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Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 Review: Innovative Design Makes This Tablet Stand Out

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A few times when I pulled the tablet out of its nest, it popped up one of Android's infamous "Force Close" errors. On other occasions, the mouse pointer stopped working and I had to unplug and reattach the tablet to get it to resume. And now and then I had to try multiple times to succeed in using the mouse pointer to select something. Another oddity: Using page up and down on a Web page sometimes caused it to navigate among HTML fields, instead of scrolling the whole page as I expected.

Still, these strike me as software glitches that Asus could fix in future firmware updates. For a first salvo, the experience was smoother than I expected, and the innovative design is a huge step beyond other dock setups I've seen. I loved being able to tap away fast e-mail messages, navigate the tablet while it stood upright, and even alternate between keyboard, touchscreen, and touchpad navigation.

By marrying the two components of the combination device, you'll get extra battery life (which Asus estimates will increase by about 72 percent over the battery life for the tablet alone). Plus, if you need to grab the Transformer and its Mobile Docking Station on the run--as when I did when passing through airport security--you can do so with one hand, a convenience for mobile professionals.

Bottom Line

In spite of my minor complaints about its design, this tablet is worthy of consideration. Asus's aggressive pricing, coupled with its above-average display, make the Transformer a serious contender. Even if you factor in the extra cost of the docking station, the costs are offset by that module's expandability and functionality. The big question, as with all early-round Honeycomb tablets, relates to the unknowns of Android 3.x's evolution and its thus-far slow-to-grow app environment. If neither of those issues is a deterrent, the Transformer + Mobile Docking Station could be a winning combination of productivity tool and entertainment demon.

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At a Glance
  • The Transformer stands well on its own, but it's notable when paired with Asus's terrific optional keyboard dock, which adds an SD Card slot, USB port, touchpad, and extra battery.

    Pros

    • Pairs well with keyboard docking station
    • IPS display provides better-than-average images

    Cons

    • No ports beyond a docking connector
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