Asus is getting ready to release its follow-up to the popular Eee Pad Transformer tablet. The new Eee Pad Transformer Prime is thinner and lighter, offers better battery life, and faster performance than the original Transformer. It also has a sleek new design with a metallic finish that’s reminiscent of the Asus Zenbook line of high-end notebooks.
The tablet will be ship with Google Android 3.2 Honeycomb — but Asus will push out an over-the-air software update with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich once it’s been optimized for the tablet.
The Transformer Prime will be the first tablet to ship with the new NVIDIA Tegra 3 1.4 GHz quad-core processor which offers 5 times the performance of the Tegra 2 chip while consuming even less power under most circumstances.
But for all the upgrades, the new Transformer keeps the one feature that set its predecessor apart from the crowd: an optional keyboard docking accessory. The keyboard dock allows you to use the tablet like a laptop, and it also features a touchpad, USB port, and SD card slot as well as an independent battery which helps extend the tablet’s battery life.
In addition to redesigning the tablet, the keyboard dock has been retooled to feature a thinner design.
The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime will be available with 32GB of storage for $499, and 64GB of storage for $599. The optional keyboard dock will cost $149.
Here’s a run-down of the Transformer Prime’s specs:
- Super IPS+ display with 178 degree viewing angles and Gorilla Glass
- NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor
- 12 hours of battery life (tablet alone)
- 18 hours of battery life (with the keyboard dock)
- 1.2MP front-facing camera
- 8MP rear camera with LED flash and auto-focus
- 3.5mm mic/headphone combo jack
- micro HDMI port
- micro SD card slot
- Tablet dimensions: 10.4″ x 7.1″ x 0.33″
- Tablet weight: 1.29 pounds
- Dock dimensions: 10.4″ x 7.1″ x 0.41″
- Dock weight: 1.18 pounds
Asus says the tablet will also feature advanced audio capabilities with Asus SonicMaster technology. It will come preloaded with software including SuperNote for taking notes, and Polaris Office for viewing and editing Microsoft Office documents.
The tablet has a Super IPS+ display mode, which offers better outdoor visibility by increasing the brightness. It’s a different solution than Pixel Qi or other transflective display makers are trying, and uses far more electricity. But you can switch to normal IPS mode when you don’t need the extra brightness.
The new tablet has a higher quality camera, with a larger aperture and dynamic auto-focusing capabilities and a faster shutter speed. It’s definitely a distinguishing feature, but I don’t know many people that use 10 inch tablets to snap photos all that often.
The Transformer Prime will come in two colors: “amethyst gray” or “champagne gold.”
Asus will continue to sell the original Eee Pad Transformer for $399 and up, while the new Transformer Prime will start at $499 for the 32GB model.