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For university: ASUS Zenbook or Transformer Prime?

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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January 18, 2012 8:08:24 AM

Hey there forum!

I have been relatively inactive for a few months as my end of year exams last year came up, but I have recieved a letter saying that I will need to provide myself a laptop for this coming year. After a great deal of research, I have narrowed myself down to these two options:

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime (TF201)
10.1" Tablet
Tegra 3, 1.0GHz Quad-core
64GB SSD
Android 3.2.1/4.0 Upgradeable
18 Hours battery life
Approx. $900AUD

ASUS Zenbook UX31E
13" Notebook
Intel i5 1.7GHz Dual Core (with hyperthreading)
128GB SSD
4GB DDR3 1333MHz RAM
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
8 Hours battery life
Approx. $1400AUD

If I get the tablet, it will be my first tablet (I have three of my own desktops and my brother's Macbook) so the tablet will provide me with extra functionality in that sense, as well as being more portable and it may be easier to use. It might also go well with my current phone, the Samsung Nexus S.

The ASUS Ultrabook will give me the same advanced functionality of Windows 7 that I am used to on my desktops which means I should be able to run all of my programs, however I don't really see how I would require them whilst on-campus and I am sure that the Android market will have suitable apps anyway.

Having played around with both of them in a retail store, I am quite happy with the keyboards and touchpads on each device and the screens are appealing to look at, as is the brushed aluminium feel. Problem is, the devices are so "good" in their own respective categories and so different between each other that I cannot make a decision of myself.

Opinions?
Thanks,
- Klosteral
a b D Laptop
January 18, 2012 10:33:52 AM

What course are you doing?
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a b Ĉ ASUS
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January 18, 2012 10:36:50 AM

How soon do you need to make a decision?
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Related resources
a b D Laptop
January 18, 2012 10:39:59 AM

Pretty soon WR2. University in Australia starts mid Feb.
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January 18, 2012 11:02:06 AM

Do you need to run specific software on it?
When you turn in a paper, does it have to be in a specific format?

If all you need to do is research on the internet and write some texts then a tablet can work. If you need to produce the texts in a very specific format (i.e. word97-type .doc file) it can still work, as long as you manage to find an app that can save your work in that format (which might get difficult for many closed-source formats).
If you don't mind doing your research and drafts on one device (the tablet) and then put out the finished product/paper on another device (your desktop or macbook) then get the tablet.

The tablet is easier to take along even if you are not sure if you will need it that day because it is lighter and you don't need to bring your charger.

If you want to keep your university work on one device and don't want to switch devices as needed then get the Win7 laptop.
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a b Ĉ ASUS
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January 18, 2012 11:03:27 AM

Going with an Android OS is probably going to lock you into Google Docs and cloud computing.
Does your Uni support that pretty well? Or do they have other requirements?
Course handouts? What 'flavor' do they use? PowerPoint? Adobe Reader .PDF?

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a b D Laptop
January 18, 2012 11:06:50 AM

Klosteral, if you are a bloke over 160cm, you will be able to hull a full size 15-16 inch laptop no problem. Don't underestimate your muscle strength.
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a b Ĉ ASUS
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January 18, 2012 11:29:44 AM

How much does a Vostro V131 13" notebook run down there?
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a b D Laptop
January 18, 2012 11:32:25 AM

@WR2

Start at $899 AUD
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a b Ĉ ASUS
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January 18, 2012 11:35:08 AM

What's the 16GB & 32GB SSD versions of Transformers going for there?
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a b D Laptop
January 18, 2012 11:42:37 AM

16GB starts at $399AUD
32GB starts at $589AUD
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a b Ĉ ASUS
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January 18, 2012 11:48:28 AM

You do have a desktop/desktop replacement laptop to work with too?
Since you're working with Android I'm thinking 16GB SSD is going to be plenty.
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January 18, 2012 9:18:41 PM

Hey, thanks for the rapid responses!

Alright, I am going to answer your queries from top to bottom:
Technically, I am not going straight into university but I am finishing my secondary school courses, it's just that I am planning to hold onto my computer for a couple years yet so I figured plan ahead instead of thinking about the 'now'. That said, I am doing top level physics, maths specialist (aka applied) and chemistry however none of these courses need specialised programs.

Most of the time when I turn in a paper it is in "Microsoft Word 2004 *.doc" or I physically hand in the paper as a printed copy so the pre-loaded Polaris Office should be able to do that fine; it has presets to save in .doc, .xls and .ppt (I forget what the third one is so I am just writing .ppt).

The reason I am looking at the tablet and the ultrabook is not because I am concerned about the weight - no, I considered laptops in the 3kg area - the reason is the battery life. I can see myself using this system all day not plugged in, then add on top of that the places I would go such as a coffee shop or a mate's place where I really don't have the option to "plug in".

