The new ASUS Transformer Pad TF300T combines the best elements of a tablet and a notebook, which means you get both a tablet on which you can create things, and a notebook that’s very light, switches on instantly and lasts all day. Now this is life-changing technology. But it’s not that simple.
As a standalone tablet, the TF300T feels like the closest alternative to the Apple iPad yet, thanks to its contoured 9.9mm thick edges and 635g weight. But attach the keyboard and stick an ordinary mouse into its lone USB port and the Transformer suddenly feels like a very light 10in ultrabook or MacBook Air. That’s because unlike other keyboards for tablets, the Transformer’s keyboard dock is designed to unite seamlessly with the tablet, so that you’d never know they were separate devices at a first glance. The result is that you get a very stylish and very cheap notebook because the Transformer Pad with keyboard dock costs only $599. Were you to buy a pure notebook, $599 would get you some big battery-guzzling, underpowered battle tank of a machine (the cheapest ultrabooks, which are designed to be thin and last a long time cost a tad under $1,000).
In our tests, the Transformer TF300T easily handled several notebook-style duties (thanks to its Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor), including the writing of documents, some editing of images and quite serious web surfing, and delivered a humungous 10-hour battery life (ASUS claims 15, we got 11-12 hours of continued use from it).
The TF300T comes with Android 4.0, and there’s the problem. While the hardware makes the Transformer TF300T a great tablet/notebook hybrid, the software restricts it to light duties only. While you get a keyboard and mouse that turns it into a tiny notebook, you’re stuck with an Android operating system that was originally designed for smartphones. Writing documents isn’t an issue, as the TF300T’s third-party Polaris Office word processors or cloud-based Google Apps make this easy enough, but once you get into spreadsheets and presentation managers (the foundations of business use) you enter a world of pain. None are anywhere near the standard of Excel or PowerPoint. The Google Apps web-based spreadsheet is such an inexplicable horror you conclude that Google doesn’t want you to use it.
The Transformer TF300T is unique and we’d choose its tablet/keyboard combo over any standalone tablet because of the great flexibility it gives you, but you get the feeling that the hybrid concept won’t really take off until Windows 8 arrives on tablets, with versions of the desktop apps that will make hybrids such as this indistinguishable from a traditional notebook.
Source: TechLife magazine.
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