The new Transformer Pad Infinity is the latest in ASUS’s line of Transformer tablets. For anyone who has used a Transformer before there is a lot that will be very familiar, but at the same time it seems that ASUS has taken a good look at feedback and other tablets available to deliver a tablet that’s clearly graduated at the top of its class.
The hardware design is very similar to what we’ve seen with all of the Transformers before it, that’s a very good thing though. It very closely resembles the Transformer Prime, the only real giveaway is the plastic strip along the back top edge which will allow for stronger Wi-Fi and GPS reception.
The Infinity has the same radial spun backing as the Transformer Prime and Zenbook though it seems a lot more muted than what is found on the Zenbooks. Despite the spun look the back is smooth but not slick to the touch. The whole design of the device screams premium.
In the past I haven’t been a big fan of playing games or using 10” tablets one-handed mainly because of how the bodies tend to have a little more flex in them. I mentioned in my review of the Nexus 7 that it was the best feeling tablet I’ve held, the Infinity gets a close second place there. Playing games like Dead Trigger just worked and they looked fantastic. Despite it’s size holding this tablet one-handed is actually quite comfortable and it’s making me rethink my opinion of 10″ tablets.
Probably the most exciting update in the Infinity is the new 1920×1200 Full HD Super IPS+ display. It is my favorite display I’ve ever used on a tablet. Everything renders very crisply which makes reading books or browsing the web a great experience. The Super IPS+ display goes up to 600nits of brightness which is great for outdoor viewing. Admittedly when pumping the brightness all the way up some of the darker colors can get a little washed out but as a tradeoff for outdoor viewing that most other tablets can’t dream of doing. I foresee using this tablet all over campus in the fall because of the display, I can load up class textbooks and extra reading and sit outside while studying.
The Transformer Pad Infinity features the latest Nvidia Tegra 3 T33 chipset, not to be confused with the T30 in every other Tegra 3 device available right now. This one runs at up to 1.6GHz on all 4 of its cores, or clocks up to 1.7GHz when running on its 5th companion core. Along with this it uses 1gb of DDR3 Tri-Channel RAM. Couple those with the 12-core Nvidia GPU and you’ve got the most powerful Android tablet out right now.
When I began using it there were actually a few hiccups, it seemed to hesitate when launching apps but it seemed more of a software issue than hardware. Since then there have been two OTA updates which have considerably sped it up. Once inside an app there isn’t a thing that can slow this tab down. ASUS has shown a clear commitment to addressing any issues by OTA very quickly to keep your device running great which is not something that can be said of all companies.
To test its performance I used high profile 1080p footage from a GoPro camera that any other tablet wouldn’t even be able to play at all. The Infinity played it without skipping a beat and with the Full HD display it looked gorgeous.
I am very much a fan of Google’s stock approach to Android and ASUS has continued it’s trend of only making minor additions where they feel are most beneficial. The result is a great look and functionality. The Infinity runs Android 4.0.3 with a confirmed update to Android 4.1 Jellybean coming in the future.
ASUS additions include a useful toggle widget and dock battery monitor in the notification area as well as a power profile manager that lets you switch between “Power Saving”, “Balanced”, and “Performance” modes. In addition to those ASUS has included some of their own apps for reading books, cloud services, app backup, and note taking. Once again they’ve also included Polaris Office which is in my opinion the best office suite available on Android, use that with the Keyboard dock and you can tackle any class. The Infinity is now the only thing I take with me when I go to class.
The only additions ASUS has made have been for the better, you won’t find any bloat here.
No review of a Transformer tablet would be complete if we didn’t look at the keyboard dock. Like the others before, it houses an extra battery to charge the tablet bring combined battery life up to around 15 hours. It also has a USB port, touchpad, and SD card slot.
The dock mirrors the design aesthetics of the tablet and has the same aluminum construction and feels very solid. There is no flex to it in your hands. Coming from using the original Transformer I found the keys to have a noticeable increase in travel which makes typing far more comfortable. I’m having no issue typing this review on it! It has Android function keys (Home, Menu, Search, Back) plus an extra row at the top for toggles and media keys similar to what you find on many laptops. ASUS has managed to cram a lot of functionality in to the small dock without making it feel cramped.
The hinge where the tablet slots in feels very secure and there is no wiggle room. You get a quiet click affirming that the tablet is inserted properly and a lock switch to release it. I found it to be more difficult to remove from the dock than the original transformer which is good because the original felt a little too loose at times. When tilting the display it stays right where you put it so you can make very fine adjustments to the screen angle easily.
The keyboard dock is what really sets the Transformer Pads apart from everything else in terms of productivity, it is the tool that allows to use it everywhere and for almost everything that I do. It’s a must-have for anyone with a Transformer.
ASUS has done a great thing with the Infinity, they didn’t focus on putting fancy new bells and whistles that people will use just once, they focused on improving the tangibles. All the improvements in the Infinity over previous models are there to give you a measurably better experience. The biggest thing with the Infinity is how fast can ASUS push out an update to Android 4.1 Jellybean? The device launched with Ice Cream Sandwich but ASUS has had a great record in the past with providing updates launching the ICS update on the Transformer Prime less than two months from the ICS announcement. With ASUS working closely with Google on the Nexus program I would expect that to help. I am fully confident that with the Jellybean update combined with the power of the Infinity’s hardware it will remain a force to be reckoned with even as newer tablets come around.
I am very impressed with the Infinity and I’ve actually chosen it over the Nexus 7. I foresee using it every day in my classes and at work because of its versatility and portability. It sets itself apart from the pack of slates out there as the only one that is truly a tool for getting things done. This is not to say that it doesn’t lend itself to fun though, the power makes it amazing for gaming plus with a USB port for game controllers and HDMI output it could become your living room game console when you’re done with class for the day. The high-res screen means movies, browsing the web, and reading are a stand-out experience. It is by far the best 10” tablet right now and rest assured when Jellybean is released there isn’t a doubt in my mind that it will smoke everything else in its path; with ASUS’s proven track record it’s only a matter of time!
Aiman Farooq is a Media and Information Technology student at Michigan State University. If you have any questions or comments please shoot me a tweet at @AimanFarooq