ASUS Transformer Prime: Übertablet, Portable Gaming Powerhouse, Sweet Business Suite…

The ASUS Transformer Prime has already had to endure such superlatives as blazingly fast, super slim, functionally brilliant and sexy as hell, it would blush if only it weren’t true. Don’t be fooled by the name though The Transformer Prime is no child’s toy, it is in fact the must have tablet for Christmas, ASUS certainly hopes it will be anyway.

Earlier this month ASUS and NVIDIA officially announced the Prime along with it’s specifications. At the same time NVIDIA introduced to the world it’s brand new QUAD core chipset, Tegra 3. Only a few days after the announcement videos appeared of Google’s latest operating system – Android 4 Ice-Cream Sandwich – running happily on the Prime. Thankfully the wait for Prime won’t be long, GameStop yesterday let the cat out of the bag by listing the Prime for pre-order with the product release date of December 9. Get ready world, the Transformer Prime is about to take over Christmas.

The Prime is pushing the boundaries with firsts, the first quad core tablet, the first tablet to run Ice-Cream Sandwich. Even more importantly it may be the first tablet to pull off the split personality trick. By day with the keyboard attached the Prime is a sleek productivity machine, by night it separates from it’s keyboard doc, loosing the business suit to become an on the go entertainment guru. The Prime’s leading edge technology may well give ASUS a generational lead over it’s competitors. ASUS has literally leap frogged a generation, the generation that it’s competition is still using.

With the Keyboard Doc attached the Prime looks like an ultra thin Netbook, even with the Keyboard’s extra battery the full Prime weighs in just over 1kg, lighter than most Netbooks. The keyboard part of the Prime brings more than just qwerty to the occasion, with an extra USB, a memory card slot and extra half sized battery that extends the Primes running time to 18 hours. For many productivity applications a proper keyboard and dual screen displays is a must have. Tablets have traditionally fallen short in this way. The Prime bridges this gap providing a better desktop experience than many Netbooks while still being the ultimate portable machine. The keyboard itself suffers many of the shortcomings of being jammed into such a compact space. Still the keys are generously spaced and tactile for soft Chiclet keyboard. ASUS have made one curious decision here though, to remove the delete key, leaving only the backspace to undo those typographical mistakes.

The tablet or Pad part of Prime houses the display and all of the computer chippery. The Pad on it’s own is 568grams light and 8.3mm thin making for a very transportable device. Essential for a tablet is a high quality LCD panel, ASUS has included a 10.1″ LED Super IPS+ panel that’s bright and detailed. Wide viewing angles keep the Prime looking good even on an angle or over a shoulder. At 600cd/m brightness it should be able to cope with outdoor lighting conditions easily. The displays 1280 x 800 resolution is higher than most Netbooks and the iPad 2, which generally use 1024 x 768. Corning® Gorilla® Glass is used to give the Prime a hard scratch resistant display, a tough exterior.

ASUS Transformer Prime with Keyboard dock.

Sitting behind the Primes Gorilla Glass is the brains of the operation, Tegra 3, Prime’s new silicon circuitry. Tegra 3 is NVIDIA’s brand new mobile chipset, hot of the presses. The first Quad Core CPU for smartphones and tablets. NVIDIA has also built “out of order execution” into the new chips, something only seen on desktop processors til now. This allows a CPU to get on with other work if a task stalls, making for a much smoother user experience and better multi-tasking. Also built into the CPU is a 5th companion core, in low power situations when CPU demand is low Tegra 3 seamlessly switches to the 5th Core, which uses dramatically less power.

The Tegra chips that NVIDIA produce are similar to many other chipsets used by Android and iOS devices with the exception that NVIDIA has taken the ARM architecture and cranked it all the way up to 11. Tegra 3′s Quad Core CPU and 12 Core GPU is more than a doubling of computing power over the previous generation, it is fast enough to make the XBox360 and PS3 start looking over their shoulders. Portable gaming IS now as powerful as the latest generation consoles. The Tegra 3 processor uses the ARM mobile architecture, unlike your typical desktop PC or Mac that uses the x86 architecture which dominates the Windows and Apple world. The ARM chips themselves originated in the 1990′s Acorn Archimedes as did the company name, Advanced RISC Machine and before that, the Acorn RISC Machine.

