ASUS Eee Pad Transformer vs Acer Iconia A500: Tablet showdown

Which is the best Android tablet: ASUS's Eee Pad Transformer, or Acer's Iconia A500?

Although Apple's iPad continues to dominate the emerging tablet market, there are plenty of alternatives available.

Two of the latest to hit the Australian market are the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Acer Iconia A500.

Both tablets attempt to add some variety to the market — the Eee Pad Transformer is bundled with an optional keyboard dock that adds extra functionality, while the Acer Iconia A500 boasts a HDMI-out port and a full-sized USB port.

Read our comprehensive ASUS Eee Pad Transformer review, along with our detailed Acer Iconia A500 review.

Both available now through major Australian retailers, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Acer Iconia A500 share a 10.1in sized touchscreen, run almost identical software and have similar ports and features. With this in mind, how does the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer compare to the Acer Iconia A500 when it comes to specifications?

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer vs Acer Iconia A500: Specifications

Feature ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Acer Iconia A500 Verdict
Display size 10.1in 10.1in Draw
Display technology Capacitive IPS Capacitive TFT ASUS Eee Pad Transformer
Display resolution 1280x800 pixels 1280x800 pixels Draw
Multitouch Yes Yes Draw
Front camera 1.2 megapixels 2 megapixels Iconia A500
Rear camera 5 megapixels, no flash, autofocus, geotagging 5 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging Iconia A500
Video recording Yes, 720p HD Yes, 720p HD Draw
GPS Yes Yes Draw
Internal memory 16GB or 32GB 16GB or 32GB Draw
Expandable memory microSD (full sized SD on dock) microSD Eee Pad Transformer
Dimensions 271 x 171 x 13mm 260 x 177 x 13.3mm Iconia A500
Weight 680g 730g Eee Pad Transformer
Processor NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core (1GHz) NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core (1GHz) Draw
RAM 1GB 1GB Draw
3G networks Wi-Fi only Wi-Fi only Draw
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP 2.1 with A2DP Draw
HDMI-out Yes, mini HDMI Yes, micro HDMI Draw
USB port Only on keyboard dock (2 full size) Yes, full size Draw
Quoted battery life Up to 9 hours Up to 10 hours Iconia A500
Removable battery No No Draw
Adobe Flash support Yes Yes Draw

Software and performance

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Acer Iconia A500 both run the same software, so the end user experience is almost identical. However, both tablets are currently in the process of being updated to the latest 3.1 version of Google's "Honeycomb" version of Android. The Eee Pad Transformer received the 3.1 software update over-the-air during our review period, while Acer announced its updates are currently being pushed out to users over-the-air (OTA). Android 3.1 brings improved UI transitions, an expandable and scrollable recent apps menu, and resizable home screen widgets, along with improvements to the standard Web browser, calendar, e-mail and gallery apps.

The software on both the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Acer Iconia A500 is a 'vanilla' version of the Honeycomb OS, though ASUS includes its Waveshare UI on the Eee Pad Transformer. Additions include a file manager, a MyCloud storage app, a MyLibrary books app, and a MyNet app for streaming multimedia content via DLNA. The MyCloud app offers one year of unlimited cloud storage. ASUS also includes handy e-mail, clock and weather widgets, though we found these made scrolling through home screens sluggish and choppy.

By comparison, Acer includes a few small hubs to store and sort downloaded apps on the Iconia A500. These include social, eReading, Game Zone and Multimedia — they are merely a fancy bookshelf background where you can group application shortcuts, and don't add much to the overall user experience.

Both tablets offer a slick Web browser that is fast and displays Flash content, most of the time with minimal delay. They also support tabbed Web browsing, and the entire browsing experience is as close as you'll find to a full desktop or notebook computer. The on-screen keyboard on both tablets is spacious and comfortable to type on once you get used to its layout.

Design

As a standalone device, the Eee Pad Transformer has textured plastic on the rear which makes it easy to grip. However, the plastic does exhibit a bit of flex when pressed, and the bezel surrounding the display seems a little large. At 271mm in length, the Eee Pad Transformer is a pretty large device. Weighing 680g, it's heavier than the featherweight Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v, but lighter than the Acer Iconia A500. The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer obviously gets its name from the optional keyboard dock, but the tablet can be purchased without the keyboard dock for $599 in Australia.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World

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