Review

Love the idea of a tablet but can’t wrap your head around virtual keyboards? The Asus Eee Pad Transformer, with its affordable price point and keyboard dock peripheral, may be the device that gets you into the game.

The most appealing quality of the Transformer is its price. A 16 GB model will run you just $399, making it the most affordable Honeycomb tablet to date without much of a drop-off in performance. And early sales reports show that the price may be right for many consumers. While some similar tablets (like the Motorola Xoom) are struggling to move off store shelves, Asus saw its device sell out with some vendors within 24 hours of launch.

Aside from the price tag, Asus’ biggest selling point here is its relatively inexpensive keyboard peripheral that gives Transformer users the option of docking their device for a quality netbook experience. It’ll run you $150 and offers a full QWERTY set up, a multi-touch pad, an SD card reader, two USB ports and even its own battery, which can get you nearly 15 hours of power, according to Asus. (An undocked Transformer should get around nine hours of battery life.)

Despite its relatively low price, this Asus pad is a powerful Honeycomb device that can multitask fairly well with its 1 Ghz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor. The Transformer does make a few changes to the Android 3.0 operating system that gives it a more of a custom feel, though most of the alterations are purely cosmetic. There are a few tweaks to the navigation and on-screen keyboards, but Asus’ hand is most evident on the home screen, where weather and E-mail widgets have gotten a makeover from the stock Honeycomb experience.

Another feature that deserves some mention is the Transformer’s surprisingly high-quality 10.1-inch,  back-lit screen, which offers 1280 x 800 resolution and a 178-degree-wide viewing angle. Luckily, the tablet takes full advantage of its screen and handles playing 1080p video well. An HDMI out is also available on the device, however, if you’d like to link it up with your living-room flatscreen.

While a huge selling point, the lower price brings with it some obvious flaws. For starters, there are no wireless carrier options for the Transformer, and the device, while large, is not nearly as sleek in its overall design as many of its competitors. (The keyboard dock, for example, is a solid peripheral but requires a fair amount of force and finagling to connect to the tablet.) There have also been reports of video recording and camera playback bugs, but none of these issues seems especially deal-breaking, especially if you’re bargain hunting and prepared to deal with a few warts.

CONCLUSION

If you’re willing to overlook some of the Transformer’s more obvious shortcomings, and are intrigued by what a tactile keyboard could do for your mobile productivity, you could do a lot worse than the latest Asus release. It’s nowhere near as sleek as an Apple device — then again, what is? — but its price puts it above most competition in its class. A great entry point to the tablet world if you’re on a tighter budget.

PROS

  • Price point
  • Keyboard dock for netbook experience
  • Honeycomb OS

CONS

  • Unsophisticated design
  • Video record/playback issues
  • No cell support

SPECIFICATIONS

DISPLAY

10.1″ LED Backlight WXGA (1280×800) Screen
10 finger multi-touch support
Scratch resistant glass

CPU

1 Ghz NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2

MEMORY

1GB

STORAGE

16GB/32GB

WIRELESS

WLAN 802.11 b/g/n@2.4GHz
Bluetooth V2.1+EDR

CAMERA

1.2 M Pixel Front Camera
5 M Pixel Rear Camera

AUDIO

SRS Sound
Stereo Speakers
Internal Microphone

INTERFACE

1 x 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone/Mic-in)
1 x mini HDMI 1.3a
1 x Card Reader (Micro SD)

SENSOR

G-Sensor
Light Sensor
Gyroscope
E-Compass
GPS

BATTERY

9.5 hours; 24.4Wh Li-Polymer Battery
16 hours with dock

DIMENSIONS

271 x 171 x 12.98 mm

WEIGHT

680g

MOBILE DOCKING

Keyboard
Touch Pad
2 x USB 2.0
2 x Docking port (Host + Client)
1 x Card Reader (MMC/SD/SDHC)
1 x 24.4Wh Battery

***Asus EEE Transformer Update — Aug 29th 2011*** mgardega

Since this tablet has been released and initially reviewed by our website, there have been a few changes. Firstly it has received the speed improving  Android Honeycomb 3.2 update OTA.  Secondly, the Asus EEE Transformer now supports Netflix natively without having to root the Tablet.  This is something most of the Android Tablets have yet to accomplish.  Although I assume most of you buying this tablet are rooting near immediately, as it has a very active modding crowd.  One other piece of information  I want to point out about the Asus tablet, is that it is by far the best selling tablet through this website.  Literally it has sold nearly four times more than any of the other tablets we have reviewed. Only about twenty five percent of website visitors were buying the keyboard dock with the device. Considering how well built the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is, this is saying quite a lot about the tablet.

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About the Author

sean