The Asus Eee Pad Transformer might look like just another slate tablet, but an available keyboard dock (*Est. $125) that turns it into a reasonably powerful Android-powered netbook has critics singing its praises. The accessory adds a small (92 percent of full size) keyboard that greatly increases productivity but also brings with it an extra battery that extends run times considerably, a USB port and a 4-in-1 memory-card reader.
Most say the accessory keyboard is the biggest reason to opt for the Eee Pad Transformer over competing tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Discontinued) , but it's not the only one. A 2012 update upgraded the operating system from Android 3.0 Honeycomb to the much improved Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The IPS-capacitive touch screen is top notch, and it offers a higher resolution (1,280 by 800 pixels) than the Apple iPad 2 (*Est. $400) , though it's beaten by the current Apple iPad (*Est. $500 and up) in that regard. For support, Asus offers a user forum, free diagnostic tools, a FAQ page and direct contact help via email, phone, live chat or a ticket-based technical inquiry form.
However, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer is not without its shortcomings. Operation is generally stable, except after attaching or detaching the keyboard dock. The dual cameras aren't terrible, but the software is glitchy and video recording is choppy and possibly unwatchable if viewed on something other than the tablet, SlashGear.com reports. Some complain that while the detachable keyboard is great, the virtual touch-screen keyboard isn't all that responsive. Like all Android tablets, the Transformer has lots of ground to cover if it hopes to catch up to the iPad and iPad 2 in the number of available apps. Most of those faults -- with the exception of the dearth of apps -- have been corrected in the high-end Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime (Discontinued) , which experts call the best Android tablet available.
Detailed reviews from PCMag.com, TrustedReviews.com, SlashGear.com, AnandTech.com and CNET highlight the features and failings of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, and even the more reserved reviews, including PCMag.com's 3.5 out of 5 stars, are positive. Amazon.com user reviews are the usual mix of helpful and not, though the descriptions users post of how they put their Transformers to work in their daily lives are interesting and informative.
PCMag.com gives the Asus Eee Pad Transformer high marks for its affordable price, speedy processor, and strong Android operating system. It also praises the keyboard dock's ability to turn the Transformer into a virtual notebook. The on-screen keyboard isn't great, Tim Gideon notes, and the interface can be cluttered. The review gives the Asus 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Review: Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101, Tim Gideon, June 28, 2011
TrustedReviews.com gives the Asus Eee Pad Transformer a 9 out of 10 rating. "The Asus Eee Pad Transformer is an Android tablet that employs Asus' netbook expertise, including a keyboard dock that not only makes typing easier -- it also doubles the battery life and boosts connectivity," Andrew Williams writes. Pros include the bright, beautiful, IPS display (similar to the iPad 2), the keyboard, the design and the value. A few bugs are encountered, but none is considered serious. The lack of apps compared to the iPad 2 is noted.
Review: Asus Eee Pad Transformer review, Andrew Williams, May 4, 2011
"If it's the Keyboard Dock that makes the Eee Pad Transformer eye-catching, then it's the tablet's price that holds our attention," writes Chris Davies of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. That aggressive pricing, plus the excellent display and keyboard, are what set it apart from the sea of competitors, he says. Cons include the unstable camera application and selection of apps.
Review: Asus Eee Pad Transformer Review, Chris Davies, May 3, 2011
CNET gives the Asus Eee Pad Transformer tablet 3.5 out of 5 stars and applauds its pricing, high-quality screen and useful keyboard. The camcorder is occasionally choppy, the edges are sharp, the build quality is uneven and there can be some problems with docking, the review notes. Still, Eric Franklin says, it's a good value purchase.
Review: Asus Eee Pad Transformer (16GB, Wi-Fi), Eric Franklin, April 21, 2011
5. Laptop Magazine
Laptop Magazine gives the Asus Eee Pad Transformer 4 out of 5 stars. They praise its fast processor, elegant design, wide viewing angles, long battery life, keyboard and light weight. Cons include a less-responsive touch screen when docked, some software glitches and difficult docking.
Review: Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 Review, Michael A. Prospero, April 21, 2011
6. PC World
PC World gives the Asus Eee Pad Transformer 3.5 out of 5 stars, praising the keyboard/docking station but downgrading the tablet without it. The display provides better-than-average images, and the aggressive pricing makes it an attractive choice, Melissa Perenson writes. Add the keyboard dock, and "the Transformer morphs into a tablet that strikes an admirable balance between productivity and entertainment," Perenson says. She wishes for more ports on the tablet itself, though they're included on the keyboard accessory.
Review: Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101, Melissa J. Perenson, May 6, 2011
HotHardware.com grants the Asus Eee Pad Transformer an Editor's Choice award, calling out the speedy processor, Android operating system, gorgeous design, keyboard, battery life and price. The lack of a micro USB port on the tablet itself and slight backlight bleed in certain areas of the screen are the site's major gripes.
Review: Asus Eee Pad Transformer Review, Dave Altavilla, May 12, 2011
8. Computer Shopper
The Asus Eee Pad Transformer, a past Editor's Choice selection, earns a 4 out of 5 rating. The review praises the operating system, display, keyboard, HDMI out port, performance and price. Like others, Begun notes issues with video capture.
Review: Asus EeePad Transformer TF101 (16GB) Review and Ratings, Daniel A. Begun, April 21, 2011
From a hardware standpoint, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer is solid, Anand Lal Shimpi writes, with its iPad 2-esque display and a tremendously useful keyboard. "When you need a netbook form factor, you have one, and when you just want to kick back and relax with a tablet you've got that as well," he writes. The biggest issues are the camera and the dock behavior problems with Android.
Review: Asus Eee Pad Transformer Review, Anand Lal Shimpi, April 21, 2011
More than 850 Amazon.com customers weigh in on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. More than half give it a top rating, though minor and not-so-minor complaints from others drag the overall rating to 4 out of 5. Users posting reports say they enjoy the keyboard accessory, the Transformer's ability to multitask, the display, the flexibility of use compared to the iPad and the handling of files. Drawbacks include the Eee Pad Transformer's inability to read all ebooks, poor manuals and occasional keyboard lag.
Review: Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101-A1, Contributors to Amazon.com