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Asus Eee Pad Transformer vs iPad 2 - Power, Software and Productivity

Software and Power

Perhaps the most important question of all that rears its head when looking to buy an iPad 2 or Transformer is "Android or iOS?" iOS offers simplicity, reliability, accessibility where Android boasts customisation and - from one perspective at least - power.

It's this difference of operating system that all-but nullifies the raw power comparison between the two devices. Both have dual-core processors and dedicated graphics units, but as they're at a similar level of performance how much impressive stuff they'll churn out is down to the app and games developers, not the hardware makers. More on that later.

Both Android and iOS offer multitasking, but it's still fundamentally limited. The systems only let you actively partake in one app at a time, so Apple's description of its multitasking as "fast app switching" is an accurate summation of all tablet OS multi-tasking.


What Android is better at than iOS though is cramming information into a single screen. Honeycomb is creeping towards a "full" operating system like Windows or MacOS in its home screen layout. There's a nav bar at the bottom of each home screen that tells you of any recent updates, and offers the basic navigational shortcuts for the home screen, apps menu and the back button. For more on this, read the interface section of our full Eee Pad Transformer review.

The iPad OS doesn't make as divergent changes from the smartphone version of iOS - with notifications popping on-screen as they appear or within a pull-down bar, as you'll find in the smartphone Android. This is about to be updated as part of iOS 5.0, but it's still a fairly conservative change. That's the Apple way - slow and steady.

This approach does come with serious benefits though. iOS is much less buggy than Android Honeycomb. Use Android and you'll soon get accustomed to the occasional buggy glitch.


With the keyboard dock in-tow, the Eee Pad Transformer is much more useful as a productivity device than the iPad 2. Many have convinced themselves pre-purchase that their iPad will replace their desktop computer or full laptop but have found themselves mostly idling through Facebook or obsessively flinging birds into bricks a few months down the line.


Why? Because a touchscreen isn't a great replacement for a real keyboard, partly because of the lack of feedback a flat piece of glass has to offer your digits. You may be able to type quickly, but - for this generation at least - touchscreen typing doesn't feel as natural, as "right", as using a physical keyboard.

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer's keyboard is on-par with Asus's laptops. It's not class-leading, beaten by the best from Lenovo, but it is very comfortable to type on compared with a touchscreen or most cheap Bluetooth keyboards.

The official Apple Bluetooth keyboard is excellent and available for £57, but won’t support the iPad 2's weight so is useless for impromptu typing sessions on-the-go. When using at home you’ll still have to find some way to prop up the iPad 2 too. The original iPad had a keyboard/dock combo, but that was scrapped for the second-gen model (presumably because it didn’t sell too well) and wasn’t remotely as good a portable solution as the Eee Pad Transformer offers anyway.

Read our full Asus Eee Pad Transformer and iPad 2 reviews.

Ian Yates

July 11, 2011, 1:59 pm

Good review, but a couple of points:
* I was shocked you considered wide-screen to be superfluous to a media-consumption device, but to each their own.
* AirPlay on Android is possible with doubleTwist. I haven't tried it myself, but a friend who has Apple TV says it's great.

Though, I can't deny that Gingerbread still has some polishing to be done.

And if anyone can recommend a video player that can stream all the common formats, I'd be very grateful. There are a few that work fine if I copy the files locally, but I want to stream from my NAS and play them in any room (the dream!).


July 11, 2011, 2:50 pm

The widescreen ratio probably does deserve a mention, you're right! (although in a different face-off, with greater display differences, I'd give overall screen quality more weight).


July 11, 2011, 8:40 pm

again the reviews are based on stock,hdplayer on ipad supports drag and drop plus plays all formats without encoding,there are also apps that do the same for music books or docs.

you have to take into account 3rd party apps.

imagine a review of an xbox360 but you had no games for it or no internet connection it would be worthless.


July 11, 2011, 9:02 pm

So you raise a few good points for the iPad along the comparison, but then - outside the games - only seem to remember the cons for the conclusion, and debatable at best: "technophobe"? "accessories your 'thang'"?

So you can only do serious work on the EEE Pad? Are you kidding? Show me an app on Android as slick to use as Keynote or Numbers on the iPad.

betelgeus is correct, there are video apps such as AVPlayer HD that don't need video file conversion for the iPad.

Finally if you want an physically integrated keyboard for the ipad you can buy a case with one, like this http://www.dealextreme.com/p/2-4ghz-bluetooth-v2-0-wireless-keyboard-with-protective-leather-case-for-ipad-2-black-91229 for under £30.


July 11, 2011, 9:17 pm

On the productivity side, it's more a case of the keyboard/trackpad combo being the winner rather than any software. In terms of apps, the iPad wins every time.

I've yet to see a combo case for iPad that can rival the Transformer's keyboard base, especially as they're all Bluetooth keyboards that have been sewn into cases. I reckon to get something of the same calibre as the Transformer base from a third party for iPad, you'd be looking at an outlay of perhaps £150 or more (and, from what I've seen at least, it doesn't exist (yet)). Spending a week working exclusively with a Transformer vs spending a week with a keyboard case'd iPad would be an interesting experiment though!

Thanks for the tip on AVPlayer HD.

