Thursday, April 28, 2011

Disappointment abounds, Eee Pad Transformer is out...

The new Asus Eee Pad Transformer was released in the US today. I have been really looking forward to this tablet, as I use an eee pc netbook constantly. I have wanted a tablet for a while, but am not interested in a closed ecosystem (ios). So my hope was that the Transformer would be (finally) a tablet with all the functions of a laptop, but an improved form factor. I was wrong, and woe is me.

The battery life is great, good processor, runs Android 3.0 (I really want to run Ubuntu, which I suspect will be possible soon enough, but android will do), micro sd slot, cameras, microphone, great looking touchscreen, and I can dock a keyboard and extend the battery life. Sounds great so far. But. But, But , BUT...

No usb (except a micro usb strictly for charging) on the tablet! This is an absolute deal breaker. While I am interested in the dock, as an optional purchase, forcing consumers to buy it to get something as fundamental as a usb port is unacceptable. Other transfer options, like bluetooth/wireless are available, as well as side-loading. But these are all (for me) much clunkier and slower (in the cases where my devices even support these transfers.)

Even worse, all reports are that the docking keyboard is clunky to attach and remove, which is no big deal for occasional use. However, I use the usb connections on my laptop multiple times every day. Keeping the dock attached just to use the usb ports pretty much defeats the point of it being a tablet, no?

So, my viewpoint on the what the Transformer is, and is for, has flipped 180. The Transformer is not a tablet with an optional laptop dock, it is a laptop with the option of removing the keyboard to convert it to a crippled tablet.

Looked at as a laptop, it lacks a hard drive, monitor out, only has 2 usb ports, and so on. Although the processor is an upgrade, as is the screen, those are the only real advantages it has over my several years old Eee pc netbook. At nearly twice the price, it just doesn't present a compelling reason for purchase.

The early Asus netbooks went through (what I hope is) a similar evolution. It took several generations and the Atom processor to get decent sized hard drives and great battery life in a small form factor. I was willing to lose the DVD drive (I can always attach one via usb if I really need one, which has yet to happen.) I am not willing to lose usb connectivity (on the actual computer, the tablet.) So I guess I'll see you in a few generations, Transformer.


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