30
Dec
91wPPKeTmjL._AA1500_
Last Updated: January 3rd, 2012

Update 2: ASUS has issued an official statement on the matter and determined that the Prime's GPS is functioning as intended, which for many folks means essentially non-functional.

Please note that this product is not a professional GPS device ... To avoid inconveniencing users who demand a powerful GPS device, we made the decision to remove it from our specification sheet and marketing communications. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

ASUS

That means if you're actually unable to live with your Prime without true GPS, there's not a lot to do but sell it - because ASUS isn't going to (and apparently can't) do anything about it.

Update: it appears the GPS performance issue may be of varying severity per actual Transformer Prime tablet, and may not be equally affecting all units. This would suggest a potential manufacturing defect or software issue, though we have yet to hear from ASUS on this entire debacle. If it is a manufacturing defect and does not affect all units equally, this would reflect poorly on ASUS's quality control and testing procedures - making it very much a valid complaint from customers. Again, we're still awaiting an official response from our contacts at ASUS, which we assume will be coming in the next week (at least, we hope so).

It seems that consumers are finally starting to get their ASUS Transformer Prime tablets en masse, and that some of them have been decidedly unhappy with one aspect of the much-awaited tablet's performance, though in a slightly obscure area: the GPS.

The Transformer Prime is equipped with a GPS radio, allowing it to triangulate global position using satellite information. GPS is a pretty integral part of Android, and it seems many users have started taking its presence (and functionality) for granted. The issue definitely seems very real, as this XDA thread shows.

ASUS's responses to this issue have been varied. The number one suggestion to remedy GPS problems? Turn on Wi-Fi. This makes sense. Wi-Fi allows your device to use GeoIP (geographic IP location information) to tell your device approximately where you are, and in conjunction with Google Location Services (which uses a Wi-Fi MAC address location database Google has collected) makes triangulation by GPS far easier, because your device can more confidently determine where it is in the first place - this essentially is a form of aGPS (Assisted GPS), which smartphones use (via Wi-Fi or the cellular data network), which drastically reduces initial lock times.

Of course, the biggest complaints come from those attempting to use the device when not in Wi-Fi range (or not near any recorded Wi-Fi hotspots), for offline navigation and mapping purposes.

Some have speculated that the Transformer Prime's aluminum enclosure is reducing all radio signal strength coming out of the device (GPS is particularly affected by aluminum if there is no alternate "entry route" for signal). Others say there must be a software glitch.

Our guess? It's an aluminum tablet without a cellular data connection, being used without Wi-Fi. Of course GPS is going to suck. It seems to be sucking more than is normal for a tablet (although tests of our own with a Tab 10.1 and Acer A100 without Wi-Fi on yielded similarly crappy results - initial lock on took several minutes, though they did actually lock on while outdoors), but we're inclined to believe that may be caused in some part by the aluminum construction, as some have stated. ASUS has apparently noticed, and has actually removed GPS from the Prime's specifications page on their US website. That probably doesn't bode well for there being any kind of "easy fix."

However, given the problems some users are reporting (total failure to actually track relative position after attaining 9 or more satellites on GPS lock), there could actually be a manufacturing defect or software glitch preventing the Prime from accurately adjusting its position when in motion - something that isn't typical of merely having poor GPS signal.

The simplest solution at this point? If you're looking for an offline GPS system, don't buy a Transformer Prime.

XDA

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • http://trevorsullivan.net Trevor Sullivan

    I'm waiting for the quad-core version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 anyway, so I'm not worried about wanting an Asus Transformer Prime.

    • Joshua

      Is this a rumored device? I would have assumed they would use their own next-gen Exynos SoC for that, with Big.Little and ARM A15. I wonder why the Exynos 4000 series chip wasn't used in the original 10.1.

    • Jon Garrett

      me too, and its rumored to have an 11"+ screen and only be just slightly larger than the 10.1 !!

  • How Walker

    my gps lock seems to be stellar on my OG transformer. but since i also have a tmo sammy vibrant i could have a skewed perception. because the gps on the vibrant is worse than what columbus had

  • Hotmann

    Sure this may be a problem...but how many people are actually going to be using their tablet for gps aside from apps/websites getting their location (and in such case they will usually be connected to wifi)...

    Asus may put out some sort of patch along with ICS, but I don't see them pouring too much money into this since it's such an edge case.

    • David Ruddock

      Pretty much my thoughts. I think it's a bit of a stretch to say people bought a tablet expecting to use it as an offline navigation device in their vehicle. Not like ASUS sold it saying that it was capable of or designed for such a use. Better GPS performance would obviously be preferable, but I doubt ASUS is losing sleep over this.

      • J-Dog

        I agree, though, a couple counter points...

        I've seen sites/youtube vids where people have installed an iPad into their car's central dash... Personally, if I were to do something like that, I'd use an Android tablet instead of an iOS... I wouldn't mind having a ~10 inch screen showing me where I am as opposed to the 4.5 inch Droid X or my slightly smaller stand alone GPS.

        Additionally, I've been told by a few sources that there is an elusive rare breed of geeks who actually like going outside, who actually voluntarily spend days out side, living and sleeping in nature... This activity is apparently called camping, and further, apparently the farther from civilization (and thus any hopes of a wifi signal) this event takes place the better it is... Individuals who engage in said activity may find having a GPS signal to pinpoint their location on a map to be of some use...

      • stelek

        Excuse me but what is exactly "an offline navigation device"? There's no online and offline GPS. There's only one - the one coming from the satellites above us... The GPS may be assisted by additional online information but the assist is never required for it to work. So if the device advertised as "GPS capable" is not able to find its position based on the signal from the satellites, it's not really a GPS device...

        And the "offline" GPS information is really needed for navigation in the first place. While the WiFi location can be sometimes determined with scary accuracy, it will never tell you which way or how fast you're moving, so turn-by-turn navigation is out of question then.