According to ASUS, the Prime will last for 18 hours and the UX31E will keep running for almost 8 hours. According to reviews which are more "reliable" sources for this kind of thing, the Prime will keep kicking for over 14 hours whilst the ultrabook caves in at 5h:40m which is still brilliant compared to most laptops, though will it suit my needs I am not sure.

Previously, the Australian government supplied all secondary students with MacBooks - now all us PC users were very disappointed but hey, it was free - so I was very used to switching my files between computers; not only that but actually changing program formats just for the sake of it.

Also, bear in mind that I am looking at the 64GB Transformer Prime TF201 (and not the Transformer TF101) becasue the Prime outperforms the original in almost every way. As for processor *edit, by processor I mean disk space* I am willing to part with an extra few hundred if it gives me the peace of mind that I won't run out of space in years to come but if I do, I can buy a 32GB or even 64GB MicroSD expansion card.

At home, I have two desktop computers - an LGA775 at 3.0GHz and this LGA1155 at 4.5GHz (both OC'd) - and the latter of these will be my tether. Most of the data going onto the tablet would be streamed from the desktop over WiFi or via USB cable if I went with the tablet, however the UX31E would effectively be another entire computer and I don't see the necessity in having three decent-spec PC's around my home, even if one is "portable".

If I don't get the computer before I start back, I might keep doing my work on good ol' paper while I sus out my courses and see exactly what I need to do and what I will need to do it as well as comparing other students' computers.

Thanks guys,
-Klosteral
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a b D Laptop
January 18, 2012 10:51:19 PM

You will find time and place to recharge your laptop in the study area or library or at the cafe or even during lecture at the lecture theatre or at tutorial room or at the lab. Battery is not a problem.
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January 18, 2012 11:00:25 PM

Klosteral said:
The reason I am looking ..... is the battery life.
... I am willing to part with an extra few hundred if it gives me the peace of mind that I won't run out of space in years to come but if I do, I can buy a 32GB or even 64GB MicroSD expansion card.
What do students without extra long battery life do? You could do the same
Piece of mind at $500 extra? Maybe not so much. That's $500GB for 48GB's worth of storage?
Buy a 16GB version now, upgrade to a new 16GB follow-on replacement in 3 years and still come out $100 to the good.
The only reason you'd need 64GB was if was the ONLY computer you'd be using. And got lazy.
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January 18, 2012 11:09:34 PM

Okay, if I went for anything less than the 64GB Prime, it would be the 32GB Prime. Besides, as well as my work and documents I do like to keep a bit of music and a few entertaining apps and movies on the computer also. I have my iPod classic but it's not quite the same, you know?

I am not really discussing the different models of Transformer tablet, merely trying to decide whether I want a high-spec tablet or an ultrabook...
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a b D Laptop
January 18, 2012 11:12:15 PM

I think you will find a Window OS PC more useful in science/engineering, and it is not necessary an ultrabook.
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a b Ĉ ASUS
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January 18, 2012 11:18:25 PM

Klosteral said:
Okay, if I went for anything less than the 64GB Prime, it would be the 32GB Prime.
And that would be better than the 16GB model with a 16GB/32GB MicroSD card in what way?
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January 18, 2012 11:31:42 PM

ASUS Eeepad Transformer
Tegra 2, 1GHz dual core
16GB/32GB
Sub-HD screen/camera

ASUS Eeepad Transformer Prime
Tegra 3, 1GHz Quad-Core
32GB/64GB
HD Camera, AMOLED screen

Basically, the Prime is a much better tablet and the smallest it comes is 32GB. Also, I am going by the MicroSD as "only if I need it" as opposed to buying it from the start.

Pyree, what are your reasons for saying a Windows based PC will be better for Science (say, over Android or Mac OS)?

Thanks,
-Klosteral
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January 18, 2012 11:36:46 PM

Pyree said:
16GB starts at $399AUD
You didn't mention this wasn't the Tegra 3 model.
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January 18, 2012 11:51:29 PM

I have the TF101 and it is an amazing tool, and if it wasn't for the fact they screwed up on the case design & releasing a better Transformer in less than 6 months already I would of updated to the newer model.

Personally I wouldn't buy a tablet right now for a possible tool in the next years, especially with the tablet market moving as its current pace.

From experience, Android is doing what it is intended to do, even at the version sitting on my TF101 (can't wait for ICS push from Asus!). There are still times where I wish it was W7 running on my tablet, but I've always found ways around my little issues (like buy some cheap apps that make mail/sync/etc... better).

It doesn't seem like you absolutely need a mobile solution right now, I wouldn't be surprised if too many of your friends/co-students have these nifty tools and you're just drooling for one :p  Nothing wrong with that!

