ASUS Transformer Pad: To compete with iPad go cheap

ASUS Transformer Pad: To compete with iPad go cheap

Summary: ASUS has released the latest tablet in its Transformer Android line, and to cut the price it had to cut corners in a significant way.


Image credit: CNET

Image credit: CNET

The maker of the best Android tablet on the market, the Transformer Prime, has released a new model aimed to compete with the iPad by going cheap. The new Transformer Pad is almost like the Prime, but with a price that is $150 cheaper ($399) than the former.

Unfortunately what the Transformer Pad demonstrates is the only way OEMs can try to compete with the iPad on price is to cut corners on the hardware. ASUS did this in several key areas that makes the Pad less of a tablet than the Prime.

Most notably the Pad is constructed with a plastic case, where the Prime has a durable metal casing. This is probably why the Pad is heavier than the sleeker Prime. The Transformer Prime has been praised for its crisp, vivid display, and sadly the Pad has a cheaper display that doesn't look as good according to early reviews.

The Transformer Pad does have the same optional laptop dock that has impressed us with the Transformer Prime. That turns the tablet into a full laptop with a battery life of 15 hours. It's an extra $150 which is coincidentally how much cheaper the Pad is than the entry-level iPad.

The Transformer Pad shows what OEMs building Android tablets are up against. They need to compete with the iPad, and to do that they must come in significantly cheaper than the darling from Apple. The only way to do that is to go with inferior hardware, and according to early reviews of the Pad that is close but not quite there.

ASUS has produced a tablet that might appeal to the less tech-savvy crowd not concerned about how good the hardware is on the Pad. It is a solid offering with decent performance. But then again, the Pad has a display that doesn't compare well with the best Android tablet out there, much less the Retina Display of the new iPad.

See also:

Topics: Hardware, Android, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • This "might" work...

    for Apple. After all being cheap might draw people into the tablet field that refused to bite before. That said of those people some will find the tablet not a good mix for them. Others who do might find that they want more and for them Apple could be a future purchase:)

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • Or

      This cheaper Tablet would be a stepping stone to the Prime. This could be a brilliant move by Asus if marketed correctly and offfered with some type of a trade in/up program.
      • Depends...

        Like what kind of profit per unit sale does this thing represent? If a trade in what can they possibly give the consumer to keep the profit and to make a profit on the next sale? What are the profit margins on these models? Both the cheap one and the more expensive one with more expensive parts and materials? If they are each rather thin then I don't think it would and or could work.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Transformer Pad is priced to compete with potential iPad 2 buyers

        James, once again you're way off with your Apple bias perspective. The T-Pad is priced to compete with iPad 2 and as such the hardware is superior to the iPad 2 in almost every way. It's a better deal than the iPad 2.

        BTW, your pricing information is wrong. The 16GB version is $379, 32GB is $399 and the T Prime 32gb version is $499. So there is no $150 price difference.
      • Sure ......

        ... and that is why ASUS has shipped only 80,000 units.

        FACT: ASUS admitted in court (Hasbro vs ASUS) that they only SHIPPED 80K units and they still have unsold inventory.
  • The transformer pricing is not about the iPad...

    the pricing is about laptops... Yes, you have the iPad in this segment but the transformer is in a unique position where it has the option of competing against low end laptops as well... Now, I don't know if you noticed but these lowend laptops are priced about $350 to $400 if they use Intel Processors.

    As for Tablet pricing, you have 2 camps, the Apple camp and the others... The Apple camp is eilling to pay more but, the other camp is used to paying less for their computers so they expect to pay less for their tablets.

    Bottom line, this pricing isn't just about the iPad as there are many factors that suggest the price is more about the target audience.
    • Not a fair question. Willing to pay more and or less.

      The fair question is what do you get for your purchase? IF you are OK with paying less and getting less then fine. However if you pay more and actually get more then there is nothing wrong with that either. Now in that lies the argument does it not? In this case the screen resolution and the quality of the built materials might give one pause cause I don't know if cheaper frame ie plastic on a mobile device what with jostling and bumps is a good idea and everyone likes to see more when they can.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Okay

        Tablet S2 vs iPad 3... Both will be similar specs but tablet S2 will have more hardware and software features but cost less...

