With so many hardware developers releasing ‘me too’ Android-based tablets, Asus has worked hard to differentiate itself. While the tablet itself has pretty standard specs for an Android 3.0 tablet – 1GHz Tegra processor, 10.1 inch screen – it’s a keyboard that sets the Eee Pad Transformer apart.
Well, that and the price. It wasn’t out in Australia at the time of writing (we looked at an import), but it was selling in the US for $400, far less than any comparable tablet.
Did we mention a keyboard? Yep, the TF101 is available with a detachable keyboard for an extra $US150. That keyboard effectively turns the tablet into a touch screen nettop. What’s more, the keyboard has an extra battery in it, extending the power capacity of the tablet to 16 hours when attached.
Detached from the keyboard, it’s pretty much a standard Android 3.0 tablet, very similar in design and capability to the Motorola Xoom. It has a brilliant IPS screen and plenty of connectivity, including a microSD/SD card reader and two USB ports. And unlike the Motorola Xoom’s ports and reader, they were actually functional at launch.
Its potential as a home entertainment appliance is considerable. Android 3.0 (soon to be 3.1) is an operating system with tremendous capabilities, including widgets embeddable in the home page and proper multitasking. It’s a much more PC-like experience than the iPad’s iOS, which also means that it’s a little more complicated.
In addition to the standard Android apps, Asus has layered in its Waveshare UI, which includes a bunch of extra apps not available anywhere else. In terms of home entertainment applications, the best are MyNet and MyCloud which allow you to stream media from a home media server and store files on an online data store, obviating the need to copy media to the Eee Pad. Although they’re a little ugly, there’s nothing like them yet on the Android Market, and Motorola Xoom users are really missing out.
Update: As of now, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer comes in two versions in Australia: 16GB without the keyboard dock for $599 and 32GB with the keyboard dock for $799. Still no 3G on either of these, however.