        I've cancelled my pre-order based on the information from XDA forums...

  • Ryuuie

    The reason why people care so much about tablet GPS is simple:

    They paid at LEAST $500 for a piece of technology that doesn't do what it claims.

    Considering how bad money is right now for everyone, I don't see how it's so hard to understand why people care.

    • David Ruddock

      I don't recall ASUS ever saying that the Transformer Prime's GPS was intended to work effectively without a Wi-Fi signal. Clearly, it doesn't perform as well as competitors in this regard, but I fail to see how ASUS made a false claim. The fact that something has a piece of hardware doesn't mean that it is deceptive if that hardware doesn't work as well as the competition's. It sucks, yes, if you expected that feature to work that well, but it's not like ASUS said "yep, it works great for offline navigation because of its built-in GPS" - they said it has a GPS chip, and the GPS chip technically functions.

      The iPad doesn't have GPS, probably for this exact reason - aluminum housing makes GPS work significantly less well without Wi-Fi assistance. It's a bummer, but it's not like your tablet has lost all usefulness because of it. I'd say people unhappy about this are perfectly entitled to return their Prime if they don't like it, but not much else.

      • kokopelli

        Asus does advertise the Transformer Prime as having GPS however. It is a reasonable expectation for a device that has GPS to not require Wi-Fi in order to get a location fix.

        The absence of a statement for a situation outside of the norm does not excuse them. If most other GPS devices required Wi-Fi to use GPS then it would be reasonable for Asus to exclude this information. Given that I am not aware of ANY other GPS device with this requirement the onus falls on Asus to notify a prospective user of this limitation.

        I am a Transformer Prime owner and personally do not mind this problem. To excuse it by saying "I don't recall ASUS ever saying that the Transformer Prime's GPS was intended to work effectively without a Wi-Fi signal." is not a reasonable answer however.

        • David Ruddock

          Again, it has GPS. The GPS works. There's a difference between "broken" and "not working as well as I want it to." If you stick a TF Prime outside in an open area with clear skies, the GPS works and locks. That's functioning as intended.

          If you use Wi-Fi, the GPS works as intended.

          It's only in certain situations, where no Wi-Fi is available and signal is reduced by being inside a vehicle or weather conditions, that it doesn't. It's not like when Wi-Fi is turned off that the GPS chip suddenly stops transmitting.

          I'm sure they'll clarify in the future that the GPS needs Wi-Fi to get a reasonable fix, but I don't think this situation warrants the outrage some are expressing.

          Yes, it's a problem. Yes, the TF Prime's GPS doesn't work as well as other tablets. I'm sure you could probably still sell the thing at a profit at this point if you really felt that was something you got screwed on.

        • kokopelli

          @David

          So if you have a cellphone that gets 1 bar where all others get 4 and no service where other cell phones get 3 it is ok because it does work as a cell phone?

          If you have a device that can only connect to wifi within a meter of an access point it is fine becuse it can connect to the access point?

          There is a reasonable expectation of operation when a device advertises it has GPS and the prime is not living up to that expectation.

        • David Ruddock

          Er, your examples are FAR more extreme in severity and FAR more relevant to the core functionality of a device.

          If the GPS simply didn't work without a Wi-Fi connection, yes, that would be misleading. That's not the case.

          A few hundred (if that) people might be truly upset by the lackluster stand-alone GPS performance. For them, I say OK, ASUS should just allow them to return the device for a refund. Problem solved. I'm not saying it isn't upsetting for some people. It obviously is. I'm saying the issue isn't of the severity or importance of those you're trying to say are analogous. The degree of the problem is completely relevant.

        • http://androidpandora.blogspot.com/ Myself

          @David: so you have a cellphone, you can do calls with it but call quality is shit, literally terrible, like, you can't do any calls indoors, it's ok because the manufacturer only said it worked it didn't said it worked normally?

          requiring wi-fi for a faster lock it's fine, requiring wi-fi to work at all it's not fine, specially when it says in the box it has GPS, it's included in the price, it's not cheap, people assume it works normally

          I used to have a SGS and the GPS was just horrible, HORRIBLE, it was barely usable without a community fix, and even with it, took ages to lock.

        • David Ruddock

          @myself did you actually read my replies? It doesn't "require" anything to work - it requires Wi-Fi to work better. I'm not sure how much clearer I can make that.

          Also, your examples are just as flawed as the ones I dismissed above - you're using core features that are REQUIRED to use a device at all for almost anything and making them tantamount to an accessory feature. They're not at all equivalent.

        • http://androidpandora.blogspot.com/ Myself

          @David: the device was advertised to have GPS, it's not good enough, either find a fix if possible or allow people to return it. end of story

        • Bryan

          Its like buying a phone and then finding out its has poor low light camera quality when they clearly advertised it has a flash... I think thats a more reasonable comparison....

          if you bought the camera phone for its low light quality.. you should have got a DSLR...

          if you bought a quad core 10 inch tablet to mount in your car to watch movies and use GPS while driving... your outta luck... should got a garmin

        • Coreinsanity

          @Myself Your arguments are just stupid. Your basically comparing a broken cellphone which can't properly place calls (it's main function) to a tablet who's GPS doesn't function as good as a standalone GPS solution. This is a horribly bad comparison. The cellphones core functionality is to make calls. If that sucks the device is, for all intensive purposes, useless. In the case of the transformer prime? Not the case, it's core functionality is not to be a GPS unit.

          A more accurate comparison would be "I bought a truck [for utility], but the audio system isn't the best" - The main functionality of that truck is for utility, not a really great audio system.

          Long story short: You didn't get ripped off, the Transformer Prime was not meant to be a replacement for a standalone GPS unit, and it still works perfectly fine for what it was intended for. And, furthermore, couldn't you simply buy a cheap hotspot device from your phone service and use it's wifi to get a good GPS signal?

