Asus tf101, a pretty good Android tablet for light gaming

Written by B Johnson January 04, 2014
Asus tf101
As a gaming tablet, Asus tf101 actually looks pretty good on paper. It is running on Tegra 2 processor, which seems pretty out of date, but it's still pretty decent for light gaming. But the question is, is this tablet still a good purchase today?
In the past few weeks, there have been some Asus Transformer tablets getting showcased on this website.

Overall, i’m really impressed with many of them because most of these Asus Transformer tablets are powered by either Tegra 3 and Tegra 4 processors, which are 2 of my favorite mobile processors in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
This time, i have another interesting tablet that i believe is worth recommending to you guys here.

This one is called Asus tf101, another Tegra-powered tablet with the support of keyboard dock.

Interestingly though, given that this tablet is soo old and was released back then in 2011, to be exact in April, then no wonder if the internals that are found inside this tablet are considered as weak compared to other rivals that you can see today on the market, especially the similar ones with the keyboard dock.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole quality of this tablet will be disappointing for users.

Besides, Asus tf101 is a 2011-released tablet, so its hardware specs that we consider today as weak, are actually powerful back in the days of 2011.

And some of us know that back then, the tablet market was still dominated by big players like iPad, Samsung GALAXY tablets or Kindle Fire tablets, WHICH are not productivity tablet like Asus tf101 has.

So that can be one huge plus point for this tablet compared to other rivals in its class.

And that for sure will make it up to its hardware that we consider these days as weak, which actually are powerful and high-end for 2011’s tablet market.

There is one bad news that i want to share to you about this tablet, but i’m gonna tell you that at the end of this post (so stick around please! :D).

Anyway guys and gals, if you’re interested to know more about this tablet, then here you go, my personal review of Asus tf101.

Before you go straight to read my personal view and opinion about this tablet, please allow me to give you the brief introduction of Asus tf101.


Ever since Apple debuted iPad a few years ago, in 2010 to be exact, many companies were jumping to the same bandwagon as Apple and offered their own homemade tablets running Android OS.

However, the whole thing about Android tablets back then was just horrible.

Most of them had horrible performance, laggy experience, ugly design, horrendous build quality and pretty much everything about them was just abysmal (quoted from Joey Tribbiani in “Friends” TV shows haha :D).

I could go on and on and tell you how horrible Android tablets when they made their first debuts after the release of iPad.

However, as time went by, many tablet manufacturers started improving their tablets and gave more efforts to make their tablets deserve to use for human.

And slowly but sure, Android tablets managed to threat the position of iPad in global tablet market, especially in 10-inch tablet markets.

The climax happened when Amazon managed to make its first-gen Kindle Fire insanely popular in 7-inch tablet market (not 10-inch tablet market), thanks to its huge website online store that was already popular in the world as the top leader in online retailer business.

Amazon’s success was followed by Samsung GALAXY Tab tablets that also started gaining traction in 7-inch tablet market.

Since then, more and more Android tablets coming like crazy in global tablet market.

Asus Transformer series is one of them.

Soon after Android tablets were getting popular in global tablet market, Asus Transformer tablets came as the real challenger for iPad, given its 10-inch screen size.

However, not only did Asus want to target the tablet market, this manufacturer also aimed at netbook market with its Asus Transformer line.

Asus tf101 was one of Asus army that was expected to give a real threat to players like iPad or other Windows-powered netbook.

Unlike other netbooks across the market, Asus tf101 is just a normal regular tablet running Android OS, just like other Android counterparts in tablet market.

However, what makes this tablet become a more serious contender for netbooks is definitely its keyboard dock.

Despite using the same Android build software just like other Android tablets, Asus tf101 has more plus points than its fellas.

Apple may have other 3rd party manufacturers provide its iPad with 3rd party keyboard dock.

However, these 3rd party keyboard docks are nothing like the one offered on Asus tf101.

The keyboard dock on this Asus Transformer tablet is designed, engineered and manufactured by Asus itself.

So they know what to do with this keyboard dock, and what to provide on the software of this tablet.

As a result, Asus tf101 and its keyboard dock is just a perfect match that makes this tablet so great for doing any productivity tasks like simple typing, writing papers for school, Word or Office docs editing and other professional and productivity needs, something that has been lacking on iPad, even until the last iPad Air.

