Smartphones

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer tablet is a mixed bag

Despite its issues, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is the strongest Android Honeycomb tablet on the market, according to reviewer Donovan Colbert.

I've spent a week with the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101 tablet, and like Android, the experience is a mixed bag. Where the device shines, it beats the tablet-format market leader the iPad to a pulp, delivering an empowered user experience that Apple tablet owners can only dream about. Where the Eee Pad Transformer fails, it fails badly enough that it might be a deal breaker for the pickiest of users.

Packaging and product appearance

The packaging that the Eee Pad Transformer arrives in will seem familiar to anyone who has ever owned an Apple product. It is slick and polished and certainly shows the influence that Apple has on ASUS.

Likewise, the Eee Pad Transformer and the keyboard dock are visually stunning devices. The unit has a copper brown color scheme that is unlike many other devices on the market currently, but I bet we see a lot of devices adopting this look in the next few years. It looks elegant and classy.

Specs

In terms of specifications, the Eee Pad Transformer is more or less like all the other Honeycomb tablets on the market. Rather than describe what the tablet has, I'll focus on what it doesn't have.

The ports on the tablet include the proprietary USB charging port, a micro-SD slot, a mic/headset port, and a mini HDMI port. There is no USB host port on the tablet. Everything else is what you've probably already heard about the device, good and bad. The fit and finish is a little less solid than an iPad, but I think people are exaggerating how "cheap and flimsy" this tablet feels. There is a little flex, but it still feels solid and of good build quality. (See photos of the Eee Pad Transformer in this gallery.)

Honeycomb

On day one with the Eee Pad Transformer, I felt lost and overwhelmed by Android 3.0 Honeycomb. As I get more familiar with the new OS, I'm beginning to feel comfortable navigating it.

Honeycomb is a much more robust OS than iOS or regular Android, and things aren't where you've come to expect them. There might be some design issues that make it less intuitive how to get to where you want to be in Honeycomb, but overall, it is actually a pretty impressive platform. I haven't loaded all of my apps yet, but most of those that are most important to me work fine. More importantly, I haven't had any problems with any of my critical apps I can't live without. My guess is that most of the hottest and in-demand apps will eventually make their way to Honeycomb tablets.

Keyboard dock

The keyboard dock is not perfect. The device has quality construction, but the keys seem muddy and require a very firm keystroke in order to register compared to other devices I use.

My typing accuracy is taking a hit on the Eee Pad Transformer keyboard. The layout of the right Shift key next to the cursor keys is a poor design, leading me to hit the up-arrow frequently when looking for Shift. I've also experienced and read other users complaining about accidental input from the included multi-touch trackpad, hindering input rather than assisting it.

However, the top row of the keyboard shines, with a row of custom keys suited toward delivering an optimized Android experience. From left to right are a Back key, a Wi-Fi key, Bluetooth, Trackpad enable/disable, brightness down, brightness up, brightness auto, screenshot, Web, (Android) settings, play buttons, sound buttons, and a lock key. I'm still learning to use these keys effectively, but I can tell they're very well thought out and give access to the most frequently required Android features. All Android users should appreciate a dedicated screen-shot button that doesn't require root-access. (I'm not sure why this isn't standard in all versions of Android OS.) The enable/disable trackpad key is also great.

Two built-in USB ports

With the two (!) built-in USB ports, it is easy to disable the touchpad and use a USB mouse, which is what I am using now. I've learned to be pretty good using the cramped keyboard of the original Eee PC 701, so I'm sure my struggles with this layout will improve with practice. I know many users aren't willing to learn how to deal with a new keyboard, so that might be a deal breaker for some consumers.

In addition to the two USB ports, the keyboard dock has a full-size SD slot and a proprietary USB-charging port. I've tested the USB ports with a 32 GB thumb drive and a 1 TB portable USB hard drive, both of which mounted and could be browsed with no problem. This is where the Eee Pad Transformer tablet shows how much more than an iOS device it is.

There isn't any reason to buy more than the base 16 GB unit when you can easily add nearly unlimited additional storage. It is confirmed that the MicroSD on the tablet and the SD on the keyboard dock both support 32 GB cards, but it is possible both will support 64 GB cards as well. The USB ports should support any size thumb drive, and if you still need more storage, a 2.5" hard drive should meet all your needs. Other external USB devices like webcams and keyboards have also been confirmed to work. You simply can't do this with an iPad without the hassle of jailbreaking, and to me, this is the killer feature that trumps any growing pains with the Android tablet format. It elevates the device from "mostly a content consumption device" to a viable (if modest) content creation platform.

SD slot

The SD slot is a flush mount slot, meaning that an SD card inserted into the slot sits flush with the edge of the slot, with only a sliver of the card protruding. This is a design optimized for leaving a card always inserted into the device, and anyone who has owned an Eee PC will be familiar with it. I prefer this on a portable device to the type of slot found on my Lenovo S10, where the card simply slides in and most of the card remains outside of the slot. The main difference is that the former requires a spring-loaded slot. To eject the card, you push it in further, and it springs back out. With the Lenovo design, you simply slide the card in to access it, and pull it out to remove it. The latter type is probably less expensive and less likely to break. On a device with limited solid-state internal memory though, having the card sit completely internal to the device is the way to go.

Proprietary USB charging cable

I've got mixed feelings about the proprietary USB charging cable. My guess is that there are design limitations that prevent manufacturers from using regular USB to charge these devices, but by using proprietary cables, they make this port available for sync duties as well as charging. With all of the other ways of loading data, I haven't synced using the proprietary cable once.

Battery life

The battery life is phenomenal, especially with the keyboard dock attached (which adds an additional 10 hours battery life to the nine hours that the tablet already boasts), though I've already found the device "dead" when pulling it out of my bag at least once. I blame this on the thirsty and sloppy battery management of Android.

My experience with the iPad is that when you put the device to sleep, it sleeps, sipping just enough juice to occasionally wake up, connect to an AP and check for alerts, notify you of those alerts, and then go back into a power-sipping coma. Android seems to turn off most visible signs of activity, but all radios seem to continue to broadcast and monitor at full blast, sucking down battery life as if there were an endless well of energy.

Standby life is rated at 300 hours, but I haven't seen even a fraction of that. My guess is that if I disabled GPS and Wi-Fi, I'd see standby life increase dramatically. Unfortunately, this is a platform limitation where Android simply lags behind iOS, and I think you'll find the same issues with any Android tablet device.

Clamshell design

A coworker who owns an iPad displayed some gadget envy when I first brought the Eee Pad Transformer to the office, but he also noted, "with the clamshell format, I think I'd end up using it mostly like that, and not like a tablet." It turns out that this was a very astute observation, because my experience has been that I haven't had much desire or reason to undock the tablet. This makes me wonder if tablet mania may not be a bit of a novelty.

I think having a touch-screen in a clamshell device is an awesome idea. Sometimes pointing, swiping, or touching makes more sense than a track pad or a mouse, especially on a laptop format -- and there are times and places where a tablet is more logical and convenient than a clamshell design. Reading eBooks and casual browsing, gaming, and some other applications seem to work better with a tablet format, yet so much of what we do, especially in a device that has been empowered to do those things, is better suited to a clamshell format.

I very much get the sense that I am on the bleeding edge of this emerging segment of computing, and two years down the road, I may regret this purchase when I look at the wonders that are available.

