ASUS Eee Pad Transformer - It's Morphing Time

Launch SRP: S$898

Features - Part II

Honeycomb Gets Sweeter with Android 3.2

ASUS is upping the ante with its Eee Pad Transformer's upgrades. When it was first released, it was powered with Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS. Sometime in late May and early June, the Transformer got an update to Android 3.1. Now, it leaps ahead of the other Android tablets by bringing the updated Android 3.2 OS to all its Eee Pad tablet devices. Honestly, the upgrade to Android 3.2 is not game-changing. It brings about minimal changes, bug fixes, improvements in performance and app zooming. For this review, we will look at app zooming, which is a key highlight of Android 3.2.

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is the first tablet in the market to be running the Android 3.2 OS.

While some Android apps that are created specifically for mobile phones do work and look fine on tablets, there are some apps that will look odd and in the worst case scenario, become totally unusable after being stretched to fill the screen. Android 3.2 attempts to address this flaw with its compatibility zoom. 

App zooming works by letting you choose between stretch and zoom modes to make the apps more usable on the bigger screens of tablets.

Seen here is the Stretch to fill screen option in the PressReader app. Text and icons look smaller but neater.

On the other hand, if you choose the" Zoom to fill screen" option, text and icons look bigger but too pixelated.

While making apps more usable on the bigger screens of tablets, the app zoom feature does not address the crux of problem, which is the lack of tablet-optimized apps. Google Android needs to spend more effort and time wooing developers to help it catch up with market leader, Apple in this critical aspect. Nevertheless, the app zoom is a welcome feature that will make the user experience on Android tablets better.

The interface of the Transformer remains largely unchanged, with the addition of ASUS' customized widgets and apps. The Honeycomb user interface by default is already a huge improvement over the Android 2.2 tablets we saw last year, and ASUS' tweaks just made it easier to use.

ASUS retains the look and feel of the stock Honeycomb user interface while adding a couple of its own widgets to make it more user friendly.

Seen here are three of ASUS's widgets: the weather widget on the left, the ASUS E-mail Widget on the top right and the ASUS Time directly below it.

 Shown here is the MyZine widget, which gives you one touch access to many functions such as weather information, emails and music player.

 As part of ASUS' Waveshare user interface, the Transformer comes pre-installed with several apps such as MyLibrary, MyNet and MyCloud to enhance its usability. 

MyCloud consists of three portals - MyContent, MyDesktop and @Vibe. MyContent let you store data in ASUS' Webstorage so that you can access them anytime and anywhere on the go. You can remotely control and access your PC or MAC with MyDesktop and an Internet connection. @Vibe is an entertainment platform that allows you to access music, videos, games, radio stations and live stream TV.

 Using MyNet, you can wirelessly stream multimedia content such as movies and music with home network devices such as HDTV for a more wholesome entertainment experience.

If you are using the Transformer as an e-reader, you will be glad to know that ASUS has packed the handy MyLibrary app into the device as it compiles all downloaded magazines, books and newspapers in one location for easy access and reading.

Seen only in the Transformer is ASUS' redesigned virtual QWERTY keyboard, which we felt made typing on the tablet a lot faster. If you want the stock Honeycomb keyboard, you have the option to switch back via Settings > Language & Input > Keyboard settings > Current input method >  English (UK) Keyboard (Android keyboard).

ASUS adds in another row of numbers at the top, changes the layout of some buttons and throws in dedicated keys for smiley icons.

Another useful feature that ASUS equips the Transformer is the ability to do screenshots. A sore point with current Android devices is the inability to take screenshots, unlike their iOS counterparts. The screenshot function can be disabled or enabled via Settings > Screen > Screenshot. 

Thanks to the screenshot function, we had a much easier time taking screenshots for this review compared to using the APK method which is inconvenient.

8.5
Overall rating 8.5/10
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The Good
Innovative keyboard docking station
First to get Android 3.2 upgrade
Handy ASUS Apps
The Bad
Reflective Screen
Poor battery life
Awards:
Most Innovative Product