      • Ed

        They said it had a GPS.

        Having a GPS would lead one to believe that the device could latch on to a location without having to have aGPS or any other requirements.

        As this works fine on the original Transformer, I see this as a big deal, and it will keep me from buying the newer model until fixed.

        Why? Because I use my tablet for offline map navigation all the time. That's one of the main reasons I purchased it.

        To discredit everyone by saying they shouldn't expect it to work, you end up looking like a douche.

        • David Ruddock

          I never said they shouldn't expect it to work - I said that there's nothing ASUS indicated that would make its poor GPS performance misleading. Yes, it obviously sucks for that one, particular application of offline navigation, and you're free as a consumer to not buy it on the basis of this poor performance. And you have. Clearly, you have different buying priorities than the vast majority of tablet users.

          And there's no reason to believe ASUS will fix it, seems pretty obvious it's functioning as intended - the aluminum body explanation, coupled with ASUS's removal of "GPS" from the product page, makes it pretty clear that there's not a thing they plan to do about this other than remove GPS from the list of features.

          If they never advertised the TF201 as having GPS, and merely sold it without ever commenting on the feature, would 95% of the people currently complaining about the poor performance still have bought it? Almost certainly. This is a case of consumer expectations which only arose post-purchase in all but a small minority of cases, such as yours.

          If you bought a TF Prime relying heavily on the supposition of GPS performing offline very well, then yes, I'd say you're entitled to a refund. But otherwise? I'm having a hard time feeling sympathy.

        • Spydie

          david, you are so full of crap. If they didn't advertise that it has GPS, do you think they'd sell? I'd guess not because in this day and age, and for that kind of money, we expect a GPS chip. And if we have a GPS chip, we expect it to work as well as everyone else's chip. Is it functioning as intended? Hell no. Do you really think Asus put in a gps chip and intended it not to work as a true gps chip? waste of money, huh? If they didn't want the gps chip to work properly, they would have excluded it and advertised it "no GPS" and sold it for $300 and took their chances that it would sell. Nope, you're all wet, slick. Asus installed the gps chip, and expected it to work well, and charged us for it. Now we expect it to work or we expect them to fix it. Not because we NEED it, but because it's there, we paid for it, and anything that's built-in sure as hell needs to work properly. You have missed the point all the while defending your asinine comments. The aluminum body is not the explanation. If it was, Asus would have said, "GPS included (may not work well in our aluminum body)" Come on, slick, use your brain instead of your dick to think.

        • David Ruddock

          @spydie $300 without the GPS chip, huh? Nice numbers you're pulling out of your ass, there. That chip maybe cost them a few bucks to put in, and it's required for Google Apps services (eg, so your tablet can have the Android Market). Pretty ridiculous to suggest that you went out and paid so much more for the TF Prime than some other tablet because it has a GPS chip. You know damn well everyone bought it for Tegra 3.

          Why the hell would ASUS blame its own construction for the poor GPS performance? That'd be incredibly stupid - I have no idea why you seem to think they would ever want to do that. Far easier just to take it off the spec page and remove the consumer expectation in the first place.

      • ShinTenken

        The 3G version of both iPads have GPS capabilities.

        • David Ruddock

          Key phrase: 3G. That means aGPS (which uses that 3G to boost accuracy and lock times hugely), and it also means that Apple probably has a built-in antenna that the GPS piggy-backs on to boost signal. Not the same thing.

      • Spydie

        David ruddock, first of all, ipad is available with gps. Secondly, we all expect a gps chip to just plain WORK. If they claim it has a GPS chip, then we expect it work without any further claim like "yep, it works great for offline navigation because of its built-in GPS". Does your phone or Garmin make that claim? NO. they just state that they have a GPS chip. So don't you think we'd expect it to work, slick?

        • David Ruddock

          Read the technical explanation, it's not as simple as "making it work". It will never "work" as well as a phone GPS. And only the iPad 3G has GPS (and it's aGPS), not the Wi-Fi model. Not the same thing.

        • Spydie

          You're wrong again. You don't have to have 3g turned on to make the ipad work (I have one). I never buy 3G time, but I do use the GPS all the time. It works.

        • David Ruddock

          Uh, yes, but you *bought* the 3G model. The Wi-Fi MODEL of the iPad (you know, the one the TF prime is actually competing with) does NOT have GPS. Please stop talking around facts.

      • Ryuuie

        Do you know how GPS works? It SHOULD work without Wi-Fi as it goes off of satellite, not the Internet. My old Optimus V could still get GPS without Internet and 3G and my Nexus S can do the same.

        As you've been told multiple times in this rather large comment thread, the GPS is stated to be there. It does not work. ASUS should fix it.

        It is a feature that ASUS said is there and, while it is, it does not work as it should. It needs to be fixed. That's all there is to it.

        End. Of. Story.

    • brandon

      If you are paying $500+ for a tablet, then money is almost certainly not a problem for you.

      • Alex1x

        I just received my TFP. Although GPS is not a big deal to me I still expect it to work (just in case I need it). In the world of techies, specs matter. First thing I do in deciding to purchase, I compare specs. At this moment TFP doesn't have a competition but in about a month it'll be tablet quadcore wars. I think ASUS should fix this issue by the latest of the competitors tablet arrival.
        In the world of Tech, reputation has longterm effectiveness. Short term $ for ASUS is long term ignorance. Now let's say ASUS fixes this "tiny" issue, wouldn't everyone be happy and applaud ASUS for being the first AND the best? I know I would.
        ASUS, I say you came out with one hell of a product don't let this minor taste in your fans mouth sour.

      • Ryuuie

        I'm glad you can make baseless assumptions. It seems you have no idea how saving money works.

        Just because someone paid $500 for a tablet doesn't mean that they're rich. It just means they know how to save for what they want.

