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Asus Transformer Prime TF201: A Tablet With A Higher Calling

Asus TF201: An Evolved Transformer

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 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)TransformerTransformer Prime
Length9.5"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 Ratio4:34:316:1016:10
Weight1.33 lb1.46 lb1.5 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.

  • killerclick
    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?
    Reply
  • lancelot123
    Wake me when it is running Windows on a x86 CPU so I can install whatever I want for free.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    9530586 said:
    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.
    Reply
  • joytech22
    I was thinking of getting this until I caught wind of the Transformer T701.
    I think the 1080p display is worth the wait.
    Reply
  • DjEaZy
    ... that thing with the splash effect... i do believe, that it iz a program issue... 3rd gen iPad haz power to burn... you can program some splashes... it's like M$ say, that, to play crysis and see the rays thru treas, you needed vista and DX 10... it turned out, that it waz a tweak, that enabled it on XP too... and i believe, if apple will implement some open standard of some physics engine, like Bullet Open Source Physics, all of the open standard devices will benefit, android and iOS alike... and nVidia physx will be not relevant... to program some separate android+nVidia version of a game? ...when there is many different android devices, that don't use Tegra? ... it could end for nVidia, like it ended for 3DFX with there glide engine... 3Dfx waz killed by OpenGL and DirectX... 3Dfx's Glide waz visually superior, but OpenGL and DirectX helped then ATi and nVidia to go multiplatform and to the masses...
    ... so, my 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?...
    Reply
  • "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.
    Reply
  • mily
    U're bienvenida: D Gracias por venir a mi artículo .. Espero que lea mis otros artículos

    .. Me interesa conocer sus puntos de vista .. gracias :)
    Echo de menos los comentarios de Lippo durante el proceso de ruptura de la pared, no puedo

    creer que redujo el papel de Lippo como el
    camisetas hombre
    Reply
  • joytech22
    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? :\
    Reply
  • DjEaZy
    DjEaZy... that thing with the splash effect... i do believe, that it iz a program issue... 3rd gen iPad haz power to burn... you can program some splashes... it's like M$ say, that, to play crysis and see the rays thru treas, you needed vista and DX 10... it turned out, that it waz a tweak, that enabled it on XP too... and i believe, if apple will implement some open standard of some physics engine, like Bullet Open Source Physics, all of the open standard devices will benefit, android and iOS alike... and nVidia physx will be not relevant... to program some separate android+nVidia version of a game? ...when there is many different android devices, that don't use Tegra? ... it could end for nVidia, like it ended for 3DFX with there glide engine... 3Dfx waz killed by OpenGL and DirectX... 3Dfx's Glide waz visually superior, but OpenGL and DirectX helped then ATi and nVidia to go multiplatform and to the masses... ... so, my 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?...joytech22Ehh...? I have no idea what you are trying to get at.Is it your first time on the internet? :\... smoke some and you will get the full picture...
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply