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Re: Asus Transformer TF300 ($279) or Nexus 10 ($399)
Originally Posted by jgk5020
So let me first apologize for the incredibly long posts as this is going to be another of them. However, if you're reading this thread, and my previous TF300 review, you probably appreciate as much info as you can get before parting with your hard earned money for one of these tablets, or before returning the wrong one! So I'm going to write this review the way I'd appreciate reading one, knowing how I felt when I was "on the fence". But if you just want the nitty gritty details of the N10 without my thoughts, just jump down to the bullet points below. Without further delay let me get into my review of the Nexus 10!
- Great buying experience from Google, though if there was a return needed, I only have 15 days and the potential for more headache than if purchased at local retailer.
- N10 has nice form factor - just as sleek and sexy as I need and more than I expected. Equally content with both N10 and TF300 in terms of form factor and ergonomics.
- Volume rocker and power button along with Pogo connector make for a sturdy, well built feel. Love that N10 has Corning Gorilla Glass 2 also, which the TF300 does not.
- Boot up time on Nexus 10 is nearly HALF the time on the TF300.
- Wish there was a clear docking solution on the N10 that equalled the TF300's... maybe with the Pogo connector there will be!
- Typing/two handed ergonomics still an issue but is an issue with all 10" tablets I would guess. A dock or at least a stand will greatly help with either tablet.
- Nexus 10 Feels like a higher end device than the TF300 in both performance and form factor
- DEFINITE difference in I/O and snappyness/responsiveness in the N10 over the TF300. Benchmarks AND daily use on both devices confirm (by leaps and bounds) Nexus superiority
- I like that the Nexus 10 has Bluetooth 4.0
- Love that N10 has NFC and wish the TF300 did though not sure how often I'll use this in public, I do use it when "beaming" things to and from my wife's Nexus 7 and from our HTC Amaze 4G phones.
- Google Now (as does most other apps) works better on Nexus 10 because of responsiveness improvement over TF300
- Navigation (swipes, taps, etc) are buttery smooth in nearly every way on the N10 even with apps not designed for tablets or hi res displays. Not so much on the TF300 as more lag was apparent in most day to day use applications.
- Still like that the TF300 has a wipe cloth included. Wish I had one for the N10
- Camera seems better on the TF300 but honestly not tested very thoroughly.
- WiFi is clearly better with 2.4 AND 5ghz availability on the Nexus 10 and only 2.4 available on the TF300. Range is great on both but better on the N10 BUT I did notice streaming issues of HD content on the N10 that I did NOT have on the Nexus 7, or our phones (didn't test on the TF300). Hoping this is a Play Movies app issue and not a tech issue with the tablet.
- Display is HANDS DOWN better in every way on the N10. Absolutely brilliant and crisp even for someone who didn't think I'd even be able to tell a difference, nor was this an important factor in my buying decision, but IS a deciding factor in my keeping decision.
- Hi Res display compatability may cause performance issues with some apps, as I've seen with 1 game so far - Shoot Bubble Deluxe. This, I believe is a short term problem though and will get better as more developers adjust to the market of hi res displays
- Both are packaged equally nicely out of the box
- Battery is better on the TF300
- Love the LED indicator for notifications on the Nexus 10 that is NOT present on the TF300
- Love the prospect of more frequent updates with a Nexus device
- Double the Ram, Better Display, Sturdy build helps give confidence that this tablet will remain relevant for many more years than the TF300.
