Those hoping for Transformers jokes in this review are going to be disappointed but that aside the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101 tablet is impressive. The glossy 10.1in (1280 x 800 resolution) capacitive screen looks sharp is decidedly responsive and has a generous viewing angle. The bronze coloured concave plastic back has a unique pattern that provides good grip and generally the build quality is high.
The keyboard attachment is as solid as the TF101 itself. Although small there is little flex and the firm keys are highly usable. The multi-touch touchpad is also great for navigating Android 3.1 in addition to the normal touch interface. Overall the Polaris Office app worked well for word documents spreadsheets and presentations and very helpfully it reads and saves in Office formats.
An NVIDIA Tegra 2 (1GHz) processor along with 1GB of RAM keeps the TF101 running very smoothly except for a very brief slowdown when scrolling through home windows with the touchpad. A 32GB solid state drive provides a fair amount of storage and there’s a Micro SD card reader to supplement it. It comes with Android 3.0 and to ASUS’s credit they have promptly brought out an update to Android 3.1.
There’s a mini-HDMI port and an audio jack but unfortunately the two USB 2.0 ports and the 3-in-1 card reader are on the detachable keyboard. We’d want to access those ports in situations when we’re not using the keyboard. Wireless connectivity is good and includes 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR. Battery life is excellent and together with the additional battery the TF101 lasts for over ten hours. A rear 1.2-megapixel camera and front 5-megapixel camera both work well and stereo speakers along with an in-built microphone round out the essential features.
It isn’t as affordable as the alternatives but the remarkable build quality and functional keyboard easily justify the asking price. The only blemish is the placement of some important ports on the keyboard which is unfortunate but not a deal-breaker. Ultimately the pros clearly outweigh the cons; this is a functional good-value tablet that is well worth considering.
Available from ASUS retailing for $799.
APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)