Asus Transformer Pad TF103 review

Transformers, tablets in disguise

Asus Transformer Pad TF103 review
Do people want transforming tablets anymore?

Key Features

Naturally, the keyboard is the Asus Transformer Pad TF103's most visible selling point, the addition that seems to blur the lines between tablet and netbook. In fact, it goes a step beyond that.

The keyboard is spacious with plenty of travel on the chiclet style keys, which makes proper typing a possibility, something many netbooks appear to promise but fail to deliver.

The TF103 is primarily a tablet, and the familiarity and functionality of Android 4.4 is at the fore. From the simple, sharp fonts and icons to the smooth movement from page to page and subtle highlighting of icons that make Android a slick and intuitive user experience.

Asus Transformer Pad TF103C

The keyboard doesn't disappoint

The TF103's touchscreen complements this experience, responding easily to swipes, taps and pinches and never leaving you dabbing repetitively at an icon.

It's precise as well, with the onscreen keyboard and games benefiting from the panel's responsiveness and accuracy.

Performance

The Asus Transformer Pad TF103 performs well both outdoors and in. Although not primarily intended as a tablet app, I used Strava as a way of testing the TF103's GPS and was pleased with the results.

It took just a few seconds to identify its location, and then kept an unfailing track of the TF103's movements. The screen itself can be slightly reflective in bright light, but never disappears into the murk even when placed in direct sunlight.

Asus Transformer Pad TF103C

GPS works well on the TF103

Streaming movies over Netflix was another area in which the TF103 impressed, playing smoothly, with sharp pictures and bright, vivid colours.

The lack of a full 1080p screen is a shame, but the 1280 x 800 panel does a perfectly good job. While it will never be as sharp as a FullHD screen, it's bright and clear enough to enjoy streamed movies on.

Unexpectedly, the rear facing speakers overcame their positioning to produce lively sound with sharp, clearly defined tones. Playback of downloaded movies from Google's Play Store was equally easy and impressive.

On Geekbench 3 the Transformer Pad 103 scored 661 for single-core and 2038 for multi-core, some way off the models in the pricier section of the market that Transformer Pads used to reside in, but in use I saw little discernible shortfall.

Asus Transformer Pad TF103C

Occasionally the tablet will forget what it's doing, freezing your download, app or browser

The TF103 does have Android's slightly annoying habit of seeming to forget what it's doing mid-task, something reasonably common across Android phones and tablets.

Pages loading in a browser or files downloading from an email, or even from the Play store itself, will occasionally pause in mid-flow, refusing to make any progress until you restart the process.

The sensitivity of the screen, so useful in some circumstances, can occasionally provide the odd slip up, as it's extremely easy to switch between browser tabs by mistake.