Asus Eee Pad Transformer

The Eee Pad Transformer is a promise of things to come, with a tempting price to boot. Treating Android as a laptop is still a little rough, but for the most part works quite well, and the added battery life is a stroke of genius.


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CNET Rating
9.3
User Rating

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CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


The last Android foray in laptop form factor wasn't well received by us. Which is why we feel so conflicted — the Transformer isn't only a different kettle of fish, it's an entire cauldron.

Hardware

It starts with an Android tablet. An AU$599 Android 3.1 tablet at that, with a 10.1-inch, 1280x800 IPS screen and a lithe weight of 680g. This is considerably cheaper and lighter than Motorola and Acer's tablets, which come in at 730g each, and AU$840 and AU$799 respectively. The AU$549 iPad 2 is still cheaper and lighter at 613g, but we believe the Transformer will appeal to a different market segment.

The Transformer is a Tegra 2 device, which means dual-core 1GHz processors, some reasonably meaty graphics power, and a graphics chip that happens to have issues playing back certain H.264 profiles. There's a gigabyte of RAM inside, 16GB of storage, it has 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth, but here's the rub — no SIM slot. This is a Wi-Fi-only tablet, although we're quite sure plenty of people will be perfectly happy with that.

There's a microSD slot (that works), and weirdly mini HDMI instead of micro, with Asus not supplying a converter cable.

To get anything else, you'll need to upgrade to the AU$799 32GB device, with the add in keyboard dock — sadly, something you can't purchase separately yet. The dock, apart from adding keyboard functions, gives you two full-sized USB ports (behind some of the most annoying flaps we've seen that are quite difficult to open) and a full-sized MMC/SD card reader. Just slip the tablet into the keyboard and you (almost) have a laptop, with the screen locked to the horizontal viewing mode.

Well, perhaps "slip" is an overstatement, with a fair amount of effort required to lock the tablet safely into place in the keyboard, with our tablet almost falling out a few times.

The experience isn't quite there yet for keyboard users either — mainly down to a lack of global shortcuts. Things that are expected regardless of desktop operating system — CTRL + B, CTRL + I, shift + arrows to select — seem to only be active on a per application basis. Also, there's no delete key on the keyboard at all.

There's also no touch-pad software, meaning palm-check doesn't exist — so as you're typing, it's all too common to drape your hand across the touch pad, have the cursor move somewhere else and your words as well. It's quite frustrating.

While the screen is lovely, the audio is weaker than the Xoom, with less oomph and more tinniness. Just like the Xoom, the Transformer won't charge over USB, even though the charging/data cable ends is a USB terminator. You'll need to plug this into a wall adapter that's included to start things ticking over.

Software

The Transformer has a customised Android experience, with little touches like custom home, back and app icons, custom widgets and comes with a bunch of included apps.

These include MyNet (a DLNA media streamer); MyLibrary (an ebook reader with access to the Txtr store); Polaris Office (a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation creator that saves to Microsoft Office formats); a file manager called, funnily enough, File Manager; Amazon's Kindle app; augmented reality app, Layar; the impressive movie-editing app, Android Movie Studio; and MyCloud.

MyCloud is a collection of services, connecting to Asus' online storage, SplashTop's impressive Remote Desktop app, and online radio stations provided by Aupeo.

There's also a nifty wallpaper with two ice cubes in water that indicates your current battery charge, although we found that this could impact on system performance if you had a few widgets on the desktop, and the transition between horizontal and vertical orientation isn't the best it could be.

Plugging in a USB storage device worked without a hitch, resulting in a pop up that you can then touch to browse. Unlike Froyo, Honeycomb will happily read NTFS devices, not just FAT32.

A small note for those using the keyboard for any length of time: you'll want to turn off the power-saving option that turns the dock off when the tablet goes to sleep (it's under screen options), otherwise file transfers will be interrupted, and the keyboard won't wake up the tablet, requiring you to press the power button on the screen itself. Likewise, telling the screen not to turn off after 30 seconds will prevent it from dimming when docked into the keyboard after the same length of time during video playback.

Battery life is excellent, and is approximately doubled when the keyboard is attached for close to 10 hours of DVD-quality video playback. Provided the system understands the codec, this could be an excellent travel companion for mid-length flights.

Conclusion

The Eee Pad Transformer is a promise of things to come. Treating Android as a laptop is still a little rough, but we have no doubt this is something Google is beavering away at for Ice Cream Sandwich. Still, it's certainly bearable, and for those who just want a tablet, this is the most compelling Android device yet. Given how fast the tablet market is moving though, we do wonder for how long...

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toeg71
9
Rating
 

"Convenient tool for play and work"

toeg71 posted a review   

The Good:Battery, Apps, Fast

The Bad:No mini HDMI cable include

Great little gadget! Mine is a 16gb tablet without keyboard dock but it performs very well. Browsing is quick, video is good, Android market has a lot of choices on apps and love that multitasking! Also love the inclusion of Polaris and Remote Desktop apps to make it a great work tool. The only thing is I can't figure out a way to connect the HDMI to a data projector yet for presentation and is having a hard time finding the right cable.

toeg71
9
Rating
 

"Convenient tool for play and work"

toeg71 posted a review   

The Good:Battery, Apps, Fast

The Bad:No mini HDMI cable include

Great little gadget! Mine is a 16gb tablet without keyboard dock but it performs very well. Browsing is quick, video is good, Android market has a lot of choices on apps and love that multitasking! Also love the inclusion of Polaris and Remote Desktop apps to make it a great work tool. The only thing is I can't figure out a way to connect the HDMI to a data projector yet for presentation and is having a hard time finding the right cable.

