EEE PAD TRANSFORMER
ASUS, $599/$799 asus.com.au
IT’S hard to stand out in the tablet market. Touchscreen, rectangular form, metal chassis? They all have ’ em. Google apps, dual cameras and wifi? Common. Keyboard dock that changes the tablet into a laptop replacement?
Now that is unusual. And that’s the hook for the latest tablet computer from ASUS.
The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is designed to straddle the laptop and tablet divide by delivering a little of both.
This could be a recipe for a clunky device but, to its credit, the Transformer is a solid unit.
The tablet arrives in a bronzed plastic shell and is a touch lighter than the original iPad at 680g.
It offers a 10.1-inch LED backlit screen that is crisp, even at an angle and longer than you may expect, a rounded back that’s easy to hold and some important ports on its right edge— a MicroSD slot, a headphone jack and a Mini HDMI connection.
The tablet uses the latest version of Google’s Android Honeycomb software and ASUS has added handy widgets to keep users updated on the weather and the state of their inbox.
Like many Android tablets, the Transformer offers cameras front and back, with the better model being a 5-megapixel rear shooter.
All this is run by a 1GHz Tegra 2 processor and 1GB RAM, which makes the tablet and its multi-tasking apps tick along in a speedy fashion.
ASUS will offer two tablet capacities in Australia— 16GB and 32GB — though both will be wi-fi-only models.
By itself, this ASUS tablet is user-friendly, slick and a good example of the Android franchise. By packaging this tablet with a keyboard dock, however, this ASUS tablet earns extra cutting-edge cred.
The pair dock together with reasonable ease and lock in place. Bystanders will swear you are using a laptop.
The dock offers a six-row, well-spaced keyboard with a touchpad that controls what is on the screen (in case you don’t feel like reaching for it), as well as two USB ports, an SD memory card slot and a built-in battery that extends this tablet’s life from 9.5 hours to 16 hours.
Best of all, the keyboard has a row of function keys that control the tablet.
These include a ‘‘ back’’ button, screen brightness and volume controls, screenshot and settings shortcuts, and a ‘‘ lock’’ button that puts the tablet to sleep.
Together, it is easy to see how this tablet could be used as a laptop — for lowintensity tasks at least.
It has some niggling issues, however.
In laptop form, the Transformer is topheavy and tends to top- ple in your lap. Its glossy screen is also a fingerprint magnet, the screen border is quite big and, most annoying of all, there is no 3G version yet. Users will have to bring their own internet connection to get it online.
Even so, students, light internet users and those on the cusp of buying a tablet are likely to be tempted by the Transformer because it does blur the computing line.