August 24, 2022 //
At first glance, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer appears to be your average 10.1-inch Honeycomb tablet. Taking a hint from the name, there is an optional keyboard dock that transforms it into a netbook. The Transformer is competitively priced at $399 for 16GB Wifi version and $149 for the keyboard dock. The combo makes for a nice pair. Think of it this way, peanut butter is ok by itself, but it tastes much better with jelly.
Within seconds of grabbing the Transformer out of the box, I noticed immediately how hefty the device was. It’s a good hefty, the substantial feeling of the tablet gives it a premium feel that will endure the wear and tear of your average bear. To some people out there, it could be a good or bad thing. It is definitely heavier than the Apple iPad 2, but it is lighter than the Motorola Xoom. The plastic design and brown aesthetics come together nicely in a 1.5lb package add another pound or so if you are trotting around with the keyboard dock attached. The best part about the design is how easy it is to hold. Like I mentioned before, sometimes hefty is a good thing. The textured plastic around the back of the device is solid and makes the tablet easy to grip.
Across the front of the Transformer, there is a beautiful, and I mean gorgeous, 10.1-inch display. The resolution is 1280 x 800 and it can support up to 10-finger multitouch. The glass is made of Corning’s Gorilla Glass. If you haven’t heard of them, they make the some of the best screens in the industry. In short, the screen won’t scratch easy; especially from normal wear and tear. Remember that beautiful display I was talking about? It’s an IPS display. For comparison purposes, the IPS display is found in alot of Apple products such as the iMac, iPhone and even the iPad. The IPS display allows for great viewing angles which is great for movies. The benefits really shine when reading text. Text looks incredibly smooth and is very easy on the eyes. This is important because if you plan on using this to be productive, you don’t want any additional strain on your eyes.
There is one disadvantage of the IPS screen. The display doesn’t look good in the sunlight. If you plan to use this outdoors, you may want to keep this in mind.
Along the left side of the Transformer, lives the power/lock button and the volume rocker. On the right there is a 3.5mm headset socket, microSD slot, mini HDMI 1.3a and a proprietary docking connector across the bottom. You can charge and sync via the provided cable and AC adapter. If you decide to get the keyboard dock (which I highly suggest), you get an additional battery built in the dock. The keyboard dock isn’t just a keyboard. It also brings along two USB 2.0 ports and a MMC/SD/SDHC memory card reader. Since the keyboard dock is more of an accessory, check out the full review here.
Although there isn’t a set standard on what an Android Honeycomb tablet should have, this year’s surge of tablets all sport similar specs when it comes to processing power. Inside of the Asus Transformer, you will find the same NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual core processor (clocked at 1Ghz on each core) that is in tablets like the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. You can purchase the tablet with either 16GB ($399) or 32Gb ($499) of internal storage and both come with 1GB of RAM to help out with multitasking. Both versions bring wireless connectivity b/g/n (2.4GHz only) and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. You also get the typical additions of a GPS, digital compass, gyroscope and g-sensor. Asus didn’t skimp on features anywhere. They even found a slick place for the stereo speakers. The speakers are actually tucked down near the bottom of the bezel. They produce pretty decent sound. However, I found them to be on the quiet side.
The Asus Transformer also has a front and rear facing camera. On the back there is a 5-megapixel rear camera that is capable of 720p HD video recording. The camera on the front works great with Google Talk Video chat and impromptu Facebook or Google+ pictures.
Android 3.0 Honeycomb isn’t anything new to me or Gadget University. We have already reviewed the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab. Asus has decidebpd to add some custom and very useful apps/tweaks to make the experience on the Transformer a little different. Asus threw in some cool live wallpapers and widgets to bring information like the weather, date/time and email. The default honeycomb keyboard is joined by a custom Asus version that brings a dedicated number row. To be honest I didn’t see too much of it. I was always using the keyboard dock.
If you open the application drawer you will see Asus’ “File Manager” app, which allows you direct access to the internal memory and anything you have plugged up (memory sticks, sd cards and mobile phones). “MyCloud” is Asus’ webstorage application. Asus took the liberty of giving you a year’s access for free. You can also remote desktop access your PC or Mac by using the Eee Pad PC Suite software. Other applications include Polaris Office and MyNet.
The overall speed and performance was solid. I found myself clicking a few extra times when using a USB mouse. This could likely be an issue with Android Honeycomb. Asus has done an awesome job with keeping the Transformer updated to the latest version of Honeycomb. Android 3.2 was recently released.
Android Honeycomb is still a baby when compared to operating systems like the Apple iPad. The lack of tablet specific app is definitely an issue, but the Android Market is full of respectable applications to keep you occupied. The most frustrating part about the Android Market is that some applications only run in portrait mode. This makes things tricky when using the keyboard dock.
During my two weeks with the Transformer, I did a little of everything. From web browsing to watching movies, I found that battery life on the tablet itself was decent. However, I did find it less than what I would get on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. On the other hand, I am confident that it could be becasuse of how much more I used it than the Galaxy Tab. The Keyboard dock brings an additional battery to the mix and to be honest, the tablet spent most of it’s time docked. Why not? On average I got about 26 Hours on battery life with heavy use and even more when it was docked on the keyboard. I estimate that the dock gave me around 12 hours more. For those of you out there who plan to use this as a primary means of being productive ie school papers or writing emails. You won’t have to charge this as often as you would a netbook or a laptop. So in that aspect it still manageable.
The Asus Eee Pad Transformer is by far the best bang for your buck. At $399 for the 16GB, the tablet alone is full of value and functionality that will satisfy anyone. If you decide to spring for the keyboard dock, you will have to pay an extra $149. The crazy party about the Transformer, is that the combined price of $549 (tablet and keyboard) still brings you in at a better value than any other tablet available. Yes, this does include the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has been my favorite tablet for weeks. The addition of the keyboard dock allowed me to get more productivity out of the tablet If you have ever thought tablets were a luxury and could never replace a laptop. Think again.
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