Apple iPad 2 vs Asus EEE Pad Transformer – quick comparison

After previewing the EEE Pad Transformer a couple of weeks ago, I finally got to play with the final version and give it a proper look. Also, just recently got my iPad 2 tablet as well, thus, before actually posting the reviews for both these devices, I put together this post, a quick comparison of the two devices that go head to head these days.

Why is this comparison important? Well, because the Transformer is the first HoneyComb tablet to come with powerful hardware, slightly improved OS and proper pricing ($100 cheaper than the iPad 2), plus it has that nice and also affordable docking station (goes for $160 extra).

However, this post is mainly a quick comparison. Because i had to return the EEE Pad shortly after shooting the clip, It might not include all the aspects it should have, but you can read more about those in the post below

Update: I’ve rewritten part of this post. The Transformer has gone a long road since i first tested it in April so it’s fair to put together a more uptodate comparison. So, the following are based on a Transformer with Android 3.2 and an iPad 2 running iOS 4.3.3 .

iPad 2 vs EEE Pad Transformer

iPad 2 vs EEE Pad Transformer

There is a video comparison below but bare in mind that’s the initial comparison i shot back in early April, when the Transformer was still running an early HoneyComb 3.0 OS version. A lot has changed in the meantime. While back then the Asus tablet was kind of sluggish even in everyday use, it’s not anymore. Browsing speed has increased as well and you can now stream video content from Youtube, Vimeo or other sources flawlessly. I still enjoy more the Youtube HTML5 based player you can get on the iPad and its pinch-to-fullscreen feature, but that’s another story.

As for the browser, it is quite fast now and like you know, it offers Flash support. Still doesn’t feel as fast as the one on the iPad during everyday use and navigation (scrolling, zooming, panning around) ain’t as smooth, but the overall experience is pretty good. And if you’ll turn off Flash and Javascript from settings, it will get even faster.

So, while initially I considered the Transformer a great piece of hardware which lacked the needed hardware support, I feel this changed a lot with Android 3.1 and Android 3.2 .

The clip below will show you more details, but be aware that the part that speaks about everyday use and performances is outdated. I promise to shoot a new clip as soon as i’ll get iOS 5 on my iPad. In the meantime, you can read my updates on the EEE Pad Transformer running Android 3.1 and Android 3.2 (coming soon) , both with videos.

Despite all these changes the Transformer still does not feel as snappy as the iPad. Not having software specially optimized for the hardware inside, like in Apple’s case, is visible during everyday use. Of course, HoneyComb is a lot more customizable and offers more freedom and more options than the iPad. But it will still feel sluggish and require a restart after a couple of hours of intense use or it might occasionally (rarely though) freeze completely.

And there’s the problem with Apps. There are a bunch of Apps in Android’s market, but only some of them are optimized for big screens. I for one have still failed to find any good Twitter app for my Pad, while the native app on the iPad is just amazing. Then, I hate it that the Market doesn’t offer a distinction between apps made for tablets and apps made for phones, like the AppStore does. It’s been countless times when I installed an app only to find out it’s made for small displays and looks awful on my 10 inch tablet. Yes, Android 3.2 now offers the option to play apps at native resolution, but that’s not really a solution in my eyes.

There’s also the multimedia playing part. It’s great that you can easily add files on the Transformer by just copying them in the required folder, without having to use stupid software like iTunes. I don’t like however the fact that the Transformer won’t be able to play a bunch of different types of files, for instance some .mkvs, .movs or .mp4s . If I get to copy easily all these files on the Pad, it’s quite frustrating when I can’t actually run them. You can run certain types of 720p and 1080p files, but they will have to be reconverted in .wmv in most cases. And that kind of defeats the whole fast copying purpose.

Of course, the iPad ain’t much better, it can only deal with specific files, mainly .movs . When you’ll sync different movie files to your tablet, it won’t even copy those that are not supported, thus the ones you’ll get on will work flawlessly, including up to 720p .mov files (Full HD ones are not supported).

iPad 2 vs Asus Transformer

iPad 2 vs Asus Transformer

Of course, there would be many things to be added in here. I should also mention that the Transformer comes with a mini HDMI and a microSD card slot, plus when getting the docking unit you get Full-size USBs, next to that keyboard and extra battery. All those will be quite handy if you plan to replace your laptop with a tablet.

