A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about compromise, about the search for a camera that did it all and didn't cost the earth. And the conclusion I came to was that more often than not compromise doesn't work. Well I might've changed my mind...
Ever since the first Asus Transformer arrived, I've loved the idea of the Transformer range. With one device you could replace a day to day laptop as well as fulfil tablet duties. In fact, not only was it supposed to replace both laptop and tablet but with a battery life of 12-15hours, it would out-perform them both too – it was the ultimate compromise device!
But, I didn't review it, and neither have I reviewed subsequent versions, so I'd never truly had a sense of whether any of the Transformers could actually replace my laptop and tablet in real life. That was until now.
The original Asus Transfomer
First, a bit of background...
For those of you that don't know, the Asus Transformer range are Android tablets that include a rather clever keyboard dock that in essence turns the tablet into a laptop. The hinged dock allows the tablet to fold flat against the keyboard and open out to hold the screen at whatever angle you want.
As well as adding a keyboard and screen-holding convenience, the keyboard also has extra connections like a USB port and SD card slot and as mentioned above, it adds extra batteries too to up the tablet's life from around 8-9hours to more like 15. Impressive stuff, right?
Well, the latest version that we just reviewed, the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity, even adds a Full HD screen, giving it iPad 3 levels of screen quality. All told, there was no way I was letting this one pass through our office without giving it a proper test myself.
So, I've spent the last few days using the Infinity as my day to day laptop/tablet and, boy, has it passed with flying colours.
The new and improved Asus Transformer Pad Infinity
For a start, as a basic piece of tablet hardware, it ticks all the right boxes. It looks nice, feels well made, its Full HD screen is amazing, it's fast and the battery seems to last forever. But it's the fact that it really does hold up to being a master of all that has me impressed.
The keyboard dock adds battery life as well as extra connectivity
Take my daily commute, for instance. It takes me around about one and a half hours to get to work each day, by train, bus, tube and leg power, and every step of the way the Infinity delivers. On the bus and train I can – assuming I get a seat – get some work done, typing away on the impressive keyboard, or sit back and relax watching a video with the Transformer sat on the seat back tray or my lap. So that's the casual laptop duties taken care of, then.
One flick of that switch and you can go from laptop to tablet
But, once on the crowded underground, the chances of a seat are minimal, and holding a laptop while standing up is a pig. With the Transformer, though, I can just unhook the tablet from the base and continue what I was watching. And while walking, it weighs just 1.14Kg so I hardly notice it.
It's not just the hardware, either. Android has proved to be more than capable of taking on serious work duties with the help of a few key apps, a couple of which I've listed below.
Currently our CMS only works properly on Firefox so the beta version of mobile Firefox has proved very useful. I actually think it's the best tablet browser I've used so far.
A great little image editing app that has all the essential tweaks on hand in a really easy to use interface. There is a pro version but the free one does plenty too.
It's not only about making for an easy commute either. When reporting on location, the SD slot means picture uploads are a cinch, the USB socket means a press release delivered on USB stick is no problem and the epic battery life means I never need worry about carrying a charger with me.
Sadly our review sample heads back to Asus tomorrow so it'll be back again to a regular old laptop... or tablet... or maybe one of the those phablets...
Have you bought a product that seemed like a compromise but turned out to be greater than the sum of its parts? Let us know in the comments.