compared to another tablet.

You should buy if: you're on a budget and want a 10" Android tablet.

The TL;DR review: "With a starting point of $380 and packing a quad-core Tegra 3 CPU, the TF300T offers a compelling package. It's a lot like a Corvette ZR1: blazing-fast, but swathed in plastic and made with a few compromises to keep it (relatively) cheap. Then again, that's probably an acceptable trade-off for most people - myself included."

Transformer Prime (TF201)

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Our Review

Pros

  • The thinnest and lightest of the 3.
  • Aluminum build is more attractive and more durable.
  • Mid-range price for the mid-range device.... and mid-range is usually the sweet spot.
  • Better, brighter screen than the TF300.

Cons

  • WiFi and GPS problems. You won't be using Navigation a lot.
  • The price difference between the 201 and the 700 probably won't be a lot, and the 700 is a much better device.
  • The aluminum marks and shows scratches absurdly easy. I don't care how much you baby it, you will end up with some scuffs.

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Again, notice the difference in colors (TF201 left, TF700 right).

You should buy if: you can't afford the TF700, but want something a little slimmer and more durable than the TF300.

The TL;DR review: "There's a lot to take into consideration here. First, we're looking at a lot of all new technology and some impressive capabilities that heretofore haven't been seen. Not only does it pack more power and new features, but it manages to do so in an even smaller package than we're used to, and at a decent price point, to boot. On the one hand, a starting price of $500 seems like a weakness... until you consider that a 32GB Galaxy Tab 10.1 costs $600 despite no longer having the lead in sex appeal, and being blown out of the water on the hardware front.  Then again, a lack of a $400 16GB model could put the Prime above what some people can afford, and that's unfortunate, because it's quite the tablet on its own - throw the $150 dock into the equation, and you've got a hell of a device on your hands."

Transformer Pad Infinity (TF700)

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Our Review

Pros

  • Despite being just slightly thicker and heavier than the Prime, it actually feels better in-hand, and to hold for extended periods.
  • Beautiful, crisp screen. Best black levels and viewing angles of the bunch.
  • The best performance of the 3, and likely on the market today.
  • Great GPS and WiFi performance.
  • As with the Prime, the aluminum build inspires confidence.

Cons

  • The connection to the dock seems finicky.
  • As with the Prime, the aluminum is scratch-tastic.
  • The most expensive, with an entry cost of a not-insubstantial $500.

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TF201 left, TF700 right.

You should buy if: you want the best 10" tablet available.

The TL;DR review: "If you're considering purchasing an Android tablet today, it's a crowded - but finally mature - market. Even looking only at Asus, the company will be offering the TF700, TF201 (slotting below the 700 once it's up to speed), and TF300 (lowest rung), and that's without mentioning the LTE/S4 variant(s). If you're a consumer, it's a great market to be in. And if you can afford to spring for the Infinity, it's a great device that's got the power, screen, build, and dimensions to make sure it stays competitive for the near future."

For All Three

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Pros

  • ASUS has shown some serious dedication to getting both Android and maintenance updates out the door quickly. And although they make their flagship devices the priority, they don't neglect older ones.
  • NVIDIA pushes their Tegra platform hard, and it shows in THD games. They always have included visual punch, and sometimes hit the market first or include additional content.
  • All three choices are very close in terms of power and features, yet span a range of prices and features. At both ends of the spectrum you have great choices.
  • MicroSD slots on all 3, and SD slots on all 3 docks.

Cons

  • The speaker is on the back of all three. I'd much rather have it on the bottom. Or top. Or sides. Or front. Or include a little bluetooth speaker. Or literally anywhere but the opposite side of the device as my ears, pointing the wrong way.
  • This only applies to those who would buy and use the dock, but the trackpad doesn't have palm recognition. Typing up an email and accidentally brush the touchpad? Best case scenario, you just moved the cursor and started typing somewhere else without realizing it. Worst case scenario, you just sent a partially-completed email (that ends mid-sentence and probably mid-word) without even proofreading the part you did send. I've had all four Transformers now, and I've had to leave the trackpad permanently off for all 4.
  • Spotty light bleed around the edges. Granted, it's only noticeable when the image is dark, but it's been a problem with all four.
  • Price. With the $200 Nexus 7 - an official Google device - right around the corner, these tablets have become a much harder sell basically overnight. They offer a more premium experience in terms of size (10" is much better for watching movies/TV/etc.) and a little more power, and offer a sleeker package, but is that worth a $200-400 premium?

