Author Technology Face Off: Asus Transformer vs. iPad 2

man in suit holding a tablet computer

Christmas is almost here. Which means it’s time to buy a present for the author in your life. Especially if that author is you.

Some of the hottest gifts this year are tablets. They are ultra mobile and relatively light on the wallet. For a long time, Apple has dominated the market. Does anyone even remember the HP TouchPad? It never stood a chance. Great product but it couldn’t compare with the big kids in that price range.

Asus has brought the first real contender to the field with their Transformer. It’s a tablet that connects to a docking station with a keyboard. The catch is that the tablet and keyboard are sold separately. Sneaky. I reviewed the product with a docking station as that was the most natural for authors.

This isn’t going to be a technical review because most authors don’t care about that. They care about writability, battery life, user experience, and the sticker shock.

Here’s how the two tablets stack up against each other:

 

Asus Transformer vs. iPad 2: Writability

Asus Transformer: Like I mentioned, it has a mobile docking station that you must purchase for it to live up to its name. The keyboard is 92% of full size so it isn’t going to bother you if you’ve ever used a netbook. Once it is hooked up to the dock, it doesn’t feel like a tablet any longer. It just looks like another netbook. An incredibly cool netbook with a touchscreen. If a mobile docking station just isn’t your thing, there are wireless keyboards you can purchase.

iPad2: It has wireless and Bluetooth enabled keyboards that you can purchase directly from Apple. You can also buy cases with built-in keyboards.  None of these mimic the netbook feel of the Asus. Which, for many people, is a perk. It was never designed to be one.

Winner: Toss-up. 

Asus Transformer for Authors

Asus Transformer vs. iPad 2: Battery

Asus Transformer: This is where this machine shines. The tablet itself lasts 9.5 hours, which is slightly inferior to Apple’s product.  With the docking station, it is boosted up to 16 hours. One brilliant feature is that the docking station charges the tablet. You can forget about looking for coffee shops with electrical outlets. All you need to do is grab and go.

iPad 2: This tablet has a battery life of 10 hours. There are battery boosting apps but none of them come close to adding hours like the docking station.

Winner: Asus Transformer. 

 

Asus Transformer vs. iPad 2: Sticker Shock

Asus Transformer: It will set you back $409. Add the other half of package is $119. For $528, you’ve got yourself a tablet and a netbook in one.

iPad 2: Apple has a fixed price of $499 for the entry-level product. An Apple official wireless keyboard is $69. By spending $568, you have your hands on the gadget that redefined cool.

Winner: Asus Transformer Even if you purchase the iPad with a wireless keyboard, you are still left with a tablet that needs a cover. The docking station for the machine closes up like a netbook, protecting your tablet. 

 

iPad 2 for Authors

Asus Transformer vs. iPad 2: User Experience

Asus Transformer: The product just isn’t as intuitive as the iPad. Nor does it have Apple’s the incredible operating system. Instead, it uses Honeycomb, which makes me just as hungry typing it as does the Ice Cream Sandwich OS. Were the engineers starving when they created these programs? There’s a learning curve to using this product. It’s not incredibly steep but it’s there.

iPad 2: Do you really want me to wax poetic about iOS5? I could. But it would be a waste of time. You already know that it’s the best system out there.

Winner: iPad 2

 

Bottom Line:

The Transformer wins. Barely. If you are a serious author who just needs a grab and go device, the Transformer is what you need. It isn’t going to be as sexy as the iPad 2 but you don’t need it to be.