Saturday, April 28, 2012

The ASUS Transformer

So, I just got an ASUS Transformer earlier this week.  During the last few days, I have been exploring its capabilities and discovering what it is capable of doing.  What I discovered is an amazing piece of technology that goes far beyond my old 7" Galaxy Tab.  This is a device that I am glad that I purchased.  So, here is the run down of the device.
First off, if you are going to get this tablet, get the keyboard dock.  It literally alters your experience in such a way, you will be amazed.  They keyboard takes the Android ICS experience and transforms it into a true computing experience.  It makes blogging, and long emails a cinch.  Once you use it, you will never go without it.

Another legitimate reason for the dock is the two USB ports that give you the ability to expand the capabilities of the device.  You can use USB drives as extra storage.  You can even attach a mouse, including most wireless mice, to it for easy navigation.  I also love the ability to attach external hard drives to the keyboard.  Now that is adding extra storage!

As for the actual tablet.  When separated from the keyboard dock, you have a 10.1 capacitive screen.  A screen that uses Gorilla Glass to protect it from scratches and damages from day to day use.  I love Gorilla Glass.  It has saved me on a couple of occasions when I used the Motorola Droid.  As with any touch screen device, though, is the annoying finger smudges you must endure.  Make sure you keep a screen cleaning rag with you at all times if you are like me.  The resolution of this device is pretty standard with high end 10.1" devices.  The only shame here is that we don't get 1080p support on this device.  However, it does support 720p.

As for sound, we are talking about stereo speakers located on the left and right side of the tablet when held in landscape mode.  These little speakers are impressively loud and clear.  They provide a good quality audio output that makes movies and music quite enjoyable.

Storage all depends on which version you decide to get.  I got the 16gb version of the Transformer.  For me, that is plenty of space, but I do like having the option for additional space.  With that I got a 16gb MicroSD card.  There is a slot on the right side of the tablet that lets you plug it directly into the tablet portion.  As said earlier there are two USB ports, and also a standard full sized SD card slot on the keyboard.

Overall, the build quality here is impressive.  No, we don't see any "brushed aluminum" here, but portions of the  tablet and keyboard do use a type of metal to give it stability.  All of the outer portions use a sturdy, high quality plastic.  On the tablet portion, the plastic is textured as to give you a better grip when you have the tablet separated from the keyboard.  The keys on the keyboard are your typical chiclet style keys found on a majority of modern laptops and netbooks.  I give credit to ASUS, they know their mobile devices, and how to make them.

As for power, the Transformer is powered by a dual core Tegra 2 chipset that runs at 1ghz.  It is more than capable of powering ICS 4.0.3, and all of your favorite apps.  The Transformer has 1gb memory, but seems to have 722mb dedicated to RAM, and the remaining 256mb dedicated to video I believe.  This is assumed based on looking at the memory usage of the device from within the settings.  No complaints here, as I have noticed that games that I played on my old Galaxy Tab versus being played on the Transfer, it is a smoother experience now.

On the tablet, you will find a mini HDMI port that will allow you to plug your Transformer directly into any HD TV.  This is awesome for those that wish to watch movies with friends and family.  I also enjoy the ability to be able to use this as a means to enjoy my emulated games on a big TV and be played in the comfort of my recliner.

When it comes to networking, this device comes packed with all of the standard bells and whistles.  You have 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR.  You have GPS functionality that is pretty spot on, and doesn't suffer from the issues that seem to be plaguing the Transformer Prime.  One nifty deal I noticed regarding the Wi-Fi networking on this device is that I was able to "see" my rooted Optimus V!  Yes, my Optimus V is rooted, and I have a Wi-Fi hotspot app installed (I recommend FoxFi).  My Galaxy Tab could not see the phone, but the Transfomer has NO issues.  Of course, at that time, I was using a different WiFi tethering app, and may have actually been a flaw in that app.  Further tests using FoxFi has proven my old Droid is able to connect without issue, as well.  (I may have to do a piece on that later)

So the last thing I want to hit on is the pre-installed software that comes packed with the Transformer.  On my Galaxy Tab, there was a few things on it that I did not want, and could not get rid of.  However, ASUS seems to have looked at bloatware, and decided to actually do something about that!  What you get pre-packed on the ASUS is actually very useful!

ASUS provides an App Backup utility that lets you back up apps on a regular basis if ever the need to reset your device arises.  There is an App Locker utility that allows you to control app access when others are using the device.  The included File Manager actually is quite functional, albeit neglecting to add SMB abilities to it as to allow one to access networked storage.  Speaking of storage, ASUS offers users an amazing deal with cloud storage with the MyCloud app.  UNLIMITED storage!  I use, Dropbox, Minux and Skydrive for my cloud storage needs, but MyCloud could be a great alternative for a variety other purposes.  And I can't beat the price...FREE!

MyNet is a very useful, and moderately functional answer to the ability to access networked media.  It will allow you to easily stream virtually any video and audio files.  However, keep in mind that the larger the file, the more it may lag/skip during playback.  As for ebooks, Kindle was pre-installed, but so was MyLibrary.  It is a decent book store/ebook reader, but I don't care for it as much, as I prefer Aldiko.

One other bit of pre-installed software I was impressed with seeing is Movie Studio.  This is an app that allows you to create simple movies with imported images, audio and videos.  It is similar is concept to Windows Live Movie Maker, a bare bones video editor.

You also have some impressive productivity software in the form of Polaris Office and SuperNote.  SuperNote is impressive because not only can you type up notes, but you also can draw in, or take hand written notes.  I haven't found an ability to email notes yet, but if I find it, I will annotate this article stating so.  Polaris Office is standard Office Suite fare, but not my favorite.  I admit, I am partial to QuickOffice due to being able to access Google Docs, Dropbox, and a few other cloud storage sites.  Polaris only offers access to Google Docs and

All in all, this is a tablet that will have all of your basis covered.  The tablet is more than capable of handling all of your day to day tasks, but when docked to the keyboard, you will discover even more out of this device than before.

So, do you have an ASUS Transformer?  What are your thoughts on the device?

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