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ASUS Eee Pad Transformer vs Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet: Tablet showdown

Which is the better Android tablet: ASUS's Eee Pad Transformer, or Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet?

It seems a new Android tablet is launched or announced almost every week, however most of them are very similar. Two products that are at least trying to offer something different are the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet. Both tablets attempt to add some variety to the market by the availability of an optional keyboard dock that adds extra functionality, along with a few other key features that may endear them to business users rather than consumers.

Read our comprehensive ASUS Eee Pad Transformer review, along with our detailed Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet preview.

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet share a 10.1in sized touchscreen, run almost identical software and have similar ports and features. With this in mind, how does the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer compare to the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet when it comes to specifications?

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer vs Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet: Specifications

Feature ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet Verdict
Display size 10.1in 10.1in Draw
Display technology Capacitive IPS Capacitive IPS Draw
Display resolution 1280x800 pixels 1280x800 pixels Draw
Multitouch Yes Yes Draw
Front camera 1.2 megapixels 2 megapixels ThinkPad Tablet
Rear camera 5 megapixels, no flash, autofocus, geotagging 5 megapixels, no flash, autofocus, geotagging Draw
Video recording Yes, 720p HD Yes, 720p HD Draw
GPS Yes Yes Draw
Internal memory 16GB or 32GB 16GB or 32GB Draw
Expandable memory microSD (full sized SD on dock) Full sized SD ThinkPad Tablet
Dimensions 271 x 171 x 13mm 260.4 x 181.7 x 14mm Eee Pad Transformer
Weight 680g 715g (730g with 3G) Eee Pad Transformer
Processor NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core (1GHz) NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core (1GHz) Draw
RAM 1GB 1GB Draw
3G Wi-Fi only models Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G models ThinkPad Tablet
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP 2.1 with A2DP Draw
HDMI-out Yes, mini HDMI Yes, mini HDMI Draw
USB port Only on keyboard dock (two full size) Yes, full size Draw
Quoted battery life Up to 9 hours Up to 8 hours Eee Pad Transformer
Adobe Flash support Yes Yes Draw

Software and performance

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet both run the same software, so the end user experience will be almost identical. The Eee Pad Transformer originally shipped with the 3.0 version of Google's "Honeycomb" version of Android but is currently in the process of being updated to the latest 3.1 version of Google's "Honeycomb" version of Android. The Eee Pad Transformer received the 3.1 software update over-the-air during our review period. The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet on the other hand will ship with 3.1 as standard. Android 3.1 brings improved UI transitions, an expandable and scrollable recent apps menu, and resizable home screen widgets, along with improvements to the standard Web browser, calendar, e-mail and gallery apps.

The software on both the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is largely a 'vanilla' version of the Honeycomb OS, though ASUS includes its Waveshare UI on the Eee Pad Transformer. Additions include a file manager, a MyCloud storage app, a MyLibrary books app, and a MyNet app for streaming multimedia content via DLNA. The MyCloud app offers one year of unlimited cloud storage. ASUS also includes handy e-mail, clock and weather widgets, though we found these made scrolling through home screens sluggish and choppy.

By comparison, Lenovo includes its "Launch Zone" software on the ThinkPad tablet, which is basically a fancy name for its UI overlay. The software includes five customisable zones for reading, listening watching, e-mail and the Web. Lenovo will also include 2GB of free cloud storage with every ThinkPad Tablet sold.

Design

As a standalone device, the Eee Pad Transformer has textured plastic on the rear which makes it easy to grip. However, the plastic does exhibit a bit of flex when pressed, and the bezel surrounding the display seems a little large. At 271mm in length, the Eee Pad Transformer is a pretty large device. Weighing 680g, it's heavier than the upcoming, featherweight Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v, but lighter than the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet. The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer obviously gets its name from the optional keyboard dock, but the tablet can be purchased without the keyboard dock for $599 in Australia.

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer's keyboard dock has two full-sized USB ports, an SD card slot and a trackpad, as well as its own built-in battery. ASUS says the battery offers an additional six and half hours of use.

