Billed as the year of the fondleslab, 2011 has so far failed to deliver on the hype. With sales of Motorola's Xoom sluggish at best, the BlackBerry Playbook too idiosyncratic for most and the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tantalisingly conspicuous by its absence, Asus looks to steal a march on the competition with its Eee Pad Transformer …
I rather like the eee pad's style. The big black frame gives you something to hold onto, without inadvertently touching the screen.
The only down-side to my Eee Pad is the proprietary charging cable. That's a nuisance, especially when there are so far no spares to be had.
iPad busting price?
The 16GB eee pad transformer is £379 whereas the equivalent iPad 2 is only £20 more. Now I'm no fanboi but I'd hardly call that "iPad-busting"
Taking this purely on hardware...
Does the iPad2 have a 1280x800 display with 1GB of RAM, 5MP camera, microSD slot and mini HDMI out?
Well worth a £20 saving in my book :)
It does seem like a better device and therefore better value. I just take issue with the implication that it's *loads* cheaper than an iPad - it isn't.
I'm in the market for a tablet and desperately looking for a reason not to buy an iPad 2 (I dislike Apple quite a lot but I do want to get the best tablet for my money). I just want to be able to compare offerings objectively, without falsehoods and hyperbole.
Sorry, I thought you were, well you know, one of those cultists. Sorry about that.
Your point is both valid and commendable :)
Video capture and stills
Honeycomb 3.1 has been out for over 10 days which fixes the HD video capture issue. The stills quality is also greatly improved. I guess El Reg either reviewed this two weeks ago or didn't check for an update.
Not sure why this scored lower than the Acer when it has a much better IPS panel and the keyboard/battery option.
The only thing for me that is letting down the Transformer is Android itself. You simply would not have got away with shipping such a buggy OS 5 years ago. Version 3.0.1 that it shipped with was diabolical. I had to hard reset the device 3 times losing everything. Upgrading to 3.1 seems to have cured this, but it still buggy and lacks polish. I guess we'll get there in the end.
16 Hour recharge?
I recently bought the Transformer sans keyboard battery and it certainly didn't take 16 hours. Manual recommends 8 hours for a full charge cycle from flat. Possibly the extra 8 hours for the Keyboard battery.
Haven't had any issues with video playback using rockplayer, although due to the nature of the Tegra 2 processor it will never support 1080p High profile it will do 1080p baseline.
I will say that it is an amazing bit of kit, maybe not as refined as the ipad2 but i prefer honeycomb to IOS anyway so more than happy.
A lot quicker
Mine took about 5 hours to charge both the keyboard and tablet battery from 15% with the charger. In normal use it never gets this low of course.
I think the review is saying it would take 16 hours if using USB charging. Or perhaps they are taking this from the manual which recommends an 8 hour first charge, which is pretty standard practice.
I like it
At £50 bundled the keyboard/dock/expansion is a real bargain. The screen is superb and even if the tablet section is a bit bigger/heavier than the iPad the better form factor (720p movies without rescaling) more than makes up for it.
Lake of native mkv support is irritating, although I have heard rumours of firmware upgrades to fix this. So far moboplayer has coped with everything I've thrown at it without any stuttering.
The bbc iplayer android app doesn't appear to work, at least for me. Everything is fine until I select something to playback but I never get a picture. However, iplayer works fine from the browser and since the android version of the standalone doesn't support download-and-play-later (shame on you, bbc) it is no real loss.
I had some initial hookup problems connecting to my WinXP box but they were all at the XP end. Eventually manually installing the Asus USB drivers and reinstalling Asys pc suite while the pad was connected cured those.
The non-availability of replacement USB cables is worrying, but hopefully that will resolve itself soon. The length issue is easily cured by using a usb extension cable at the non-proprietory end.
For me, the only real niggle was that I couldn't buy the 32Gb version bundled with the keyboard.
And for those that ask, the thing has already been rooted so I suspect native linux will come soon although we may have to wait a while for tegra2 support on non-android OS.
Manufacturers, stop half-arsing tablets. You want sales of these lovely tablets, give me 3G. It's not that big a deal!
