Asus Eee Pad Transformer review

An Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet with a detachable keyboard - a perfect match for business users or a chunky compromise that doesn't suit anyone? David Ludlow flexes his fingers and finds out in our review.

IT Pro Verdict

In terms of Android tablets, this is the best that you can currently buy and the keyboard dock gives it the edge if you want a device that you can really work on. That said, the iPad 2 is still that bit slicker and smoother to use. It also has a much wider selection of apps and also has a dock option, making it the better tablet.The iPad 2 also has better battery life – the Transformer can only match it when connected with the keyboard dock which also doubles its weight and adds bulk too. Nevertheless, if your tablet computing needs aren't met by the iPad and its more tightly controlled operating system, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer is the tablet to buy.

With the sheer volume of Android 3.0 tablets coming out this year, Asus has done the smart thing with its Eee Pad Transformer and made it completely different to everything else. With its keyboard docking station, this is a tablet that can also be used as a netbook when you're on the move.

The really smart move Asus has made is keeping the price down

The really smart move Asus has made is keeping the price down, with the tablet and dock costing 358 excluding VAT. For a 16GB tablet and keyboard that's a remarkably low price - without the dock the Transformer is around 20 cheaper than the 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad 2.

Fortunately, the Eee Pad Transformer is only cheap in terms of price. Although the case is plastic and can't match the build quality of the all-aluminium iPad 2, the build quality is really good. It feels tough and the screen doesn't flex under pressure. We like the metal surround to the screen, as it gives it extra rigidity and protection. Using plastic also means that the weight is kept down, so the tablet alone weighs 680g, which is 80g heavier than the iPad 2.

We're pleased to see that Asus has used a 1,280x800 IPS panel for the touch screen. It has excellent viewing angles, as you'd expect, and produces rich and vibrant colours. We placed the tablet side-by-side to the iPad 2 and there's very little difference in terms of image quality. In many ways we prefer the Eee Pad Transformer's screen. Its higher resolution makes browsing websites more pleasant, as you can fit more on screen at once.

Inside, the Transformer is powered by a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 chipset. Running the Quadrant Android benchmark, we got a score of 2,146, making this one of the fastest Android tablets we've seen. The SunSpider JavaScript benchmark completed in 1,878ms, which is slightly faster than the iPad 2.