The Asus Transformer Pad T300 ships for under $400

We're still waiting for really cheap but still capable Android tablets to hit the market. Back in November, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said he expected tablets based on the Tegra 3 to hit $299 in "a couple quarters." [Source: Engadget] In March, Huang said we'd see $199 Tegra 3 tablets this summer. [Source: New York Times]

So where are all these great deals? Well, he haven't hit either of those milestones yet but Asus is coming close with the ASUS Transformer Pad TF300, which is about ready to ship (technically it launches today). The TF300 is a 10.1" tablet with a 1.2 Ghz Tegra-3 based processor running Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich. It has a 1280x800 IPS display. It's got a 1.2 MP front camera for video chat and an 8 MP rear-facing camera. The 16 GB model costs $379, and a 32 GB costs $399. The latter version is already available for preorder from Amazon. The optional docking station/keyboard that turns the device into a pseudo-laptop is an additional $149.

I'm going to send you to AndroidCentral for a full review but the immediate question is what separates the TF300 from the more expensive Transformer Prime? Well, aside from $100, the difference is that the Prime has a better (brighter) screen (though AndroidCentral ensures us the screen on the TF300 is still quite good) but the TF300 has a better rear-facing camera, a plastic enclosure (which might help with some of the reception issues the Prime had) but isn't as thin as the Prime.

Still to come: the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity T700 with its 1920x1200 display. That's the one I'm waiting to see.

Still, $379 for a name-brand quad-core 10" tablet isn't too shabby. We're not at $300 (or $200!) yet, but we're getting there.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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