Fire up Google. There are quite literally HUNDREDS of detailed reviews for the Asus Transformer TF101 about already. The web doesn’t need yet another long-winded, spec-by-spec analysis of this device. Here, I’m simply sharing my experiences as a purchaser and first-time Android tablet user (also an iPad 1 user). I’ve now been using the Transformer for two weeks.
Executive summary: I love it!
Why I chose the Transformer
- powerful Tegra2 processor teamed up with the slick Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) operating system
- sweet hybrid design approach
- screen specifications
- expansion options , including USB host
- battery life specifications (perfect for long-haul flights and multi-day conferences & workshops)
Buying a unicorn
Due largely to the botched Australian launch for the Transformer, I went down the DIY import path. I visited or telephoned more than a dozen local stores on or before the highly promoted 25 May 2011 release. None of these stores had any idea when they would see stock. Indeed, most store employees didn’t even know what I was talking about. Those that did were quoting prices almost 50% higher than overseas. Pass.
The ‘usual suspects’ in the USA and UK weren’t much help either. Amazon, Best Buy, Clove, B&H, J&R (and numerous others) we all accepting backorders only and most could not supply the keyboard dock accessory. WTF?! Why were these so hard to get hold of?
Finally, I learned (via Whirlpool) that Taiwanese web sales giant PCHome had them in stock – and for less than AUD600 for the 16GB model with keyboard dock and express delivery. Without hesitation, and with a LOT of help from Google Translate, I placed an order. This is how it panned out:
25May11 18:31 AEST – Order submitted
25May11 18:33 AEST – 收到的顺序 = “Order Received”
25May11 18:40 AEST – 訂單確認中 = “Order Confirmed” – (no errors/queries)
25May11 18:55 AEST – 訂單處理中= “Order Processing” – (sent invoice)
25May11 19:53 AEST – 訂單成立= “Order Shipped” – (status update)
25May11 19:59 AEST – Rec’d EMS no. & link to http://auspost.com.au/track
27May11 17:01 AEST – Rec’d AusPost tracking advice. “Item has left TW INT’L”
29May11 10:42 AEST – Rec’d AusPost tracking advice. “Received and awaiting clearance for delivery”
29May11 11:07 AEST – Rec’d AusPost tracking advice. “Scheduled for delivery”
30May11 03:37 AEST – Rec’d AusPost tracking advice. “Onboard with driver”
30May11 11.59 AEST – DELIVERED! w00t!
There’s a full gallery of the unboxing etc here on flickr. The only extra I needed to add was a $2.00 AU pin adaptor for the US-pinned mains charger. The sole downside of procurement from Taiwan was the small Chinese characters on some of the keys (hardly noticeable but may annoy hunt’n’peck typists). The Transformer is covered by Asus’ international parts and labour warranty meaning that any problems can be sorted out here in Australia.
My real-world experience with the Transformer
- hybrid design (laptop has barely been touched for last fortnight)
- build quality and finish (solid construction, quality components, attention to detail like bevelled edges)
- that amazing screen (eye-popping WXGA resolution IPS panel)
- Honeycomb 3.0/3.1 performance (mind = blown! HD video is stunning)
- runs Flash (currently version 10.3)
- staggering battery life (8-9hrs with push-everything running, plus extra 9-10hrs via the keyboard dock)
- heaps of expansion options (HDMI, SD, MicroSD, USB etc)
- comprehensive included software (especially Polaris Office and Asus Cloud storage)
- sturdy (zero flex) chicklet keyboard and trackpad with OS and app shortcuts
- quality and pricing of apps/widgets in the Android Marketplace (especially love the console emulators now that I can use my PS3 controller!)
- extraordinary value for money IMHO
Somewhere in the middle:
- speakers (passable stereo, but nothing stellar)
- default browser (thin on features, but sound performance. Replaced with Maxthon)
- default media player (fast and user-friendly, but limited CODEC support. Replaced with Moboplayer)
- cameras (OK in a pinch, but they could do with an overhaul, especially the rear-facing camera which is a real disappointment)
- fingerprint magnet (even worse than my iPad. Has been addressed with an anti-glare screen protector)
- availability of Asus and 3rd party accessories (read: near impossible to get hold of)
My iPad was last seen at the side of the lounge looking somewhat sad and lonely