The Asus Eee PC Transformer TF101 is the first Android tablet of its kind. One one end, it’s a Honeycomb tablet and on the other, it’s an Android netbook. Its design and form factor gave it a bit of an edge that no other tablet can match. Read on and check out our full review of the Asus Transformer after the jump.
While most other tablets offer a separate wireless keyboard or an add-on dock (iPad, Galaxy Tab, TouchPad), Asus took it a bit further and manufactured an Android tablet that practically transforms into a netbook when attached to the dock. Thus, the Transformer label.
Of course, Asus will give you the option of getting the tablet only or both at the same time. For this review, we look at both to give you a better perspective why this tablet distinguishes itself from the rest of the pack.
The Asus Transformer looks like your typical 10-inch Honeycomb tablet, comes in a chocolate brown color with a thick, black bezel. It’s actually a bit thick at the middle at 12.9mm but tapers towards the edges so it looks thin.
The back panel is made of plastic with tiny embossed sunflower engravings with the 5MP rear camera on one side. The edges are lined with a thin strip of anodized aluminum.
The sides are lined with a number of ports — a 3.5mm mic/earphone port, micro-HDMI and microSD port on one side and power button beside the volume rocker on the other side.
The mobile dock that houses the full qwerty keyboard also comes with an SD/MMC card reader and two USB 2.0 ports. Both the dock and the tablet has the proprietary 40-pin USB connector for power and data so you can charge either of the devices individually or while in the netbook mode.
All-in-all, you can actually expand the storage of the device up to 64GB (32GB for the microSD and another 32GB for the SD/MMC). The tablet alone is a little on the heavy side because of the metallic construction and when attached to the dock, it’s as heavy as most 10-inch netbooks in the market.
The tablet snaps right into the dock pretty neatly using the 40-pin USB connector port along with two additional latches on both ends. To un-dock, there’s a slider lock on the dock to release the latches.
There’s a metallic cradle along the docking port to set the tablet firmly and place and not break the latches from the strain.
The docking port also serves as a full physical keyboard. The keyboard layout looks like a typical netbook keyboard although instead of the function keys, the topmost keys are shortcuts to multimedia, internet and connectivity functions.
Android specific keys like Back, Home and Search, Menu and Lock are also strategically added instead of the usual MS Windows functions.
The trackpad is smooth and easy to use along with the click buttons. Once you attach the dock, the trackpad can also be used to navigate the tablet and follows some basic multi-touch commands.
The chiclet-type keys are a bit small though but they’re pretty comfortable to use and easy with touch-typing.
The screen is very reflective, has a glossy finish and a bit of a thick bezel. The display is bright and crisp with vivid colors. Like many other display screens though, it’s very prone to glare and fingerprint.
The tablet is very responsive and the default Honeycomb UI is fluid with a few additional widgets and customization added by Asus.
Performance is really good. The Asus Transformer got a score of 1515 on Quadrant, almost the same as the other dual-core Tegra 2 tablets we reviewed or tested before.
Local movie playback is smooth, even at 1080p (same as with YouTube HD) and you can even hook it up to a bigger external display for a full HD movie playback via the HDMI port. Since it runs on an Nvidia chipset (just like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Optimus 2X), HD games on Tegra Zone play really well.
Web browsing with the native browser is fluid and effortless where pages are rendered very well (except for iframes). You can even use the trackpad on the dock to navigate sites since two-finger scroll works perfectly well.
There’s a 3G variant that’s coming out next month so all the units available right now are just WiFi-only variants.
Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 (with dock):
10.1â€³ IPS display @ 1280Ã—800 pixels
1.0GHz NVidia Tegra 2 dual-processor
16GB and 32GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD card
1.2 MP front camera
5MP rear camera
micro HDMI port
2 x USB 2.0 ports
Flash 10.2 support
Asus WaveShare UI
Android 3.2 Honeycomb
The 5MP camera takes less than decent photos and videos and they’re not really good with close-up shots. The SRS sound is pretty good though.
The Asus Transformer comes pre-installed with Android 3.2 Honeycomb. Asus added the WaveShare UI that comes with a collection of widgets and apps like MyNet (video streaming on LAN), MyLibrary (for eBooks, mags and e-newspapers), and MyCloud for unlimited cloud storage and remote desktop access.
And since it’s on Honeycomb, you get access to hundreds of thousands of apps in the Android Market (though Honeycomb-specific apps are still much fewer).
Battery life is where the Asus Transformer really shines — with the tablet alone, I am able to get about 8.5 hours of video playback at 50% screen brightness and 50% volume. When the dock is connected, I was able to get another 6.5 hours more of movie playback. That’s a total of 15 hours on a single full charge!
The nice thing about the set is that the dock automatically charges the tablet when they are connected so all the power is transferred to the tablet all the time (I was playing 5 hours of movie and the battery indicator was still showing 100% full.)
The Asus Transformer might seem like any other Android tablet but combined with the keyboard dock, it becomes a productivity netbook. That, plus the impressive battery life, connectivity and external storage options, of the combined set makes it an ideal multimedia tablet on the road. This combination is what sets it apart from all other Android tablets out there.
The tablet alone retails for Php22,995 while the tablet and dock set costs Php29,995. The price point is right there along with other Android Honeycomb tablets like the Acer Iconia Tab and the Lenovo K1.
Disclosure: YugaTech bought the Asus Transformer directly from Asus Phils. while the dock was given for free (thru their media pre-order promo).