        Transformer 300 vs iPad 3... You get a higher resolution screen and faster (less feature rich) GPU for more money but the benefits of the new Transformer are awesome as well and there are many things it does the iPad cannot do.
      • Wrong Pagan????

        The really fair question is: are they getting what they want and/or need? My friend, "thats the question."
  • Some odd assumptions here.

    Ironically, it's the 'superior' metal case for the Prime that screwed up its GPS and WiFi. The TF300 (I've never seen it referred to as the Transformer Pad anywhere else) is essentially EXACTLY the same as the Prime with these exceptions:

    - No SuperIPS mode - so lower brightness display
    - Lower power battery - so shorter life per charge (same for the dock)
    - Slower Tegra 3 - 7705 vs 8010 on one benchmark
    - Plastic case rather than metal.
    - GPS and WiFi that actually work.
    - 16GB ($379) and 32GB ($399) vs 32GB ($499) and 64GB ($599)

    Personally, if this had been an option - I would have taken it over the Prime. The metal back on mine is already developing two streaks of wear from just normal use. And I don't have GPS. But I do have spotty WiFi.
    • Where are the blogs

      Not knocking the Prime but I have to ask, where are all the blogs about spotty wifi and none functional GPS? Sure, I have seen a couple, and I do mean a couple but if it was an Apple product there would be dozens upon dozens of blogs on here about it.
  • I'm eager

    I'm eager to get my hands on one. At $399 for the 32Gb version, it's still cheaper than the iPad 2 in 32Gb guise. And the Prime offers something the iPad doesn't: a true, honest to goodness laptop dock.

    As much as I admire the new iPad (and that screen is blow-you-away-gorgeous) the Android world offers me two things that iOS simplu does not at any price:

    1) the extreme portability of a 7" tablet
    2) a true laptop/tablet hybrid

    These two options are enough to keep me in the Andriod fold, even if I do wish that the universe of Android apps were as polished and varied as their iOS counterparts.
    • Yeah but....

      What's a true laptop/tablet hybrid without the solid apps?
      • What are you talking about?

        Kingsoft Office is excellent and is being developed at a faster pace than any suite on the market... The Mail apps are great? Accounting, yep that is there as well... Quick sketch or photoshop, yep they exist too... Google Chrome, it is there!

        What apps are you referring to? Please be specific!
      • Not that bad

        For me Chrome is the one killer app that's waiting in the wings (in beta now).

        And there are lots of high quality apps out for Android (Citrix Receiver, Hulu+, Skype are just a few of the ones I use regularly) it's just that the ones for iOS are in many cases better. Office Suite Pro, for instance, works just fine, but I'd rather use an office suite with the polish of Apple's iOS iWork suite (think that's what it's called).

        Android feels a lot like Windows 95 to me (it works OK, but still has a way to go). Then again, lots of productive work was accompished on Windows 95.
      • Try

        @dsf3g Try kingsoft, it is pretty nice and moving fast, they seem to update about 3x a month with new features.
    • re: try

      @Peter Perry

      Just installed Kingsoft Office on your recommendation. Boy am I impressed. Definitely one to keep an eye on. It's not quite there yet, IMHO, but if it's being updated as quickly as you say then it'll probably soon be the one to beat.
  • They should avoid the rush

    and include the dongle in the box.
  • useless article

    You spent so much time commenting about the external build that you forgot to mention actual hardware on the device! The external build is not hardware, buddy. Hardware is hardware. you know, the internal components that run the machine? You should find another field to report about, since you know nothing about technology. Tegra 3 smokes the new iPad, since the only thing apple did was add a new gpu to an outdated chip.
  • They wont compete with the ipad until they bring out the W8 version(s)

    and Apple still has exceptionally high mark ups on ipads so there's no reason they cant come out with the same quality hw for less money. They dont have to cheap out on displays and use the horribly insecure and unreliable android to win. The sooner they grok this the sooner they'll become a real tablet contender.
    Johnny Vegas