In the end, comparing the iPad 2 and the EEE Pad Transformer is more complicated, as there are far more aspects to consider. Still, here’s a list of main attractions and cons for each of the two, valid today, April 20th 2011 August 2011 (the date of the last update):

iPad 2

  • light (1.33 lbs), sleek, solid built
  • has an IPS panel, 4:3 display and lower 1024 x 768 px resolution
  • gets access to thousands of dedicated apps, despite the fact that most of them are not free
  • AppStore is easy to use and you can easily distinguish between apps made for iPad and iPhone
  • snappy in everyday use, almost never freezes
  • camera placement is not that good and still pictures are poor. 720p recording works OK though.
  • up to 10 hours of life on a single charge
  • actual tablet lacks card extension, HDMI, etc (you’ll have to pay for all extension add-ons)
  • you get no widgets and customization options on iOS
  • you’re stuck with iTunes for adding content on it
  • Google specific apps offer less options than what you get on HoneyComb
  • prices start at $499

EEE Pad Transformer

  • solid built, pretty light (1.49 lbs), wider than the iPad
  • 16:10 display, IPS panel and big 1280 x 800 px display
  • not that many HoneyComb dedicated apps available in the Market Store
  • while using the Market is quite intuitive, there’s no way to tell which app is made for a big screen before actually installing it
  • sometimes can be sluggish in everyday use and can even freeze, requiring restarts in order to get it working again – that happens quite rarely now with Android 3.2 on board
  • 5 MPx camera with no flash, gets good still pictures and offers 720p recording as well
  • only up to 7-8 hours of life, but you can get 4-5 extra with the docking
  • comes with micro SD card slot, micro HDMI
  • interface allows customizations
  • you can easily add content by Copy/Pasting it like on a regular drive on your computer
  • comes with an useful docking, with keyboard, extra battery and 2xUSB 2.0 slots, SD card-reader
  • prices start at $399 ($159 for the docking)

And we could add some more. All in all, I do not mind the fact that the Transformer is slightly bigger and heavier. Plus, the screen is better suited for watching video content (as it is wide) and comes with increased resolution. You do get a card reader and micro HDMI slot on the tablet and overall price is very good. But these are still not enough to make it my first pick.

Improved resolutions makes fonts better, but overall browsing experience is better on the iPad

Improved resolutions makes fonts better, but overall browsing experience is better on the iPad

In the end, while initially the iPad was clearly my pick, I feel right now choosing between the two really depends on what you need and what are you planning to use your tablet for. I for one own both and mostly use the iPad, and here’s why.

The iPad 2 is a much easier to use tablet, the interface and all the gestures are intuitive even for first time users. It doesn’t require any fancy setups, getting apps on it is a no-brainer and overall everyday experience is flawless. Using it is smooth, it won’t freeze or get sluggish (I only had to restart it twice since I bought it in early April). Thus, if you want a tablet for browsing, listening to music, watching video content and playing, basically for entertainment and leisure, this is what I would get. Prices start at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-fi Only version and go up if you want more storage space or 3G connectivity.

The Transformer ain’t a bad tablet also, not at all. I feel it’s probably the best one with Android you can get these days, right there on par with the Galaxy TAB 10. Still, while Android has come a long way in these last months, it still requires a learning curve some of you might not enjoy. Using it is not as intuitive, all the settings and customizing options can be a bit overwhelming for some. And even if you like these challenges, overall the Transformer won’t perform as smooth as the iPad during everyday use (remember, I own them both and have been using them for months).

Still, there are things I love about the Transformer: it’s100 bucks cheaper than the iPad, starting at $399 , with $129 extra if you want the docking station (there is however no 3G versions available for now). You can customize it, add useful widgets to your screen and improve your productivity. It offers a bunch of ports the iPad lacks and with the help of that docking unit it can even replace a mini laptop (I for one however tried to use it as a laptop replacement but I’ve failed. I still need my Windows software and browser for blogging, editing multimedia content or conducting various researches). There’s more about the EEE Pad Trasnformer in my review.

In the end, it’s up to what you want: for me, as a fun multimedia tool I only lightly use for business purposes (edit documents, check emails), the iPad is the better pick. For you, the EEE Pad Transformer might be, especially if you’re an Android user already. Plus, the 20% lower price does make a difference.

PS: Once again, remember that the clip is outdated, but the post is not. So don’t judge me for the things I might have said or might have missed on that clip. And wait for the update on that pretty soon.

