Asus Transformer Pads used to be marketed as a premium alternative to Apple’s iPad. Over time, however, Asus has brought down the price, and the current Transformer Pad TF103C costs only $348 for the tablet and keyboard dock. As a tablet alone, the Asus Transformer Pad TF103C is rather humdrum.
Although the soft-touch plastic backing makes it pleasant enough to hold, it’s dumpy at 10mm thick and 556g, and there’s little about its specifications to set the heart racing. There’s a bog-standard 1,280 x 800-resolution IPS display, a 2-megapixel camera at the rear and a 1.2-megapixel one at the front, 1GB of RAM, and only 8GB of storage on the base model. Together with the keyboard that latches securely onto one edge, however, the TF103C is a different proposition. The keyboard lacks an integral battery like its more expensive predecessors, but it’s ergonomically sound. The key action is firm and positive without being rattly, and the touchpad is responsive and comfortable to use.
The dock adds a full-sized USB 2 port, so you can connect thumb drives, and there’s also a microSD slot on the tablet itself. Performance is decent. The quad- core Intel Bay Trail Atom Z3745 clocked at 1.33GHz, coupled with Intel HD Graphics, put in a fine performance in the mobile benchmarks, scoring 610ms in SunSpider, and 28fps in the GFXBench test, which is about as fast as Android tablets get. Android 4.4 flies along, too; this is a particularly responsive tablet.
Despite its low resolution, the screen’s image quality is excellent. Brightness peaks at 407cd/m2, which is good enough for outdoor viewing, and a contrast ratio of 1,018:1 gives images real presence. Only battery life disappoints, with a below-average time of 9hrs 29mins in our looping-video test, but that’s a small price to pay.
It may not be glamorous, but the Asus Transformer Pad TF103C delivers premium tablet features at a bargain price.