The other great thing about this tablet is that, besides great for doing productivity tasks, Asus tf101 is also great for media-consumption device, thanks to its good quality 720p display, powerful hardware and fast performance.

And given that this tablet was released 3 years ago, then you can be a smart customer if you can get this tablet at cheap price point on the market right now, at least cheaper than mid-end tablet even with no keyboard dock.


In terms of design, Asus did a great job when manufacturing this tablet. Despite being a 2011-released tablet, Asus tf101 still looks so professional and premium in its class.

And thanks to its keyboard dock, this tablet looks even more elegant compared to other regular Android tablets out there.

However, since this tablet was released back then in 2011, then the overall design of this tablet is rather bulky and thick, maybe caused by the internals inside this device that were not advanced just yet and hadn’t been simplified like today’s manufacturer equipments or parts.

Asus tf101

Asus tf101

But still, overall look of this tablet surely makes the owners more than happier because it just doesn’t look like cheap Android tablet like its counterparts, say, Kindle Fire or Samsung GALAXY Tab, that looked so ugly and chubby with huge bezels all over the place.

So this is one plus point for this tablet, despite being an old-released tablet.

Talking about its keyboard dock, i think i’m really amazed at how brilliant Asus designed this keyboard dock and made it look like laptop or netbook keyboard platform, complete with almost every QWERTY button and the touch pad of full-fledged laptop's keyboard, which is great because it kind of makes the owners proud especially when showing it off to public.

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  • No SIM
  • Released April 2011,
  • 10.1 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 1280 x 800 pixels (~149 ppi pixel density)
  • ASUS Waveshare UI
  • Android OS, v3.0 Honeycomb, v3.2 Honeycomb, upgradable to v4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Nvidia Tegra 2 T20Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU
  • ULP GeForce GPU
  • 1 GB RAM
  • microSD Card slot, up to 32 GB
  • 16/32 GB Internal storage
  • 5 MP rear-facing camera with autofocus
  • 1.2 MP front-facing camera
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • No GPRS
  • No EDGE
  • Bluetooth
  • No Radio
  • GPS
  • USB
  • Java
  • mini HDMI port
  • Polaris Office 3.0 editor (Word, Excel, PowerPoint; PDF viewer)
  • Non-removable 24.4 Wh Li-Po battery
Asus tf101 may not have the same premium looking and material that iPad has on its design, however, as a productivity-related tablet, then there is no reason for Asus to compromise the specs and power inside this tablet.

Asus tf101 comes with a 10.1-inch display sporting the resolution of 1280x800 pixels, which makes it a 720p display, and this is already great because back in the days of 2011, this type of display was still considered as industry standards back then, even as a high-end display.

In terms of performance, Asus tf101 also doesn’t disappoint because a dual-core Tegra 2 clocked at 1GHz per core, 1GB of RAM and ULP GeForce GPU are just so powerful for 2011's tablet market.

So with all of these goodies, this tablet definitely deserves to get the title of high-end tablet, of course in 2011.

Other standard features are also found on this tablet out of the box, like Bluetooth, WiFi, Java emulator, microSD card slot for up to 32GB, 5MP camera (which is surprising for a 2011’s tablet) and many more.

Overall, the entire spec sheet of Asus tf101 definitely stands out among other rivals across the market, even the iPad, because this tablet has one huge plus point.

And that is its official keyboard dock.


For today’s standards, the 720p display or 1280x800 pixel screen on this tablet obviously doesn’t stack up against other rivals around the market to date, especially the high-end ones.

And in terms of quality and sharpness, the display of this tablet is not even on par with other 1080p tablets, let alone the 2.5K-screened tablets.

The good news is, even until today, most of mid-range 7-inch tablets are still using 720p (1280x800 pixels) display, even the Samsung GALAXY Tab 3.

So that means, the 720p display of Asus tf101 still deserves to be positioned in the current trend of today’s tablet market.

Well, that’s about how the display of this tablet stacks up against its today’s rivals.

What about its quality in the real life?

Well, compared to other today’s tablets with the same size display of 10-inches, then Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 has no chance to compete.

The 1280x800 pixel resolution on a huge 10.1-inch display will result in pixelated text and images, especially when they’re zoomed in to the maximum view.

When browsing the web or reading books/magazines, with this type of display, you’ll always need to implement the zoom in/out gesture because the text and images don’t look that sharp and clear in naked eyes, especially compared to other 1080p tablets.