About The Author

Andrei Girbea, aka "Mike", Editor-in-Chief at TLBHD.com. I absolutely hate carrying around heavy stuff, that's why I'm fond of mini-laptops and portable computers. I'm primarily using such devices and have been testing them for many years now. Get in touch in the comments section below.

65 Comments

  1. juan September 4, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    ok thank you very much

  2. DimArk September 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Finally, good review of User interface, not ports, and build quality…
    Right now I have an android phone, I will go for iPad… i prefere fast interface. Main use – browsing I-net, reading, may be, youtube alittle. I can live with iPad’s cons. It will be my first Apple product.
    I think one day Android will catch iOS… but iOS not stay in place too. Apple will have to include Flash support, may be SD card in iPad body. May be we will se it even in iPad3 version.
    May be I will end up having both iPad and Android…!!!

  3. Daryl September 11, 2011 at 2:21 am

    Thanks for the review. My wife was wanting an ipad mainly to get an ap that would allow her to scan and save all of her sheet music so that she doesn’t have to carry all those big fat notebooks around. I heard about the Asus and I’m more impressed with it, however, I’m afraid that the ap needed scan and save sheet music will not be available for it. Based on your review, there aren’t many aps available for the Asus. How can I find out if an ap is available for the Asus that will allow her to scan and save her sheet music?

  4. Jessie B September 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Now I’m so anxous to make a decision to buy tablets: Ipad 2 or Asus transformer. Would you mind give me some suggest to buy one of them? Thanks a lot!

  5. Juan September 12, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Mike, do you know a good review of the Acer Iconia, here or in another website. is it better than the Ipad or the Asus transformer? for using it in the high school of course… Thank you

  6. Peter Rohn September 13, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Don’t try to deny you’re not a fanboy.

    For a year now, Apple has been trying to convince people that you cannot be productive with the tablet platform and that the tablet is purely for fun and pleasure. This is why pretty much all reviews by apple fanboys such as yourself completely ignore the productivity that the keyboard dock brings to the table.

    I’m an engineer. Before I got the transformer+dock, I had to carry my laptop and several books around with me for references. Nowadays, the transformer+dock is the only thing I need. I have not touched my laptop for 4 months now. All my references have been stored as large pdf files on my transformer, which can be very easily accessed with repligo. I can also take hand written notes directly into the pdf files with repligo.

    Every ipad and ipad 2 owners I know have to carry a laptop with them to do any real work. Sure, they tell me all the time that it was a mistake for me to not get the ipad 2 because of how great the ipad 2 is. But when it comes to real work, they would put away their ipad 2’s and take out their laptops. I just click my transformer into the dock and work.

    If you’re going to do a fair review, then you need to include these aspects of having keyboard dock that turns the transformer into a tablet-laptop hybrid. But of course apple fanboys only want people to think the tablet platform is only for fun and games. That’s why virtually all reviews on the internet comparing the transformer to the ipad 2 completely ignore the huge advantage of being able to do work as well as having fun and pleasure off of a single device.

    Furthermore, I’ve recently opened up and soldered in a 500 GB hard drive into the keyboard dock as well as installed a switch that turns on and off the hard drive to save battery life. In other words, I can still retain 15 or so hours of battery life while being able to carry around huge amounts of data.

    And I’m not even an electrical or computer engineer. I’m a civil engineer.

    Spendinng $500+ for something that only surf and game is a waste of money IMHO. The transformer+dock allows you to be productive as well.

    Anyway, take this how you will. Continue to help apple convince everyone that the tablet is only a fun and game device only. Some of us actually are being productive with our tablets.

    • Mike September 13, 2011 at 11:35 am

      Peter, at the time of the comparison there was NO DOCKING STATION available. So I only compared the two tablets, the slates.

      As for productivity, I agree the Transformer can be better for actually putting together some work, to some extent. But still, tablets are primarily multimedia and fun tools, and that’s why people buy them. I do own a Transformer and an ipad and have tested pretty much all the slates out there, and as much as I’d love to be able to replace my Windows laptop with any of them for everyday work (writing, editing videos and photos), I just can’t yet.

      • Peter Rohn September 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm

        The dock is what defines the transformer. That’s why the transformer is a transformer. Reviewing just the tablet while ignoring the huge advantage of being able to turn the device at will to a laptop-like device is like reviewing a car comparing to a bike while ignoring the huge advantage of having an engine that can take you to great distances. Might as well compare your desktop monitor to the ipad 2 while ignoring everything else about the desktop.

