Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

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.

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5 replies on “Asus Eee Pad Transformer review roundup”

  1. I find it hilarious that you liliputing intentionally ignored the serious praise given by these sites in order to attempt to score a “win” for the iPad 2.

    Here, let me demonstrate:

    AnandTech:  The Prime is everything the original Eee Pad Transformer was missing.
    It’s thinner than an iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab and built out of aluminum and
    glass. Other than minor details like the buttons and connectors, your
    hands never touch plastic when using the Transformer Prime. Even those
    plastic buttons look and feel great. The tablet is just beautiful. It
    echoes the design language of ASUS’ Zenbook, but without the
    disappointment in the panel department. ASUS’ latest tablet actually has
    the best display of any tablet we’ve reviewed, including those made by
    Apple and Samsung.

    Android Central: The Transformer Prime ushers in a new breed of Android tablets.
    Familiar, yet more powerful (and thus with more potential) than anything
    you’ve used before. If you can part with a minimum of $650, it makes
    for a great Android mobile computing/gaming rig.

    Android Police: For example, browsing is fantastic whether you have plugins enabled or not. Truth be told, I don’t know that I have ever used a device with such smooth browsing. Another example is gaming – as expected, games are absolutely stunning.

    CNET:As I mentioned before, the reason you’re reading a hands-on and not a
    full review is because of the performance issues we experienced with the
    Prime, particularly with its Web page loading speed. We didn’t think it
    fair to post a performance rating on what could be a faulty unit. (NO REVIEW)
    Engadget:The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has had a long run as the top-tier Android tablet in
    the 10-inch size, but that position has now properly been usurped. The
    original Transformer was a very good tablet and it successor steps up
    another notch. The Transformer Prime is thinner and lighter than the
    rest and, with 32GB of storage available for a dollar under $500, it’s a
    better deal than most of the top-tier contenders.
    Netbooknews: In one word, Awesome.  We’re totally in love with the design of this
    tablet, so much so that we’re sure that Apple is going to go after ASUS
    next.  A tablet with such a high end design and attention to detail is
    something that I would have expected from Samsung.  ASUS has really
    stepped up their game…. If you’re thinking of buying the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime, do it!
    It’s got more versatility then the iPad 2 with its ports and docking
    station.  Slashgear: We’ll also have a full review up for you within the next few days, so stay tuned for that too – meanwhile, enjoy! (NO REVIEW)
    The Verge:The Prime is an incredible piece of hardware. It has a marvelous
    display, form factor, the best camera on any tablet yet, and it’s new
    quad-core internal organ puts more graphics and gaming power in your
    hands than you’ll know what to do with (quite literally in fact, until
    the games start appearing). And then there’s also the added keyboard
    dock that adds over 10 hours of battery life and really does transform
    the tablet into a highly-usable laptop…. This review will be updated when Ice Cream Sandwich is released for the
    Prime; however, while I do think the new operating system will fix a lot
    of Honeycomb’s issues, including some of the fit and finish aspects
    that were mentioned in the Galaxy Nexus review, I don’t anticipate it fixing one of the main problems I continue to have with Honeycomb: app selection.

  2. “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.”
    That’s because graphics-intensive tasks that are not CPU-limited don’t benefit from faster or more CPUs — it’s all down to the speed of the GPU (well, and the efficiency of the graphics API and drivers).

    I have no idea what the relative speeds are of the Apple and Transformer Prime GPUs, but Apple will likely always have a slight edge when it comes to performance on similarly specced GPUs since Apple only has to run its software on one small family of processors, whereas Android has to run on a wide variety of devices.

    1. Well, Anand’s comparison of the Tegra 2 to the A5 indicated things like a 3.7x advantage for FPS.  While the Tegra 3 is only suppose to be 3x better than the Tegra 2.  So if that holds true then it would indicate the dual core SGX543MP2 does hold a small performance advantage.

      Though performance numbers should get better for the Tegra 3 once they have time to better optimize apps and drivers.  Also Nvidia is reportedly planning a 28nm update, presently it’s just 40nm, sometime in the later half of next year.  While Wayne (Tegra4) is due by either the end of next year or early 2013 for another big jump in performance.

  3. I wonder if future software will take better advantage of the quad core and speed things up (not a software guy, so this may be a dumb thought). Either way, I may be transforming into a full-blown Android convert (from eeePCs), thanks to my Nook Tablet, acquired last weekend and now stuffed with apps, courtesy of liliputing info.

    Who knows, maybe the Transformer Prime will be my next desktop or mainframe or whatever 🙂

    1. It’s pretty much the keyboard that keeps me coming back to laptops and netbooks, so I agree… the Transformer Prime and similar devices may represent the best of both worlds. 

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