Overview, Design and Features
ASUS announced the Transformer Pad TF701T (formerly known as the new Transformer Pad Infinity) at Computex 2013 in Taiwan. Back then, the Transformer Pad TF701T was one of the three Android tablets (Google Nexus 10 and Toshiba Excite Write) to boast ultra-high resolution (2,560 x 1,600 pixels) displays.
Within five months, the 10-inch tablet market saw the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, Sony Xperia Tablet Z and the Apple iPad Air. With so many contenders, can the Transformer Pad TF701T help ASUS fend off the competition and establish itself as the productivity tablet to get? Well, this review will attempt to answer this question. Here's a quick look at its specs and how it compares with the current competition:
Design and Features
The design of ASUS's 10-inch tablets hasn't changed much since the Transformer Pad Prime in 2011, and it's good to see the company standardizing it across its product portfolio. You still see the elegant metallic spun finish on the rear which is comparable in aesthetics and quality to the Apple iPad Air. Still, the ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T has made minor design enhancements, so what are they?
The TF701T is 14g lighter than its predecessor, the Transformer Pad TF700T. It is also thinner at 8.9mm, compared to the tapered chassis (8~10.4mm) of the TF700T. However, we feel that ASUS could have done much more as the competition is a step or two ahead this time. The TF701T is still thicker and heavier than some flagship tablets:
- Apple iPad Air - 7.5mm, 469g (Wi-Fi)
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition - 7.9mm, 547g (4G LTE)
- Sony Xperia Tablet Z - 6.9mm, 495g (4G LTE)
ASUS collaborated with Sharp to build the 10.1-inch Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide (IGZO) display panel on the TF701T. For an in-depth explanation of how IGZO technology works, do check out our feature article on "Sharp Wants to Change Your World with IGZO & ICC Technologies".
In a nutshell, IGZO technology is able to achieve twice the resolution of conventional LCDs without sacrificing power efficiency unlike conventional display technologies that sip more power. We've seen how the use of IGZO technology lowered the power consumption for the TF701T in our reviews of the iPad Air and Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition.
The 10.1-inch display has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels (299ppi), which is a tad higher than the Apple iPad Air (264ppi) and on-par with the recent Android flagship tablets such as the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition and Toshiba Excite Write. Text and images look great on the TF701T.
While Apple and Samsung shrunk the bezels around the displays of their latest 10-inch tablets, ASUS chose to retain the thick bezel around the display of the TF701T. Considering that the slate is mainly designed to be used in landscape mode, the wide bezel can be a benefit for users with large hands. On the other hand, if ASUS can shrink its bezel size, there is a possibility that the TF701T will have a smaller footprint like the iPad Air.
Keyboard Mobile Dock
The keyboard mobile dock has been a signature design component of the Transformer series. ASUS first introduced this concept in 2011 with the Eee Pad Transformer , and it's a perfect accessory for road warriors who need to punch out documents on the go.
The keyboard dock sports a full-sized QWERTY keyboard with quick function Android keys such as auto brightness, camera, Bluetooth and toggle to enable or disable the Touchpad. While it seems like it is built using aluminium, the keyboard dock is actually made using plastic. As a result, we noticed a degree of flex in the center while typing on the keyboard dock. The keys are chiclet styled and offer decent tactile feedback, but they feel a little small compared to the standard notebook keyboard.
The keyboard dock also comes with a USB 3.0 port on the top right corner, a 36-pin connector port on the top left corner (for battery charging and connecting to the PC for data syncing), and a SD card reader (supports SDXC cards of up to 64GB capacity) on the bottom right corner.
Weighing at 570g, the keyboard dock is almost as heavy as the TF701T tablet (585g)! This is mainly due to the dock's built-in 4,170mAh battery. According to ASUS, it is able to provide up to 4 hours of extra battery life.
The handling of the TF701T is not as good as the rest of the 10-inch tablets due to its weight. Most tablets of its class, except the Toshiba Excite Write, are lighter and slimmer, and this makes the TF701T feel like a brick.
On a positive note, the brushed aluminum design gives the TF701T a premium look and feel, and is certainly more solid than the plastic Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition and Xperia Tablet Z.
Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
The TF701T came with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, but it received an over-the-air (OTA) update to Android 4.3. Aside from the minor new features of Android 4.3, ASUS also has some of its own software customization baked into the stock Android interface which include cleaner, simplified icons and menus as seen in the new PadFone Infinity and Floating Apps as seen in the entry level MeMO Pad HD 7.
Overall, we like the redesigned interface on the TF701T as it does not seem as cluttered as competing tablets from Samsung. While it does not offer as much features as the Samsung counterpart, the TF701T boasts some cool features which deserve mention here:
- App Backup - back up either data or complete apps to local or external storage.
- App Locker - an additional layer of security to prevent unauthorized access to apps on the tablet.
- SuperNote 3.1 - handwriting app that converts your scribbles into text and can be shared in JPEG, PDF and TXT formats.
- ASUS WebStorage - 5GB Webstorage space is free for TF701 users.