Do you really need 3G on tablet? At home you'll have wifi and on the move you'll probably have a 3G phone you can tether to via bluetooth. The last thing I want is to be paying for yet another internet connection.
It will put the price up
3G requires network operators deal. As soon as you start dealing with those sharks the price gets hiked as the Xoom and HTC demonstrate.
I just tether mine to my phone (which I always have with me) and it works a treat. Or you could buy a dongle or get a BT Openzone account.
Mobile internet is an expensive farce in the UK with no sign of improvement in the short term.
Coming Real Soon Now, I hear. But I decided to stop stressing about it, and tether everything to my phone via the excellent and simple WiFi tethering in Android, keeping all the data bills together.
What happened to the 7 inch market?
As an owner of a Galaxy Tab 7" I find it hard to see the attraction in a 10" unit. 7" ones are easily pocketable, but 10" is too big to carry with you all the time. Who's still making 7" tabs tho? Everyone who sees the GT 7" tends to agree, and it's annoying having to tell them 'you can't have one' in a Cartman-like voice.
Re. photography, it might look daft, but it is handy having such a large and bright viewfinder. The ability to zoom in immediately after the shot is quite handy too to verify that you got all the detail in the pic.
For a pure tablet I agree...
But with the keyboard the Asus is a netbook replacement. 7" would be too small. The necessary reduction in keyboard size would make it a pain to use. Smaller batteries as well. I bought my Asus primarily for it's huge runtime.
I guess you could have a 7" tablet and then some fancy folding bluetooth keyboard, but it would not as slick or usable as the Asus.
I do wonder why there are not many pure 7" tablets. Surely it can't be simply down to following Apple like mindless sheep. At least Asus have done some real innovation here.
The HTC looks nice, but the Flyer won't be flying off the shelves at that utterly ridiculous price.
Hi, how are you doing the photos > tablet? I really want a tablet where I can take a photo, wirelessly send it to a tablet so I can view it. Can this device do that? If so, with what hardware/software???? Cheers, Carl.!
I've had a Transformer since they came out a month or two ago. I concur with everything everyone has said about quality of screen, coming from the Vega it is night and day.
I've never had any problems with Honeycomb and have never really understood all this 'beta' OS bashing, it's always worked a charm for me and is simply no contest between an HC tab and a cheapo Android 2.1-2 knock-off. Yes, the price is a bummer, Apple really did unfortunately set the benchmark, with few manufacturers willing to give up some margin simply to undercut by the iPad by any real amount. The mid-market is starting to arrive however and I imagine prices will drift towards 300 quid as time goes by and Christmas arrives.
The final observation - stop bashing HC for having few optimised apps. Its not like the iPad world where iphone apps are either zoomed in horribly, or run in a small box. Android 3 handles apps made for smaller screensizes perfectly well, to the extent that an Apple fanboi colleague was genuinely impressed. Not having HC apps is not a problem for me in the slightest, whereas for an iPad it most certainly would be.
And finally, for people who inherently dislike the iTunes way, comparisons with the iPad are futile as they are simply not a consideration. Compare the Transformer to its immediate competitors and you'll quickly arrive at the same conclusion I did - its simply the best product in the market today.
So is this "tablet" computing at it's best or is Xoom 5% better?
Personally I opted for this and cancelled my Xoom pre-order back in early April, as it was the first actually available Honeycomb tablet in UK. Since then I've also played with the Xoom and the key differential is the screen - the Asus leaves Xoom for dead. Asus is also significantly cheaper as well as lighter whereas Xoom has longer battery life (without dock) and more built-in storage.
As another poster pointed out, how can you appear to be advocating this over the Xoom while scoring it 5% less? "The Transformer is the best exponent yet for Android 3.0 Honeycomb" - apparently not, that would be the Xoom woudn't it?
It's a very nice piece of hardware and just the sort of thing I'd like...it's just a shame that the pre-installed OS is incompatible with the software I have.
If I can't install my stuff on it, it's pretty much worthless. I already have applications and web browsers that can access my email from anywhere AND they don't feed everything I do to Google.