        • Phreqd

          You'll have to excuse Brandon. He's one of those hippy, Occupy Movement people. If you can afford to bath and dress/look decent, then you "must" be one of the 1%.

  • mastermind26

    If they're that unhappy, I'd be "willing to accept" their unwanted merchandise. ;)

  • marty

    for that purposes i own a galaxy note ;)

  • Svashtar

    The statement about GPS not being used on tablet is very very dangerous and simply wrong. Not that it isn't true, but ... if I buy a device that has GPS I consider it should work. Flawlessly.

    If ASUS didn't think we would use GPS on this tablet, they would simply made it without GPS. Simple as that.

    ASUS should loose some sleep over this.

    Maybe I am the first one who was waiting for this tablet to finally come on the market and now, sadly, decided not to buy it because of GPS crap...but am certainly not the last one.

    Crapy news! And thanks for crappy holidays :)

    • David Ruddock

      The Android Market and various other Google services require a GPS chip. There are no Google-Apps certified devices without GPS.

      Also, the GPS *does* work - just fine with proper Wi-Fi signal, the only time it has issues is when Wi-Fi is off (or on an out of range of any hotspots).

      I don't see how "doesn't work very well" is equivalent to "doesn't work at all."

      • rrjp

        Whatever...

        If they say it has GPS and it does but the GPS doesn't work inside a car which is where probably over 90% of GPS usage happens, then yeah, that is pretty bad. I'm looking to buy a tablet and the TP is now off my list. If they don't think they did something wrong, why remove mention of GPS from their web site?

        Just because you don't think that GPS is part of the core functionality, there are obviously a lot of people that do. Where is the proof that you speak for the market?

        And really, isn't that the whole point of tablets? They are multifunction phone / GPS / netbook replacements.

    • Ribbys

      I have to agree with you.

      If there is GPS, make it work.

      Likely ASUS did not want to add in a soft plastic antena cutout as is often seen on devices.

  • Pezric

    If you include a feature (like in this case, the GPS) then you had best make DAMN SURE it works!

    Stop making excuses (Like "who uses their tablet for GPS?". ) and make it work!

    • blacksheep

      No one said it doesn't work. It's just not very good. Your argument is invalid as written as it is based on a false assumption.

      • rrjp

        ...or it's 90% correct since probably over 90% of GPS usage occurs in cars...

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/116731393305044465534/posts Amish Crusader

    The rest of the tablet rocks. Wahh, the antenna on my Ferrari is slightly bent!

    (Ask yourself: Do I already have GPS on my phone? Can I just use that instead? If the answer is no, buy another tablet that is inferior in every other aspect to the prime.)

  • Adelphos

    Just to point this out, the world is being slammed by a major solar storm right now and will be feeling the effects for a few more days. The issue may not have anything to do with the antenna, it may simply be cosmic interference. No joke...

  • Svashtar

    I am very sorry to say, and this might be a shocker to some of you here, but not everyone on this from-god-forsaken world lives in a big apple or other oversized cities, where i believe wifi hot-spots are on every corner.
    On the other hand, even if everyone would live in such cities, there would still be an serious number of people going OUT of the city, to nature....where there is no wifi for sure.
    And last point ... if a Ferrari had a bent antenna - i would think there could be "bent" spots inside (engine?) also. Just another sloppy car. It could look awesome, but ... still bent. And that is crap we don't have to buy.

  • Cha

    Most of the GPS-enabled devices such as cell phones and now tablets are greatly inaccurate in general. I use dedicated hand held GPS on a regular basis and i can guarantee that unless you let your unit on, outside your bag/pocket for a extended amount of time (10min minimum), thus leaving your unit the time to receive the necessary radio signal, the GPS can't triangulate properly and that works for cell phones and tablets too. Similarly, the time of the day where you are using your GPS also matters as it will determine how many satellites are above you (the more satellites, the more accurate the triangulation, if less than 3 satellites are visible, your GPS is useless). Eventually GPS signal in the city, especially if there are tall buildings, will be crap as the radio signals trend to bounce on the buildings, same if you are in a mountainous area...Those problems are common, even for dedicated GPS units so i think people should lower their expectation when it comes to GPS features!

  • Rudejamaican

    I got my Prime today, and it would not update my location for the weather, even when I was outside GPS Status app would not pick any up satellite.

  • Tim

    I think some of the posters are misinformed. For the vast majority of us we simply cannot get a satellite lock under any circumstances even outside on a clear day, motionless. My friend and I both purchased Primes with the expectation that GPS functioned at even this basic level. The most we can get is a Wifi-geolocation approximation. This simply is not GPS or Assisted-GPS, or any type of satellite communciation as defined by the specification.

    • David Ruddock

      If it really is that bad for *everyone* then the issue may warrant some above-average outrage. I don't think it is. Many posters in the XDA thread seem to basically say that locks take a long time, and only a few satellites can be locked. GPS is so finnicky depending on your location that it's really difficult to say how much the problem is affecting some people as compared to others.

      • aaa

        I saw only two or three reports where GPS actually worked while driving. People who get a lock, even a good lock with 10 or more satellites lose it as soon as they move the device for some distance. It might be software problem though.

  • Tyler C

    This is making me very tempted to cancel my Amazon orders of the 32GB and its accompanying keyboard dock. While I have my rooted thunderbolt and its GPS works just fine, I was really looking forward to having the Prime as a much nicer device for GPS-related functions.
    I happen to live in a very rural area in Indiana where the only wifi I connect to is at my house, and there are no other places nearby like a Starbucks or McD's etc.
    But further so, Asus's willingness to remove a spec from the website that the Prime actually has is what is most infuriating. Besides, why would I want a measly quad-core tablet if the Tegra 4's are just going to be due out in 9 months anyway?
    The Prime is starting to look less and less like an iPad killer with each passing day. =[

  • http://www.teamrou.com Phil Oakley

    Can't say I'm bothered. I'll use my 7 inch tab for GPS, or my phone.

