Tethering with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

Here we are with our final segment on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 – a subject that seems to generate the most discussion – 3G or no 3G?

Creating a WiFi Hot Spot for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

When on the go just create a WiFi Hot Spot on your smartphone and connect right up.

As with our previous Tab 7.7 work, this is a reader/viewer generated article and video for our audience, all based on the questions and feedback on things you’d like to see demonstrated or shown on the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

We fielded questions from our own site, our Facebook page,  Google+ Page and of course our YouTube channel, and came up with 5 short videos on various aspects of the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

The one question that keeps on popping up on both the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Asus Transformer Prime comments areas are to do with 3G versions of the two models. And the two questions that crop up here are a) how would you choose one over the other, and b) how would you get by with just a wi-fi version if you’re on the road?

Having an integrated 3G model definitely has its benefits from the word go. You can turn it on no matter where you are, and if you have a mobile signal, you are good to go for internet connection and therefore connect to all your apps, content, email, and anything else that requires an online connection.

Because 3G is built-in it’s instant-on, theoretically quicker because it uses it’s own hardware to connect and display online content, and you are not having to change your wireless settings every time you walk into a free wi-fi spot, although you may still want to do that to save on your monthly bandwidth.

And that brings me to some of the drawbacks to having a 3G tablet – it’s another account that you have manage, and if you sign up to a contract you may not use all your bandwidth and therefore waste it, or overuse and end up paying extra. Pre-paid plans do help with this and are much more popular these days.

The alternative to this is to pad your smartphone’s internet limit to a higher level and share that with your tablet, saving you on the cost of the 3G hardware (as there is a price premium for 3G vs Wi-fi only) and keeping your bill to just one that you can monitor and adjust as required.

I did a snap survey and I was very surprised with the amount of people that didn’t realise that “hotspot” activation on their smartphone was something they could do right now, today.

I know many of our readers are more advanced in their knowledge, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to show very quickly how to connect the Samsung Tab 7.7 to a smartphone, using two of the world’s most successful phones – the Apple iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S II.

The iPhone is pretty straight forward, and there are a couple of steps you do need to do each time you want the personal hotspot feature to be activated. However, it does work smoothly and Apple have made it as simple as they could within the menu system they currently have.

The Android software is a little more interesting because you can take advantage of the widget feature that gives direct control and feedback from your home screen without having to open an app or go into a menu setting.

You do have to go into the settings menu once to set up access to the hotspot with password protection, but once that is done it is a simple case of downloading and installing a free hotspot widget that you can then toggle on and off, making it very easy to connect your tablet to your phone within seconds.

Here is the video for the Android hotspot connection feature:

 

And here is the method for setting up a hotspot widget on your iPhone smartphone:

 

And that ends our extensive look at the Samsung 7.7. We will keep answering your questions on this product so please feel free to ask anything that we haven’t yet covered.

Which do you prefer? 3G or Wi-Fi only tablets? Do you hotspot or just use it from non-online activities when you’re away from your home wireless signal?

For a more detailed and first look at the Samsung galaxy Tab 7.7  CLICK HERE; for the first Q & A segment in which we compared the Tab 7.7 to the iPad 2, CLICK HERE; for the segment where we used theTab  7.7 as an eBook, just CLICK HERE; for a look at multitasking on the Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE; and for a quick video editing app look, CLICK HERE.

Video Editing with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

Hi everyone, we’re back with our first post for 2012!

These next couple of weeks are going to be pretty exciting with our attendance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but before we go we still have a couple of features on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 to punch out for your enjoyment.

As with our previous Tab 7.7 work, this is a reader/viewer generated article and video for our audience, all based on the questions and feedback on things you’d like to see demonstrated or shown on the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

We fielded questions from our own site, our Facebook page,  Google+ Page and of course our YouTube channel, and came up with 5 short videos on various aspects of the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 has a basic video editor to add effects to videos stored on locally..

A regular on our Facebook page, Maans Le Roux, asked us about the video editor output on the Tab 7.7. One of the big issues with editing videos on smaller devices is many only save an edited video in a highly compressed format like .3gp.

The video output on this particular app that comes pre-loaded on the Tab 7.7 saves in high definition mp4, so it’s good enough to playback on larger computer and television screens, or upload to YouTube in good quality.

In fact, you can actually select the video resolution to suit different file sizes depending on how you intend to use the video.

