It takes a lot to divert attention from the shiny iPads, but the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity (opens in new tab) manages it easily.
Its design, build and feel are all top notch – good and solid. The brushed aluminium finish on the back looks great and gives the unit an edge even before it’s powered up.
Once it is, your eye is immediately drawn to the quality of the screen. Resolution is a better-than-Full-HD 1920 x 1200 pixels and looks gorgeous even next to the iPad’s pixel-packed Retina Display.
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity: Video quality
Watching an HD trailer for Man Of Steel, the depth of field is superb and detail is excellent. Blacks are rich and deep, but there’s also more than enough insight in the darker areas of the screen. Motion is as smooth as we’ve seen from a tablet at this size, too.
The Asus uses a Super IPS+ panel, which gives a fantastic viewing angle and consistent picture quality in different lighting conditions.
MORE: Asus Padfone 2 review
The 1.6GHz NVidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor promises great power, and with it comes a slick user experience aided by an excellent touchscreen. Swiping through Android’s customizable screens is effortless, as is flicking between and arranging widgets.
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity: Apps & sound quality
Asus has its own ‘@vibe’ media store where you can head for a selection of apps, games and music, but you’re more likely to use Google Play’s better-stocked shelves.
Sound quality can’t quite match the standards of the video performance, but music still sounds agile and entertaining. Ludovico Einaudi’s piano playing lacks a little refinement and his I Giorni doesn’t sweep you off your feet quite as easily as it should. Having said that, the Asus isn’t unlistenable by any stretch.
The speaker is located on the rear right-hand side, so you need to be careful not to block it when using in landscape mode. We assume you’ll more than likely be plugging in a pair of headphones, which obviously removes the issue.
The final string in the Transformer’s bow is, of course, the part that gives it its name. The partnering Mobile Dock turns the Asus into a netbook of sorts and, besides giving you a keyboard, crams in a USB socket, SD card slot and a multi-touch touchpad – as well as an extra five hours of battery life. It does add to the bulk, but it’s very handy.
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity: Verdict
So the Transformer Pad Infinity offers something different to the iPad and it delivers on many fronts. Despite running last year's Android 4.0, the tablet is a delight to use, with its gorgeous screen and speedy processor.
The snap-on keyboard brings added value and functionality. But, the Asus still lags behind the iPad in picture and sound quality – the latter particularly.
The Asus tries to bridge the gap between tablet and laptop, and on the whole it succeeds. However, while this tablet performs very well in its own right, up against the iPad its average sound quality means it loses that final fifth star.
Follow whathifi.com on Twitter