You are in the market for a new piece of technology. Should you buy a new laptop, or one of the new popular pieces of technology these days…a tablet? Well, Asus is looking to bridge the gap between tablet and laptop so you don’t need to choose. That’s where the Asus EeePad Transformer comes in. The Asus EeePad Transformer is the first Android tablet that can transform itself into a laptop, and back again, in the blink of an eye, with it’s optional keyboard dock. Can the EeePad Transformer pull it’s weight as a laptop AND tablet? Let’s take a look.
The EeePad Transformer has the usual hardware you see on 10.1″ Android tablets today. The Transformer has a 10.1″ screen (1280×800 resolution), 1 GHz dual core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 1GB ram, etc. The left side of the tablet is where the power and volume buttons are located. I am not a fan of them being on the left side. Even though I use my left hand for just about everything, even though I am right handed, I would have preferred the power and volume buttons on the right or top of the tablet. I also worry about the buttons’ durability. They tend to jiggle. I worry about them being able to hold up for the long haul. The tablet also features a 3.5mm headphone jack, mini HDMI port, and microSD card slot. The device has a brown textured backing. It kind of reminds me of a turtle shell. I don’t know why. The backing is great for gripping the tablet and to prevent smudges and/or scratches.
The added microSD slot is one of the great additions to the Transformer. It is an easy way to add extra storage space to the tablet. The tablet isn’t as light and thin as would have liked but the added microSD card slot and mini HDMI port, I find, is a worthwhile trade off. While my Galaxy Tab 10.1 is slightly lighter, definitely thinner, I am constantly getting low on storage space. I wish I could use a microSD card.
Now to where the EeePad Transformer gets its name and what makes it so great…the keyboard dock. :) The dock “transforms” the tablet into a laptop/netbook. I have to say right out the gate, it is amazing! It has many great features that are really helpful:
Keyboard: Just the keyboard itself is a big plus. It is alot easier to type on a full qwerty keyboard than on a touchscreen. The built in trackpad took a little getting used to but once you get used to it, it’s like using a full fledged laptop. The built in buttons on the keyboard to navigate the Android OS is also very helpful. There is no need to touch the tablet’s screen at all. You could if you want to however.
Extra ports: My favorite part of the keyboard dock was the extra ports it provided to the tablet. It features a SD card slot and 2 USB ports. The USB ports are great if you want to use a USB mouse, or in my case, a USB controller. I used one of the USB ports to connect my controller to to play Riptide. I’m sure most of you just use the tilt controls with that game but for me, being handicap, it is really difficult for me to hold and tilt a tablet. The controller worked much better for me.
Battery: A great feature of the keyboard dock is its built in battery. I provides extra battery life to the tablet. There are 2 occasions where it helped me. The first time was when playing games on the tablet. I was using the keyboard so I could use my USB controller. After playing for about 5 hours, yeah 5 :) , I checked the dual battery widget. The tablet had a full charge, only the keyboard’s battery had dropped to 29%. The second time was when I went to the park to test the Transformer’s camera. I got all the way there and noticed the tablet had only 3% charge. Whoops. Luckily, I had the dock with me. Plugged it in. Wa-la! I now have a charge. :)
For the most part, the Asus EeePad Transformer runs a pretty stock Android 3.2, with a couple apps thrown in; including an office suite, to create and edit documents; MyCloud, to store/access files in the cloud; a file manager;PC sync, to access your PC on the tablet; and more. While it’s nice to have a stock experience, I would have liked to have more. With my Galaxy Tab 10.1, I have grown accustom to the added features their Touchwiz UI brings (mini app tray, built in screenshot, etc.). What puzzled me about the Transformer, was it’s market. It wasn’t specifically made for tablets. I know with the market on my Galaxy Tab 10.1, there is a separate section for tablet apps, as seen below. The market on the Transformer was the market you would see on an Android smartphone. I don’t know if it is just this Transformer, or they all are like this.
The 5MP auto focus camera on the Transformer isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either. Pictures didn’t turn out as clear as I would have liked. The fact the tablet doesn’t have flash, complicates indoor shots.
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
The Asus definitely separates itself from the pack with the EeePad Transformer, adding extra functionality to the tablet experience. When deciding whether this tablet is right for you, you have to consider your needs. Below are some of the pros and cons I would say could sway consumers.
DOCK DOCK DOCK DOCK DOCK!: I can’t stress enough how much the keyboard dock is a huge benefit to the tablet. Between the added battery, extra ports, and just they fact you get to use a keyboard, it makes it a huge win. The tablet is great for students to use to take notes. They don’t have to use a more bulky laptop.
Cheaper: The EeePad Transformer is cheaper than other tablets, i.e. the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1*. (* – Minus the dock) If you get the Asus EeePad Transformer bundle, it’s only ever so slightly more expensive than the Glaxy Tab 10.1.
Media: I have to say, the display on the Transformer was better than I expected. The IPS display works very nice. The speakers give enough volume for music and videos. Even though with the keyboard dock, this tablet may be considered a production tablet, it can be good media consumption device.
Bulk: The Transformer has more bulk than, I’ll compare to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 again. It’s not a terribly huge difference. Only when it is docked you notice that it is pretty chunky.
Camera: The camera on the Transformer is sub par. Most pictures have a, what I would call, fog to them. Colors don’t pop.
I would say, with this tablet, it comes down to personal preference. If having the thinnest, lightest tablet isn’t a big selling point; if you want the added functionality the Transformer’s keyboard dock provides, and you don’t need a high quality camera on a tablet, this tablet will be good for you. If you want thin, light tablet; a tablet with a good camera; and don’t care if it has a keyboard, micro sd card slot, etc, you might like the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
I’m curious to see if the upcoming Asus EeePad Transformer Prime will change the cons I have with this Transformer, making it a no brainer choice.