Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 64GB Android tablet review
Full HD fondleslab, anyone?
When it comes to tablets, it seems Asus is on a bit of a roll. In my estimation, its Transformer Pad is the best value 10-incher on the market and, lest we forget the company makes the altogether excellent Nexus 7 for Google. There is no sign of Asus resting on its laurels either, if its latest Transformer device is anything to go by.
Key features: Asus' Transformer Pad Infinity
The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity utilises a powerful Nvidia chipset and features a full HD screen. Indeed, the resolution is actually 1920 x 1200 rather than 1920 x 1080, so you still get the full 1080p banana even when the menu bar is showing along the bottom of the screen. The panel notches up a pixel density of 224ppi, several streets ahead of the Transformer Prime’s 149ppi, a smidgeon better than the Nexus 7’s 216ppi and not a world away from the new iPad’s much vaunted 264ppi retina display.
Numbers aside, the display is impressive: sharp, with no discernible backlight bleed, it’s the best of the Transformer bunch when it comes to making blacks look black. Asus’s IPS screens just keep getting better and better, and they were pretty good to begin with.
Leave the keys, just take a tablet
It’s bright too. Like the Prime the Infinity has a Super IPS mode which cranks the brightness up to 600cd/m² rather than the more usual 300cd/m². To be honest, I’m not sure you need a panel to be this bright but if you do find yourself using your tablet in sunlight it’s good to know you can turn it up to 11 and put Helios to shame.
Physically, the Infinity is very similar to the Prime – the tablet part is 0.2mm thicker and 12g heavier though it’s not made entirely of aluminium. The upper part of the rear of the tablet is plastic to help the GPS radio do its thing. It’s an impressively solid and robust device but so is the basic Transformer Pad and that’s made entirely of plastic.
It’s worth noting here that the Infinity’s GPS and Wi-Fi reception are very good. In fact it’s the best I’ve encountered on an Android tablet, which is worth taking into consideration if you plan on using it as a satnav or in a location with questionable Wi-Fi reception. I suspect the kicking that Asus took over the Prime’s poor performance in these areas, has paid dividends.
On board, is 1GB of DDR3 RAM and running the show is a Tegra 3 chipset. The Infinity uses the T33 version clocked at 1.6GHz – when firing on all cores – or 1.7GHz when running on just the one. This makes it the most powerful Android tablet on the market and, basically, it goes like stink. Take its average AnTuTu benchmark score of 12,300 this is a good 2,000 points better than the Prime. Still these are test conditions – the very fast Infinity is faster than the very fast Prime – yet in everyday use, there is little, if any, discernible difference between the two.
AnTuTu and Sunspider results
I hear that in the UK the Infinity will only be available in its 64GB guise, presumably to put some clear blue water between it and the 32GB Prime. Assuming you have two 32GB memory cards to hand – one for the tablet and one for the dock – then this arrangement gives the Infinity a potential 128GB of storage. However, this does have an impact on price, which I’ll come to.
Stock ICS homescreen
The operating system is Android in its Ice Cream Sandwich incarnation and thankfully Asus has resisted the temptation to ‘do a Samsung’ and mess about with it. Will the Infinity get Jelly Bean? More than likely.
The cameras are pretty impressive for a tablet. The rear boasts an 8MP sensor, LED flash and a bright f2.2 lens while the webcam makes do with a healthy 2Mp. Video can be recorded at 1080p and 30f/s in H.264 through both and, naturally, the webcam lets you Skype till you drop. With only the one speaker the sound the Infinity makes is no more than adequate. The Acer A510 easily beats it soundly on this front.
Trackpad on board so you don't need to tap the screen
The dock part of the Infinity partnership is very similar to those that ship with the lesser Transformers though they are not interchangeable. As with previous docks you get a USB 2.0 port that will happily power an HDD and an SD card slot and a second battery. The Infinity’s batteries are the same as those in the Prime: 25Wh in the tablet, 19.5Wh in the dock.
Fortunately, the extra pixels and more powerful CPU don’t appear to have any noticeable impact on battery life when compared to the Prime. Looping a 720p video saw the tablet battery give up the ghost after 8hrs, while the dock battery added another 5hrs 30mins. Unless you go berserk with the screen brightness, you can quite easily get three days of use between charges.
Fast, well-connected and, alas, expensive
What the Infinity is not, is a bargain. Just as the £399 Transformer Pad cost £100 less than the Prime, so the Infinity is £100 more. I can’t question the symmetry, but £599? Strewth. That’s £40 more than a 64GB iPad. Of course the iPad has a smaller if slightly higher resolution screen, no memory expansion, poorer cameras – especially at the front – and no keyboard dock with a built-in battery. With those comparisons in mind, maybe it's not so expensive after all.
The Asus Transformer range continues to expand and evolve apace and with the Infinity you get a superb 1080p screen, 64GB of storage and an even more powerful incarnation of Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chipset. In use it is an altogether superb device but at £200 more than the basic Transformer Pad, the premium for the HD screen is a high one. If it was my money, I’d probably be more inclined to buy a Transformer Pad and a 8GB Nexus 7, and a lot of beer with the change. ®
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