ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C: A Useful hybrid tablet

The Transformer Pad TF103C is an interesting transforming tablet and ASUS has by now mastered the art of making transformers. It’s works on the quad-core Atom Z3745—that’s more commonly found in Windows machines (Android devices are more typically powered by ARM chips). The Android OS (Android 4.4, aka KitKat in this case) has  8GB of storage, and it runs well with just 1GB of RAM.  Let us take a look at this interesting device today.

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This Transformer feels  premium and gritty like so many earlier models that ASUS made. The tablet is curved, with a soft-touch back that feels great in your hand. It measures just 0.4 inches thick—and weighs in at only 1.2 pounds.

The main difference between the Android-based TF103C’s 10.1-inch display and the same-sized display in the Windows-based TF100 is that the Android tablet’s screen has resolution of 1280×800 pixels, where the T100’s screen delivers resolution of 1366×768.

The TF103C doesn’t have as many I/O ports as you’ll find on a Windows laptop. There’s micro USB for charging and a microSD card slot additional storage. You’ll need to attach the keyboard to get a full-size USB 2.0 slot. The main issue is that the keyboard dock IS NOT AVAILABLE IN INDIA! Bad move ASUS!

Tablet’s capabilities include a headset jack, stereo speakers, a rather low-res (0.3 megapixels) front-facing camera, and a 2MP camera on its back. The TF103C supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and Miracast (for wireless video streaming to displays that support that standard).

If you can get the keyboard dock, it is comfortable to type on, with keys that are as well-spaced as they can be for a 10-inch device. I found the trackpad surprisingly useful with Android. It’s actually easier to move your finger to the keyboard deck than to reach across the keyboard to use the touchscreen. Function keys are more specific to the OS and are moderately useful as such.

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There are some issues though. Clicking and dragging on text does not highlight it. I had to reach up and hold my finger on the screen, then push the cursor around to highlight text. This can hinder a lot of productivity if you are trying to work with large documents or sending long emails. These are two things that most people do in the office, so this might be a setback.

The Chrome web browser is pre-installed, but I found that many of the sites I frequent either loaded much more slowly, or went to the mobile versions. I had to use bookmarks to make sure the right versions load, but the slow loading was more problematic. Feedly has a wonderful mobile app that’s great for reading news on my phone, but I found it too awkward when scaled up to tablet size. And like I said earlier, I had to reach up and touch the screen to scroll versus using the keyboard shortcuts I’m used to in the browser. This is an irritant when using for a long time.

I had to abandon some other Android apps that I love to use on my phone, because they just don’t play nicely with tablet-sized devices. I found myself just giving up on the keyboard for browsing and navigating certain apps, choosing instead to pick up the tablet and just use it on the couch rather than pretend I had a laptop.

But if you are a person who tweets, updates FB, blogs and send emails a lot in a day with breaks to watch movies or listen to music, this tablet is good, very good!

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But sadly, it is not good enough to replace your PC yet, development or design with this one is a big challenge. I would recommend this for regular users with light usage patterns. But power users who need to get work done, they have to wait a bit. But given ASUS efficiency and control over this segment, they will do something soon.

PROS

  • Solid build quality
  • Good price-to-performance ratio
  • ASUS UI is brilliant
  • Tablet part is sturdy and well thought out
  • Very good keyboard dock

CONS

  • Short battery life
  • Relatively weak as a productivity tool
  • Non Availability of the keyboard dock in India

AT A GLANCE

The Transformer Pad TF103C is a solid tablet for entertainment and other casual uses, but it won’t replace a true notebook if you’re looking to boost your productivity while you’re on the road.