Review: Is Asus' New Transformer The Most Powerful Tablet Yet?
By Tony Ibrahim | Monday | 03/09/2012
Asus' adorned Transformer has had its insides beefed up. The jump in performance is profound.
Setting the Bar High
Following the success of Apple's iPad, every manufacturer released an imitation tablet except for Asus. They saw room for improvementâ€”innovation evenâ€”by introducing a tablet that can be mounted into a functional keyboard. For them, the tablet could play a pivotal role in content creation, and so began generations of Transformer devices.
In addition to the tab's battery is one in the keyboard, endowing the duo with exceptional battery life
The company's latest transformer is the Transformer Pad Infinity. It retains the unmistakeable keyboard-tablet combo akin to Asus' range, but injects both components with a serious dose of specs.
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Even at a distance, the Transformer Pad Infinity looks unequivocally unique. It adopts the spun aluminium design inspired by Asus' UX31 Ultrabook, but apart from the fancy metal work, it is understated. With the screen off, you can hardly make out where it ends and the thick bezel starts, and the entire facade is subtly interrupted only by Asus' logo.
At the base of the tablet is a 40-point-pin which is used for charging and file-transfers, while a microSD port remains exposed on its right side.
Fastest Tegra 3 CPU Ever
At the core of the Pad Infinity is NVIDIA's Tegra 3 processor clocked at 1.6GHz, which according to Asus, makes it the "fastest NVIDIA Tegra 3 CPU ever." Its partner in crime is 1GB of RAM and depending on which model you pick, comes with 32 or 64 GB of internal memory.
Using Quadrant, software that benchmarks the CPU, I/O and 3D graphics of a device. the Inifnity's processor scored particularly well, but I/O and 2D performance we're on the stout side.
Often we find tablets running Android lack the same cosmetic fluidity of Apple's iPad as they tend to lag behind gesturing fingers. But this latest Transformer enthusiastically digs into all operations, whether you're using it to write a product review on Polaris Office, playing music, surfing the web or running powerful games.
Its 10.1 inch LED screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 and at 600 nits of brightness, is exceptionally backlit. The snug pixel arrangement aids in accurate touch input, and whether you're indoors or under direct sunlight, content is always legible.
Two Rights Make a Notebook?
The fact the Pad Infinity can morph into a notebook by docking the screen has a lot to do with its appeal. The Chiclet keyboard is surprisingly comfortable to type on, the traditional trackpad is fluent in multi-gestures and the dock houses ports common to a notebook. These include a full-sized USB port and a SD card slot on its left hand side.
The keyboard is surprisingly comfortable, even by a notebook's standard.
If you're under the impression the keyboard transforms the Pad Infinity into a run-of-the-mill computer, you'd be wrong. Although using the docked tab is reminiscent of a notebook, the Android operating system hasn't been designed for a computer; it is simply through an array of appsâ€”some custom built by Asus, with the rest from Google's Play storeâ€”that the whole setup proves practical.
The Green Man on Steroids
For the most part, Asus hasn't bothered masking the Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS with its own redundant skin. Instead the company has put effort into creating useful applications, some of which bridge the gap between traditional computing and the Frankenstein-like Transformer.
One application of particular use is SuperNote. Essentially it is a notepad that entwines keyboard entry, hand writing, pictures, voice recordings and even video. In addition to SuperNote, there's an application dedicated to backing up app data and another which password protects various applications, such as Facebook.
Instead of the typical bloatware, Asus has included some practical applications
In playing to Android's strengths and tending to its weaknesses, Asus has managed to milk the most functionality out of the Pad Infinity's uncommon form factor.
Asus' product manager, Anson Zhang, has confirmed to SmartHouse the Pad Infinity will be getting an update to the next version of Android, Jelly Bean.
On the back of the Pad Infinity is an 8MP camera complemented by a single LED flash. By design, tablets aren't the most practical devices to take photos with, but rest assured, if an occasion merits it, the Transformer can take good photos.
Although the camera isn't as good as some smartphones, it is easily the best camera we've seen on a tablet. A variety of shooting modes and settings are presented in an attractive interface, including panoramic shooting, various scene modes, manual exposure and white balance.
Its camera is equipped with various scene modes
It exhibits the same proficient sensibilities when recording video, capturing footage in 1080p Full HD, which is replayed in all of its exuberance on its compatible screen.
The on board gallery and music player are stock Android, and even in their purest form, are incredibly functional.
Thumbnails make the most of the bright screen's real-estate
The ribbon of photos makes it easy to naviate the gallery
The music player is incredibly versatile, dressed uniformly and is easy to use.
Asus' Transformer Pad Infinity is a powerful tablet/keyboard combo because it can be used for content creation and on-the-go web browsing with little compromise. The keyboard sets it apart from the slew of Android iterations and positions it as a real competitor to Apple's iPad, but at $999 it's significantly more expensive. All Asus need to do is drop the price.
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Apr/May 2011 issue
reviews the hot new iPhone attach device, the Zeppelin Air. And we look at what's going on in the tablet space...