ASUS Transformer (TF101) Tegra 2 Tablet and Keyboard Dock Review
Starting off with the build quality the Transformer is a device which is not only unique in styling but put together well and with great attention to detail. Despite being made of plastic it feels robust and solid with a high quality which extends to the scratch resistant glass. In terms of display quality there are no issues with brightness and viewing angles are great thanks to the 178 degree viewing angle capable IPS panel. That said, like many tablets the screen does suffer in direct sunlight and is a fingerprint magnet, so an anti-glare screen protector may be a purchase worth considering.
The Keyboard dock is also a high quality item, sharing many of the same materials as the tablet and even going down to the level of offering USB port covers. We particularly liked how solid the tablet and keyboard feel when connected together and of course having the two combined means we have a screen protector in the form of the dock.
Where could ASUS have improved the quality? We feel the charger is probably the main area, it runs too hot for our liking when charging the device and using it at the same time. Additionally the 1m USB cable provided should be longer to allow for more movement when charging. We also feel that higher quality cameras could have been implemented as could better quality speakers. The audio provided by ASUS is decent and acceptable for most uses but a good set of headphones will be required for the best experience.
In terms of design, again there is little to fault on the Transformer. It looks sleek, thin and distinctive and ASUS have managed to tread a fine line which keeps the Transformer appealing to men and women. ASUS also tend to go the extra mile as far as the design is concerned, for example providing two USB ports where one would have been fine… though a USB port on the tablet itself would have been appreciated.
In terms of performance, apart from the occasional app crash (e.g. Polaris) and incompatibility, the Transformer did everything asked of it smoothly and quickly. and The 16 hour battery life is exceptional and the pre-loaded Asus and Google apps allow us to browse the net, check/answer email, read eBooks, stream video (UPnP) and play games right out of the box. This can of course be added to exceptionally easily through the Android Marketplace.
The screen feels smooth, accurate and responsive to use and we noticed no performance issues when using the OS, which of course ASUS have already updated to Android 3.2. Additionally the Tegra 2 processor allows for high performance in all scenarios, even gaming where there are some great Tegra 2 enhanced games available (Riptide GP being a prime example).
The inclusion of a keyboard of course also transforms the OS experience, turning this from a high performance tablet into a fully functional notebook, ideal for office use on the go. Standard tablets cannot compete with how quickly we can compose documents or emails on the Transformer. That said, ASUS do need to offer an option in the OS to tailor the touchpad scrolling.
Finally for value, at around £420 with the keyboard dock (16GB package) the Transformer compares well with other high end Android tablets.