One function we couldn’t see was to cut or crop a video’s length on the Video Editor app. This may not have been a final version on the unit we were using, so we’re not judging the app, more showing the basics of how to use the editing app and save the video to see what output formats are available.

Here’s the short video showing the video editor in use and the output selection:

 

Do you use video editing in portable devices, or upload videos straight to YouTube from your smartphone or tablet?

For a more detailed and first look at the Samsung galaxy Tab 7.7  CLICK HERE; for the first Q & A segment in which we compared the Tab 7.7 to the iPad 2, CLICK HERE; for the segment where we used theTab  7.7 as an eBook, just CLICK HERE; and for a look at multitasking on the Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE.

Multitasking With the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

Here we are once again with a reader/viewer generated article and video for our audience, all based on the questions and feedback on things you’d like to see demonstrated or shown on the soon-to-be-released Galaxy Tab 7.7.

We fielded questions from our own site, our Facebook page,  Google+ Page and of course our YouTube channel, and came up with 5 short videos on various aspects of the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

For a more detailed and first look at the Samsung galaxy Tab 7.7  CLICK HERE. For the first Q & A segment in which we compared the Tab 7.7 to the iPad 2, CLICK HERE, and for the segment where we used theTab  7.7 as an eBook, just CLICK HERE.

It's easy to do multiple tasks on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, thanks to the Android platform and the slick Touch Wiz skin.

Multitasking in the Android environment is one reason I enjoy using the Google platform for tablets and smartphones. The ability to switch between open apps in a really simple but intuitive way has been one of Android’s main differences between it and other smartphone and tablet operating systems.

Allesandro Valenti from our Facebook fan page asked to see multitasking on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, among other things, and we’ve created a video to show how easy it is to switch between apps, force close them and even manipulate and control certain functions while staying within a particular environment.

The TouchWiz overlay doesn’t really add or take anything away from the multitasking, and in the video you can see how quickly we can move from one app to another without much effort.

Multitasking situations crop up all the time now in our busy world. You could be reading an online newspaper when an email notification comes through, and you can quickly switch and reply, then return to browsing. Music can be played in the background while doing other things like ebook reading.

How seamless it is to switch between them is the key to a good portable device, and Android have made it one of their key development areas, with notifications and app switching a defining part of the Android Honeycomb environment.

Without further ado, here’s our short video of how multitasking works on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7:

 

Do you think multitasking is an important aspect your your mobile device, and does that factor form part of your decision making? Feel free to leave your comments, and maybe even tips on power multitasking, in the section below. See you there soon!

Again if you haven’t already seen the previous articles and videos on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 you can find them here:

For the detailed first look article of the 7.7, CLICK HERE. For the first Q & A segment in which we compared the Tab 7.7 to the iPad 2, CLICK HERE, and for the segment where we used theTab  7.7 as an eBook, just CLICK HERE.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is a Great eBook Reader

Here we are once again with a reader/viewer generated article and video for our audience, all based on the questions and feedback on things you’d like to see demonstrated or shown on the soon-to-be-released Galaxy Tab 7.7.

We fielded questions from our own site, our Facebook page,  Google+ Page and of course our YouTube channel, and came up with 5 short videos on various aspects of the Galaxy Tab 7.7. These are unscripted, off-the-cuff segments to showcase the things that you said you’d like to see.

If you haven’t already seen the other articles and videos on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 you can find them here:

For the detailed first look article of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE. For the first Q & A segment in which we compared the Galaxy Tab 7.7 to the iPad 2, CLICK HERE, and for the segment where we take a look at Galaxy theTab  7.7 while multitasking just CLICK HERE.

This second segment is in response to Facebook fan Marissa Cookson’s request to see some eBook reading on the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

Today we look at the Readers Hub and the functionality of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 as an eBook Reader.

eBook reading is something that will come very naturally to owners of this 7 inch Android tablet. It’s the size of dedicated eBook readers, and although it’s not e-ink like the Kindle and other eBook readers, the Super AMOLED screen is actually more responsive and dynamic than e-ink readers could ever be.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of e-ink Readers, being the proud owner of a PRS-T1 which I do use for long reading sessions. But if you’re the owner of a Galaxy Tab 7.7, you’re probably not going to want more than one tablet to carry around. Ideally, a 7 inch can do a little of everything well, including book reading.

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is an excellent reader, I am happy to report, and for many reasons. Firstly, without even looking at the software, the lightweight nature makes it comfortable to hold in one hand as a reader for extended periods. From a screen point of view, the real estate mimics that of a large paperback novel so it feels natural while reading.