Two more issues

There are some lingering issues that have been noted elsewhere that I've experienced myself. One issue is that with an update from ASUS, the browser becomes frustratingly unresponsive and manifests in slow page loads and lagging text entry. It seems like this is either software or firmware, and so we can hope that the issue will be resolved, but for now, it is a major annoyance for many users. In addition to the included browser, I've also installed Dolphin HD and Firefox, and all of the browsers seem to display this issue to a certain extent.

Oddly, the Backspace key seems to have a problem with backing up two spaces for each input, as well, but only in web browsers.

These issues are annoying, and serve as an example of how finely polished Apple iOS products are compared to Android alternatives. Apple seems to handle perception better than Android. I can only assume that these issues will eventually be addressed by updates from ASUS.

Conclusion

Overall, the Eee Pad Transformer's format and features make for a very compelling package. The battery life and the productivity features of the docked Eee Pad Transformer make it a well-positioned contender against my Lenovo netbook and lead me to think the rumored demise of netbook platforms may be a bit premature. The ability to undock the unit for those instances where a tablet format makes sense is a big bonus. In addition, the open expandability and data transfer of the Android platform makes the steeper technical curve compared to an iOS device worth the effort, in my opinion. My wife is currently adopting my 64 GB iPod as her own. The fact that the Eee Pad Transformer is $399 for the 16 GB tablet and $150 for the keyboard dock really hits the sweet spot on price and features.

Despite being built on a fairly young platform that isn't quite as refined or polished as the competition, I think that the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is the strongest Android Honeycomb tablet on the market, with great features that make it suitable for light to moderate computing for both professional and personal use.

Also read: CNET's review of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. (CNET is a sister site of TechRepublic.)

About

Donovan Colbert has over 16 years of experience in the IT Industry. He's worked in help-desk, enterprise software support, systems administration and engineering, IT management, and is a regular contributor for TechRepublic. Currently, his profession...

43 comments
Igalkroy
Igalkroy

Hi, Do you have any idea how to display pdf and playback youtube in the background on the ASUS transformer? thanks

robertosmitho
robertosmitho

if you own an archos 5it like i do...and love it...the asus tf101 is the next step,not the archos 101 tablet,unfortunately the archos 101 didnt came with the archos launcher with the player,photo,media club etc,and the asus has a better resolution 1280x800,stronger build with the thicker glass,better viewing angle and the archos with only 1ghz ,i think the android background running apps and services would slow it down,also it has no camera in the back to take pictures so i figure the archos is cheaper about $239 $200 open box but u need to add a camera,i would pay an extra $50,dual core $50 more,better battery$30, GPS,video player,and all the software included $50 more so...you can get the ASUS right now for only 300 used or 350 new on kmart,i got mine used for $279 on B and H looks like new ,theres one now for $309 many people think this is like the ipad and find out is not so they some return it.. maybe because of false advertizing :S..the camera quality, is not HD quality, it is 720 in size!! but not hd quality,it's pinhole lens with a fix focus, like a webcam..,it looks more like 640x480 blown up to 720 size, also the mic makes whistle noises but is not cause of wind it sounds more like a mic is near a speaker,it also sound like you're recording underwater,it has a mic input on the headphone jack for a reason,so im gonna have to buy one?,so the video im taking now i put music over it,its a good thing it has an editing software built in...,yes, the software that came with the Asus is what convince me to buy it compared to other android tablets that come with nothing,1-the file manager,2-the video player on the gallery 3-the video editing software,no pc need it,4-the drawing software, 5 the supernote software lets you make documents with text ,pic inserts,drawings, handwritten text, that you hand-write big and automatically size down to the line you're typing, then... you can share to websites, email etc or export to jpg so you can print many copies,imagine making a list of movies with pictures,a sale sign or a daily menu,just take the pics yourself of the food and thats it,(without that feature..you would need photoshop and a pc),6- it comes with Polaris office good for making documents,viewing pdf files and other office software files extentions, i also bought a tablet stylus for 10 dollars for drawing,and to keep the screen free of finger prints, on the ipad you need to buy a software to draw and paint for about $20 to $49,the ASUS software on the supernote got many brushes same as the sketcher software plus,undo,select,move layers,resize,duplicate,save,export, also mentioned here the memory card is awesome to transfer,carry movies,share music,games with friends u cant do that on the ipad,i was surprised to see that i inserted my microsd from my archos5 to all the tablets available to test on stores and the Asus was the only one able to recognize and open my files on the file manager and also was able to play my hd videos i downloaded from youtube HD720 size without any convertion needed, just do it on your pc with firefox addon youtube downloader,then transfer the files by dragging and droppin,i converted some avi hd to mp4 and it plays nice too,the others tablets wont even recognize my card unless i reformat it..and some dont even have a card reader like the samsung galaxy, plus the rotating of video is awesome...there's many videos that i have downloaded taken vertically with iphones or hd cams from fans on live concerts "kpop mostly" so you flip the asus and the video rotates and you see the video vertically at a size of about 9inches,i put the screen in front of my 16inch laptop screen with the same video in the middle of the screen, and the asus image look about an inch bigger than my laptops image,i hope you guys understand what im talking about,also the bluetooth pairing is awesome it does it fast with my motorola S9 hd, u just turn it on and is connected, i would say is better than the archos 5it bluetooth pairing cause it does it automatically, also the asus wont disconnect,and wont un-synch your audio in your videos for a millisecond,instead the ASUS would loose frame rate but still better than the archos and ipod touch that also have the same issue it also comes with a book reader demo with Alice in wonderland from vibe bookstore,it shows 2 pages side by side, like an open book on landscape or one page verticaly,if you drag the page slowly u will see your finger drag the page slowly or fast,it also has the Amazon kindle but is not working unless you register and buy, overall the only issues i find with this device is the android itself that is attached to all the Google spy crap we all know about,so what drives me crazy is the calendar included, that wont work unless you signup to google so they would know what youre doing all the time,a bit invading of my privacy i think..also the phone number required to be able to download a free app or make a new gmail,hmm now i wonder if i install something not purchased if they will know about it, and probably could press charges for piracy if i got a full cracked game because every time i use anything i check the app manager on setting/applications/manage app/running and will i see google triyng to connect and send info about what im doing,i use the screenshot capturing feature,or the camera.., and then many hidden apps get activated trying to connect to the internet,why? i did use the allow mock locations on development just in case, for the false GPS location :D,plus fake emails, fake names etc..i might not buy anything from market ever!! cause of their spy tactics, knowing where you are, what you do all the time crap is sickening, but the ASUS tf101 is a dream media player, is no ipad2 but its awesome!

