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Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime review

Verdict

The best Android tablet yet, boasting excellence all round, but it isn’t perfect

Review Date: 16 Dec 2011

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: £416 (£499 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £1000
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Android tablets have come a long way since the early days of bodged smartphone OSes and horrid resistive screens, but there hasn't been much development since the first Honeycomb tablets hit the shelves in spring this year. That's about to change, however, with the new Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime.

This is the follow up to the original Transformer and improves on its design hugely. Gone is the slightly cheap plasticky finish of the original, to be replaced by a much slimmer, sexier body. The new Transformer bears the same “spun” aluminium finish as the firm's sleek Zenbooks, and it looks and feels lovely.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer

It's as thin as the market leaders, and very light with it too: the tablet on its own weighs 594g. Physically, the new Transformer cedes no ground to its competitors; which you choose will come down to personal taste.

Of course, half the point of buying the Transformer in the first place is its ingenious keyboard dock, a feature you'll find nowhere else. It, too, has had a redesign, to match the design of the tablet, with keys that have less travel and a firmer base.

The dock mechanism feels as solid and long lasting as it did originally, engaging with a positive click, with a smooth and cultured hinge action.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer

Combine that with its booster battery, and a USB port that lets you connect a keyboard or USB thumb drive (we tested both NTFS- and FAT32-formatted sticks and both allowed us to read and write files), and you have a very strong-looking package.

A Tegra revolution

Handsome though the Prime undoubtedly is, the main attraction is what's under the hood. This tablet is the first to feature the new generation of tablet processors: Nvidia's Tegra 3, which brings a number of significant advancements over the dual-core Tegra 2.

The headline figure is clearly the new chip's quad-core 1.3GHz processing power, but that doesn't reveal the full story, because technically Tegra 3 has five cores, and it's the fifth core that really makes the difference.

1 2 3

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User comments

"but it isn’t perfect"

No Apple logo?

By Lacrobat on 16 Dec 2011

Dear PCPro....

Can we have an 'Ignore User' button please? Thank you.

By Pantagoon on 16 Dec 2011

Nice

"Of course, half the point of buying the Transformer in the first place is its ingenious keyboard dock, a feature you'll find nowhere else."

?

HP TC1100
Acer W500

By rhythm on 16 Dec 2011

No

"In real-world usage, the benefits are equally unclear. At flicking between Android desktops and menus, this is the smoothest and most responsive tablet to date."

I'd throw that title to the Samsung 7 Slate but then again that does cost a whole lot more.

By rhythm on 16 Dec 2011

Battery span

PCPro's 6:50 hours battery life for the Transformer Prime is quite a bit shorter than other reviews I've read, which makes it tricky to guess the Prime’s true stamina. In standard mode (ie: not economy power mode), and without the dock, TrustedReviews and TechRadar found it lasted 9:00+ hours, and Engadget got 10:17. All of them involved looped SD video until the battery died. That’s a good 30% more in a similar test.

By way of a little aside, none of the aforementioned other sites found that the ipad2 lasted for 16 hours like PCPro did (all of them found it lasted about 10 hours on looped SD playback at 50% brightness, granted not set at 30% brightness like PCPro tested its ipad2 at), so it doesn’t seem that PCPro’s test is especially hard on battery life.

I hope that PCPro will re-review the Transformer Prime when it’s released in the UK (with ICS, apparently), as this is supposed to remedy two of your three concerns (responsiveness and smoothness) with hardware acceleration. Drawing comparisons between HC and ICS versions will be interesting.

By TheHonestTruth on 16 Dec 2011

@ TheHonestTruth

I was going to say the same thing: Engadget's battery test results put the Transformer Prime effectively at the same as the iPad 2, without using the dock and with the Transformer Prime set to Normal.

I always look at several product reviews (as well as getting first-hand impressions), but I have to say that PC Pro's battery life times are consistently very different to everyone else's, barring the iPad 2, which seems to be a much better performer on PC Pro-electricity than other review sites, certainly in terms of relative to other devices.

