Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime Review
2011 was all about Tablets, and mainly Android vs iOS. If we could say which Tablet after iPad 2 was successful to gain attention of techies was the convertible Tablet PC by Asus the Transformer, in the Android mob. Despite all the benefits and treats inform of extra posts and docking station, the Transformer failed to grab notable market share from iPad. It was useful but lacked the WOW factor! With the next iteration, though, things are different all together!
Meet Asus Transformer Prime that is just the most beautiful sight in the Tablet world today! Nevertheless the question remains the same! Is it any better than the mighty Apple iPad or Android counterpart Galaxy Tab 10.1?
n UK, Asus Transformer will be available early next year, so it’s not available as a Christmas gift. So should you wait for the iPad 3 releases, when in UK Prime and iPad 3 are coming in early next year?
Last year was dominated by NVIDIA Tegra 2 that very soon became common to all Android Honeycomb Tablets, ASUS Transformer has noticeable aberration. ASUS has now has announced the NVIDIA Tegra3 1.4 GHz core-quad processor upgrade with its Transformer Prime. And it’s evident that this processor will become the standard for Tablets to show-up in 2012. All and more refinements in the old un-cool device pertain to its hardware and design. Let’s deeply investigate!
The key feature of the Transformer is of course the optional docking station that I certainly deem as compulsory, when you are ought to buy a Transformer. The docking station offers full QWERTY 5-rowed chiclet keyboard with a touchpad. Other treats that come your way are enlisted-
- 1 SD Card Slot (not microSD)
- 1 USB 2.0
- Touch Pad provided with Click space and scroll space
- Extendable battery (up to 18 hours!)
ASUS has sent the docking station on diet (along with the Tablet itself, more on that later) and removes considerable fat to make it look a sleek piece of engineering. The docking station is 0.33 inch thick compared to its elder brother that was 0.5 inches thick. The docking station is 10.4 inches long while 7.11 inch wide and completely matches the dimensions of the Tablet. Therefore when docked and closed the Tablet transforms into a netbook, one you cannot even distinguish has been formally a Tablet.
Like with the original ASUS Transformer the docking station extend the battery life up to 18 hours. The unit comes with 22WHr Li-Polymer battery. This takes ASUS at par with any other manufacturer and even the iPad.
There are no doubts about the utility of the docking station. The docking station converts the Tablet into full-fledged netbook, or an ultra slim laptop. Overall the design of Clipping the docking station to the Tablet is easy, you need to simply push the Tablet into the hinges apply slight pressure to click and let the clip locks the Tablet. Unclipping, too is trouble-free. To unclip the Tablet from the docking station, simply move the switch and takeoff the Tablet.
The optional keyboard comes at a price of 150 USD. Also the keyboard won’t charge over USB as a separate unit.
The keyboard is 5 rowed and provides keys for adjustment of parameters such as Bluetooth, WiFi, Screen brightness etc. Nevertheless you will feel that the keyboard is slightly cramped. Just like we mentioned in the review of its earlier version, if you are used to typing on netbook it will take no time for you to be up-and-running. You cannot compare the keyboard to a full-fledged keyboard, neither the one present on your Macbook Air when it comes to the key size (ah, but they are two different niches of gadgets).
Finally, having a physical keyboard at hand is far superior to having an-on-screen-virtual keyboard. The docking station is simply great. One of the best, way better than the ones produced by Apple for its iPad, Acer W500 and Motorola, to name a few.
ASUS Transformer Prime features the best and the classiest camera found on any Tablet till yet. The device comes with an 8 MP rear camera aided with a LED Flash and most notable F2.4 aperture camera. The extra pixels add significantly to the quality of the pictures taken. The rear-camera is back-illuminated that helps in taking clear images with bright and vivid colors. ASUS has also employed some color enhancement design for bright pictures.
Overall the images are strong, completely detailed and awesome particularly at outdoors. In doors the performance is not that great but still the images are bright and well-lit. On the down side, you will at times feel that the pictures lack contrast and are bit white-ish.
The rear-camera is capable of shooting video at 1080p. The camera is not a replacement of high-end camcorder or camera, yet performance is quiet up-to-the mark when compared to camera of any other Tablet. It’s not a good idea to shoot with the Tablet but often a Tablet is at your disposal than your camera or camcorder. You can mirror the video on a large-screen LED via HDMI and you will fall-in-love with the quality!
The front-facing camera does a reasonable job for the specs it has. You can expect a respectable video to be delivered via GTalks.
|ASUS Transformer Prime||8MP, LED Auto-focus||1.3 MP|
|Apple iPad 2||1MP||VGA|
|ASUS Transformer||5MP||1.2 MP|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1||3MP||1.3 MP|
|ASUS Slider||5MP||1.2 MP|
Processor and RAM
You can expect your device to be screaming fast with all the new NVIDIA quad core Tegra 3 chip inside running at 1.4 GHz. The Tablet comes with 1GB of RAM that will very well-support the future OS upgrade from Honeycomb to Ice-cream Sandwich.