Bought one of these for the missus so she could read an annotate PDFs she has for her study rather than have paper lying around everywhere. We didn't buy the docking station part as we wouldn't use it.
It's excellent. Screen, battery life, build quality, honeycomb OS and weight are all great. It got the 3.1 update OTA a couple of days after we got it so I haven't noticed any bugs yet.
The tablet-optimised apps on the market are limited, but you have all the non-optimised ones that work pretty well. As others said it's mainly a lack of the best use of space.
I'm not completely sold on the whole tablet concept for myself (it seems to work for my OH's use case) but this is a nice bit of kit and a much more reasonable price than the competition for a quality Android tablet.
3G version coming in a few months time
For me Wifi only is fine, I normally only use it round the house, so 3G isn't required.
And even if I take it away from home, I can just hit the wifi-hotspot app built into Android on my phone (part of 2.3, I have a Desire S). And so can still access Internet anyway.
Asus Transformer owner's review
My wife has had the TF for 2 weeks now. Her verdict: outstanding. Here are the reasons:
1) Contrary to what is said in this El Reg review, the tablet isn't heavy. The reviewer would have been best advised to at least check Apple's weight specs for iPad 1 or iPad 2 before penning his comment.
2) In the US, the TF has been sold as a tablet with (I think) an additional $150 charge for the keyboard dock. Here in the UK, the tablet+keyboard are bundled together for an extra £50. Seeing as how the keyboard incorporates a second battery, this deal is as good as it gets -- laptop batteries ain't cheap. For which reason then, talk on here of third-party suppliers coming out with keyboards kinda misses the point: it's the BATTERY which is the component cost here. Not the bloody keyboard.
3) In clamshell guise, the Asus kills off the very genre Asus launched: goodbye netbook. Suddenly it's possible to have an ultra-portable which can be rotated from portrait to landscape view. Try finger-pinch zooming on a netbook. . .
4) iPad killer. We compared Apple's offering with this Asus and ultimately gave up bothering. Apart from all the restrictions Emperor Jobs imposes, the iPad simply doesn't match up. This in our opinion explains why Apple seems to have reacted so ferociously to a US ad last month which showed two images side by side, the left one of an iPad with a keyboard stuck to it with black duct tape, the right image showing the Asus TF. Above the left image were the words: LIKE THIS. Above the right image: ONLY BETTER.
The reviwer's comment about Apple looking over its shoulder and sniggering doesn't, therefore, accord to the facts: Apple's reported reaction to a single, simple Asus Transformer ad would seem to indicate that, contrary to the El Reg review, Emperor Jobs and his minions are taking the Asus TF very, very seriously.
5) Keyboard. The Asus TF comes with Polaris free of charge, a point the reviewer might have made clear in his report. Polaris allows my wife to work on her Microsoft Office stuff without a hitch. Although the on-screen keyboard is fine -- and if you don't like it, it's possible to get others -- the Asus docking keyboard is excellent. It makes all the difference when it comes to editing docs or typing emails. And no; we haven't noticed 'lag' on our TF.
6) Case. Asus's official case was sold (briefly) in the UK by Amazon UK. If you look at the reviews, they condemn it on price alone, so I've no idea how good it is. But if it truly was costing £48 GBP, then Asus wants its head looking at, as does anyone daft enough to fork out that kind of money. My wife has purchased 2 cases for her TF, because she wanted a tailored case for the tablet alone, and a secure case for the TF when in its clamshell form. The tailored case in red pseudo-leather came post free from a Chinese company which is putting them out via a Hong Kong eBay seller. Contrary to cliched wisdom about Chinese scammers and eBay etc, the seller is excellent and the tailored case a perfect fit for the TF tablet. It cost my wife £15 GBP. As for a case for the TF in clamshell guise, Wenger's robust, beautifully padded 10.2 case fits like a glove. Amazon UK has it for £14 post free. There may be other variants out there, but for anyone to say that they can't find a case, or cases, for the TF is plain wrong: try looking, huh? My wife has paid a total of £29 GBP including post & packing for two quality cases: we think it's great value for money.
