Before the $399 iPad 2, before the $199 Kindle Fire, there was the $399 Eee Pad Transformer from ASUS. Like nearly all first attempts in the tablet space, the original Transformer wasn't perfect, but it was quite possibly the best try outside of Apple at the time. And unlike most of the Android competition at the time, it was priced sensibly at launch.

The $499 Eee Pad Transformer Prime showed up several months later, but not as a true successor but rather an upstream member of the family. Combining Tegra 3, an improved display and a much thinner chassis, the Prime once again took the crown as the best Android tablet on the market.

ASUS hasn't lost sight of its focus on cost however. At CES this year it announced a $250 7-inch Tegra 3 tablet, and today we get the first true successor to the original Eee Pad Transformer: the Transformer Pad 300. Priced at $379 for a 16GB WiFi version and $399 for the 32GB model, the Transformer Pad sheds the Eee label but keeps the spirit of the original Transformer. The Eee brand that launched with netbooks back in 2007 is clearly on its way out as the last of the netbooks will ship this year.

The Transformer Pad 300

The Transformer Pad 300 is more Prime than original. Similar to the original iPad or iPhone, ASUS' first Transformer had a unique ID that never really ended up being reused other than the basic dimensions.

The 300 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, although it's obviously thicker and heavier than the Prime:

ASUS Tablet Specification Comparison
  ASUS Eee Pad Transformer ASUS Transformer Pad 300 Series ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity
Dimensions 271mm x 175mm x 12.95mm 263 x 180.8 x 9.9mm 263 x 180.8 x 8.3mm 241.2 x 185.7 x 8.5mm
Chassis Plastic Plastic Aluminum Aluminum
Display 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 IPS 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 Super IPS+ 10.1-inch 1920 x 1200 Super IPS+
Weight 675g 635g 586g 586g
Processor 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 (2 x Cortex A9)

NVIDIA Tegra 3 (T30L - 4 x Cortex A9)

1.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (T30 - 4 x Cortex A9)

3G/4G LTE - 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 (2 x Krait)

WiFi - 1.6GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 T33 (T33 - 4 x Cortex A9)

Memory 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB
Storage 16GB + microSD card 16GB/32GB + microSD slot 32GB/64GB + microSD slot 16GB - 64GB
Battery 24.4Whr 22Whr 25Whr 25Whr
Pricing $399 $379/$399 $499/$599 ?

The aluminum is gone and replaced by an all plastic back. The 300 doesn't feel cheap as a result and as you'd expect, feels a little less fragile as you're not as worried about scratching the aluminum.


From left to right: Transformer, TF Pad 300, TF Prime


ASUS Transformer Pad 300 (left) vs. ASUS Transformer Prime (right)


ASUS Transformer Pad 300 (left) vs. Apple iPad 2 (right)

The added thickness is noticeable compared to the Prime, but the 300 doesn't feel thick by any means. If anything, it's a bit more comfortable to hold than the Prime as a result of its added girth.

The weight is similarly noticeable, but once again I don't believe it puts the 300 in the category of too heavy. As this isn't a replacement for the Prime but rather a more affordable offering below it, these tradeoffs are fine.

The vibrate motor from the Transformer Prime is gone in the 300, when the volume is down the 300 is truly silent. Just like the Prime there's a single speaker on the back side of the 300 that puts out decent sound for a tablet. You're obviously limited by the size of the speaker but the 300 gets loud enough to play barely audible music while you're running a shower, if that's what you're looking for.

Just as with the Prime, there's a micro-HDMI connector on the Transformer Pad 300 for display mirroring:

The 300 will be available in three different colors: white, blue and red or ASUS has branded them - Royal Blue, Torch Red and Iceberg White. Only Royal Blue is available at launch (this week), with Torch Red and Iceberg white following in early June. 

The Dock & Updated Internals
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  • shriganesh - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Asus rocks! My original Transformer got ICS 4.0.3 update just a few days back! ICS is great and shuttering is gone! UI is much better and feels smooth! Reply
  • Netscorer - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Even though I like the idea of dockable keyboard, from practicality perspective we would need to wait for Windows 8 tablet for this to take off. I just don't see Android ICS as a serious notebook replacement. Given the rest of the specs, for only $100 more one can get an iPad with vastly better screen, battery life, GPU and other characteristics that actually do matter in tablet. I am not trying to compare ICS with iOS5 here as both have they merits but we should also consider the maturity of the App Market comparing to Google Play and other Android contenders.
    Finally, ASUS have yet to prove that it can ship any significant volume of their tablets. I wanted to buy the original Transformer but for two months could not find any stock and then cooled to the idea. I was following the Infinity model again with no stock until new iPad was already on the market. What are the odds that ASUS will suddenly release this model in quantity?
    I'm sorry ASUS but for Pad to take off, you would need to price it at no more then $350 (with 32GB of RAM) and a $100 dock. Otherwise no-one outside of the geek community would even consider your tablet as an alternative to iPad.
    Reply
  • Naguz - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    If only they had included a USB port on the tablet itself - along with a display connector you could connect a VGA adapter to for presentations. Reply
  • dreddit - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Hey guys are you sure the dimension for the infinity are correct. If so then the Bezel must be much smaller than the primes, by 10mm either side.
    The asus web site still has dimensions the same as the prime. I hope it is a smaller form factor but with the same 10.1 ips screen
    Reply
  • Lucian Armasu - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Put a dual core (or quad core next year) Cortex A15 chip at 2 Ghz in it, and with a 2560x1600 resolution at 11.6", and I'll take it. There's no way an x86 device with Windows 8 would be in the same price range. It would probably be closer to $1000 than $500. Reply
  • slagar - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    Looks like another fine ASUS product.

    Absolutely second Anand's comments regarding one of these with Windows 8 later this year. I can't wait to see what happens :)

    Thanks for the great info and reviews as always Anandtech!
    Reply
  • Anonymous1a - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    I absolutely love Asus' product range but the only problem I have with them is that they don't have their own direct store. Although the base models are easily available on the internet, finding a 3G version of the TF300 is like finding a needle in a haystack and the only place I found the needle was ebay and at ridiculously high prices (600+) and considering the fact that two models have already come out after it and the iPad 2 has it's 3G version at 529, this is just wayyy too high, with these vendors exploiting the lack of a direct chain and lack of availability of these products. And there was literally nowhere I could the the Infinity or Prime with LTE anywhere. I wish they would, at least, for a few major markets like USA and UK have their own direct online selling point. Reply

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