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back to article Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 64GB Android tablet review

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 …

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Anonymous Coward

'not a world away from the iPad display'

You'd think they'd match it wouldn't you?

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Anonymous Coward

For this price, I'd buy a laptop.

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Joke

I dont know

Im pretty sure thats an iPad they are showing there with an ASUS decal slapped on and a coat of paint.

Can I see them side by side please?

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Anonymous Coward

It's just numbers

I've seen an iPad 3 and Infinity side-by-side, you can't tell which has the higher rez on paper by looking at them.

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Stop

Re: It's just numbers

DPI isn't the only measure of screen quality. How well does the Transformer Pad Infinity handle the sRGB colour gamut for example? You're more likely to notice that than a few more or less DPI.

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Anonymous Coward

all it needs is a TrackPoint

to all intents and purposes this thing *is* a laptop... it's like the fondleslab equivalent of a ThinkPad W520.

And AFAIK there's no way to get a laptop with that kind of resolution for less than £1000 (maybe £1200?).

600 squids is still a lot of money for a toy - although this one looks to be usable for work, too - hopefully in 3 years' time there'll be a decent supply of ex-corporate examples on the used market...

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Anonymous Coward

True, plus at least you can run proper software on a laptop not cut down "apps" and use an OS designed for keyboard and trackpad.

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For that price, I'd buy two netbooks.

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Re: all it needs is a TrackPoint

"to all intents and purposes this thing *is* a laptop... it's like the fondleslab equivalent of a ThinkPad W520."

Well, almost. I agree that the hardware looks like my dream laptop - superb battery life, superb resolution, strong build quality. I would buy one right now - in spite of the price. Except..., well, it's not a laptop. At least not a PC laptop. I can't just go and install easily the latest version of my favourite Linux distro. I can't install LibreOffice, I can't install Mozilla Thunderbird, a good VoIP client (I tried about 4 last time on an Android phone and they were full of bugs), VirtualBox, GnuCash, GanttProject, InkScape, Sane/XSane, Audacity and the list goes on. Yes - there are some cut down versions of similar software - but they have 10% of the functionality the above pieces of software have.

And there is the Google + manufacturer control thing. Good luck if you will be able to upgrade past 1-2 next versions of Android. In contrast - I have no problem upgrading my 5 year old laptop to latest version of <insert your favourite distro>.

This is a superb piece of hardware kit. But what people seem to be forgetting is that in the open source world (and proprietary, for that matter) - we benefit from software which has been developed and improved over many, many years. It will take a long time for the same level of functionality to be available on Android apps - if ever.

So no - a device which can accomplish about 20% of what I do on my 10 or 11 inch x86 laptop is *not* the same as a laptop. It's an appliance - an amazing bit of kit - but nevertheless - an appliance. Shame - but that's the way it is. I just wish they would sell something like this - at 10 inch and with this resolution and battery life on x86. But they don't.

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@xj25vm, Re: all it needs is a TrackPoint

I'm pretty sure it won't be long before someone puts a flavour of Ubuntu (or other Linux distro) on it and, as you are able to do with many unofficial Android ROMs now, dual boot into whichever OS suits your requirements. Then you'll have a full laptop experience with a HD screen and 14 hours of battery life (with the dock)

I'd keep an eye on XDA Developers.

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Good point

Why the heck can't you get a screen this good on an Asus laptop? I think a lot of people would be very interested in a full-featured netbook with a screen this crisp.

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Silver badge

Why? It's 1080p with a little extra at the bottom for soft buttons.

I guess they could have made it a bit smaller to up the DPI if they wanted to play I've got the biggest number.

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troll much?

1920x1200 is a nice, standard resolution that will work extremely well (natively) on existing external PC monitors, not some oddball resolution that will throw off every possible external display or projector.

What I'm wondering about is, how good the keyboard is for journalists who do a lot of typing.

Though I have an android phone, I never thought of looking for writing tools, since phones are awful to write on.

With this tablet, if you could find software like Notepad++ on the PC and a multi-language spell/grammar checker, and a search and replace program that can replace multiple words in text from custom lists, it could serve rather well for getting a lot more work done without needing an outlet than any ultrabook offers.

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Re: all it needs is a TrackPoint

@ xj25vm

Mostly agree with you, now that the hardware is great, software functionality becomes the issue. There are a few excellent apps, like Autodesk's sketch. But most of it is either buggy or simply lacks capability to match the things I already have.

No large open source teams that have worked on some package for years already. No utilities for any imaginable purpose. no MP4Box type things either.

Windows RT will be even worse. There won't be jack for apps till the first Windows RT hardware is already obsolete. I'm definitely holding out for something that can run Windoze 7 Pro 64Bit.

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Re: Good point

There's the new Asus Zenbook Prime ux31a but that is seriously expensive.

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Anonymous Coward

nice hardware...

Shame about the horrible OS. I believe that Asus will be shipping the same HW with windows RT on it. That is the one that I will be buying.

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Re: nice hardware...

