ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Android tablet

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer review: The Eee Pad Transformer boasts a 10.1in screen, and an optional, detachable keyboard dock accessory

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ASUS Eee Pad Transformer
  • ASUS Eee Pad Transformer
  • ASUS Eee Pad Transformer

Pros

  • Unique keyboard dock accessory
  • Good battery life
  • Flexibility of Android OS

Cons

  • Top-heavy when connected to dock
  • No USB ports without dock
  • No 3G capability

Bottom Line

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer's optional keyboard dock accessory gives it a unique edge over the competition when it comes to Android tablets. Its top-heavy design, and lack of 3G connectivity are annoyances, but the Transformer remains a worthy purchase if you're looking for an Android tablet.

Would you buy this?

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer: Software

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer ships with Google's Android 3.0 Honeycomb platform, but is one of the first tablets in Australia to receive the latest 3.1 Android software update (we received the update over the air during our test period). Android 3.1 equips the Eee Pad Transformer with improved UI transitions, an expandable and scrollable recent apps menu, and resizable home screen widgets, along with improvements to the standard Browser, calendar, e-mail and gallery apps.

The software is largely a 'vanilla' version of the Honeycomb OS, though ASUS includes its Waveshare UI on the Eee Pad Transformer. Additions include a file manager, a MyCloud storage app, a MyLibrary books app, and a MyNet app for streaming multimedia content via DLNA. The MyCloud app offers one year of unlimited cloud storage. ASUS also includes handy e-mail, clock and weather widgets, though we found these made scrolling through home screens sluggish and choppy, even if they do compliment the Honeycomb look and feel.

Most of the core Honeycomb functionality remains unchanged in the 3.1 version of Android. The Eee Pad Transformer's Web browser is slick, fast and displays Flash content. It also supports tabbed Web browsing and the entire browsing experience is as close as you'll find to a full desktop or notebook computer. ASUS' on-screen keyboard feels cramped and uncomfortable, though you can easily switch to the standard Honeycomb keyboard for a better experience.

The Android Honeycomb user interface, particularly the home screen, looks striking and is easy to use, and the handling of notifications is excellent. The recent apps list also makes flicking back and forth between recently used programs a breeze. We love the flexibility of live widgets, and they are particularly useful on a tablet device with much more screen real estate than a smartphone.

Despite all Android Honeycomb's positive experiences, it is clear the software is still in its infancy, even after the 3.1 update. The default Web browser still automatically switches to mobile versions of many Web sites, Flash video performance remains hit and miss, and despite the presence of pretty powerful specs, the Eee Pad Transformer often felt sluggish when performing basic tasks — such as opening the apps drawer, and switching between running applications.

A more pressing issue is the lack of third-party apps in the Android market that have been designed with a tablet in mind. Many common apps, including the official Twitter and Facebook apps, have not yet been optimised for the larger screen size the Eee Pad Transformer offers. Default Google apps like Maps, Gmail and YouTube worked excellently, and there are a few downloadable apps like Angry Birds and Pulse News Reader that filled the screen perfectly and worked without issues. However, many apps in the Android Market simply resize to fit the Transformer's screen. This issue will, of course, change over time as the platform evolves and develops, but means the current user experience offered by Android tablets is still very much a work in progress.

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer: Other features

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer supports HD video playback and recording, but the default video player is lacklustre and supports minimal file formats. Thankfully, it's easy enough to download a better alternative from the Android Market.

The Eee Pad Transformer also has a rear 5-megapixel camera, and a 1.2-megapixel front camera for video calls. Although both take significantly better quality photos than the iPad 2, the quality of still images and HD video recording can't match those captured with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v.

ASUS claims the Eee Pad Transformer's battery is good for up to 9.5 hours on its own, or 16 hours when connected to a fully charged dock connector. We recorded figures of around seven hours standalone, and about 14 with the dock connector — though less than specified, this is still a great result.

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is available through retailers Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi. It costs $599 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, and $799 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model with optional keyboard dock included. The keyboard dock accessory sells for $199 on its own. Unfortunately, the Eee Pad Transformer remains a Wi-Fi-only device for now, though ASUS says a version with 3G connectivity may come at a later, unannounced date.

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Ken

1

Overall, I thought this review was pretty accurate, however it is unclear to me why you keep describing the TF tablet itself as having limited functionality apart from the keyboard? As an owner of a transformer (with the dock) and an iPad, this statement is simply misleading and not accurate. Just because it does not have USB port does not make it limited in functionality. Having an HDMI output and microSD card slot is already way more than the iPad. You make it seem like unless you get the dock it is limited in its use and that is not true. I understand that you might be comparing it to some other android tablets that have USB/SD slots in the tablet but others will read that it has limited functionality and think that it is relatively worthless without the keyboard dock which is simply not true. I love this tablet way more than my iPad and is a very unique product and is incredibly functional with or without the dock.

Vee

2

True that, Ken!
I also own an iPad since day 1, well OK day 14 or so. The iPad is awesome, but the Transformer is awesome with a bag of chips. The reviewer should have mentioned what a delight it is to plug it into any computer and download any files you want, no syncing up with your one single chosen computer of choice like the iPad. Also the true multitasking capability is a real joy (but maybe part of the reason it does get sluggish at times). I actually got the dock today and was jumping with joy. Instead of having to charge some bluetooth keyboard dock also, this keyboard dock is charging my tablet! And oh yeah got the game Riptide GP this game holds up to any game the iPad has and a bunch more are coming out this June. Later...

