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REVIEW: Asus Transformer TF300

The following is a review for the ASUS Transformer TF300 from our former reviewer turned editor, Dr. Sarah Frantz.

In my new capacity as a freelance editor, I’ve discovered that I do three types of reading. One is just…reading like a reader. I prefer to do this in paper or on my phone. I have a Samsung Galaxy S2 phone, which replaced a second generation iPhone. I read on both phones, using Mantano for ePub, BlueFire for PDFs, and Kindle for books I buy from Amazon. I love reading on my phone, honestly, but I very much do it AS a reader. The other two types of reading I do grow from the two types (so far) of edits I do: Developmental Edits and Line Edits. Line Edits require Microsoft Track Changes and Commenting functions, which require my big-ass Acer Aspire laptop with the 17″ screen that I love so much. Developmental Edits, however, require a slightly more active reading than reading-as-a-reader, but do not require notes or track changes (so far). So, sitting down and reading on my computer is no fun because it’s actually too big to get comfortable with. But I was finding that my phone was too small, somehow, for that. So, I finally had the excuse I was looking for to buy a tablet. I’ve wanted a tablet since the first iPad came out, but I’ve never needed one, nor have I had the money for one. Now I have a legitimate reason for getting one and so far I love it.

Transformer T300

I was not interested in a Kindle, a Nook, or an iPad. I think I’m in a very small minority in that I do not like e-Ink. I don’t like the way it looks, I don’t like the that devices are single-function, I don’t like the delay, in page turning, even if it’s getting shorter and shorter. I just knew I wasn’t interested in e-Ink. The Kindle Fire or Nook color are (a). too small — I’ve played around with my mother-in-law’s Nook and it’s just…not quite a phone, not quite a tablet, and anyway, B&N’s customer service *sucks*; and (b). proprietary and I really don’t want to be beholden to Amazon or B&N that much (see above re: B&N’s CS sucking). I haven’t figured out Calibre, or side-loading, or god help me, rooting, so I didn’t want a proprietary system that would fight with the documents I needed to get on it.

The same, therefore, is true for the iPad. When I made the break from an iPhone to my Samsung, I did so because I would NEVER buy an Apple computer (have NEVER liked any of the iOS), was uninterested in an iPad, so why would I want an iPhone. I do not like Apple as my Overlord. And yes, the iPad is beautiful, but I prefer Google as my Overlord, honestly.

So…I wanted an Android device. After looking at CNet, the choices seemed to be the new Samsung Galaxy tablet (as opposed to phone), and the Asus Transformer TF300. When I went to Best Buy, the CSA I spoke with said that the Asus Transformer Prime (next level up) wasn’t worth it because it’s basically the same as the TF300 but slightly more clunky and $100 more. That seemed to agree with the reviews I’d read.

I’ll admit, the Samsung had some great features: an OS and UI I was already comfortable with, having used it for a year on my phone, and two front-facing speakers, a third of the way down the smaller side, so it’s perfect for non-headphone movie watching. But when push came to shove, I bought the Asus Transformer because of the keyboard function. Rather than a Bluetooth keyboard, the Asus actually snaps together with a proprietary keyboard with mousepad in the same place the power-charging cord attaches, basically turning the Transformer into a touchscreen netbook.

Honestly, the Asus UI isn’t (yet) as instinctive to me as the Samsung interface (assuming the Galaxy tablet and phone have the same OS/UI). “Settings” on each app is much more difficult to find for me on the Asus. And I really miss the possibilities of those speakers. Music and YouTube videos just sound weird coming from the side of the Asus.

And although it will come in red, apparently, Best Buy only carried the blue (not even the Asus website has the red yet–I think it’s all just a fever dream), so I got the blue.

I bought the keyboard about a month after I bought the tablet itself and I can’t say enough good things about it. It snaps in easily but securely (and unsnaps well too). The keyboard charges separately from the tablet, but then prioritizes the tablet’s battery over its own, feeding the tablet power when they’re snapped together. The keys are small, but not as small or as close together as some tablets I’ve used before. The only issue is that I accidentally hit the mousepad with my thumb but the “Turn Off Mousepad” button is very simple to find and use.

Keyboard

Because the keyboard is proprietary to the tablet, the navigation buttons from the tablet are also available on the keyboard, so when they’re snapped together, it’s possible to navigate from the screen or from the keyboard, if you know the keys well.

I find I’m reading on the tablet using Mantano for ePub and native Adobe Reader for PDF (no longer BlueFire). The comment function in Adobe is actually very simple to use on the tablet, and the keyboard makes commenting on a document a breeze. Honestly, I wouldn’t comment if it weren’t for the keyboard, because I cannot yet easily use the on-screen keyboard. I can then upload the PDF with comments back to Dropbox and I’ve got the comments on my laptop and can send it to clients. I wouldn’t use this for line edits, but its perfect for global developmental edits and I imagine would work well with team-edited documents in business settings.

