Asus Transformer Pad Infinity Review
The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T landed on our desk a couple of months after it launched, having passed the test of time and coincidentally at a time closer to the launch of the first Windows 8 tablets. And that’s interesting because the 10.1-inch Infinity takes on a task that Microsoft holds near and dear to its heart. That task is making the tablet more than a media consumption device, and turning it into a true content creation gadget, more of a notebook replacement of sorts.
The key to achieving this is the keyboard dock. But before Microsoft shows what it has come up with, we should note that Android was the first to bring keyboard-equipped tablets with the Transformer Pad series. And this here Infinity is the best Android embodiment of that idea of the tablet as a creative machine.
And now that we know more details about the Microsoft Surface and the first wave of Windows 8 tablets, we can truly put the Transformer Pad Infinity in context and maybe even draw some conclusions about Android’s standing in the tablet market. But let’s not go ahead of ourselves and go step by step through all of the features of probably the best Android tablet money can buy today.
The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T is a premium product and you can tell this right from the start. The aluminum chassis with the visual effect of a rippled wave is built in the Zen design language that Asus also uses in its ultrabooks. The whole back of the tablet is actually aluminum save for a tiny strip of plastic on top where the camera and LED flash resides, and with a very solid build you get that satisfying feel from handling the tablet.
The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T has an aluminum chassis with the visual effect of a rippled wave
On the bottom, you’d notice two openings for the dock and right in the center an annoying proprietary 40-pin USB connector. That’s right - get ready for one more adaptor in your home - there is no microUSB on this thing. We guess that was a decision Asus took for the sake of easy docking, though, so we wouldn’t blame them too much.
Proprietary 40-pin USB connector
The sides of the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity
Designwise, there is little else to say as most of the device is occupied by the screen. Here we have a big bezel around it, allowing just enough space for your hand to rest without interfering with the screen.
Even the gorgeous looks of the Transformer Pad Infinity couldn’t distract us from the stunning 10.1-inch high-resolution and extremely bright display. The resolution is the most detailed you’ve seen on Android at 1920 x 1200 pixels, which results in a great 224ppi. That’s just slightly short of the new iPad’s 2048 x 1536 display with 264ppi.
Super IPS+ LCD technology it employs. With the large built-in battery and the additional one on the keyboard dock, Asus went really a long way into making this display extra bright for the outdoors without fearing a huge hit on battery longevity. While by default, the brightness maxes out at around 460 nits, you can easily turn on Super IPS+ mode for outdoor viewing in settings, and that boosts brightness to the whopping 700 nits. At such a high luminosity, contrast ratio suffers slightly compared to the default settings and there is a very slight degradation in the quality of blacks, which you may not even notice. Viewing angles are excellent and the screen retains its vivid colors at even more exreme angles.
Another definite plus, we’d mention the strong oleophobic coating, which makes using the screen an absolute pleasure - your finger leaves no smudges or fingerprints whatsoever.
So far, so good. The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity is a great tablet on its own. But it aims to be more than that. It transforms in a notebook-like little machine when it piers inside the QWERTY keyboard dock. The dock itself when purchased separately costs a hefty $150. With a touchpad and enormous battery life, it brings the Android tablet closer to being more than a media consumption devices and almost into notebook territory. And while functionally it’s not yet there, the price is definitely in notebook territory.
Docking and battery life
First, the dock is elegantly designed, made with the same high-quality aluminum as the tablet. Docking happens via two slots on the tablet chassis housing the hinge mechanism and through the 40-pin connector. You simply align the tablet to the hinges and snug it in. A reassuring click signals that the two have now become one. The hinge also locks. Docking is stable. You can easily hold the tablet chassis only and carry it around with the keyboard open, and the two won’t detach.
Undocking happens easily but will require your two hands. You simply slide the lock on the hinge which frees the tablet and you can pull it apart from the dock. The same holds true for opening the tablet - you’d need to use your both hands.
Asus has done a good job at slimming down the keyboard mount, and when docked and closed together, the Infinity Pad measures at 0.77 inches (19.6mm) thick, slightly more than a MacBook Pro. The dock itself almost doubles the weight of the Infinity and together they weigh 2.5 pounds.
Asus claims that when docked the Transformer Pad Infinity can play 14 hours of 720p video at low brightness, and that’s impressive. The dock has almost an equally sized battery as the tablet, so together expect to see battery longevity nearly double.
Full-sized USB port, SD card slot
Another great advantage of getting the dock is having a full-sized USB port at your disposal. The device supports USB host and that means you can hook up all sorts of gadgets like external keyboards, mice and even external hard drives.
You also get a separate card slot on the keyboard dock in addition to the one on the tablet itself, so you can expand memory even further.
Android on a keyboard-equipped tablet
The chiclet keyboard is not full-sized by any means, but we found ourselves quickly getting used to it and typing at close to the speeds we achieve on a regular keyboard. It has a ton of useful shortcuts on the top row of keys starting with connectivity, music and brightness controls and ending with a dedicated lock key so you don’t have to reach for the screen to unlock the screen. All of these are welcome additions from Asus. If we had to pick the nits, we'd wish for a larger Shift button and an Alt button on both sides, not just the right.
