The quick and the dud
Run the AnTuTu benchmark app and you will get a score well over 10,000 which is so far above of any other Android device as to make comparisons meaningless. What we have here then is a whole new performance paradigm for tablets.
Loop a 720p MP4 video and the 25Wh battery will see you to the 7 hour mark. Use the juice from the dock battery as well and that number stretches to over 12 hours. The sticker on the dock says 18 hours of continuous use is possible which tallies with my experience of a mixture of gaming, browsing, reading and watching a mix of SD and HD video.
Along with a improved screen and chipset the Prime also has a better camera. The main unit is now an 8MP affair with an LED flash and a back-illuminated CMOS sensor with an F2.8 aperture. You will still look like a spanner taking pictures with a 10in tablet but at least the end results will now match those from a good phone camera. Video can be shot up to 1080p through the main camera and at 480p through the front facing 1.3Mp web cam which also supports Skype video.
The camera resolution has been upped to 8Mp, if you're ever inclined to use it
Most of you will no doubt be familiar with the complaints about poor or non-existent GPS reception of the Prime. My own experience was more of a mixed bag. Away from any Wi-Fi signals my review unit sometimes locked onto the GPS signal in under 2 minutes but at other times took up to ten minutes and then dropped it for no apparent reason. In short the GPS works but it is flaky. Asus has a patch on the way, but it wasn't available in the UK at time of writing.
There are other instances of form getting in the way of function too. Like the tablet the dock has been ruthlessly slimmed down with the result that the keyboard now as a shallower pitch, only one rather than two USB ports and a smaller battery – 22Whr compared to 24.4Whr in the original Transformer dock. The rubber grommet that covers the USB port is a sod to remove too, but thankfully it’s not tethered so you will lose it within a day or two and that will be the end of that problem.
USB port cover missing already
None of these things are deal breakers though and the dock is still a perfectly decent device to do some serious typing on and all the USB peripherals I plugged into the dock worked perfectly but it does make me wonder is this headlong gallop towards reduced size and weight is always such a good thing.
Aside from the skinny dock, which is actually a bit of a step back from the Transformer 1 and wobbly GPS reception – but a patch is on the way – the Prime is an impressive bit of kit. The blazing fast hardware, superb screen, lightness, thinness and bang-up-to-date version of Android and decent price combine to make this the best Android tablet yet. ®
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Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime Android Tablet
It's a very strange sensation to feel that I really /want/ one of these blighters but really can't imagine any time when I'd actually /use/ the thing.
Take it to the Apple store and have a round of 'can your tablet do this..........."
"announcing its predecessor"
Predecessors aren't generally announced, on account of them already being released and known.
Wait for proper GPS fix
Like the original Transformer, it looks like the Prime has a hardware issue. The GPS reception is weak due to the metal casing. A bit of a "Doh!" moment there Asus.They have released a new driver which improves it, but Asus will no doubt release a new hardware revision to fix the problem properly.
It is a shame they've tried to cover this up again (pulling the listing of GPS from the online specification is really rubbish Asus). They should have learnt from their experience trying to hush up Transformer issues. I guess the usual fear of ridiculous a class action is the cause.
The pre B5OK hardware Transformers had a problem whereby the battery drained to zero in 3 days even when the unit was switched right off. Asus sneaked out new hardware revision which sorted the problem. They tried to keep it quiet, but luckily a very public Facebook campaign forced them to offer to RMA the older affected units. Facebook does have it's uses then ;)
Keep an eye on the XDA Developers Prime forum to see if a new hardware revision is quietly released that properly fixes the GPS issue.
Apart from this problem though, I've had a play with a Prime though it really does deserve the rating given by El Reg. Asus should sell them by the bucket load.
One, two, three...
This is the second transformer and the third is on the way (with even more pixels and a working GPS). All within less than a year.
I don't know about others, but I just can't buy any of these. First, a tablet is very much a luxury, so I don't have to buy one. Second, as soon as you could buy one nice model the next and better one is already coming, which makes waiting very tempting. Third, the apps are still lacking. Most of them are just the usual smartphone apps on a larger screen.
I'm still looking at all this with a kind of bored fascination.