Asus Eee Pad Transformer review

Full review: Android Honeycomb tablet that thinks its a netbook

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For

  • Great screen
  • Good battery life
  • Honeycomb OS

Against

  • No HSDPA connectivity
  • Crappy video
  • Doesn't charge via USB

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer has surprised everyone by being one of the better looking tablets out there, add the super-responsive screen and keyboard this is the best Honeycomb tablet to date. Well, T3 thinks so anyway

We’ve seen quite a few tablets recently from the Honeycomb debutant the Motorola Xoom, to the 3D LG Optimus Pad and the Blackberry Playbook. But Asus has done something different by combining its knowledge of Netbooks with cutting-edge tablet spec to create something beyond our expectations.

Look at the spec sheet of the Eee Pad Transformer and it appears pretty much identical to other Honeycomb tablets. 10.1-inch touchscreen? Check. Front and rear facing cameras? Check. HDMI? Check.

However, if you invest in an additional keyboard dock (for a reasonable £50), you could effectively have one of the most successful and easy-to-use tablet devices in your hand.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer: Build

Pick up the tablet and it feels substantially lightweight at 680g. It’s not as stylish as the Apple iPad 2 or rock-solid as the Motorola Xoom; instead the bezel makes the Transformer feel wide and less sleek than it should. This is certainly a device you hold with two hands.

Instead of micro USB, Asus uses a proprietary charger, which needs to be charged via the mains. Along the bottom are two other ports, which you use to dock the tablet in the keyboard. Connecting the tablet and keyboard is quite tricky and takes several attempts to line-up and connect, but once there it feels very solid, the tablet folds down over the keyboard and it feels (and looks) just like a netbook. The keyboard is comfortable to use, certainly comparable to any netbook.

The keyboard section adds a SD card reader and two USB ports, which you can add a mouse or extra storage too. For some reason it couldn’t read data from a USB key.

The Eee Pad Transformer is available in a WiFi only version, so no on-the-go connectivity yet. Choose from 16GB and 32GB capacities and you get a years’ free cloud storage with Asus Webstorage.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer: Android

Running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), on the Eee Pad Transformer is a joy. Read our Android Honeycomb review here. Highlights include being able to drag apps onto separate homescreens, flicking through thumbnails of open homescreens and customizing each screen with apps and widgets.

The YouTube app is excellent, video thumbnails are displayed on a virtual 3D wall you flick through. As well as full 16:9 playback, you can view it in a small screen without leaving the main interface.

Browsing is a joy, the touchscreen responds well and you can quickly swap between multiple browser windows. Adobe Flash support means you can run videos, including BBC iPlayer.

What lets the Eee Pad Transformer down at the moment – as with any Honeycomb tablet – are the limited number of apps. At the time of writing there are 436, compared to 65,000 on Apple iOS. Although the Android Market is getting better and is certainly far better than the web.

Asus has added its own WaveShare UI to Honeycomb, with some useful features like MyNet 9 for streaming to a TV, MyLibrary and Dropbox rival MyCloud.

The 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 dualcore processor and 1GB of RAM ensure speed matches the LG Optimus Pad and Motorola Xoom in general use; it’s slightly quicker at swapping orientation, if anything.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer: Screen

Unlike the Motorola Xoom, Asus has incorporate the same IPS tech as Apple into the 10.1-inch 1280x80, which is fantastic. Colours aren’t quite as natural as the iPad 2’s and slight banding between light and dark areas is noticeable when you pause movies (which you aren’t going to be doing often), but it’s otherwise sharp, detailed and handles motion well, with excellent off-angle viewing.

Don’t buy it for making movies, though; the blurry 720p footage runs at a juddery 8fps, and the five-meg stills are no great shakes either, and there isn’t a flash either.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer: Battery

Battery life is a respectable nine and a half hours, during our tests with WiFi on, screen at max brightness, moderate browsing and some video we easily got six hours, and it can be extended to 16 hours when docked with the keyboard as that has a battery in it as well.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer: Verdict

Judged on its merits as Honeycomb tablet, the Eee Pad Transformer is ultra-fast with an excellent screen, but factor in the keyboard and it really shines. Much of Honeycomb works perfectly well without a keyboard, but the Eee Transformer’s is a real boon if you’re typing longer documents, and the fact it adds to the battery life without totally reducing portability makes it an option well worth considering. In fact it’s a match for any Android offering to date despite its low price.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer launch date: Out now

Link: link Asus

Asus Eee Pad Transfomer price: £379 (16GB) £429 with keyboard dock