Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime review
The best Android tablet yet, boasting excellence all round, but it isn’t perfect
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.
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.
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.
|Price ex VAT||£416|
|Price inc VAT||£499|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Features & Design||6|
|Value for Money||5|
|Dimensions||262 x 8.8 x 180mm (WDH)|
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,280|
|Resolution screen vertical||800|
|Display type||Multitouch, capacitive|
|CPU frequency, MHz||1,300MHz|
|Camera megapixel rating||8.0mp|
|Built-in flash type||LED|
|Mobile operating system||Android 3.2|