        I’m telling you now. I have not touched my laptop for 4 months now. It’s just sitting there collecting dust. I do, however, use my desktop for heavy duty work like autocad, microstation, and video editing. Everything else I used to do with my laptop I now do with my transformer. Of course this would be impossible if the keyboard dock didn’t exist (hint hint).

        This is why I tell people all the time that the tablet platform wasn’t meant to replace anything because it’s a new niche on its own. It is YOU who needs to figure out how it will fit into your life.

        I just read your review again. It really does look like every other review. And just like every other review, you tried to ignore all the features that made the transformer a transformer. You compared the 2 devices on the ipad 2’s own terms. Of course everything would look inferior if ignore all their features that the ipad 2 didn’t have.

        Just so you know, I don’t hate apple products, unlike some people. I used to be a programmer by trade and I do hardware repairs on the side. When people ask me I almost always recommend apple. I am just getting tired of reading all the reviews that intentionally designed to ignore all the features that the ipad or ipad 2 can’t compete with.

        If you want to be more fair, your job now is to get a keyboard dock and start figuring out what you can do with the transformer with the dock. People tell you the transformer is a productive device, so you need to either ask them how or figure it out yourself. And don’t try to pass the keyboard dock as just another accessory like I’ve seen so many fanboys do. The keyboard dock and the tablet were designed from the ground up together. So, it’s not just another accessory. And also don’t try to compare the ipad’s bluetooth keyboard to this. Again, not comparable at all.

      • Mike September 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm

        Well, you’re right that I should update this post. A couple of things changed since I first wrote it and shot the clip back in April. I am however waiting for iOS 5 to become mainstream and write a new post, comparing the Transformer with Android 3.2 and docking station with the iPad 2 with iOS 5.

        Still, my biggest issue with the Transformer or in fact any other tablet is the lack of proper photo or video editing software. Plus, even with a mouse connected, I don’t get the productivity i get on windows, even on basic tasks around blogging: writing texts, editing photos, downloading content from my cameras, posting things. I agree, Android tablets and especially Transformer are better at such tasks than the port-less and iOS powered iPad, but still, I rather have my 11.6 inch laptop for those. And keep my ipad for light browsing, twitter, watching some movies and playing games. And for those, the iPad is the better pick in my eyes (and not just in mine).

        You’re saying that this is just another comparison similar to the ones around. Perhaps. And that makes me consider writing some posts on getting extra productivity on a tablet. So thanks, your comments helped me find some new subject for future posts. And of course, I really appreciate the feedback, even though you called me a “fan boy” 😛 (hint: the ipad 2 is the only apple product I ever owned, despite using pretty much all of their stuff in these last years in vrious situations).

  7. Peter Rohn September 13, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I must admit that I’ve never really held a high opinion of online reviewers of products. First of all, have you ever heard of the saying don’t judge a book by its cover? Most reviewers seem to have spent about 2 minutes with the device before they do a review. Having been playing with computer software and hardware all my life, I know for a fact that you can’t know something enough to do a good review on it after just a day of use.

    You still sound like you’re not convincced the transformer could be that productive. It is true that the transformer is not productive if you try to use it like a laptop or desktop. But if you just treat the transformer like a completely new device then I assure you it could be even more productive than a laptop.

    Here are a few things that I do with the transformer.

    In meetings, I’d hand write with a dagi stylus directly into the pdf documents. You can’t do this with a laptop.

    On site, I’d only use the tablet part to reference specs rather than carrying paperwork and ASTM books. Again, you can’t do this with a laptop.

    In the office or in the car, I would type out reports and communicate with colleagues via email or just text with google voice. Tethered to my phone, you’d be amazed how effective it is to use the transformer as a communication device.

    15+ hr battery life means I can use it all day without having to worry about finding an outlet.

    Last month I gave a little presentation on bond strength between concrete and steel. I was able to quickly create a powerpoint with the transformer. Just plug in the hdmi…

    Those are just some quick things that came to my head. Again, the tablet platform is something completely new. I often hear people complain that it’s not a laptop. This usually drives me nuts.

    The point is if you’re going to treat the tablet like a toy, then say so in your review. Some people actually would want to know of productive ways to use the tablet.

    As you can probably tell by now, I’m a tech enthusiast. But unlike most tech enthusiasts out there, I try to find useful things to do with the gadgets that come out.

    That said, you can try to be different than other reviewers and go beyond just reviewing about gaming and watching video with the tablet. You could try to come up with ways to make the tablet more useful than just surfing and gaming. To me, $500+ for something to surf and game only is a waste of money.