  • Tyler C

    Everyone in my family got a tablet for xmas(we managed to get them for amazing prices due to a glitch at a Walmart), the GalaxyTab 10.1($347), Acer Iconia A500($249), and Acer Iconia A100($249), the GPS in all of them work really well. I'd be really disappointed to have a $500 tablet with a horrible GPS just because someone couldnt put a small plastic area on the back.
    What other tablets are supposed to come out this year and when aside from the supposed 2GHz Samsung?

  • Bob

    I like the suggestion the GPS doesn't work because the signal can't escape. If someone can explain to me where the signal is escaping to I'd love to hear it. GPS listen to satellites to triangulate position, there no signal sent back. If it doesn't work because of the signal it's because the signal can't get it, which is unlikely as in theory they designed the antenna to go with the case.

    • David Ruddock

      Get in, escape - whatever. And yes, GPS *does* need some non-metallic medium for signal to get in. The TF Prime lacks any sort of plastic for the signal to make its way through the aluminum shell, and disassembly of a TF Prime by one XDA user showed no sign that of the case being used as part of the GPS antenna assembly.

      • Brad

        1. The screen serves as a non-metallic medium. Unless the shell extends behind the screen then there should be no problem with GPS signals getting in unless Corning has perfected StarTrek-like transparent aluminum.
        2. Is there a bona-fide GPS receiver in the design? If so it should work. (Scratch this one --- I just saw a later post that it does include a Broadcom RX. The posting delay is really handy!)
        3. When you are confronted with factual errors in your post, you should reply with an "oops! Thank you." If you are just going to blow it off with a "whatever" then why bother trying to inform people at all? You act like you care about the veracity of portions of your post but don't care at all about other portions. That's weak.

        • David Ruddock

          1. Last time I checked, LCD displays contain tons of metallic transistors throughout the entire display as part of the substrata, and also, last time I checked, it's not a simply "there is signal or there isn't" - it's a gradient. Displays block a lot of signal - there's a reason the back of almost every phone is plastic in some part, or the frame of the phone itself serves as an antenna (see: iPhone). It is absolutely, objectively, 100% untrue that LCD displays are "windows" - they block a hell of a lot of signal.

          2. GPS is highly sensitive to signal interference. Look it up.

          3. It's a minor point, and yes, I was wrong, but it's not as though it somehow invalidates my argument.

  • steve.droid

    The prime has the latest broadcomm chip. It is a stand-alone GPS chip.
    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=20788962&postcount=413
    Wifi is "helpful" for initial lock, but "IS NOT" required for normal operations. ASUS is trying to cover their butts.
    I use an old, un-activated, Samsung omnia as a GPS antenna for my Archos. It locks on and stays locked while I drive. No WIFI or 3g, I've used my Fascinate GPS with 3g & wifi off, and it works, so to say the GPS in tablets somehow need wifi or 3g to work, just can't be right...
    Don't belittle those who want a working product, just because you can "live without it", you are the exception, not the rule....

    • David Ruddock

      I'm sorry, I still fail to see how this makes it a "non-working" product. It has a less than fully functional feature which is ancillary to the reason 99% of people bought it. If ASUS sold it saying "there's no GPS," would they all have still bought it? Almost certainly. I'm not saying there isn't an issue compared to typical GPS performance, I'm saying that the complaints far exceed the actual impact the problem is having on people's use of an otherwise great piece of hardware.

      Honestly, given the choice, I have to wonder what portion of people being so vocal about this problem would accept a full refund for their Prime, or just choose to live with the problem. I'm guessing most would choose the latter, and that shows you just how much people *really* care about the problem, and how much they just seem to enjoy complaining about it.

      • steve.droid

        that is why ASUS is removing GPS from the specs, so they won't have to answer the issue, but it was there, and probably played into the reason many people bought it (including me). I'm sure many will be happy with the prime, even with the defect.
        All i'm saying is that, if you buy a product expecting 100% functionality, and it doesn't, how is any complaint excessive?

      • rrjp

        Please show us the survey of people who bought it or admit that you are pulling numbers out of your orifice.

    • aaa

      Wifi or 3G only helps getting the first lock. After that you don't need it. People with Transformer Prime seem to have one of three cases:
      1) GPS doesn't work. Doesn't find even one satellite. (I'd say 10-30% people).
      2) GPS locks after a time but looses lock every time you move the device for a greater distance (for example - in a car). It also takes a lot of time to reaquire lock (as if it was starting from the beginning).
      3) GPS almost works - the signal is very weak, but you can use it for navigation - 2-3 people reported it to be that way.
      Most Primes is in 2nd group.
      Keep in mind that without WiFi/3G first lock can take up to 12.5 minutes. People who test their devices on XDA mostly know about it - and wait even for 30 minutes. Some may not know that it's almost imposibble to acquire a lock inside - but all test them also outside.

  • Donnie

    Has anyone noticed the box that pops up when you start google maps that asks would you like to turn on WIFI to get better GPS performance. This has popped up on every Android phone I have ever owned so I am normally under the impression that to get better gps performance I should have WIFI enabled.... Why is this such a shock to anyone that you wont get the best performance. Its an add on that WORKS and was never stated to be the best gps. and like @david said if you dont like it return it or tether it to you phone just to get the signal not to steal cell service. But really you should know that WiFi is preferred when you don't have cell service and Google makes that clear.

    • steve.droid

      You don't have to use only google maps, there are other "offline" navigation solutions that do not require wifi or 3g, i.e. CoPilot, Navigon or Sygic....

      if you bought a tv and hdmi didn't work, would you keep it, the TV still functions flawlessly...

      GPS "was" advertised, why do I have to "shut up and color"? Why is my only option, to return it and move on?

