The anytime, anywhere access to Wi-Fi, wide range of applications and rich online content that tablets deliver are appealing, but many IT managers are wary of committing to a device that’s primarily suited for content consumption. Productivity-minded users typically turn to netbooks or notebooks instead.
ASUS offers the best of both worlds with the Eee Pad Transformer TF101.
ASUS packs a lot of punch into the Transformer’s half-inch-thick, 1.5-pound form factor, making it a comfortable, versatile choice for users. The device is powered by Google’s Android 3.2 Honeycomb operating system, which was optimized for touch from its inception, and an Nvidia Tegra 2.1-gigahertz dual-core CPU. That, combined with 1 gigabyte of RAM, provides enough computing power to handle the bounty of applications that the Android Market offers. Flash-based web applications also run seamlessly on both the 16GB and 32GB versions.
The Transformer certainly holds its own when compared with other devices in the competitive tablet market. But the optional keyboard docking station (which, for an additional $125, extends the device’s battery life to 16 hours) “transforms” it into the most compelling product I’ve seen in a long time.
The Transformer also sports two cameras: 1.2 megapixels in front, 5MP in the rear. The shutter and controls are conveniently located on the screen’s right side when the device is held in landscape mode. I especially liked that the pictures and video I captured were easy to locate and view.
The docking station’s SD card reader simplifies data transfer between devices, and two USB ports accept flash drives, printers and other accessories. The track pad offers both left- and right-click functionality.
ASUS incorporates custom software that IT managers will appreciate. Most notable is MyNet, which lets users stream digital media between the Transformer and Digital Living Network Alliance – compliant devices on the same network; and MyCloud, which gives users access to digital content stored in the cloud.
The Transformer’s screen is made of Gorilla Glass, a Corning innovation known for its exceptional resistance to the scratches and drops that are inevitable in a mobile workplace. The 10.1-inch display is bright and clear — even in broad daylight.
Docking the Transformer can be a little tricky. If the user fails to correctly align the tablet with the docking station, the metal contact that protrudes from the dock could scratch the tablet’s edge or cause it to bend inward. What’s more, users with flash drives need the docking station to employ them, because the tablet itself lacks USB ports.
By default, the Transformer uses ASUS’ virtual keyboard rather than the Honeycomb keyboard, which is available as an option. I liked that the ASUS keyboard places the number keys at the top, eliminating the need to call up a secondary keyboard screen. But the ASUS keyboard also positions the row of keys beginning with “ASDF” directly above the row of keys beginning with “ZXCV,” rather than placing them slightly off-center (as other keyboards do). I could not grow accustomed to this placement.