Fair point on the wishy-washy-sounding final Pros and Cons - but even after all those words it's not a clear-cut argument unless you just want to play games. But for technophobes, surely the iPad would be the right choice, right? (It's sounds like a bit of a cop-out within the context of the feature, but still true overall.)


July 11, 2011, 11:04 pm

I'd rather wait for the Galaxy Tab 10.1, all the android advantages in a package thinner and lighter than iPad 2, but what was with the random comparisons?

The kindle is easier to hold with one hand? I should hope so for a dedicated e-reader

The iPhone 4 has a higher dpi screen? Thats all nice and good for a phone but we're comparing two tablets right?

Just seemed rather arbitary inclusions to me.


July 12, 2011, 3:14 am

This is a new thing we're trying out. Not a fan? Do give us a shout if you think it's good/bad/ugly. Our thought is that there are quite a lot of people juggling between the idea of buying these two devices, so we thought a direct comparison would be worthwhile.

The outside comparisons (to kindle and iPhone 4) are there to place these two tabs in a wider tech context, especially as some readers may own an iPhone 4/Kindle but not a tablet. It's easy to say X is better than Y, but the point becomes more interesting, and has more real-world value, when also viewed from a "one step back" position - especially in terms of the one-handed comfort issue. My idea is that while it's easy to say that the iPad 2 is the most comfortable (big-name 10in) tablet to hold one-handed, is it really viable to hold it up for 30 mins on a standing train journey? I'm not so sure!

The Tab 10.1 is another tablet we'd like to give this treatment to - especially, as you say, it's the one tablet to challenge the iPad on the dimensions front.


July 12, 2011, 3:25 am

@andrew,it sounded more like you where trying too push your own preferences into an article,the kindle has nothing to do with this,compare 2 items and stick to it maybe.

imagine this

"a cheese sandwich may not have the ability to connect to the internet on the move but i can hold it in one hand ,either standing or sitting"

or maybe i missed the joke


July 12, 2011, 3:31 am

hah! excellent. It was more from the idea that these are all common commuter devices (on my commute anyway). If anything i'm biased by my commuter experience rather than my own gadgety preferences. I don't actually own a Kindle. I'll admit I do own a Sony PRS-505 tho.


July 12, 2011, 1:56 pm

I have an EEE Transformer, and I use UPnPlay to hook up to my NAS, and MoboPlayer as the player (as this seems to have the best codec support, with the also free MoboPlayer Codec for ARM V7_VFPV3 plugin).

Choose a video to play in UPnPlay, and it asks which player you would like to play it with. Choose MoboPlayer from the list, and stream away.

UPnPlay: https://market.android.com/details?id=cx.hoohol.silanoid&feature=search_result

MoboPlayer: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.clov4r.android.nil&feature=search_result

MoboPlayer Codec for ARM V7_VFPV3 plugin : https://market.android.com/details?id=com.clov4r.android.nil.armv7_vfpv3&feature=search_result

hope this helps.


July 12, 2011, 2:10 pm

@Chris2510 How do you find HD video support with the added Codec download? We found performance a bit hit and miss with Moboplayer.


July 12, 2011, 2:33 pm

@AndrewTR - I too found it quite hit and miss - I'm on an 'n' wireless network at home, so bandwidth isn't a problem, but streaming a 1080p trailer (as a test) for Bioshock Infinite turned it into a slideshow. I've tended to stick to SD content since then. I hope they get a plug in / app sorted that works with the Tegra processor, but haven't found one so far.


July 12, 2011, 2:38 pm

@chris2510 Imagine if Google built-in support for 1080p MKV, DivX and co in Honeycomb as standard. That'd be nice Ho hum


July 12, 2011, 2:39 pm

@andrew: Apparently Android users just aren't willing to pay for content.

A very good point, like you even mention Emulators etc on the Android means a developer is unlikely to make a port, what's the point. (there is of course a point, but most users probably wouldn't understand or care). Ironically the openness Android users have is also it's Achilles' heel. Most Android users believe Apple evil for charging for services, so no wonder the Android market is lacking here.


July 12, 2011, 2:56 pm

@AndrewTR - it would be excellent. But the geek in me (ok ok - I'm nothing BUT geek) likes the challenge of finding / tweaking things...

I think Google needs to do some clever stuff under the bonnet with Honeycomb - scaling up games, for instance. The graphics look fine, but the touch sensitivity often goes awry.

Whether this is Google's fault, or Asus's implementation of Android, I suppose we'll never know. At least with an iPad, the same company has designed the hardware and software, so you know who to blame ;o)


July 12, 2011, 3:04 pm

Yes, it's a real shame the commercial side and the more community-driven emulator/dev side can't co-exist well. I used to work in mobile games development/publishing, so am all too familiar with projects being scrapped because of the sad realities of the likely commercial outcomes. Sad smiley.


July 15, 2011, 3:19 am

I have had both units, and the Asus Transformer trumps the iPad pretty much in every respect. So much that the ipad2 was gathering dust, so I sold it.

the Transformer also has quite alot of change from the £500 (£429 inc dock, £350 without)


July 15, 2011, 3:23 am

If a Kindle won that round, then a Sony Reader would have been even better still.

Kindle buyers are either too stupid or too lazy to explore the better and less-locked in readers like the PRS-350 and PRS-650 e-readers from Sony.


July 30, 2012, 11:45 am

A question !
The battery that comes with this ASUS product, is it replacable ?

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