Readers may know that ye Editor has been looking for a dockable tablet and it is fitting that Asus [creators of the Eee Linux light and portable Netbook phenomena of 4 years ago] are the first to bring the dockable form factor to fruition with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. This is a brilliant naming convention because it invokes the Transformer movie with its ability to easily attach and detach a keyboard+track pad+2 more USB ports+battery. And the fine points that Asus has been able to refine over the past 3-4 years make this tablet the Real Deal of dockable tablets. Just consider the following specs [best of tablets rating highlighted in green]:
OS – Android 3.x Honeycomb powered
CPU – Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core running at 1GHz
Size – 271 x 171 x 12.98 mm
Weight – 685 gms
Memory – 1GB
Storage – 16/32GB, 1microSD slot
Storage with dock – 2 USB ports, 1SD card slot – unlimited storage
Storage in the Cloud – Unlimited for 1 year, ($3US + $30US/100GB) per month after 1 year– see here for details.
Display – 10.1″ 1280 x 800 pixels with tough glass, 178 degree viewing angle for IPS LCD screen
Cameras – 1.2 MPixel front-facing camera, 5 MPixel rear-facing camera.
Audio – SRS Premium Sound, stereo speakers, high quality mic
Media Interfaces – 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone/Mic-in), 1 x microSD slot, 1 mini HDMI 1.3a
Sensors – G-Sensor, light sensor, gyroscope, e-compass, GPS
Battery Life – 9.5hours, with dock 16 hours
Data networking – WLAN firstname.lastname@example.orgGHz, Bluetooth V2.1+EDR
Docking station – keyboard, touchpad, 2 USB 2.0 ports, Dockingport, multi-card reader (MMC/SD/SDHC), 24.4Wh battery adds 7 more hours to battery life
Software – Multitasking, Flash 10.2, ASUS Launcher, MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, File manager, PC Sync, Polaris Office Suite [97-2007 .doc, .xls, .ppt read/write support]
Pricing – $399 tablet alone +16GB storage, $520 with docking station
The Best Tablet on Price and Specs
First, the prices in the US are are very aggressive and very volatile because the units have sold out all over the World. Clearly Asus has a)been hindered by the Japan earthquake supply cutoffs and b)was not ready for the big success of the Eee Pad. However, consider that the Asus Eee Netbook PC 1215T with AMD Athlon K125(1.70GHz), 12.1″ WXGA screen, 2GB DDR3 Memory and 320GB HDD sells for $365 – and then you see why these prices are plausible. So if they stand, these prices are $100 less than the comparable iPad 2 and $125 less than the Motorola Xoom with its lesser docking station.
Second, the specs are also very impressive. When compared with our Top of the Tablets review from March 2 of this year, the Asus Eee Pad comes out on top in 5 categories and is always above the average in the complete set of tablet specs. At 13mm versus 10mm thin the Eee Pad is not as anorexic as the iPad 2 but it is only 90gms heavier but has double the battery life and qudruple the RAM.
Asus is deliberately pitching the Eee Pad as not just a media consumption device but also as a working productivity machine. Asus has a website already devoted to selling the Eee Pad to college students as a laptop replacement:
What if you could get all the software you need to take notes in class, read eBooks, create spreadsheets, and make presentations, for less than it cost you to buy lunch in the school caf? With the Android marketplace it isn’t a far-fetched dream, it’s about to become reality.With the upcoming release of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101 you’ll be able to get an App for just about anything you need to do in school (including the fun stuff) for a fraction of what you’re used to paying. You’ll even get a pre-loaded office suite with the Android equivalents of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint that let you create documents that not only look exactly like what you’re used to, but also are compatible with and open in Microsoft Office.That means you can do your homework for free on your Android based Eee Pad and your Prof can open it up on their Mac or PC without issue!
In sum this is the first tablet that businesses can get serious about. See the Rosy Futures below as to why.
Rosy Futures for Eee Pad Transformer
Asus has been throwing out Netbooks with or without Windows 7/Win XP for $400 or much less. By making the screen detachable and using Android 3.1 for free, Asus gets to raise its prices by 30-40% to the $550 range. Sweet. In 2012, Microsoft Windows will be coming out with Windows 8 for the ARM processors that one suspects Microsoft will be eager to sell to army of Android tablets out in the market. Now how much Win 7 software will run on Win 8 for ARM is an open qi=uestion and at what price? But I suspect Microsoft may want to be aggressive in its pricing as it is so far behind every body else. Even better, Blue Streak already has a Android-Windows 7 VM-Virtual machine – can the Windows 8 version be far behind ?
Meanwhile Nvidia is already working on a Tegra 3 tablet which is quad-core and 5 times faster than the Tegra 2 chip yet improves battery life. Parts should be available for delivery this Christmas or in the new year. So Asus has plenty of additional horsepower available for upgrade devices. Finally, Asus is in Taiwan where the latest state of the art chips get built [and also designed with ever greater frequency]. This means that Asus will be on top of chip trends like 3D, voice recognition, massive encryption, and touching devices data transfer among other technologies. The Eee Pad is proof that Asus is staying up and even pioneering the state of the tablet art as well. The bottom line, is that people who buy the Asus Eee Pad are likely to have technology that will stay on the cutting edge and likely will allow for updates in novel ways. In sum, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer appears to have the promise of strong futures for any buyer.