Transformer: Judgement Day

June 1st, 2011 in .Blogs .Transformer Summer Blogs
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Transformer: Rise Of The Machine?

Sam – Film Intel
I’ve had the Asus-supplied Transformer for a month now and the time has come to form a final judgement. Are tablets the future, a vital tool for the moviegoer, a must-have gadget for the twenty-first century? Or are they merely another fad generated by the fear of Apple’s latest bought of trend-setting?

The Good

The availability of apps, the slickness of the design and the fact that it can come supplied with a full Qwerty keyboard are all major positives in the Transformer’s favour. Once you’ve got over the ‘ooh, shiny’ feeling and shown it around to a few of your friends, it can become a very useful device, benefiting significantly from the ‘always on’ convenience of a tablet.

I’ve checked cinema times on it, queried IMDb quickly and read the plot of numerous a film on good old Mr Reliable: Wikipedia. Its helped me to keep the Film Intel twitter account running, check the numerous sites I have on my Google Reader and stay on top of e-mails and other social media forms when I, frankly, can’t be bothered to turn on my laptop.

The Transformer is intuitive and quick and most problems can be rectified easily although, as it’s new, the absence of an active online community can currently be noticeable. The plan for Android moving forwards is exciting and varied and on many occasion I’ve been heard to mutter a ‘whoa’ when finding some new bit of functionality. Ultimately, it’s a gadget but one that I’ve found several uses for, all of which have helped me no end.

The Bad

The lack of movie support for Android and the Transformer in particular is a big omission and I’ve not really found a solution since my first post about the device. There’s obviously no iTunes so you can’t rent through there. Neither LoveFilm nor Netflix have an official app so you can’t use their Watch Online services. The YouTube app doesn’t support rentals and Asus are yet to launch their very own service.

The keyboard is a welcome addition but the design is clunky and a better docking mechanism would have improved it no end. Android Marketplace is stocked with apps but you need other apps to discover the really tasty ones – there’s a lot of chaff to sort through and the process of highlighting the best ones in Android’s own app isn’t updated often enough.

The tablet can become slow or unresponsive on occasion (when loading a large amount of tweets into TweetDeck for example) and the lack of a 3G option will doubtless put some people off, although, personally, I’m happy enough finding a WiFi hotspot when I want to be online.

The Verdict

The market for tablets is really still in its infancy although you could say that the Asus Eee Pad Transformer and its brethren are part of the second wave. Like any fairly early adopters of new kit there will be teething problems for people who choose to purchase now but if you’re of relatively sound technical mind then the Transformer is an easy device to recommend. It handles fantastically, the level of customisation is impressive and the Android Marketplace, for all its problems, is a worthy opponent for the App store. The keyboard, despite its clunkiness, means that, for a decent price, you basically get both a tablet and a small non-Windows based laptop, which I imagine will see many people sold on the idea. I certainly am. Having overcome some early problems and fully expecting that the problem with film availability will be sorted out sooner rather than later, the tablet has become a fixture which does pretty much everything it says on the tin. I’m impressed. And it’s not often I’ll say that about a new piece of ‘must have’ technology.

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  • Vishal

    Nice Judgement and informative too.

  • Zoe May

    So what movie types does the tablet support? Can you transfer divx or avi to it using the usb in the dock? For me one of the biggest selling points of a tablet is watching movies on it so it has to be easy to ge tthem on there or to download new ones easily

  • chris mckendrick

    I’m particularly interested in what apps it has for music creation and production, and how it copes with the strain of audio processing. I know that the iPad does a surprisingly good job of it with its Electribe apps and such.

    Very surprised there’s not more native movie support too, but it still looks like a nice bit of kit!

  • Anonymous

    Great review… really shows all the pros and cons of the device much more informative than the quick reviews of other site, gives a better insight of living with the tablet.

  • Miss Believer

    I can’t decide if the lack of movie support is a deal breaker for me or not. As you say, the tablet market is in it’s infancy and I don’t know whether to wait for them to get cheaper/better or dive in now. I’ve used various different models (inc iPad) and although I know it’s not exactly a nessecity I’ve found myself wanting one so badly!

  • Paul Wilson

    I’m impressed. I’m not too worried about streaming films to a handheld device. I really want something that I can pick up and activate quickly, check a webpage, my emails or quickly access an app, this device looks ideal for that

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the review. Useful in deciding whether to buy or not as a media device. Maybe would be worth running a companion review from someone looking for a productivity device?

  • Anonymous

    Informative review. Nice idea to have a tablet with a keyboard option.

  • Caroline Ashton

    Good listing of pros and cons – as a typist the keyboard feature would be a big plus for me, as is running the Google Reader.  Wonder if it is compatible with downloads from Amazon (which aren’t just for Kindle readers)?

  • Michael Odegard

    The Asus tablet looks good compared to many other tablets, but is Android 3.1 available for it yet? How will it compare to the Samsung Galaxy Tablet, which is due out in a week?  I have read good things about the Asus Transformer tablet, but nothing yet about the batteries being replaceable.  Also, some sites claim that the Docking Station SD card slot supports SDXC, but Asus website shows only support for SDHC.

  • Steve Robinson

    Well stated, succinct article. Makes me feel much more comfortable in my “early adopter” chair (which I normally avoid at all costs). Your insights on not just the Transformer, but Android Honeycomb tablets in general, especially from the standpoint of apps and usability, make good companionship on this experiential learning curve for all of us. The one point where I somewhat disagree in the “good/bad” categories, however, is in regard to the keyboard. That was the big draw for me to Asus’ Transformer and what will help it stand out from other Android tablets AND the iPad2 long-term in the business arena, IMHO, especially when the app market catches up.

  • Film Intel

    Android 3.1 is available for the Asus – was pushed out last week I think – but no, as far as I know, you can’t replace the batteries. Not sure about the SD question, bit too technical for me I’m afraid!

  • Film Intel

    There is a Kindle app, which works fine but not sure about downloads from the Amazon Appstore. I know you can on other Android devices and I’m fairly certain you can on this but I haven’t had chance to try it out yet.

  • Anonymous

    Movies need to be encoded in h.264 baseline, which is a limitation of the whole Android platform currently. You can do this with free software like FreeMake

  • Film Intel

    Absolutely. If that’s what you’re after, this will do a grand job for you.

  • Film Intel

    They’ve just pushed out a new app called Movie Studio. Not big into my movie editing and such but it might be worth looking into if that’s what you’re interested in.

  • Film Intel

    I think you can find the formats on the Asus page fairly easily. As I say, for me, I found it difficult to get films on to the tablet (and still do) but if you’ve got a history of dealing with file conversions, etc., then you might find it a walk in the park!

  • Anonymous

    You can’t replace the batteries on any tablet on the market unfortunately. If ASUS website says SDHC – it’s SDHC! ;-)

  • chrriss88

    yay yay must have!

    I read your blog last month Rober when the transformer had just arrived.  Except for the niggles I still think this is the gadget of the future but I want it right now would love this tablet with docking station & 10 hours battery life it suit my on the go life style!!!  Lightweight and versatile would fit right in to my oversized handbag.

  • Anonymous

    thanks for the review