back to article Asus Eee Pad Transformer

Asus has been showcasing its Eee Pad Transformer Android 3.0 tablet this week, Transformer being the word the company uses to highlight this 10.1in, 1280 x 800 tablet’s hybrid design that will turn it into a netbook in the click of a dock. Asus Eee Pad Honeycomb centre Only last week, Acer was showing off its own …

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  1. Fuzzysteve
    Thumb Up

    Want!

    Though I'm not going to get it for a while, after buying myself a Vega. Maybe next year.

  2. Cameron Colley
    Unhappy

    Pretty much what I expected then.

    They're flogging a netbook replacement that costs 50% more. RIP netbook.

    1. Code Monkey
      Thumb Up

      The form factor is useful though

      I've yet to be convinced by tablets but many people are. I can see they're handy but don't want to completely abandon the proper keyboard (that of my Acer Aspire One is small but very usable, even by a sausage-fingered lummox like me). This could be a good halfway house (for a few quid less).

      Asus: drop the price, get some sales.

  3. LuMan
    Thumb Up

    Nice

    It's not a steal at that price, but it's certainly not a rip-off either.

    As for no 3G or Ethernet, there's a fair few USB solutions/dongles/etc to provide that usability, so it's not too much of an oversight.

    My Acer Aspire One's getting a bit long in the tooth now, so this looks like a contender.

    1. annodomini2
      WTF?

      Rip off britain

      It's only $400 in the US for the 16GB version

      Which is about £250

      1. Dave Bell

        Comparing prices

        One thing to be wary of, with US pricing, is that the adverts don't quote figures with sales taxes. It's just not practical, with the variations across the country: state, county, school district, the variation is mind-boggled.

        And then, with mail order, most people can dodge paying their local taxes.

        Here in the UK, with 20% VAT, some things are advertised with VAT to add, but the computer business has shifted. They're bought by enough ordinary consumers, now, that the advertising isn't allowed not to include VAT.

        That's £45 added to the price you give quoted.

        It's still a rather too-big difference.

        Me, I'm going to wait to see what price the retailers set. Who really believes what a manufacturer says about prices?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Multitouch

    "The 1280 x 800 touchscreen sports "ten-finger" multitouch"

    I can hear the lawyers in Norfolk drawing up discrimination cases already.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why the people of Norfolk love apple

      They support 11 finger touch (yes, seriously!) Not sure if that works on the tablets, but it does on the magic trackpad thingy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Clever...

      ...luckily nobody from Norfolk will get it.

      1. MrT

        Wikileaks...

        ...will no doubt carry full transcripts of the "11-finger" case in due course.

        Sent from my MicroWriter AgendA...

      2. icanonlyimagine

        Huh?

        Why not? We're all children of the world - even here in Narfurk uk.

  5. Plonkybear
    Alert

    Transformers......

    ....Laptops in disguise!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Flawed

    Sorry, but it's a flawed concept. I figured that out when using my ipad with a keyboard. The problem? Using a touchscreen "laptop style" is really uncomfortable. You just wouldn't want to use a touchscreen like that for any period of time.

    The only option is to put a trackpad on the keyboard.. great, but the apps are designed for touch input, so it's not going to work well. Unless the apps are all designed for keyboard and mouse. And then the tablet part becomes mostly pointless.

    I guess a keyboard dock is worth having for any extended amount of typing though. But why not just get a cheap bluetooth one? (Or maybe even USB for android?) Most cases for these things include a method of standing it up anyway.

    1. Danny 14

      however

      we dont know how customisable honeycomb is. Whats to say a "mouse pointer" application isnt possible?

      1. Eponymous Cowherd
        Thumb Up

        Seems it is possible.....

        ***"we dont know how customisable honeycomb is. Whats to say a "mouse pointer" application isnt possible?"***

        The trackpad and mouse buttons at the bottom of the keyboard would suggest that its actually implemented.

      2. Random Handle

        @Danny

        Its already possible, you just plug one in to the USB port on your tablet.

    2. Geoff Campbell
      Pirate

      So....

      ....because Apple can't make it work, no-one can?

      I agree with the basic criticism, my Galaxy Tab works quite badly when docked to the keyboard. It makes typing longer emails nicer, but that's all.

      But we know little about Honeycomb yet - it is entirely possible that Google have made a better job of keyboard integration than Apple, and the inclusion of a touchpad sounds very hopeful on this front. I'll tell you on the 18th, when Amazon deliver mine.

      GJC

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not the point..

