01.Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201
Price: 32GB/$799; 64GB/$899
The Prime is the latest in the innovative Transformer tablet series from Asus. Like its predecessor, the Transformer 101, the Prime resembles a netbook when closed, due to the detachable hardware keyboard, that also doubles as a dock and extra battery.
The Prime’s spun aluminium exterior gives it a solid and professional look, and the feel is very similar to the Asus Ultrabook range. At just over 1.1kg with the keyboard attached, it’s slightly lighter than the original Transformer and weighs only 586g without it. For comparison, the new iPad is about 650g.
Other specifications include:
- a 1.3GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor
- 1GB of memory
- 32 or 64GB of storage
- 802.11n Wi-Fi
- a 1.2MP front camera
- 8MP rear camera with flash, and
- the 10.1 inch 1280x800 display also has a special mode for boosting screen brightness, making reading in daylight a bit easier.
Connectivity on the tablet includes a headphone/microphone port, micro HDMI and micro SD card reader. On the keyboard dock is a USB port and SD card reader. Battery life is a claimed 12 hours for the tablet – 18 with the dock attached.
The Prime ships with the Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) operating system, but can be updated to the latest Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
Asus has just announced a free GPS dongle to all Transformer Prime customers, until July 31, 2012. This GPS dongle helps to increase the GPS signal strength and improve signal reception. For more information and how to apply for the free kit, see ASUS Transformer Prime GPS Extension kit application.
Performance and ease of use
Our testing showed the Prime to be among the best Android tablets we have seen. We experienced no slowdown when using the tablet to watch 1080p movies, play games or browse the web.
However, our usual Skype test left us desiring more audio and video quality. The speakers could also use a bit more power.
We found the small-ish keyboard a little cramped, as you’d expect, but adequate for casual typing. The touchpad was a little too sensitive, but you can disable it for extended typing and navigate via the touchscreen instead.
The Prime also lacks a USB port, unlike the previous model.
Overall, we were impressed. The build quality, specifications and extended battery life from the keyboard dock make it an attractive proposition for Android tablet users.