The latest object of my affection is my new Asus Transformer.
No it’s not a robot in disguise – rather it’s a new netbook. Or it’s a new Android Tablet.
Actually its both. On top we have a 10.1 inch resistive touch screen tablet with 1280×800 LCD display. It packs 1GB of RAM and 16GB of memory. You’ll purchase it in Korea running Android Honeycomb, but will be prompted to upgrade to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) as soon as you are connected via wifi and have enough juice in the battery.
Down below is the thing that separates the Transformer from other Tablets – the Keyboard. Yes you can get Keyboard docks for the Galaxy Tab, or Bluetooth it with the iPad but the integration of keyboard and tablet is where there is more than meets the eye. (There’s your gratuitous Transformers toy reference). The keyboard includes a multi-touch track pad, dedicated function keys including a system settings, camera, wifi, back and home buttons.
Excuse my horrendously messy desk!
But it is the USB ports that are amongst the greatest draws here.
Plug in a normal USB stick and browse files at will. SD card reader? No problem. USB charging? No worries – the only thing I haven’t done is plug my camera into it yet. Great for playing video (especially on the NVIDA powered 16:1 screen).
And has Android come of age or what? Ice Cream Sandwich is amazing (compared to The Galaxy Tab’s Gingerbread), and being able to use Chrome (in beta) from Google is bliss! Full web browsing on a tablet, Its been close in the past with The Dolphin Browser, but even in Beta, Chrome for Android is just like the Desktop experience. Finally Asus bundles in a slew of useful apps – including Polaris Office – the best Android Office Suite I have seen! (My horrid work documents that always get screwy format wise in anything but Word appear perfectly on screen and export nicely).
Other software includes An ebook thing, a UPnP thing you can stream media to on your home network app backup utilities and Asus offers a year of free cloud storage when you sign up.
Possible things I am going to have to watch out for: Lack of a protective case (bought one on eBay – it’s a’comin’) means the Transformer hasn’t left my desk (except to go on the radio this morning) so it has remained plugged in to the wall. Purported battery life is 5 and a half hours. We’ll see. Notably the keyboard also has a battery and charges the tablet when the two are attached.
The biggest issue I’m having at the moment is opening the damn thing!when attached to the keyboard and folded closed the tablet and keyboard lay flush. Most laptops have a little groove to give your fingers some purchase when opening. The Asus lacks one. The hinge on the keyboard side is new so quite stiff. Hopefully it’ll loosen up over time – not too loose though of course!
If you have a spare W499,000 and in the market for a netbook give the Transformer a look. (Technically an Asus EEE Tablet Transformer T101) Its ability to handle documents alone might be enough to persuade some people.