        It's not apple or google. It's tablet or desktop OS. For a tablet to work well the apps need to use touch effectively - both apple & google get this, MS failed (so far at least). And touch based apps don't play well with a mouse or trackpad, because it's a different kind of input.

        Because of that, I found I still had to use the screen a lot, which isn't good in this position (and I used it in roughly the "keyboard dock" position, which is about as good as it gets).

        (Oh, and apple's keyboard support seems alright so far.. not used it much, but no complaints. It's purely the mix of keyboard + touch screen that doesn't quite mix.)

    3. thesykes

      Re: Flawed

      "But why not just get a cheap bluetooth one?"

      A few reasons...

      Extended battery life

      Extra USB ports

      Extra card reader

      No charging tablet and keyboard separately?

      A keyboard/case in one that matches the tablet and negates the need for some overpriced gimmicky magnetic lid.

      As for tablet cases having a stand, well, all well and good, until you have no desk/table in front of you and you need to balance the keyboard and a tablet precariously on your knee while you type. Having the tablet docked to the keyboard solves that problem.

      Still prefer the idea of the Slider though.

      1. Michael C

        read those specs again

        a) extra battery; if you're somewhere you'll be typing long enough you need a keyboard, and 10 hours isn;t enough juice, I'm sure you can borrow 30 minutes on an outlet to add 4-6 hours to that charge real easy, if not you;re already sitty at a desk with an outlet handy...

        b) "extra" usbs? the only usb is on the keyboard. And, USB isn't really al that useful on android (have you tried it?), and beyond that, in a coming update you won;t have it anymore (because if you can connect USB and access the internal file system, then it is not secure, and can;t be used in business... An encrypted file system requires an app to move data to-from USB, and once Android has it, those USBs wont be very valuable, and it's not like it runs peripherals anyway since there's no USB driver stack in android either with the exception of storage and HIDs.

        c) the ONLY SD port is on the dock, and its microSD. Max 32GB card and the class 6+ that can handle 1080p video cost a lot more than the 64GB tablet version upgrade cost itself. (and it won't support 64 + 32, just a max 64GB).

        d) never had an issue with that, BT keyboard runs about 30-40 hours of use time and a month of standby. Have an array of BT chargers next to the phone charger at home already. Have to charge my headset, keyboard, etc periodically, not hard to forget...

        e) $30 for a cover is overpriced? most cases are $40-50 (the ones that actually protect tablets), and the cover is not the only Case Apple offers (i'm assuming you;re contrasting Apple here). And this is only the first party pricing, Apple published the magnet locations and anyone can make a cover, they're just a bit slow coming to market no one having known they existed until recently...

        f) stands that fold away are MUCH preferred to those you have to carry separately, for when you DO have a table...

        g) that's your opinion. Most people are more concerned about the thickness and weight. My argument is this is 3lbs with the keyboard, and an iPad is less than 2 including a simple, folding BT deal (that costs less too).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          re: read those specs again

          "c) the ONLY SD port is on the dock, and its microSD. Max 32GB card and the class 6+ that can handle 1080p video cost a lot more than the 64GB tablet version upgrade cost itself. (and it won't support 64 + 32, just a max 64GB)."

          Bullshit!. I suggest that YOU read the specs again. Your acute Apple fanboism is affecting your eyesight / reading comprehension.

        2. Peter 48
          FAIL

          point b is nonsense

          Are you kidding? "because if you can connect USB and access the internal file system, then it is not secure, and can;t be used in business... "

          making excuses for apple not putting USB on their tablet to protect their own interests by saying it is better for the business world making it more secure is the biggest pile of horse manure I have ever come across. What about the millions of laptops that work in that environment? or all the mobile phone that have a standard micro USB port. And all of which can access the file system. Do you actually have any idea what you are talking about? Being able to access the files has nothing to do with encryption. One generally encrypts the file not the process, so how you access said file is irrelevant.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @thesykes

        Don't forget the opportunity to integrate a cup and pen holder. I hope they don't miss that.

    4. Nigel 11
      Thumb Up

      Flawed software design?

      What's so hard to design software so it can handle multiple input devices and methods, and/or switch mode if a mouse and/or keyboard is available rather than just a touch-screen? With a bit of luck convertible touch-screen netbook-replacements will catch on, and software that doesn't work appropriately will die in favour of software that does.

      Nothing wrong with this hardware design (though it's a bit pricey).

      I'm sure there's space in the marketplace for a purely passive non-dock (i.e. a stand) with a wireless keyboard and mouse. However, that's rather less convenient if you do want to use a keyboard while you're on the move, as opposed to just at one or two locations (say office and home) in which case you'd buy two keyboards and mice and carry just the tablet around.