As a productivity tablet, then no doubt if Asus has put a lot of work in providing its power users with more functionality and especially productivity-related features similar like the ones found on any full-fledged Windows laptops or netbooks.

In default, this tablet comes with some productivity features out of the box, like Polaris Office 3.0 editor consisting some Office-alike software, from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF Viewer and more.

These apps surely will be useful for power users who demand more from this tablet than any other regular Android tablets without keyboard dock.

And talking about its keyboard dock, given that this keyboard dock is manufactured and made by Asus itself specifically for Asus tf101, then it will be synchronized with the tablet and tailored with more specific features related to its QWERTY keyboard, making this keyboard dock more useful than just a platform to type words.

User Interface

Asus tf101 comes with ASUS homemade WaveShare UI, which is made specifically only for Asus Transformer tablet.

So this UI has more functionality and features compared to other regular UI of non-keyboard-dock Android tablets out there, with the exception of Samsung TouchWiz on Samsung GALAXY Note that has more features on its UI.

However, the overall experience of using the User Interface of Asus tf101 is still pretty much the same with other stock Android UI out there, with the same kind of homescreen that can be filled with widgets, apps or shortcuts.

But it just has more productivity-related features given that it is a productivity tablet.


For a tablet released in 2011, the performance of this tablet can still be considered as great because this tablet is packing some specs that are just powerful in its class.

Besides, Asus tf101 is designed as a productivity-related tablet given its keyboard dock and sold for power users, so Asus just cannot compromise its performance with some cheap low quality hardware.

With the Tegra 2 dual-core with the clock speed of 1GHz per core, bundled with 1GB of RAM and GeForce GPU, this tablet is more than capable to accommodate all the heavy productivity tasks that are given to its hardware, like for typing paper, Word or Office docs editing or just simple reading eBooks or magazines.

Besides great for doing productivity tasks, this tablet is also a great device for watching movies, browsing the web, listening to music or even playing games, which we’re about to find out in just a moment.

I think it’s so great to see how Asus was able to bring all of these super monster specs on this tablet whereas most of 2011’s tablets were not that powerful in terms of hardware and performance, like Samsung GALAXY tab 1 or Kindle Fire 1.

It’s just amazing that this tablet was already powered by a dual-core Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM and GeForce ULP GPU when other Android tablets were still struggling to find the way to reach fluidity and smoothness in performance and experience.

In my opinion, and i believe in many people’s opinions, Asus definitely deserves the title as one of the most innovative manufacturers in tablet market.

It’s just not that hard to make that conclusion given that this company has many great tablet line across the market, like Asus Transformer tablets and Asus Padfone tablets, which are so revolutionary compared to its counterparts, even Apple.

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When it comes to gaming performance, then Asus tf101 surely doesn’t suck on that sector.

This tablet is powered by a dual-core processor made by NVIDIA’s called Tegra 2 which is clocked at 1GHz per core, making this tablet a beast in performance.

Accompanied with 1GB of RAM and GeForce ULP GPU, this tablet is more than capable to handle most of games released in 2011 or older, even the most graphics intense ones, like Modern Combat 1, Modern Combat 2, Gangstar Miami Vindication, N.O.V.A 1, Need for Speed Undercover, ShadowGun, Samurai Showdown and some other high-performing older games back in 2011.

However, don’t expect this tablet to be able to run latest games like Asphalt 7 or 8, Dead Trigger 2, GTA Vice City or Need for Speed Most Wanted, given that these are games are really heavy and sophisticated, in terms of graphics and visual effects.

Frankly though, games like GTA Vice City or Asphalt 8 can be set in the lowest graphics setting.

So you’re maybe in luck when running these games on Asus tf101.


Asus tf101 comes with a 5MP camera on the back. However, you cannot expect the photos or videos taken with its camera to be as impressive as other 5MP camera tablets that you see today.

The technology on both software and camera of the latest tablets are already improved and more advanced than on Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101.

So there is nothing to write home about on the quality of photos or videos on this tablet.

But still, having a 5MP camera on a 10-inch tablet should be appreciated though. Not all tablets have rear-facing camera.

Who knows, it might come in handy in case you forgot to bring your digital camera or smartphone at your disposal.

Battery Life

Asus tf101 is powered by a 24.4Wh power battery, which is non-removable.

This battery capacity is actually great considering that most of 2011’s tablets without keyboard dock are not using the same capacity of battery just like on this Asus tf101.

