Very bright and sharp 1920 x 1200 display; Speedy quad-core performance; Improved cameras; Long battery life; Good suite of bundled apps
Awkward speaker placement; Display distorts with significant finger pressure
The ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity's full HD screen, fast new quad-core processor and improved cameras make this the Android tablet to beat.
It's about time someone tried to give the iPad's Retina Display a run for its money. ASUS' Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 is the first Android tablet on the market with a full HD screen (1900 x 1200 pixels). Starting at $499 for 32GB and $599 for 64GB, this slate also boasts a new quad-core Nvidia Tegra T33 processor and upgraded cameras. But great hardware alone doesn't make a killer tablet. Is the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity the new Android tablet king? Read on to find out.
DesignASUS's Transformer Prime and you'll be hard-pressed to find any design differences. The Infinity's thick black bezel and beautiful 10.1-inch display, which is covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 2, dominates the front of the tablet. Above the display, in landscape mode, is the Infinity's 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a faint ASUS logo.
Flip the Infinity over to reveal its brushed aluminum backing complete with a silver ASUS logo ringed by a series of concentric circles. ASUS offers two color options for the Infinity's back panel, a standard Amethyst Gray, which is what our unit sported, and a decadent Champagne Gold. A single strip of plastic that holds the Transformer Pad Infinity's 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and LED flash lines the top of the back cover. Opting for plastic in this location was designed to improve GPS and wireless reception as well as accomodate a 4G radio for future versions.
At 10.4 x 7.1 x 0.33 inches and 1.3 pounds, the Transformer Pad Infinity's size and weight perfectly match those of its predecessor, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime. Those measurements put the Infinity in the same size category as the quad-core Toshiba Excite 10 (10.3 x 7.0 x 0.35 inches and 1.3 pounds). The Transformer Infinity Pad is slightly larger but lighter, than Apple's new iPad (9.5 x 7.31 x 0.37 inches, 1.44 pounds).
We loaded a 1080p trailer for the upcoming James Bond flick, "Skyfall," on both the Infinity and the Transformer Prime and ran them at the same time. While images on both displays appeared razor-sharp, the advantage clearly went to the Transformer Pad Infinity. Daniel Craig's complexion was much more realistic when viewed on the Transformer Pad Infinity, making the Transformer Prime look washed out by comparison. Put up against the Acer Iconia Tab A700, which also has a 1920 x 1200 display, the Infinity's colors were slightly brighter, although both were equally crisp.
When put head to head with the iPad's Retina Display, the Transformer Pad Infinity's colors appeared a bit cooler, but overall sharpness was nearly equal on the trailer. The reds and oranges of explosions looked exquisite on the iPad's screen and a drop duller on the ASUS.
Like the Transformer Prime, the Infinity supports two display modes: Standard IPS, for indoor use, and Super IPS+, which increases the display's brightness for outdoor use. Outside, the Super IPS+ mode certainly helped improve visibility, but the display was still a bit difficult to see.
With Standard IPS mode enabled, we recorded a brightness reading of 433 lux, much higher than the Transformer Prime's 359 lux reading while in the same mode. That's also higher than the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1's 424 lux rating. With Super IPS+ enabled, the Infinity was in a class all its own, measuring 642 lux. That's much higher than the Transformer Prime's 571 lux rating while in Super IPS+ mode, and far brighter than the new iPad's 386 lux rating.
When viewing Web pages using the stock Android browser, the Prime and Infinity both showed the same amount of text, though it was far crisper on the latter. ASUS says that most of the top tablet apps and Nvidia Tegra 3 THD games will take full advantage of the Transformer Pad Infinity's higher resolution display.
We noticed that if we pressed down firmly on the Infinity's display -- much more than you would if using the tablet under normal circumstances -- the image became distorted in that area. We confirmed this issue on two other Infinity tablets. At least the distortion disappears when you lock and unlock the screen.
The Transformer Pad Infinity's sole speaker is awkwardly positioned on the back left side of the tablet, meaning you will undoubtedly cover it up with your hand when holding it in landscape mode. The sound wasn't too impressive. either. Chamillionaire's "Ridin' Dirty" sounded crisp and clear, with bass hits thumping, but overall the audio was a bit too low for our liking.
