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Asus Transformer Prime TF201: A Tablet With A Higher Calling

Asus Transformer Prime TF201: A Tablet With A Higher Calling
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Apple's new iPad is turning heads, but it's not the only compelling choice. Four months after its introduction, Asus' Transformer Prime TF201 shows us that tablets aren't exclusively content consumption devices. Some make it easier to get work done!

We weren't able to review Asus' Eee Pad Transformer Prime when it first launched. But in light of Apple's new flagship tablet, the third-generation iPad, we thought it important to follow up and question whether the Asus effort still measures up. After all, Apple has a knack for generating headlines that suggest its competition cannot compare.

Certainly, the iPad's market performance continues to be a powerful force. However, the fact that other manufacturers are building and selling their own Android-based devices means that there has to be room to grow outside of Apple's walled garden.

Peeking Into A Shopping Bag On iPad 3 Launch DatePeeking Into A Shopping Bag On iPad 3 Launch Date

As a case in point, on the morning of the iPad 3’s release, a few of us headed out to take pictures of the lines forming for Apple’s latest gadget. While we were out there, we noticed that several people had forgone the queue and were walking out of Best Buy with Android-based tablets in their bags.

Interestingly, every tablet customer we saw without an iPad instead had the Transformer Prime TF201. And, after reviewing Asus's tablet, we can see why. Even if benchmark numbers give Apple the advantage (and they do), Nvidia's innovative Tegra 3-based design is enjoyable to use on a day-to-day basis.

We truly appreciate the Transformer's portable footprint. Apple's new iPad 3 adds features and functionality, consciously choosing a high-res display, a more powerful GPU, and a higher-capacity battery over a thinner or lighter form factor. As such, the iPad 3 weighs almost 0.2 lbs. more than Asus' Transformer Prime. That doesn't sound like much, but over an extended period of time, it means the difference between merrily browsing the Web and taking a break (or just wishing we worked out more often).


iPad 2 (3G)
iPad 3 (4G LTE)
Transformer
Transformer Prime
Length 9.5"9.5"
10.7"
10.4"
Width7.31"7.31"
7"
7.1"
Height.34".37"
0.5"
0.3"
Screen Size9.7"9.7"
10.1"
10.1"
Aspect Ratio4:34:3
16:10
16:10
Weight
1.33 lb1.46 lb
1.5 lb1.29 lb


Physically, the Transformer Prime is a clear winner. At 8.3 mm thick, it’s the thinnest tablet we've tested, and that's part of what makes it a much more portable option than Apple’s iPad 2 or 3.

Asus' Transformer Prime is designed similarly as its predecessor, facilitating a smooth transition for users familiar with the original. The ports and buttons are all located in the same places, even.

It's still easy to tell the two tablets apart, though, regardless of whether they're turned on or off. Whereas the original Transformer employed an ABS (plastic) molded shell, the Transformer Prime's body is aluminum with a stylish ripple design on the back. Asus' focus on aesthetics is commendable. That's one of those areas where Apple receives all of the glory, and other vendors are doing a much better job of creating usable designs that look good as well. For instance, a micro-texture on the Transformer Prime helps resist fingerprint build-up. Additionally, Asus went a step further and applied a hydro-oleophobic coating to the chassis to repel oil.

Some of the Transformer Prime's other evolutionary improvements include:

  • Nvidia's Tegra 3 SoC
  • A Super IPS+ display
  • A better rear-facing camera


Tegra 3 is the best-supported architecture for 3D gaming on a tablet, with a number of high-quality titles available. Moreover, Asus' emphasis on usability provides other tangible advantages. For example, the Transformer Prime's Super IPS+ mode goes a long way to address readability issues under bright ambient lighting. And if you’re a shutterbug, the relatively large F2.4 aperture, combined with an LED flash and 8 MP sensor, translate to improved image quality.

Display 47 Comments.
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Top Comments
  • 26 Hide
    cangelini , April 19, 2012 6:56 AM
    Quote:
    Is this a joke? Wait for the new iPad to come out and then review the Transformer Prime? Why didn't you review it sooner? Did Asus miss a payment or did Apple give you a little extra to keep a lid on it?


    Because we didn't have it sooner.
  • 20 Hide
    joytech22 , April 19, 2012 9:58 AM
    DjEaZymy point waz... prime is a nice thingy, but, if there are proprietary stuff on a open platform, like android... i don't believe, that Tegra can get some momentum without going open source... the question is... how big is the Tegra's market share on the android platform? ... and... is the market share for Tegra so big, that they can insist to use there proprietary things?...


    Ehh...? I have no idea what you are trying to get at.
    Is it your first time on the internet? :\
  • 16 Hide
    joytech22 , April 19, 2012 7:32 AM
    I was thinking of getting this until I caught wind of the Transformer T701.
    I think the 1080p display is worth the wait.
Other Comments
  • 26 Hide
    cangelini , April 19, 2012 6:56 AM
    Quote:
    Is this a joke? Wait for the new iPad to come out and then review the Transformer Prime? Why didn't you review it sooner? Did Asus miss a payment or did Apple give you a little extra to keep a lid on it?


