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Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101: A Tablet In Disguise

Asus Innovates; We Want To See A Tegra 3-Based Transformer

In the past, we've concluded that tablets are expensive, given their relatively narrow purpose. That's still very much the case, and Asus' Eee Pad Transformer is a great example of how quickly the cost of these devices add up. In order to really exploit the Transformer's advantages, you need the docking station (to the figures below, add another $150).

The reality is that, at the end of the day, you're probably going to pay more for the Eee Pad Transformer than you would for a notebook based on higher-performance desktop-derived hardware. 

Tablet Pricing16 GB32 GB64 GB
iPad 2 (Wi-Fi)$499$599$699
iPad 2 (AT&T 3G)$629$729$829
iPad 2 (Verizon 3G)$629$729$829
Xoom (Wi-Fi)-$499-
Iconia Tab A500 (Wi-Fi)$399$499-
Eee Pad Transformer (Wi-Fi)$399$499-

Compared to other Android-based tablets, the Eee Pad Transformer is certainly unique. But it's only a standout if you're willing to purchase the docking station as well. And even then, the combination isn't perfect. For example, the touchpad is missing a right-click option. That's a particularly glaring omission that stands out when you're trying to work between two documents or copying URLs. At the end of the day, you're still compelled to use a mixture of touch gestures and keyboard input in lieu of the docking station's touchpad.

Although it's not as obvious when we compare the performance of multiple tablets based on mobility-oriented hardware, adding a very notebook-feeling docking station makes it hard to ignore the fact that this isn't in the same league as a notebook at all. Yes, tablets have come a long way. However, if you're going to spend $500 or $600 on a device that becomes a notebook, more performance is certainly available from a purpose-built laptop centering on low-voltage x86 hardware. Just take a look at page six of Asus' Eee Slate EP121: A Windows 7-Based Tablet PC for a benchmark comparison between ARM and x86 platforms.

Most folks have a tendency to hunt-and-peck for keys when they type on virtual keyboards. As a result, you don't feel the lack of performance as acutely, since there's plenty of time to process between each action. However, with a physical keyboard attached, typing becomes second nature again. As you start working more productively, you're faced with the realization that long pauses between commands are going to become more common. The video above illustrates this observation well. When we enter a search phrase in the browser, there's a noticeable lag if typing occurs rapidly, and when we mistype something, holding down backspace results in slow and delayed character deletion. Little nitpicks like that continue to make it hard to embrace tablets completely.

As always, Asus demonstrates innovative thinking with the Eee Pad Transformer, and its docking station is really what makes this device such a differentiated piece of hardware. We like that. At the same time, the platform on which the Transformer centers doesn't seem quite ready to stand in as a notebook replacement yet. Perhaps Tegra 3 will be the chipset able to rectify this. We'll have to wait until later this year to know, though.

Enter to win an Eee Pad Transformer of your own. You could also win a Samsung Galaxy Tab, an Acer Iconia Tab, or a Lenovo IdeaPad K1! Simply read the rules and then fill out our SurveyGizmo contest form. Everyone already entered in the contest through Google Docs is still in the running to win!

  • americanherosandwich
    If only some of them sold for $99... but a chance to win one of four for free = just plain awesomeness!
    Reply
  • compton
    Having recently tried the Transformer in person, I can say that it doesn't feel cheap and the novelty of the docking system could be awesome in future iterations. But as I recently found out with my $99 HP TouchPad, tablets have a long way to go in some areas. In the TouchPad's case, many of it's problems seem to go away when overclocking it's processor from 1.2Ghz to 1.8Ghz +. Of course, it's battery life is already less than compelling so you don't really notice the higher power usage. Like so much in life, better and faster hardware makes all the difference. Higher clock speed overcomes many of the problems HP could have ironed out had they given WebOS more time.

    The Transformer is a not-insignificant step forward for Android tablets. As an optimist, I believe the next iteration will be pretty damn good. But like the TouchPad, who knows how much longer it's going to be around?
    Reply
  • Dangerous Beans
    americanherosandwichIf only some of them sold for $99... but a chance to win one of four for free = just plain awesomeness!
    Yeah, if you are American. Hey Toms, how about you find some way to only display the comp if the reader is on an American IP address.
    Or better yet, find a way to let us enter.

    What is the point of a 32gb model when the tablets has a micro sd slot? I can get 2 32gb mSD cards for the extra $100 bucks.
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    I went to the verizon store to get help choosing some decent headphones for my bionic. While I waited for him to go in the back of the store and get a few models, I started playing pinball on the galaxy tab 10.1. When he came back there was that brief moment I couldn't decide to keep playing and ignore him, or set it down. win win here.
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    Dangerous BeansYeah, if you are American. Hey Toms, how about you find some way to only display the comp if the reader is on an American IP address. Or better yet, find a way to let us enter. What is the point of a 32gb model when the tablets has a micro sd slot? I can get 2 32gb mSD cards for the extra $100 bucks.
    They could do international possibly, if any international persons agreed to help pay shipping (I bet). A UK site I won't name allows international entries and lets them know up front they'd try to work with you on the shipping costs, etc.

    Wanted to add. I bought a transformer and dock for my mother. She's in her 60s and loves it. She takes it to work, to the coffee shop. I set it up for her, my first time with Android, and it definitely has its uses.
    Reply
  • Geef
    Well the first thing I think of when I'm looking at a tablet is NOT watching a movie in the park or playing around like most commercials show. I actually think of when I get up off the computer chair to head to the toilet. I don't read the newspaper here so where else am I gonna get my up to date info? Only bad thing I can think of for that is needing to wash hands and Tablet. :P
    Reply
  • ps3hacker12
    BTW WARNING ITS A US ONLY COMPETITION : (
    Reply
  • siege_templar
    i am so sad, i cant enter comp due to:
    under 18
    and i live in aus :(
    isnt tomshardware from germany?
    Reply
  • anonme
    On the other side of the screen argument it seems to be one of the few that does not need closed curtains.
    Heavens forbid, it sounds decent outdoors too thoug OLED is probably better.
    Reply
  • anonme
    On the other side of the screen argument it seems to be one of the few that does not need closed curtains.
    Heavens forbid, it sounds decent outdoors too thoug OLED is probably better.
    Reply