One of the drawbacks (and there’s not that many for dedicated ebook readers to be honest) is that you do need external lighting in order to read. Here with the 7.7, you are able to read in any environment, lit or not, and adjust brightness settings to your requirements.

From a page turn point of view, the “curl” option gives the impression of a real book page being turned, and the powerful processor made it smooth and responsive to the fingers movement. I actually prefer that visual page turn to a simple fade or switch to the next page, which I find a little jarring (you do have the option for either).

Finally, the Reader Hub itself presents a fair few reading opportunities. Newspapers, books and periodicals are all available for purchase within this hub, and you can build up your collection within each category. Both Kobo and Zinio are huge online publishing companies with a wide reach, and Press Display delivers daily newspapers from around the world. Content availability is definitely not an issue.

If there was one change I’d like to see in the reader hub, I would prefer to have one sign-in for all three formats rather than having to manage separately. Ultimately they are separate companies but it certainly would make it easier to track and manage.

In all, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 succeeds as a reader. Let’s dive into some demonstrations on the new video below. Enjoy! (if the video isn’t showing it’s because we’re just in the middle of uploading now).

 

What do you think of the Galaxy 7.7 as an eBook reader? Would it be one of the major activities you’d be indulging in if you owned one?  Let us know what you think and feel free to leave comments below and as always, we’ll be there to respond.

For those of you who have yet to see and read the other articles on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 can do so here:

For the detailed first look article of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE. For the first Q & A segment in which we compared the Galaxy Tab 7.7 to the iPad 2, CLICK HERE, and for the segment where we take a look at Galaxy theTab  7.7 while multitasking just CLICK HERE.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 vs. iPad 2

We answer your questions about browsing, book reading, accessories and a few other aspects of the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

Here we are once again with a reader/viewer generated article and video for our audience, all based on the questions and feedback on things you’d like to see demonstrated or shown on the soon-to-be-released Galaxy Tab 7.7, to see more on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 click on this link above.

We fielded questions from our Facebook page,  Google+ Page and of course our YouTube channel, and came up with 5 short videos on various aspects of the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

As we did on the Prime, these are unscripted, off-the-cuff segments to showcase the things that you said you’d like to see. Thanks for the feedback as always and it’s a lot of fun to respond directly to your comments.

If you haven’t already seen the other articles and videos on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 you can find them here:

For the detailed first look article of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE. For the ebook demonstration of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE, and for the segment where we take a look at the Galaxy Tab  7.7 while multitasking just CLICK HERE.

This first one was in response to questions about the browser capability. We pitted the 7.7 against the iPad 2 to see how the browser worked in an online environment rich with video and image content, so what better place than our own site?

Overall the browser on the Galaxy Tab 7.7 worked very well. It sometimes took a just little longer to load a page but hardly worth the fuss really, and really that may have been a connection issue as both devices were sharing the same wireless network.

We did find that the embedded flash video took longer to load on the 7.7 than the YouTube player on the iPad 2 again that could have been the interent connection or the fact that it’s running Flash. The next major difference was the playback on each device. Pressing play in the flash player on the 7.7 started the video right away. However on the iPad 2, you had to “load” the player then press play again on the YouTube player, so a little more clunky to play content within that environment.

Pinch and zoom, scrolling and moving around the screen was smooth and very responsive on the 7.7 and generally speaking, the experience was a pleasant one.

Rather than me tell you all about it in written word, let’s have a look at the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and iPad 2 side by side:

 

What did you think of the comparison, and does it sway you to either product? Feel free to leave your comments below; we read every one of them. :-)

For those of you who have yet to see and read the other articles on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 can do so here:

For the detailed first look article of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE. For the ebook demonstration of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE, and for the segment where we take a look at the Galaxy Tab  7.7 while multitasking just CLICK HERE.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 – The Best 7 Inch Android Tablet

With the announcement of the Transformer Prime by Asus, and the news still being updated daily about the fate of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 in various regions, another tablet from Samsung has been quietly gathering steam and is set to land on our shores in a very short while… the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

First, here’s our new video showcasing some of the rather cool features and design elements of the 7.7. There’s plenty more details and pics below. Also at the bottom of this articles you will find links to more articles and demonstrations of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 so be sure to take a look.

