Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 full review

The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 is due to launch in the UK in August, costing around £400. And our Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 review shows that this Android tablet is well worth the wait.

Once again, Asus delivers a complete package with its Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 Android tablet. The long-awaited Infinity maintains the slim, stylish, multipurpose tradition of its predecessor, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, while bringing an improved Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and a 1920-by-1200-pixel display along for the ride. This tablet blasts ahead of the pack to establish itself as the best-performing Android tablet we've seen to date, on all of our metrics except battery life. See also: Group test: what's the best tablet PC?

The 32GB version of the Infinity also offers double the memory of the third-generation 16GB Apple iPad, at the same price, in the US at least. Meanwhile, the 64GB version of the Infinity costs less than the 64GB iPad, Stateside. UK pricing and availability hasn't yet been announced, but reports suggest August, and around £400 for the 32GB model. Asus expects the Infinity to be available for sale in the US, at the earliest, during the week of July 16, in two colours: Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold. See also: Group test: what's the best Android tablet?

On the outside, the Infinity is a virtual twin of the Prime: At 246x180x8mm and 594g, it measures a mere 0.2mm thicker, and weighs just 12g more than the Prime. That makes the Infinity one of the lightest and slimmest Android tablets on the market today. By comparison, Apple's iPad measures 241x186x9.5mm and weighs around 652g (667g inc 4G). The extra weight makes a bigger difference than you might expect, both for casual use and for long-term use. I found the Infinity more comfortable to hold, especially when I held it in one hand instead of two.

The Infinity has some minor physical difference changes from the Prime. Asus moved the volume rocker from the top left edge (when held in horizontal orientation) to the upper edge, at at right. The Micro-HDMI port moved lower along the left edge, and below the Micro-HDMI port now sits the headphone jack (a more convenient location as compared with the Prime's upper right edge location).

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700: High-resolution display

As soon as you turn on the Infinity, you'll notice a difference between this model and its older brethren. The Infinity is one of two high-resolution 1920-by-1200-pixel Android tablets aiming to compete with Apple's third-generation iPad Retina display; the other, the Acer Iconia Tab A700, is now shipping and just edged the Infinity across the finish line to market.

Like the iPad's Retina display, the Infinity's high-resolution, 10.1-inch display dramatically improves the overall tablet experience. Text is clearer, images are sharper, and everything on the screen pops. The Infinity's pixel density of 224 pixels per inch matches that of the Iconia Tab A700. The iPad's 2048-by-1536 pixel resolution delivers an even higher pixel density of 264 pixels per inch, but the difference in screen quality between the iPad and the two Android tablets was not overwhelmingly obvious. The difference was obvious, however, between the Infinity and the Prime, as illustrated by the two screenshots below.

Text quality seemed noticeably smoother on the iPad than on either high-resolution Android tablet, which is unsurprising considering the iPad's higher pixel density. However, the degree of superiority seemed to vary considerably depending on the font I was looking at, which leads me to wonder whether the observed difference may be less about the Android tablets' lower pixel density and more about inherent differences in the way Apple's iOS and Google's Android handle text rendering.

Our test images looked great on the Infinity, too. As expected, images generally looked sharper and clearer, and had better colour reproduction than on such 1280-by-800-pixel tablets as the Asus Transformer Pad TF300, the Asus Transformer Prime, the Toshiba Excite, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. At maximum brightness, images viewed on the Prime looked more washed out than corresponding images on the Infinity - even though the Infinity's Super IPS+ display has the stronger maximum brightness measurement at 630 candelas per square meter to the Prime's 564 cd/m2.

The Infinity's images were similar in sharpness to the iPad's, though both the iPad and the Iconia Tab A700 had an ever-so-slight edge in that regard; also, the Infinity's images looked overly bright--likely a consequence of the brighter display (iPad's display maxes out at 445 cd/m2). Dialing down the brightness helped a bit, but both the Acer A700 and the iPad outpointed the Infinity in colour and skin-tone reproduction and saturation. That said, the Infinity clearly topped its predecessor, the Prime; the Prime's images lacked the contrast and clarity of those on the Infinity.

The glass panel is composed of Corning Gorilla Glass 2, an upgrade over the first-generation Gorilla Glass used on the Prime. But like the Prime--and unlike the Microsoft Surface, introduced last week--the Infinity offers optical bonding on the display to minimize glare and improve image clarity.

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