The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is the most powerful Android tablet to date. It’s the first device to include a 1.3 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor with high performance graphics. It has 1GB of RAM, a 10.1 inch Super IPS+ 1280 x 800 pixel display, and a new high-quality camera.
Like the original Eee Pad Transformer, the Prime is available as a standalone tablet for around $500 and up — but you can also spend an extra $150 to buy a keyboard dock that lets you use the device like a laptop. The dock also has its own battery which gives you another 6 hours or so of run time.
Asus expects the Eee Pad Transformer Prime to go on sale in North America starting the week of December 19th. A handful of websites have already published reviews or hands-on impressions of the tablet. Here’s a roundup.
- AnandTech review
The new model is thinner and lighter than the original, and it’s made of aluminum and glass rather than plastic. As expected, the Prime trounced every other Android device in benchmarks — but there aren’t that many apps that truly put all four processor cores to the test yet. The iPad 2 still scores higher in graphic tests though.
- Android Central review
The original Transformer had what felt like a cheap plastic case. The Prime doesn’t. In Super IPS+ mode the display is clearly visible outdoors (although there’s still a fair bit of glare), but brightening the screen will reduce battery life. $650 is still a lot of money for a tablet and keyboard though, when you could just buy a laptop.
- Android Police hands-on
Interestingly Android Police is the only site that says web browsing feels *faster* on the Prime than other Android tablets, but the reviewer seems quite impressed with browsing performance. Battery life seems to be better than for the original Eee Pad Transformer.
- CNET hands-on
The screen looks great, and the Super IPS+ mode for outdoor use gives the Prime a brighter screen than any other Android tablet. But some apps still don’t run as smooth on the Prime as on an iPad 2. The web browser was also “painfully” slow.
- Engadget review
It may be one of the thinnest tablets, but some rounded edges would be nice. It’s not as comfortable to hold as some other premium tablets. The new dock is also thinner than the original (and you can’t use the original dock with the Prime or vice versa). The tablet feels fast most of the time, but there are occasional stutters.
- Netbook News review
Asus has been making keyboards for 10 inch netbooks for years, and it shows in the Transformer keyboard. The tablet is also one of the best looking around.
- SlashGear hands-on
The Transformer Prime is fast, gets good battery life, and might actually be a cheaper alternative to a MacBook Air depending on your computing needs.
- The Verge review
Asus talks up the new camera features for good reason… but the iPhone 4S may still have a better camera. The Transformer Prime gets top scores in most benchmarks, but it only feels noticeably faster than other Android tablets in everyday performance sometimes. HD video plays smoothly, but the web browser may not be as fast as those on some competing tablets. Video games optimized for Tegra 3 look awesome though.
Asus just started sending review units a day or two ago, so it’s a bit early for anyone to have detailed battery life results. But while Asus has promised about 12 hours of run time for the tablet, it seems like 10 hours might be a more reasonable estimate. You can add an extra 5 or 6 hours by attaching the keyboard dock though — and if you really plan to use the Transformer Prime for 15 or more hours at a time, I salute you.
Overall it sounds like there’s little doubt that the Transformer Prime has a faster processor and a better display than any other Android tablet released to date. But in the coming months we’ll probably see a number of devices from Acer, Lenovo, and other companies which will also use NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 processor.
It’s also interesting that the first tablet with a quad-core processor still doesn’t seem to be as fast as the dual-core Apple iPad 2, at least when performing some tasks such as flipping pages in Marvel comic books or running graphics benchmarks.
The Transformer Prime also ships with Android 3.2 Honeycomb, which means that the software will look familiar to anyone that’s used a high-end Android tablet in the last 6 months. But Asus will push an Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich software update soon, which will give the user interface a new look and which may (or may not) affect overall performance.