If touch-screen keyboards aren't your bag, you can always opt to use Transformer Prime's keyboard dock. ASUS specifically designed the Infinity to be compatible with the $129 docking station, which not only adds a keyboard to the Infinity, but significantly extends its battery life.
Software and Interface
While the Back, Home and Recent Apps icons get slight visual improvements, ASUS saves its biggest changes for the Infinity's notification bar. Tap the digital clock in the lower right corner of the screen, and the blue-and-black notification box opens to reveal the date, time, settings icon and battery status. ASUS also loaded the notification box with shortcuts for the Infinity's screen-orientation lock, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Auto-sync, mute button and GPS.
The notification box also includes buttons for switching between the Infinity's three power modes, as well as Standard IPS and Super IPS+ modes, two things that were buried within the Transformer Prime's system settings.
That increase in firepower was on full display when we put the Transformer Pad Infinity through its paces in several synthetic benchmarks. On the Benchmark CPU test, the Infinity scored a staggering 5,220, blowing away the category average of 2,752, as well as the ASUS Transformer Prime (4,097) and Toshiba Excite 10 (3,349), both of which feature earlier versions of Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 processor.
On the Linpack benchmark, the Transformer Pad Infinity scored a 56.1 in single-thread mode and 80.6 in multi-thread. On the same test the Transformer Prime scored a 47.4 and 70.3, respectively. The Toshiba Excite 10 also fell to the Infinity on the single-thread test, scoring a 45, but beat out the Infinity on the multi-thread test (129).
Our Infinity review model offered 64GB of onboard storage, expandable by up to 32GB via its microSD card slot.
Graphics and Gaming
One of the biggest draws of the iPad's Retina Display is the number of apps that run natively at its 2048 x 1536 resolution. ASUS says that the majority of tablet apps that support Android Ice Cream sandwich will scale to the Infinity's 1920 x 1200 resolution, but what apps truly taking advantage of the extra pixels? Photoshop Touch can run as high as 2048 x 2048, while AutoCad WS and video apps like DISH network's video app go up to 1920 x 1200.
Unfortunately, the Infinity's web browser does not run at its 1920 x 1200 resolution, but instead scales. Apps that did scale looked gorgeous when compared to the Transformer Prime's 1280 x 800 screen, especially games.
Third-party apps include Polaris Office, Amazon's Kindle app, Nvidia's TegraZone and Netflix.
Camera and Camcorder
The rear-facing camera also proved its worth when recording 1080p videos. A similar clip of the rooftop captured the haze of a scorching June afternoon, and the rustling of leaves on a tree in a gentle breeze.
The Transformer Pad Infinity's 2-megapixel front-facing camera captured fairly sharp images as well. Yes, you can video chat in HD. The camera adeptly handled an abundance of natural light without washing out our face, though we noticed minor .
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When we put the Infinity through the LAPTOP Battery test, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi with the display brightness set to 40 percent, it lasted a full 7 hours and 39 minutes in power-saving mode. That's well above the tablet category average of 6:56. By comparison, the Toshiba Excite 10 lasted 6:26, while the ASUS Transformer Prime lasted a very-similar 7:47 on power-saving mode. The third-geneation iPad, however, lasts about 10 hours on a charge.
Configurations and Warranty
Our configuration of the Transformer Pad Infinity, which has 64GB of onboard storage, costs $599, but ASUS also offers a 32GB model for $499. An optional keyboard docking station is also available for $129.
The Transformer Pad Infinity comes with a standard one-year parts and labor warranty.
VerdictSamsung Galaxy Tab 2 10 -- more than worth it. The Infinity's so-so audio and dearth of full HD apps dampen our enthusiasm a bit. But overall the the Transformer Pad Infinity is now the Android tablet to beat.
|CPU||Nvidia Tegra 3 T33 1.3-GHz|
|Storage Drive Size||64GB|
|Storage Drive Type||Flash Memory|
|Display Resolution||1920 x 1200|
|Front-Facing Camera Resolution||2.0MP|
|Card Reader Size||32GB|
|Warranty / Support|
|Size||10.35 x 7.11 x 0.33 inches|