Asus Transformer Pad TF103C review

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Asus has been making transforming laptop/tablet hybrids for some time now, and its latest Android-powered Transformer Pad TF103 has arrived on our testing bench. Asus Transformer Pad TF103C, a nifty Android tablet that converts into an impressively affordable laptop.

The Transformer Pad looks like any standard 10-inch Android tablet, with glossy black bezels and a rubbery rear that’s also black. At 550g it’s not exactly light, and the likes of the iPad Air and seven-inchers like the Nexus 7 are more comfortable to handle. We get a solid build, big bezels to rest your hands on and upfront you’ll find the camera and display, while at the back there are the speakers, camera and logo. On the right we’ve got the audio jack and on the left lays the microSD card slot, volume buttons and microUSB port, used for charging. There’s only 8GB or 16GB of storage built in, but you thankfully have a microSD memory card slot to expand to something more useful.

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You won’t find Windows on this Intel-powered tablet though, as Android 4.4 KitKat is the OS of choice, and Asus has made a few tweaks to it as well. You’ll find ZenUI overlaid on top, and it has a few useful additions to the stock Android experience such as quick, easy access to toggles and the handy SuperNote. Aside from some custom icons it’s largely unchanged from what you’d find on a barebones installation though.

The tablet portion of the TF103C connects to the clamshell keyboard dock via a port located in the middle of the central hinge connector at the back edge of the keyboard. Two tabs extending from each side of the central hinge help secure the tablet and provide that extra bit of stability in “laptop mode” so that all the weight resting on the docking port.

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The brightness comes it at about 350 nits, with some corners measuring closer to 330 and others measuring closer to 360. That means you should be able to view the screen just fine outdoors in all but the harshest sunlight. Again, this is better than most budget laptop screens that are measured at less than 300 nits.

The only real complaint we have is that we want to see a 1080p screen resolution given the fact there are so many Android devices in the same price range with 1080p or better.

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The small stereo speakers built into the tablet portion of the TF103C did surprising well in terms of providing sound that is relatively free of distortion yet loud enough to fill a small room. The audio range isn’t as impressive as what you’ll hear from larger laptops with larger stereo speakers and a dedicated subwoofer built into the bottom of the notebook, but the TF103C does pretty good for two little speakers tucked behind the screen.

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The camera is a 2 MP unit, that has too good software for its hardware. It has too many cool options that are wasted on this lowly sensor. There’s a new UI here and bits and pieces of the Pixelmaster technology. We’ve got effects, white balance, ISO up to 800, exposure, optimization and picture taking with resolution up to 1600 x 1200 pixels (4:3). There’s anti shake, self timer, burst, face detection and HD filming, with an option for stabilization. The Modes include Auto, Time Rewind (take pictures 2 seconds before pressing the shutter button and 1 second after, with a total of 31 pics taken), HDR, Panorama, Night, Selfie, Miniature (blurs certain areas), Smart Remove, Allsmiles and Beautification.

The battery is a 19 Wh unit, a Li Polymer power source, that on paper should provide about 9.5 hours of functioning. In our usual video playback loop test, with WiFi on and brightness at 50% we achieved 5 hours and 20 minutes, which is a tad disappointing. The charging is also quite long, at 4 hours. In the Settings area, you’ll find the Power Saver option, that includes 3 sub options: Ultra Save, that disconnects the network when the screen is off, Extend and Keep connection On and Customize, that lets you choose the brightness level for a variety of tasks/apps.

Here are the Pros:

  • 64 bit Android tablet
  • Runs Android 4.4 KitKat with the latest apps
  • Tons of camera options
  • Beautiful UI
  • good speakers
  • nice case texture
  • Useful keyboard shortcut buttons

And the Cons:

  • Weak battery
  • Bad performance for a INR 20,000 laptop
  • Too many useless camera modes

VERDICT

Granted, this entry-level tablet is not identical in build quality to the high-end Transformer Pads of a few years ago. However, considering the tablet’s price, its Intel Atom processor performed well in our hands-on trials, as well as on most of our benchmark tests. The screen, while not spectacular, looked good, and the sound was better than passable, too.

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