If you want a 10in tablet and price isn’t an object then Asus’ £500 Transformer Prime can be wholeheartedly recommended. It’s fast, tough, made of aluminium and comes with a superb keyboard dock. It also runs the very latest version of Android, v4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich. If £500 is a bit rich Asus has now launched the Transformer Pad which in a nutshell is a plastic version of the Prime with the same quad-core Tegra 3 chip, 32GB of storage and keyboard/dock but all for only £399.
Though not as slim or light as the Prime the Pad’s tablet section only gives away 1.6mm and 49g in each area which is next to nothing. Visually the curvaceous styling matches the Prime right down to the swirly pattern on the lid so few will notice it’s not a Prime even on second glance.
Being made from plastic rather than aluminium the Pad is not as quite as rigid as the Prime or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 but you have to be pretty brutal to feel the difference. An upside of the plastic body is that the GPS suffers from none of the reception problems that blighted the Prime.
The super bright screen of the Prime with its ‘Super-IPS’ mode has also been dropped in favour of an altogether less eye-watering LCD panel. That means that the Pad’s 800 x 1280 screen now looks like every other high-end Android tablet screen but it still has good viewing angles and good colour balance.
The Pad uses the same Tegra 3 quad-core CPU as the Prime. There are a few minor differences though such as the performance mode not ramping up the clock speed quite so high though the memory is the faster DDR3 rather than DDR2.
Run the Antutu benchmark and the results come in at just a smidge over 10,000 which if not quite as impressive as the Prime is still near the top of the tree. In everyday use the two machines are indistinguishable in terms of performance.
Both the tablet and dock batteries are a little smaller than those used in the Prime though there’s not a massive difference in run-time. Looping a 720p video drained the tablet battery in 6 hours. Using dock battery extended that to 10.5 hours, both respectable figures.
All the other Prime strengths have made it over to the Pad including the dock’s USB and SD card slots, the 8 and 1.3MP cameras and the microSD card slot in the tablet itself. The keyboard dock - plastic body aside - looks and feels near enough identical to the Prime’s.
MyDadRocks Verdict: The new Asus Transformer Pad gives you all of the Transformer Prime experience for 80% of the price plus you get reliable GPS. The small losses in terms of rigidity, weight and battery life are nothing compared to what you gain - £100.
MyDadRocks Rating 9/10
Display: 10.1in 1280 x 800
CPU: Quad-core 1.2GHz Tegra 3
OS: Android 4.0
Memory: 1GB RAM, 32GB storage, MicroSD card expansion
Connectivity: 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, Micro HDMI, 3.5mm audio (tablet) / USB 2.0, SD card (dock)
Camera: 8MP rear, 1.2MP front
Dimensions: 263 × 181 × 10mm / 635g (tablet) - 263 ×181 × 10m / 546g (dock)
Review by Brian Keyes.