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Exactly what makes the Transformer so different from using the iPad with its docking keyboard? They both connect together physically to both power the tablet and let you type and they both come apart easily to let you carry the tablet wherever. As far as I know the docking keyboard is still available for the iPad 2 but I just took the easy path and used an already-available bluetooth keyboard I'd been using for my 24" iMac.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You seem to have correctly covered both the pros and the cons with the Transformer. To me (opinion only) the tablet capabilities have priority over desktop capabilities since I spend most of my days at a desktop anyway. This makes a tablet a peripheral device that acts as an extension to my desktop computing rather than trying to replace it. I understand that the opposite is true in many cases and don't fault those people who prefer it. My biggest complaint in general is when somebody tries to say a given device or OS is the one 'people' should use. I do try to avoid that in my own discussions but at the same time I also won't accept someone's lack of knowledge about the competition as a viable argument. Someone saying, for instance, that the iPad doesn't do something when clearly it can and does or vice-versa is when the flame wars erupt.

dcolbert
dcolbert

This weekend at home I used the Transformer solely in tablet configuration, never docking it into the keyboard at all. It was clearly not as polished of an experience as on an iPad. In particular the Android virtual keyboard is notoriously inferior to Apple's virtual keyboard, and that remains the case and is perhaps amplified in Honeycomb. It may also be a problem specific to the ASUS Transformer for all I know - but the keyboard just wasn't responsive. It misses my input on the space-bar a lot - and that can be annoying. It discouraged me from making very long responses with the Transformer in tablet mode, something that is not the case on my iPad. There are some bigger apps like Netflix that aren't available on Honeycomb yet. That is just the nature of the beast with Android. Some apps, like The Weather Channel - are better coded and supported on iPad. Other apps, like Facebook, have users evenly divided over which is better, the iOS or the Android version. If you know both platforms, you'll notice these things. If you don't, you might not know what you're missing (better OR worse). But in general, at several points I was able to basically transcend the brand of the device and the experience just became "tablet computing" in a very generic sense. To me, that illustrates that it was as intuitive, natural and comfortable because of form following function, not because Apple iOS or Android Honeycomb is superior. I was doing the same kind of things on my ASUS Transformer in tablet mode in the same way I would have done them on my iPad, with the same basic ease, enjoyment and results. Is it as polished as an iOS tablet? No. But it displays a lot of promise, and is much nicer in several ways than an iPad, as well. Flash support is huge. It makes the web so much richer of an experience when everything shows up the way it is intended to without requiring you to step outside into other applications (if this is an option at all... YouTube, for example). I find that I'm more likely to follow links... in a comment thread, in Twitter, in e-mail - and I'm less likely to be disappointed in the realization, "This link requires Flash so I'll have to check back later from a real PC" once I get there. I think Apple users will discount the impact of this, because they've largely become adjusted to dealing with this and have decided, "giving up Flash really isn't that big of a deal". Once you get it back, you realize... it IS... especially when it works well. It doesn't drain my battery. It doesn't crash my platform. It is a BIG part of the Internet/Web. Finally, there *is* an "app gap" between iOS and Honeycomb. One of the most disappointing things that I've encountered so far is that the native Google Voice app isn't available for Honeycomb tablets. It was promised, but the arrival is still delayed. Now, here is the thing that is... well, troubling and promising at the same time: Someone at XDA-Developers released a hacked .apk version of Google Voice that can be side-loaded onto the Xoom. This illustrates a couple of things... 1) It doesn't take a lot of effort to get Google Voice to WORK on Honeycomb tablets, so it is something else, something ARTIFICIAL (Like Verizon, maybe) preventing Google Voice from being released on Honeycomb tablets. That sucks. That is basically the same kind of corporate limitations that is a "turn-off" about iOS devices showing up for the Android ecosystem. We already know it is happening with Netflix to a certain degree on Android devices. In this case, we can only guess that the Wireless Telcos don't like the idea millions of non 3g/4g tablets sending free texts and getting free VMs with transcription. Keep in mind, I have no proof this is the case. Maybe Google plans an AWESOME tablet device that allows WiFi VoIP with dialing on Android tablets, and that is the hold-up. That would be awesome indeed. If you were a betting man, though, which scenario would you put your money on as being the truth? On the other hand, the ease of getting around the problem is a strength of Android - *provided you are techie enough to find the hacked .apk and sideload it and you understand the risks you expose yourself to in doing so*. This is where you expose yourself to malware and system instability and weird problems down the road. On the other hand, this is also where you can do something even when Google or Verizon or Motorola are telling you "no", without even needing to go to the extreme of Rooting or Jailbreaking your device. Strength or weakness, 6 of 1, half a dozen of the other. Me, I've got the Xoom "Google Voice" .apk on my Transformer, and it works great - even though it isn't officially available through the market. To me, this is an advantage of an Android tablet device over iOS. Overall, the iPad is a better TABLET, within the strict limitations of how it is designed and what it is trying to deliver. But for me, the ASUS transformer is a better DEVICE. It isn't FAR behind the iPad as a tablet, and in some ways, is in the lead, and the ability to transform into a netbook of sorts with the advantages of that, gives it the edge. I think that is what makes the ASUS special among the current crop of Android tablets. As a tablet, it is pretty much the same as the other two big ones, the Xoom and the Acer Iconia A500. They're all more or less the same device - so the reviews you read of one apply easily to the other two as far as *tablets* are concerned. As a tablet, if you like Android, you'll probably be satisfied with any of the 3. If you prefer iOS, you probably will be dissatisfied with either 3.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Also, how do you charge the devices, do you dock them together then plug in one of them, or each separately, or does the tablet gets its power from the keyboard, and stores it for awhile?

Slayer_
Slayer_

Though it would be better if it was duel boot, in tablet mode its a tablet OS, in keyboard mode, it boots a full OS. The keyboard could have a proper processor in it that takes over for the tablet processor when docked. this would also help in heat management. Sadly so far, these companies don't seem to be that ambitious.

dminder
dminder

Out of curiosity, has anybody tried JuiceDefender to combat the battery draining issue? Before I ask my other questions, yes I am a noob when it comes to Android OS, I have a Droid2 smart phone and that is about as far as I have gotten. However, I am seriously in the market for a good solid tablet, but have questions regarding compatibility.... First noob question of the day....can you run or is there an app that will allow you to run windows installation files on these tablets? Is there a place to see a list of apps on the web for this OS? I like the marketplace but want to see what is available before I go spending $$ on one of these....Thank you for your time and patience with me!!

dcolbert
dcolbert

Try to post a list of tips and tricks and some additional observations that wouldn't fit into the limits of a TR review blog in a couple of days. I've been preoccupied with some of my other blogs so I've neglected this post. On the touchpad twitchiness - mine works ok, but is sensitive to accidently having a thumb draggged across it. The way I type, it isn't uncommon for my thumb to hover over the spacebar or just below it. Unfortunately, just below the spacebar on the Eee Pad is the trackpad. Disable the trackpad using the top row key (4th from the left) and use a USB mouse when you're doing any serious writing. I also found in Settings\Wireless & Networks\Wi-Fi Settings is a "Wi-Fi disconnect policy" setting. Be default it is set to "Never (uses more battery power)". Go ahead and turn that to "When Screen turns off" or "Never when plugged in" to get battery life more like what you were promised. If you follow me @dcolbert on Twitter, I've been posting little tips and tricks there as I come across them.

lkarnis
lkarnis

I've had one for about 3-4 weeks. Got the 32GB version with the keyboard/dock. I (mostly) really like the transformer. It's fast, plays full 720p video without artifacts or jerkiness (using free Mobo Player) and is a pleasure to use. My only real gripe is with the keyboard/dock. The track pad mouse is very twichy almost to the point where I think it might be defective - so I use a wireless USB mouse and it's fine (go Logitech). Next, the keyboard lacks all of the normal keys (F1-F12, etc.) you would expect to see on a keyboard. This is a pain if you are using the machine (like I do) to MS Terminal Services into my servers. Soft keyboards fix this problem.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

