It has been a week and three days since I got my hands on Asus’ nifty little tablet the Transformer. Join me through my findings in hopes of helping you decide whether or not a tablet really is for you.
Outright I would have to say that, unless you’re a writer, expect productivity to be at a minimum when using the tablet; Even if you were one, to really get full functionality you’d need the tablet to be docked into its keyboard. Initially I thought that this gadget would be comparable to the way a chromebook would work but that is not the case. The Honeycomb platform is highly reliant on functionality provided by its applications; And the current browser selection, while generally very functional, does not comare with a regular desktop browser… you cant really do mouse overs on tablets right? and even if you could, with the help of a keyboard and a mouse, there will be times that it will simply not work. In my case, internet banking was impossible to accomplish… among others. This is not a netbook replacement, it’s more of an entertainment system with vast potential. The tablet is really what you fashion it to be, custom tailored to the users particular needs. That said, my first week with the Transformer was all about the enhancement of its presentability coupled with as much productivity that I can get my hands on. Out of the box, the TF101 already has an advantage because of the Polaris Office included into its system; that and the many Google applications which come with Honeycomb and those that are downloadable from the Market promises a very good initial experience.
The Keyboard Dock
This alone sets the Transformer apart from all the other black glass slates filling up the stores. It is a Honeycomb optimized keyboard which forgoes function buttons (F1-F12) for quick settings toggle keys such as turning wifi/bluetooth off, managing brightness and sound levels, that sort of thing. Build quality is superb and it is very light to handle. It acts beyond that through the expansion of the TF’s connectivity through two USB 2.0 ports and a multi card reader on the sides, and goes the extra mile by serving up power to the unit through its battery completely capable of the stated 7 hours additional lifetime for the tablet. It is not without its faults though, I found three things about it that didnt sit well with me. First was the rubber pads at the bottom: when working on the tablet while it is docked, a space is created between the surface and the pads at the back and what touches the surface instead are two plastic feet which doesnt really hold the device in place because of its tendency to slide.
The second is the actual hinge itself where the tablet connects to the keyboard; apart from being a nuisance when storing the keyboard alone, it is quite tight and turning it from its rest position requires care because of how it is constructed; I fear that the application of excessive force might snap the assembly. Finally, the port covers for the USB, while very good looking, tends to snap back once you open them, such that two hands are required to connect a cable/key in. There is a predicament with the keyboard because it tends to spoil the user into not preferring to use the tablet without it; typing speed, tactile experience, plus being able to see most of the screen because the virtual keyboard is out of the way are major advantages after all. Just this morning I tried out powering two harddrives at the same time and performed a file transfer between them, I found out that there is enough power, even from the tablet alone, to activate both at the same time.
With a name that suggests having the two as a tandem, youd think the tablet on its own will not fly… certainly not for the Eee pad. The Honeycomb platform wasnt played with as much (skinned) but there are widget additions that make for a great looking home screen. Asus embedded apps also give off a more productive feel through offerings of the MyCloud , MyLibrary, and the Polaris Office Suite ready to take on documents on the go. I just updated my unit to the Honeycomb 3.2 and with it comes the inclusion of the zoom to fill functionality for games/apps developed for smaller screens, it enhances app compatibility and that is always a good thing. A lot of the applications need to be re-initialized coming out of the update and some require internet connectivity so you better be connected to a network at the time. Of course the IPS (In Plane Switching) display needs no further embellishments, it is one of the best displays to ever grace tablet history; Perfect for presentation and sharing, both an integral part of my trade.
So far the Transformer has been nothing more than pure enjoyment, plus I don’t fear lending it to my friends because I’m sure the battery will hold out whether it be games, browsing or just plain exploring. Definitely great until of course the TF2 arrives, which is rumored to be in October.