    5. John Sturdy

      You too can have the appalling ergonomics of a laptop

      Having the screen and keyboard as close together as on a laptop is dreadful -- either the keyboard will be in the wrong place for your hands, or the screen in the wrong place for your eyes. A separate (or separable) keyboard would be much better. A keyboard that clips under the tablet for transport would be nice though, it could even slide out phone-style for brief use but come right off for longer use.

    6. DrXym Silver badge

      Most android apps do work with a mouse / keyboard

      When you develop for android you do so through the emulator. The emulator is running on a pc and you simulate taps with a mouse. The only place you can't do that kind of thing is multi-touch and most apps don't even use those features. Even the ones that do probably only use it for pinch to zoom and so forth which can be mapped to a mouse wheel.

      As for keyboard, same applies. It really doesn't matter a huge amount to the app whether you're typing on a virtual keyboard or a real one.

      What I do know is that if I were typing anything of any length beyond a few lines (such as this post), I'd much prefer to do it on a real keyboard. Virtual keyboards are better than nothing but they still stink by comparison to the real thing.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Welcome

    May I be the first....

    ..to welcome our robots-in-disguise overlords.

  8. Stephen 2
    Thumb Up

    Wait for the next model

    Looks really nice and with the keyboard addition, I could actually imagine myself using this thing for more than a week.

    If this was priced at 200-250 quid, inclusive of the keyboard, I'd buy it and put up with a usb 3g dongle sticking out of the side.

    But priced as-is, I'll wait for the next version to come out with 3g built in.

  9. spegru
    Thumb Up

    Return of the eeePC

    Well well, this looks nice and the price isn't tooo bad.

    Linux (in the form of Android) would appear to be back!

    BTW I've often wonderd how these thing do with office docs etc.....

    Now where's the girl?

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Office docs

      Documents To Go / QuickOffice would allow you to edit docs but they'd cost you money to buy. Alternatively use Google Docs.

      No solution IMO is satisfactory except for writing scraps of documents which you intend to fix up later on a PC. Better than nothing though I suppose. QT already has an android port so I imagine things like KOffice could be ported over through the NDK.

  10. DrXym Silver badge

    3G

    Probably the easiest way to get 3G is just tether the thing to the phone that I most owners probably have in their pocket already. Failing that, buy a mifi device. Problem solved and probably for less money and hassle than buying a tablet with integrated 3G.

    1. Danny 14

      lack of usb ports

      It could have done witha few more USB ports, and possible one on the tablet (for undocked use at least). Its the best ive seen so far though, and i'll probably get one after ive seen some real reviews (just to make sure it isnt a stinker - yes archos im looking at you).

    2. Geoff Campbell
      Happy

      That's certainly what I'll be doing

      Tethering on Android is really slick and easy to use. I might, just for the irony of it, tether it to my Galaxy Tab instead, though.

      GJC

      1. Geoff Campbell
        Happy

        Down-voted for that?

        Someone needs to check out their insecurity rating....

        GJC

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ooh, deja vu

    I still have one of these from the last time round, around 2001-2 I'd guess.

    Well, pretty close in idea anyway - the Compaq TC1000 tablet that docked onto a keyboard to form something close to a 10" laptop style machine. Shame that performance was a bit poor (even for the time) due to the Crusoe CPU and the screen required a powered stylus that takes AAAA(!) batteries - I think the TC1100 sorted both of those issues, and is supposed to be much better supported under linux, particularly the screen stuff, but it still was very useful size and form factor at the time for going and testing stuff and configuring devices in 19" cabinets.

  12. Efros
    Thumb Up

    Drop it by 100 quid

    If that happens... SOLD!

    They almost got the pricepoint right, tabletnetbook could be a new market niche.

  13. Old Cynic
    Thumb Up

    Keyboard is a good idea....

    ...and they've added value by putting a pad and a battery in it.

    I use a Vega - £250 very well spent and can now be had for less. Hooked up to an old wiresless mini-keyboard & pad that I had lying around no problem. Cursor is on-screen and I can get around Android 2.2 quite nicely, I suspect Honeycomb will be built with this nav method in mind.

    Unlike the transformer though, I can use my wireless keyboard to drive the Vega when it's hooked up to the bedroom telly playing vides or games (and it's damn good cos it can handle full HD).