Ross Catanzariti

3

Hi Ken,

Thanks for your feedback.

The Transformer is definitely not "worthless" without the dock and I never intended to make it sound that way. Just thought it was worth mentioning that without the dock it does lack USB ports. I think most people who purchase this will also get the dock so its not a huge issue.

Kudzai

4

Ross,

I'm not sure if you realize that you can change the profile of the browser from tablet to desktop. This, as you may imagine, opens desktop versions of websites.

Also, if you disable flash it's much faster at browsing than iPad2 - this to me would be apples to apples.

Overall - for the price - this is the best tablet you can currently get.

Perrin

5

Reviews are here to give you an insight into a product and to help you to decide on a short list, but am I glad this was not the first review I had read or right now or the Asus Transformer would not even have been considered, let alone be my No.1 choice for a tablet.
I was fortunate to get to trial this in store (without the dock)and was instantly blown away by the the experience. This was after trying the Xoom, Acer and the iPad2 tablets, each on several occasions whereas the Asus just needed the one trial to have me convinced.
This review has concentrated too much on minor negative points of this tablet, which for those who are not prepared to research for themselves, would have left them choosing an inferior tablet, as in my opinion, the Asus EEE Transformer is by far the best option out there, with in the UK at least, the dock included at a price that beats all the competitors like for like.
P.S. If reviewing a Wi-Fi only tablet why mention lack of 3G, there will be a 3G version released soon

Ross Catanzariti

6

Hi Perrin,

Appreciate your comments, but in no way shape or form does this review suggest the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is inferior to other Android tablets on the market - check the ratings for yourself, it stacks up very well.

As for the price, it is much more expensive in Australia than the UK, (this is an Australian site) and the lack of 3G is an issue as people want this right now, not later.

Alex Charles

7

Hello Ross,
Thanks for the insightful review.
This will be my 1st purchase of a tablet - as a replacement for a laptop, & I cant afford the money to get it too wrong.

In my research, I've whittled down to approx iPad2 or this Asus Transformer.

What I've been looking for in the reviews - including yours, is a description of the number/ frequency of the adverts that appear in the applications courtesy of Google Ads?

Eg I've got a Samsung Galaxy S phone with Android - which is great, but 90% of the applications that one gets from the Android Market has ads on it.
Understand this is an aspect one has to live-with using "free" apps, but those continuously popping ads do slow down the applications & connections.

Hence wondering is those ads appear in the standard applications that this tablet comes with, and do they appear in the 90% of tablet applications from the Android market pls?

Thanks in advance for your reply.

Regards,
Alex C

Ged

8

Does anyone know if you can connect a broadband or a 3g USB dongle on this unit with the keyboard? Some say its not possible, but there is review in another language they had success connecting it. I believe this was in Hong Kong.
Also I have heard some reviews that the battery drains faster with the keyboard docking station attached.

AEC

9

Ged, in answer to your question about a 3G dongle, as this has Wi-Fi capability why not try a Huawei e5832 (just buy a 3G sim card) and you have a wi-fi hotspot, or Telstra Elite etc. when you are out and about.

Davide

10

Hi guys,
do anyone of you know if is possbile to connect external HD western passport 500Gb to the min usb port? does it work?

thanks

herschel

11

yes you can connect any usb harddrive.this tablet is the best on their is for me.I have had every tablet out there and this one truly is a desktop replacement

kimb

12

I recently bought the Asus Transformer to use in place of my laptop. So far I am really happy. I would like to find out what kind of cord I would need to get to be able to plug in a mini usb device or a 2.0 usb device.

Thanks for any help.

Bruce

13

I have had an Asus TF300T for 3 weeks and have found it very good except for an issue with it screen freezing occasionally. When it does this it shuts down by its self then re-boots- anoying-hope they fix this problem. As for connecting to internet I use my 3G phone's connectivity function.
This works well when on holidays etc.

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wendyred99

2.5

1

Pros
this
Cons
that
• • •

I would also like to know if you can attach a USB modem/dongle to the dock to use internet on the unit in the case you don't have/want wi fi connection?

Liz

5.0

2

Pros
The tablet
Cons
Asus customer service in Australia
• • •

Hi,
I'm a diehard fan of the Asus tablet and a proud owner too. But I have to come out and say that Asus customer service here in Australia sucks at best. My adaptor was acting touchy from the start and I had to keep checking every now and then to make sure it was doing its job. And then last week it just died on me. Long story short, if this happens to you go to http://www.transformerforums.com/forum/asus-transformer-faq/260-finding-your-transformer-no-longer-charges-wall-wart-adapter.html for a neat solution. I've been online for quite a while and find that this happens a lot and customer service asks for your tablet to be send to Sydney no matter where you are, they wipe out your data, reset to factory default settings and all of that just to fix a faulty charger. And no, Asus chargers are not available elsewhere in the country. Just try this neat trick before you go completely crazy. Cheers all!

Ashley

4.0

3

Pros
.
Cons
.
• • •

This looks great, and is the first tab I've seriously thought about buying. one question though, does it run PC programs as well like a notebook? If it does, I think I'm sold as this would be a great tab/notebook.

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