I really wanted one of these when I first heard about it. I still do but I'm not sure. I think I would rather get one of these than a "smart" phone. It could satisfy my want for a mobile device without compromising my phone. What does the rest of TR think?

luminus18
luminus18

Great article! I do have to agree that the ASUS Transformer tablet is perhaps trying to straddle both the tablet and netbook worlds. Based on your experience, clearly it is not perfect, but it is still able to make a strong statement, although "everyone" is so enamoured by the iPad.

dcolbert
dcolbert

The Apple branded one. It is a beautiful keyboard. Oddly enough, I was contemplating this very question this evening and answering it for myself - so I'm ready for this question: The Transformer with the Keyboard Dock delivers everything that was missing from the original iPad - and everything I always felt would make the device a "full featured" option. The Transformer keyboard dock introduces an SD card slot and 2 USB host slots. They took it one further by adding an additional battery, and it is NIFTY how that battery works. When I get home, I find that I'm pulling the Transformer from the dock and using it as a tablet, in the same roles I used to use the iPad in. Almost exactly, as a feature for feature replacement. On the other hand, even as a tablet, it delivers far beyond the original iPad - which was feature crippled on purpose by Apple, in my opinion. In particular, at $399 for a 16GB device, it delivers comparable battery life, a front 2MB cam and a back 5MP cam, and an SD slot. If it had a USB host port on it as a tablet, it would be virtually perfected. The truth is, though, at $399, with those features, it significantly undercuts the iPad 2,while offering matching features, and then some. The only thing it doesn't match is the polished finish and mature design and stability of iOS. It isn't BAD, and like I've said, in many ways, it is superior, from a certain perspective. But I won't try to candy coat that side by side, iOS is inarguably a feat of engineering and design. You can make a Hyundai have the design cues of a Benz, but all you have to do is slam the trunk on a Hyundai and then a Benz, and you'll know it is more than just sheet metal. Now, like I've said, to me the Transformer is more like a BMW... and a BMW may approach a Benz in finish and luxury appointments, but the Benz is always going to feel "richer". But (in most cases) - a 3 series is going to give you more of an EXPERIENCE than a C Class. It depends on what you're looking for, though. You might not want that "experience". You may not want to DRIVE, you may want to TRAVEL. Driving is something rewarding that wears you out. Traveling is something you want to do in luxury and finish feeling rested and relaxed. We've got two different approaches here, and the philosophy of BMW versus Benz addresses those different demographics. I know I've said this all before, but it bears repeating. The Transformer is well suited for someone who wants to "drive" their device, not "travel" it. So, that is fundamentally different, with or without a docking keyboard. Now, when I pull the keyboard I plug it in and let it charge the included battery. That battery in turn sits in reserve. I surf the rest of the night on the tablet. At the end of the night, I unplug the keyboard and plug the tablet in (if necessary, every couple of days or so under pretty heavy use) and let it charge. Then, the next day, I plug it in, take it to work, and use it as a netbook - doing the kinds of things I've always used a netbook for professionally. Generally, assisting in troubleshooting network issues or connectivity issues via our separate public Internet DSL line... but just generally in these kind of "I need another PC" situations. In this sense, it is almost exactly like a netbook, because of the unique features of the ASUS dock. I plug in an external USB mouse (and disable the trackpad). I plug in external drives and manipulate files, copy, move, rename, whatever. I can do these things while still using my company computer for whatever I am doing there. It is an easy, portable machine that works with my thumb drives, works with my external hard drives, works with my other USB peripherals. If I want my company PC attached to the corporate network, but I need to download a big service pack or patch or other file - I don't want to do that on our corporate network - I can download that file to the Transformer, and copy it to an external USB drive, then copy the file from there right onto the server that requires the patch - never having the hit that something like Dropbox or a WiFi transfer would put on the network - the workarounds that would be required to do the same thing on an iPad. It becomes, fairly effectively, a secondary PC in heavy day to day use in a way that an iPad is simply *prohibited* from doing. The iPad COULD do it. In fact, if I had been willing to Jailbreak the iPad and carry along the USB and SD adaptors (which I have, having contemplated just this) - it WOULD have done it. But it is PREVENTED from doing it, and doing so would have set me up to constantly battle with Apple on every iOS revision. With the Android device, I don't have to deal with that threat, that hassle. That is a HUGE superiority to me, for my purposes. And when I'm depleting the battery on the Transformer and it is plugged into the dock, the accessory battery is charging the Transformer battery. That is just bonus goodness that makes you go, "Man, ASUS was on the ball when they were trying to value add this puppy against the competition". Then, on top of all of that, it does that whole easily portable, insanely long battery life, personal digital device thing for flying, going through TSA security without hassling with a whole notebook and all those issues - now I'm watching a movie while everyone else reads SkyMall because they don't want to pay extra for the movie and the TV shows all suck, or reading an eBook, or listening to my tunes, or playing Angry Birds Green Lantern vs. Mortal Kombat Edition... it does that. But I can ALSO slip out that dock, plug it in, and now it is a netbook, and I can sit it on the seat-back tray and do some actual computing. I don't need a stand, I don't have some awkward separate keyboard that doesn't support the tablet... Oh... and it is charging it way beyond the limits of the iPad 2 during this... This is what makes it different. I won't claim it is necessarily BETTER... but it is different - and it is more along the lines of what I realized I *wanted* right away when I got my iPad. I said to myself, "This thing is pretty cool. It would be AWESOME if..." and it is like ASUS mostly read my mind and said, "Is THIS what you were thinking?!?" Yes, Asus... that was pretty much what I was dreaming about. Good job. I think there is still a lot of room for improvement. I bet in 2 years they'll have it nailed down a lot better than it sits today... but for me, today, this is the closest thing to nirvana for a device like this that I've seen. Sorry, I went longer than I intended to. OBTW, I haven't tried yet, but I intend at some point to try hooking up the Apple BT keyboard to the Transformer and see how it works there. On my laptops, even my netbook, at a desk, I'll plug into an external, larger keyboard just because it is a better typing experience. I haven't so far with the Transformer - but why not. I bet it'll be nice.

