Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, Tegra 3 Unleashed

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It sometimes rolls this way.  One of the most hotly anticipated product launches of the year and, you guessed it, the prized package drops on your doorstep for testing and evaluation literally hours before the official launch hits.  Have we had nearly enough time with this sleek little minx?  Absolutely not.  But when the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime shows up packing NVIDIA's new Tegra 3 Quad-Core SoC with its perky fifth companion core in tow, you man-up (or woman-up as the case may be), get your geek on and burn some midnight oil.

At least dessert wasn't on the menu.  No Ice Cream Sandwiches here just yet, thank God. Android 4.0 on top, with this kind of turn-around, would have been an aneurism in the making, but hey, life is short. Live fast, die young, stay pretty.  Nah, I'll pass on that, thanks.  Honeycomb 3.2 will do just fine for now and Asus is one of the best in the biz with OTA updates, so we'll take that in stride later.

So, what do we have for you on the pages ahead?  This is a PREVIEW of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime tablet with NVIDIA's Tegra 3 Quad Core low power SoC.  We've got a lot of ground to cover and time is short; so we'll cut the chatter.  But you've been warned.  There's a whole lot of sexy going on here itching to break all the rules (in the test lab) and show you what its got.

First, a quick video preview demo of the machine in action...

How does that look for tablet gaming?  Not too shabby at all we'd say.  A couple of years ago, NVIDIA boasted about a time when gaming visuals on a tablet would rival console graphics.  We'd say the time has finally come but dig in, there's much more to see.


Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime
Specifications & Features
Operating System Android 3.2
Display 10.1" LED Backlight WXGA (1280x800) Screen
Super IPS+
10 finger multi-touch support
Corning Gorilla Glass
CPU NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-core CPU - 1.3 - 1.4GHz
Memory 1GB
Storage 32GB / 64GB EMMC + 8G life time ASUS Webstorage space
Wireless Data Network WLAN 802.11 b/g/n@2.4GHz
Bluetooth V2.1+EDR
Camera 1.2 MP Front Camera
8 MP Rear Camera
Auto focus (rear) with flash
Large F2.4 aperture. (rear camera)
Audio Stereo Speakers
High Quality Mic
Interface Pad:
1 x 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone / Mic-in)
1 x micro HDMI
1 x Micro SD Card Reader

Mobile Dock:

1 x USB2.0 port
1 x SD Card Reader
Sensor G-Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, E-compass, GPS
Applications ASUS launcher, MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, @Vibe Music, asus webstorage, File manager, ASUS sync, SuperNote, App Locker, App Backup, TegraZone
Battery 12 hours; 25Wh Li-polymer Battery
18 hours pad with dock; 25Wh(pad) + 22Wh(dock) Li-polymer Battery
Dimensions 263 x 180.8 x 8.3 mm - 10.35in x 7.12in x 0.33in
Weight 586 grams (1.29lbs)
Mobile Dock Dock only:
Dimensions: 263 x 180.8 x 8~10.4mm
Weight: 537 grams
(1.18lbs)
Pad with dock:

Dimensions: 263 x 180.8 x 17~19.4mm
Weight: 1123 grams (2.47lbs)
MSRP:  32GB - $499, 64GB - $599, Optional Keyboard Dock - $149.99

Those of you looking directly at the thinness spec here will notice that Asus nailed it.  At .33 inches, it's just a hair thinner than the iPad 2 and weighs slightly less too, but the "less is more" approach stops right there.  The panel on the Prime is a Super IPS+ display that Asus specs at 380 nits of brightness in standard mode and 600 nits in Super IPS+ mode.  Super IPS+ comes in handy especially in daylight viewing environments.  Our test machine is a 32GB of storage variant, but there is a 64GB model as well.  Of course, this if the first tablet to hit the market with NVIDIA's quasi-Quad-Core 1.3GHz Tegra 3 SoC under the hood.  We say "quasi" because it actually has a fifth "companion core" on board, but more on that later.

Along with all of this bleeding-edge goodness you get an upgraded 8MP rear camera with auto-focus and flash, as well as a front-facing 1.2MP webcam.  In terms of battery life, Asus claims 12 hours can be had on the tablet itself and another 6 is in the tank of the keyboard dock, for a total of 18 hours possible available uptime.  We're still working on battery life testing, so we'll have to reserve some further qualification on those claims, but in the mean time, let's get a closer look a the skins.

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So what about the sound quality of the Prime?

Of what I heared in some other previews, it's rather impressive for the size speakers it has. What's your opinion about this? Can you tell a bit more about it? For example how it is compared to de Transformer.

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Because the tablet has been reviewed fairly extensively, I will just address the highpoints and issues others have experienced. I am running Android version 4.0.3 (ICS) and it is pretty flawless so far (this udpate happened automatically when I first charged the tablet and took about 10 minutes). I don't know or care about the bootloader issue others have reported on. The only thing I noticed is that I cannot delete the stock photos in the gallery.

Screen and Resolution - Bright, vivid, awesome HD graphics, and smooth scrolling between panes/screens. No defects in screen or resolution (no light bleed). Glass picks up finger prints but very easy to clean and not really noticable whne screen is on. Gorilla glass seems pretty hard, so hopefully will never scratch with proper care and a case.