    Looking at the Android scene, ther are so many tabs coming out with different forms, resolutions, attachments and capabilities from prices starting at rock-bottom that I think we're seeing the end of the i-pad. Unless Apple can get properly creative....

    I just donwloaded the wank-o-meter app this morning, fantastically funny. Is it out on the iThingies yet cos I know some people who really need to get a copy!

  14. juice

    I may have to sell my iPad...

    I quite liked the uber-cheapo ePad I picked up a while ago (ZT 180 v2; £130). However, the battery life was appalling; there were no power-saving features built in, so if you didn't physically switch it off after use, it'd be drained flat after an hour or so. So I flogged it and bought a 16gb iPad in Apple's pre-iPad 2 sale.

    To be fair, the iPad works well - I'm using it for casual browsing and ebook/cbr reading. And the battery life is fantastic. But it feels heavily restrictive as compared to an Android machine - for instance, the way you have to dive into the settings menu to enable/disable wifi, rather than just having a one-click widget on your homepage (similar applies to having a calendar visible, temperature/bandwidth usage markers, etc).

    And the virtual keyboard sucks, thanks to the way that virtually everything except A-Z has to be accessed by switching keyboard views. And you can't expand the memory: you have to sell your old iPad and buy a new one. And playing non-Apple approved media is a pain unless you convert it. And you can't just drag and drop new media onto the device, you have to go through iTunes, so I can't do the lazy thing and add stuff from the laptop in the living room; instead, I have to trudge up to the attic where the main machine lives. And...

    OTOH, this thing has a decent battery life, a larger, higher-res screen (1280*800 - shame it's not 4:3) and the physical keyboard makes it a bit more practical as a carry-everywhere device, as well as boosting the battery life. And with an SD-card slot in the keyboard and a micro-SD card slot in the tablet, you can slap up to 64gb of extra storage onto the beastie, And it supports flash and 1080p media (at least according to Cnet - be interesting to find out what codecs, containers and subtitling options it supports - vob/mkv/ogg/etc?).

    Give it a week or two for a few more reviews to roll in, and I suspect I'll be waving bye-bye to the iPad...

  15. K
    Thumb Up

    WANT, WANT, WANT...

    Anybody know where I will actually be able to purchase one of these on the actual day of release, 6th April? Amazon has them for pre-order, but they say delivery will be mid-late April, which just sucks!

  16. Rob Daglish

    @spegru & Stephen 2 - what do you know that we don't?

    I can't be the only one to have noticed Spegru finished on a question - "Now, where's the girl?" and Stephen 2 answered with the title of "Wait for the next model".

    EEE girl on the beach was ok, but are you suggesting a new improved eee girl Stephen ;)

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      She's over there -->

      on the photo scrolling app review

  17. Lan ser
    Paris Hilton

    Norfolk?

    http://www.chambersharrap.co.uk/chambers/features/chref/chref.py/main?query=finger&title=21st

    finger noun 1 a one of the five jointed extremities of the hand;

    Paris because she knows she can get the full five fingers in Norfolk and a really good duck as well

  18. Wang N Staines

    Patented this design yet

    to stop Apple copying the it?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    still a better deal than the Atrix

    even with the price, it's still a better value to buy one of these than to go with the Atrix thru AT&T and pay $300 for it's dock and then get screwed over for extra charges and blocked firmware upgrades. With this I just bend over for the "tethering" (gotta keep it legal, yo!) and can do whatever i want with the tablet since it's not the device locked into AT&T. No blocks keeping me from updating, or demanding I get apps from only one walled garden, no firmware updates blocked by AT&T for fiscal reasons.

    Either this or the Slider, gonna be in my tankbag bag by Christmas :)

  20. Bob H

    Road warrior

    Hmm, I need something I can travel with and this might just be it!

    A toss up between this and a full 13.3in Asus Bamboo laptop with Ion2. That comes in at 1.13kg heavier but you get a full Windows 7 experience.

    If this Tegra2 machine could dual boot to Ubuntu Netbook Edition then it would be a winner!

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Re: If this Tegra2 machine could dual boot...

      ^ This.

      I don't care much for the tablet, but I'd really like to see a cheap Asus quality Tegra netbook, naturally with all the stuff (ie drivers!) we need for booting any arbitrary linux setup.

      If the netbook must look like this and cost a little bit more for it, so be it.

      But... the capability to install and run any arbitrary linux well is a *MUST*, for me to buy it. I don't mind kernel rebuilds etc, but the damned drivers and patches must be available.