Slayer_
Slayer_

What is the difference...? Too bad they don't use my idea as having the laptop base, a full fledged notebook hardware, that turns the tablet into a regular display, used by the notebook running a normal desktop operating system.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I also do not like when people ignore clear faults of their chosen platform while crucifying the competition. I think it is important that when I "trash" Linux, or Apple, or Android, that people understand that I use all of these platforms on a very regular basis. On the other hand - I don't trash Microsoft much, not because I'm a shill for Microsoft (as frequently as I am accused of this), but for two much more mundane reasons: Everyone KNOWS what is wrong with Microsoft. Nobody wants to read or comment on what is wrong with Microsoft. The fact is that 4 or 8 years ago, if I were doing this, most of my blogs would have focused on Intel, Microsoft and Apple. Today, that isn't the case - throughout the blogsphere. This is *bad* news for Microsoft and Intel. I love it when people call me a shill. And unlike a lot of the "pro-staff" bloggers for technology sites who write reviews, I buy my own equipment and there aren't vendors sending me freebies to test out - so if I'm reviewing something, I've bought it with my own money. Believe me, that means I'm going to get my money's worth out of the items I talk about. I mean, I have biases and preferences just like everyone else - and those bleed through... but I think I dish it out pretty fairly.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I think there are ambitions to deliver dual boot Win7/Android tablets. Here is the deal... you're going to have more heat and a fan, and probably worse battery life, when you get to a device with the horsepower to run Windows. You're basically talking Atom processors at least - and the truth is that measure in watts per gigahertz, Atom processors are not as efficient as Qualcomm ARM processors (I just read an amazing blog from a 15 year old kid who described this situation in very technical detail. If you followed me or ZD-Net's Jason Perlow on Twitter, you would have seen this link... :) ) So I think that if anything is holding the industry back, it is that the tech isn't quite there to deliver EVERYTHING consumers want in a dual boot tablet that can run a good mobile OS and a tablet OS too. They want their horsepower, their massive magnetic storage, but they also want a device that won't burn their legs and doesn't spin up like a fighter jet taking off. The thing you're wanting is a Lenovo prototype, I'm pretty sure. It has an Android tablet that plugs into a keyboard and becomes a Win7 netbook... but it has been delayed a few times, and I'm pretty sure it isn't here yet. Lenovo Lepad. Supposed to retail at OfficeMax for $499. But I think that is just the pad, and the keyboard is going to be a similar price, so you're taking a much more expensive device than the ASUS Transformer. Google Lenovo LePad, and you'll find everything you want to know. :)

dcolbert
dcolbert

I've downloaded some of those apps, but never went any further with them. Here are my tips for an Android phone like the Droid 2. Add the control panel widget. It gives you easy access to WiFi, Blutetooth, GPS, Sync and Brightness. Turn brightness down to the lowest setting you can tolerate. Turn auto refresh off. Turn Bluetooth off Turn off WiFi and GPS when you don't need them when you want to maximize battery life. Watch out for apps that autosync and become de-synched from the account password. These apps will try to log-in endlessly to refresh. You'll know you've got some runaway process like this when you find your device is super-hot and the battery is dead or almost depleted. If I hardly use my Droid 2, I can go two days without a charger. If I am using it heavily, I can be looking for juice half-way through the day. But the tips I've given here will go a LONG way to resolving battery issues for most typical users. You can probably find an RDP connection that will allow you to remotely access a Windows machine. ASUS bundles a solution that will allow you to gain remote acess to either a Windows or Mac desktop. But it isn't running native apps LOCALLY. I don't think there is anything that does that, and I think the A4 and A8 ARM processors in most of these devices are not powerful enough to run a full fledged version of Windows suitably, especially from within the Android OS. The Android market is not acclaimed for how easy it is to browse and select apps from outside of an Android device. With that said, there are several sites that try to assist with finding apps and even downloading them (via tags) through the web. Google "Android App markets" and see what kind of results you get. Good luck!

RobD.
RobD.

Spitfire, I agree with you, I really wanted one too, I still do, but I'm not sure I want to sink $700 into one (32GB tablet, keyboard dock, accessories like a case). I bought a ThinkPad 410 earlier this year and put an SSD drive into it, it boots in 15 seconds, and cost only slightly more than this device. I just don't want to spend that kkind of money and have the Transformer II come out next year with an improved keyboard, more apps, and better media playback for less money. I'll stick with my Android phone for now and probably wait a little longer.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Based on Colbert's own review, it sounds more like it's straddling than trying to be the best. I don't deny for some that a physical keyboard is important, but when you attach the keyboard and never bother to disconnect it, then it doesn't meet the mobility needs that a tablet user might have. I'm not going to blame the hardware here, in fact, I can't really blame the hardware for any of Android's failures in the tablet market; I have to blame Android itself and as Colbert said, it simply isn't intuitive. I won't touch on other complaints about Android, there's a bunch of articles out today that express how people are beginning to feel about the OS itself. In many ways I like the concept of a two-piece platform--in fact, I use my iPad with a bluetooth keyboard any time I need to do extensive typing input. However, a tablet is more than just a portable PC, it needs to be accessible and usable even without a physical keyboard and it needs to do more than just view media and play games. I use my iPad for database management, photography proofing and many other things that are more business oriented than consumer. As yet, I haven't seen any Android tablet as useful.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I don't have time to go into depth, but one point you emphasized frequently is the keyboard dock's ability to charge the Transformer. While I agree that the Bluetooth keyboard can't do that for the iPad, the hard-wired keyboard dock can in much the same way. For file manipulation as you describe, I have no argument. I do know a lot of people prefer that ability, but personally I think it's a little old-school for a mobility device. I think Apple's iCloud will eliminate that necessity, but I'll also acknowledge that Apple software will be the first beneficiary of that capability. Currently my only argument for file handling as you describe has been my novel writing where moving my text between platforms has been annoying on occasion. Based on the released data, that's a non-issue with iOS 5 and Lion.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I forget which, but one of the netbook makers made a model with a removable screen--like a tablet--that ran Windows Basic in netbook form and dropped you to Linux--not Android--in tablet form. Shouldn't be all that hard to replace their Linux distro with Android and make it work. If I remember, it was announced at the 2010 CES just before MacWorld and the February announcement of the first iPad. I may be biased, but that doesn't mean I can't see the "big picture" with a product concept.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Especially with the delay with delivering the ASUS to the states after the very limited initial release in May. I have an Ideapad S10 with a 9 Cell extended battery that gets almost 7 hours of life... enough for a single full day from dawn to bed-time without a charge. It has a 500 GB HD. In sleep, resume was awesome... I've got a bit into it. $350 for the original machine, $50 for Win 7 Pro, $150 for the 500GB 2.5" HD, $45 for the 9 Cell Battery, $30 to upgrade to 2.5GB ram. If it had a touch screen and a mobile app driven OS, it would have been perfect. As it is, it isn't bad. But that is kind of an example of the truth. Next year, there is ALWAYS going to be something better. If you want, you'll wait forever. You just have to pick when to jump in. But why pay the extra $100 for the 32GB version? Get the 16GB version and pop in a 32GB MicroSD card.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I want to re-address your thoughts here, Vulpine. My first thought is that I shouldn't feed the Apple trolls. But from that knee-jerk reaction comes a truth... You seem to be trolling, because you're in here, turning this into a competition between iOS and Android OS - when, I don't think it really needs to be. There is a surface similarity between the two, and Android certainly came out of the gate as an *alternative* to the iPhone - but they're diverging in a way that means there is a lot of room for both to co-exist. For people who have very basic needs, an iOS device is an *awesome* alternative. Some of those very basic needs may include some pretty heavy content creation. There are things that the iPad can deliver, and can deliver intuitively in a way that will be appreciated by people who are intersted in productivity without a steep learning curve. There is nothing wrong with being a common user, and Apple device owners should embrace the fact that they're just common users and nothing more. My wife and daughter *love* their iOS devices - and I in turn love that they have iOS devices, because I don't have to help them with silly things that they're incapable of handling themselves... Which gives me more time to really get under the hood with REAL systems that allow me to enjoy the TECHNOLOGY that underlies the device. And truth be told, there are BILLIONS more consumers who fall into the category of my wife and daughter than there are gear-head techie-geeks like me. Kudos to Apple for designing the PC version of the Ford Taurus, Honda Civic or Toyota Camery, an average grocery-getter pedestrian family sedan that doesn't offend and anyone can drive that will appeal to MASSIVE consumer audiences. If that is the horde that you want to identify yourself as part of, I'm completely OK with it. Steve Jobs is *ecstatic* about it. Android is more of an enthusiasts vehicle. At the most pedestrian, Android is a BMW 3 series. Affordable, a lot LIKE the Honda or Camary, superfically - but capable of a heckuva lot more. At the most extreme, Android is like a Lotus Elise - a purpose driven, street legal race car masquerading as a street car. Most purpose driven street legal race cars are tempermental and eschew many of the comforts of a Taurus or Civic. Not the car for everyone - but for someone who really wants to *drive*, there is no better solution. A car like the Lotus Elise will never compete with the Honda Civic in sheer numbers, and most people who drive a Honda Civic would claim that the Lotus Elise is a *horrid* car to drive or be a passenger in. I'm glad you've got a Taurus that you like to drive down to pick up your lettuce and tomatos, Vulpine. I've got a collection of choices, and none of those are mini-vans for picking the kids up from soccer practice. And that is the rub. Is an Elise a car? 4 wheels, an engine, a transmission, a chassis. Yup. Is the Honda a car? 4 wheels, an engine, a transmission, a chassis? Sure is. Can you compare the two? Well... superficially. This device, the Eee Pad, compares superficially with the iPad - and you're not alone in being guilty of doing this, Vulpine. The entire tech blogsphere is doing this. Honeycomb is getting beat up. I've even wrote an article that basically said, "Stop making it so complex, follow Apple's model and make big Android phones and call them tablets, and they'll sell". And there is TRUTH in that... there is a consumer MARKET in that. But Honeycomb is actually misunderstood, and more *ambitious* than that. I don't think people have woken up to that fact yet. Truth is, they may not, and Honeycomb could fail. It is possible. I don't think it is likely. But having had a lot of time with both, I can say, without a doubt - Honeycomb is a much richer and full featured platform than iOS - one that can deliver a far wider experience than iOS is capable of. That may be MORE than you want in your mobile tablet device - and that is OK. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a place for what the Android Honeycomb tablets are trying to deliver. There is a place, and I like it there, and I think there are enough people like me to support these devices as commercially viable. That is all that matters. Compete with the iPad? I hope not... that would be a step backwards.

