Finally I’ve joined the millions and purchased a tablet computer. Of course it was never going to be an iPad, and it didn’t necessarily have to be an Android based machine either. After much research and consideration, I’ve decided to go for an 10-inch Asus eee Pad Transformer. Why this one in particular?
My current situation is that I have a fairly new HP Pavilion dv7 as my daily work computer. While it’s a nice brushed aluminium shelled machine, it is quite big with it’s 17-inch screen and it is LOUD! The fan never shuts up. It’s currently running Linux Mint Debian edition, and I’ve tried everything to try and keep the temperature down, thus negating the need for constant fan blowing. I’ve had no luck so far. I also work in multiple locations, from my home office, to my central London office, to various client’s offices and finally quite often in Graz, Austria. Hauling this 17-inch behemoth around can be quite taxing at times. It means I always have to carry a reasonably big piece of hand luggage when flying to Graz, and even just on the train into central London, my backpack is pretty heavy. Therefore, my dream was to try and find a tablet that could be substituted for for my laptop as my daily work machine.
I don’t do much heavy lifting with my laptop anymore, in terms of transcoding video files and the like, therefore I don’t need a massively powerful i7 processor. I do a lot of web browsing, email writing, document creation, spreadsheet manipulation, presentation creation and still image manipulation. Pretty straightforward office type stuff. However, I do appreciate a large screen and decent keyboard. I already have a 10-inch Asus eeePC netbook, which is about 3 years old now. It does a decent job, but I found it difficult to work all day on it, and the single core Atom processor struggled with HD movie playback.
So my plan was to find a tablet that could be plugged into an external monitor at home, at my London office and in Graz. I realise purchasing said monitors will increase overall costs, but it’s the trade-off I was prepared to make for not having to carry around a massive laptop.
Asus Transformer ticks many boxes. It has a high quality IPS screen, the same as the iPad 2. It comes with Android 3.0 Honeycomb as standard. It has a built in mini-HDMI port, which means I can connect it to a larger screen quite easily should the need arise. It includes a memory card expansion slot, as is the case with most modern tablets. There is also an optional keyboard docking station, which includes its own battery, extending the overall battery life for this tablet to around 16 hours.
On the negative side, Asus has seen fit to include a proprietary charger, not the usual micro-USB found on most modern phones and many tablets.
I found that Currys in the UK were selling the Asus eee Transformer at prices around about the same as those found on eBay. Brilliant, I could have my new toy immediately. Picture the scene as I walk into my local Currys….
Sales Assistant: Can I help you, Sir?
Me: Yes, I’m looking for an Asus Transformer
Sales Assistant: Oh, I don’t think we sell them.
Me: It’s on your website and it says you have them in stock.
Sales Assistant: Let me just check with my colleagues. <time passes> No Sir, unfortunately we don’t sell them.
Me: I see.
At this point I wander around the shop for a while, until I find the general tablet display section. As I stand looking…..
Sales Assistant (same one as previously): Are you interested in a tablet device, Sir?
Me: Yes, I have already asked you about an Asus Transformer, but you couldn’t help me.
Sales Assistant: Oh, it’s a tablet?
Me: <incredulous> Yes.
Sales Assistant: Well, let me just go and check in our stock system. <2 minutes later> Good news, Sir, we have them in stock for just £379.
Me: That’s without the keyboard docking station. Do you have them for £429 with the docking station, as on your website?
Cutting a longer conversation short, no they did not have them with the docking station. I made them check twice. Ultimately I bought the tablet without the docking station, thinking I will pick one up later as they’re only an extra £50. How wrong I was. Once back at home and online, I discovered that as a standalone product, the docking station cannot be found anywhere for less than £100. I think buying the tablet without the docking station was my first mistake, but at least I will have the chance to assess whether an external keyboard is really a necessity.
Hopefully in the next week or 10 days I will be able to post an update regarding how this machine is working out as my primary day-to-day computing device.