 

The 7 inch Android tablet market has been rather hit and miss so far, with the first iteration of the Galaxy Tab being the only real contender and most of the focus on the 10” category, and for good reason – that’s been the mainstay of Apple’s iPad up till now, and manufacturers have been innovative and creative with their offerings in order to stay relevant and have a chance of competing in that space.

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 takes a completely different tact, being lighter and slimmer than, well, any Honeycomb-based tablet we’ve seen so far. Compared to the original Tab which relied on a reworked mobile phone OS, it’s a much more mature product and fits snugly between a smartphone and large screen tablet. This may actually be the product to redefine what a small screen tablet is capable of.

Small, sleek and ready to slip into any size handbag or pouch.

Spec-wise, the Galaxy 7.7 is powered by a dual core 1.4GHz processor with 1GB of RAM, and will apparently come in three flavours – 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. It has N wireless on board, Bluetooth 3.0 and has a built-in GPS.

Samsung’s new 7 inch Android tablet sports a slightly larger screen, at 7.7 inches, but offers the exact same resolution features as its 10” cousins – 1280 x 800. Combine that with the Super AMOLED Plus screen, and you’ve got gorgeous detailed images and bright, rich colours. Because the pixels are so densely packed together, the screen display is second-glance-worthy. The small amount of video files we had played back smoothly in high definition.

Video playback up to 1080p on the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

I really haven’t held a tablet as light as this one. It’s only 340 grams, but it’s hard to describe what that means after holding various iOS, Android and Windows tablets – sure, this one is smaller than they are in terms of size, but the experience of holding one is amazing. I once commented in an earlier article how I’ve injured myself by falling asleep and dropping a first gen iPad on my face while reading… you’re in no danger of self-mutilation or embarrassment here.

Audio is pumped through these stereo speakers either side of the proprietary connector.

Did I mention how thin the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is? We’ve seen the Transformer Prime come in at 8.3mm, but the 7.7 takes “slim” to yet another level – it’s a sliver of a tablet at 7.89mm. To pick it up and rotate its dimensions in your hand is quite the chuckle producer – you don’t believe how thin and light it actually is.

Ridiculously thin... The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is lighter and thinner than pretty much any tablet on the market.

This is definitely a one-handed tablet – your fingers do need to spread, but you can also cup your fingers and hold it for a long time without fatigue. The cool metal backing does equalise with your hands temperature after a while, but put it down and the cold feel of stainless steel will once again greet your fingertips.

That’s a great segue into the materials and construction of this latest Samsung Galaxy Tab. Some other 7 inch Android tablet offerings have been rather thick, and felt a little fragile – squeeze the body and creaks have been heard from lesser machines. The engineering on the 7.7 is superb, we could detect no give between the body and screen; they are almost fused together. The metal back provides a stiffness and therefore top-shelf handling experience.

Maybe it's my long fingers that make this pic look odd... In any case the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is easily held in one hand, piano fingers or not.

Walking around this tiny pocket rocket and you can see how Samsung have achieved this degree of slimness: like the iPad and its own family of tablets, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 keeps ports down to an absolute minimum. All we have are a headphone jack, a micro SD card slot and Samsung’s proprietary 30-pin connector. Where most tablets try to offer a complete solution with inputs and outputs, particularly to differentiate against the iPad, the 7.7 follows its own path and offers instead adapters that can be fitted to connect various outputs.

Blink and you'll miss it... An external port on the Galaxy Tab 7.7, in this case a Micro SD Card Slot.

Is that going to be an issue for users? Based on the interest in the 10.1, which offers the same limited connectivity, no. It’s actually more sensible for this Galaxy Tab to eschew those I/O burdens as it’s probably closer to a smartphone than a tablet in some respects (the screen is actually a larger clone of the Galaxy S II). The option is there but you have to really feel the need in order to go to the effort of purchasing an adaptor.

The brushed metal back provides great rigidity to the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

Like all other HoneyComb tablets, there is a front and back camera setup, with a 2 megapixel camera on the front and 3 megapixel camera on the back. The back camera has an LED flash and 720p HD video recording capability. I think there is an inverse proportional relationship of the number of shots taken on a tablet to the size of the screen. Because the 7.7 is so light, it’s much easier to be spontaneous and shoot some off-the-cuff pics and video.

3MP camera and LED flash... The smaller the tablet, the more this will get used.

There is one black dot on the Galaxy Tab 7.7, but its existence helps give it a gold star for functionality. The black dot (not figuratively speaking, an ACTUAL black dot) on the side of the 7.7 is an infra-red transmitter. There is a program pre-installed on the 7.7 called Peel, and it actually converts the 7.7 into a universal remote control. If you’ve ever found remote controls to be clunky or not really that helpful, Peel may change your view on that.