      If GPS was not "Advertised" then this would not be an issue, but it WAS, and it is....

      and GPS doesn't need wifi or 3g to work...

      • Donnie

        I don't remember saying that it was needed just perferred to get a better signal. If i see it in one gps app that would lead me to believe that it is the same for other apps. And your analogy is off about hdmi, that is a primary feature on a television. Now I would use youtube as being advertised on a TV but it is not the best quality because you don't have a good enough wifi adapter but they didnt tell you that you should use an Ethernet cable to get a better connection. although it still works just not the best, I would still keep the TV cause it still works.

  • Jenny Harmon

    The ones on XDA complaining about the GPS do not understand the technology and are a bunch of clueless whiners.

    My prime wifi and GPS are working fine. Some of the less tech savvy hear one whiner complain then they imagine they have the same problem. A big echo chamber.

    If someone has an issue, return it.

  • Kenny O

    First off, shout out to Dave - it's because of your reporting that I'm not still waiting another month to get the Prime.

    As someone who spent the money on this tablet - this minor annoyance is not enough to make me regret my decision to buy, nor would it give me pause if I was still waiting to buy. I will rely on my cell phone for GPS. The Prime rocks, I am extremely pleased with my decision to wait for it.

    If you need a tablet with flawless GPS, then the Prime may not be the tablet for you. There are plenty of other great options now and as with all gadgets there will be plenty of better, faster, stronger ones coming down the pipe.

  • http://www.betastart.com Clarence S

    So if I get this correctly, without aided wi-fi the built-in GPS in the ASUS Transformer Primer functions like a early generation Tom Tom GPS? Takes a few minutes to pinpoint your location instead of instantly finding you.
    If this is the case, then you guys need to your heads out of the sand. Practically all GPS devices still operate this way, even the new ones built-in into cars now.

    Then there's the point that you only get this experience when there is no Wi-fi connection available, well of course, you paid for a Wi-fi tablet. I'm sure a 3G Transformer Prime won't have this limitation, but it also won't be cheap as the non-3G Transformer Prime.

    • Coreinsanity

      The Transformer Prime only comes with wifi, there is no 3G option afaik.

  • DUTCH

    Asus has removed the GPS Functionality from the Specification page for the Prime on their websites.

  • http://www.dietzcleaningservices.com LoucoPrime2011

    Jesus Christ, Enough with this GPS shit. How many devices with GPS do you really need? I have a cell phone with GPS, I have Tom Tom, with GPS. Yes Maybe ASUS made a little mistake but the Prime is still going to sell. I didn't even know it had GPS. I bought 3 by the way. I agree with Dave. If you don't like it return it. Go get an Icrap!!! wait!! Icrap doesn't have GPS. I guess you are shit out of luck!!!

    • notHappywithoutGPS

      Wish i had you as a customer, happy with defective products. Wether you knew it or not, those that do know it has GPS have expectation for it to work. Why are they the bad guys?
      Why do you have to be so rude? Some people expect a device that is working when they buy it.

  • http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/ J. Brad Hicks

    Is it just a Prime issue? I have the original Transformer, and it takes ridiculous amounts of time to get a GPS lock, sometimes not even working at all, even outdoors under a cloudless sky.

    I don't care, much, especially since the GPS in my Android phone is perfectly adequate, but there are occasional times when the Transformer's screen would be easier to read.

  • aaa

    Initial lock without WiFi or 3G will be slow on any GPS device - 12.5 minutes is the maximum time it can use for that. It's not related to the GPS performance on the device. Every GPS behaves that way. The problem with Transformer Prime is it looses the lock after moving the device (for example in a car).
    My Transformer TF101 on a road behaves very similar to normal GPS navigation.

  • cece

    my galaxy tab 10.1 gps works great compared to my Galaxy S which is completely unusable. I would be really disappointed if I got a tablet with crappy gps.
    Why can't we find real tests of gps performance for most devices? Not the kind of things you can test yourself in the store...

  • Andy Jenkinson

    Is there some reason you can't tether a transformer to a smart phone? If the smart phone has GPS do you need 3G on to get the improved signal the transformer needs?
    (I'm looking for answers, not an argument).

  • fishbowl_00

    Hi all interesting article but is there really a GPS problem with this device. Im a Navigational Officer with a marine survey company and GPS troubleshooting is in my day to day line of work. The biggest problem i have with new units is well theyre built in Asia and then these units get shipped over to the USA and Europe. So when they first get turned on they are expecting a satalitte geometry for Asia. These means it can take a long long time for devices to get a lock. Once it gets a future times you use the device should be nice and quick an easy. Now the equimpment im using is completely different to the Tranformer Prime but the stuff i use is worth millions of millions of dollars. So if it can take up to several hours for a first time lock to occure with a million dollar piece of gps equipment how long will it take for a tablet? Most of the time i have to reprogram the card and tell it its at a certain lat long this reduces first time start up to maybe 40-50 minutes before it gets a good strong signal. So bare that in mind when your saying GPS isnt working with the device have you really tested it?

    • notHappywithoutGPS

      Andy, yes, it is possible to tether another android device for the purpose of using it's GPS, not sure if the apps are compatible with the prime, but possible, also someone did tether it to an external gps receiver and it worked...

      Fishbowl, the main problem isn't the initial lock, most eventually get this, the problem is that when used to navigate, i.e. moving in a car, it loses lock until motionless again...

  • fishbowl_00

    In which case it has poor satalitte tracking which can be solved with a firmware update

  • fishbowl_00

    Sounds like poor sat tracking then, which can be more than likely fixed with a firmware update

  • ajith

    @Fishbowl
    It will be really nice if you can publish above mentioned facts in a blog so it can reach more people. Probably it will also help a lot of people make wise decision when buying a tablet.