(7) Android apps. The reviewer is correct, and very helpful, in pointing out that many Froyo (2.0) smartphone apps upscale very well to the Asus's screen size. But Honeycomb apps are coming thick and fast, not every month, or every week, but damn near every day. No point in listing 'em here: 10 minutes on Google is enough to dispel the myth about how everything's still, er, 'nascent'. It isn't. And the maturity of some apps is staggering: Google Maps, for instance, with Navigator's latest ability to do off-line caching of routes, means the likes of TomTom et al have even more cause to worry about how long the stand-alone satnav can endure.
8) Asus. We went with Asus because we've had experience of it before and so have many millions of others (like, er, look at the motherboard in your computer?) It gives every appearance of knowing exactly what it's doing in terms of firmware updates and as for Google, the rapid upgrade of Honeycomb (3.0 to 3.1) makes Apple's software division look narcoleptic.
9) Availability. The Transformer took off so fast in the US that first shipments sold out. This wasn't on the back of an extensive advertising campaign but on word-of-mouth or Internet recommends from existing users. In the UK, the first shipment also sold out. Asus shipped again to the UK on June 5th/June 6th so stocks, though going down fairly fast, are still held by Comet, Laskys, eBuyer and others. Amazon UK, however, appears to have some customers ordering in late April to mid-May and reporting that they still haven't received anything. Amazon has now updated its position to say the TF is expected to become available between mid-July and the end of August (huh???)
It's not clear why Amazon UK seems to be so wrong-footed, but already, dark mutterings are arising re the news of Amazon's own reported intention to move into the tablet market itself, with a badge-engineered Samsung. However, it's also reported that Google and Amazon aren't getting on, so a question mark arises over the Android OS -- which means, a question mark over the whole project. (Note to Amazon Legal Department: I am not suggesting that the inexplicable unavailability of the Asus Transformer at Amazon UK is in any way connected with reports of Amazon's own intention to launch an Amazon Tablet in late summer. It's all pure coincidence, of course.)
10) User support. One of the fastest growing forums on the 'Net nowadays is that dedicated to the Asus Transformerr, over 2,000 users already in just a couple of months. So it's not as though anyone purchasing a Transformer is out on her / his own: help, news, and info for the Asus Transformer / Honeycomb is plentiful and increasing daily.
(11) Conclusion. We are not and never have been Apple Fan Boys. We don't have any Apple equipment at all. But that doesn't mean we're as vigorous in our agnosticism as the Apple faithful are in their religion. Our son had an iPad 1 and now, an iPad 2. He's delighted with his purchase. Fair enough. We bought the Asus Transformer because it has more features, is better value for money, and because it's ours to do with as we wish: none of that ludicrous iTunes-for-everything business.
The TF+keyboard/battery combo is, as noted, a no-brainer: my wife has had a total of 13 hours continuous run-time with the TF, using apps, playing music, watching movies, etc (the TF's 16GB internal storage is hardly a problem: she paid £17 for a Class 4 Kingston 16GB SDHC card, and popped that in. The Asus positively flies along regardless of the drive being used.)
It's still very early days for us, and I'm always hesitant about buying anything off the back of a magazine or online review, simply because the reviewers never have 'em long enough to really know what they're on about. Ditto with this post: we simply haven't had the TF long enough to fully explore everything it can do, nor can we make any judgment about its reliability. And it's true, Android apps still are miles behind Apple's, and Honeycomb still isn't -- as far as we can make out -- as good as Apple's OIS.
But, but, but. . . it's reminiscent of way-back-when, and the arrival of IBM/compatibles in a Mac-dominated world when, almost overnight, or so it seemed, the PC with its operating system and apps from third-party software developers gathered an unstoppable momentum. (And kudos to Google here: Android 3.0 was a dog's breakfast, but 3.1 is vastly better. And 3.2 isn't that far down the line.)
Our conclusion then, based on experience as actual owners / users, is that although Apple may have killed the US ads for the Asus Transformer, the simple truth of that ad remains intact:
The Asus Transformer is indeed like the Apple iPad.
Cool story bro!
Interesting review, but....