So this will ensure that this tablet could probably last all day in one single charge if you’re not using it intensively.

However, if you’re planning to use this tablet to do some heavy tasks without resting the screen, like watching movies or playing games in the row, then you can only expect this tablet to last in about 4 to 6 hours in hardcore usage.

And this is still great because this tablet is intended to be a productivity tablet, so the battery life is more optimized for doing productivity tasks like editing Word or Office docs, typing or reading books or magazines.

User Opinions

To sum this up, overall, i’m pretty impressed with the whole thing about this tablet.

Despite being an old 2011’s tablet, Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 can still be considered as a good device and worth recommending to users, especially for power users who demand a more serious tablet with keyboard dock that is worth replacing from their old netbooks.

This tablet may not have the greatest hardware compared to today’s standards in tablet market.

But still, we must never forget that this tablet was released back then in 2011, where tablet market was still dominated with iPad, Kindle Fire and Samsung GALAXY tab.

So with that being said, then we must give credits to Asus for making such a marvelous device like this.

Impressively though, even though this tablet is an old tablet, Asus knows what it’s doing with this device.

Dual-core Tegra 2, 1GB of RAM and GeForce ULP GPU were considered as powerful in 2011’s tablet market.

In fact, in those days, there was nothing like this tablet.

Most of Android tablets were weak in terms of hardware and performance, let alone experience. It was proved by how Amazon must simplify the standard Android OS in order to make its Kindle Fire run smooth.

Meanwhile, old Samsung GALAXY tablet was so popular for being a lame tablet with laggy performance.

And if we look back at what Asus tf101 has to offer, compared to other Android counterparts, from its design, its features, its hardware, its display, its performance, its keyboard dock and pretty much everything on this device, then it’s just not that hard to recommend this tablet to tablet shoppers out there, especially the power users who are looking for a productivity laptop slash tablet.

Asus tf101 may not be capable to run the latest games like Asphalt 7 or 8, Modern Combat 4, Dead Trigger 2, GTA Vice City or Real Racing.

However, for older games like Modern Combat 1 or 2, ShadowGun, N.O.V.A 1, Need for Speed Undercover or Gangstar Miami Vindication, then Asus tf101 can deliver the best gaming performance to you, thanks to its Tegra 2 and GeForce GPU, which are designed by NVIDIA specifically for gaming.

And what makes this tablet even more impressive is the exclusive access to Tegra Zone, where you’ll be able to find plenty of games that are well-optimized for Tegra device, meaning that games will have more detailed graphics, more particles and more visual effects than other non-Tegra tablets.

So with all of the goodies like:
  • a 720p display (1280x800 pixels),
  • a powerful dual-core Tegra 2 1GHz processor,
  • 1GB of RAM,
  • GeForce GPU,
  • keyboard dock,
  • productivity-related features,
  • great performance,
  • fluid experience,
  • Tegra Zone games,
  • 5MP camera,
  • microSD card slot,
  • Office Doc apps pre-installed,
  • great and premium design
then Asus tf101 has everything that you need on a productivity tablet.

The Cons

However, as i promised earlier, here comes the bad news. As you probably know or not, Asus tf101 is discontinued from the production, given that this tablet is so old and weaker than other Asus Transformer line, in terms of hardware and performance.

So right now, you might not be able to find this tablet anymore unless you’re looking on it at the used retailer stores or Amazon (maybe?).

The second bad news is that, even though this tablet is powered by a dual-core CPU, 1GB of RAM and GeForce ULP GPU, this tablet will suffer a lot when handling the latest games or apps like Modern Combat 4, Asphalt 7 or 8, Dead Trigger 2 or Need for Speed Most Wanted.

However, for older games like Modern Combat 1 or 2, ShadowGun, Need for Speed Undercover, N.O.V.A 1 or Samurai Showdown, this tablet is more than capable to run these games in buttery smooth performance and in full graphics without any problem.

The last bad news is that, Asus tf101 cannot be upgraded to the latest Android OS Jelly Bean.

So you will be stuck with Ice Cream Sandwich for good, unless you manage to root this tablet and install the custom ROM of Jelly Bean software from any Android developer forums out there, like XDA forum.

But still, if you can get this tablet at the cheap price point that is lower than today Asus Transformer tablets, or even much lower than other regular Android tablets without keyboard dock, then you’ll make no mistake when buying this tablet.
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