Asus is once again at the top when it comes to processing speed. The quad core (plus fifth low power companion core) NVidia Tegra T33 CPU is the newer and slightly faster version of the T30 used on other quad core tablets and smartphones. It's clocked at 1.6GHz vs. 1.3Ghz on other tablets including the Transformer Prime and it is indeed slightly faster on benchmarks. The tablet feels very fast too, in fact it's just as fast as my quad core Nexus 7 tablet running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, an OS that has serious speed optimizations. One exception is web browsing, where Transformer tablets fall behind in page load times and scrolling/pinch zooming responsiveness. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, currently the tablet with the fastest CPU on the market, a quad core 1.4GHz Exynos with Malio 400 graphics, is much more responsive when using the stock web browser.
I/O storage speeds have never been top notch on Asus tablets, but in the two weeks I've been using this as my main tablet, I haven't been bothered with as many of those occasional hiccups and slowdowns as with some prior Asus models. I'd love to see Asus banish slowdowns once and for all, but I suspect it's a component selection issue rather than software. Asus released a firmware update on July 27, 2012 that improves I/O speeds for those who are having slowdowns when using the tablet while downloading and installing large apps and files.
The TF700 has 1 gig of DDR3 RAM vs. the DDR2 RAM used on most other tablets and it's available with either 32 or 64 gigs of storage. You can augment that with microSD cards (or full size SD cards if you own the dock). We tested cards up to 32 gigs capacity and they worked fine. You can also use USB mass storage devices (USB flash drives and hard drives) that are formatted FAT32 or NTFS via Asus' small USB adapter that plugs into the sync/charge/dock port or the full size USB port on the optional keyboard dock.
As with other Transformer Android tablets, you can use power/speed settings to conserve battery power or run the tablet as fast as possible. The default Balanced setting works for us, offering nearly the same speed as Performance mode. Still, it's nice to have this geeky feature that's normally found on laptops rather than Android tablets.
The Transformer Infinity has single band WiFi 802.11b/g/n. Asus really worked hard to improve wireless performance compared to the Prime, and the Infinity has very good WiFi performance in terms of reception and speed. In fact, it managed -5db better signal than some of our laptops, and notebooks generally have better reception than tablets thanks to higher powered radios and longer antennas.
The tablet has a GPS and digital compass that work well. Even with WiFi turned off, our TF700 found 8 satellites in the first floor of a two story home 15 feet from the nearest window, and it got a location fix with 8m accuracy. Nice. It took 20 seconds to get that indoor cold fix with WiFi off, and it took only a few seconds with a warm start and with WiFi on. Outdoor performance when driving was very good.
The TF700 has Bluetooth 3.0 + HS for wireless headphones, speakers and Bluetooth keyboards among other things. It worked reliably in our tests, though we did note occasional audio track delays when watching streaming videos (a common problem with single chip WiFi/Bluetooth equipped smartphones and tablets). Video didn't stutter and audio didn't sputter as a consolation.
Tablet cameras generally stink. The HTC Jetstream was an exception, but the rest didn't take photos or video that motivated us to wave a 10" camera around. The Infinity TF700 changes all that: it takes photos that are so good I don't care if I look like a dork waving it around. Images are crisp, colorful and lifelike. The camera has some trouble with extreme outdoor contrast, but it's much improved over the Prime and to be fair, many high end camera phones have problems with this. The camera has touch to focus, and autofocus times are good.
The 8 megapixel rear camera has a flash, BSI sensor and a fast f/2.2 five element lens. It shoots very sharp and smooth 1080p video at 30 fps that's good enough to capture special moments and share them with friends on-screen or over HDMI or dLNA to an HD TV.
The Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 has a 25Wh Lithium Ion polymer battery that's sealed inside. Asus claims up to 10 hours use, and so far we've managed 9 on average with a mix of email, web, YouTube short clip playback and Polaris Office use. If you use the GPS heavily or game, expect shorter battery life. Video playback times are good, and we got through 3 feature length movies at 50% brightness with power to spare. The optional keyboard dock extends runtimes since it has a 19.5 Wh battery, and Asus claims 14 hours which seems on target in our tests with the TF201 dock that has a 22Wh battery. As with previous Transformer models, the battery in the dock charges the tablet and Asus includes a widget that displays both tablet and dock battery levels.
The Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 ships with Android OS 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich. Asus has stated that the Infinity will get the update to 4.1 Jelly Bean, and they've been good about offering OS updates reliably and quickly so we hope it won't be too long.
Asus doesn't muck much with Android's UI, so you're getting a fairly pure experience. They do add their selection of useful applications. These are the same apps that are bundled with the Transformer Prime and TF300 and they include Polaris Office (view, edit and create MS Office compatible docs), Splashtop HD remote (remotely access your PC or Mac's desktop), an app backup utility, App Locker (prevent the kids from running specified apps), SuperNote (rich notes with text and drawing support), Zinio, Press Reader, dLNA, a decently featured but slow ePub ebook reader and Asus Cloud Storage.
Yes! Finally a high end Asus Android tablet that we can love. My two weeks with the Asus Transformer Infinity TF700 have been truly enjoyable. The HD Super IPS + display is simply beautiful and the tablet is very fast. It's been stable as well with none of the "wait/force close" error messages that plagued my Transformer Prime and occasionally befuddled my Transformer Pad TF300. WiFi works well as does the GPS, and the camera is surprisingly super. We continue to like Asus' bundled software that truly are value-addeds rather than bloatware, and we look forward to Jelly Bean since Asus is always quick with OS upgrades.
If you're looking for a high end HD Android tablet with a versatile dock option, fast quad core CPU, USB host and an outdoor viewable display, we recommend the Transformer Pad Infinity TF700.
Price: $499 for the 32 gig and $599 for the 64 gig model
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