" . it's reminiscent of way-back-when, and the arrival of IBM/compatibles in a Mac-dominated world when, almost overnight, or so it seemed, the PC with its operating system and apps from...etc"
IBM PC: 1981
IBM PC Compatibles: during 1982.
Apple Mac: 1984
The Mac was a minority interest from the start. Never did get any traction in the business market except for some specialist areas.
I agree, although my experience of the OS is the opposite, I think that iOS is slipping behind now in features.
I'm very curious though, would you have links for where you got your cases? The wife would be chuffed to get something like that.
Might actually be genuine ordering misjudgement on the part of Amazon
The bundle is still available via Amazon from one of their partners for immediate delivery ("only three in stock - order soon"). It does appear as if the Transformer *bundle* has absolutely sold gangbusters. Although the launch announcements attracted a lot of attention and there were many good reviews, I don't think one can necessarily predict that a product will take off the way this one has. It is possible that even Amazon can get caught with its pants down when deciding how many to order from a producer! That it appears to have pissed off Cupertino in the US is perhaps another indicator of how well the product is doing - if the fruit company are nervous, it must be scoring *well* above average!
ordered mine Sat 18th.
... & it's now (20th) in the llanelli depot. As i work in Bridgend, i might get it today. (Via amazon)
Re. "ordered mine Sat 18th. "
Android 3.1 coming imminently? Try 10 days go. I'vd had this TF101 with the dock for several weeks, and I'm absolutely delighted with it. It works beautifully as a Netbook and unlatches for the tablet. I can now use it to show my father various TV programmes he's missed at his nursing home. With VPlayer, it'll play virtually anything, including the iPayer WMV files I download and unlock.
I'm an RSA-qualified touch typist, and find the keyboard very easy to type at peed on, with no lag. Polaris Office (bundled with it) is very useful. Zinio Reader is now out for Honeycomb, which means I could buy and download magazines, and they gave 15 or so away free of charge to celebrate its Android launch. The TF101 also is bundled with the PressReader app so I can buy newspapers - again, that comes with 7 credits giving you 7 newspapers fee of charge.
I can even connect NTFS drives to this thing via USB, and write to them as wel as read from them. Try doing that on an iPad! My only gripe is the flimsy charger and ridiculousy short lead. Asus, seriously, get that sorted. That deducts 5% from my overall score of 100%.
USB 3 2-metre extension
Richard: Hope this helps. Asus owners are reporting that this USB 3.0 gets around the short lead problem --
It's said to be something to do with the way Asus utilises all USB 3.0 pins for controlling the charging.
At £3.45 including free shipping, this seems a good option for Transformer owners: we've just ordered one ourselves.
I'm typing this on mine. My biggest complaint is that if I set it where the kids can reach it, I've lost it for the rest of the day.
Stop using the Xoom as a benchmark...
I'm getting so tired of the media reporting how the Android tablet market is not living up to the hype because the Xoom is not selling well. The Xoom was a fail before it was even released. A more expensive piece of kit running on a nascent tablet version of the Android platform that still needs the bugs shaken out and more app support was doomed from the start (I know. More apps every day. I'm talking about when it was released).
Most of the other US and japanese manufacturers seem to be just as clueless.
Acer and Asus have the products to watch in this space.
I'm waiting for a Transformer which I've pre-ordered on Amazon.
While reading the comments about sticking *insert your favourite flavour of* linux on the Transformer I came across these guys:
They seem to have a couple of pretty cool Transformer like devices. The specs aren't as good, but hot switching between OSes? That's pretty awesome. I'm genuinely in two minds now...
Assuming you're in the UK: You know it's out, right? And has been for some time.
I'm not a fan of Curry's, but I couldn't find the Transformer (with keyboard) cheaper (and available) anywhere so went with them. Paid for the next day delivery and it arrived exactly when they said it would.
Haven't regretted it for a minute.
I couldn't find anywhere in uk with stock- to be honest I haven't rechecked Currys since I just ordered from Amazon with the promise of getting one when they're back in stock.
I know you can get the tablets in quite a few places but I wanted the tablet + keyboard combo.
Might have to cancel order & try from Currys instead.
Acer Iconica Tab - w500
After much indecision on my part I went for the W500 in the end for a number of reasons.
