Whether Asus has managed to do so and has managed to create a competitive and balanced-enough tablet to become popular in a world that is still dominated by Apple’s iPad 2, we will see in the following, where we try to analyze Transformer’s strongest, but also weakest points.
We will try to be as objective as possible, even though we personally are not fans of such hybrid devices as this, and we will also make some quick comparison notes between the Asus Eee Pad Transformer and some of the other important 10-inch tablets out there.
The strong points
As controversial as the Transformer is, the 10-inch tablet from Asus is one whose strong points are numerous and can’t be neglected. We will shortly review the pros of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer as follows.
- Elegant design. Whether you will use the Transformer as a classic tablet, without the optional keyboard, or as a tablet-netbook hybrid, with the keyboard, you will be mesmerized by the brushed metal effect on the sides and the cool textured back side. While it looks like your ordinary Android tablet at a first sight, you can’t help being charmed by that something which makes the Transformer a classic, classy and elegant gadget.
- To remain on the same design page, the product’s dimensions are quite decent themselves. The Asus Eee Pad Transformer measures 271 x 177 x 12.98 mm and weighs 680 grams (without the keyboard dock, of course) and, while it is not as thin and light as the iPad 2, is considerably lighter than other important 10-inch tablets on the market today, like the Toshiba Thrive, for example, which weighs 771 grams.
- The performance level offered. The Transformer is powered by the Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor and, along with the 1 GB of RAM memory, makes up for a pretty snappy technical configuration. Not extraordinary, not over the top, but fast nevertheless.
- Software and applications. The Asus Eee Pad Transformer was at its official release powered by the Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Since then, however, the tablet has come up with some most awaited updates and now runs on the Android 3.2. This means good speed, good reliability and also a very large number of apps supported.
- Versatility and functionality. This probably had to be the first strong point to be discussed, considering that this is the thing that really sets apart the Transformer from its rivals. The tablet can be connected to an optional keyboard dock and, as we mentioned before, this means that you will have two devices in one, a slate and a netbook. The keyboard is comfortable and easy to use, which means that those of you who write for a living will not need two different devices from now on, but only the Transformer. The dock also hooks up very easily to the tablet and looks extremely natural, not messing up with the tablet’s overall design.
- Long battery life. From what Asus states, the battery on the Transformer should last up until ten hours of HD video playback. From our experience, the numbers thrown by the companies are usually slightly inaccurate. However, the tablet’s battery performance can be seriously extended when using the keyboard dock, which supposedly adds about five or six hours of autonomy. Gathering the two numbers, we therefore reach a more than hefty amount of time when the tablet can be used without plugging it in.
- The display, while is probably not the greatest on the 10-inch tablet market today, offers some pretty impressive viewing angles. The 10.1-inch IPS Capacitive LED Touchscreen with 1280×800 pixels resolution is on paper identical with the display featured on the Toshiba Thrive, for example. However, at a closer look, the Transformer’s screen is better, offering 178-degree( sic!) viewing angles.
The weak points
After finding so many strong points and after talking so much about the good things at the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, you might get the impression that this is an unbreakable tablet. However, we have quite a few problems with Asus’s 10-inch tablet, which we are going to detail in the following.
- The cameras. One of the thing that very few tablets have managed to do well so far is to integrate capable cameras. The Transformer is unfortunately not an exception to this rule. Therefore, the 5 MP rear-facing camera and the 1.2 MP front-facing camera are able to capture mediocre to medium photos and are not able to record video at a very good image quality (despite being able to shoot 720p content). But that’s pretty much the same story with all tablets these days.
- While the tablet features a mini HDMI port and a micro SD card slot, there is no trace of USB ports( the keyboard dock offers two, but it would have been nice to see at least a 2.0 one integrated in the tablet for customers who choose to buy the slate without the dock). Furthermore, the built in speakers offer pretty poor audio fidelity.
- In terms of connectivity, the Eee Pad Transformer is compatible with Wireless and Bluetooth, but does not yet offer a 3G version, option that is featured by some of its rivals, like the iPad 2 for instance.
- While the keyboard dock gives the tablet functionality and versatility, this accessory is far from being perfect. The touchscreen becomes less responsive when the tablet is docked. Furthermore, the docking process, which is smooth most of the times, has its glitches. According to Engadget.com, the tablet failed to recognize the connection or disconnection between itself and its peripheral part on more than one occasion, which is pretty worrying.
- Even though the Transformer is powered by the Android 3.2, which offers access to numerous applications, there are some major software problems. The cameras and the keyboard dock are still affected by application glitches, that makes the overall tablet seem a bit buggy. Actually, come to think about it, two of the earlier weak points could be solved by software updates, but we are skeptical that Asus could snap their fingers and solve everything any time soon.
The Asus Eee Pad Transformer comes at very competitive prices, at least when you choose not to also buy the keyboard dock. The tablet is currently available at Amazon for 399 dollars( the 16 GB version) or 499 bucks( the 32 GB version).
However, if you want all the features and the functionality that the Transformer can offer, you will have to separately buy the docking station, which costs about 150 dollars.
The Asus Eee Pad Transformer has some serious competition, the 10-inch tablet market niche being filled with strong and capable devices, such as the iPad 2, the Acer Iconia Tab A500, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 or the Toshiba Thrive.
In terms of pricing, the Transformer is great, considering that even with the keyboard dock can challenge the Toshiba Thrive (available at Amazon for 545 dollars) or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1(available for 599.99 dollars). As far as technical specifications goes, the Transformer is again at least at the same level as the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Thrive or the Tab A500, all three offering an identical Dual Core Tegra 2 processor with 1 GB of RAM memory.
As we mentioned before in the article, the Asus Transformer is capable when talking about the screen and is more than decent in terms of dimensions and weight. However, its biggest disadvantage, especially when comparing it to the iPad 2, is the software, which is pretty unreliable.
Asus Eee Pad Transformer’s number of qualities and strong points is very good and overall it overwhelms the weak points. The tablet is beautiful, is slim and light, versatile, features functionality and a high performance level and comes at a pretty darn competitive price.
On the other hand, while it is a device that is surely worth its money, the software glitches and other small, but important problems makes it short of being the best 10-inch tablet on the market today.
You can also check out below the full video presentation and review of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, broken down in four exclusive TabletBite clips: