|The unassuming ASUS Transformer, immediately|
recognisable for looking nothing like an iPad
I started out writing a straightfoward post about the Transformer news today, and then this sentence emerged from my fingertips: "I don't know if I've mentioned it before here on the blog, but the ASUS Transformer is my Android tablet of choice". Fast forward a few minutes and I had expended a few hundred words on what was meant to be an aside about why I like the Transformer above all others in the current generation of Android tablets. Since the Transformer has been largely unlauded by the rest of the blogging world, who have tended instead to be entranced by the undeniable aesthetics of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, I thought why not post my retort on behalf of the Transformer?
If my esoteric musings on the writing process haven't already left you cold, let me make a case for the Transformer as the top of the Android tablet pile over the break (and if you're eyes have already glazed over, head onto my next post instead to catch up with the great news today in relation to the Transformer, and the Transformer 2).
By now I expect you've seen lots of reviews of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the ASUS Transformer from various sites. Pretty much all of them have plumped for the superiority of the 10.1, but having used each for several months I just can't agree.
|The Transformers awesome chicklet keyboard has your productivity|
needs covered, also provides a stand to relieve your hands from
long sessions holding a tablet...
My first Android tablet was the Google I/O tab; I used it through the 3.0 and 3.1 iterations of stock Honeycomb (HC), and even the 3.1 TouchWiz build. I liked it, quite a bit to be honest. That said, there were some problems - problems it's svelte waistline couldn't overcome, no matter how much emphasis others might put on it.
Performance was the key issue. Although it might surprise some to hear it, of all those firmwares it was actually the TouchWiz build that gave it the most credible performance boost, but nevertheless just doing basic things like swishing between homescreens had these little hangs and jitters that were annoying. The responsiveness just wasn't where it needed to be, at least not for me.
Even worse was the keyboard, which lagged like crazy at times, to the point where I gave up trying to do things like typing in forums or serious document editing. Sadly I had much the same experience with each of several replacement keyboards I tried. Although the keyboard steadily improved throughout the various firmwares I used the issue was never completely sorted.
So I got a Transformer (TF) from Ebay to try it on for size. Obviously coming from Galaxy Tab size is the first thing you notice about the TF, but the comparison isn't as bad as you might think. The TF tapers towards the edges, so the feeling of thickness in the hands isn't as appreciable as you'd think by just reading the dimensions of both devices. There is however no getting around the fact that it has a bit more heft to it, and for people for whom portability and comfortable handheld use for extended periods are paramount I could easily see the 10.1 being the better option.
Once you reconcile it's physical dimensions you get to the software itself. ASUS has done better than any other manufacturer at updating to the latest Android OS version, bar none. Better even than Motorola, who had the reference device for the platform. When I first fired up the TF I got prompted to update to 3.1, and since then have had the update to 3.2, and very swiftly after it's release the 3.2.1 update also. The 3.1 and 3.2 updates in particular really brought performance up to speed, it's just much more responsive. Those annoying pauses, micro-lags, and keyboard macro-lags are basically no where to be found.
|SD card reader, micro SD slot, USB port, mini HDMI, |
3.5mm headphone jack - brilliant
The fact that all of this comes at a much cheaper asking price than the 10.1, even when you include the dock, is just gravy.
I think ASUS has done themselves proud with the Transformer. They came out of nowhere with a compelling device, at a compelling price point, and they've backed that up by delivering OS updates with an alacrity that frankly embarrasses the competition. Even setting aside the fact that the Transformer form factor suits my particular use patterns down to the ground, it's the OS update support in particular that makes the Transformer 2 my dead cert next tablet.