More IPad 3 rumours about specs being more clear in Feb., TF700 should have fixed the GPS/Wi-Fi issues some are having and have an insanely good resolution too for a 10", but Tegra 3 already isn't the best performer GPU-wise and it should be the same chip at 1920x1200, which has me a bit worried. Samsung's new 2560x1600 tablet rumours as well, the possibility of AMD "Ultrabooks" to force prices down, etc...

The next 2-3 months will see some incredible movement in the tablet/ultra-portable scene, love it :D 
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a b D Laptop
January 18, 2012 11:54:49 PM

WR2, you asked for Transformer not Transformer Prime.

Here, price for Transformer Prime:

32GB $769
64GB $869

@PO

I say that because the standard computing environment is Window for most University in Australia and so far all of the specialised program I used is available on Window.
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a b Ĉ ASUS
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January 18, 2012 11:57:25 PM

I used the TF101 (without keyboard) over the holidays and I was pretty happy with it until it was time to do any keyboarding/writing.
8 hours of movies and 24hrs of music fit on a 8GB microSD card. Free games like ZombieKill made for a nice quiet road trip.
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January 18, 2012 11:59:16 PM

Pyree said:
WR2, you asked for Transformer not Transformer Prime.
Since OP had already mentioned the Tegra 3 models if he had said they didnt have a 16GB Tegra3 model he would have saved me some work.
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January 19, 2012 12:08:10 AM

dechy said:
Personally I wouldn't buy a tablet right now for a possible tool in the next years, especially with the tablet market moving as its current pace.
It doesn't seem like you absolutely need a mobile solution right now, I wouldn't be surprised if too many of your friends/co-students have these nifty tools and you're just drooling for one :p  Nothing wrong with that!

More IPad 3 rumours about specs being more clear in Feb., TF700 should have fixed the GPS/Wi-Fi issues some are having and have an insanely good resolution too for a 10", but Tegra 3 already isn't the best performer GPU-wise and it should be the same chip at 1920x1200, which has me a bit worried. Samsung's new 2560x1600 tablet rumours as well, the possibility of AMD "Ultrabooks" to force prices down, etc...

The next 2-3 months will see some incredible movement in the tablet/ultra-portable scene, love it :D 


What you say is fair enough and I will definitely hold off as long as I can. I do not want to sink money into this to find out that it was "optional" or just some kind of gimmick that we should need a laptop; my desktops are doing fine for now. As for the fact that my peers might have these high-end items its actually the other way around. They use the cheapest 'coolest looking' things they can find and I tell you that they do not do the job. They will have performance issues, battery life issues and all manner of rediculous things; I am trying to avoid every problem I can think of before I get to it.

I have done some looking into the new AMD Bulldozer chips and I am really not too certain of how they are going to perform, even in "ultrabooks" as you said, however the price shift that it will force is definitely something a consumer such as myself should be aware of.

I just want to clarify that when I say I am looking at the Transfomer Prime I am looking at a laptop that can function as a tablet in a 50-50 manner. The Eee Slate, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Motorola Zoom (as well as the Acer Transformer 'copies') do not fit my bill because they were designed as nothing more than tablets.

Also, if the 64GB TF201 will cost $900 and the UX31E will cost $1400 then sure, the ultrabook is the better option but is the Windows PC, bigger keyboard and faster processing power really worth the $500? Now, before you say it I know it is my decision. That said, can you all offer personal opinions, regardless of upcoming devices if you just had to blindly pick between the two computers as a student, which would you go for?

Thanks, sorry for the confusion,
-Klosteral
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a b D Laptop
January 19, 2012 12:13:32 AM

If I have to choose between the two, I will choose ultrabook.

Let see if there is a cheaper one.
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January 19, 2012 12:21:19 AM

There are cheaper ones but they are either
a) Smaller
b) Lower spec

And as far as fully-fledged PC's go, I would not want anything lower in spec than the UX31E, or any smaller than 13", personally.
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a b D Laptop
January 19, 2012 12:58:47 AM

http://shopap.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/auweb...

The standard voltage i5 on this laptop is already faster than the ULV used in the ultrabook, you may want to upgrade the CPU but since they are all duo core, I don't think it is worth it.

Change OS to 64 bit for free.

You can also upgrade the screen for higher screen res if you want to.

RAM upgrade, you are better off DIY.

Get their SSD upgrade, a bargin (128GB for $129) if you want to.

Get extended battery if you are really concern about battery life (it will stick out of the chassis thou).

There are laptops more powerful than this for he same price but you will compromise on chassis quality and battery life.
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January 19, 2012 2:02:25 AM

When I factor in the upgrades I choose to make, that Lenovo does have its benefits however the price of those upgrades, including the DIY RAM and postage, the price comes to about the same as the UX31E which will be of a sturdier build and more suitable for my current needs, I think.

I think I will just have to try and bloat my budget for the UX31E and use it as something of a "proxy" computer, seeing as it has no internal DVD drive, with all the data being streamed onto it from my desktop via USB, ethernet or WiFi.

