The Asus EEE Transformer has been in my life for a good few months now, which has given me plenty of time to reflect on how useful it has been. My initial reaction was on this page and very little has changed since then.
Despite the rapid growth in all things Android, the app support remains poor. Only now have Android Marked added any way to identify tablet apps, and only staff picks at that. The selection and quality of the apps is one place Apple win hands down (and that’s not easy for me to say!) The other being the accessories available.
The device has also failed to allow me to update my WordPress site via the admin interface. This may seem like a specialist task, but it shows that these devices don’t quite replace laptops and desktops just yet. For the record, though, that’s not just an Android issue and even the saintly iPad has issues. Finally, while I’m moaning, the built in browser is buggier than a Glen Nevis wild camp in August. It will crash, it seems every time you’ve been seriously browsing.
Even though the Transformer has given me some issues, this is the price to be paid for early adoption of technology. While the quality of some of the apps and compatability has been patchy, there’s usually a work around. The built in browser isn’t the only one available, the Dolphin HD browser being an excellent replacement. The utter failiure of the BBC to provide a decent iPlayer app for the tablet can be ovecome by using Dolphin Browser and viewing online. Shame on the BBC for not producing an app of the same high quality that was available on the obsolete Symbian OS which allowed for the download of programmes directly to your device (their option for doing this hasn’t worked for me yet, and I don’t really want to go to the hassle of doing it like that when there was a perfectly good way of doing so while using older technology).
The bundled Polaris Office is basic, but around 75% of the articles published on this site since June have been typed up using it. Not much better than Wordpad, it’s more than good enough for typing up documents that can be formatted elsewhere. I’ve also found the keyboard to be more than good enough, but I could type easily on a netbook keyboard beforehand so I’ve had plenty of practice. Neither are my hands particularly dainty. I think some people must type with their fists.
It’s proven itself to be an ideal netbook replacement in that time. Being compact and easy to carry with an extraordinary battery life of 16 hours, which isn’t far off in reality. Combining it with a mobile phone set up as a hotspot (article to follow), coupled with an extended battery, you can be on-line for hours anywhere you’ve got a signal.
I was also convinced that the ‘tablet’ concept is just a gimmick, especially when they’re overpriced such as the iPad. I still hold to that belief. A cheap tablet is a good idea, but nothing essential, an exuberance. The Transformer gets past this for me as it’s first and foremost a netbook with the added bonus of converting into a tablet for really lazy browsing. I’m still on the hunt for a rugged, water resistant tablet that’s a little smaller, much cheaper and with a decent battery life to use as a GPS on the hill. Now that would be useful.
Overall, we agree and rate it highly as well. Not quite a 5/5, but a close 4.5 as the little niggles we’ve encountered on the way have meant it’s not been the smoothest of rides. It’s so good that the official Mud and Routes netbook is going to be the new Asus Transformer Prime, we’ll be reviewing that as soon as it becomes available and it looks like Amazon have already sold all their pre-order stock. This means that bargains may be had for this older, yet still more than capable model.
Trusted Reviews review.