Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
Asus Eee Transformer TF101.

Asus Eee Transformer TF101.

Here’s something I posted earlier on my G+ account in response to a question about our new tablet, the Asus Eee Transformer:

I love it. It’s a little heavier than a couple other tablets like the newest iPad but the iPad was not something I wanted. It’s bright, easy to use, comfortable in the hands, and despite some odd reviews I saw to the contrary, not flimsy feeling at all. I switched the onscreen keyboard input method to the Android keyboard (instead of the Asus one) since the Android one places the keys in a more harmonious way if you’re a touch typist. Obviously there’s no tactile feedback but my accuracy is much better with the Android onscreen keyboard.

We also got the companion keyboard and that makes it work very much like an Android powered notebook computer (or a Chromebook+ if you like). Some apps make the physical keyboard a little slow, particularly Facebook or other web apps where there is too much live updating going on in the background via AJAX, or it’s poorly optimized. Google+ works well on it though. Using Google Docs is much more comfortable using the keyboard.

It’s Honeycomb based (3.1 out of the box) and I understand 3.2 is being shipped soon. The update mechanism is slick and easy like any phone, and the market is much more elegant in the tablet interface. Also I like the book reader, although if you do a lot of reading this way, or any outside, the Transformer can’t hold a candle to a Kindle.

Battery is very generous, and the keyboard extends the charge life by a lot. I haven’t run out of power over a day yet. One thing I haven’t been able to do yet is get the tablet to use my Droid X phone’s 3G for its internet connection over Bluetooth. It looks like it should work and connects correctly, but the browser doesn’t appear to find anything. Maybe DNS related but I need to look into it further.

All in all, 8 of 10 and well worth the $349 I paid for the 16GB model with a Staples coupon.

I had a number of Fedora folks ask me about this hardware who I suspect catch my blog from our planet, so I’m including this on the feed even though it’s a little off topic.

Since I wrote the above, I have the following updates:

  • The above report concentrates on Google services since it’s an Android device and some of the best experience comes from the integrated services. On the other hand, it’s also useful in other ways.
  • I installed the ConnectBot SSH client which definitely makes good use of the tablet form factor + keyboard as a fill-in laptop. However, it also exposes some issues with the keyboard mappings of which upstream is aware and hopefully will have solutions soon. The most glaring issue is the Tab key not working, which as a frequent bash user I definitely miss! Also the current lack of direct Ctrl and Alt key mappings can be frustrating too.
  • I also found a couple VNC clients which I found interesting if not vital.
  • The vendor updated to Honeycomb 3.2 which has a number of little improvements such as a more intuitive mouse cursor, smoother graphics, and a bunch of other general tweaks. Still no solution for the networking through Bluetooth issue though. It’s possible this is an OS tweak by the vendor that would require hacking to solve; I really haven’t had time to revisit it.

I hope this is helpful — feel free to ask questions in the comments, or trackback if you have experiences to share.


  1. Hello

    What would it take to get Fedora on this thing?

    Version 2 of the transformer should be here in a couple of months with 4 core cpu… the Fedora arm port is coming along…

    Could you see being able to install a basic Fedora 16, then enabling livna repos or some such to get the Android graphics drivers? ‘Cos that would totally rock.

  2. I want to solve the same problem you initially posted about: the family calendar on the wall is not digital. This tablet sounded like a good first start and I wanted to know if you’ve had any success in that respect.

    • Were you able to hang it securely? How so?
    • Is the touch screen something that works for calendar-type things while mounted vertically?
    • Are you using Google’s calendars exclusively, so basically have a browser running full screen? Would non-Google calendaring work (I’m not familiar with how much lock-out Android imposes on non-Google services)
    • How long does the battery last if just hanging on a wall with a browser open? I assume the screen backlight can be turned off for power savings, woken with a touch?
    • How quickly does it charge back to full?
    • Is the screen large enough to replace a large wall calendar properly?
    • Anything missing from the table for this specific use?

    One of these days the digital photo frame makers are going to wake up to this market, or maybe a tablet maker will. This is a very large market – ideally the product would be able to be hung magnetically on a fridge, or hung on a wall. Every household with more than 1 person in it will need something like this, particularly if there are children in the house.

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