dcolbert
dcolbert

using the transformer in tablet mode. This device buries the iPad, for significantly less, and it does significantly more. The transformer straddles a line that the iPad doesn't even approach.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I keep meaning to elaborate on this when you mention a wired dock can charge the iPad, and each time I forget. Sorry about that. The ASUS TF101 keyboard dock has a battery. There are a few ways to use that. Once you've exhausted the internal batteries in the tablet (two 3300mAh batteries), there is a third battery in the dock. Once the tablet is plugged in, it will partially recharge the internal batteries in the tablet. Or, if you start off in the dock, the external battery is exhausted first, then the internal batteries - this allows you to maximize up to that 19 hour single charge run-time that ASUS brags about. But you don't need to be plugged in. Now, there are gadgets and other aftermarket devices that increase your iPad/iPod battery life by providing an accessory, external battery - this isn't anything new. But this solution is just incredibly well integrated and again, you get BOTH (plus the keyboard, two USB host ports and a full sized SD card slot) for around just a bit more than the price as an iPad 2 16GB alone. ($399 for the tab, $150 for the keyboard dock = $550, versus $499 retail for an iPad 2). I mean, it competes on features, and it competes on price, it offers all of those missing features, and they're all functional out of the box - all the objections to early Android tablets are addressed here. This is no Xoom. :) Did you see my recent post about Android syncing WiFi keys to the cloud and downloading them to other Android devices? I tend to like to keep as much of my data from going through the public cloud as possible. I'll use Dropbox and Google Docs and Gmail - but there is also a gross inefficiency in that which goes to a far further level than just technology. Apple positions itself as a green company, Al Gore sits on the board of directors. Sending a file from my desktop, up through my WiFi, to a server in Cuppertino, then back down through WiFi, back to my portable device - is *simply* less green than sending it right from one device to the other by taking physical media out of one device and plugging it into another. When you count all the devices sucking dinosaur bones between the two points in one scenario to the other - one has a higher REAL cost than the other. I'm not very concerned with green practices myself, I've got my own personal political feelings about that - but the logic here is inescapable, both ecologically and fiscally. Less evident, but still true non-the-less are the other increased risks and costs of every transfer being wireless based (especially if going through the cloud). I know there are some solutions that make iPad files accessible through a bunch of novel local wireless means (like having the iPad provide a file-serving webserver on an internal IP address and custom port). Those are cool. But there we get into the idea that I might be transferring very large files, multiple ones... say, a collection of a dozen video files each between 4 and 8GB of size (DVD sized files, for example). I can tell you, synching through iTunes or copying over the wireless are excruciatingly long processes in a case like this. With an Android device... well, check it out... who needs to copy it? Just have the card and slide it in. And if you've got say, 128GB of these files - no problem... 4 32 GB SD cards have you covered. You can carry them all at once, easily. With an iPad... you're going to have to choose which files you leave home... and best case, if you've got some apps and music and images on that iPad... you're going to be limited to less than a single 32GB card's worth of these files... IF you have the 64GB version of the iPad/iPad2. Which you may never need to do - but if you do, it is going to be a hassle on an iOS device. On this device, it is easy to accomodate. But it is old school... you're right. Maybe I'm a dinosaur. When I can absolutely trust that I can store whatever I want securely on the cloud and not be worried about random audits by corporations or governments to determine that I have licensing rights to everything on my cloud storage - then I'll trust the cloud with my storage. Not because I HAVE anything to store on the cloud that I don't have licensee rights to, but simply because I should have the expectation not to be searched without justification or cause. At this point, my civil rights seem to break down the minute I hit the cloud. Until our concepts of reasonable citizen rights in a digital realm evolve, I prefer to keep it a little old-school. :) I mean, even if you discount the tin-foil hat paranoia about a police state rifling through your data with the aide of complicit corporations - the recent DropBox snafu that exposed Dropbox personal accounts for up to 4 hours with no password security illustrates the perils of making the cloud a central part of your data transfer strategy. I wonder how many people had risque pictures of their wives, or pictures of their family vacations, or the medical results of their recent test for STDs, or other very personal stuff stored on their Dropbox folders during that period of time. I didn't. I only have stuff on DropBox that I don't care if it becomes public. Right now, that is the ONLY policy that is logical for storing private data on the public cloud - and even then, with Anonymous and Lulzsec and Antisec running around, you might not dodge the bullet. When you can transfer data from one point to another with full control using local physical media, you minimize this risk. iOS minimizes your ability to fully control file transfer over physical media. Android maximizes your ability to do this. I see that as an Android advantage, and I'm actually pretty relaxed about best security practices for non-enterprise users.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

