Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Review of the ASUS Transformer TF101 A Year Later

Almost six months after my original purchase of the ASUS Transformer TF101 I still stand by my purchase & have decided to write this review based on what I use the device for and how it fits into the 4 categories of work , play ,  family , & durability.

Christmas time 2011 I was in the market for a portable device that was able to handle both work & play but also have decent battery life yet be more compact then a traditional laptop. Looking at my options from online to BestBuy my best option was to choose a tablet over a laptop or netbook due to battery life and ease of use. Most of my work is spent researching information, building PDF based catalogs, customer support, updating clients online sites & shopping carts. Other then email  & the occasional PDF all of my photo editing , CAD design , major gaming , & coding happens on my desktop PC or game system. With current tablets on the market offering the ability to be on a data connection was ideal for Internet on the go but more money then I needed to spend on mobile service when by default my current provider & phone allows Wifi tethering without the need to jailbreak or root the phone.  In the process of shopping around & eying things up the two main choices that drove me to the ASUS TF101 Android Tablet over the iPad2 was memory expansion & HDMI output. 

After bouncing from iPad2 back Android back to iPad2 the ASUS Transformer stood out strongest to gave me all I needed at a good price. Priced around the same as traditional laptops, the iPad2 and  other Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab the Transformer's big selling point for me was the removable keyboard that provided extended battery life (well beyond the advertised time) 2 USB ports & SD card slot.

Family

Family needs played a big part in the purchase of this device as it also needed to be "kid friendly". With 6 people 2 adults and 4 kids , all with digital camera's & MP3 players means when vacationing I need to be able to access memory cards from 1 HD Camcorder & 5 digital cameras to make room or upload files on the go which makes the keyboard dock a big plus. While on our family vacation this year I was able to see just how much of a family tablet this device was. This year we went to see the Statue of Liberty stop off at Medieval Times for dinner & a show and a trip to NYC to see some of my favorite places such as Madison Square Garden. The ASUS Transformer preformed beautifully with swapping out photo's & videos from the day to make room for the events still ahead during the trip. The mini HDMI output was a excellent choice in future planing as I was able to hookup the Tablet to the hotel's flat screen to allow the kids to watch some shows on Netflix when they needed a little help falling asleep when the hotel cable station had very little on late night for the 4 yr old & 6 yr old.

The tablet's built in GPS together with Google Maps made sight seeing planning for the next day a breeze when planning out driving routes. Google Places helped in deciding where to eat based off of user submitted reviews on local restaurants without having to dig around to the web looking for a place to eat. 

Work

As an everyday on the go device it serves me well and allows me to still work between the home office and the main office with Kingston Office & Polaris Office with the addition of being able to use the bundled ASUS WebStorage for pulling information from the "cloud" to retrieve documents on the go. Using the HDMI output when doing a presentation for a client is awesome cause not only can I do a slide show but also show Internet information if need be all on a 55' LED TV swapping from App to App with little to no hesitation.

While the open source office options makes using the tablet for work a great choice I'd still pay the money for a Microsoft slice of Android flavored MS Office to allow for more universal document review when dealing with multiple documents across different clients. At night I am able to remove myself from the home office and spend time watching TV with the family while still catching up online with the days events or working on something for a client while still enjoying time with the family.
Play

For the limited gaming that I do with the device the experience can feel like a major console title sometimes. GTA III plays wonderful with a Bluetooth controller & the space flight Sims with the on screen controls are a blast and often have found myself passing by more then a few hours with them,  however I've found Zen Pinball to be the one I spend the most time with cause it always come down to Pinball in the end.

At bedtime a mix of the Kindle App , Barnes & Noble , & Aldiko have gotten me back into the habit of reading more books not just the latest tech manual though the size of the device does make one handed reading a light strain on the wrist, but still a enjoyable experience. My favorite past time of RPG's has become more enjoyable now that I have a device with a big enough screen to pause a game and look at a map on IGN of where in the sand box style world my character needs to be.   

Durability

The durability of the device has been thoroughly tested in a manner of speaking being almost put through hell & come out surviving some accidents with very little issue. The kids always want to use my table to play games from "Angry Birds" to "Chess" to the cute "LEGO" app. While most parents encourage their kids to sit at the table and play nice with the tablet I let mine disappear to that dark place all parents fear ... their room. While I have seen the tablet drop from their hands a few times and get a accidental kick from them running to pick it up it still has stood strong.

I myself have dropped & thrown the device more then a hand full of times and when I say thrown I mean full force across the room smack against the wall and ..  it lived just fine. While I would not recommend dropping it from a high place glass down it can survive the rampage of child and that of a fully grown adult, not to mention surviving just fine in a locked car on a 101 degree day with 90% humidity.
 
Ice Cream Sandwich / Desktop OS

When Ice Cream Sandwich came out in March 2012 for the device I was more then thrilled with the improvements that ICS brought to the device over Honeycomb but this did not come without issue.

The one main problem myself and other owners faced was random reboots. These random reboots would happen at least twice a day for almost 3 weeks until ASUS released an update then another update then another update till finally in May of 2012 & 2 updates later all was well and the reboot issue stopped. It should be noted however that while using the official OS I did try a handful of CyanogenMod based ROM's where the random reboots where not an issue. The ICS update & continued updates since march have made some great enhancements in not only speed but also in App optimization. Apps designed for phones seemed to run better then before on the device after the update even when the App had not yet received a update adding support in for ICS.

Along with the open boot loader I can run a alternative ROM such as CyanogenMod but also a full Desktop OS like Ubuntu on a dual boot option. Ubuntu mobile edition still needs some work when going on the tablet front, but I was still able to play around within the environment and have an overall good experience with Ubuntu on the tablet. While this series of tablet may never see Ubuntu with all the bells and whistles I am sure Ubuntu will "Surface" in on other similar hardware in the months to come.
 
 Final Thoughts

 I can say that now in June 2012 after the May update on a stock OS but still on a CWM Recovery I'm still super thrilled with my purchase as the device as served me well these past six months. My tablet is almost always within arms reach and is a great asset when on the go at a clients office or about town. The battery life for what I use it for is beyond the stated specs from ASUS as at times I've gone 4 days without needing to charge my device using it only as a in between from the office to a clients office.

While on vacation and even on the go the included SplashTopHD remote (normally $21.99) was great to have when emails from clients came in allowing me to connect to my home computer to pull files, do some quick editing in Microsoft Expression Web & even allowed me to do some lite CAD all over WiFi & 4G.

In the part of family life it has done a well enough for me to know I made the right choice by not picking up a traditional laptop or netbook due to the Apps & services being what I need them to be to suit my needs for my family. The use of it during our vacation was a big help in trip planning as it was nice to be able to use it for Navigation when the car GPS decided to act up. At night now when normally I would be confined to the office away from the family it's most enjoyable to have a light weight device I can sit in bed with the wife & watch a movie while still being able to get things done for work.

7 comments:

  1. Siteniz gerçekten çok güzel ve paylaşımlar mükemmel, asus servisleri olarak kaliteli hizmet sunmaktayız.

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  2. Thanks for this great review! I was mostly decided on getting this model, but had a few questions about durability, which you have answered.

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  3. Thanks for great story and review. I've been looking around for an android tablet for the last two months...your story definitely confirms me to get this model. Once again thanks :)

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