Firstly I need it for work so Windows 7 was a bonus. I can run citrix as I do from my desktop and also should be able to run a bigger screen via the HDMI out though I've only had it 3 days and I havem't tested this yet (no adaptor).
Also the two full size USB ports are also going to come in handy and where windows wins here is drivers, pretty much any USB device will just work right up to DVD drives and printers. For this reason I haven't gone for the keyboard dock and might not bother, a normal USB keyboard will just work as does a normal mouse. Though it has bluetooth so might go wireless yet.
Worth considering if you don't want to be an early adoptor with Android 3.x
I won't go into the down sides in running windows on a tablet since other people will do that but the most annoying is standard windows just isn't touch friendly. This doesn't out weigh the benefits though :)
Optimus Prime says....
"Transform and roll out!"
Wait, wrong sort of transformer.
I'm waiting for the Slider, but will probably waver if I see one of these in the shops with its dock. PCworld have them sans dock atm.
I'm so going to get this as a replacement for my old laptop.
I can't justify a pad device, I simply wouldn't use it enough. However this is perfect. It's a laptop most of the time, and a pad for the few times that I'd use a pad.
And great battery life!
Mouse was supported in 3.0 as well!
Puzzled by this comment around USB mouse usage? : 'attaching a mouse (soon to be supported)'.
I bought one of these, including the keyboard about a month ago, a couple of weeks before the 3.1 update came out, so was still on 3.0 of course. (I assume this article was uploaded on the 15th, not written on 15th, as 3.1 has been out a while now!).
Anyway, to the point, USB mice worked in 3.0, it doesn't need 3.1 to function. 3.1 has added additional enhancements to the mouse support, such as 'mouse over' functions when hovering over links on web pages, but a mouse did work in 3.0.
When I first booted up, after taking it out of it's box on delivery. I just picked up a random USB mouse that was sat near by, plugged it in, and the pointer immediately appeared on screen (no driver install or other Windows type nonsense) and it just worked like you would expect a desktop pointer to work.
what game is that?
what game is that on the third page of the article?
This thing is (sometimes) shipping with Android 2.2!
So, I suggested this machine to my ageing parents, who haven't had a PC for 20 years and've never previously dared venture onto the interwebs.
They bought it from Comet a couple of weeks ago, and I've been helping them over the phone with an increasing number of confusing "teething troubles" as time's gone on:
- Crashing all the time, and not waking up from standby
- A whole bunch of "strange programs" on the menu with unknown functions, which soon crashed
- Polaris Office Suite nowhere to be seen.
Just before they were ready to return it in despair and never again venture into the digital age, I had them check the software version: 2.2!! It's been shipped with some old Asus test build, along with a bunch of buggy test apps.
Clearly from other comments, some people are receiving this with Honeycomb; a quick google search brings up a few other instances of 2.2, though, so just how widespread is Asus' f* up? And how many other less tech-savvy owners are currently sitting at home unknowingly fighting with this problem and concluding that google tablets are a load of crap.
Epic fail, Asus.
Perhaps Curry's got desperate and sold a demo model, but sounds highly suspect to me. Prototype models are usually more closely guarded by manufacturers than the Crown Jewels.
Absolutely no one else has reported anything like this on any of the Transformer forums I've been to.
what game is that?
Looks like dungeon defenders to me
i came, i saw,
... i bought one.
Held the Slate part - lighter than i thought.
It's on its way from Amazon!
A DOS Holdout....
Does anyone know if you can run WORDSTAR on the machine???
Basically I'm an unashamed DOS man -- because I am still using WordStar Professional Release 4 (don't groan -- I have an "investment" of 27 YEARS of WordStar files!).
So I would dearly like to know for sure if the Transformer can possibly run this DOS programme, and an assortment of DOS utilities I use every day. Call me old fashioned, but WordStar was once the most popular word processing programme in the world....
If the Transformer has not totally transformed the electronic environment, and I CAN run WordStar -- I'll get one. Soon. If not, wild horses couldn't drag me close enough to a shop to buy one.....
aDosBox should see you right :)
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