It looks like a new Android-based tablet enters the market each week, and they may all seem to look the same on the outside. Recently though, we have had a lot of very interesting new entrants, as seen by a comparison between our two current pugilists, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet. What sets them apart from other tablets is that both of them come with an optional dock accessory that turns them into road warriors fit for business types who want to up their productivity.
They also both have a 10.1-inch touchscreens and are powered by Honeycomb. Let’s see if they match pound-for-pound in other areas, shall we?
The software on the Transformer is mainly a ‘vanilla’ version of the Honeycomb OS, despite the fact that ASUS features its Waveshare UI on the Eee Pad Transformer. Extras include a file manager, the MyLibrary books app, as well as a MyNet app for streaming multimedia content.
The MyCloud app features one year of unlimited storage, perfect for storing your documents in the cloud. There have been reports that the interface is a bit sluggish at times though this was only when it was docked into the keyboard.
The Transformer also has one neat trick up its sleeve. The MyWater wallpaper lets you slosh ice cubes around as if you had a drink in your hand but the really nifty part is that the water level is an indicator of how much battery life is left on your device.
On the other hand, Lenovo uses a Launch Zone on the ThinkPad tablet, basically a fancy launcher of sorts. This software has five customizable areas for reading, watching, listening, email and surfing the net. Lenovo also offers 2GB of free cloud storage with each ThinkPad Tablet purchase.
The Eee Pad Transformer is quite the hefty device at 10.7 x 6.9 inches. Clocking in at 0.68kg, this device is even heavier than the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v. The tablet itself has a microSD slot, a headphone/mic jack and a mini HDMI port
The ASUS tablet, as you now well know, takes its name from its optional keyboard dock which transforms it from tablet mode to notebook mode.The keyboard dock comes with two full-sized USB ports, an SD card slot, a trackpad and a built-in battery. ASUS says the battery offers an additional six and half hours of use.
In the other corner, Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet has a thick design that reflects the Lenovo’s ThinkPad range of business notebooks. It’s slightly heavier than both the iPad 2 and the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, tipping the scales at 0.715kg and showing off a 10.3 x 7.2 inch build. For ports, it has a standard headphone jack, one full USB 2.0 port, a micro-USB port,
The ThinkPad keyboard is also an optional purchase like for the Transformer, but one that IBM diehards will likely shell out for. It features the standard ThinkPad layout as well as the trademark red trackpoint.
For storage, each tablet has multiple options: the Eee tablet offers 16GB and 32GB variants while the Lenovo one lets you choose between 16GB, 32GB and 64GB internal storage. They also share all the usual hardware included for tablets: dual cameras (the rear one is 5MP), Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth connectivity. The ThinkPad offers 3G connectivity for certain models, something that the Transformer doesn’t have.
Both devices are powered by NVIDIA Tegra 2 and sport a 10.1 inch, 1280 x 800 screen. The ThinkPad has a TFT and Gorilla Glass protected screen while the Transformer is LED backlit.
The Eee Pad Transformer’s display gives off vibrant color and crisp text if used indoors, but it’s not ideal for use under direct sunlight due to its glossy surface. The display of the ThinkPad Tablet is likely to perform the same as the Eee Pad Transformer. Being a business tablet, a matte screen on the ThinkPad Tablet would make it much easier to view in direct sunlight. Also, it’s important to mention that the Thinkpad Tablet will work with stylus input, which gives it quite a big edge over the Transformer in this area.
The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer guarantees 9 hours of video playback. However, the keyboard has its own battery that offers and added 6.5 hours of use. If both the tablet and the keyboard dock batteries are fully charged, the tablet draws power from the keyboard dock in order to maintain power for tablet-only use. On the other hand, Lenovo guarantees 8 hours of video playback on the ThinkPad Tablet.
The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, however, does not charge via USB connection. The upside to this is that it can charge much faster than a USB connection though you might be hard pressed to power it up when you leave your charger at home. It’s not yet known if the ThinkPad Tablet charges through its usual micro-USB connection, proprietary connector or both.
Costs And Availability
The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is now available and costs $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, and $599 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model that comes with optional keyboard dock. The keyboard dock accessory can be bought separately for $149-$199.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet pricing begins at $479 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only model while $729 for the 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model. The 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G model will sell for $839.