The popular Asus Transformer Prime now has a cheaper cousin called the Transformer Pad TF300 and reviews are starting to trickle in. Asus opted to cut a corner or two to reduce the price on the Pad, but it still offers a similar form factor: A capacitive touchscreen tablet running Google Android 4.0 with an optional $150 keyboard dock. The Pad tablet alone retails for $380 with 16 GB of internal storage and a 32 GB model is available for an extra $20.
Instead of the 1.3 GHz Tegra 3 found in the Transformer Prime, the Pad uses a 1.2 GHz Tegra 3 chip. Additionally, Asus saved on some of the Pad’s hardware cost by using a lower quality LCD display as compared to the Prime: Don’t look for a bright, Super IPS panel on this lower priced model. This less expensive model is also a tad heavier than the $499 Prime, weighing about one-tenth of pound more than the prior tablet version. On the plus side, the 8 megapixel camera offers a wider aperture — f/2.2 vs f/2.4 — and the Pad includes faster DDR3 RAM.
Early reviews generally appear favorable. Here’s a sampling:
CNet: “The TF300 doesn’t lose much compared with the Prime and actually gains in a couple areas. At $380 ($400 for 32GB) it’s cheaper than even an iPad 2, but unfortunately, the Android OS still lags way behind in app support compared with iOS. Still, if Android is your thing, the TF300′s price makes it the current best value for a full-Android tablet on the market.”
PC Mag: “The Transformer Prime was a top-notch tablet when it was released last year, and the TF300T, which isn’t vastly different, except that it’s less expensive, carries that torch. But it seems like a placeholder while we wait for the Infinity Prime, with its 1080p high-resolution display.”
PC World: “In spite of the stability issues I encountered, the Asus Transformer Pad makes for a good, large-screen value Android tablet. The extra storage you’ll get will come in handy, but you’ll have to be willing to sacrifice niceties like a subwoofer, rear-camera flash, and super IPS display to go with this lower-cost model. If you like the idea of extra storage and saving some bucks, the Transformer Pad makes a good choice.”
When I reviewed the Asus Transformer Prime, I thought it was the best Android tablet available due to the device performance and docking station that adds a keyboard, additional ports and extra battery life. Starting at $120 less, the Transformer Pad TF300 sounds like it’s worth a look for those seeking an iPad alternative.
As a T-Mobile customer, I considered replacing my Galaxy Nexus for a One S, but opted to stick with my current phone. I prefer having total control over my choice of software and I can also use the Nexus on either T-Mobile or AT&T. Still, if you’re on T-Mobile and want a premium Android experience, the One S should be atop the list of phones to check out.