When I wrote the review above for the Asus TF300 tablet, I had literally JUST placed my order for an N10 on the Google Play store. It was last Wednesday around 9am, I placed my N10 order and then wrote my thoughts on what I liked and didn't like about the TF300 as well as what I was looking forward to in the Nexus 10. My VERY first Nexus experience was with the ordering process so let me start there. Here's where "living in the android ecosystem" really paid off (both for Google and for me ). Google has REALLY made it super simple to order and track a Nexus 10. For as many complaints as I've heard with Google's fulfillment process, I have to tell you I've honestly NEVER had a more seamless and fluid purchase on the internet. A bold statement I realize, but here's how it went down. I did a Google search for "Nexus 10". Many pages came up, I briefly considered looking to see if I could find a discount anywhere, but then remembered that I didn't even see any local stores that would be carrying these and I hadn't heard of any crazy coupon codes or anything, so I just clicked the link from the Google Play Store advertising N10's for sale. I didn't read any of the product information as I had already made up my mind that I was going to be trying one of these babies. First thing I noticed was that it said " SHIPS SOON: ships in less than a week" for the 16GB model that I wanted. I clicked on Add To Cart and checked the check box to associate "my new device" with my Google account and clicked "proceed". The very next page was populated from Google Wallet, and like magic it was all of my payment information and shipping information already pre-populated waiting for me to approve. I was amazed at this because I hadn't ordered anything from Google before but I WAS logged into my gmail account in another tab, so it knew who I was. And as it turns out, I DO have a credit card on file with them from an old android app purchase from 3 years ago, so I literally just had to click a button and I was done. Already excited about the credit card points I just racked up and even more so about my new Nexus 10, I wrote my TF300 review. If I told you I didn't check the Google Wallet order confirmation page at least 400 times all day on Wednesday just hoping for a status update and shipping notification then I'd be lying. As ridiculous as this sounds, I'm sure some of you can sympathize ;-) So my first Nexus experience, the checkout process, was amazing, I think it took a total of about a minute and 30 seconds from opening a browser to checking my email for an order confirmation.
I then read on the internet about many people who ordered on the first day and received no shipping updates, delayed shipping updates, and other generally bad things about the Google shipping experience. Hoping I wouldn't be one of them, i just kept refreshing the checkout page, trying to get some other things done that day. No updates all day. the next morning I woke up and immediately checked my email on my TF300 and saw that my order had already shipped and was expected to be delivered the very next day on Friday! I was ecstatic!!! Turns out Google uses 2 day shipping for all N10 orders and I was very excited about getting my tablet the very next day. Sure enough, around 3pm the next day, on Friday, I found out first hand what Brown could do for me when they delivered a shiny new N10 to my doorstep. So far, I couldn't have asked for a better experience from Google. But here's where the review gets real, keep reading!
Like most of you, I'd seen nearly all video reviews and read all comparison reviews of the N10 at this point. From the looks of everything I'd seen prior to getting the N10, I didn't really like the rounded edges, or the back of the tablet, and felt generally like the TF300 was more sleek and sexy. I hoped the N10 would be just as "sleek and sexy", thought ultimately this wasn't that important to me. As I opened the Nexus 10 tablet, I immediately fell in love with it. I think I had underestimated what it would look like and had lowered my expectations enough to be impressed by the thin, light, and gorgeous looking tablet I was now holding. A quick comparison to the TF300 showed it to be thinner and nearly the same weight. It looks smaller in both length and width but I think it's an optical illusion created by the rounded corners because they're just about the same size when putting them on top of one another. Here comes the fun part... turning it on for the first time!
So I turned off my TF300, laid both tablets on my desk in front of me and turned them both on at the same time. The N10 booted up a solid 90+ seconds before the TF300. Once I loged into the tablet with my google account and answered the initial questions I was honestly stunned at the clarity and crispness of the display, but what blew me away even more was it's responsiveness! Just swiping from screen to screen, opening the App tray, tapping an app, swiping down notifications, all the normal stuff you'll be doing everyday was the perfect responsiveness. I didn't notice a single lag or hesitation doing ANYTHING on the tablet. This quality alone nearly made up my mind to return the TF300 as switching back to the TF300 in comparison honestly felt like stepping back by about a year in terms of hardware age. You know how your phone or laptop starts to "slow down" after a while? This was the effect I felt with using my brand new TF300 after using my brand new Nexus 10. Huge difference and no comparison in terms of responsiveness, a big win for the N10 here.
I then turned off the TF300 and resolved to just play around with the N10 for about a week or so and then decide if the quality still held up, or if I was less happy then my initial excitement upon receiving the N10.
