After previewing the EEE Pad Transformer a couple of weeks ago, I finally got to play with the final version and give it a proper look. Also, just recently got my iPad 2 tablet as well, thus, before actually posting the reviews for both these devices, I put together this post, a quick comparison of the two devices that go head to head these days.
Why is this comparison important? Well, because the Transformer is the first HoneyComb tablet to come with powerful hardware, slightly improved OS and proper pricing ($100 cheaper than the iPad 2), plus it has that nice and also affordable docking station (goes for $160 extra).
However, this post is mainly a quick comparison. Because i had to return the EEE Pad shortly after shooting the clip, It might not include all the aspects it should have, but you can read more about those in the post below
Update: I’ve rewritten part of this post. The Transformer has gone a long road since i first tested it in April so it’s fair to put together a more uptodate comparison. So, the following are based on a Transformer with Android 3.2 and an iPad 2 running iOS 4.3.3 .
There is a video comparison below but bare in mind that’s the initial comparison i shot back in early April, when the Transformer was still running an early HoneyComb 3.0 OS version. A lot has changed in the meantime. While back then the Asus tablet was kind of sluggish even in everyday use, it’s not anymore. Browsing speed has increased as well and you can now stream video content from Youtube, Vimeo or other sources flawlessly. I still enjoy more the Youtube HTML5 based player you can get on the iPad and its pinch-to-fullscreen feature, but that’s another story.
So, while initially I considered the Transformer a great piece of hardware which lacked the needed hardware support, I feel this changed a lot with Android 3.1 and Android 3.2 .
The clip below will show you more details, but be aware that the part that speaks about everyday use and performances is outdated. I promise to shoot a new clip as soon as i’ll get iOS 5 on my iPad. In the meantime, you can read my updates on the EEE Pad Transformer running Android 3.1 and Android 3.2 (coming soon) , both with videos.
Despite all these changes the Transformer still does not feel as snappy as the iPad. Not having software specially optimized for the hardware inside, like in Apple’s case, is visible during everyday use. Of course, HoneyComb is a lot more customizable and offers more freedom and more options than the iPad. But it will still feel sluggish and require a restart after a couple of hours of intense use or it might occasionally (rarely though) freeze completely.
And there’s the problem with Apps. There are a bunch of Apps in Android’s market, but only some of them are optimized for big screens. I for one have still failed to find any good Twitter app for my Pad, while the native app on the iPad is just amazing. Then, I hate it that the Market doesn’t offer a distinction between apps made for tablets and apps made for phones, like the AppStore does. It’s been countless times when I installed an app only to find out it’s made for small displays and looks awful on my 10 inch tablet. Yes, Android 3.2 now offers the option to play apps at native resolution, but that’s not really a solution in my eyes.
There’s also the multimedia playing part. It’s great that you can easily add files on the Transformer by just copying them in the required folder, without having to use stupid software like iTunes. I don’t like however the fact that the Transformer won’t be able to play a bunch of different types of files, for instance some .mkvs, .movs or .mp4s . If I get to copy easily all these files on the Pad, it’s quite frustrating when I can’t actually run them. You can run certain types of 720p and 1080p files, but they will have to be reconverted in .wmv in most cases. And that kind of defeats the whole fast copying purpose.
Of course, the iPad ain’t much better, it can only deal with specific files, mainly .movs . When you’ll sync different movie files to your tablet, it won’t even copy those that are not supported, thus the ones you’ll get on will work flawlessly, including up to 720p .mov files (Full HD ones are not supported).
Of course, there would be many things to be added in here. I should also mention that the Transformer comes with a mini HDMI and a microSD card slot, plus when getting the docking unit you get Full-size USBs, next to that keyboard and extra battery. All those will be quite handy if you plan to replace your laptop with a tablet.
In the end, comparing the iPad 2 and the EEE Pad Transformer is more complicated, as there are far more aspects to consider. Still, here’s a list of main attractions and cons for each of the two, valid today,
April 20th 2011 August 2011 (the date of the last update):
EEE Pad Transformer
- solid built, pretty light (1.49 lbs), wider than the iPad
- 16:10 display, IPS panel and big 1280 x 800 px display
- not that many HoneyComb dedicated apps available in the Market Store
- while using the Market is quite intuitive, there’s no way to tell which app is made for a big screen before actually installing it
- sometimes can be sluggish in everyday use and can even freeze, requiring restarts in order to get it working again – that happens quite rarely now with Android 3.2 on board
- 5 MPx camera with no flash, gets good still pictures and offers 720p recording as well
- only up to 7-8 hours of life, but you can get 4-5 extra with the docking
- comes with micro SD card slot, micro HDMI
- interface allows customizations
- you can easily add content by Copy/Pasting it like on a regular drive on your computer
- comes with an useful docking, with keyboard, extra battery and 2xUSB 2.0 slots, SD card-reader
- prices start at $399 ($159 for the docking)
And we could add some more. All in all, I do not mind the fact that the Transformer is slightly bigger and heavier. Plus, the screen is better suited for watching video content (as it is wide) and comes with increased resolution. You do get a card reader and micro HDMI slot on the tablet and overall price is very good. But these are still not enough to make it my first pick.
In the end, while initially the iPad was clearly my pick, I feel right now choosing between the two really depends on what you need and what are you planning to use your tablet for. I for one own both and mostly use the iPad, and here’s why.
The iPad 2 is a much easier to use tablet, the interface and all the gestures are intuitive even for first time users. It doesn’t require any fancy setups, getting apps on it is a no-brainer and overall everyday experience is flawless. Using it is smooth, it won’t freeze or get sluggish (I only had to restart it twice since I bought it in early April). Thus, if you want a tablet for browsing, listening to music, watching video content and playing, basically for entertainment and leisure, this is what I would get. Prices start at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-fi Only version and go up if you want more storage space or 3G connectivity.
The Transformer ain’t a bad tablet also, not at all. I feel it’s probably the best one with Android you can get these days, right there on par with the Galaxy TAB 10. Still, while Android has come a long way in these last months, it still requires a learning curve some of you might not enjoy. Using it is not as intuitive, all the settings and customizing options can be a bit overwhelming for some. And even if you like these challenges, overall the Transformer won’t perform as smooth as the iPad during everyday use (remember, I own them both and have been using them for months).
Still, there are things I love about the Transformer: it’s100 bucks cheaper than the iPad, starting at $399 , with $129 extra if you want the docking station (there is however no 3G versions available for now). You can customize it, add useful widgets to your screen and improve your productivity. It offers a bunch of ports the iPad lacks and with the help of that docking unit it can even replace a mini laptop (I for one however tried to use it as a laptop replacement but I’ve failed. I still need my Windows software and browser for blogging, editing multimedia content or conducting various researches). There’s more about the EEE Pad Trasnformer in my review.
In the end, it’s up to what you want: for me, as a fun multimedia tool I only lightly use for business purposes (edit documents, check emails), the iPad is the better pick. For you, the EEE Pad Transformer might be, especially if you’re an Android user already. Plus, the 20% lower price does make a difference.
PS: Once again, remember that the clip is outdated, but the post is not. So don’t judge me for the things I might have said or might have missed on that clip. And wait for the update on that pretty soon.