By bioreit on 16 Dec 2011

@ rhythm

Try closing the Acer W500 while it's in the dock, as though it was a laptop.

And I believe I'm correct in saying the HP TC1100 closed with the screen facing up, rather than down.

Personally, I think the Transformer tablets are the perfect type of hybrid device - a genuine laptop/netbook form factor but with an easily detachable screen for use as a pure-tablet.

I just wish the price was £300 including dock...

By bioreit on 16 Dec 2011

Just Curious

With all the talk, especially within the IT sector, about litigation and lawyers; how has ASUS not managed to get a letter from Viacom?

By Duggie on 16 Dec 2011

No 3g

At first glance I thought this would be the perfect iPad alternative for me, with the additional versatility of the ketboard dock. Then I realised there is no 3g version (and apparently no plans for one for the UK), which is a real deal-breaker. It's no use to me if I can't connect wherever I happen to be.

By chrisobeer on 19 Dec 2011

@chrisobeer

lol, you can connect on 3G wherever you happen to be?

You must be doing the same 3G tests that they are the battery test.

By Steve_Adey on 20 Dec 2011

Almost perfection

I own an original Transformer. I have tried most of the others and it is well ahead - but not perfect. Then again, I also own an iPad and it isn't perfect either. I am interested to see how the Prime improves on the original Transformer, because it is pretty damn good. It is responsive, versatile, flexible and that keyboard is a real winner.

The one thing they all lack (with the exception of the HTC Flyer) is a screen digitiser to allow the use of a real stylus (not some crappy eraser) for taking notes in meetings (which take place in 'business' environments). At the moment, tablets as more toys than anything else and until they bridge the gap, they will not be taken seriously in the business community. Currently, if you want a digitiser on anything larger than a 7 inch tablet, then it has to be a tablet PC running Windows. Come on Asus. You have the best Android tablet. Make it perfect! Add a screen digitiser and stylus and count me as a fan boy - OK more of a fan businessman!

By BeacoAnalysis on 22 Dec 2011

Quick product updates

Hmmmmm,
I can't help but feel a little bit ripped off - five or six months pass by since I bought my Sammy Galaxy Tab 10.1 and now the new Tegra 3 gear is already here.
Samsung must already be near releasing a Tegra 3 tablet to compete, which usually means neglected support for older h/w. I heard ICS is due on the galaxy 10.1, but now Im not holding my breath.
I started getting a little disappointed when even the TegraZone app started pushing, and showing all the benefits of Tegra 3 over 2!
Less than six months product lifecycles now then - forget it tablet makers!

By Heliosphan on 25 Dec 2011

Wi-fi problems

I agree this sounds like a beaut but I hear problems with wi-fi and GPS?

GPS is no use to a non-3G product but wi-fi is essential. What about it Jonathan?

By bigbollocks on 2 Feb 2012

JohnS

Nice product but critical flaw is no sim slot for 3G connectivity so if you are out and about and not near a wifi spot then it is useless.

By JohnSheridan on 10 Mar 2012

After much searching we eventually took the plunge and bought our Transformer TF201 (or as my husband likes to call it; the Optimus Prime) from gogodigital (http://www.gogodigital.co.uk/asus-eee-pad-transfo
rmer-prime-tf201-32gb-tablet-with-docking-station.
html)
Apart from the initial confusion with the two different colours (as usual there is no obvious model number variation for colour - why not call it the TF201-GREY?!)

We are very pleased with the quality of this tablet/netbook... I am not sure what the problem is with the keyboard. I had a macbook air before this so maybe I am already used to the smaller size??

I only bought the WiFi version but have just found a forum on how to setup a 3G dongle (Three).. so will be back with some results soon!

By gogodigital on 24 May 2012

-- Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201

my kid use the connector cable the wrong way . the dock connector bins is damaged . i live in egypt
is there any way to get a spar one . I want to buy it by mail. Asus do nothing for help????
s/n c30kas045932 -- Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201
Mohamed medhat afifi
33 iraq st - Mohandssin -12411
Giza -egypt
tel: +201000076200
mafifi61@yahoo.com

By rasputin61 on 28 Jun 2012

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