The next thing I noticed was that the Nexus 10 detected BOTH my 2.4ghz AND my 5ghz wireless-N networks (dual band router) which was a nice surprise, as the TF300 only recognizes the 2.4N network but not the 5ghz. Google also included a free copy of Ice Age and Planet Earth from the Play Store as well as 3 different magazines from which we could test out the media capabilities of the gorgeous display and phenomenal piece of hardware in my hand. Naturally I had to try and play both of them and they streamed in gorgeous HD with no lag or noticeable hesitation. The sound, having 2 brilliantly placed speakers on the surface of the tablet on either side when holding in landscape mode was amazing!!!
Throughout the day and night, I ran benchmarks, most of my apps, logged into all of my social networks, updated all of my apps to the latest versions, and played around with Google Now and here's what I noticed.
Google Now, as with everything else worked smoother and more consistently than on the TF300. There was some slight hesitation (very slight) using Google Earth but this hesitation was significantly more on the TF300. You can really tell that the N10 just has more RAM and processing power it seems (thought I'm not convinced that substandard hardware is the actual issue with the TF300). Both tablets again are great to use and the lag in various places on the TF300 isn't as annoying until you see the alternative in the N10. I expected to see some noticeable lag in several apps due to the extremely high resolution but I honestly haven't yet. Admittedly I'm not a gamer, and haven't even tried any of the high end 3-D games or anything on either tablet. BUT I think I did experience this effect with an addictively fun game called "Shoot Bubble Deluxe". In this game you tap the screen to fire colored marble like bubbles at other bubbles and when you get 3 of the same color they break, giving you more space on the game board. Once you break all of the bubbles on the screen you move to the next level, similar to tetris or bejeweled in game play. Shoot Bubble Deluxe doesn't have stunning HD graphics, and looks better on the N7 than it does on the TF300 or on the N10. On the bigger tablets the bubbles and colors are noticeably less crisp and clear. This game works great on the TF300 and on my wife's Nexus 7. We'd even gotten in the habit of unwinding for the day with a glass of wine while trying to out do each other on our new tablets after dinner at night. The game is nearly unplayable on the Nexus 10. When you tap the screen to shoot a bubble, expecting a quick, snappy shot across the screen, instead you get a delayed, slow motion like bubble being shot across the screen. It's almost as if you've turned down the gameplay somehow to make it slower. There is no studder or lag, but it's a very slowed version of play and it's annoying to the point that I can't play this game anymore. My thought (and hope) is that this is a direct result of the high resolution display. This game is alot of fun, but by no means a "need" for me.
The WiFi connectivity, as I briefly mentioned earlier, is better (to my surprise) on the N10 than on the already impressive TF300. I constantly get more bars from both my Wireless N networks as well as many of my neighbors WiFi networks which are now in range. I have a 2 story home with the router upstairs and I get constant coverage of both 5ghz and 2.4 Ghz networks everywhere in the house, on the back porch and in the garage and driveway... both tablets are better than my Amaze 4g phone in this regard. I will say, I have had this unfortunate and annoying instance of "not getting enough bandwidth" to stream the HD versions of Ice Age and Planet Earth while downstairs on the N10, when it works fine on my wife's N7. This only happened twice and has worked fine every other time I've tried it, but streaming the same HD content (simultaneously with my wife's N7 and not simultaneously) seemed to cause a "not enough bandwidth" error to occur on the N10 but not on my phone or the N7. I don't know if something with the high resolution causes this (maybe it's trying to stream 1080p while the nexus 7 only requires 720p?) A subsequent speed test, router test, and the use of other devices rules out the internet connection or network connection as culprits. While this was happening, every OTHER source of HD streaming worked flawlessly on all my devices (i.e. YouTube, Media Server, etc), so there is a chance this is a problem with the Google Play Movies app too. I don't know but it IS frustrating and annoying when it happens which seems to only be a night and has only happened twice, with about 10 times as many instances with NO lag whatsoever streaming over my home network on the N10. I'll monitor the situation with the latest update of the Google Play Movies app that I just downloaded and see if it continues. All app updates (even large 20+MB ones) download quick and install flawless on both the N10 and the TF300 and I've noticed Google Play Store crashes on both more frequently than I'd like.
