First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer vs Toshiba Tablet (AT100): Tablet showdown
- — 15 July, 2011 15:01
The Toshiba Tablet looks and feels much thicker than most other devices on the market, and at 15mm thick it's a significantly bulkier device than the Eee Pad Transformer. The back cover has a rubberised feel and its textured design makes the Tablet comfortable to hold. It also feels slip resistant and is not particularly prone to scratches.
At 771g, we were expecting the Toshiba Tablet (AT100) to be a little unwieldy to hold, but the reality is far from that. It actually feels lighter than the Eee Pad Transformer, despite the specifications sheet suggesting it is far heavier. Combined with the grippy rear cover, the Toshiba Tablet is comfortable to hold with one or both hands.
The Toshiba Tablet also has removable back covers. Toshiba stocks a range of replaceable back covers (in silver, blue, green, raspberry, and lavender colours) for $29.95 each.
The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and Toshiba Tablet share virtually identical software, and they also have very similar, capacitive touchscreen displays. Both tablets have a screen that is 10.1in in size, with a resolution of 1280x800.
The Eee Pad Transformer's display produces vibrant colour and crisp text indoors, but its glossy surface makes it very tough to see in direct sunlight, and its viewing angles aren't great. The glossy surface doesn't always feel smooth to swipe your finger across, though the display itself is responsive to touch when in use.
Despite listing an IPS (In Plane Switching) panel as the screen technology of choice — the same technology used on the iPad 2 — the Toshiba Tablet's screen exhibits poor viewing angles, is not as bright as the Eee Pad Transformer and is also tough to see in sunlight. We found the automatic brightness setting almost useless in most environments, and generally had to up the brightness to around 85-90 per cent to achieve the best views. The Toshiba Tablet's screen also appears to display an annoying yellow tinge, and suffers from ghosting issues, though Toshiba says that the Android 3.1 software update will include new hardware graphic drivers which may fix these issues.
The Toshiba Tablet's screen appears to display an annoying yellow tinge, and also suffers from ghosting issues. Toshiba says that the Android 3.1 software update will include new hardware graphic drivers which may fix these issues.
Internals and cameras
The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Toshiba Tablet have similar internals. Both tablets are powered by a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, both have a hefty 1GB of RAM and both have at least 16GB of internal memory, though ASUS also sells a 32GB model.
If you're looking for a tablet to store a hefty amount of digital media on, then the Toshiba Tablet's full sized SD card may be a critical factor to consider — the Toshiba Tablet can support SD cards of up to 128GB in size — much more than the current 32GB limit of the microSD card slot in the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. However, the Eee Pad Transformer's keyboard dock has a full sized SD card slot, so provides the best of both worlds.
The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Toshiba Tablet both have a 5-megapixel rear camera for photographs and video, but the Tablet has a 2-megapixel front camera that slightly betters the 1.2-megapixel front snapper on the Eee Pad. However, the Eee Pad Transformer can record 720p HD video, whereas the Toshiba Tablet only records standard definition footage. We don't think many tablet owners will purchase one of these devices based solely on its video recording quality, but this is a feature worth considering regardless.
Both the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Toshiba Tablet include a full USB port for transferring and storing files. This means you can plug in a USB thumb drive to quickly access your files. However, the Eee Pad Transformer only has a full USB port if you purchase the optional keyboard dock accessory — ASUS bundles this with the device for $799 in Australia.
Both ASUS and Toshiba bundle a file manager app as a standard feature. Even more convenient is the fact that you can plug in a USB keyboard into both devices and use it for text input, though the keyboard dock obviously negates this issue on the Eee Pad Transformer.
The Toshiba Tablet is the only Android "Honeycomb" tablet sold in Australia that features a full sized HDMI port. It also has a full sized USB port, and a full sized SD card slot.
Along with a USB port, the Eee Pad Transformer has a mini-HDMI out port, so it can be plugged directly into a high-definition television with the right cable. There is no such worries for owners of the Toshiba Tablet — it is the only Android "Honeycomb" tablet sold in Australia that features a full sized HDMI port. This means you can connect the Toshiba Tablet to a high definition television or projector using a regular HDMI cable.
Both the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Toshiba Tablet are Wi-Fi only devices, but both companies are expected to release Wi-Fi + 3G variants at a later, unannounced date.
ASUS promises 9 hours of video playback on the Eee Pad Transformer, but has an ace up its sleeve with the keyboard dock. This has its own, separate battery that ASUS says offers an additional six and half hours of use. If both the tablet and the keyboard dock batteries are fully charged, the Eee Pad Transformer draws power from the keyboard dock first in order to preserve power for tablet-only use.
Toshiba quotes a more realistic 7-8 hours with its battery, and has one feature that no other Android tablet currently boasts — the battery is removable and replaceable. A switch on the left side of the tablet unlocks the rear cover and you simply pull it off to remove. Toshiba sells an additional 6-cell battery for $79.95.
Disappointingly, both the Toshiba Tablet and the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer do not charge through their standard mini and micro-USB connections. The upside to this is that use of different ports can charge the devices much faster that a USB connection can. The Toshiba Tablet's battery can be charged to 90 per cent of its capacity in just one hour, while the Eee Pad also charges much faster than most other tablets on the market.
Pricing and availability
The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is available through retailers Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi. It costs $599 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, and $799 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model with optional keyboard dock included. The keyboard dock accessory sells for $199 on its own. Unfortunately, the Eee Pad Transformer remains a Wi-Fi-only device for now, though ASUS says a version with 3G connectivity may come at a later, unannounced date.
The Toshiba Tablet (AT100) is available now through major Australia retailers, and will set you back $579 for the one and only 16GB model. Wi-Fi + 3G variants are expected to be released at a later date but this is yet to be officially confirmed.