The ASUS transformer comes with internal memory of 32 GB and 64 GB. But in UK, AUS Transformer Prime shall be available in 32 GB model only. The SD Card on the keyboard lets you extend the internal storage as much 256 GB. While the SD Card on the Tablet lets you extend the memory further by 64 GB. So you get plenty of storage. And that’s not it! ASUS also offers you space as much as 8GB in its Cloud!
|Tablet||RAM||SD Card Slot|
|ASUS Transformer Prime||Yes|
|Apple iPad 2||512 MB||None|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1||1GB||None|
Performance and Battery Life
NVIDIA has employed special advanced power management feature in Tegra 3 that promises three times the graphical performance of today’s Tegra 2. Now you would be wondering the higher display must lead to excessive battery drain; but in fact the case is contrary. Tegra 3 assures better battery performance as much as 61 percent less power consumption allowing for up to 12 hours of high-definition video playback. That is marvelous!
All the trick lies in Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing, abbreviated as vSMP. Nvidia tucks fifth “companion” processor in its Tegra 3 and combines different processing cores on one single chip to boost the performance and also conserve battery life, simultaneously. The 5th companion core is designed to lash out in the times when the device is in low processing loads.
All the four main processors are only used when higher performance is required, for example when you need the device for gaming, excessive multi-tasking, browsing complex content etc. On the contrary, when your Tablet is sitting idle to you are doing low processing task such as reading an ebook etc. all the Tegra 3′s four primary processing cores shut down completely so your battery life won’t be exhausted.
Having talked about the NVIDIA’s Tegra3 processor let’s see how good it is in terms of practical implementation in the Tablet.
Naturally the Tablet is up and running in a fraction of second. Moving from desktop to desktop was fine and snappy as expected. Browsing experience too was satisfactory; webpages with flash or complex javascrpits loaded faster and multi-tasking from app to app was commendable.
May be we were expecting a bit too much of a screaming performance that slightly disappointed us. The ASUS Transformer Prime is available at a price comparable to the iPad 2, and a comparison, in terms of performance is a must here. The display is truly breath-taking and of course better than iPad 2 nevertheless the GPU performance did not completely match that of iPad 2. Also the scrolling wasn’t smooth with the trackpad. And we had to opt for the touch screen most of the times for that purpose. And of course we have already updated you with the broken Wifi.
The Tablet features a 25Wh Li-polymer Battery promising 12 hours when playing 720p video in power-saving mode and brightness set to 60 nits. In our testing the Tablet lived up to 8 hours with minimal tasks and Wi-Fi on. Gaming on the contrary uses most battery as all the cores of the processor are engaged.
Battery Extension with the Dock: You can extend the battery Life of the Tablet by docking it to the keyboard upto 18 hours. This is more than you can expect with any netbook or laptop! You can charge the Tablet with the AC charger or through USB however you won’t be able to charge the docking station over USB. This means in case you are totally out of battery then you will have to connect your Eee Pad to the AC power adapter.
|ASUS Transformer Prime||18 hrs with Dock station|
|Apple iPad 2||10 hrs|
|ASUS Transformer||16 hrs with Dock station|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1||9 hrs|
|ASUS Slider||8 hrs|
Display and Screen
ASUS Transformer Prime employs a Super IPS + display for bright colors and lesser power consumption, crucial for mobile devices. Both iPad and Transformer have an IPS display- Super IPS + display is just nothing more note-worthy; may be just a marketing gimmick. ASUS claims that the upgraded technology ensures that you can read outdoor with the device and that is pretty much the truth too. You have an option to turn the Super IPS+ display off from the control panel. The difference after turning the Super IPS + off is indeed notable outdoors. The resolution of the screen is 1280 x 800 covered by scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass. The viewing angles are superb 1i.e. 178 degrees. ASUS has also covered the screen with hydro-oleophobic coating as a finger-print resistant; a technology that doesn’t really make a difference. Colors are vivid without being unnaturally bright. Overall, the display is spectacular.
|ASUS Transformer Prime||Super IPS+||1280 X 800|
|Apple iPad 2||IPS||1024 X 768|
|ASUS Transformer||LED Backlight WXGA TFT||1280 x 800|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1||WXGA TFT LCD||1280 x 800|
|ASUS Slider||IPS||1280 x 800|
Design and Weight
ASUS has brought significant changes to the ASUS Transformer from last year- and that cool factor that was so frantically anticipated. And yes, ASUS has done some praiseworthy job here!
The new Transformer is 10.4 inches long, 7.1 inches wide. The new transformer is significantly thinner at 0.31 inches than earlier Transformer that measured 0.51 inches in thickness. Transformer Prime is the thinner than iPad2 (1.34 inches) too making it the thinnest Tablet today in the market!
