I recently picked up an Asus Eee pad Transformer tablet and did a review on it here: http://www.solid-thinking.com/blog/?p=617. After using it for a bit I decided that it would be a healthy complement to my arsenal of devices and gadgets and figured I should also pick up the dock that you can get which defines it as a “transformer”.
Cost being at $150, it’s somewhat high for a battery, keyboard, usb ports and SD card slot pushing the total of the whole package to over 600 dollars. I have to say that it’s a tough sell if you were looking for a netbook or small laptop, but if you’re looking for a really powerful tablet then this should fit the bill.
Being that the Eee pad is a tablet, the primary reason for having it is portability. You don’t need to keep the keyboard on of course and in turn it’s then back to being a normal tablet that is good for all kinds of things. With the dock though you can now hook up hard drives, flash drives and so on. The battery in the dock doubles up the battery in the tablet and poof, you’ve suddenly got a laptop that can last about 16 hours full out. Not quite a laptop, I get it, but almost.
This thing kicks ass. Bottom line is I can’t understand why anybody would get an iPad with Android around, nor even a tablet that can’t transform into a laptop at such a price point. The versatility that it has is amazing, but maybe I’m just going on too much about that.
Functionality wise, the keyboard is great. It’s a tad small but it’s not like I would use it full time or anything. So much better than the on screen keyboard, I didn’t like that from the beginning. I find it uncomfortable and irritating to type on a screen, even with the “swype” like typing. That is good for one hand but you’re constantly looking up to see if you’re hitting the right keys. Most of the time I would miss the space bar…
When I first tried this out I had a real issue with the mouse trackpad. I would always hit it and in turn the cursor would go off somewhere and I’d have to delete whatever I just finished writing in the middle of some other word. What a pain. Then I actually read up on the dock and instructions on how to use it. Turns out there is a key on the keyboard that turns off the trackpad. Handy! Speaking of function keys, there is every function key you could think of on the keyboard. Speedy and easy and well thought out.
USB ports are really handy. Imagine not having to take a picture with your cell phone anymore just to send it out. The tablet takes pics, but nothing like my Canon DSLR. Take pics, hook up the camera to the dock with a USB cable and it just knows what to do. An import screen comes up and you have the choice of what you want to bring into the tablet. Simple. Worked for both my video camera and still camera. All I need is an app to transcode video to something the tablet can see and I’d be set! I can charge my Atrix phone with USB too but unfortunately I can’t get anything off of it… bummer.
In the end, having a tablet that I can dock to stand it up to watch a movie or type out a blog post is great. It’s fitting more and more into the things that I want and need to do. I no longer have to undock my laptop just to check email somewhere else. I can leave the laptop at home/work and run out with the tablet and still keep in communication and keep up on things. The extra battery power means that I probably won’t run out for a few days if I happen to take this on a trip and forget the charger or something. The mouse is cool, but the fact of the matter is that it’s a tablet. Touch the screen, it’s a really intuitive way to work. Speaking of that trackpad though, it’s really intuitive itself with two finger scrolling and tapping that you would just expect to happen when coming from a mac. Well done Asus. This product is a real hit. Proven by the fact that it’s REALLY hard to find right now.
Did I mention that putting the two together is just plain cool. Looks classy and feels strong. Being able to close the keyboard up on a nice stiff hinge protects the front of the tablet nicely. It’s a really nice fit and good eye candy.
Anyways, back to development for it. We’re working on a few apps for Android and in turn afterwards the iOS. Worth buying, no regrets here.