Sunday, July 10, 2011

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer - Hands On Review

I haven't posted for a while and decided to post my thoughts on my recent purchase of an ASUS Eee Pad Transformer (16GB Wifi only, 470€). I'll explore and extend on this post about the good things and the bad things I found using it for a couple of weeks now.

So lets get started.
As with my other reviews, I'll start with the design. ASUS made a really neat and good looking device, that is both light and slim. The case is mostly plastic, like the back side. As you can see from the middle picture above, it has also a great mesh like design pattern, which actually improves grip and helps with the aesthetics. On the front side you have the huge and glossy "gorilla glass" with about an inch of bezel around the screen for holding it firmly. The device dimensions are: width 271 x height 171 x thickness12.98 mm. and it weighs 680grams. The device doesn't feel cheap at all and it is sturdy and well balanced. The design team made a good product.

The buttons and connectivity.
On the left side we have nice chrome Power/Lock and volume adjustment buttons, on the right side are a 3.5mm 2-in-1 stereo jack, a mini HDMI out port and a microSD card reader. On the bottom is the USB port and on either side of the USB port are the slots for docking it with the keyboard. My model didn't include the keyboard so I won't be showing it here. The outer edge ring thing is metal by the way, and you can feel the current, like a tingly vibration, that is caused by the lack of grounding when you charge the device. One design flaw I found and I don't know if you can see it on the pictures above, is the position of the speakers. The tiny holes are positioned right where you would normally hold the device. This has an unpleasant effected of muting the device a bit.

The hardware.
Sorry no internals pictures here :p
The hardware, like any other devices I wrote about, is the same.
  • Android 3.1
  • nVidia Tegra 2 1.0Ghz
  • LED backlight 10.1" IPS panel with 1280px by 800px resolution
  • 1GB of system memory
  • 16/32GB of storage
  • 1.2M Front facing and 5M rear cameras
  • aGPS, Accelerometer, Gyro, Light Sensor, Compass
  • WiFi, Bluetooth
My device came with Android Honeycomb 3.0 but as soon as I connected it on my home network, it prompted me for an update to Android 3.1. Included were some applications by ASUS, like MyLibrary, MyCloud, Email Client, Weather etc. The Transformer comes with an office suite called Polaris pre-installed. This suite includes a Document, Spreadsheet and Presentation app that is compatible with MS Office and Google Docs. One note here about the battery. ASUS on the specs is claiming a battery life of 9.5hrs while playing 720p videos. I haven't tested this yet, but as far as I can tell the battery is running this device for a few days with Wifi on and a few hours a day of browsing.

Browsing on this device is the same as browsing on your desktop computer, with tabs! The screen is large and you get full websites on it, without trying to scroll around much. Multi-task is also available and switching between apps is done by pressing one icon on the screen. One disappointing thing is the inability to play HD videos on youtube from the browser. If you want to watch HD videos you better use the included Youtube Application. It can handle HD a lot better. Games run just fine on this device as expected. The build-in microphone is crap, I've tested it using Skype and no one could hear me clearly. I couldn't find any settings for increasing the recording volume of the mic. If there is a setting please let me know. Another disappointing feature is the camera. I wasn't impressed at all by the quality of the pictures or videos taken by the rear camera. And don't forget about the lack of a LED flash. Forget about night shots. But again, this is a tablet computer and not a camera to take vocation pictures. Get a real compact camera for that. For the occasional and quick pictures it's just fine.

ASUS made a quality android tablet, even if a few things are bad. It is sturdy, well balanced and hey, it's cheaper than what other companies are selling. The low price tag is what makes this tablet worth considering for purchase. Battery life is good. If you decide to get the add-on keyboard you get a doubling of the battery life plus a pointer device via the track-pad, 2 USB ports and another card reader. The screen is very bright but don't expect to work with a glossy screen on a shiny day outside. One of the uses I found is for reading tons of PDF files that I have obviously. The large screen helps a lot with the reading. The internet browsing experience is excellent. Since this device is intended to be held in a landscape mode, you get full websites on the browsers and won't have to zoom in or out to get to the content. If I was going to rate it on a scale from 1 to 10 it would get 7 1/2. Even if there are a few bad things I wasn't disappointed with my purchase, because the price makes it up. You won't get disappointed either if you decide to buy this tablet.