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The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet possesses a thick design that intends to mirror the Lenovo's ThinkPad range of business notebooks. Weighing 715g, it's heavier than both the iPad 2, and the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. The ThinkPad Tablet has square, sharp edges, and physical shortcut keys below the display.

Display

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet share virtually identical software, and they also have very similar, capacitive touchscreen displays. Both tablets have an IPS screen that is 10.1in in size, with a resolution of 1280x800.

The Eee Pad Transformer's display produces vibrant colour and crisp text indoors, but its glossy surface makes it very tough to see in direct sunlight, and its viewing angles aren't great. The glossy surface doesn't always feel smooth to swipe your finger across, though the display itself is responsive to touch when in use.

We are yet to get our hands on the ThinkPad Tablet to judge its display, but it is likely to perform very similar to the Eee Pad Transformer. Being a business tablet, we'd love to see a matte screen on the ThinkPad Tablet, which would make it much easier to view in direct sunlight.

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet has a thick design that intends to mirror the Lenovo's ThinkPad range of business notebooks. It has square, sharp edges, and physical shortcut keys below its display.

Internals and cameras

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet have near identical internals. Both tablets are powered by a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, both have a hefty 1GB of RAM, and both have at least 16GB of internal memory. Both tablets also come in 32GB models.

If you're looking for a tablet to store a hefty amount of digital media on, then both the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet are ideal. They have a full sized SD card slot that can support cards of up to 128GB in size — much more than the current 32GB limit of the microSD card slot in most other Android tablets. However, the Eee Pad Transformer's SD card slot is only available on the optional dock connector, and not on the actual tablet itself.

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet both have a 5-megapixel rear camera for photographs, which can record 720p HD video. However, the ThinkPad Tablet has a 2-megapixel front camera that slightly betters the 1.2-megapixel front snapper on the Eee Pad Transformer.

Other features

Both the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet include a full USB port for transferring and storing files. This means you can plug in a USB thumb drive to quickly access your files. However, the Eee Pad Transformer only has a full USB port if you purchase the optional keyboard dock accessory — ASUS bundles this with the device for $799 in Australia.

Along with a USB port, both the Eee Pad Transformer and the ASUS ThinkPad Tablet have mini-HDMI out ports, so they can be plugged directly into a high-definition television with the right cable.

Perhaps the best feature of the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is its optional keyboard portfolio carry case, which will sell as a separate accessory for $89. Much like the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, the portfolio case turns the ThinkPad Tablet into a notebook-style device with full, physical keyboard. Unlike the Transformer, the accessory doesn't have its own battery, but it does double as a proper protective case, and has an optical trackpad.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet also comes standard with a digitiser pen that allows users to take notes straight onto the screen. The digitiser pen supports handwritten text entry, document mark-up and drawing.

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet Lenovo will sell an optional keyboard portfolio carry case for $89, while the ThinkPad Tablet also comes standard with a digitiser pen that allows users to take notes straight onto the screen.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet will come in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G models, but the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is a Wi-Fi-only tablet. ASUS is expected to release Wi-Fi + 3G variants of the Eee Pad Transformer at a later, unannounced date.

Battery life

ASUS promises 9 hours of video playback on the Eee Pad Transformer, but has an ace up its sleeve with the keyboard dock. This has its own, separate battery that ASUS says offers an additional six and half hours of use. If both the tablet and the keyboard dock batteries are fully charged, the Eee Pad Transformer draws power from the keyboard dock first in order to preserve power for tablet-only use. By comparison, Lenovo promises 8 hours of video playback on the ThinkPad Tablet.

Disappointingly, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer does not charge through a USB connection. The upside to this is that use of a different port will charge the tablet much faster that a USB connection can. It is not yet known if the ThinkPad Tablet charges via its regular micro-USB connection, or the proprietary connector, or both.

Pricing and availability

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is available now through retailers Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi. It costs $599 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, and $799 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model with optional keyboard dock included. The keyboard dock accessory sells for $199 on its own.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet will come in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G options in 16GB and 32GB sizes, though the 32GB model is only available with 3G. Pricing starts at $599 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only model, and $729 for the 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model. The 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G model will sell for $839. The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet will be available to order online in August, but will officially release in Australia in September.

What do you think about the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet? Let us know in the comments below!