Bluetooth works great on the N10, and I love that it's supposed to have the updated Bluetooth 4.0 profile for faster transmission, though I haven't been able to test or confirm this. The voice sync issue noticed in the Xfinity App with the TF300 using Bluetooth is also present on the N10 and only for the Xfinity app, so I'm chalking this one up to the App rather than the hardware.
Typing is still difficult on both tablets, but this is due to the 10" nature of the tablets more than anything else. The SwiftKey3 keyboard helps but my hand still get tired very quickly holding the 10 inch tablet to type with my thumbs. I think a keyboard dock or bluetooth solution will be a MUST for long term use and typing on either tablet. The TF300 is obviously a better fit here, but I'm hoping the presence of the POGO connector on the N10 will allow for a docking solution soon that won't require battery draining Bluetooth.
Battery life is noticeably better on the TF300 as I can get about 4-5 hours with heavy use on the N10 and about 6-7 hours on the TF300. This is a very rough estimate, NOT tested or verified with specific tests, more of a general observation. This has the potential to be a disappointment considering the need for portability in a tablet, but for now, I'm near a power cord all the time, so no issue as of yet. The TF300 also charges quicker, but honestly if I'm going to charge overnight it doesn't really matter to me all that much yet. It is just a nice feature of the TF300 to be able to charge so quickly (within an hour).
I really like the LED notification indicator like I have on my cell phone, on the N10. Not a necessity but definitely another benefit over the TF300.
Another benefit that I like of the Nexus over the Asus is the prospect of having the most current updates. Typically Nexus devices get updates from Google within 3 days of their announcement, which could be weeks or months (if at all) with other vendors. This is a BIG benefit for the likes of the tech savvy in me.
To me, beyond everything mentioned above, the deciding factor for me to keep the Nexus 10 was when after 4 days I turned the TF300 back on, and couldn't believe how "blurry" the icons and text looked. It's not that they are blurry at all, it's just that the Nexus 10 display is honestly like looking at an HD image next to a SD image on the TF300. This was a huge surprise to me. I didn't think i'd be able to tell a difference given that a 1200 x 800 display is still pretty high resolution! It just doesn't touch the crisp, clean, clarity of the Nexus 10.
Overall both tablets feel very well built and are packaged nicely. The wipe cloth packaged with the TF300 is a nice touch. The form factor is nice on both and the dockability gives a slight advantage to the TF300 in terms of utility, but I like the Pogo connector on the N10 for expansion charging/Docking capability which could help offset the benefit of the dockability of the TF300 in the near future. This slick addition could also allow for a magnetic iPad-like cover to wake and put to sleep the Nexus 10 with opening and closing of the cover. It's honestly really tough to distinguish a single "best" feature on this overall very well performing tablet but if I had to choose just one, I'd go with the display on the Nexus 10 as being the best feature. The icons are crisp, media such as movies and magazines are truly stunning, and text is clear, and easy on the eyes. It sounds crazy to say this was unexpected since this is the most commonly touted feature of the N10, but I didn't think I'd be able to tell as big of a difference as I actually can. The price that I got for the TF300 is VERY appealing. At $279 + tax the TF300 is a great performing tablet for small tablet-esque tasks such as viewing the web and email and even watching videos or browsing through pictures. The small lag issues and having to tap an icon more than once were annoying but acceptable to me for a savings in price. The Nexus-nes and the ease and frequency of updates direct from Google that come with the N10, along with the responsiveness and unbelieveably gorgeous screen make this a clear winner for me. The $120 increase in price is well worth it considering everything I'm getting, a conclusion I honestly didn't think I would come to being a price sensitive consumer. I'm extraordinarily happy to be able to stay in the Android ecosystem and still have such a top quality device! I hope this lengthy review helps... comment and let me know what you think.