When is a Honeycomb based tablet not a tablet? When the Asus EeePad Transformer is docked into its keyboard, turning it into a 10-inch laptop, that’s when. Asus have just announced that the new tablet/laptop hybrid thing will be landing in Australia tomorrow, with prices starting at $599.
There are two versions launching tomorrow, a 16GB Wi-Fi version that doesn’t include the keyboard dock, which will cost $599, and a 32GB Wi-Fi version that does include the keyboard, which will sell for $799. The dock peripheral will be available as a separate purchase in July, and although pricing isn’t set, an Asus rep told us they expected it to sell for around $199.
As far as Android tablets go, it's on par with many of the current players. A Tegra 2 chip powers Android 3.0, with HDMI and USB connectors combining with the 1280 x 800 10.1-inch LED Gorilla glass screen. There's a 1.2MP front camera and a 5MP rear camera, SRS sound and the Transformer will come with preloaded Asus apps.
But it's the keyboard attachment that really separates it from the competitors. The tablet docks into the matching keyboard via three clips, with the centre one offering the connection to the keyboard. The keyboard itself holds a secondary battery, which boosts the expected battery life from eight hours to 16, and will charge the tablet should it be running low on juice.
Asus has promised a 3G version of the Transformer at the end of Q3 this year, but will be offering it through the open channel rather than partnering with a carrier to start with. The Taiwanese company is also testing Android 3.1, and expects to deliver it as an OTA update around August/September.
Given that using a tablet's onscreen keyboard is one of the biggest criticisms of the technology, Asus seem to be on a winner here. The pricing's pretty good and the keyboard connector is relatively comfortable to type on, as well as having the benefit of converting the tablet into a laptop for the more serious workaholics out there.