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First impressions of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer 10.1″ Tablet

Asus Eee Pad Transformer 10.1

Rating: ★★★☆☆

It felt slightly heavy to hold but assuming this tablet is designed to work with a dock that shouldn’t be a problem to most.

The Asus looks and feels as though it is designed for watching movies with its more distinct wide-screen dimensions, and because of its Android operating system (OS) the customisation options are far wider should appeal to business users and IT departments alike.

Screen

As mentioned the screen is almost perfect aspect for movie watching. However the gallery of images when displayed appeared not so well defined, slightly blurred even. However the application icons were extremely sharp looking to the point of appearing almost pixelated.

As with all touch-screen devices fingerprints and greasy smudges can be an issue and the device needed to be wiped clean often. This issue seemed to be emphasised by the darkness of the edging and colour scheme.

Use

Using the ASUS tablet was a nice experience, the icons and applications loaded quickly and were intuitive enough to use – for anyone not used to a tablet but – with previous experience of a smartphone.

I liked the inclusion of ‘breadcrumbs’ as navigation when drilling down into the various layers and folders of applications or tools, especially as it provided a quick way to jump back to a ‘containing’ folder by
simply pressing the title in sequence at the top of the device.

Compared to an iPad

As with any non-apple product (and I should declare I am an Apple Fan) I was struck by the complexity of the user interface (UI) and the heavy use of the written word to describe sections or icons.

Although intuitive the ASUS is nowhere near as intuitive as the iPad. Despite the ASUS providing more than one way to navigate around its menus in most cases this is more of a hinderance and a classic example of a UI designer thinking that more is better, when actually just 3-4 simple repeated gestures can be enough for a user to not only navigate a device, but actually feel confident in using it within a short space of time.

There is no doubt the ASUS is better compared to the first version of the iPad than the second. Compared to the iPad 2 it is thicker, wider and heavier. The ASUS screen was certainly worse quality than the iPad although this may be more to do with the optics of the glass cover on the iPad than the resolution.

The Android OS is not comparable to the Apple OS and is better matched against a Windows device, as it is less simple but more customisable. The application marketplace for Android is far more open and with some strong incentives for developers compared to Apple’s App store should bring about some quality programs and tools to run on the tablet. But the flip-side of this is the quality control.

Interestingly our I.T. department feel much happier with this device than an Apple as it allows them to customise and build-in the relevant security to be run safely in a corporate environment. However, the same openness does bring with it the risk of installing a rogue application that compromises the security. It’s much harder for this to happen with an iPad as all the apps are far more stringently tested before release (but therefore cost more).

Pros

  • Widescreen display

Cons

  • Bulkiness and weight
  • Plastic feel and dodgy retro colour

Verdict

Overall this doesn’t give me the impression that it will cause too much of a ripple in the tablet market and neither should it worry Apple as there is little doubt the iPad will retain top spot.

Where this tablet does appeal is within the business and corporate market due to it’s OS, and the on-the-go multi-media crowd who are not ruled by iTunes and are looking for a nice wide aspect viewing experience. On the whole the whole experience will no doubt be improved by the addition of the keyboard and dock, making it into the perfect… netbook!

I should point out that themuch talked about USP of this tablet is it’s keyboard dock (which adds an extra 8 hours of battery life) but unfortunately I’ve not had a chance to see or play with this.

See more of the ASUS tablet in pictures here

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