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Asus EEEpad Transformer: The First Look

Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Design
  3. Performance and Stability
  4. Software
  5. Screen
  6. Battery
  7. Bottom Line

Introduction

I like to think about this generation of tablets as of the second wave Ц they have already got rid of the phone OS legacy, it didn't take long for hardware manufacturers and the Android OS to get past the growing pains. There is yet work to do but we can already see the outlines of the future Apple iPad killers.

Motorola was the first to release an Android 3.0 tablet. I am sure that many will agree with me when I say that the company hurried too much to release Xoom and subsequently they have received a lt of negative reviews Ц it was a clear false start. If the time had not been their priority they would have made a very decent device like Acer, Asus and Samsung released a bit later.

So, the second wave is coming and the companies are trying their best to come up with anything to attract attention to their products. Asus produced a very interesting concept they called Asus EEEpad Transformer. The device consists of two parts: a tablet and an attachable keyboard. All the hardware is inside the tablet while the keyboard has an additional battery and a few ports. The tablet itself is implies regular using scenarios but if you attach the keyboard you get a compact Android 3.0 netbook with a decent battery lifetime.

So far I have tested an Asus Transformer prototype and later we will release a full review of Asus EEEpad Transformer with a test of the total battery life time. I hope that the release version will have all the bugs fixed. And most likely EEEpad Transformer will be released with Android 3.1 on board.


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Design

Asus tried to make the tanlet look serious and gracious in the same time and its design has something in common with Asus EEE PC 1008P designed by Karim Rashid.

I think it looks nice, calm, tasteful and yet it is very pragmatic. The sides are made of bronze metal and the back is covered with mat texturized plastic Ц no glossy surfaces. It must be a new trend to get rid of fingerprint prone surfaces. the tablet uses a similar to Samsung Galaxy S II and its battery lid practical design concept.

The brown hues are very attractive and I collected the following set at home.

I think it looks very stylish and most importantly it is practical Ц it will be appropriate in any situation.

This Asus tablet has a widescreen aspect ratio. On the pictures you can see it next to the first iPad, its dimensions are 271х171х13 mm, weight 680 g / 10.7 x 6.7 x 0.5 in, weight 24 oz.

Asus EEEpad and HTC Incredible S:

On the tablet you will find a power button and a volume rocker.

Asus EEEpad also has the following interfaces:

  • 3.5mm audio jack and an inbuilt microphone
  • HDMI
  • MicroSD slot
  • 5 MPix main camera and a 1.2 MPix front camera
  • Stereo speaker
  • Sensors: G sensor, light sensor, gyroscope, digital compass, GPS
  • Wireless interfaces: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR

Syncing and charging work via a native port.

The camera picture samples:

Camera interface:

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Performance and Stability

This newbie seems to have some great hardware it can boast of:

  • CPU: NVIDIA Tegra2
  • System memory 1GB
  • Storage: 16/32 GB

As far as gaming is concerned it is an ultimate mobile gaming platform Ц anything you can find on Android Market will work fine. Moreover, there is a special Tegra Zone where you can get latest info on gaming projects developed for Tegra2 and remastered HD games. All HD games I have tried worked fast and without any lags.

Unfortunately, it is not all that great when it comes to video playback: it's not the fault of Tegra2 or Android or Honeycomb. The tablet simply lacks codecs. And while MP4 videos work fine mkv cannot get a grip of the hardware and it is a serious problem. As far as I know currently there isn't any solution to this,

As for the rest you can be sure that you get the best compatibility and speed: I have not noticed any lags in menus, widgets or the browser flash.

The tablet, however, lacks stability in its performance. Most of the issues arise when working with the browser: it often crashes when a page is being opened, when you close all windows at once it won't open them the next time it starts and you have to open them all manually. This is does not always happen but when it does it really gets on your nerves. Same issues come up with third party browsers: I have tried Dolphin HD and same issues were there (although they appeared less frequently).

Opera Mini also could not solve the problems Ц it did not crash but it could not display all images on picture heavy pages and sometimes you see a pop up requesting reloading the page.

Another issue concerns the gallery: sometimes when you browse pictures you cannot see contents of some folders,

I believe these issues are caused by the OS and I am quite sure that these minot issues will be fixed by the release.

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Software

You can get more info on Android 3.0 features in this article:

Review of Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)

So far all tablets look pretty much the same when it comes to the interface. The best manufacturers can do right now is to add a custom desktop. Asus changed the design of the control buttons at the bottom and added a few widgets. The final version will also have an extra multimedia controls app.

I don't think there is a need for more comment and I just offer you to have a look at these interface screenshots and the video on its performance I have made.


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Screen

This type of screen is becoming a standard for tablets Ц other Android 3.0 tablets by Acer, Asus and Samsung are priced similarly and their screens are very similar too. Asus EEEpad has a 10.1'' screen with an IPS matrix, an LED backlight and the resolution of 1280x800. It is protected with a scratch resistant glass but has no oleo phobic finish so you will have to carry a cloth to clean the screen up. Under sunlight the screen goes blind unless you set brightness to the maximum which will allow you make out at least something. There is light sensor and it works just fine and can save you a lot of battery time.

A screen comparison with Apple iPad:

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Battery

This Asus tablet shows very good results of on-battery time. At first, we tested video playback: Wi-Fi off and lesser sound volume and screen brightness Ц the tablet worked for 8 hours.

Then we tested web browsing Ц we used an excellent strength Wi-Fi connection, medium screen brightness and used the tablet for web surfing, social networking and Google Docs text editing. The result is 10 hours on battery.

In standby with Wi-Fi on Asus EEEpad was consuming 5% of the battery charge every two hours.

It takes about two and a half hours to fully charge the battery.

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Bottom Line

This Asus tablet has made a very good impression on me. I positively like its unusual and very attractive design. The battery life time is also impressive. The only thing it needs is to get the stability issues fixed which I think can be easily done through the hardware and Android updates.

Among its competitors I want to mark Acer Iconia A500 Ц these two tablets are very similar and the only differences they have are the body design and the number of extension ports. The biggest advantage of the Acer tablet is that it is already widely available in stores.

Asus EEEpad will go on sale in June. At first it will be available in 16 and 32 GB version and with Wi-Fi. The 3G version will be probably released later in July. You will be able to purchase the keyboard separately.

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion be known to the author and everybody else.

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Igor Soprun (soprun@mobile-review.com)
Twitter    Livejournal
Translated by Robert Mugattarov (mugattarov@gmail.com)

Published — 09 July 2011

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