Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, Tegra 3 Unleashed

Eee Pad Transformer Prime Design

You'll have to forgive us for all of the "stock" shots here.  We generally like to give you an in person feel of devices with our own studio pics.  Alas time was not on our side, and Asus had plenty of glam shots at the ready, so we took the easy route.

Eee Pad Transformer Prime - Amethyst Gray

We tested an "Amethyst Gray" Prime that has a brushed aluminum finish that we think looks really sharp. It also resists fingerprints remarkably well, at least on the back of the tablet and optional keyboard dock; the Prime's glossy display is a fingerprint magnet no matter how you look at it. And by the way, the 10.1-inch Super IPS+ display on the Prime is very nice as well. It's beautiful, from its relatively high 1280x800 native resolution, to color reproduction and brightness.  It's a slightly warmer display versus the original Transformer, so if you like a cooler display setting, you might notice this.  However, once you've seen it running in its 600nit Super IPS+ mode, you'll be spoiled. One small issue we found was that a bit of contrast seems to have been lost between the original Transformer and the Transformer Prime.  This is our initial impression but we're getting mixed reports from others on this topic as well. We're still playing with settings and will report more here as we get time with it.

Finally, the display is also specified as 178º viewing angle capable. Saving specsmanship for the side of the box, we'd say it definitely has killer wide-angle viewing performance, as good as any tablet display we've seen yet.  Asus appears to have at least matched Apple on the display front, though the Prime has a slighter larger, higher resolution display with better overall brightness.

The Prime's optional keyboard dock offers another synch/charge port, power/battery indicator light, a full-size USB port and a full-size SD card slot. On the tablet itself you get a 2-in-1 audio/mic-in jack, along with a micro-HDMI port and micro- SD card slot. The keyboard itself is a relatively comfortable affair with a standard netbook-style chiclet keyboard.  Key travel is a little shallow, but on a device this thin, that's to be expected.  The Prime's multitouch capable touchpad is fairly spacious as well.

Eee Pad Transformer Prime - Champagne Gold

The Transformer Prime snaps into its keyboard dock fairly easily and the hinge mechanism is solid and strong.  We do wish however, there was a little more swing in the hinge to allow the tablet lid to tilt back a bit more in docked mode.  Viewing a docked Prime on a kitchen counter top doesn't position the screen at an optimal viewing angle but again, with the Prime's gorgeous display, you're definitely less hampered than you'd be with a standard 10-inch LCD.

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.

Ports and control-wise we really like the balance that Asus struck with the Transformer Prime, between thinness and accessibility.  You get micro versions of HDMI and SD card slots on the tablet, to keep the profile sleek, but drop it into its dock and you get standard USB connectivity and a full size SD card slot.  For only $150 more, you get a lot more functionality and the price seems fair and reasonable.  Docking solutions from other manufacturers have sometimes not even close to reasonable, so we'll give props to Asus where they're due here as well.

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