Benchmarks

I ran three benchmarks: Smartbench 2012, Quadrant, and GLBenchmark 2.1 (Egypt, offscreen). In Smartbench, you'll notice that the gaming scores are lower on the Infinity - obviously, due to the fact that it has more than twice as many pixels. Otherwise, the Infinity clearly dominated every single benchmark (including GLBenchmark, since running the offscreen test eliminates screen resolution as a factor).

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Since a few people vented to me that digitizer performance was sorely underappreciated in tablets, I ran a simple "test" using Sketchbook Mobile and a capacitive stylus: draw an X from corner to corner, write the name of the tablet, and maybe doodle a little. The results more or less speak for themselves, but in a nutshell: Prime is crap, TF300 is good, and TF700 is fantastic.

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Conclusion

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It's a great time to be in the 10" Android tablet market. Even the cheapest tablet here - the TF300 - offers the bulk of the premium Android tablet experience. Scale up to the pricier TF700, and you have even more power and a much higher-resolution screen.

No matter what end of the spectrum you look at, the Android tablets are sittin' pretty.

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sylvain.duford Sylvain Duford

    Is the TF700 ready to be light-duty laptop replacement?

    • DingieM

      TF101 is already light-duty ready

      • ChrisM

         all the transformer tablets are absolutely ready to be a laptop replacement. As it goes, not having a desktop PC for about 10 years now, I will never again buy a laptop and get a really powerful desktop for photoshop/premiere instead, otherwise work on my beautiful tf300t

        • Striderevil

          I thought about this as a laptop replacement and it makes sense to have a desktop at home as this would replace my laptop almost completely. 

          • UICJason

            It depends... Professionally speaking, lots of higher-end design software (Adobe CS, Autodesk AutoCAD/Revit, etc.) is not produced in tablet form and doing mobile presentations demands an OSX or Windows-based laptop. If all you are using is productivity apps such as office suites and pdf readers, and web-browsing the rest of the time, the Transformer series w/ keyboard should suit you fine. Check what apps you need and whether they are actually available prior to completely abandoning laptops.

    • Tyler Chappell

      Most definitely.  And I know that I will even be using my Nexus 7 in such a way when it arrives that it will nearly be a laptop replacement for me.  When classes start backup, I'll be pulling my N7 out of my backpack far more than my laptop, unless I need to use Office or Photoshop.

  • http://twitter.com/TheGermian Germian

    Very nice comparison. But yeah, that's too much tablet for me to be honest. I'm okay with the Nexus 7 (whenever that comes out here).

  • Mekerz86

    I'm sorry to say this Aaron, but as a TF201 owner, I think you've missed covering the burning question that's on every ones lips.

    Whilst you've mentioned the terrible GPS and WiFI performance of the TF201, you've failed to mention the absolutely awful I/O performance which makes the Prime produce "Application not responding" (ANR) left right and centre.

    I believe the TF300 suffers from the same issue and I really want to understand if the TF700 also has poor I/O issues. Reading XDA, it appears Asus' kernel tree for the TF201 is using MMC code that's two year's older than that of the mainline Linux and Tegra4Linux trees.

    I feel it's important for Android community sites to provide consumers with such information about units they're testing and reviewing. Otherwise us consumers will continue to fall victims to poor levels of quality testing that manufacturers appear happy to release products through. I'm livid with Asus for being completely happy to let Prime owners suffer worse performance than budget tablets that cost half as much as the TF201.

    They're not the only manufacturer to point the finger at, HTC are just as bad with the WiFi issue on the HTC One X.

    • AaronGingrich

      If you direct me towards a benchmark/test to use, I'd be more than happy to run it :)

      • etheri0n

        A lot of guys over at XDA tested with RL Benchmark: SQLite
        There is a thread named "Multi Benchmarking Results - Bad SQLite performance" at TFP General forum in XDA that you can compare some results.

      • Mekerz86

        Hi Aaron,

        Either try the application that etheri0n mentioned or "Androbench" off the Play Store. That's also been used a few times on XDA.

        If you have any other Tegra3 devices around (maybe the A500 tab and HTC One X?) it would be great if you could publish the results of those devices vs TF201 and TF700.

        Thanks

        • AaronGingrich

          I'm in the process of running both on 6 devices right now. I'll do a new post with the results.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I've been suffering from this on every ASUS tablet I've owned, except for the Nexus 7, and so have Cameron and David. Aaron, for some reason, says he hasn't. I am puzzled by that, and I hope one of these benchmarks can actually force the tablets to reproduce the issue and quantify it. Then we can finally tell whether something is actually broken for some or all.

      • AaronGingrich

        The only one I get it in is Reddita, but I thought that was just the app =X

    • AaronGingrich
  • S Songstress

    I found this to be an extraordinarily helpful comparison/review, Aaron. Well done, and thank you.

