Asus has announced that the Transformer Pad 300T, its low-cost version of the quad-core Transformer Prime, will go on sale for £399 including VAT next month. Asus says it will be available from Currys and PC World from late May, and in all retailers from late June. Buyers will be able to order online from early May.
The Transformer is Asus's innovative take on the tablet, providing a 10.1-inch tablet that docks with the keyboard required to do any substantial work. The keyboard dock contains its own battery, which extends the tablet's 10-hour battery life to about 15 hours.
Battery life is enhanced by an extra core in the Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, which handles low-power tasks such as playing music and "active standby". The SoC (system on a chip) also includes a 12-core GeForce graphics processor.
The TF300T is made of plastic rather than aluminium, like the Prime version. It is also slightly thicker and heavier than the Prime, though it is still thinner (9.9mm) and lighter (635g) than the original Transformer TF101. It is available in three colours: red, white and blue.
The Transformer Pad 300T is fully featured, with a gigabyte of memory, 32GB of built-in storage, and 8 megapixel and 1.2MP cameras. Connections include a microSD card slot and a micro HDMI port, while the keyboard dock includes a trackpad, a full SD card slot and a USB 2.0 port. The operating system is Google Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Bundled software includes SuperNote and Polaris Office.
Later, Asus plans to introduce a new model of the Prime, using the aluminium case and a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. This model will increase the screen resolution from the usual 1280 x 800 pixels to 1920 x 1200.
The Transformer range has been successful in providing both a tablet and, for many purposes, a netbook replacement at a competitive price. It will be interesting to see what the company can do with Microsoft Windows 8, both the Intel x86 and Windows RT (for ARM) versions.