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Simon Woods –

The second in a series detailing my experiences with the new Asus Eee Pad Transformer – the first instalment is here.

It’s been a few weeks now since the Eee Pad arrived – has it changed my life? Can’t say it has in a major way, although it’s the first bit of cutting edge technology I’ve had for years that has had people looking on enviously…

I’ve been using it with and without the keyboard in roughly equal measure. The program I wanted to work more than any other was Polaris Office, since I deal with documents, spreadsheets and presentations in my work. Have to say that the results here have not been great, although I realise that this could be as much to do with the program as the Eee Pad. There doesn’t seem to be a way of jumping around within documents from word to word and paragraph to paragraph as you can in Word using the Shift and Arrow keys. That’s a program thing, but with regard to the Eee Pad, I’ve also had problems with the sensitivity of the track pad. If, like me, you’re one of those crap typists who looks at the keyboard rather than the screen, it can be a little disconcerting to find that because your fat thumb nudged the track pad in the middle of a long word, half of your sentence appears in the previous paragraph rather than where you intended it, which is a pain.

Just as much of a pain is using it instead of a regular A4 pamphlet at a wine tasting. Was at the Berry Bros & Rudd tasting last week – some very good 2000 Bordeaux, with the three Léovilles and the underpriced Batailley all showing well, but the Langhe Nebbiolos and the superb Gramona Cava being just as impressive – and tried to do my notes on the Eee Pad using the Polaris word processor. I tried it with a number of different versions of the onscreen keyboard and with Graffiti, both with and without the Asus keyboard. Beware – if you’re in the middle of editing something, and decide to disconnect the keyboard and revert to tablet mode, you lose everything you’ve typed since your last save. After half an hour, I went back to pen and paper, after which I sped up considerably.

Outside Polaris Office, Some Android programs only work in portrait mode – Virgin Trains for example – so while if it’s still connected, you can still use the keyboard, you have to twist your head through 90 degrees to see what you’re typing. Then there’s the lack of connectivity. If there’s a WiFi connection, it’s fine, but if there isn’t, you’re stuffed unless you have a MiFi dongle. If anyone knows how to use a regular broadband dongle on the Eee Pad, let me know.

So what are the plus sides? Well for one, it’s made me lose a bit of weight. I spend a fair bit of the year travelling, both to wine regions and to UK-based tastings, most of which are in London, but we’re now approaching the quiet bit of the wine year, so I’m at home most of the time. Over the last month, I’ve settled into a routine each morning whereby I grab my love handles, think, ‘Hmm, still too big,’ – love handles can be both too big and too small – and jump on the exercise bike armed only with a towel to blot away excess perspiration and the Eee Pad. Sure, it takes a little longer to get through the morning’s email/Facebook/Twitter trawl and to check for any Tweet-worthy wine news stories than on a PC, but when my trousers are looser and the chicks are checking me out (I made that last bit up), then I’m not going to complain.

Nor am I going to complain about the quality of the screen – watching videos on some smaller screens can be a bit iffy, but I’ve no complaints here. And hooking it up through an HDMI lead (mini-HDMI output) to the TV works fine for both audio and video, although for some reason the outer edges of the Eee Pad screen don’t make it onto the TV.

But can will it ever replace my laptop? Yes and no. I’m not the best person in the world at meeting editors’ deadlines, so I often find myself writing articles while travelling. If I had to do this, I wouldn’t want to just have the Eee Pad. However, if I was just responding to emails, then I’d be fine.

And what about updating a web site while travelling? So far, my reservation about this has been the lack of video editing capability. The version of Android that shipped with the Eee Pad didn’t have the Movie Studio program included with it, but Android 3.1 which I downloaded today does. So for the next post, I’m going to have a go at editing a video then uploading it to this site – wish me luck, and as I said before, any questions, do stick them in the comments below. And once again, if you’ve arrived here for techie rather than wine reasons, Hi there, don’t go without reading this post.

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