We got a hands-on with the cute Eee Pad Transformer at its UK launch today and had the time to get acquainted with this Android-powered iPad rival.
On shelves from April 6, the Transformer will be £429 with the keyboard or £379 without it, for a 16GB wifi-only model. The clicky detachable screen transformer bit didn't disappoint, but here are the other specs. For size, hardware, battery life and chip power they pretty well line up to the iPad 2.
- 8hr battery life in the tablet, 8hr in the keyboard - total = 16hrs
- Android Honeycomb OS
- NVIDIA dual core 1GHz chip
- 10.1 inch screen
- Front camera (1.5megapixel) & rear camera (5megapixel)
Our first impressions
1) Having a touch screen and keyboard is great: - I originally thought this was a bit of a gimmick, but actually I loved being able to touch the screen to move stuff around but also having the keyboard for text input. It feels really natural.
2) Having a nice tablet stand makes for a good user experience Okay, I know stands for tablets are hardly revolutionary, but it was nice being able to touch a tilted up laptop screen. I'm really into netbooks and tablet hybrids.
3) The click-on connection could be better: - it worked sure, but it could have felt more solid and it was a little bit hard to find the groove. You have to make sure it's locked before picking it up otherwise it flies apart.
4) Android Honeycomb is sweet: yes it is. Sure it's similar to previous versions of the OS, but the apps, the video - it's all built to work so well with a touch interface and nice to see it scaled up to a 10 inch screen. Lovely experience.
5) Good quality rear camera: - 5 megapixels is good and means you can actually take nice quality footage with this device.
6) Heavy - I did find it quite heavy - both the keyboard and the screen have a battery, I think that makes it feel quite weighty. The pad was 603g, and with the keyboard I think comes to 1230g.
7) Kooky colour and patterning: the purplish crocodile textured back and brushed metal hinge in a cafe au lait brown were pure Asus, and make the tablet stand out in a world of black and silver gadgets.
I think I'd need a bit more time to understand how useful that detachable screen is, and whether what's fun in a demo actually makes sense in real life situations. But I really the idea of a more active experience with a touch screen device, instead of the more passive sit-back-and-consume behaviour iPad encourages. A thumbs up from this initial session. And the pricing actually makes it competitive....