Performance and Conclusion
Under this Transformer’s hood you’ll find Nvidia’s Tegra 2 processor running at 1 GHz. This has become the stock Android tablet processor in everything but name, so it’s little surprise to find it powering this tablet. We also probably won’t find any performance surprises, but let’s take a look to be sure.
First up we have the browser benchmarks, Rightware BrowserMark and Sunspider. These are handy because they can be utilized on any device with a browser, making comparisons across devices simple even when they have different operating systems.
These performance results are impressive. The Transformer easily beat the Blackberry Playbook, as well as the various Android phones we’ve recently reviewed, in Browsermark. It also squeaked out a victory in SunSpider.
Out of curiosity, I also ran Futuremark Peacekeeper. This is the browser benchmark I use when testing laptops. Previous attempts to run it on tablets had failed, but this time it worked. This right away indicates that the web standard compatibility of Honeycomb’s browser is commendable.
The score of 960 was higher than I expected, and in fact better than the result I received from HP’s Mini 210 netbook, which was powered by an Intel Atom single-core processor. To be fair, I test laptops via Firefox 4. Testing them under Chrome might be a more direct comparison. Still, this Peacekeeper result indicates that netbooks and tablets are neck-and-neck when judged by the speed of the web browsing experience each provides.
Now let’s have a look at some Android-only synthetic benchmarks, Quadrant and NenaMark1.
Quadrant is essentially the Android equivalent of PCMark 7. It tests from a number of angles including processor speed, I/O speed and graphics performance. The result of 1747 is excellent, although not as high as the score of 2148 managed by the Motorola Xoom. Nenamark1’s result of 44.5 looks low next to the Samsung Droid Charge, but the benchmark doesn’t compensation for display resolution.
Taken as a whole, the performance of the Transformer is excellent but not revolutionary. There’s nothing here that isn’t offered by other Android tablets, but what’s offered is smooth and capable of delivering brilliant 3D graphics in the handful of Android games that make use of the tablet’s full potential.
From the moment I took the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer out of the box, it was apparent that the company had created something unique. Designing the tablet specifically for use with the dock has made a coherent experience. Most tablets have docks available, but none of them mate with their respective tablets as well.
Yet this praise is tempered by a number of complaints. While the dock is solid and provides a great deal of functionality, the cramped layout and software glitches result in a typing experience that simply isn’t enjoyable. Using the keyboard to type in the web browser was often so wonky that I eventually gave up and went back to using the tablet alone.
The dock has been marketed as the tablet’s defining feature, but maybe that shouldn’t be the case. Taken alone, the Eee Pad Transformer tablet is as quick as any of its competitors, has an excellent display, feels solid, and is aesthetically pleasing. Throw in a $399 base price and you have the best Android tablet on the market today and the second-best tablet after the iPad 2.
Surprisingly, the $150 dock may have limited appeal. Anyone who thinks they will be typing for hours at a time with their tablet should buy an ultraportable laptop instead – there are some great options available for less than the $550 price of the tablet/dock combo, such as the ASUS Eee PC 1215B.