  • TS47

    I'm not sure I care all that much. Yes, I want the GPS to work as well as possible. However, the wifi version of the Ipad doesn't even have a GPS. Our phones work so well only because we have the cell signal to boost GPS reception. Giving an answer like, turn on wifi to fix the problem is appropriate. AND... If ASUS can do anything to make the GPS work better, I think they should. End of story - not that big a deal.

  • rlelliott

    If everyone that is complaining would kindly return their new TFP maybe I would be able to finally get mine.

  • Don_Cheadle

    This article is actually completely off.

    GPS performs horribly with WiFi ON also.

  • Sadairrea

    Wuho cares!! If you have a 3g or 4g phone(which most people do) all you have to do is usb tether or use the bluetoothe feature on your phone and tablet.

    • ItsDefective

      so why buy a tablet, you can everything on your phone, its just smaller...

      I'm glad so many are happy about buying a device that is not 100% operational, but for many, if they are spending that much money, they expect a certain level of quality...

  • wtf

    USING A TABLET AS A GPS DEVICE

    LOL!!!!!!!!!

    • ItsDefective

      Its not about using it as a GPS device, its about getting a Product that is 100% functioning...

  • LtTops

    While the overall population that will use the GPS facility is small. It is a concern. I have a TF101 and intend to buy a prime in due course.

    I'm a Geocacher and a tablet offers a number of advantages.

    Dedicated GPSs have limited functionality in terms of mapping, web access, etc. So while this is my primary GPS source it is limited to that role.

    A GPS enabled phone gives me everything I want (ok GPS performance) internet access and offline storage (when 3g cuts out) maps and satellite imagery from Google maps etc. The downside is my HTC desire with GPS and mobile data gets around 2 hours of battery life (almost useless for a days excursion)

    A tablet bridges this it can store a lot of date for offline usage, the phone can supply tethered data when required. The battery life of the transformer is good for most of a day without the keyboard. And can provide navigation data for the whole day.

    The fact that the Primes GPS performance may render it next to useless for any form of navigation in rural areas is a definite negative.

    I would also expect a high end tablet equipped with GPS to be a suitable replacement for a car SATNAV. If I have spent $500 on a GPS equipped device, I don’t expect to have to have another device costing $100+ to perform that function.

    If the GPS perfomance is highly dependent upon WiFi avalibility, then it should be listed as somehting other than pure GPS, phones generally state they have aGPS as they rely on the cell network for rough location and refine it using the GPS satalite network.

  • http://reviewedbyandy.com Andrew

    Hahahah trololololoololol!
    Sorry, had to do that. Hopefully this is just a software problem. But I can see why the Aluminum body would cause issues. My Acer A100's GPS is shit without wifi for gps, but it's a less expensive tablet so I'm not too concerned. Like stated earlier, you shell out good money, and even if its a feature that not many will use, it should still work as expected.

  • Root

    Don't forget you can use a Bluetooth GPS unit. I have one with a MTK 5Hz chipset it works great indoors as well. you would need to install a Bluetooth GPS app to use it. I have a Vibrant and Navigation would not be possible without it.

  • steviedrew

    so should i buy 1? lol!!!!!!

  • Don

    I was going to buy a TP for use as a marine navigation device using Navionics charting software. I understood that it had a GPS and a bright, daylight-readable display. Both essential features.

    If the GPS does not work at least as well as a $20 Sirfstar then I am out.

  • Paul

    I have had an ASUS Transformer since mid 2011 and have used it as an in car SATNAV with excellent results. This was one, of a number, of the features I wanted when choosing a tablet and I have no issues with its performance. So is the GPS performance problem specific to the Prime ?

  • epinoa

    Ah GPS ....that thing people with more than 1 brain cell turn off.

  • Mike Wilson

    GPS = Global Positioning System. It is NOT wifi positioning, it is global. The definition itself dictates that you can be ANYWHERE in the world and use the GPS, not just near wifi.

    If David or others work for Asus or want to promote endless arguments for why a faulty product is OK, then let their words demonstrate their ignorance and ignore them.

    Asus should take lessons from Apple on how to properly launch a new product: TEST it, make lots of them available in normal stores, then launch.

    What foolish management of the launch of the Prime by Asus - on one day, off the next, then on again only through internet, then off, then delayed shipments.... what a mess!!!

    Asus made a huge mistake not having the product fully tested and available by Christmas. I bought an iPad2 as a result and am very happy. Apple knows how to bring great products to market, knows how to support them, and knows their customers. Asus is a joke!

    Good luck with all of you who paid to become their beta testers.

    • http://private phil

      Totally agree with this remark. Asus pushed this device just to claim to be the first with quad core and now it seems every day a new issue pops up with this device. The marketing strategy on this was absolutely terrible and although i am a huge apple hater they should go learn from the likes of apple on how to market and test devices before launch. I had to choose between the samsung 10.1 and the prime and eventually choose the samsung simply for the brilliant screen that was rated better than the prime. Turns out to be a good choice.

  • cheri

    Why should you need wi-fi. Really..if you are using GPS for traveling...how many of us would have wi-fi available?

  • sl

    the simplest solution is to get a garmin (or other good brand) external GPS antenna. I never rely on built-in GPS hardware, most of the times it sucks.

  • Dan

    Oh come on, if you can drop £500 on a toy you can drop 70 on a decent satnav.

    • Ryuuie

      I'm glad you can make baseless assumptions. It seems you have no idea how saving money works.

      Just because someone paid $500 for a tablet doesn't mean that they're rich. It just means they know how to save for what they want.

      I'm sorry your parents never taught you how to save up. :3

  • John

    I think we might have to accept the fact that the Prime is a dud:

    1. Poor GPS (can live with)
    2. Poor Wi-Fi performance (deal breaker)
    3. Casing issues (doesn't affect all units)
    4. Light-Bleed issues (doesn't affect all units)

    I don't want to get an iPad 2, so I'm starting to look towards CES to see what might be on offer later in the year.