Will be interesting to see the cost of that... If they have a Window RT version < £600, I would be tempted..

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Linux

Re: nice hardware...

Difficult to understand how you can describe the world's most popular mobile OS that way compares to an as yet unreleased but still highly critisised OS.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: nice hardware...

Windows 8 on a tablet will be fine as that seems to be the use case the GUI designers were targeting. It is just all the other desktop Windows users who will be struggling.

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FAIL

Re: nice hardware...

Android on tablets is a fantastic OS. It was good on Honeycomb, it was great on ICS, and it's unbeatable on Jellybean.

I'm guessing you bought a £50 supermarket Android 2.x tablet, when Google told you not to....

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Re: nice hardware...

"the world's most popular mobile OS"

Which version of Android would that be, then? Most Android devices today are still running v2.x. ICS and Jelly Bean are both still very rare in the wild.

You're also using exactly the same "All those millions of people can't be wrong!" rhetoric that resulted in the PC's and Windows success too. After all, Windows is by far the most popular desktop OS out there, so, by your logic, it must be awesome, right?

Mere popularity implies nothing about quality. Just ask the inventors of Betamax.

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troll...

Windows RT would be even less likely to have apps you can use for whatever you plan to do with that for like 2 years minimum. So, the Windows version of this will be obsolete before you can do anything with it. Except for forced Facecrook integration. njoy!

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I had one of the early transformers and I thought it was an excellent tablet, but I finally disposed of it for the simple reason it would not play mkv videos and I have a lot of material in that format which I have no intention of transoding to mp4 just to satisfy one device. Does this one play mkv?

Single speaker is also disappointing. My TF101 had stereo.

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Use VLC

Still in beta, VLC on Android: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/download-android.html

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Alert

MKV

Hi Len, if you use a 3rd party video player like VPlayer then yes. It even supports subtitles within the MKV container.

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Silver badge

Mkv?

There's an app for that. Lots of apps.

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No need to Transcode most MKVs

A re-multiplexer will convert to MP4 quite rapidly and with no loss of video quality. On the Mac for example Subler will convert a 1080P movie in less than a minute.

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Anonymous Coward

MX Player

free, massive codec support and very good, and includes gesture controls.

So what more could you want?

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Anonymous Coward

So far it has played back everything I've thrown at it, even with the stock video player. So yes, 1080p MKV is fine (at least when the video is in H.264). Regarding the original Transformer (I have one as well), it could in theory play back 720p video (if it didn't support some of the more advanced features of H.264), but I found the dealbreaker was multichannel audio, it would consistently choke on those files.

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Silver badge

VLC, MX et al

You probably need a mix of players at the moment. VLC can be a little flakey, screwing up aspect ratio. MX is more reliable but throws up ad banners occasionally.

I think VLC will get there eventually. I'm not sure how much it uses hardware acceleration yet but it seems to play HD content from what I've thrown at it on my TF300

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FAIL

Be careful that the Yankee Hegemony does not up & Byte you!

Hmmm !!

The TF101 I've got here in Hong Kong has been "hobbled" to suit overbearing "Uncle Sam" domination - i.e. It goes no higher than Channel 11 Wi-Fi.

Not only that, but ASUS neither refuse to respond to my questions - nor offer to provide a "fix" for losing 2 otherwise useful channels!

Yet Japan uses UP TO Channel 13, so when I go to Japan - I have to seek out Wi-Fi services at Channel 11 or lower.

Ever tried listening - via browser - to Boomerradio.com??? After ~9 minutes I get the sounds of a Rattlesnake's rattle over-riding the music & have to stop the program and restart - it was still the same after my TF101 went away for "servicing" by the HK Asus official repair-shop.

My suggestion to all purchasers is to check whether later (per?)versions have these faults before you buy later models !!

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Unhappy

Just too much

I really would buy one of these like a shot, but it really is too much to justify, particularly with the Transformer Pad being £200 cheaper, can the HD really be worth that much?

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Re: Just too much

The price is steep, but for me at least the increased resolution and brightness on the screen and the ability to use it in daylight is the most important thing. That said, I could probably live with a Nexus 7. I suspect that the price may move into line with the more or less equivalent IPad. So I'll wait and see...

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Thumb Down

Too pricey and too late..

Unfortunately I think ASUS has missed the boat on this one.. they demo'd it in January, so it has taken them 8 months to get to market. Instead of concentrating of the Prime, they should have brought this to market first..

I've been licking my lips waiting for this, but got so fed up of waiting I brought myself a Nexus 7 at 1/3 the cost..

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Still no 3g

ASUS promised this on the first transformer and have yet to deliver on any model.

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Silver badge

£600!

That's straying into ultra/sleek book territory.

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Boffin

Memory cards

The older Transformer reads SDXC cards, so no doubt this one will, too, which with currently available cards gives you scope for 192GB of extra storage, 128GB in the dock and 64GB in the tablet (assuming a full sized slot in the dock, as per the original Transformer?). No doubt we will soon see those sizes double again, which will be kinda insane.

