Review: ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime

We review the world's first quad-core Android tablet

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Android tablet

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Android tablet

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime is the world's first quad-core Android tablet and includes a detachable keyboard dock that transforms it from a tablet into a notebook-style device. It also has an ultra-slim design, and promises up to 18 hours of battery life with the dock attached.

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ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime: Design and display

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime sounds like it belongs in a Transformers movie, but the device obviously gets its name from the keyboard dock which can be detached from the tablet itself. In Australia, ASUS sells the tablet and the keyboard dock together as a bundle, so unlike other markets, you can't purchase the Transformer Prime without the dock. Although this adds plenty of functionality, including a physical keyboard and a built-in battery, it does significantly raise the cost of the unit.

The Transformer Prime's dock is one of its key features but there is plenty to like about this tablet without it. For starters, the Transformer Prime is just 8.33mm thin and weighs only 586g. Yes, that's thinner and lighter than the market leading iPad 2 and even thinner than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The latter is admittedly 21g lighter, but this doesn't make a huge amount of difference in day-to-day use.

ASUS deserves plenty of plaudits for the Transformer Prime's build quality. The back of the tablet is constructed from sturdy feeling aluminum and has an attractive swirl design (Australian models of the tablet are available in a "Champagne Gold" colour). This design is borrowed directly from the company's ZenBook ultrabook notebook. Unlike the original Transformer, the aluminium backing exhibits little to no flex when some force is applied and it doesn't creak or rattle. The bezel surrounding the screen is rather large and does quickly become a fingerprint magnet, however, and the metal edges can dig into your fingers. Our only other complaint with the design is the position of the speaker — when holding the tablet with two hands your right hand covers it almost entirely, effectively muffling the sound.

At 10.1in, the Eee Pad Transformer Prime's screen is the same size as most Android tablets, though ASUS has opted for what it calls a Super IPS+ (In Plane Switching) LCD panel. The screen is bright, crisp and clear and feels smooth to swipe. It also has very impressive viewing angles. At full brightness ASUS claims the Transformer Prime is ideal for outdoor use: we found it significantly brighter than most other tablets on the market. To save battery life when using the Transformer Prime indoors, you can disable the Super IPS+ mode to extend the battery life. This is a handy, one-touch option in the quick settings menu.

Without the dock, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime doesn't have a full-sized USB port or a micro USB connector. On the left side you'll find a volume rocker, a micro-HDMI port, and a microSD card slot, while the top edge houses a small power/lock button and the right side a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The proprietary ASUS dock connection may be an annoyance, but it offers two benefits: it connects the tablet to the keyboard dock, and charges much faster (around an hour and a half) than a regular micro USB charger would. Either side of the dock are two holes that attach to the dock: they come with rubber inserts, so you'll need to remove these before you attempt to dock the tablet.

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime: Keyboard dock

Like it's predecessor, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime really comes into its own when it's connected to the included keyboard dock. The dock adds a full-sized USB port, a full-sized SD card slot and a trackpad, as well as its own built-in battery. ASUS says the battery offers an additional six hours of use. If both the tablet and the keyboard dock batteries are fully charged, the Transformer Prime draws power from the keyboard dock first in order to preserve power for tablet-only use.

When connected, the Eee Pad Transformer Prime folds over onto the keyboard dock and acts like a regular notebook. Connecting the two does feel a little clunky, though the arrows on both the dock and the tablet are a nice touch: line them up to ensure a smooth and hassle-free connection.

The Transformer Prime's keyboard makes typing easier and more effective than any touchscreen, but it's not without faults. The keys aren't backlit, which makes typing at night time rather difficult, and they are also pretty small and cramped. We did like the travel on them though, and tactility is better than many netbooks of similar size. We love the addition of dedicated Android shortcuts including home, back, search and settings keys, along with a wealth of quick toggles for the trackpad, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, brightness, Browser, screen shot and media controls. There's also a button on the keyboard to lock the screen, which is handy if you want to keep the Transformer Prime in its open position.

The Transformer Prime's keyboard dock also has a touchpad, and you can use two fingers on it to scroll up and down on Web pages. It's very easy to accidentally bump when typing though, so we suggest turning it off via the shortcut button when you aren't using it. We would have appreciated an automatic setting that disabled the trackpad when you type. You can't use gestures on the Transformer Prime's trackpad, so pinching to zoom, for example, can only be performed on the screen.

Unfortunately, the Eee Pad Transformer Prime is very top-heavy, so it's almost impossible to position it on your lap without it toppling over. It's fine for use on a desk or table, but trying to sit it on your lap is a delicate process.

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Ross Catanzariti

7 Comments

Wealter Fagan

1

Where can I buy this tablet

Thrash Cardiom

2

Pointless contacting Asus through the link to their website. There is not mention of any model of Transformer on it.

Colin Murphy

3

I have heard that there are problems with the power supplies on these units that is apparently known about. One of the problems is that they get extremely hot and the thermal overload units trip open and want reset unless the power supply is put in a snap-lock bag and put into a freezer for 20 minutes to reset it. As far as I am aware thermal resets should be self resetting or non-resetting, this is neither. How safe are these supplies, are they being scaled down to such an extent to look good they are becoming a hazard, and are we looking at another power supply that gets so hot that it results in fires such as ones that have occurred with other manufacturers power supplies (Which has been more prevalent in recent years?

Campbell

4

I've owned this awesome tablet for about 4 weeks now. Use it for University use as an alternative to my laptop, as my latop is just way to heavy to carry around....not to mention battery life sucks, as its about 3 years old.

Anyways I found that when applying all the latest updates including ICS, and the firmware updates, it runs quite smoothly, with only a few glitches. Although this tablet has many issues in the pass, the latest firmware that was realised at the end of March fixed most of them. Although GPS doesn't work still.

One thing that really gets annoying though, is that the Polaris Office has a bug in which sometimes when saving a edited power point presentation, it doesn't save. It happens from time to time, and really pisses me off (as all my work is lost). Now I have to "Save as", although once that didn't work too.
Trying to find an alternative app right now as a power point editor. So far came across Kingsoft, (recommended) but the options in Polaris far out weigh the options of Kingsoft, (for power point slides anyway)

The Prime is awesome, when it comes to web browsing and watching videos. Using the stock browser is way faster than Chrome and the firefox apps you can download.

Battery life for me is around 8 hours, and that is just browsing, and writing up notes.

NO issue with the power suppliy so far.

I would definetly recommend to read through this forum before buying though, as I learn't the hard way of all the problems that have occured:

http://www.transformerforums.com/forum/transformer-prime-general-discussions/

Anyways

Anonymous

5

I bought my Asus transformer to video chat with family in Australia but cannot make any work. I have tried Skype, IM, Beejive. I can hook up for voice but not video. Has anyone found a solution in NZ

Wally gAgan

6

Can you please tel me about the GPS problems with Prime and how to recognse what units have been upated by asus. I have heard that asus are supplying dongles to overcome problem which completely defeats thepurpose

rd

7

when i bougth my pad about more than a month ago i was told by the salesman that androids do not overheat like the pc and laptop. i was glad to hear that, however in less than a week my unit got very hot and hanged up. i returned it and they exchange it with another unit. to date the changed unit is again experiencing hotness and hanging ups. will bring it back were i bought.

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