Now not only do I not have to get up to change the channel, I don't even need to find the remote. She says lazy, I say efficient.

Setting it up is a breeze, and so is the actually use, just point at the device you’ve programmed in and it’s as if you’re using the original remote. But this functionality is a stunner, because you can browsing, reading or playing a casual game, use Honeycomb’s built-in multitasking to switch to Peel, change the channel/volume/input, and switch back to your previous activity, and the 7.7 never leaves your hands.

Software-wise, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 uses the same Touch Wiz overlay that their smartphones use, making the transition for Galaxy phone users a no-brainer. There is improved software such as video editing, image editing and even image management, letting you sort by a range of different criteria such as size, location (if geotagging can be found) or date/time.

Galaxy S II users will find no trouble using the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

The Galaxy also retains the “Hub” areas of the smartphone, and apparently the Music Hub will be available soon as well, but only for music, not for videos. I tried the Social Hub out and I liked its aggregation of my different social feeds in one easy to view panel. Being Honeycomb, this is a live widget that updates on screen so you can snack on bite-sized pieces of your connected world.

Manage all your social feeds into one panel on the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

The 7 inch Android tablet market is not as big as the 10 inch segment, by any means. It looks like Samsung has managed to carve itself a little niche with a product that doesn’t rely on third party programs to succeed, and adds little quirky features like remote control and revamped image/video apps into its sleek shell to give users a true out-of-the-box experience.

As always, I’ll leave it to you, our readers to make the call on whether this really is the best 7 inch Android tablet to date. Are you looking for a 7 inch tablet, or are you waiting for the 10.1 to be released? Are either of them on your shopping list for consideration?

Give us your thoughts and questions and we’ll respond – look forward to seeing you in the comments area!

For those of you who have yet to see and read the other articles on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 can do so here:

To see the Galaxy Tab 7.7 perform as an ebook reader  CLICK HERE. For a Q & A segment in which we compared the Galaxy Tab 7.7 to the iPad 2  CLICK HERE, and for the segment where we take a look at the Galaxy Tab  7.7 while multitasking just CLICK HERE.

 

 

Sliding Into the Tablet Market

I’m a big fan of Wired Magazine, and recently enjoyed their article on the annual coffee bean competition in Columbia to decide the winner of the awesomely named Cup of Excellence. Each of the judges approaches their task with a mixture of clinical, calculated scoring and a needle-sharp reliance on their finely-tuned nostrils and tastebuds to choose the year’s champion coffee bean grower.

Coffee Beans

What makes a good coffee bean? I'm not sure, but I do take a closer look at the ASUS EeePad Slider, click on the link at the bottom to see a review I did for CarryPad.

When my new friends at Carrypad asked me to compose a detailed review on the yet-to-be-released Asus Eee Pad Slider, I thought about the judges in Columbia and their fastidiousness… would I be required to display the same resolve and cast a cold, critical eye over design elements, functionality and performance?

As it turned out, the best way to review the Slider was to look at it from a user’s perspective – the tactile feel of the case and keyboard, the responsiveness of the touch screen, the sound piping out of the speaker slots, and the quality of the images on the Gorilla Glass screen.

Once I began my journey looking at details that might normally be glossed over, I gained a real appreciation for the engineers and designers who had to work together to come up with a product that stood out in both form and function. Being one of the few tablets with actual moving parts, I spent an inordinate amount of time opening, sliding and closing the keyboard component, almost to the point of obsessive compulsion.

The end result was a 2,500 word exploration of the Asus Slider that was worth every moment spent on it. It’s exciting to see innovation right before your eyes, and having the platform to share my thoughts and photos (captured on my trusty DSLR) is a real privilege.

So if you are interested in what makes the Asus Slider a worthy entrant to the competitive tablet market, here’s the article along with images and performance benchmarking. Feel free to leave your thoughts on the Slider below.

For the full article displayed on one page, please click here.

Thanks again to Ben from Carrypad for the opportunity to contribute.

Acer A500 Iconia Tablet – Unboxing and Overview

Acer were the first to release a Honeycomb tablet to the general retail market, and as I mentioned in a previous blog post, they set the benchmark for the type of inputs and outputs one could previously only wish for on a tablet – mini and full size USB, HDMI, and SD Card slot are all built into the body of the A500.

