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.
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