As I have been doing more reading, the new Transformer Prime may be a little bit too buggy to buy straight out but with the release of Android 4.0 ICS and a notable price difference, I still cannot rule it out.

I think I will have to wait until I start back and see what tasks are going to be most defining of my choice and leave it between these two until then.

Thank you all for your help!
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January 22, 2012 8:28:22 AM

am waiting to receive my transformer prime. Will keep you posted. But from all that I am reading the bugs are sorted and being sorted. I opted for a tablet over the ultra book based on battery life and flexibility. touch and type facility in one unit is the winner for me
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January 25, 2012 9:21:48 AM

That is what I would say myself.
Personally, I would rather have the Eee Pad Transformer Prime but I am unsure of whether it will do everything I want it to.

The only "specialized" task I might want it to do would be music and audio processing - such as with Audacity or GarageBand (equivilents, that is).

Finally, I found myself a third unit to compare with. This third unit is cheaper than the ultrabooks with better battery life and faster specs, even if it is flimsier in build quality and not as flash to look at.

ASUS Transformer Prime TF201 (Tablet)
10.1" IPS+ Touchscreen
Nvidia Tegra 3 Quad-Core processor
32GB/64GB SSD Capacity
18 hours battery life
Full QWERTY keyboard, USB2.0 etc
Android 3.2.1 HC/4.0 ICS
$892

ASUS U31SD-RX049V (Ultraportable)
13.3" (1366x768) LCD
Intel i5-2410M 2.3GHz (2.9GHz turbo)
500GB 5400RPM (Upg. 240GB SSD)
4GB DDR3 1333MHz (Upg. 8Gb RAM)
Nvidia GT520M 1GB Graphics
3 x USB 2.0 / HDMI / VGA
Windows 7 Home Premium
8-Cell battery / 10+ Hours
$1070 ($677 + Upg. $369 + $24)

Opinions/flames?
- Klosteral
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June 1, 2012 7:00:21 AM

Hey mate,

I dont know if you have made your choice or not, yet I thought i would throw my opinion in.

I have the 64GB prime (with 32Gb micro SD and 64GB SD), the TF101 now my wifes and a work PC (i7 - 1Tb 8GB RAM)

A few reasons why the Prime for me

I was looking for something that I could use with work, I travel a bit and looking for a Lightweight option, initially the TF101 was great - did everything I wanted, write reports, email them, write custom Presentations to Clients and deliver them to the client in a format they could read.

The big thing for me was that due to my companies security protocols I couldn't access internal websites or data bases on the Tablet. Now in saying this I found and made use of the 'Splashtop HD streamer' app that comes pre-installed on either of the TF range. this gives me the ability to access the mission critical applications and databases I need while I am interstate/ overseas.

In short the Prime is one of those devices you can do all on

the best office apps I use:
Splashtop
OfficeSuite Pro
Evernote

I am a believe in these as I use them daily for my Work and have never had a problem

Yes I went over kill on the storage (64 + 32 + 64 = 160Gb in storage) yet being on flights I like to have my own media
I interchange these when I have different things to watch or do.

you may not really notice the difference in performance from the TF to the Prime, I haven't, so if it's a cost thing you may get the same use from the cheaper TF
this one also gives you the ability to have a external hdd plugged in and use a wireless mouse (prime has only 1 USB port)

Look i hope this helps if you havent bought one yet

cheers

Luke
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June 1, 2012 7:35:40 AM

Hey there,

Well, I actually went ahead and bought myself a Prime back in March a couple weeks after they were first released in Australia. I only have the 64GB version because it has plenty of space; neither the SD nor the Micro-SD card slots are being used. I have a bluetooth mouse which I use the device with so the USB port is only for transfer media such as USB storage, etc. When on the move I play music and other media through a 160GB Apple iPod so I do not burn space with that kind of thing.

I have tried some PC data-streaming software such as Kainy and I have found it to be really slow and laggy; I do not like to run my tablet as a proxy despite my desire to. Secure networks such as those at college or at work cannot be connected to by my Prime because it cannot automatically download the necessary CA-certificates.

The biggest drawback for me is the fact that the applications for the Android market are quite limited; there are few networking programs or musical production programs (I am a musician too) that do what I need them to and this leaves me to do one of two things:
1) Take up a programming course and make my own programs.
2) Buy a netbook to do the few things the tablet cannot.

Despite this, the tablet has been a nifty addition to my IT repertoire and it is very portable with an absolutely amazing battery life; I can run it for three days straight without problems. My textbooks and sheet music have never been easier to carry around and it can show-up just about any of my peers' iPads.

I would definitely say that my $800AUD purchase was worth it, however I don't know if I am sold enough to say I'd do the same thing again.

- Richard
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