Overview and Design
It's Morphing Time
First unveiled at Consumer Electronics Show 2011 in January, ASUS brought a new concept to mobility and choice for tablets with its highly anticipated Eee Pad Transformer. On its own, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer serves similar function as the other tablets out there. However, when paired with the optional keyboard docking station, the tablet transforms to a full-fledged laptop. Consumers' reception to the Transformer was remarkable , with 100 preorders on April 18 snapped up within three hours. Our preview of the tablet was generally positive and within the short period of time we had with the Transformer, we felt that it had the potential to give Apple iPad a run for its money. Now that we have a review unit topped with the latest edition of the Android OS for tablets, let us examine the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer to see if it can outshine its Android siblings and rival Apple iPad 2.
The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer looks different from the rest of the tablets with its unique color combination. It is mostly clad in a bronze finish, leaving only the bezel around the 10.1-inch screen black. We felt that this color combination gives the Transformer a refreshing look from the norm, which is either white or black.
The metal frame of the Transformer gives the tablet a premium look and solid feel in the arms albeit heavy. The round corners give the Transformer good handling while the textured back provides a better grip even if you have sweaty palms. Weighing at 680g, you will not want to hold the tablet for too long (even with two hands). However, given the solid build quality, we are willing to compromise a little on the weight factor.
The black bezel surrounding the screen is rather thick, which gives the impression that the Transformer is equipped with a smaller screen. Located within the bezel are the 1.2-megapixel front- facing camera,ambient light sensor and ASUS brand name. Although 10.1-inch screen size is pretty much the standard now for tablets, we felt that ASUS could have made better use of the extra space, such as increasing the screen size. Similar with most tablets, the screen on the Transformer is a fingerprint magnet, attracting fingerprints and smudges easily. We often found ourselves cleaning the screen after a few minutes of using it.
On the left side of the tablet, you will find the Power / Screen Lock button and the volume controls. Thankfully, the Power / Screen Lock button is not recessed, unlike the BlackBerry PlayBook which we had much difficulties turning it on. Although the buttons are easy to press, ASUS should have placed the buttons further apart. There were instances when we tried to increase the volume but ended up turning off the screen.
The right side of the Transformer has the 3.5mm audio jack, microphone, mini HDMI port and microSD card slot. Compared to the HTC Flyer where you have to remove the top cover to access the memory card slot, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer places it in a more convenient location for easier transferring of files via memory cards. However, leaving it unprotected without a cover will mean that the card slot is exposed to dust and water.
Right at the bottom, you will find the proprietary connector and two docking connectors. The proprietary connector acts as the charging point and data transfer port. We are surprised to see the standard microUSB port missing on the Transformer and we miss the convenience of just charging the device with any microUSB cable.
You will find the 5.0-megapixel camera at the top rear of the Transformer. Due to the curved nature of the back, the camera will not be in contact with any surface, henc minimizing the chances of it being scratched. We have mixed feelings regarding the textured pattern on the back. The unique textured pattern on the back of the Transformer looks pleasing to the eyes and certainly differentiates itself from the metallic backing of most other tablets.