ASUS Eee Pad Transformer: A Tablet and a Netbook

There are many different Android Tablets on the market today, and it may seem hard to decide which one suits your needs the best. Most of these tablets are very expensive, which makes shopping for one slightly difficult. ASUS wants to change all of that, with their new tablet, the Eee Pad Transformer. What’s special about this tablet, aside from the detachable keyboard dock, is the price. The Transformer is available for $399.99 for the 16GB WiFi model, and $499.99 for the 32GB WiFi model.

The detachable keyboard is what truly sets the Transformer apart from the other tablets. The dock will set you back an extra $150, but when you learn all of the features, it’s well worth it. Not only does the keyboard make typing a breeze, but it also houses a second battery, which can essentially double the battery life of the tablet. I picked one up a few weeks ago, read on to see my full review of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer.

First Impressions

The tablet on its own

When you first unbox the Transformer, you find a beautiful 10.1 inc WXGA screen, with 10 finger multi-touch support. After turning on the tablet, and going through the initial setup, you are greeted by the almost stock Honeycomb (Android 3.2) homescreen. By “almost stock” I mean that ASUS has included some of their own widgets and applications, along with a few UI skins — the most obvious being how the home, back, and multi-tasking buttons are changed to clean white icons.

After playing around with the tablet for a few minutes, you will notice how bright and vivid this display actually is. I compared the Motorola Xoom tablet’s screen to my Transformer’s, and to my surprise the Transformer’s screen had deeper blacks and sharper colors than the Xoom. This may have been just a faulty Xoom, but the screen on the Transformer is gorgeous.

Design

The Transformer with its keyboard docked

The Transformer has dimensions of 271x171mm (10.6×6.7in) and is 12.98mm (0.51in) thick. It has a slightly wider screen that the iPad 2, which works well, considering the Transformer has a optional dock that sits the tablet in landscape mode. Along the left side of the device you will find a volume rocker, and a sleep button, while on the right there is a standard headset jack, a Mini HDMI port, and a MicroSD card slot.

Although the tablet is supposed to be used with the dock, holding the tablet in one hand and navigating the interface with the other is a breeze. Asus really wanted to make this tablet become the first Android powered netbook/notebook, and they have succeeded. The Laptop dock fits perfectly with the tablet, and makes carrying the Transformer easy, doing away with the need for a screen protector. The dock also adds some functionality to the tablet, adding two USB 2.0 ports and a standard SD card slot. These USB ports can be used with any flash drives and a wired or wireless mouse.

The one problem I have with the Transformer is that the front facing, 1.2 megapixel camera can only really be used in landscape mode, even though most video calling applications aside from Google Talk are used in portrait mode.

Overall, the tablet fits great in the hand, and is really simple and easy to type on, which makes the design a 8/10 in my opinion.

Performance

The Transformer comes with a blazing fast NVIDIA Tegra(tm) 2 dual core processor, which makes downloading things over WiFi really fast. This processor makes gaming a great feature on this device. I have ran some pretty CPU heavy games, and I really haven’t had much of a problem. The Transformer comes with Adobe Flash out of the box, which makes watching and viewing Web content a snap.

The Netflix application, up until a recent update of the firmware, did not work with the Transformer, but Asus has since updated the firmware so that it now allows viewing and streaming of movies from the Netflix Android app; an almost necessary feature with such a beautiful display. The Transformer is highly responsive, and loads web pages and applications very quickly.

The cameras on this device are surprisingly crisp and high quality, even when taking pictures using the front facing camera. However, the speakers  on the Transformer aren’t as loud as you might hope. I often find myself grabbing a pair of ear buds to hear a video or some music that is playing.

All things considered, the performance of this tablet gets a 9/10 from me (with a point knocked off for the the audio quality).

Software

The Asus Transformer comes running Android Honeycomb (3.1) but will be updated to 3.2 after connecting to a network. Asus has included a Weather widget, and a few other widgets which make the home screen interface easy to use. ASUS as also pre-installed the ASUS Launcher, MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, PC Sync, and a File Manager.

  • ASUS Launcher: Just a skinned version of the stock Honeycomb home screen, which helps with some widget functionality.
  • MyLibrary: ASUS’s version of Google Books.
  • MyNet: A file sharing over WiFi client.
  • MyCloud: A remote desktop client as well as a cloud for your music, videos, and documents all in one place.
  • PC Sync: ASUS’s PC Sync application.
  • Polaris Office: A office application comes pre-installed as well, which makes editing and creating different documents simple. (I wrote some of this review using this application.)

Conclusion

ASUS has definitely put a lot of time and effort into building the best tablet for the least amount of money. The Transformer offers all the same specs as the Motorola Xoom, and offers even more, and yet is still cheaper than buying the Xoom at its RRP.

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer has quickly replaced my other touch screen devices for browsing the web, playing games, and watching and streaming video. I love the form factor of the tablet, but there is room for improvement. I also wish that the speakers were just a little bit louder so that I didn’t have to reach for headphones every time I want to watch a YouTube video. But in general, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is definitely a great buy, and for only about $550.00 for the tablet and the dock, it’s one of the best deals available. I love using the Transformer, and I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed with it.


Summary

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer is a Android Honeycomb (3.2) tablet.

9
  • john

    I sold my ipad and bought the transformer and I love it!

    Shop around, the prices have dropped a bit!

  • João Luís

    Since I saw this tablet(‘s price) I felt in love with it. Before I was divided between an iPad 2 and an Honeycomb tablet, but the Transformer changed it.
    I’m thinking about buying it, but only the tablet, hoping that I’m able to use it with my Apple Keyboard (after all, is a Bluetooth keyboard).

    Ah, here in Portugal, the tablet costs €400 (let’s just round it) and the dock €150, but you can buy them together for €500.

  • http://www.designfuture.it Emanuele Ricci

    I’ll wait for the next gen of tablet to buy it :)
    But I will do it before next year :)

  • Lauren Smith

    This was SO SO SO helpful! Thanks to you i bought my very first tablet! After hearing how highly you spoke about the ASUS Transformer, i just had to go out and buy it. Thank you so much! I cant to wait to read more of your reviews because they are always so helpful!

    xoxoxo :)

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  • Lynn

    Is there a website or instructions on how to do an initial setup on an ASUS tablet

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