ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity
Tablet computers like the iPad have gone viral. I should at least try out
this latest fad. Update: my laptop died and I critically need a replacement.
Among the many tablets available, the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity (TF700T)
stands out: it is one of the few with a detachable physical keyboard, called
dock, so it can be used as a real tablet or as a mini laptop.
See the selection page for my requirements and
for details of the selection process.
Key features of the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T:
- CPU: nVidia Tegra 3 T33 @1.6GHz quad core; GPU is nVidia GeForce ULP.
- Memory: RAM 1Gb, internal flash 32Gb (64Gb also available), micro-SD
slot (my card is 32Gb but people report using 64Gb cards),
full-size slot on the dock. One bad feature: speed tests suggest that
I/O limited tasks on the internal flash go about half as fast as
they would on the Samsung Galaxy S III;
in other words, ASUS has not given us particularly fast internal flash.
- Display: 10.1in (25.6cm) diagonal, 1920x1200px, 600 nit maximum
brightness, multi touch.
- Communication: IEEE 802.11 bgn, 802.15 Bluetooth 3.0, has GPS.
No cellular modem, though it's available on a different model.
- Battery: 25Whr (9.5hr life) on tablet, 19.5Whr on dock,
sum 44.5Whr (14hr life). Life test is playing 720p video with a
100nit screen, WiFi running. Battery is not field
- Camera: rear, 8Mpx auto focus f/2.2, LED flash. Front: 2mpx.
- Other features: one USB-2.0 type A on dock, or USB to tablet via
40-pin connector. Has ambient light sensor, accelerometer,
magnetometer (compass), gyroscope.
- Mass of tablet: 610 grams, dock 526g, both together 1136g.
Bounding box of tablet only: 263 x 180 x 9.0mm; thickness with the
dock and its hinge is 21mm.
Principal software activities so far:
- Web services with the Chromium-like stock browser and with Firefox.
Display is excellent.
- Secure Shell access to home and work servers using VX ConnectBot.
It has a key agent. It also serves as a local terminal. The large
screen (compared to the cellphone) and physical keyboard are really
helpful in this application.
- Editing files with Jota+, DroidEdit, ES Note Editor, and of course
vi in the shell.
- Dedicated e-book readers: Amazon Kindle and Science Magazine.
- Secure VPN access using StrongSwan (IPSec) and OpenVPN, both to
protect insecure protocols and to get the benefit of hostbased access
- Photo management: import photos from the real camera, and ship them
out to my cloud server. Local photo editing will be tried
- Perform local and remote (Icecast) music to Bluetooth or wired
- Map navigation by Google, and other GPS activities such as location
sharing and recording.
- Games: Sudoku, Mahjongg, Freecell, and several others considered
boring by teenagers.
- Real UNIX (Debian) as a not really virtual machine. Its first job
is to mount my home directory from the
file server using SSHFS.
The machine is very new for me and I'm still learning how to use its
capabilities, which are a lot different from my old laptop running real UNIX
(OpenSuSE). Likely in the future I will be doing more activities and doing
the existing ones more efficiently and conveniently.
So far the machine has been a joy to use.
- The big (for a tablet) and bright display gives good color rendition,
and the 1920x1200px resolution is the best in the business. However,
I'm used to bigger laptop and desktop displays.
- The keyboard has a nice feel, and missed keystrokes are rare. The
keys are 88% or 92% of the
standard width; I don't really
notice the difference.
- My laptop was the fastest machine in the house, and the servers are
also fast -- faster than the tablet. However, so far I've never
noticed any delays due to CPU limitations. Also no memory limitations.
However, I haven't done any really CPU-intensive activities yet, like
major image transformations or building large software packages.
- All my machines, including the tablet, do well in wireless (802.11n)
- Comparing the old laptop to the TF700T is like comparing a SUV to
a Mini-Cooper: less than half the mass.
- So far, battery life has been excellent; I can use the machine
all day (this doesn't mean every second of a 16-hour day)
and I've never had to recharge partway through.
- I've found so far that most of my activities have been keyboard
intensive, and so I've used the TF700T on the dock in mini-laptop mode
rather than as an actual tablet. Perhaps now that setup activities
are winding down, this will change.
- One negative item is, internal flash is slower than expected.
See the checkout page for
Table of Contents
The tablet can be used in any orientation, so referring to the
left side is ambiguous. Therefore I have defined reference
directions. At the beginning I'm mainly using it in landscape orientation
attached to the keyboard, and the directions are coherent with that use:
- North: the long edge away from the dock connector. The ASUS logo and
the power button are in the northwest corner and the volume buttons are
to the northeast.
- South: the long edge with the dock connector.
- East: the short edge with the speaker grille on the rear.
- West: the short edge with the card slot and the audio and HDMI
- Front: the side with the display.
- Rear: The other side.