For a long time I have been looking for a tablet that has expandable memory, an open and flexible OS, slim and sturdy design, and a really great screen. I have tested several tablets and so far none of them have met all my requirements. However, the ASUS Transformer looks like it might just be that tablet.
- NVIDIA Tegra 2 1.0GHz dual-core CPU
- 10.1″ LED Backlight WXGA (1280×800) Screen
- 1.2 M Pixel Front Camera and 5 M Pixel Rear Camera
- 9.5 hours; 24.4Wh Li-Polymer Battery
The one thing that sets the Transformer apart from the other Android tablets that I have reviewed is the screen. The Transformer is the first Android tablet to use an LED Backlit IPS panel. This happens to be the same kind of screen that the iPad 2 uses, which means it should look really good.
The Front of the tablet doesn’t have any buttons, but it does have the screen, camera, and a light sensor. I really like the no button look, and how the Android 3x OS has them built into the software.
The left side has the power and volume buttons. They are a little too close for my liking, and I find myself sometimes hitting the power button instead of the volume up button. I have learned to take my time and feel around to make sure I have the correct button before I press it.
The right side has the Headphone jack, HDMI slot, and Micro SD slot. The ability to expand the memory is one of the best things about the Android OS and Android phones and tablets. Having a built-in HDMI slot is nice, but I rarely use it.
The bottom has the dock port. This port is used for both charging the tablet, syncing with a computer, and docking it with the keyboard. This port is probably my biggest issue with the tablet. As a rule, I don’t like proprietary ports, it makes getting replacement cables difficult and sometimes costly, it also means I have to carry around yet another cable. Since don’t have a keyboard dock (yet), and I never plug this into my computer, I really only use the port for charging. It would have been really nice if Asus had included provided a USB port or something for charging so that I could just use the same cable as my phone.
The back has the rear camera. As a side not the back of the tablet is made with a nice textured plastic. The plastic is very rugged and will take quite a bit to scratch and scuff. This is much better than the iPad 2 and its metal back, the metal back on the iPad 2 was scuffed after just a few hours of use.
Since their will be lots of questions about how the Asus Transformer compares to the Apple iPad 2, and other tablets. So here are a few images of the Asus Transformer vs the iPad 2, and the Transformer vs the Viewsonic G Tablet.
I have already covered the Android 3.0 OS in my review of the Motorola Xoom, so I won’t be covering it here. However, I will briefly cover some of Asus’ customizations.
One of the most exciting new functions is the ability to take screenshots built-into the OS. I don’t know if this is from Asus or Google, but it is really nice.
Asus includes a few of its own widgets. One of them is called MyZine. This is a kind of dashboard that groups together a set of functionality. However it is not customizable and it has the word ‘MyZine’ printed across the front of the widget in big letters. Those letters cover a lot of the content and make the widget unusable.
There are several other more usable widgets. For example, a date widget, weather widget, and a email widget.
Asus also includes its own Active wallpaper. This wallpaper is of ice cubes in water and they move as you tip the tablet. It’s not really exciting, but its there. Also their are a few static wallpapers, again I don’t know if these were provided by Asus or Google.
Performance testing on a tablet is just like on a PC or Laptop. There are a variety of tools available to test the CPU, memory, graphics, and filesystem. Before we get to the actual tests lets take a look at the hardware inside the Asus Transformer.
|Processor||1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 – Dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU|
|Screen||10.1″ LED Backlight WXGA (1280×800) Screen|
|External Storage||up to 32GB via microSD Card|
The first test I ran is Quadrant, this test goes through many aspects of the tablet including, CPU, Memory, I/O, 2D Graphics, and 3D Graphics and at the displays a single score for everything. As you can see the Transformer gets a much higher score.
The next test is called PI. This only tests the CPU and it does this by making it calculate PI and reporting the time it took to complete the task. For this test lower scores are the best. As you can see the Xoom has the best time for calculating PI, but it just barely beat out the Transformer. Since both the Xoom and the Transformer have the same processor it makes sense that they would have similar scores.
The next two tests are for graphics. The first test is call fps2d and simply draws a 2D ball that moves around the screen, the app then calculates the FPS. This time the Asus Transformer took the top stop.
Finally the last test is Nenamark, it renders a 3D video and at the end displays FPS for the video. As you can see the Transformer took the top score by quite a bit. This surprised me because the processor is the same as the Xoom ad G Tablet. I can only assume that OS updates and newer drivers are what made the difference.
On to the battery test. Since there isn’t an app yet that does a battery test I had to invent my own. For this test I loaded up the Transformer with a bunch of movies and played them one after another until the battery died. I also set the screen brightness, and volume to 50% and turned off WiFi. I started the test a 7:20am and it took all the way until 3:36pm for the battery to run out. That is a decent 8 hours and 16 minutes. It scored the lowest of the bunch, but I can’t wait to try it out with the keyboard dock because it is suppose to double the battery life.
Warranty and Support
The Asus Transformer comes with the same lame 1 year warranty that almost all other tablets have. I am still waiting for a company to really stand behind their products, but it does not look like Asus is stepping up to the plate. With no moving parts, this tablet should last a really long time, and I would like to see a 5+ year warranty to show that Asus has faith in the build quality of its products.
Support comes in the standard forms of phone, email, and website help. I have not needed to use phone or email support, but I have been on their website to download software and updates for the tablet. The website is fairly easy to navigate, but the software that is available is not up to date. For example, Asus released the Android 3.1 OS for the tablet about a week ago, but their website still does not have the update for download. Since my tablet has not downloaded it automatically I am anxious for the download so I can apply it manually.
Overall I am really excited about the Asus Transformer. My biggest complaint is about the docking port being the only way to charge the tablet. This is on par with other tablets, so it is not something I can fault Asus for. Everything else about the tablet is exceptional and I look forward to using it every day.
The price is also an amazing part of this tablet. Asus is able to provide all the features, and performance for the rock bottom price of $399. That is $100 less than the iPad 2, and $200 less than the Motorola Xoom. This really is the cherry on top and makes the Transformer the clear winner of our Editors Choice award.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|