Is it a tablet or is it a laptop? Try both.
Of all the Honeycomb based tablets that have been released or announced, ASUS is the only manufacturer that has done something unique. Earlier, at CES this year, they showed two Android based tablets- the Slider and the Transformer. Both these tablets have one thing that sets them apart from the rest- a keyboard. The Slider, as the name implies has a sliding keyboard built below the tablet’s screen while the Transformer has an accessory dock that can be added to it to make the tablet into more of a laptop. That is what we are looking at today- lets find out how well ASUS has made it work.
The ASUS EeePad Transformer as it is officially called, comes in 16GB and 32GB varieties and costs AED 1,899 for the 16GB and 2,299 for 32GB. These prices do not include the dock which at the moment is not separately available in the Middle East and can only be bought as a bundle with the Transformer itself. The 16GB version with the dock is priced at AED 2,299 while the 32GB will set you back 2,699. Packaged in a compact box that is about the size of the netbook box, the Transformer comes with a USB charger and a quick-start guide.
Like the Motorola Xoom and the Acer Iconia that we reviewed some time back, the ASUS Transformer is a 10.1” tablet featuring NVIDIA’s dual core Tegra Soc and runs the Android Honeycomb OS. It has dimensions of 271 x 171 x 12.98 mm which makes it bigger than the Motorola Xoom in every way. Part of the reason for this is that ASUS has a bigger bezel around the screen which, in my opinion, is a good thing as you don’t accidentally keep hitting the screen. What is surprising is that even though the ASUS Transformer is bigger than the Motorola Xoom in every way, it weighs 680grams which is 50g less than the Xoom and 20g less than the Iconia.
The mocha/black color combination along with rounded edges certainly makes the Transformer a very good looking tablet. On the top left you have a power button as well as volume keys that are slightly hard to use because they are very thin and recessed into the casing a bit more than I would have liked. On the right side, you have a 3.5mm audio jack, a mini HDMI connector and a MicroSD slot. ASUS keeps the top totally clean while the bottom has the power/dock connector. There is a 5MP camera on the back as well as a 1.2MP one on the front for video conferencing.
The 10.1” screen that’s present on the ASUS Transformer is amongst the best that I have seen on a tablet. It has a similar 1280×800 resolution found in other Honeycomb tablets but it’s an IPS display with wider viewing angles. This helps a lot- especially when the Transformer is docked in it’s base. Like all tablets, the screen is highly reflective and glossy but the brightness levels on the Transformer are good enough to block your reflection.