  • Wideopn11

    The only downside to my TF300 is the display colors (may be solved by custom kernel in the future). It's quite easy to overclock to 1.5 which boosts the performance quite a bit. I'm still debating on buying the TF700 and/or the Nexus 7. If a Nexus 10 becomes part of the equation I think I would get that. I'm concerned about how easy the TF700 shows scratches but that display is beautiful. Decisions decisions...

    • HotInEER

      I took my TF300 back after only a few days.  I just couldn't take having to to tap the screen multiple times, the browser was super slow to load and would crash too many times.  Opening the Google play store took forever and apps loaded slow and would crash.  These tablets of Asus appear to be great on paper, but they don't equal real world use.

      I also found the tablet to be very dark even at full brightness.  It did handle games perfectly, and when the browser did work, it was fast, but, a new tablet should not have these issues.  I even factory reset it 3 times to see if that would help and tried multiple browsers.

      I never had these issues on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 or 10.1.  I have high hopes with the TF700, but untill someone uses it for several weeks to see if these issues still pop up, I will not be buying.

      I might not even be in the market for the TF700 since I ordered the Google Nexus 7, and now they are making the Nexus 10, I will more than likely wait on that one.

      • Striderevil

        I bought a TF300 from best buy and used it for 27 days to see if the Tablet and dock fits my needs before going for the upcoming TF700T. Right after opening it and switching it on it updated itself which I was happy after being tired of crappy service provider and manufacturer support. I was impressed. Everything I downloaded worked flawlessly. Although there was a subsequent update 7 days back to fix some issue that I didn't have during video play back and after that my Provid editor software would not work (it might have also not been tablet compatible to begin with in all fairness). Also had issues with opening Fruit ninja including the THD one which is supposed to be Tegra optimized. No issues with any other apps and I downloaded quiet a few. I never had to increase the brightness past midway as the brightness was considerable (although not enough for comfortable outdoor use). The dock worked seamlessly and the back was well threaded which gave good grip. The authors right about the trackpad absolutely irritating which most of the time I switched off. The track pad itself is nice and responsive but the actual silver color button is irritatingly hard which contributes to the plasticky cheap feel. As the author noted speakers were located at the back and unless you intend to watch movies with two hands or with using the right hand which provides a cup to resonate the sound I personally found it irritating. I consoled myself however with the fact that at least the volume is loud and can be heard when docked comfortably which can get really loud and I could plug it in to headphones or large speakers not to mention the clarity was surprisingly good enough for daily use. But expect to get irritated if someone on YouTube records a video in low volume setting. Youtube app is not smooth. Became much better after the latest update a week ago approximately however the search function while watching videos get stuck and so you have to go back to the main screen and type in your search. Basically needs work which I'm sure Asus will get on, or the app. developer. Netflix scrolling through the selection is still surprisingly not  smooth at all as compared to the iOS app. even in performance mode. Perhaps Jelly bean would offer better app scrolling as it is supposed to do everything at a native 60 FPS for their buttery experience.  nVision Beta had few issues in the beginning which cleared later. Quiet a few Tegra 3 optimised free games available from the Tegra store. I will definitely go for the TF700 with dock. My only disappointment was the office suite but found One Note from microsoft already available on Google Play which only means the rest will be available soon or when Win 8 is released in October. BTW the 1.2 front facing cam resolution was not good when using Skype. Hoping the 2mp is better.

        I'm disappointed to read now that the back scratches relatively easily which was not an issue at all for the plasticky TF300. Maybe will consider getting a skin for it. Hope my personal experience with this device helps. Already getting withdrawal symptoms as I had to give it back before the 30 days were up or they would not except returns. Waiting on the pre orders lol. 

  • CoffeeGeeker

    As an owner of the TF201, I feel you've left out something very important: how buggy Asus' implementation of the 4.0.3 ICS is on these tablets - at least on the Prime. 

    My Prime (along with many, many, many others if you read XDA's forums) is prone to frequent app crashes, screen flicker problems, many games not being compatible or playable (because of screen flicker issues and other things), and more. Even Google Earth's latest version will cease visual function after a short time on my Prime - the screen just goes to a stutter flicker as soon as you zoom in on a city and its 3D rendering. 

    In addition, they have pretty suspect quality control on building these devices. I'm on my 2nd Prime (after exchanging my first one a few days after buying it, due to zero GPS activity, even standing outside), my keyboard's SD card reader stopped working after a month, and I was without my Prime functioning for FIVE WEEKS because the charging cable and power adapter (you require that power adapter, it will not charge via stock USB) failed, and I had to wait 5 weeks for Asus Canada to RMA it - for a $10 part.

