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September 12, 2011

Asus Transformer TF101 Review

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):
10.1″ IPS display @ 1280×800 pixels
1.0GHz NVidia Tegra 2 dual-processor
1GB memory
16GB and 32GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD card
1.2 MP front camera
5MP rear camera
micro HDMI port
GPS sensor
2 x USB 2.0 ports
MMC/SD/SDHC reader
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).

Asus Eee Pad Transformer launched, priced!
Asus Transformer public release by end of July

33 Responses to “Asus Transformer TF101 Review”

  1. kuya dan
    Twitter: dante noe
    says:

    wooohoooo I will get this next month! wooohoooo

  2. ErV says:

    Darn cool. Productivity and fun in one! Still waiting for the release of the 3g version though, any specific dates to look forward to?

  3. Garry DC
    Twitter: gzdc
    says:

    Nice, I think I found what I was looking for a tablet with Asus. Will have to wait for the 3G version though.

  4. H says:

    i still like the idea of the slider more.

  5. Lester Bambico says:

    How functional is its GPS?
    Is it single link or dual link HDMI? Did you even bother to check it out?
    What HD apps did you try it out with?

    I mean, given the tegra2 processor and use it only for playing videos, that’s a dumb way to waste money.

    I hope you’d make your reviews a little more appropriate next time.

    • mack says:

      i found your comment very technical. can you explain to me the meaning of single link and dual link HDMI. i own a TF but I hardly use its HDMI. Why watch a movie using the HDMI on the TF when I am sure one who can afford to buy a TF will almost always have a home theater at home? wag ka masyado techie..just enjoy the TF, (that is, if you have one.)

  6. Soul Annihilator
    Twitter: soulannihilator
    says:

    What’s the edge of this gadget over netbooks and laptops that are the same size but much cheaper?

    • Jethro says:

      It does not only function as a netbook, it is a tablet as well…….
      Imagine yourself in the mall, who in their right minds would risk using a laptop when a tablet is not as cumbersome to use?
      or a better example, You are in your bed reading something or just using facebook/youtube. A laptop cannot win against a Tab when it comes to the casual surfer………
      And then….. there’s that very long battery life…

  7. ralpy says:

    I’m planning to buy this because I want to replace my old HP Laptop (its old, but it can run Adobe Photoshop CS5!)..
    I know Asus TF will not run Adobe PSCS5 but I want to have a full review about its capabilities of being a notebook (like using the pre-installed Polaris Office)..Because I’m planning to use this tab for multimedia and study purposes like using this for powerpoint presentation in school..
    Is there also HDMI cable available in the Phil today?

  8. Jeff says:

    Pwede ba tong dual boot- android tsaka windows?

    • eryu says:

      No. You will not be able to install Windows in this device since the processor inside this device (Nvidia Tegra) is unsupported and it has a different processor architecture when compared to those Intel and AMD processors.

      That means you have no choice but to get stucked on using Android.

    • ClaudelGFX
      Twitter: ClaudelGFX
      says:

      you can put Jolicloud on it ;)

  9. Apache says:

    Finally Thanks for the review sir Yuga ill already want to buy one but i think ill go wait for the Wi-Fi + 3G Option ill go full force and it might even support the coming Android ICS it might be able to Call and Text :D.

    already save up cash. Wish 3G can come early my Christmas Gift for my self.

  10. jonaflormicfren
    Twitter: daniojr
    says:

    Wow, I like this one. It’s a two in one.

  11. onats says:

    Are there any microHDMI cables available in the Philippines? Otherwise that port’s useless

  12. lupita says:

    can this play MKV, and AVI vids?

  13. mrkwuzhir says:

    panu documenting dito at HD vids? yaka nito? etc etc..

  14. Gyrret says:

    Where can i find sleeve? Help…

  15. I hope it will arrive the item in davao which is my place. Where I could buy this one in the Philippines kabayan? I’m planning to buy tablet next month…

  16. moniq says:

    1) with the asus slider, is the slider detachable?
    2) with the asus transformer, if the dock rans out of batt, wud it still run/function?
    3) how would u compare the asus tranformer and the acer iconia tablet? which one wud u recommend to buy?

    • Jason says:

      1. No its not detachable
      2. When the dock runs out of battery and still docked it will get battery from the pad to run it.
      3. Asus Transformer is better in functionality with dock plus its equipped with IPS panel which is the technology for touchscreen, 178 degrees viewing angles and no-flickering when touched not like in Iconia its cheaper cause they are using LCD VA panel technology only thus viewing angle is limited and not really the standard for tablet technology. Plus their tablet is only up to 8 hours cause its LCD not like Asus its up to 9.5 hours cause its IPS panel.

  17. richard says:

    i’m selling this product.

    here’s my cp # 0917-5506610

  18. moniq says:

    i would like to ask if the ASUS transformer tab includes in its accessories a USB adapter/wire? since the tab itself does not have a usb port, upon purchase would it include a SUB wire that can be an attachment for the tab?

  19. tuti says:

    Mas mahal pa sha sa ipad2 :(

  20. jom lansang says:

    When will the Asus Transformer Prime (with Icecream) arrive in the Philippines?

  21. Cy says:

    Hi, i am planning to get a tab and im considering asus transformer and samsung galaxy. Which dou you think is better? Thanks

  22. Mark says:

    may MS office din ba to?

  23. charlizeanne says:

    I have this tablet complete with dock..NO ms office but POLARIS so you can work with ms docs but i havent tried to open an excel file using Polaris..The only thing that I dont like is the front camera because I’m most of the time using it for video chat hence the 2 optional usb ports can’t be used to connect external usb camera

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