    • Mike September 14, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      Peter, I am convinced that the Transformer can be productive. Like I said, I own one, I know what it can do. On the other hand, I also know for sure that it’s not the productivity device I need for my everyday tasks, that’s why I said it cannot replace the laptop for me and I stand behind this.

      PS: My portable everyday laptop is an Acer 1825PT . It’s a bit older but I paid around 600 euros for it when it was new. True, it’s not as portable as a Transformer but runs Windows, with Photoshop, Movie Maker, etc (things I need). And you can take notes on that one as well as it has a swivable display. Still, let’s not get into getting notes on a capacitive screen without a digitizer – it’s barely useful, to say the least.

      I agree with the first part of your post, on reviews available online, but speaking from my experience, let’s say Asus prepares a new tablet . And they send me a sample unit to review before it actually hits the stores. I don’t have weeks to play with it, I only have a bunch of days. And I try to get the best out of it in those few days. I agree that such a review cannot be as thorough as a review written after using a device for 1-2 months everyday, but in our business, if you’re not between the first ones to publish the posts, then you don’t matter. Especially if you’re not engadget or cnet or other big names. I’m not saying it’s not a flawed system, it is, but that’s the game and how we have to play it.

      And of course, I’m trying to improve with every review I write. It takes time and with helpful feedback like yours I’m sure I’ll provide better and better posts for my readers.

      PS: I like your enthusiasm and passion and, don’t take this the wrong way, but if you ever feel like putting your opinions about the Transformer or any tablets on a site, I’ll be glad to host them here on the site. You’ll have the liberty to write about whatever you might want, of course

  8. Elisa September 15, 2011 at 5:57 am

    I just bought an Asus and am bringing it back and getting an ipad. The Asus is sluggish and not intuitive and it doesn’t have Skype.

  9. Gabe September 16, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Until reading this article, I had no idea that iPad had a 4:3 ratio screen…that’s what original TV’s used…talk about sliding back to the digital dark-ages. We need to bury that screen ratio and that’s the decision maker for me to go with Asus.

  10. Bojan September 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I had the First iPad and i wanted to upgrade to the iPad 2, but after seeing this video i bought the transformer and grust me i liked it a lot, the hdmi output micro sd slot, flash, torrent apps. but there are some drawbacks like if you play hd video the sound does not play, on stand by you get one and a half day max, you need to restart the device once a day. and all of that was ok with me untill 10 days of usage the left side of the transformer started to squeak and the bezel opened a little and dust was goung under the screen, that bothered me a lot and i returned it to the store.
    and after looking closely at 2-3 more transformers i noticed that all of them had the same problem.
    So finnaly i paid the extra cost and bought the iPad 2 as i planned and trust me i do not miss all the extra stuff on the transformer, just because of the very low build quality.

  11. scdj February 9, 2012 at 2:11 am

    If you differ tablet pc’s in your reviews by their usage or target users, then better write it like this: ipad2 = no-brain-easy-usage/-users , transformer = only-brain-advanced-usage/-users

    • john February 9, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      you are very funny, i can’t stop laughing with your jokes JAJAJAJA (trully you are a joker), NO

  12. Javid April 22, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Hi, Mike. Thank you for great reviews. Keep going! Every day I’m checking for updates. I want to buy a tablet but I can’t choose what to buy. Ipad or Asus eee pad transformer. Please answer. What is your advise? Thank you!

  13. Lisandro May 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Javid:
    Just Eee Pad Asus Transformer!!! Is it the best!!! That´s your choice!!!! That was my choice!! you will not regret! It’s a pipe!

  14. Antonmax June 8, 2012 at 7:44 am

    My wife uses iPad2 and I use a Asus Eee Pad Transformer….Sure, iPad has some good features and apps, but what it doesn’t have is the FlashPlayer. Oh, u hv to pay as apple doesn’t allow FlashPlayer…most of Asus streaming can be HDMI to my TV and iPad that is not so…Apple restricts a lot of things…Another thing is what Bojan said about the problems related to Asus pad…as to have to restart eveyday, there was a problem intitially after upgraded software, but that was solved now. I dropped my pad and the bottom right edge hit the floor from a height of 3 feet while I was playing some video. It continued playing and I just picked up the pad and noticed a little scratches and the cover opened a little…I just pressed the cover back and walah….all are ok…of course, the Eee pad can’t support some android apps ….but, I am all for this Asus….

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