EmmanuelA Facebook
9
Rating
 

"Not perfect yet, but oh so very close to it."

EmmanuelA posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Stellar battery life, great picture quality, fast

The Bad:Slow roll out for Honeycomb apps

Asus has done a fantastic job with the Transformer. I bought this one around the end of June and the performance so far has been beyond my expectations. The highlight of the product is most definitely the extended battery life and the convenience of a physical keyboard for on the move typing.
Not quite a complete laptop replacement yet, but with apps been refined and rolled out progressively it should be getting there quite soon. (the mouse trackpad is completely useless on the dock)

SimonQH
9
Rating
 

"Transformer rocks!"

SimonQH posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Great android tablet

The Bad:No usb without the keyboard dock

I love this tab, I have been using iOS for a while with both iphone and been playing with an ipad.
Got rid of both to move to Android (Samsung Galaxy S phone) and I haven't looked back. So much more customisation available. Sure the app store isn't as stocked up, but it won't take long for more people to realise that Android is so much better!

 

"Android Vs Windows"

JasonD4 posted a comment   
Australia

I'm thinking about buying the transformer..but a bit concerned. Do I need to have windows or is android enough?

supraman
10
Rating
 

"Great device. Actually, remarkable."

supraman posted a review   
Australia

Rading other reviews is interesting, how can there be no delete button?

Try SHIFT Backspace and that is your delete button.... This makes perfect sense. After all if it had all of the aspects of a PC's archaic design then it will be a fat slow pig with no battry life.


Very happy with my investment and the fact that there is now a tablet that Apple simply can't rival. Fantastic!

supraman
10
Rating
 

"Great device. Actually, remarkable."

supraman posted a review   
Australia

Rading other reviews is interesting, how can there be no delete button?

Try SHIFT Backspace and that is your delete button.... This makes perfect sense. After all if it had all of the aspects of a PC's archaic design then it will be a fat slow pig with no battry life.


Very happy with my investment and the fact that there is now a tablet that Apple simply can't rival. Fantastic!

VaskoB Facebook
10
Rating
 

"bought this device today. best it purchase in years. :-)"

VaskoB posted a review   

The Good:everything about it

The Bad:nothing

The more you look at this review, the more you realise its one sided. This fits the paradigm as both a netbook and tablet perfectly. Its aim isnt to replace a full pc, but boy does it come close.

ASUS should be commended on ther ability to not just be a manufacturer copying others. They have done with hardware what apple did with software.

Written on my Asus Eee Pad. :-)

 

"Most innovative tablet to date. Makes you wonder why all other tablet manufacturers got it wrong!"

VaskoB posted a comment   

The Good:Best tablet available from any manufacturer including Apple.

The Bad:It's not free. :)

Well, perhaps "slip" is an overstatement, with a fair amount of effort required to lock the tablet safely into place in the keyboard, with our tablet almost falling out a few times...

You serious? I played with one today in JB Hi-fi and it's amazingly easy to "dock".

This is one of the most compelling reasons to ever get a tablet.

I held off on the Apple iPad/iPad2 because they are severely crippled devices locked into the apple ecosystem.

This is by far the most innovative and actually makes sense.

Also, the track pad you get is one of quality, only Apple and Lenovo trackpad's have given the same precision I felt with this tablet. You move your finger and the screen also moves instantaneously.. magic!

I'm definitely getting one of these and even though others might say "what's in store next" It's beefy enough to be great for time to come!

Snuffypot11
10
Rating
 

"Recommend to anyone looking for a tablet"

Snuffypot11 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Battery life, Dock, Screen, Speed, Compatability

The Bad:Android needs a better media player that supports more formats

Got mine the other day and so far am super impressed with it. Battery life is incredible and it is so responsive. The screen is a pleasure to look at and the docking station that 'Transforms' it into a netbook is a brilliant idea. If you have the money and are in the market for a tablet PC that isnt an iPad then look no further than this device.


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User Reviews / Comments  Asus Eee Pad Transformer

  • toeg71

    toeg71

    Rating9

    "Great little gadget! Mine is a 16gb tablet without keyboard dock but it performs very well. Browsing is quick, video is good, Android market has a lot of choices on apps and love that multitasking!..."

  • toeg71

    toeg71

    Rating9

    "Great little gadget! Mine is a 16gb tablet without keyboard dock but it performs very well. Browsing is quick, video is good, Android market has a lot of choices on apps and love that multitasking!..."

  • EmmanuelA

    EmmanuelA

    Rating9

    "Asus has done a fantastic job with the Transformer. I bought this one around the end of June and the performance so far has been beyond my expectations. The highlight of the product is most definit..."

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