The Asus Transformer Prime: the first Android device to ship with a quad-core chip, courtesy of NVIDIA's brand new Tegra 3 (Kal-El) CPU. But there's more of a hook here than power alone - Asus has gone back to the drawing board for the Prime (model number TF201) and revamped the device from nearly head to toe compared to its predecessor, the TF101. It's substantially thinner, lighter, and more attractive than the rather portly 101, while packing a much more powerful CPU, better display, and reportedly better battery life. But can they really improve upon all those aspects without cutting any corners?
Around midday yesterday, I received my review kit for the Transformer Prime, complete with dock, wireless gamepad, and HDMI cable - meaning I'm well equipped to take a deep dive into the hottest new tablet to hit stores. But to be completely honest, an in-depth review on a product this brand-spanking-new requires more hands-on time than can be had in two days. The full review will be up on Friday, but in the interim, enjoy the initial impressions and gadget porn below.
First up, let's run over the specs, largely from our official announcement post:
- 10.1-inch SuperIPS + display with Gorilla Glass
- 1.3GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 Processor with 12-core GPU
- 1GB RAM
- 32GB or 64GB internal storage with microSD card slot
- microHDMI port
- 8MP F2.4 rear shooter with continuous flash for video recording, 1.2MP front camera (1080p camcorder!)
- 8.33mm thin
- 586g (1.29 lbs.)
- 12 hour battery life playing 720p video, 18 hours with keyboard dock
- Metallic spun finish
- Two available colors: Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold (show below, respectively)
- Android 3.2.1 - will be updated to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) as soon as possible after release
- $499 for 32GB model, $599 for 64GB, and $149 for the dock
- North American availability is expected to begin the week of 12/19 - this is straight from Asus's mouth in the Prime details that were sent to us (and again confirmed a few hours ago), contrary to the other "official" date of December 8 that we heard earlier today.
A leaked Black Friday ad for Best Buy has surfaced on BFads.net, and one particular deal stands out among the many to be had: an Asus Transformer 16GB (Wi-Fi) for just $250. Despite the fact that it's getting a bit long in the tooth by now (having been launched on March 30) and its successor is right around the corner, the Transformer is still a hell of a tablet and, at $250, is an absolute steal.
We've been talking about it for a couple of weeks now and have even seen some nice hands-on action and a video, but, finally, the official site went live for for the ASUS Transformer Prime last night. In case your memory is failing you, here's a quick refresher on this sexy beast of a tablet:
- 8.3mm thick
- Weighs 86g
- NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 Quad-core CPU
- Android™ 3.2 Honeycomb (4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Upgradable)
- Full QWERTY keyboard with touchpad and USB port, while also extending the battery to 18 hours when combined with the mobile dock
- Ultra-wide 178⁰ viewing angle and ultra bright Super IPS+ panel protected by scratch resistant Corning Gorilla Glass
- MicroSD Card Reader
- Micro HDMI port
- 8MP rear auto-focus camera with LED flash and back-illuminated CMOS sensor
And here is that video of it running Ice Cream Sandwich:
You can check the official site for the full workup of in-depth features and specs, of which there are a lot, as well as check out some sexy pictures of the new tablet.
yet-to-be-officially-named sequel (Update: The name turned out to be... Transformer Prime) was shown off today by ASUS chairman Johnny Shih - and boy, is this thing thin. ASUS's next Android tablet will be a mere 8.3mm in profile and stick with the 10.1-inch screen form factor. Of course, it will have the detachable plug-in keyboard that made the Transformer a unique product in the marketplace. It will also have a next-generation NVIDIA quad-core "Kal-El" Tegra 3 processor, as had been expected.
Yesterday, we took a look at Riptide GP for Tegra devices with the addition of controller support. To celebrate the update and all the fun that adding a controller to your Tegra tablet can bring, we've once again teamed up with NVIDIA to bring our most massive giveaway yet: The Riptide Gaming Power Pack.
Just take a look of all that is in store for the winner:
- ASUS Eee Pad Transformer 32GB with keyboard dock.
- YOUR CHOICE of Tegra powered superphone - Motorola Atrix (AT&T), Motorola Droid X2 (Verizon), LG G2x (T-Mobile), or Motorola Photon 4G (Sprint)
- Logitech Wireless Gamepad F710
- $25 AMEX Giftcard for TegraZone games, including Riptide GP
Is this the best giveaway we've done yet, or what?
An unexpected update started rolling out to the ASUS Transformer earlier today that brings the build number up to 18.104.22.168. Even more unexpectedly, this update reportedly includes Netflix support without requiring root. Of course, the official Netflix app in the Market doesn't yet support the Transformer, but you can grab the latest version here.
There is also a firmware update available for the dock, bringing the version up to EP101-0213.
[via Transformer Forums; Thanks, Sheila!]
If you have the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and keyboard dock, there's a chance that you've noticed the dock's built-in battery draining quicker than it should. This is a problem quite a few users are experiencing, and a member of the Transformer Forums by the name of ASUSFAN001 set out to get an answer to the issue directly from ASUS itself.
As it turns out, ASUS is completely aware of the issue and will discuss it openly with customers. The root of the problem is a specific chipset that is installed in certain units and not exclusive to a specific model number.
Last week, I traded my Google I/O Chromebook for an ASUS Eee Pad Transformer/keyboard dock combo and started exploring the fascinating laptop/tablet hybrid. Overall, my impressions so far are more positive than I thought they would be, and I'll most likely end up selling the 3G XOOM that has none of the features the Transformer with the dock have to offer. The only problem with the Transformer that I've experienced is a relatively poor battery life compared to both the XOOM and the Tab 10.1, which I can't explain yet... but I'm getting carried away.
After my exploration of the Transformer was complete, I noted 2 annoyances - the absence of the dedicated app switcher key on the dock, which was conveniently present on the Samsung keyboard dock I tested earlier this month, and the absence of the familiar scrolling area on the touchpad that I got so used to on my laptop.
If you are anything like me and you own the keyboard dock for the Asus Transformer, then you probably keep it attached the majority of the time. The dock gives you quick access to the home, search, and menu shortcut keys, but what about the recent apps button? Unfortunately, a hardware button was not included. Although it is not much work to just tap the on-screen button since it is just a few inches away, it can still be annoying.
Instead, the Android 3.2 update brought us something a lot of us are already very familiar with - Alt+Tab. Keep holding Alt down and press Tab to cycle through the eight recent apps.