Notebook + Tablet = Asus Transformer

Asus Transformer

The Asus Transformer is a new line of tablets from industry leader Asus. It’s also a notebook. You can gather from the product name Transformer that it transforms from a tablet to a notebook quickly and easily. You’re going to see this type of capability more and more in the future, as users demand the portability of a tablet combined with the flexibility of a notebook. This type of tablet is known as a hybrid or convertible tablet.

Let’s Get Technical with the Asus Transformer

The Transformer name encompasses eight different products or models. All have the same basic features, such as the ability to transform from a standard tablet to a notebook with the addition of a notebook-sized keyboard. They are also built off the same basic 10.1-inch size (known as a form factor).

One of the features that define which model number you’re looking at is the type of networking capability the unit has. All of them come equipped with 802.11n wireless standard. Some can be used on 3G wireless (cellular) networks, while others have 4Gwireless (cellular) capability built in.

Every Transformer model comes standard with one GB of memory, although some of the models do have a 512 MB option that can save you some money. Onboard storage ranges from 16 GB to more than 64 GB, although all models do have SD card readers. Some of the more expensive models also come with Asus Cloud Storage. (The amount of available cloud storage depends on the model purchased.)

Asus Transformer - Part Notebook, Part Tablet
The Asus Transformer appears to be the leader in the tablet-notebook hybrid category, despite its high price. Photo Credit: Tecdencias

The Asus Transformer comes with a 10.1-inch backlit LED display with resolution either 1920×1200 for the higher-priced models, or 1280×800 in the lower-priced units. All the models in the Transformer product line offer 10-finger multi-touch support with most of them having scratch-resistant glass displays.

For those that are comfortable using a tablet to take pictures or like video chatting, there’s a front and rear camera on every model, with resolutions ranging from 1.2MP to 2.0 MP for the rear cameras, and up to 8 MP for the front cameras. All units have stereo speakers and a microphone built in.

All the units run the Android operating system, either 3.2 or 4.0, with most of those that come with 3.2 pre-loaded able to be upgraded to 4.0. For the CPU, you have your choice of three possibilities: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Dual-core processor, NVIDIA’s Tegra3 Quad-core, or Tegra2 Duo-core processor.

What turns these tablets into notebooks is the Asus Transformer dock (called the Transformer Pad Infinity). The dock encompasses a multi-touch touchpad, notebook-sized (full QWERTY) keyboard, USB port, and SD card reader slot. The dock/pad extends the battery life up to a total of 16 hours, giving you the ability to use your Transformer for a full transcontinental or transoceanic flight, unlike most other tablets whose batteries tend to die after four to six hours.

For the style conscious among us, the ASUS Transformer is available in a variety of colors which includes Royal Blue (my choice), Iceberg White, and Torch Red.

Pre-loaded Software Enhances Productivity

Asus loads a unique set of software packages on their Transformer tablets that enhance your entertainment options, as well as your productivity. You can use the tablet’s software suite to read Kindle books, e-books, magazines, and newspapers. There are also media players for your music, photos, and movies.

Asus also loads Polaris Office 3.0 on every Transformer. You can open, create, and modify most MS Office document types with Polaris Office. There’s also a pretty cool app called SuperNote. This is an app that lets you take notes in a variety of ways. You can open an image and write directly on it, or even modify drawings using the application.

What Tech Industry Reviewers Are Saying

Most of the reviews I checked out for this piece were unanimous in their praise for the docking capability of the Asus Transformer. They also praised the fact that these units come with powerful processors that are worthy of notebooks and ultrabooks. They also had high praise for the fact that Asus uses the Android operating system instead of the not-ready-for-prime-time Windows 8 or RT.

Other reviewers said the Transformer compares favorably to Apple’s iPad products and far outperforms the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 in video and audio performance. The one point of contention that I saw is that Asus hasn’t bundled any apps that take full advantage of the excellent display capabilities of the tablet. However, that can be easily remedied by a quick trip over to the Google Play Store.

All in all, I’m starting to think that this is going to be my next big tech investment, but at an average price of $1,300 in the US, it’s going to have to wait a little while.