The first thing I noticed when I picked up the Transformer at MicroBytes Pointe-Claire was the classy..and solid box. ASUS knows how to do packaging with style. Lift the cover and the device is nicely nestled in molded plastic.
Out of the box it looks, feels and weighs like a netbook. The screen and keyboard are solidly locked together..no question..this is an Android Honeycomb netbook with a real International keyboard
In its netbook livery the ASUS Eee Tab Transformer works well..it is a nice weight on the lap and it runs quiet and cool.The keyboard is full size and well laid out and keys have nice travel and a satisfying click..touch typing is a breeze.
I happily set out to type this blog on the Transformer..and was confronted with a really bothersome problem..one that has nothing to do with ASUS but is a problem with Honeycomb. There is a delay typing on the WordPress web interface, enough of a delay to make typing confusing. This delay happens on every web page..entering parameters into Google Search, for example…and this is on the latest version 3.2 of Honeycomb.
I switched to the included Polaris Office..which is Microsoft Office compatible by the way..and wrote the blog offline on the very comfortable keyboard. I could take my time too..battery life with the keyboard attached is over 16 hours..impressive!
Now to Tablet mode..a simple matter of flipping the lock and slip the screen out of the keyboard. You have a solid..not featherweight..tablet..a big one at that..The 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 capacitive touchscreen supports 10-finger multi-touch and is covered with Gorilla Glass. The display is a superb IPS panel with great viewing angles, color accuracy and brightness. There is a 1.2MP camera for video calls and a light sensor to control screen brightness.
Inside is the now ubiquitous NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor with 1GB of memory and either 16GB or 32GB of SSD storage. There is WiFI b/g/n (2.4GHz only) and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. Also under the hood is GPS, digital compass, gyroscope and g-sensor. The stereo speakers located near the bottom of the sides are OK. A 5-megapixel rear camera takes decent stills in good light..there is no flash..and 720p HD video.
Android Honeycomb looks nice and for someone used to and Android smartphone there is no real learning curve. The scrolling between the customizable home screens is smooth and apps open quickly. I found that the phone only apps I tried scaled up to the big screen surprisingly well. All that said, there is still something about Honeycomb that feels not quite cooked yet..nothing I can put my finger on..a stutter here, a force close there the typing delay on web pages..just enough that it doesn’t feel right..hopefully Google will fix this soon.
As a tablet, there is no question the Eee Tab Transformer is big and on the heavy side..still it feels good in the hand due to the nicely textured curved plastic back. It is not an iPad or even an iPad killer..there I said it..but I don’t think it was meant to be. Combined with the removable keyboard this is a killer device for a student or a business person who wants a tablet that can also be used as an effective content creation device..The ASUS Eee Tab Transformer certainly fills that bill.
The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is nicely priced at $399 for the 16GB version and $499 for the 32GB model. The keyboard dock is $149.