Not my ideal writing machine: Asus Eee Pad Transformer

September 23, 2011

I’ve been playing around for a few days with a new gadget – the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. It sounded like a great idea – an Android tablet with a touchscreen, that docks onto a keyboard to form a machine with an ultrathin, ultralight netbook form factor. I thought it would be great for writing, revising, working with simple spreadsheets, and as a multimedia machine to watch videos and listen to music on.

It’s not a bad machine. It can handle all of that stuff – sort of. But I’ve found that the available Android office and productivity software is awkward and doesn’t exactly play nice with the keyboard interface. The pre-installed suite, Polaris Office, won’t open Rich Text Format files, doesn’t offer a word count function or show comments, and it’s awkward about text entry and navigation in spreadsheets. I downloaded a trial for another office package, OfficeSuite pro, and that was a little better, but I still found some issues – like no spell checker or ability to actually see the contents of comments.

More than just the office software, there’s all kinds of things about Android that I don’t like in the netbook keyboard experience – the complete absence of scrollbars in scrollable lists, for instance, since Android things that being able to push the list up or down on the touchscreen is so completely intuitive. The movie player doesn’t show titles, just sample frames; the music player is locked into a kind of a circle flow interface, and the Market application (to find and install new apps) seems very buggy, often getting stuck at the point between downloading and installing my app.

And wait, there’s more issues! The mouse touchpad is incredibly sensitive while typing, although to their credit, Asus had foresight enough to include a dedicated button to turn the touchpad on and off. And the browser doesn’t seem to want to let me scroll up and down inside a text area as opposed to scrolling the page up and down – which is incredibly frustrating when I want to compose a blog post. (And the WordPress android app is still stuck and won’t install.)

I know that I could probably sort out some of these annoyances by experimenting with other Android apps, but at the moment, I don’t have the patience for it. The entire package is going back to Futureshop, probably tomorrow. Thanks for the test drive, Asus, but this latest product wasn’t worth it – nearly $800 canadian, with the 2 year warranty plan and taxes. No thank you.

PS: And the web browser won’t even let me paste in text from OfficeSuite, so I won’t be able to post this to the blog until I get home. Grr all over again.


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