      Seriously, perhaps it will eventually happen, even if drivers are hard to come by at present time, if this box becomes popular enough, but currently I don't have the time left over to muck around with something like that... I certainly didn't with the Tosh AC100, heard there were massive difficulties, and so did not buy one... last I heard efforts weren't entirely quite there yet.

  21. Dave Bell

    So tempting

    The tablet alone looks to be useful, with enough battery life. I think ebook readers could end up as a niche market, though it's a pretty big niche. This isn't something to just slip into a pocket, and you have to pay more attention to battery charge.

    A lot of us don't need a full-feature word-processor, and if the keyboard stands up to long-term use, I can see this as replacing my old eee PC.

    Yes, if you're in the corporate world, data security might be an issue. But I'm not. I want to be able to easily transfer data, and back it up.

    Adaptors for MicroSD cards, to either standard SD slots or USB, are cheap.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Me Likey

    I am partially sighted and find using a traditional laptop or netbook gives me a pain in the neck, so I'm really interested in tablets, because I can hold them up to my face like a book.

    And the keyboard dock looks very nifty. I was thinking of getting an Ipad, but I had that niggle in the back of my head that it wasn't quite what I was looking for. I love my Android smartphone, so I think an android tablet would be ideal. I'll certainly be checking out reviews online, but this one is favourite at the mo.

    PS: What's the definition of "jargon"? - someone in Norfolk going for a run!

  23. uhuznaa

    Accessibility

    If you're not fully sighted, iOS is much, much better. It actually has a full screen reader for text and UI, voice feedback for all UI elements... You can actually use it even if you're totally blind. For the blind and visually impaired the iPhone/iPad is quite a revolution.

    Nothing against Android, but it has totally nothing to offer here.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      @uhuznaa

      -------------------------------

      If you're not fully sighted, iOS is much, much better. It actually has a full screen reader for text and UI, voice feedback for all UI elements... You can actually use it even if you're totally blind. For the blind and visually impaired the iPhone/iPad is quite a revolution.

      ---------------------------------

      Are you talking from experience here, or just from what you've read?

      I've read and heard this same opinion quite a lot, so I was severely disappointed when I tried out my iPad for an hour with a child who's totally blind (and into tech toys).

      Yes, there's a screen reader, but that's about it. Apple have done the absolute minimum, they've slung it on there, and done almost no adaptation. For the worst example, when you try to use the onscreen keyboard, you touch the T key and the screen reader says "Capital T". Not because it's helpfully telling you that you've got shift selected, but because the iOS keyboard UI looks that way. This makes the already frustrating use of onscreen keyboard by trial and error twice as hard.

      I doubt that a touchscreen interface is ever going to be ideal for those who are totally blind. Android could be a lot better though, haptic feedback makes a big difference - and because Android doesn't have the App Store [tm?] restrictions, there's the option for 3rd party developers to solve any problems Google ignores.

      Hwever, if you're blind, why bother with the tablet format - when you can use a laptop and touch type on the keyboard. Things like the BrailleNote look far better for ultra-portability to me: http://www.humanware.com/en-usa/products/blindness/braillenotes

      For those with poor vision, tablets of all types are brilliant.

  24. My New Handle
    Thumb Up

    I've ordered mine from Amazon

    The long delay between Amazon and retail outlets sucks, but I can do the wait thing.

    The iPad 2 is an amazing device, I've had the original since launch. I was really getting interested in Honeycomb the more I saw of it. This device, however, has completely won me over. The format is perfect. I get on fine with touchscreen but do miss the keyboard of a laptop for the "big typing" that I often get up to. Being a trained touch typist I find that I make too many mistakes on the touchscreen that just slows me down - it is really difficult to type slowly, and forget one-finger poking. The ability to clamp on a keyboard for such marathons suits me just fine.

    Otherwise, the tablet format is already sold to me, I use one daily, often for work these days (although the firm won't buy me one, I have to use my own). The paradigm works.

    As these devices are so easy to connect in these times, be it by built-in 3G or tethered then working with docs is a piece of cake if you're not averse to Google Docs or similar cloud services.

    Forget iOS vs Android vs WebOS etc ... This is the future happening right now. Time to just get on with it.

  25. Lamont Cranston
    Unhappy

    This would suit me just fine.

    A pity, then, that I'm too poor to afford one.

  26. K

    Where and how to buy..

    I got inpatient with the delivery delays, so I called ASUS marketing department, apparently these will be available in the Comet stores starting on the 6th, unfortunately this will only be the 16Gb version and without keyboards. the keyboard bundles are delayed (probably why Amazon is not delivering for another 2 weeks!).

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