I’ve been wanting a tablet for a long, looonnnnng time. To tell you the truth, apart from the coolness factor, I couldn’t tell you why, but I was told to get whatever I wanted for my birthday. My Mom had planned on throwing me a big party, and that hadn’t materialized. So, she gave me the money she would have spent. Now was my time to decide. So what did I chose and why? The former should be answered by the title of this review. The later is a much larger answer.
I could have gotten the bottom end of the iPad range with the money I had. I thought about it though, and the iPad is still a flawed device in my opinion. As sexy as it is, a lack of Flash support, internal SD card support, and dual cameras – in the model I would have gotten – are all major short-comings.
I expanded my mind beyond the fruit of Cuppertino and began looking at other options. I could have gotten a Nook Color and “rooted” it. That would have enabled me to install an Android OS, and would be a cheap solution. It wouldn’t have fit my perceived needs though. I wanted more screen real estate and hate the idea of buying something expensive, only to break it in order to get it to work. Besides, I could afford some of the lower end Android tablets given my budget.
After some poking around on-line I read some good reviews of the Transformer (ironically enough while perusing an iPad in Best Buy). It’s a relatively new beast, but I was familiar with the Asus brand, having read a good write up of their laptops a few months ago, and thought it would be a good risk. The price and features were right, so I grabbed it up. For $399, I got the sixteen gig wifi model. It has since come down a bit in price. You can buy one at Wal-Mart for $349 as of this writing. Considering most of the other tablets ran a hundred bucks more for similar specs, I felt good about it.
I’ve had it for about six weeks now, and I think that that’s a good amount of time to play with a device like this before writing a review. I’ve really gotten a chance to put it through its paces.
The goods – So far I’ve been very happy with the battery life. I’m not a heavy user, but I leave WiFi on constantly and it certainly lasts as long
as i need it to. One of the biggest pros is the SD Card support. You can easily and cheaply double the storage capacity. My only complaint is that getting the teensy card in and out is a little tricky. The Flash support and tabbed browsing make it feel like I’m using a “real” computer at least when it comes to the internet. There are a few excellent apps, unique to the EEE, that come pre-loaded, the best one being Polaris Office. It allows you to create documents,spreadsheets, and presentations compatible with MS Office. I used the tablet to write much of this review in Polaris and Doc was able to open it and do some editing on his PC.
The bads– My complaints are few and for the most part are weaknesses of either the form factor or the Android OS. One of the things I wanted to be able to do was watch Netflix. Currently there’s no official support for it, but it’s on the horizon. With the right firware version you can “side load” it. In Android terms that’s installing anything not available in the Marketplace. You can multi-task to a degree. Some apps lurk in the background, but it doesn’t give you the same capability to switch between programs like a full blown PC would. I’d love to see a camera flash in any device that has a camera.
You really can’t take a good low light picture. At this point the Android Marketplace is a morass of risque content and half-baked apps. I’m not sure how much that differs from the Apple store, but at least you have more options. It still bugs me that you don’t have root access, that is basically the ability to do what you want with a device that you own, but it’s a common problem in cell phones and non-Windows tablets. Finally, I’m not sold on a touchscreen keyboard. I’ve typed part of this review on it, and I’m not over the learning curve yet. The predictive word hints aren’t bad but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed the spacebar. You can also type by sliding over letters without lifting your finger and while that’s cool I’ll show you the results of it:
The will Brown Cox manuals over the lazy yoh.
The potential goods – You can get an external keyboard that includes a battery and USB ports. At one hundred fifty dollars I’m not certain it’s worth it. Granted with the recent price drop of the Transformer at some outlets, this makes the whole package the same price as the lowest end iPad or almost any other tablet. In addition, you get the bonus functionality that it offers. So that’s why this is likely a good. Since I don’t know how good the keyboard and since there are cheaper (and perhaps better) Bluetooth keyboards available, I’m withholding judgment.
Verdict – Overall, I’m thrilled with this product. I know I’ve only scratched the surface and as I dig deeper i’ll be sure to let you know what I find. If you know of any good apps, hints, or tips let us know and we’ll feature them here!