I still wish there were two front-facing speakers, but the keyboard totally justifies my decision to go with the Asus, not the Samsung.

Asus Transformer TF300 and  Keyboard

-Sarah

Associate Professor of Literature, Fayetteville State University
President, The International Association for the Study of Popular Romance

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

14 Comments

  1. Mireya
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 07:41:14

    Do you mean that Apple is not the begin all and end all of technology? Really???
    .
    .
    .

    Now seriously, I knew my husband and I couldn’t be the only people that didn’t want Apple as our overlords ;) I am showing this review to him, he’s been shopping around for a tablet.

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  2. FD
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 07:52:44

    H’mmm. I want a tablet for lecture notes and I too am not so enchanted with Apple – I like to actually KEEP my hardware & software a while and the sandbox, while relatively stable is a titch limiting. Plus, I adore my S3.

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  3. Vicky
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 08:37:46

    I have one of these and love it! Fantastic value and a great buy. I’m an android girl through & through :)

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  4. Keishon
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 10:27:46

    Ideally, I don’t care to be beholden to anyone but thanks for the feedback on this model. I just looked this model up and see on Amazon that people are reporting cracked screens using the keyboard/dock and the product being DOA in some instances and that the customer service isn’t the best either but I see an Asus CS rep on each of these complaints providing email support. While Apple may not be to everyone’s liking they do have reputation for building quality products right out of the box.

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  5. Walter Wright
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 11:43:01

    She had always insisted she didn’t want Apple as her overlord, nor had she trafficked with any of his swart underlings, even the beautiful iPad–except for that fling with the young iPhone but how could she know in the darkness what it’s perfectly sized form would mean to her.

    She knew, too, that she was not nor ever would be free of the need to be mastered, to be lorded over while she dandled with her big ass Acer with the 17 inch that she loved SO much but was in the end–especially–too big to get comfortable with, or in those stolen moments when she played around with her mother-in-law’s small– too small, really–Nook . And Nook would require B&Ns CS sucking, and she didn’t want to be beholden to sucking B&N nor to an Amazon. There was Calibre, but she had recoiled from that disgusting side-loading let alone, God help her, mere rooting–or any proprietor that would fight her when she needed to get on it.

    Nevertheless, it was so–she knew she could never be free until she was captive and she knew that ultimately, ever since she had turned away from iPhone and tasted the pleasure of Samsung, the young Google would be the overlord she would choose, and Android would be his minister, a master who would watch over her and make her safe. So when Asus the Android Transformer came to her she knew that even if he did not, yet, respond to her as instinctively as Samsung had, and even if the places he would be fingered were too small and his voice tinny and even though he came clad only in blue when she wanted red, still she would take him, and take him and take him.

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  6. helen
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 12:06:44

    @Walter Wright:
    Ha!

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  7. Sarah Frantz
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 13:21:55

    @Walter Wright: I think that’s the best thing I’ve EVER read on the Internet ever. \o/

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  8. Sarah Frantz
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 13:29:11

    @Keishon: That’s…scary feedback. :( But I do have to say that I’ve never had an issue with snapping my tablet into the keyboard, even with a skin on it. But I’ll be more careful.

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  9. Christine Bell
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 13:31:56

    PAH!!! FAB comment, Walter Wright!

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  10. Kelly
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 13:35:12

    @Walter Wright:

    …and even if the places he would be fingered were too small and his voice tinny and even though he came clad only in blue when she wanted red, still she would take him, and take him and take him.

    I think I love you. Will you be my new best friend?

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  11. joanne
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 13:37:26

    @Walter Wright: Aw, so sexy and I think that was the first tech-& -human HEA I’ve ever read. Wonderful!

    @Sarah Frantz: I can’t begin to tell you how heartening it is to hear that someone, like you, who is smart and well educated – and a pilot! – has wrestled a bit with Calibre and side-loading and the dastardly rooting. I don’t feel quite so dumb or inept so thank you for that and for allowing my fingers to hit the buy button on the pretty Asus that I’ve been looking at although I may just wait out the red one.

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  12. Brian
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 21:48:03

    Thanks for the great review. I’m still using my original Transformer and loving the Keyboard dock very much.

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  13. Sarah Frantz
    Jul 09, 2012 @ 10:08:34

    @joanne: NOT a pilot! Just a Ph.D. :) But yeah, still don’t get the side-loading/rooting thing.

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  14. Mindy
    Jan 05, 2013 @ 18:27:31

    Don’t buy a transformer, there is a defect in it’s design and the screen cracks on it’s own. Just do an internet search and see how many people are having problems with this. Sometimes Asus will repair the screen but it take tons of work and hassle on your part. I’m starting the process now with an Asus tablet that cracked 7 months after I purchased it. It was well taken care of and never dropped.

    ReplyReply

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