  • Jimboo

    The Prime a dud ? A huge overreaction surely ? Marketing yes, but Apple testing??? After doing a fair bit of research on these tablets every review/test would seem to put the Prime top of the list in every practical area. Don't get me wrong I'll be keeping a close watch on this GPS issue over the next few days but I'd rather scoop my eyes out withy a hot spoon than buy an iPad2 - an overhyped,overpriced media browser

  • Judy Hoffman

    For all those that are ticked off by the less than stellar GPS functionality in the Asus Transformer Prime,...I'll buy your tablet at used price. GPS is the least of features I would want in my tablet anyway. I'll use my cell phone or GPS unit for traveling.

  • Teece

    It's unbelievable how some people defend the indefensible. The GPS does not correctly function as a Global Positioning System. This should be an autonomous system that connects to a number of the orbiting GPS satellites and not depend on any other 3rd party networks or WIFI.

    Clearly the GPS system on the Asus Transformer Prime is faulty or flawed. The choice is to live with it or return it if Asus are failing to acknowledge and fix the problem.

  • Pete

    I ordered a TF Prime and should be getting it tomorrow. After hearing all of this talk about poor GPS performance, would a GPS Re-Radiating Antenna help out the issue?? Has anyone looked into this??

  • Jimboo

    Guys - please excuse the ignorance in asking but if the aluminium casing was deemed to be the issue here, would it be possible for Asus to maybe manufacture and distribute a small, sleek, aesthetic external plastic antenna?
    One which could maybe plug into one of the usb ports?
    Admittedly it wouldn't be ideal but at least it could offer a practical solution for this. If you were using the GPS functionality then its probably fair to assume that you could spare the temporary port access ?
    Like I say just a thought- I for one don't plan to use the GPS often but it would be good to know that if I needed to there was a quick and efficient fix to hand.

  • socal

    In case it has not been mentioned.. Asus has removed GPS from the specification list of the Prime on their site. This tells me they goofed big and are attempting to hide the feature. I have to say that after reading some of the comments, I find it amusing how GPS is put on the Pro list over the base model iPad 2, but when it ends up sucking its easily brushed aside as a feature that was not that important.

  • Luke

    I am trying to figure out if this would be an issue for me.

    What specific apps are you using that need a GPS signal, but require no data? I use my phone & GPS unit for navigation, so offline mapping isn't a concern. Thanks.

  • knyghtryda

    Looks like a repeat of Samsung's GPS fiasco with the Galaxy S. I had a samsung Captivate and while you could get a lock standing still (it locked pretty fast actually), once in motion it completely lost the lock and almost never regained it until it was still again. This was definitely a hardware flaw just as in the case here, and the company tried (and failed) to brush the issue under the rug. Sorry Prime early adopters, hope your return policy is good cuz you're kinda hosed on this one. I was so close to pulling the trigger on a Prime too, but my GNex will do fine until a Samsung Tegra3 tablet arrives.

  • Lukk

    WHY?
    Why they do not put the GPS receiver on the front face of the tablets motherboard? Front face underneath the black frame? Why they did put it on the opposite side covered with aluminium from one side and motherboard+screen from other side?

  • Terry

    GPS based Apps you will not be able to use while traveling with the GPS(less) Prime.
    Where, Yelp, Trapster, Google Maps, Google Places, Gas Buddy, Glympse or any Navigation App, just to name a few.....
    I love the design especially with the dock and couldn't wait for it to come out. I cancelled my pre order over the Wifi concerns and glad I did as the GPS will be a major issue for me. I will wait for the Verizon LTE version to come out.

    • Luke

      Wouldn't those apps be useless without data service anyway?

  • http://www.anandtech.com/show/5285/asus-eee-pad-transformer-prime-gps-issue-explained Eric Post

    For the ignorant...uninformed... there is a great article with the technical information and testing to explain what has happened with the FT Primes GPS. I'm seeing alot of clueless comments by people here...perhaps this will help.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5285/asus-eee-pad-transformer-prime-gps-issue-explained

  • BossertGF

    For ppl who recieve the prime, Might be a long shot but would it help to plug some headphones in and see if the GPS signal Strengthens?

  • warhol

    Hey guys,

    I'm getting my TF2 this Thursday. How's the wifi signal? I heard it's awful. Don't care about the GPS.

    Please let me know!

  • http://www.elvit.com Richo71

    I had a 10.1 Galaxy WiFi and had no problems driving down the highway with the maps app was very accurate even more than a dedicated gps unfortunately I returned due to BB promise a 50 gift card that they never gave me, and I found out about that later in the receipt, and lack of ports other than that pretty decent tablet. I did not get that one again because waiting for the prime,but after learning about prime disability is a deal breaker, I'm going for the iconia.

  • Joel

    I bought my prime last month and it kept crashing....not sure if anyone else experienced the same. It kept crashing, rebooting and freezing. I assumed i had a bad one so returned it and exchanged it for a new one. Unfortunately the second one was even worse. Crashed over and over and sometimes it took me over an hour to get it to work again. What a disappointment, i really enjoyed it, at least for the times it worked. I got tired of constantly being rebooted and crashing that I ended up returning the second one for an ipad2. I really didn't want to get the ipad2 but the prime was just unreliable. Both primes started giving me issues within only TWO days of having them. It made me nervous...just thinking about what else could be wrong if I was already experiencing all these issues only after a few days. I'm currently using my iPad...but I must admit, the prime was the bombbbb...lol, I miss it but all the headache to simply work was too much. I had even contacted asus customer support and they were worthless. I'm still tempted to return my iPad and try a prime again, maybe the third time is a charm.... But I must admit iPad has been working like a charm. It just feels secure and reliable. No more rebooting, no more crashing, no more freezing. Still sucks that I can't watch some YouTube videos or view certain websites because of no flash...sooooo annoying