Asus Eee Pad Transformer Review
The Eee Pad Transformer is, as the name implies an Android tablet that transforms into a laptop by docking with a keyboard. This gives you both a tablet and a decent netbook-like PC experience in one and the same product. The question is how it works out in the real world–read on to find out.
The Transformer runs Android version 3.0 Honeycomb and is totally unique among the competition in that it can function as a normal tablet, while a docking station makes it possible to transform it into a mini laptop with a keyboard. When the keyboard is attached, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer looks like any small laptop and it’s easy to manage the two different parts.
The tablet component, or laptop screen, is trapped in a hinge on the dock, letting you open and close it as a traditional netbook. Not surprisingly, it looks a lot like Asus’ successful Eee PC series netbooks, and that Asus should this established and successful brand for the Eee Pad was a given. It takes only a few seconds to connect or take apart these two parts, and they both feel sturdy and solidly built. Instead of the Windows key on the keyboard, there’s a button that sends you to the home screen. The tablet part is reasonably lightweight at 680 grams. However, the keyboard part adds about the same weight so if you always carry both around it is much like toting a lightweight laptop.
Battery Life and Features
On the other hand there’s a good reason for the added weight of the keyboard, as it contains a spare battery. This gives you (almost) double up on battery life. Asus claims a 9.5 hour battery life without the dock and 16 hours with the dock attached, which are amazing figures and quite accurate. It easily runs for nine hours without the dock, which is more than the Xoom, and more than 15 hours with the dock.
The 1280×800 resolution screen is an IPS (In-Plane Switching) panel that offers excellent image quality. It is equipped with a camera on the front for video chats and one on the back. In terms of connectivity, it comes with headphone jack, HDMI port and small port for microSD memory cards. Some versions of the transformer will also be equipped with a SIM-card slot for wireless broadband, so you don’t have to depend on Wi-Fi to go online. On the keyboard part there are two USB ports and an SD card slot.
Hardware and Software
Asus’ Eee Pad Transformer is equipped with an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core processor running at 1 GHz, which offers a very good combination of performance and power-saving features. It is also a popular solution found in several other tablet and one that works great with Android 3.0. The menus are very responsive and it has no problems whatsoever running any games or apps. It’s simple and intuitive, even if it’s not quite as polished as iOS.
All of the usual apps are provided with the Eee Pad Transformer including the standard web browser, YouTube, Android Market and Gmail, as well as music and photo apps that can be accessed directly on the home screen. Since Android is a Google-sponsored operating system, there is unsurprisingly quick access to Google or YouTube searches.
Also included in the Transformer is the Polaris Office suite, which is a good solution that allows you to easily create and edit documents and read PDF files. This is an area where the Eee Pad Transformer really stands out compared to the competition and gives you the impression that you are working on a full-featured netbook or ultraportable laptop. You can use the built-in track pad for your mouse movements or even attach an external mouse.
Overall, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer is a successful experiment in combining the functionality of a tablet and a netbook or basic ultraportable, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see other manufacturers adopting the concept. It works well and is definitely a worthy alternative to Apple’s iPad 2. There is room for improvement in some features in Android 3.0, such as poor compatibility with Google Apps, which is surprising considering the developer. The availability of Android apps that are capable of providing a full notebook experience is also scarce at this time. Asus really can’t be blamed for either. The Eee Pad Transformer is a well thought-out product–definitely one of the best we’ve seen so far.
The price is currently about $500 for the dock and tablet combination or $400 for the tablet alone. It is also possible to purchase the keyboard dock separately later on, but that is a more expensive option. This is consistently less than the iPad 2 and the full Transformer experience gives you a lot more value for money considering the features.
|*Keyboard dock is a brilliant idea that works *Attractive price point *Great battery life||*Lack of Android apps to fully support its functionality|