One comment that I’ve noticed lately from customers is the lack of embedded 3G in the Iconia, as opposed to some of the other tablets now available in the market, particularly those offered by telcos. One thing many people don’t realise is that if they own a late model iPhone or Android phone, and have updated to the latest phone firmware, they can now take advantage of their phone’s 3G internet connection by turning on the personal hotspot function.

This allows the Iconia to find the phone as a Wi-Fi access point, and use the phone’s plan for any browsing or downloads through the tablet. Many people have a home landline account, home internet account and a 3G phone account, and don’t want yet another plan – this is an easy way to share the bandwidth available on your smartphone.

During the filming of the unboxing video that we produced for Bing Lee, we tried streaming video via a phone hotspot, and there was some buffering at the beginning of the clip but it played smoothly after that – we did have full signal strength so I’m sure that helped. Of course, you wouldn’t always be streaming video, other online activities would include downloading email, browsing the net, and using apps that require online updates.

So, who out there has been using an Acer Iconia, and how has your experience been with it so far? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here’s the unboxing video:

Asus Eee Pad Transformer – First Look

We’ve had a look at quite a few different tablets over the past few months, and now we’ve managed to get hold of the new Eee Pad Transformer, which will be released in Australia in the next month or so. It’s definitely an interesting product that will appeal to users who are looking for a richly featured tablet that also like the flexibility of a physical keyboard.

Who would have imagined there'd be an Android lurking undereath this case?

This product is quite different to the Samsung Slider PC that we had a look at a few weeks back. The Asus Transformer is a 32GB Android Honeycomb tablet with a detachable keyboard. The keyboard has a dock-type feature set, including memory card slot, 2 full size USB ports with nifty magnetic covers, and an additional battery that adds a further 8 hours to the 8 hours already available on the screen portion. 16 hours of battery life is more than enough for even the most demanding power user. Beryl from Asus tells me the keyboard actually charges the tablet to ensure optimum battery life.

A netbook by any other name...

When the tablet is docked, the Transformer looks, for all intents and purposes, just like a premium netbook, although with some odd keyboard symbols that relate to the Android OS. The home and search buttons are placed next to the space bar on the left, and the menu drop down button is on the right of the space bar. The back button is on the upper left and sleep button is on the upper right. I actually became quite adept at using these shortcuts after a while; they seemed to become natural extensions of the tablet when you found the need to use a keyboard.

Using a full QWERTY keyboard with Android? It makes more sense than you think.

Having the keyboard is great when typing out blogs, emails or spreadsheets, or anything that is text heavy that may be cumbersome on a tablet without a tactile keyboard. The Transformer comes with Polaris Office preloaded, so it’s quite easy to edit and create Microsoft Office compatible docs, which is when the keyboard would be most in demand.

Onto the tablet itself. I must admit, I had a child’s pleasure in running around the office showing off the Transformer as a netbook, then waiting for my audience’s reaction as I coolly detached the tablet from the keyboard – I managed to get a few “ooohs” and “aaaahs”. Okay, so I also rehearsed the action to milk it to the maximum.

Insert Autobot transformation sounds here.

But in all seriousness, the undocking and docking action is pretty firm, and once it’s locked in the tablet’s not going anywhere. One thing Asus has done well is use a consistent design around the bezel to hide the fact that the tablet has this function, with three slots on the bottom of the tablet the only hint of the possibility.

The only time I've been happy to see my PC in 2 pieces.

As a stand-alone tablet, which will be sold in the 16GB capacity without a dock, it is pretty strong in the features department. The tablet has mini-HDMI output with 1080p output, Micro SD slot, headphone jack and multi-purpose connector for charging, USB connection and docking. It also has two cameras, 1.2MP front and 5MP on the back.

From an Android Honeycomb execution, this model appears to tick all the boxes in terms of speed and touch responsiveness, and Beryl also told me that there is an Asus Honeycomb skin that may appear on the retail model as well, to provide more functionality and a slicker look and feel. More on that when we plant our eyes on it.

Is that an embedded Flash video on a tablet browser? You betcha.

The Transformer is a great example of the shift that we’re going to see in the PC market over the coming months. The device looks like a netbook, even acts like one to a certain extent, and then reveals its strengths as a full-fledged tablet device. If you’re not sure if you want a touchscreen tablet or a netbook, but really want something portable and intuitive to use, the Transformer will be one worth considering.