Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thoughts on the TF300 so far

Like:

  •  Keyboard dock -turns a regular android tablet to a netbook form factor, plus extra battery life! The key and touchpad setup also works quite well on Android. 
  • Styling - the concentric circles in the back make the surface fingerprint proof, and makes the tablet easier to grip. The colour of my particular model is a dark metallic blue, and it's quite nice. 
  • Tegra 3, 1Gb - means the overall interface operates smoothly - transitions, scrolling, pinch and zoom. The only game I've played on it so far (Shadowgun, a first person shooter) has been stellar. 
  • Screen - images are bright and colour is rich without being over-saturated. Android OS 4.0 - Ice-cream sandwich is good looking, and (until the 4.1 Jellybean was announced about a week ago) is the most the current Android OS. Asus has also been good at keeping their customisations to a minimum, which hopefully means that updating the OS will not be difficult. 
  • Bang 4 Buck - At the time of writing the Transformer Pad TF300 (tablet only) is $467, or between $576-$599 with the keyboard dock. In comparison, its aluminium bodied stablemate the TF201, with a 0.1 Ghz faster clocked Tegra 3, twice as bright screen (600nits vs 300nits) and aluminium chassis is $599 (tablet only), but jumps to $742-$799 with the keyboard dock. For someone wanting to dip their toes into the Android pool, the TF300 is pretty good value for the hardware and the innovative form factor(All prices in AU, and from JB-Hifi) 
  • Ports galore! - Micro-HDMI, microSD, headphone jack on the tablet itself, plus USB 2.0 and SDHC on the keyboard dock :) The USB port plays nice with peripherals like keyboards(?) and mice, and the micro-HDMI can output to a monitor, so there is potential to set the Transformer as a "desktop" computing device :) Geeky? Yes. Practical? Probably not. 
Things that could be better:
  • Device balance in netbook mode - because all of the 'guts' of the device is behind the screen, when the TF300 is attached to the keyboard dock and the screen tilted back (to your typical laptop/netbook angle), the device has the tendency to want to topple backwards when on a lap, or otherwise uneven surface. 
  • Keyboard - it would be nice if there was a touch more "clickyness" to the keys, and maybe a tiny bit more travel. I also wish the shift the key on the right was a little bigger (it's been reduced to make space for the direction keys). 
  • Speaker location - there is a single slit on the rear right-hand side of the tablet for the sound, but it's so close to the edge that I tend to obstruct it with my hand when playing a game like Shadowgun, which requires both hands on the tablet. Having the speaker on one side also means that the sound is predominantly heard on that side, which I doesn't bother me so much beyond wanting things audio to be symmetrical (if that makes sense).
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