transformer review

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 is an excellent tablet. It's an all-round performance expert with very few weaknesses.

We liked:

The tablet is very fast and extremely responsive. Multitasking using Android 3.0 is impressive, and it was very easy to switch between running apps quickly and without fuss. There was no lag at any point, save for a few quirks with the mouse cursor.

The keyboard is also a fantastic addition, and anyone wanting to get hold of this tablet should definitely consider spending the extra £50 or so on the keyboard dock. It adds extra functionality and another six hours of battery life into the mix.

Battery life itself is a major positive – 16 hours with the dock gives you a lot of options, and far outstretches any tablet we've seen. That said, it won't charge over a USB connection with your computer, you'll need the bundled mains adapter for that.

The screen is excellent – we couldn't fault it at all. The display also seems to resist finger smudges better than most, although it's still not as impressive as the iPad 2 in this regard.

The inclusion of features such as SD and MicroSD slots, miniHDMI-out and two USB ports only increases the tablet's functionality further. And of course, with the Android 3.1 updadte adding the ability to host cameras and other external devices, this tablet is only going to get more useful.

We disliked:

The cameras are rather poor, especially when you consider what the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the LG Optimus Pad are capable of producing. The 5MP sensor doesn't perform anywhere near as well as we'd expected.

The size is also a small drawback – the bezel is surrounded by a metallic edge, which makes the tablet a bit wider than it would otherwise have been. It's not a major factor, but it does mean it's not quite the tidy tablet we'd have perhaps wanted it to be.

Using a USB mouse with the tablet isn't as slick as we'd hoped either, as the cursor was always fractionally behind our movements. Perhaps this is something that can be fixed with a future software update.

Of course, there's also the ongoing problem with Android 3.0, in that there aren't currently as many apps available as for the iPad or even Android phones. However, this is something that is guaranteed to improve over time.

Verdict:

What it all comes down to is the price. If this had been a £600 tablet, we would have said 'nice try, but it's not quite there'. But this is a £429 tablet – or £379 without the keyboard – which makes it, without question, the most attractive Android tablet yet to hit the shelves.

It's also the first non-Windows tablet that can reasonably claim to render the netbook obsolete. So should you buy one? Of course you should.