When you look at fifteen years of Apple's history and see how things are becoming interconnected, add to that what Apple has announced with it's iCloud and look at the patent applications that Apple has submitted, then follow all that up with a bit of logical deduction and... well... No, I'm not that closely connected, but I have followed that company's doings for a long, long time. Ever since the Apple II first came onto the market.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I'd say this is a pretty bold statement. I've got friends inside Apple who don't know what is coming next until it leaks from sources in Asia. They learn about it the same time we do. If you're better connected with Apple than they are, I'm sure the editors here at TR would love to discuss that with you. ;) Like I said, even though Apple insists that they're not interested in a 7" iOS device, I don't think that means we won't see one, if it turns out there is money to be made there and they can do it in a way that they're satisfied with. I bet the same thing applies here. Personally - Win 7 has better touch screen support than OS X Snow Leopard. I'm not sure about Lion - but it seems like they would be playing catch-up with this, whereas Win 7 is ready to support touch screen devices already - so just based on that, we're liable to see Win 7/Android touchscreen devices first. (Or heck, Ubuntu/Android touchscreen devices... whatever... Linux Debian fork distros have pretty good touchscreen support already, too, I guess I've heard...)

dcolbert
dcolbert

It is like they don't listen to what consumers say they want, they don't pay attention. Apple has blinders too. They're missing the 7" device boat. The Coby Kyros made me realize that there is a perfectly suitable niche for a device of that size. Great for media, for reading, for movies while traveling. Steve is sure this size is a misfit, I'm positive he is wrong. The 7" size is ACTUALLY exactly the size of a paper-back - and that is where the logic is (a thin paperback). If the iPad is great for magazine format, the 7" device is perfect for e-Reading (and apps are more fun at this size too than at iPod Touch size, generally). That is, the magazine coexists with the paperback, the paperback coexists with the hardcover. Why wouldn't those formats work in digital devices made to do a lot of content consumption? an Airbook like that would be a win - and Apple MAY be working on such a thing, I wouldn't be shocked if they announced something like this at the next WWDC. But there are others looking into it, too. We'll see it sooner or later, from one vendor or another... probably from more than just one or two, before the dust settles.

dcolbert
dcolbert

All remain vaporware. I think we'll see these coming in the second wave, possibly, although the lukewarm response to touch-screen Windows has maybe cooled the vendors on the concept. Lenovo was going to do an Android tablet that plugged into a dock that then turned the device into a Windows netbook. I wonder about battery life and fans and heat output with these hybrid devices. The nice thing about the Transformer in this regard is, it has no fans, and doesn't run any hotter as a netbook config than it does as a tablet (which is - no hotter than an iPad). That was the one annoying thing when I tried my "Lenovo S10 with a big battery" concept. It worked pretty well, but the fan and the heat output was a noticeable difference from my iPad.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Cause if Apple doesn't do it, no one will... That seems to be the trend lately. Only Apple is bothering to break new ground.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I can pretty much promise you that Apple is not headed in that direction. On the other hand, they did apply for a patent on an idea that put an iPad into an iMac-style display unit.

Slayer_
Slayer_

With some minor OS modifications, a proper version of Windows, and Android, it could have been a winner. (Or a contender at least). We already know we can put high powered processors in laptops, so there is no excuse for using Windows basic... Do you get the feeling these guys really don't consider their markets very well? A keyboard would suggest a more productivity oriented device, so logically you should include a productivity oriented software and power to match. To make a combination device... I bet Apple will be the first to make one, probably a Mac Air that can have the monitor removed and it runs the mobile IOS instead. Plug the keyboard back in and the pad functions as a monitor (or touch screen monitor) and displays the full desktop operating system. I hope they do, just so others try and make cheap copies.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

After all, that's what vulpine means -- fox like. However, like a fox I try to bring out the best efforts of my counterparts. In this case, if you look again at my first response about "straddle the line", you might note that I intentionally avoided mentioning iOS itself and tried to debate on the form factors alone within the context of your initial review using the only tablet format I personally own. I normally don't just jump into a purchase; I take months and sometimes years to decide on certain products. While I did buy the iPad before the official release date, I did study what competition was available at the time and quite honestly was not impressed. The iPad was the only tablet that really looked like an effective, productive mobility tool--even compared to netbooks which I'd been studying before that. Just as many can't see the purpose for a tablet, I really couldn't perceive a personal need for a sub-notebook when I already owned an iBook and an Intel MacBook. The iPad has replaced both of them for my mobility needs. This doesn't mean that there is no perceivable purpose for a netbook, only that even with all its capabilities compared to a tablet, I couldn't perceive a personal need for one; it's both too much machine and not enough machine for my purposes. The tablet fits.

dcolbert
dcolbert

But the knee-jerk reaction to a guy who we *know* is a *huge* proponent of Apple products - who shows up in a forum discussion about an Android tablet - is to assume this. That really lead into the rest of the response - that thinking in this direction made me realize that with the divergent paths of the two different OS platforms, it is arguable that there is no reason to really compare the two - and that Apple people need to realize and accept that Android is a more flexible and capable OS, and that Android people need to realize that iOS will probably always have massive consumer appeal - enough that 3 basic variations of a single device can compete effectively with a score of devices from multiple different manufacturers.

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

Don't always agree with you, but never suspected you live under a bridge.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Other times, I'm right in there with everyone else having an emotion driven argument based on my loytaly to the brand I've decided to buy into. I'm always shy of such high praise as you've given me here, because next time I'll certainly let you down. :) But, still, thanks! :)

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

"Yes, it's a bunch of hip, childless couples buying those and sadly I'm not one of them...." I am. I have an Android tablet. Why would *anyone* bother with an iPad, when there are cheaper, superior alternatives. That perplexes me. But then, I don't know why anyone uses Microsoft Office anymore, either.

MikeChablis
MikeChablis

I love the use of analogies to demonstrate an aspect of an issue and yours was very useful in doing that. I think perhaps you've missed a calling as a reviewer or even helping product marketeers communicate and distinguish their products. It takes a funny but rare combination of tech nerdiness but also the abilty to relate those things to "normal" people to get a point across. I have to admit I get rather harsh with some of the superficial articles out there and the last few I've read on TR have turned into religious battles just because there's no objective analysis to argue about. Anyway, thanks for your substantial effort to bring the argument back to something objective.

dcolbert
dcolbert

And, I must admit... I've noted on several occasions with the Transformer, how nice it is to be able to enjoy a full, unlimited, unhindered web experience. iOS users have simply adjusted to the idea that they need to hop out of Safari and into the YouTube app to be able to watch that video - and the truth is, it is disruptive to the browsing experience. And you know what? My battery life on my Transformer is *awesome*... it pounds my iPad into the dirt, as long as I manage my resources thoughtfully - but regardless - it isn't FLASH that is eating my battery between recharges. It would take a tremendous amoutn of time accessing flash based web apps or videos before I saw a dent in the battery life. Every analogy is fundamentally flawed in some way. I think my analogy basically holds - the fact that the iPad can't handle flash is more an example of how it *is* pedestrian - how it tells you to stay IN the lines - to follow the rules and have a nice, clean, reliable experience. It really isn't the utility challenged 2 seater. It is the mini-van that seats 8 comfortably. But your point is not lost on me - and it is something I've unfortunately forgotten to point out here. The ASUS (and we can safely presume, all other Honeycomb tablets) offer a much less disruptive browsing experience - mostly because Flash works, and Flash is still a *huge* part of the web. If you sign on to the Apple contract, you're giving this up. Most Apple people would say, "I hardly even miss it" - but once you've got it *back*, you realize what a big hole in your web surfing experience it is to miss out on Flahs. Thanks for reminding me about this.

