I call this initial because I’m sure I’ll have more to say on it soon, but so far I’m really impressed.
I recently picked up a brand new Asus Eee Pad Transformer running on the latest of Android (3.1 at this time) for my own father’s day gift :). It’s the cheapest tablet offering the most bang for your buck. A while back I had seriously considered the playbook by RIM but since my application review has taken about 3 months and counting.. I can’t be bothered to try for the millionth time to find an email address or form or something to get a hold of them to find out what is happening. In my opinion, the Playbook isn’t going to be what people will want. Not with the plethora of tablets that are coming out, and if the Asus is any indication of what can be pushed out for a hundred bucks less than a 7″ tablet, then it’s looking good.
My initial thoughts on it were good overall. I did notice that the back of mine isn’t on completely tight and there is very very slight give when I pinch the back to the front. It’s really small but can be seen only one side of the tablet, the other side is tight and feels good. I’m picky though.
The overall build is quite nice, good screen and feel when picking it up. It’s not heavy but my first day using it I could feel it in my hands. I suppose it’s just one of those things you get used to as it’s been a week now and I don’t really think much on it anymore. The power and volume buttons seem nicely placed and I much prefer them over the Xoom (the only competition at this time here in Canada). I was going to get a Motorola Xoom because I have a Motorola Atrix (I should put up a review about that too…) but I was really unimpressed with a few things about it and held off. Turns out it was a good decision.
The software is Android 3.1, I won’t bother to comment too much on it but can say that I’m really impressed with the responsiveness of the tablet. It’s got a dual core 1Ghz Tegra 2 in it with 1GB of memory, so that is more than enough obviously. I got the 16GB version because out of the box this tablet comes with the ability to add a micro SD card. Why bother getting the 32GB for more money? Combined with that, if you get the dock to go with it (I haven’t yet), then you have 2 USB ports to plug in a hard drive or flash drive. Crazy.. best tablet on the market I think. At the time of this writing Motorola has a scheduled update going out that will allow only European Xooms to get the ability to add a micro SD card, despite it being there in the hardware! What’s with that? Only Europe?
Anyways, there isn’t anything on this device that is disabled. The GPS works great, wifi is fast, USB debugging needed a tweak or two but I managed to get that working and have an Android app pretty much done and ready to push out thanks to Adobe’s awesome tools. It’s just been a joy to work with.
I primarily find myself using it to check email, check the internet for quick stuff and now develop apps. It’s a lot easier than hauling my laptop around when all I need to do is lightweight stuff. Funny thing is that I’m just not a target tablet customer. I still don’t have a “need” for it, but it’s handy at times. Makes it easier when my laptop is hooked up to the monitor, keyboard, mouse and two hard drives. I don’t have to bother disconnecting all that when I just want to do lighter duties like email and skype.
The keyboard is great. I like that they have “swype” kind of typing enabled by default. I feel sorry for iPad users that will never have that typing style, it’s insanely handy and easy to type with. I’m not keen on typing on the thing in general, but if I have to then it’ll do. I’m about 80% there on picking up the dock for it. Extra battery life is handy (although not needed with the life that this thing is showing) and the keyboard, mouse and USB ports seem like great features to have in certain circumstances.
As expected, I’m a Flash developer so I was keen to see how it would work with Flash. A quick download and automatic install had everything working as expected and there wasn’t a site I couldn’t go to anymore. Video works well, apps work well and games work well. Of course the keyboard takes up a lot of space for chat apps but every tablet is like that, can’t be helped.
All in all, I highly recommend this tablet if you are looking for a tablet that doesn’t limit you to what you can see on the internet (unlike the iPad), provide email (unlike the playbook) and is relatively inexpensive for what you get (unlike all the other competition). The mild skinning that Asus did to Android is fine with me and the whole tablet just works really well. I’m really looking forward to pushing out a few apps on it and extending our skills that much farther.