    Maybe once Asus releases Jelly Bean 4.1 for this tablet, things will improve, but right now, I would not recommend anyone buy these tablets. They're just too crash prone, and QC on both tablets, keyboard and even the connector/charger are questionable.

    I'm going to hold out for Jelly Bean myself, but in the meantime, I preordered the Nexus 7 - yes I know its an Asus product, but I'm rolling the dice that a) Google has got the software much more stable and locked down than Asus on their own does, and b) I'll have to deal with Google on RMAs if they arise, not Asus. If JB doesn't fix the Prime, I'll be selling it to some poor sucker.

  • Tvera5314

    Question to Aaron  In previous review of TF 700 in the bad section you mentioned  Infinity would not recognize your SDXC card  but  TF 201 and TF 300 did  Did you ever get the Infinity to recognize the SDXC card?  I have a sandisc 64 class 10 micro SDXC card arriving this week which i purchased to use in  the Infinity when i purchase.

  • disqus_nyAnxvQglI

    I do agree none are without flaws. Of the three my fave is still my prime. Unlock, root, flash, and overclock. Then my friends you have one beast of a device on your hands. GPS will never be better and asus' hardware fix is ugly. I just use my phone.

    • http://twitter.com/tripperdan99 Tripper Dan

      Would love to hear more about how you did this. I've been so busy that I've not even had time to find a guide on customizing my Prime. Maybe it would get me thinking warm thoughts again about my purchase. Just about to put it up on Ebay.

    • http://www.benvanhouts.com Benjamin van Houts

      May I ask what rom you went with? After try build.prop mods, ATP Tweak, SIO SysTune mods I'm seconds away from given up and ASUS and just unlocking and installing roms.

    • http://www.benvanhouts.com Benjamin van Houts

      May I ask what rom you went with? After try build.prop mods, ATP Tweak, SIO SysTune mods I'm seconds away from given up and ASUS and just unlocking and installing roms.

  • http://twitter.com/tripperdan99 Tripper Dan

    I guess I will chime in as a TF201 owner and enforce the issues that previous TF201 posters have stated. First and foremost, I feel ripped off by Asus. I paid premium dollar to end up with a lemon of a product in just about every area of performance. They sent me this piece of crap Dongle to "fix" the GPS (yea, right) forget the fact that the keyboard docking station I got is worthless if I need to use GPS with the cussed Dongle.

    The first two months I had it (got it in January) all it did was lock up and reboot. Now I get forced closes, torturous browsing performance, and overall pathetic function.

    The overall browsing and performance of the unit is subpar for the price. If I could get my money back, I would jump at the chance and NEVER again by an ASUS.

    Caveat emptor, I was a fool to buy this unit and to buy Asus.

  • Richard Lucas

    He who wrote unlock, root, flash & overclock will have a big, yes big smile on his/her face. This is, indeed, the way to TF201 bliss. I suffered all the problems mentioned until I made said 'adjustments'. Now I'm as happy as a pig in muck. It's now the device that it was always meant to be. The ROM of choice is 'virtuous prime' which includes overclocking @1.6GHz & (optionally) all the extra Asus bits 'n' pieces so the look/feel/functionality of the original is totally retained. Trust me when I say that if I can make these mods, anyone can. Do it & enjoy your TF201 as nature intended!

  • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

    Just get an iPad 3. if this is the state of the art in Android tablets it would be crazy to buy one.

  • RebelClown

    I'm sorry but I can not agree with this review. I understand the goal is to compare the difference between models, however lets be realistic. The TF300 is only 40 grams heavier and 1mm thicker. Is it heavier and thicker? Yes. Would most people even notice the difference? I seriously doubt it. The TF300 uses cheap materials? This tablet feels solid in the hands and well built. Plastic also resolves the issue the TF201 suffers in regards to WiFi and GPS performance. I agree it doesn't come with gorilla glass, however the Ipad doesn't either. Would you say it uses cheap material? The speed difference is almost non existent in real world usage. The TF300 is not the most powerful tablet on the market. Nor does it come with all of the the more expensive options, however dollar for dollar it is by far the best value in the group.

  • rothbriele

    I feel it's important for Android operating system group websites to provide customers with such information about models they're examining and examining. Otherwise us customers will keep falling sufferers to inadequate levels of quality examining that producers appear satisfied to launch products through. I'm livid with Asus for being satisfied to let Primary entrepreneurs experience more intense efficiency than price range pills that cost 50 percent as much as the TF201.

    Fourneau Bruleur de Graisse