MikeChablis
MikeChablis

I think your analogy is bang on, for the most part, however I would argue one point. That is, in your analogy, the core fuction of the masses, the grocery shopping, is to browse the net, and do their internet stuff. A bunch of that stuff relies on sites with richer content, e-commerce and the like and the lack of support for Flash really limits it's use. Sure, I can always go home and get on a PC to hit the flash sites I've missed while out with my iPad but that really diminishes the device's value to me. Flash won't go away anytime soon, and don't even suggest that HTML5 is ready to step in to replace it. I haven't seen the stats on how many sites use flash but it's a lot and lack of support for flash means lack of support for applications. If the penetration rates for iPad get so high that developers are forced to move off of Flash or develop their apps two or three times, then that's a very bad thing. That makes me an Apple-hater, rather than an iPod hater, but nonetheless, to call iPad a mass market platform when a HUGE part of the mass market wants to surf ALL of the web...well...I think it goes from the Honda category into maybe a great two seater or something....something very hip, very trendy, good quality but once you buy it and take it home, and the trunk is not big enough to put in your golf clubs....you're left wondering why you bought it. Actually, you can't put the childs car seat in, but you can just pull out old trusty station wagon for that. Yes, it's a bunch of hip, childless couples buying those and sadly I'm not one of them.....I don't live the life of a beer commercial. Not sure if I'm still in your analogy or in reality but here's the reality....I need to input stuff, and I need Flash....

dcolbert
dcolbert

I'm pleasantly surprised with your response, Vulpine. This is not good for generating a massive ranting thread in the forum between Apple and Android fanboys - now Jason is going to get all the traffic with his darned White iPhone post! You're letting me down, man! :) But anyhow, the maturity I refer to in the subject is the platform. iOS has, by all accounts, been around for a lot longer than it has been commercially available. It also has been a larger success, for longer, than Android. They also went for something a lot less ambitious, a lot MORE conservative, when they released the iPad. For something revolutionary and magic, they really pulled their swing. As Jason noted in the "White iPhone" article, that isn't a bad choice - deciding to say, "no, we're going to set our sites on something achievable that will satisfy our consumers, instead of frustrating them". In some ways, Honeycomb shows that Android has been paying attention. One of the frequent complaints about Android is that it feels less responsive. Many have noted that this is really just a "system priorities" illusion. On an iPad or other iOS device, when you're in the web and you flick, it scrolls, it responds to your input as the biggest priority - even if it can't actually keep up to DRAW anything other than a grid of gray and light gray squares. The important thing is the feeling that when I flick the screen, the device responds. Earlier Android versions did not do this. You would flick, and if it was busy drawing a screen refresh, the device would ignore your input. Users responded with harder input, or longer input, and basically got erratic results. Loading apps by mistake, closing apps by mistake, clicking unwanted links. Honeycomb shows Google has been paying attention, and now the device tries to give priority to smooth input, even if it is just displaying a placeholder screen while it tries to actually render graphics. This is true in the browser and in the picture gallery - two places where this issue was most evident in traditional Android devices. On the other hand, I am very displeased with the onscreen keyboard on the ASUS when it is in tablet orientation. In particular, it feels less responsive - laggy and slow, compared to the iPad. The iPad, I could knock out a pretty decent sized e-mail with the virtual keyboard. As the Transformer sits right now, I'd never try anything more than a quick response, a text. It is really bad about recognizing the SPACE key on the virtual keyboard. I'm not sure if this is hardware or software or firmware particular to the ASUS, but it is darned annoying. Maturity. Apple has these things ironed out... Android is *still* working on things like the virtual keyboard nearly two years after the original Motorola Droid was released. I get it that this means that Android isn't for everyone. If you really like Android and you value the kind of open portability that Android allows, the ability to easily expand memory and transfer data from one device to another in an easy, standard, interchangable way, you're going to really like the ASUS Transformer. I had the bluetooth keyboard for the iPad - and I was able to write blogs on it - but it was a hassle - I didn't like the way file management on iPad was a kludge, how each app had a different way, and that way was a "mandate". On an Android device, I've got a lot of options. I can store the file on internal memory, or on an external microsd, or an external SD, or send it to a USB thumb drive or HD. Likewise I can import data, pictures, photos, text. I can store them where I want. It is more like a PC. If you like netbooks, this is like a luxury netbook. It feels much more expensive, refined and polished than my Lenovo S10. The ability to pull the screen off and use it as a tablet is kind of a "Well, why NOT?!?" kind of thing. It makes sense. Really, I think in the future this will become a standard feature for all devices that have a clamshell design, including Macbooks and PC laptops. Why not? Sometimes you JUST want or need the screen, without the rest of the bulk attached. Side by side, "apples to androids", the ASUS versus the iPad (1 or 2) - I think it is a 6 of one, half a dozen of the other kind of thing. It depends on where your priorities are. And really, I think we can extend that more or less to the Iconia A500 and the Xoom, too. They're all virtually the same device. The limitations of the iPad constantly aggravated me - in the same way that Classic Mac OS drove me to Windows platforms because the "ease of use" felt like "limitation of application" to me. Other people felt like the "limitless application" of Windows meant "constant headaches" and gravitated toward Classic Mac OS back then. I feel the same argument is going to start to develop here between Android and iOS - and ultimately, it is going to depend on what works best for you and what you personally feel most comfortable with. I think the split will be enough that both platforms will continue to co-exist for the foreseeable future, as the two market leaders - maybe occasionally trading places on who is in the lead or lagging. Honestly though, the virtual keyboard on the Coby Kyros was more responsive than on the ASUS Transformer - which is a pretty big deal. They've got to figure out something about that. Up the responsiveness on that space bar - it is killin' me.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

And yes, I do agree that Android is effectively an enthusiast's OS, much as the underlying Linux is essentially an enthusiast's desktop OS. I'll also admit that I'm no longer an enthusiast in that sense. Ever since I quit programming in Basic oh-so-long ago, I've preferred my OSes and my hardware to be easy to use first, reliable second and fun third. I've used Every version of Windows since 3.0 and almost every version of the MacOS since 2.0 or whatever came in the early Mac 128. I've taught people how to use their PCs even in DOS while myself using an Apple II that I performed motherboard surgery and other mods to bring it all the way up to IIe capability over 10 years. Eventually you simply get tired of having to monkey with your computers. That said, for as much as you like Android, Don, I can't get past all the reviews that report 3.0 and 3.1 as still 'incomplete feeling' on tablet-format devices. Your own review gives it high marks as a light weight desktop-style OS, but when you remove that keyboard is it still as easy to use and powerful? Keep in mind that I'm not faulting any of the recent hardware, though an article today did point out a significantly lower level of reliability than expected on many Android devices that are hardware based. I'm not trolling in the sense so many anti-Apple zealots do; I'm actually trying to maintain an open and reasoned debate about the quality and usability of the devices. I admit I don't keep a log of every report and website I view, but when TR, ZDNet, Technologizer, PC World, MacWorld and others all give similar reviews about the same products, the question certainly arises, don't you agree? I won't deny that Honeycomb may be better as an OS--but does it really compete on the same platforms? Your description makes it seem an ideal netbook OS, but seems to fall short on tablets.

eseok
eseok

Never really looked at Andriod vs iOS in this light and... i like it! Now if only the carriers and phone developers weren't the ones that actually screw up Google's idea...

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