The plastic back of the original Transformer felt a bit cheaper is replaced with premium quality patterned Aluminum. Not to forget that even the slim-n-smart Galaxy Tab 10.1 houses a plastic backing! The device is available in Champagne Gold or Amethyst Gray-colored backs. This is quiet a matter of personal taste and choice, but for me the colors give a very corporate-look to the device. Though, beauty beholds in the sight of the reviewer, new ASUS Transformer Prime is, by every mean, as beautiful as the iPad.
Of course when it comes to metal backing vs. weight choice; I would go for metal backing. Transformer Prime is slightly heavier than Galaxy Tab owing to its Plastic Back. But the weight difference is hardly noticeable when you hold both the Tablets in your hand.
|Tablet||Lengths||Width||Thickness (Inches)||Weight (Pounds)|
|ASUS Transformer Prime||10.4||7.1||0.31||1.29|
|Apple iPad 2||9.5||7.31||0.34||1.33|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1||10.1||6.9||0.34||1.24|
The edges of the Tablet are tapered to feel further thinner; a nice touch to the design that prevents it from looking an unaesthetic glass of slab.
Around the Tablet you will find-
- 1 x Micro SD Card Reader
- 1 x 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone and a Mic)
- 1 x micro HDMI
The placement of each of the port is thoughtful as it does not hinder you while holding the Tablet in landscape mode- that is how the Tablet encourages you to hold it. The power button is a little plastic button on the top, slightly depressed. The volume rocker lies along one side that too may feel somewhat depressed.
Overall the design feels sturdy and the built quality is good and premium!
Your device supports WLAN 802.11 b/g/n at 2.4GHz and Bluetooth V2.1+EDR. Neither this, nor the former Transformer has a 3G model. If you heavily rely on cloud storage then this can be problematic.
Audio & Video
Your Tablet comes with built0in stereo speakers placed on the back right corner. Though the speaker’s placement does not actual pose any problem but I so desperately wished I could raise the speakers to somewhere top of the Tablet. The speaker delivers nearly great performance. You can play most of the famous codecs including MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC and MP4, H.264, H.263 play. The browser supports Adobe Flash and you can play flash videos.
Currently the Tablet comes loaded with Android Honeycomb 3.2 with the option to upgrade to Android Ice cream Sandwich 4.0. This might be a point of disappointment for Android enthusiasts that are anticipating Android’s latest version unified for Tablets and phones. This indicates that Asus Transformer Prime is already running an old version of Android.
Asus has promised an optional upgrade to Ice cream sandwich early January. But now as in UK the ASUS is launching its Transformer Prime, we have to see if the Tablet will come loaded with Ice cream Sandwich or it will offer upgrade.
Some prominent apps included in the Tablet are: ASUS launcher, MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, @Vibe Music, Asus webstorage, File manager, ASUS sync, SuperNote, App Locker, App Backup, TegraZone. ASUS launcher is essentially the same as found on the ASUS Eee Pad Slider.
You also get a handy battery indicator for both, the Tablet and the dock. On the desktop you shall also find the Power Setting Modes similar to that found on Laptops. There are the following modes-
- The Normal mode: In this mode you will get full performance with the 1.4GHz Tegra 3 chip or 1.3GHz in multi-core mode.
- Powersaver Mode further reduced the CPU frequency to 1GHz when in single or dual-core mode, 700MHz when three cores are active, and 600MHz when four cores are active.
- Balanced Mode is nominal mode that uses the CPU frequency of 1.2GHz and provides optimal performance good enough for gaming and web-browsing.
ASUS Transformer comes with 2 virtual keyboards. ASUS’s own virtual keyboards imitate the keyboard of the docking station while the other virtual keyboard is usual Android keyboard. The web-browsing experience is fine and supports multi-tabbed browsing. Tegra 3 does aid in improving the browsing experience, you cannot say the browsing to be “flawless” as yet.
NVIDIA has upgraded its games with features and effects that make gaming all the more fun. You can expect a lot of games to be coming up with NVIDIA . At the moment the Tablet comes with Shadowgun, Bladeslinger, Riptide GP, Davinci THD, YSKK, Sprinkle, Zen Pinball THC, Big Top THD to mention a few. Tergra 3 aides gaming and elevates the experience to that you will experience on PC! This Tablet is one of the best Tablet if you are looking for the pure gaming experience.
What do the experts say?
If you are versed with Android and the learning curve involved in the OS does not infuriate you then this Tablet is just the best Android Tablet out there. This is an evident fact that the Android market is far lagging when compared to the Apple’s store. But if you are an avid Android user/lover than you will certainly not find it difficult to improvise. You have almost all the essential things at hand. Cloud storage and app, an app for eBooks, an app for opening and editing Microsoft Words documents. A very versatile docking station, that is, definitely a classy piece of engineering and design, one of the best port selections, a Tablet powered by Tegra 3! For me all of that works and so does ASUS Transformer Prime!