WiFi - no problems whatsoever. Signal is pretty good several floors from router and has not dropped. My tablet works as well as all my other wireless devices. The signal strength indicator does vary from 10-52 Mbps depending on where you are, but it never has any trouble downloading at regular speeds. My expereince has been that the WiFi on the tablet works fine, but could probably be better for those with weak signals.

Browser - The Asus browser works great! Loads as fast as any other WiFi computers on my 54 Mbps wireless(but slightly slower than hard-wired broadband computers, of course). I prefer the functionality of non-Mobile sites for Netflix and Rotten Tomatoes, so glad I can access these sites with a regular browser rather than a stripped-down App. Access is fast and trouble-free to all the major sites I have visited. I have encountered only a very few "browser not responding" boxes when loadig large pages, but as soon as you click "Wait" the page is immediately loaded and there have been no real "crashes" to report.

eReader - Using Kindle and MyLibrary apps, books and PDFs open and scroll fine. One exception is that I can't open password-protected PDFs...seems to be a ProQuest ezproxy compatibility issue with Android OS and not the fault of the tablet per se.

Apps - Have downloaded about 20 and all seem to work fine. No crashes.

Battery life - It goes through about 10% an hour with moderate use and "balanced mode" selected. I got 11.5 hours on first full day of usage and still had 10% battery left when I shut down. very hapy with battery life. The keyboard dock battery should extend this to 16 hours - very nice!

GPS - Did not buy for this feature, but it works fine with WiFi on or off. Inside or outside of house makes no difference either. Accurate to within 10-15 feet and updates in real time with your movements.

I have not yet received the keyboard dock yet, so I can't comment on that, but I hope that it allows for easier full screen viewing while typing. The Asus keyboard works fine for an on-screen keyboard (certainly easier than using the one on my android phone!) and does not have any noticeable lag (but I am not a speed typist by any stretch of the imagination!).

One thing I did not anticipate is how hard it is to hold with one hand for extended periods of time. It is not heavy, but it is thin and the back is not textured enough to provide good grip. I have ordered a case that should make one-handed reading easier and also converts for desktop stand use.

P.S. for best price if you're will buy it, I suggest have to compare prices at: Prices-comparison.info/ASUSTransformer-Prime

Overall I feel this is an excellent tablet.

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Welcome to Hot hardware,.....

This is from the second page:

"One other small oversight we found was that there is only one speaker port on the Prime and nothing on the keyboard dock. Sound quality from that one speaker isn't bad actually, considering this is a slate PC, but it does have a distinctly directional output to it, depending on which way you're holding the device."

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Just a seggestion here.... But I was thinking that for the battery tests, instead of putting all devices to 50% brightness, why not measure the actual output and try to get all devices to that measured brightness level.

I think this would be a more accurate test of battery life.

This tablet supposedly puts out a much higher brightness than all the other tablets currently available, so half brightness for this device could be much higher than half brightness for an other device. This would result in the prime using more battery life than the other.

Most people don't just turn their brightness to a set level anyway... they adjust it to preference regardless of where the setting ends up.

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That is one sexy tablet, I like the gray better than the champagne. Gaming on the transformer/tegra 3 is really impressive, almost as impressive as Dave's controller skills! All kidding aside this was a great review, looks like asus has a great product here. I've been waiting for this to be released and they didn't disappoint. I would like to see this review all over again with ice cream sandwich loaded. Gotta love that hhware gold!!!

On a general side note.....can you really expect that much out of a tablet camera? IMO the tablet/phone cameras are for quick snapshots, I can only assume that people will use a real camera if they want perfect photos.

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This was a great review and I have to agree, it looks sleek; it performs admirably and everything else I said in previous threads relating to the prime... I was expecting the camera to perform a bit better and the Terga 3 to have a little bit more power but you can't get it all perfect.

As I said before, this may be the tablet that changes everything; in terms of tablets being regarded as toys and tablets as a computational device, and the editors choice just reinforces that. Again, seamless transition, can be used as both; what more do you need?

Slightly disappointed that Ice Cream Sandwhich isn't on there but they are guaranteeing they'll update their tablets with it when it comes out right?

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That is twice in a month that you have had to describe an ASUS product as Sexy Stick out tongue I guess that is becoming their MO. As for the sound if I am going to listen to something I want good quality sound from I am going to plug in a pair of headphones... at least that's my feeling.
BTW I like Acartz idea for the battery test.

This this is hot hot hot and certainly on my list of the tablet I want the most.

Thanks for the preview Dave :)

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I'm missing a test of tegra3's video playback capabilities. The dealbraker for many wrt tegra2 was its weak to non-existent support for H.264 high-profile video.

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I hear ya, EEno. We're going to look at this as well as battery life in more detail, in the weeks ahead.

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"Great preview, great tablet. Plenty of power and very sleek. In the video you can appreciate the quality of the screen as well as its speed when handling different functions. By the time it officially launches I'm sure those updates mentioned will further improve battery life and other performance tweaks. I like the thinness too."

 **On a side note, both Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 are manufactured on TSMC's 40nm process technology, so NVIDIA achieved this efficiency in design and through innovation, rather than a process shrink.**

"Impressive, I though it was the other way around. @Drake , LMFAO, if Dave is your squad in BF3 or MW3, you are in trouble, just look at em running away @ 7:24. All jokes aside, this is an awesome tablet and I liked the preview a lot.  With all that power under the hood, and the support for gaming controllers,  I would imagine people at home, will rather output to a monitor and enjoy gaming on a bigger screen via the micro HDMI port." 

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