We have been lucky enough to have a play with the Asus EEE Transformer for the past few weeks (thanks to Clove for sending this to us). It's a Tablet that bears a strong resemblance to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 only with marginally better build quality due to the additional weight (680g vs 560g). However in terms of esthetics it looks the part, with a nice bronze metallic finish and several consumer/business touches thrown in, in terms of port configuration.
For example to the side you have a microSD card slot which can effectively increase the devices default 16GB of storage up to 48GB. You also have a miniHDMI connection which can be used to output the tablets screen to a compatible HD TV if you get hold of an appropriate cable.
If we were to criticise the design in a small, but significant way, its screen and surrounding bezel does tend to attract fingerprints quite quickly.
Our review unit came with the keyboard dock which is available separately for those who already have the tablet. The keyboard dock blends in seamlessly with the design of the main tablet (with a matching bronze metallic finish). It also doubles up as a handy screen protector and viewing platform when manipulating content or watching videos.
In terms of installation the main tablet clips into the keyboard dock with a reassuring click and comes with an additional two side-mounted USB ports and a further SD card slot.
What we liked about the USB ports is that they supported our 500GB external NTFS enabled drive and this made the Asus a really good platform for transferring content to the device (via the bundled file manager). Also the keyboard has it’s own battery supply which effectively doubled the battery life of the main unit. During our two hour battery test, which involved running a film for two hours with the backlight on full and the device connected to our Wireless Router, the battery life did not even get dented. On its own the tablet had 68% remaining from a full charge, which was on par with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
Keyboard in use
The supplied keyboard - with practice - can be used to manipulate the core Honeycomb 3.1 OS without touching the screen, thanks to a combination of cursor and page up/down keys. It requires practice as the keyboard is a little cramped compared to a full-sized board and the track-pad was a little too sensitive for our liking. The lightest of touches seemed to activate options without us knowing and this did get annoying. There are a few settings available for adjusting the speed of the track-pad, but this does not reflect on its touch sensitivity. We also found the hinge of the board does tend to dig into your lap if using it for longer periods of time.
Without the keyboard dock, you thankfully still have an effective tablet underneath. Asus have left the honeycomb OS relatively untouched and have supplied a nice selection of business and consumer packages (i.e. includes Polaris Office for Office document editing and NVDIA centre for games, that supported the NVIDIA graphics card). The video player however does lack the same consumer touches as the Samsung and we had problems scaling some of our videos to full-screen. The Adobe Flash support also tended to dampen the web browser performance.
But the games that we downloaded, and even videos for that matter, certainly looked good on-screen, with great viewing angles to match (thanks to the IPS screen technology). We could also read text and angle the screen to view videos a bit better outdoors, but it's still not a replacement for your e-book reader just yet.
Unfortunately the camera is a little under-par and its interface is pretty much a bog standard Android Honeycomb affair. To be honest images don't look too bad when displayed on the tablet itself, but viewing back on our PC does show its flaws, but then again you don't' buy a tablet for a camera surely?
Written on iPad 2