GJC

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Thumb Up

Pricey!

But for 14 hours of battery life with Jump Desktop as an RDP / VNC over SSH client into a VM even in direct sunlight (read beach) it's perfect. They are releasing a dual core 3g version soon if the internet is telling the truth.

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Go

Re: Pricey!

Thankyou! I have a couple installed, and they work fine for what I needed, but were not perfect - plugging a mouse into the Infinity I now have a 1920*1122 RDP machine that has pin sharp letters and works like a regular RDP machine - making it even better than I thought it was before. That good I may even put my credit card into the play store to buy the full version (something I thought I would never do!)

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Re: Pricey!

I know it's rather cheeky but would you mind testing the right mouse button on the TF dock works as expected over RDP in Jump Desktop?

Several XDA members claim it works but I can't work out if that's via touch-pad buttons or external mouse.

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Thumb Up

Re: Pricey! - Right Click Test

Sure - I just did :) Typing this using Jump to talk to my development machine now. Right click on the track pad works the same as it does on my mouse.

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Re: Pricey! - Right Click Test

Cheers!

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Silver badge

I have a TF300

I have the "cheap" TF300 which is basically the same as the Prime except in a plastic shell and with a different screen. The battery lasts ages especially with the keyboard dock to act as a reserve, the screen is bright and the tablet itself feels really fast.

There are three issues with the transformer which I do not like however and they are all to do with input.

1) Sometimes when I'm typing focus jumps to another widget. This could be related to 2) which I'll describe in due course, but even when focus is maintained I get odd behaviours. Sometimes I can't ctrl+shift+cursor to select text by the word but shift+cursor to select by the character works. Sometimes a popup appears asking me which input device to use presenting me with two meaningless choices of Asus or Android keyboard. What the hell is going on and why are you even asking when I have a keyboard plugged in?

2) The trackpad is very responsive. As in TOO responsive and there is no way to adjust the sensitivity or track speed. Lightly brush on the trackpad, e.g. while typing and suddenly you've clicked away from a text field and lost focus. This is utterly unacceptable. ASUS need to provide a settings where I can adjust the pressure and duration that the pad is touched for it to respond. Just like any other laptop device. The only work around is to turn the thing off, fortunately there is a key for this.

3) Using the trackpad causes a cursor to show on the screen but unlike in desktop operating systems the cursor does not change shape according to what it is hovered over. This is most obvious when hovering over a text field, or a link in a browser. Google really need to plug this gap so that widgets can provide mouseover hints and get their emulator to support the feature for development testing.

I read somewhere that Google Chrome might be to blame for the lacklustre keyboard / mouse support in Android but I do not accept that as an excuse. ASUS can pack in any drivers and extra settings they want to improve the experience while putting pressure on Google to add native support. It really needs fixing.

While Windows RT is bound to suck for other reasons, I just know the keyboard / mouse support will be a hell of a lot better than in Android. Microsoft will get the experience right and that might just be the deal breaker for some people.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I have a TF300

Yup, all of the above software issues related to sticking a sub par mobile phone os on a tablet. I had the misfortune to spend a week using a galaxy tab last week. It was an utter piece of crap. Win RT will kill Android on tablets.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I have a TF300

You're using an OS designed for phones on a tablet machine. Tablets are second class citizens on Android as Google's primary focus is the phone market and they're wasting development hours on ChromeOS too.

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Re: I have a TF300

That was applicable about 1.5 years ago. With ICS and Jellybean Android is just as comfortable and at home on a tablet as it is on a phone.

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Trollface

Re: I have a TF300

Oh please, enough of this Microsoft troll bullshit. How can you even begin to compare an OS you've never used with Android? It may well be better, but right now you have no bloody idea if it is or not. Get a life, get a girl, get a job, get something but please f**k off while you are doing it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I have a TF300

I've a TF300 too and to be honest those niggles you mention are true. But they are just that, niggles. I use my Pad daily and very quickly quit noticing them. Is the TF300 dock as good as a good laptop when it comes to usability? No. Is it the best tablet/keyboard combo? In my opinion yes. The Infinity looks nice but I'd not have paid the extra for some more pixels.

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Re: I have a TF300

"You're using an OS designed for phones on a tablet machine."

No, I'm using an OS designed for tablets on a tablet machine. I expect the experience to address a common use pattern of people using keyboard / mouse peripherals and respond correctly. It's not an insurmountable problem but it is a problem.

As for Windows RT (I assume you're the troll talking it up), yes I think it will do keyboard / mouse input a lot better and said as much. It will suck balls in many other ways however given that it's not Windows and will therefore suffer from a lack of legacy support and a general dearth of apps.

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Re: I have a TF300

"I've a TF300 too and to be honest those niggles you mention are true. But they are just that, niggles. "

I don't find them niggles. I encounter them virtually every time I type anything on the thing. I find it inexcusable that nearly into 4th iteration of tablet they still don't have the software nailed with proper settings to control the touchpad and these odd behaviours. They are fixable and they should be fixed.

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