Performance and Final Impressions:

There are a lot of things I love about the ASUS Transformer. It has a sleek design, with powerful hardware running a very flexible platform – all at the right price. ASUS is definitely serious in penetrating the young tablet market by introducing many hardware features at an absurdly low pricepoint, making the device highly attractive to would-be consumers. Likewise, Google has come a long way since Android 1.5 Cupcake, and its latest iteration in 3.1 Honeycomb speaks volumes about the ad giant’s competence in this highly-competitive mobile space. The UI is tastefully modern, performance is smooth and snappy, its customizability unmatched by any other tablet OS. Its app library, though miniscule in number compared to Apple’s thousands of iPad-specific apps, shows promise with the staggering growth the Android Market is experiencing by the month.

Media consumption is a treat with the Transformer. Connectivity options are great, with WiFi connections stable and far-reaching and the mini-HDMI port perfect for HDTV viewing of any content within the tablet. Nvidia certainly delivered with its powerful yet battery-sipping Tegra 2 SoC, heralding the massive potential of mobile devices powered by multicore processors; with it, the Honeycomb experience is absolutely fantastic for the most part. Exploring the Web on any browser is largely desktop-like in terms of navigation and performance, coupled with a surprisingly smooth Flash content playback. Movies are beautifully rendered in HD 720p and made even more enjoyable with the Transformer’s gorgeous IPS display, while music playback is a sleeper hit with the integrated Wolfson WM8903 DAC delivering quality sound. And most of all, games – especially those optimized for Tegra 2 – are rendered in sheer detail and offer a variety of enjoyment across different genres and playstyles.

However, I must admit that there are still shortcomings with the Transformer. First of all, not all 720p videos play smoothly even with Tegra 2 – high-profile MP4 and MKV videos stutter and lag at the most demanding scenes, particularly due to the audio decoding (found this out at XDA) choking the CPU’s pipeline. Browsers seem to have a trouble optimizing Javascript, so posting in forums is riddled with some keyboard lag making for some frustrating mistakes and typos. Opera Mobile 11 does eliminate this with its own optimizations, but people would have to sacrifice embedded Flash content. Finally, though Honeycomb is much more intuitive and smoother than other Android versions, it still has some instability – at times when 15-20 apps are actively run in the background, the Transformer seems to bog down by quite a bit and could crash and reboot in some extreme cases.

But despite all those problems, I still won’t trade my Transformer for any other tablet. The great thing about Android (and I would love to point this out countless times) is its unparalleled platform openness. There are simply so much to tinker with any Android device, and the Transformer is no exception. So what if there are limitations in stock Honeycomb? We could root it and install a better, much more optimized ROM for it. And why settle for 1 GHz when you can go faster? Get an overclocking kernel and ramp it up to 1.6 GHz. Currently, developers over at XDA are working hard to resolve issues in video playback (as it is a Tegra-specific limitation) as well as making the entire OS run smoother and more stable than ever. And just now, ASUS released its kernel source – the thing that’s keeping us from developing even better mods; essentially, it allows developers to edit out the kernel which is responsible for managing resources in an OS. So, we could expect great changes to the device from now on.

It seems ASUS has hit the nail on this one, as the Eee Pad Transformer has been a commercial success for non-iPad tablets. With its excellent performance combined with a really attractive starting price, the Transformer continues to sell amidst the saturated tablet market – besting even the likes of the flagship Motorola Xoom and still holds its own against the newer Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. And though the tablet in itself still faces some problems, it does present us with a host of excellent features that outweigh such issues. Also, the undeniable potential posed by Google’s open-source OS continues to shine as more people pour efforts in making this device run even better than before. This is a solid offering as long as you can handle some quirks, and even better if you have a knack for customization. Overall, a sexy piece of kit.

Beastly

– Excellent hardware design and sleekness
– Vibrant IPS display with 178-degree viewing angle
– Intuitiveness and responsiveness of Honeycomb 3.1
– Powerful Tegra 2 SoC providing great performance
– Increasing app selection and top-quality Google Apps
– Various connectivity options and supported file formats
– Android system allows customization and open development

Measly

– Honeycomb still has some stability issues to work out
– App library is still mediocre compared to Apple’s App Store
– Limitations in Tegra 2 hampering HD video playback
– Input lag in some web browsers

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2 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    the price to feature ratio is enough reason for me to buy and to keep this tablet. especially when you have the dock that will give you big benefits like USB hosting so that you can use your thumb drives, external hard drives, xbox controller, regular usb mouse and keyboards, etc… 
    the possibilities are not that limited unlike the expensive Ipad..

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      I can’t decide between this and the Iconia right now, the Iconia’s USB and build quality are tops but the screen on the Transformer is superior – tough decision. Also with Windows 8 coming out I am thinking usb full client host on a tablet for my zune, ipod, windows media player, winamp and media monkey – very confusing time!

      Reply

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