1GB of DDR system memory is included – rumors of the high end model having 2GB of DDR remain unconfirmed -, storage memory comes in two sizes, 32GB for the base model and 64GB for the high end model. For the sale of the original Transformer ASUS only included the Keyboard / Dock with the high end model, while the base model only included the tablet. A micro SD card slot is included within Prime, allowing further expansion of your storage space, with 128GB possible using a 64GB memory card added to the top end model.

Prime tablet only…

Prime includes the usual dual camera setup, rear facing is an 8MP camera for photo’s along with a front facing 1.2MP camera for video conferencing or looking at yourself in the digital mirror. The audio jack handles both headphone’s and microphone’s but not both at once. Audio is also supported through integrated stereo speakers and a built in microphone. Networking is supplied through Wireless 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 for devices. Mini-HDMI is included supporting a second display, either TV or Monitor. Giving the Prime real potential as a serious media center or dual screen productivity computer.

The Android versus Windows question will always be raised by machines like Prime, especially when in Netbook mode. Software is the number one issue when deciding if you have to have Windows. Android now has an extensive software library so generally most categories of software are covered, from video editing to office it’s all there. If you use a windows specific application then Windows is probably still the place to be though. For everyone else ASUS includes much of the standard software required, Polaris® Office® for mobile productivity, media management, along with all of Google’s Applications of course.

The original Transformer has been on the market for only 7 months, ASUS has obviously tried to steal a jump on the competition by moving so quickly to the next generation hardware. Still the new Transformer improves on many of the originals features. Weight is now 586gm, down from 680. Processing power has more than doubled with twice as many faster cores, as has pixel pushing power. The rear camera has been updated to 8MP from 5MP. Androids new Ice-Cream Sandwich should be available for the original Transformer so eventually operating systems should be similar. The original Transformers may just turn out to be the bargain special for Christmas or the New Years sales, the price has already dipped to under $500 USD, how low will it go ?

The Transformer Prime, efficient business machine by day and gaming machine on the go by night. ASUS and NVIDIA have pulled out all of the stops getting both Tegra 3 and Android 4 – Ice Cream Sandwich – working together so well in such a sleek little unit. If you like the idea of a tablet but aren’t ready to step away from the keyboard Transformer Prime is the tablet for you. If you just want the best tablet available then Prime is your number one option. Available in your choice of two colors amethyst grey and champagne gold from December 9 in America, $499.99USD for the 32GB base model and $599.99USD for the 64GB model including doc. If you don’t want to queue for this one I suggest getting your order into Santa early, or alternatively pre-order now.

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ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime with Glowball 2 on Nvidia Tegra 3

ASUS Transformer Prime Specifications

  • Operating System: Android™ 3.2 Honeycomb, Android™ 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgradable

  • Chipset: NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, Quad-Core Cortex A9 CPU with Out of order execution and 5th companion core for low power, Graphics 12-core GeForce® GPU.

  • Display: 10.1″ LED backlit screen with Super IPS+ (1280 x 800) 10 finger multi-touch, Corning® Gorilla® Glass, 178° wide-view angle with 600cm/a high brilliance luminance for outdoor enjoyment

  • Memory: LPDDR2 1 GB

  • Storage: 32GB / 64GB + ASUS WebStorage

  • Camera: 1.2MP (front), 8MP auto-focus (rear) with flash & F2.4 aperture

  • Interface PAD: 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone/Mic-in); 1x micro HDMI port; 1 x Micro SD Card Reader; 1 x Internal Microphone; 1 x Stereo Speaker

  • Interface Dock: 1 x USB2.0 port; 1 x SD Card Reader

  • Sensors: G-Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, E-compass, GPS

  • Touch: 10 finger multi-touch

  • Battery PAD 12 hours; 25Wh Li-polymer Battery2

  • Battery Dock 22Wh(mobile dock) Li-polymer Battery2

  • Battery Combined 18 hours pad with dock; 25Wh(pad) and 22Wh(mobile dock) Li-polymer Battery2

  • Size/Weight Pad: 263*180.8*8.3mm/586g

  • Size/Weight Dock: 263*180.8*8~10.4mm / 537g

Apps ASUS launcher, @Vibe Music, ASUS WebStorage, MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, File manager, ASUS sync, SuperNote, App Locker, App Backup, Tegra Zone, Polaris Office

Source: ASUS Transformer Prime
Source: GameStop