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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Testing and review of the new Transformer TF201 and dock

So after having squirrelled away money for the past three months, I finally acquired my Asus Transformer Prime tablet, on which I am currently typing this blog. I've only had the tablet for 26 hours or so, and the keyboard dock just came today, so my experience with it is still new.  So far so good, though--I downloaded the Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4) update with no trouble, and have not had any of the issues that some users have reported with lock-ups or random reboots.  Knock on wood, I won't.  I admit I was a bit anxious as the ICS update while it was downloading, but everything went without a hitch.  From a user standpoint I haven't been knocked over by ICS--it looks and works a lot like Honeycomb did.  But it's fast and smooth, which is nice.

So far this thing performs way beyond expectations.  I have one minor "bright" spot just above the center of the screen, but it's not bad enough to distract from use and only shows up when the screen is pure white. The Tegra 3 processor makes this thing scream--it certainly seems to outperform my laptop, likely because the hardware matches or exceeds the computer and the Android OS is much sleeker than Windows.  I have tested HD streaming video on YouTube, played Dragon's Lair (the original, with full animated graphics, now available on the Android Market for $5.00!)  It's way surpassed those tests.  So far typing this blog there is no lag whatsoever on the keyboard (another supposed criticism out the window); I'll need to get used to the small keys; I keep bumping combos that do things like shutting off my wi-fi, or accidentally tapping the touchpad, which makes the cursor jump around...but that's just an adjustment on my part.

Asus gives you 8 GB of free cloud storage, plus the ability to sync across your home devices, be they mobile or computer, windows, Mac, whatever, standard with the tablet.  This is a nice feature--I can't fathom why anyone would even WANT to root this thing--there's little to no bloatware, and it functions flawlessly.  It's super lightweight--lighter than my NookColor, and it renders PDFs and magazines much better.  I wiped the Nook and gave it to Julie. Judging by the fact that she was playing with it all morning, I think she's happy.

The integrated web browser is much nicer than the one on my Galaxy S phone.  I have not played around with the office suite that comes with it, as I have Office Suite Pro--but I'll need to give the Asus one a look, see how it holds up.  The email program is exceptional, save that it does not allow me to set "reply to" addresses in my accounts; a problem since I use forwarding addresses for my e-mail.  If there is a way to do this and I haven't seen it, someone let me know.

The GPS doesn't work well--no surprise; that was common knowledge about the TF201.  The WiFi is not great, but not as bad as some are claiming.  I've been on three different networks, now--two home and a business--and no troubles getting signal. I have noticed that it seems many of those complaining about the "issues" with the TF201 seem to be those who have rooted the tablet--all I'm saying is, expect problems if you try to use something in a manner for which it was not intended.

But then, who knows?  I could still run into these problems and may  be speaking prematurely.

Aesthetically, this thing is beautiful.  The brushed aluminum (I got the champagne gold model) is sleek and smooth; I had a total geek moment when I got it, and thought, "Holy crap, I'm in Star Trek: the Next Generation. It really does look that sci-fi.

The camera works nicely--don't have anything uploaded from it yet, but I'll rectify that.  It's a bit awkward taking pictures from something this large, but it's a nice feature to have.

In the end, while I won't be using this to do graphic design and layout--the office suite I have doesn't quite cover that (though who knows? There may be an app for that!)--as a productivity tool I am completely in love.  If ever there was an iPad killer tablet...this is it.

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Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom, and Mary Magdalene.

I'm not a mad bible thumper--Sophia, however, is my inspiration and always in my heart