    Because we didn't have it sooner.
  • 16 Hide
    joytech22 , April 19, 2012 7:32 AM
    I was thinking of getting this until I caught wind of the Transformer T701.
    I think the 1080p display is worth the wait.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , April 19, 2012 8:43 AM
    "While the Transformer Prime supports output over microHDMI, it cannot push 1080p through the wire" ...When using hardware decoding, Transformer Prime actually pushes true 1080p-video to the television (..while the tablets screen remains unused = black). As an owner of TF201, I can confirm this.
  • 20 Hide
    joytech22 , April 19, 2012 9:58 AM
    DjEaZymy point waz... prime is a nice thingy, but, if there are proprietary stuff on a open platform, like android... i don't believe, that Tegra can get some momentum without going open source... the question is... how big is the Tegra's market share on the android platform? ... and... is the market share for Tegra so big, that they can insist to use there proprietary things?...


    Ehh...? I have no idea what you are trying to get at.
    Is it your first time on the internet? :\
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 19, 2012 11:18 AM
    In Italy Asus decided not to give the free dongle, because they say that it was selled as a localization system, and not a GPS, therefor, they will not help us improve our tablet experience. Since the prime doesn't have a 3G connectivity, I don't think the GPS is that important, also, a 10" GPS is quite annoying. I prefer to use the phone. Great review by the way. Although I don't trust benchmarka, nor asus ICS updates. At the biginning the wi-fi was working great, no overconsumption of power, now my battery drains in hours.
  • 2 Hide
    razor512 , April 19, 2012 12:38 PM
    If you are going to use a tablet as more of a netbook then why not buy a netbook that will be faster, for significantly less money?

    Netbooks, and many notebooks have gotten compact to a point where if it isn't possible for you to have a notebook or netbook with you, then you wont be able to have a tablet either.

    I understand wanting to do more productivity related tasks, but for the cost, you can easily do something like buy a upper mid range notebook, or a cheaper netbook then use the left over money to buy a lower cost tablet such as the HP touchpad. (android development is going nicely, and it is fast enough to handle 1080p video and any other task and app smoothly, and when both cores overclocked 1.8GHz+ it offers general performance similar to the transformer prime (for CPU bound tasks, (remember very few programs can actually take advantage of a quad core CPU on an android device, they just weren't written that way)
  • 1 Hide
    gaborbarla , April 19, 2012 12:51 PM
    Well I got my tegra 3 Transformer Prime about a month ago, and updated it promptly to ICS 4.0.3.

    All was well. Then more recently there was a mysterious more recent firmware update and I applied it.

    Now my ASUS background had shooting stars and birds flying. Very beatiful. However, as it seems since this patch the Prime just became very unresponsive, browser scrolling was choppy and often tapping an icon or paging didnt respond the first time... Then I decided to uninstall some apps, but to no avail. A bit later I removed the ASUS animating background which I think is now way overdone (with a shooting star every 10 seconds) and VOALA it is smooth again like a well aged whiskey. How can ASUS not pick this up, or is it just my device?
  • 2 Hide
    chesteracorgi , April 19, 2012 1:29 PM
    Until there is cross platform integration of Android with a main OS on the desktop, be it Windows, IOS or Ubuntu, the Androids will be relegated to phones and toys for video. What might be a killer app/hardware combo would be a pad with Win 8 at $200. Until they OEMs come up with something that unifies phones/tablets/laptops/desktops there is no reason for most consumers to buy these expensive toys.
  • 1 Hide
    lamorpa , April 19, 2012 1:42 PM
    DjEaZy...i do believe, that it iz a ...

    az

  • 3 Hide
    halcyon , April 19, 2012 2:00 PM
    I had the Transformer Prime...in fact (and this is an account many of you have already heard)...I had 5 of them. They all had pixel defects (dead or bad pixels)...so apparently they all came from the same bad batch. I'm sure that was unique but at the time it really left a very sour taste in my mouth.

    The thing I really noticed about the Transformer Prime was how svelte it was. I never did anything to tap into the 4 cores of power really but it was fast. If it hadn't been for the screen issues I'd still have it...but I have to admit the 3rd Gen iPad that I subsequently replaced the Transformer Prime with hasn't left anything to be desired...for me any ways. I like the screen on the iPad better but that's probably just me.
  • 3 Hide
    dvanburen , April 19, 2012 3:42 PM
    If I spent this much on a tablet and had GPS issues I would be pissed. A dongle wouldn't cut it as it negates the while reason of owning a nice tablet: form factor and portability.

    It would also be nice if they would rate minimum brightness. This is important to some of us that use a tablet in bed after the wife (or significant other) is asleep.
  • -6 Hide
    halcyon , April 19, 2012 3:51 PM
    dvanburenIf I spent this much on a tablet and had GPS issues I would be pissed. A dongle wouldn't cut it as it negates the while reason of owning a nice tablet: form factor and portability.It would also be nice if they would rate minimum brightness. This is important to some of us that use a tablet in bed after the wife (or significant other) is asleep.

    Ssshhhh...it doesn't matter what might be wrong with the the Transformer Prime, the fact is, its not an Apple product...so its better. Do you understand now?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 19, 2012 4:30 PM
    I want a Medfield design.
  • 1 Hide
    LordConrad , April 19, 2012 6:39 PM
    wake me when the T701 review comes out...
  • 1 Hide
    adampower , April 19, 2012 6:50 PM
    dvanburenIf I spent this much on a tablet and had GPS issues I would be pissed. A dongle wouldn't cut it as it negates the while reason of owning a nice tablet: form factor and portability.


    I like the dongle. If I need to use the GPS I can plug it in. If I don't.. there's no Apple, Google, x-wife, anybody tracking my tablet.
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