The touchpad is one area where we’d like to see improvement - the touchpad button is large but somewhat hard to press. The touchpad supports two finger swiping and scrolling, and that’s great, but ideally we wish we could pinch to zoom on it, a feature we'd appreciate a lot when browsing. Sadly, that’s not something Android supports yet.
After using the keyboard dock for a while, you start realizing that Android isn't yet ready to be a keyboard-driven platform. Keyboard shortcuts don’t work in third-party browsers like Chrome, touchpad gestures could be more and better and games and apps often don't support it fully.
Windows 8 in contrast is built with the idea of being used with a keyboard, mouse and touchpad and we’ve already seen Microsoft say that it will support gestures like pinch to zoom. That’s one area where we haven’t heard Google’s Android team announce anything and that uncertainty bothers us, but still we hope that future Android releases will address all those issues.
1. sorcio46 (Posts: 392; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)
No microUSB port - Why do you need this when you have a standard USB port?
No Jelly Bean yet - It's coming in some weeks as confirmed by Asus
7. MeoCao (unregistered)
I think Asus should include some productivity tools to make this great product more appealing.
And this tablet must be compared with $600 iPad as it has more memory.
14. imkyle (Posts: 947; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)
4.1.1 is already out for the Prime in the USA and possibly Canada and the TF700T is tomorrow confirmed by Asus on XDA =]
18. squallz506 (banned) (Posts: 1075; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)
I think the author meant micro usb for charging. Rather than proprietary.
2. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
There..for all the people wondering when the Android tablets will finally be up to the challenge - the iPad beater is already out.
The only issue is - no one knows about it, sadly..
27. RomeoJDR (Posts: 237; Member since: 09 Dec 2011)
Well said. why did it take 2 months to get this review out? You would think most tech junkie journalist would be beyond excited to see how a tablet that matches or beats the iPad on paper actually performs in real world use. Just a few weeks ago there was a comparison of the old Prime to the iPad and you all had this available for the comparison. Have to give some credit to phone arena as most tech review sites have bipassed it alltogether. Apple makes good products but owe more of their success to the press that these sites give while keeping the hype of their chief competitors to a minimum
4. deacz (Posts: 147; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)
"It played without a stutter everything we threw at it in terms of video, and music as well."
1080p doesnt work well on the prime atleast, sure mx player plays it smoothly but you cant skip around in the movie, and the playback might reset back to the begining sometimes.
Im suprised that the bad io performance of the Asus line isnt mentioned either.
Other than that, yea its a killer tablet.
11. deathgod (Posts: 106; Member since: 23 Nov 2011)
I play 1080p movies all the time with DICE with smooth skipping. Give that a try
5. Nookie4u (Posts: 127; Member since: 13 Aug 2012)
I'd take the Infinity over the new iPad ANY DAY!
6. hung2900 (Posts: 713; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)
Oh... Another excellent mark from a review about this crap tablet.
I understand how people are excited due to its fancy appearance.
Maybe only people who have to return it 3-4 times like me know why it's crap.
Or maybe you guys can go to xda for more information.
24. hung2900 (Posts: 713; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)
I know people will dislike my comment.
But almost haven't bought it. Buy it and then see how suck it is.
8. TheLibertine (Posts: 484; Member since: 15 Jan 2012)
Ah yeah thats the only tablet that rivals the iPad. Great thingy.
10. PhenomFaz (Posts: 1059; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)
Dude it does not rival..it beats it! You're right about the great thingy though :)
19. bayusuputra (Posts: 941; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)
- Transformer lines
- Note 10.1
- New Acer Iconia lineups
- Nexus 7
- Transformer Infinity
- Nexus 7 (possibly from a price POV)
22. Non_Sequitur (Posts: 1111; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)
I think you're right, yeah! The Note 10.1 is pretty cool too, though. I would say the Nexus 7, but that's in a whole separate league with the 7 inch thing.
12. lzsbleach (Posts: 155; Member since: 20 May 2012)
I don't understand how these companies are still releasing devices that are not on Jelly bean, it is so sad but it seems like a good tablet
20. bayusuputra (Posts: 941; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)
because it was released before JB was out..
13. yonith (Posts: 26; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)
Can I use an exfat formatted sdcard on this? I wanna load movie files >4GB which I cant do on fat32.
17. Zahrawy (Posts: 10; Member since: 22 Aug 2012)
I don’t know about exfat but I use it in NTFS format and it is alright. It seems that you use a mac laptop, Man! Once you buy one of their products you must keep buying from them all your life due to compatibility. It is like addiction.
28. LOTR12 (Posts: 13; Member since: 04 Nov 2012)
I'm pretty sure, because it can support an HDD drive which is NTFS over the usb. If you format your card to NTFS you can transfer files >4GB. I agree with Zahrawy, an overpriced addiction.
25. Nadr1212 (Posts: 741; Member since: 22 Sep 2012)
I cannot reside between the Galaxy Note 10.1 or the Asus Infinity
Please (whisper voice) help mee...
26. Non_Sequitur (Posts: 1111; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)
I absolutely love mine. The keyboard is really, really cool. However, if you're a big artist, go with the Note. Both tablets are really cool, but the Note has more bloat and isn't as fast.