Hands on Review: Asus TF103C Convertible Tablet
The only certainty with the personal computing market is change. Back in the 90’s it was “you can have any machine you want as long as its big and beige”. Things have thankfully evolved to today where Linux, windows, IOS and Android compete with a dizzying array of form-factors. There’s plenty of reason to consider an alternative computing platform such as Asus’s awkwardly named Android Kit Kat powered Transformer Pad TF103C.
As an entry-level tablet, it represents pretty solid value for money, selling for a wallet pleasing sticker price. For your money you get 16GB of memory, a 10.1” tablet and a keyboard dock. The addition of some vitamin QWERTY makes a big difference for usability, transforming the tablet from a content consumption widget into an affordable yet useable productivity tool.
Look and Feel
The TF103C might be bit of a chunky monkey compared to the likes of an iPad Air, but being Asus built kit, it feels pretty solid. Being a tablet first and foremost, connectivity options consist of a micro USB port and microSD card slot on its left-hand side, along with a proprietary docking port on its bottom edge.
The keyboard dock also does a fairly convincing job of showcasing a faux brushed metal finish, giving the TF103C an upmarket look that bats well above its very reasonable sticker price. In short it looked good and felt pretty solid. The TF103C’s chassis didn’t have any wobble or flex, and the entire shebang felt reassuringly durable. Weighing in at a shade over 500g (without keyboard dock attached) the TF103 is a bit weighty compared to other similarly priced tablets, but in extended use it remained comfy.
Under the Hood
The TF103C’s 10.1”, 1,280-by-800-pixel IPS LCD display was both vivid and bright, but at only 149ppi it could be a lot sharper. This said, viewing angles were fine and it worked great indoors and most of the time outdoors too.
On the connectivity front, there isn’t much lacking. The TF103C is a dual band wifi device and sports 802.11a/b/g/n compatibility on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Bluetooth 4.0 is also included and it also handily has GPS too.
All told, price considered, its spec isn’t half bad. I would have preferred more storage (16GB internal storage) might be expandable using a MicroSD card, but this is bound to be a frustration for anyone with a sizeable media collection. The choice of an Intel 1.86GHz Intel Atom processor also balances battery life and performance so android gamers won’t be disappointed either.
Where the keyboard accessory is typically an additional cost with most tablet convertables, Asus earns major brownie points by including a keyboard dock in its purchase price. Hooking the keyboard dock up transforms the TF103C into something akin to a netbook. While a tablet is fine for browsing or even knocking out brief emails, the addition of some QWERTY goodness transforms the TF103C into a productivity machine. While the keyboard initially felt a bit on the small siade, I soon got used to it. Needless to say, it works several bazillion times better than an on-screen keyboard. I also found the trackpad pretty responsive and found myself using it more than the touch screen.
One disappointment however is the lack of a secondary battery in the keyboard.
Priced At between $340 and $429 (depending where you shop), the TF103C represents pretty solid value for money given this is a price point typically reserved for budget no name brands. The TF103C mightn’t have enough processing muscle to decode the human genome, but in use it played most game titles I threw at it with relative ease. As a productivity device it has more than enough grunt and wins big points thanks to its reasonable screen and the sheer degree of versatility afforded by its convertible keyboard/tablet formfactor.
Display: 10.1” LCD (LED Backlit, IPS TFT), 149 PPI, 1280x800 pixels
Dimensions: (WxHxD) 257.4 × 178.4 × 9.9 mm
Weight: 542 g (tablet only)
Camera (Rear): 2 megapixels (Front) 640x480
Wi-Fi: 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n (2.4/5GHz)
Storage: 16 GB
Memory card Slot: (microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC up to 64GB)
OS: Android 4.4 (KitKat)
CPU/GPU: 1.33Ghz Quad core Intel Silvermont/Intel HD Graphics
Battery: 5,060 mAh