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ASUS Transformer Prime introduced and examined

by Alistair Lowe on 9 November 2011, 07:40

Tags: ASUSTeK (TPE:2357)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qa7yt

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An all-round package

The rear-facing camera on the original Transformer is terrible!

Well, like the highly-rated camera found in Apple's new iPhone 4S, ASUS is to introduce an 8MP rear-facing camera with continuous LED flash for HD video recording. Shutter-speed and auto-focus have been enhanced and a large, F2.4 aperture lens has been put to work for a superior depth of field and, combined with a back-illuminated CMOS sensor, excellent low-light performance. ASUS also claims colour accuracy improvements of 30 per cent, too. Incidentally, a front 1.2MP camera is still present.

I'm having to re-encode all my videos to view them on the Transformer, this Tegra 2 doesn't support high-profile H.264

The Transformer Prime is powered by the new Tegra 3 processor. Aside from the hardware acceleration now having support for high-profile H.264 at 40Mbps, VC1-AP and DivX 5/6, there are twice the number of cores, now with a NEON vector unit on each core, which was previously absent from the Tegra 2. We expect this processor will now handle even non-accelerated video formats much, much more graciously than the Tegra 2.

Concerns nullified?

Well, that just about sums up all of this writer's concerns and insecurities as an original Transformer owner. Hopefully it has become apparent just how diligently ASUS has worked on resolving the concerns of customers and tackling limitations of the previous hardware, with almost every single design hole seemingly plugged. We have not yet had a chance to handle these devices ourselves, however; we are relying on ASUS until we are able to evaluate our very own Transformer Prime. Here's some of the remaining specifications.

Battery and ports

ASUS claims the battery life will be 12 hours or 18 hours with the keyboard attachment, a significant increase on the quoted times for the original Transformer of 9.5 and 16 hours, respectively, though we suspect this is much reliant on the improved power-scaling of the Tegra 3 and expect this value to fluctuate significantly depending on the kind of task performed.

ASUS also confirmed improvements had been made to standby and docking power consumption, with more figures to arrive shortly. The battery itself remains the same at 24Whr on the tablet, but the slimmer keyboard dock's battery has shrunk from this figure to 22Wh. Important to note is that the dock has also lost one of its USB 2.0 ports and the mini-HDMI of the original tablet has been substituted with a micro-HDMI; all other connections remain the same on both the tablet and the dock, though positions have shifted somewhat. Existing USB extensions and card readers from the TF101 remain compatible.

ASUS Transformer Prime Ports

Sound

Six per cent larger speakers (17x12mm) with enhanced fidelity and range, with specific focus on vocal enhancement. Whilst the specifications do list stereo speakers, oddly we are only able to spot a grille on the back for one; we wonder how this will affect stereo imaging.

Wireless

Wireless capabilities of the Prime remain unchanged, with Wireless 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR as standard. There are no current plans for a 3G model, sadly, with ASUS wishing to feel out the market before making any commitments.

Memory

RAM remains unchanged, 1GB LP-DDR2. The differences come in persistent storage, with the launch model providing 32GB EMMC storage, with a 64GB model to follow. The original Transformer offered 16GB and 32GB options, by the way.

Software

Remaining much the same as the software found on the latest firmwares of the original Transformer, the Prime comes bundled with ASUS cloud, remote desktop and media-streaming apps, along with very handy and comprehensive SuperNote and Polaris Office productivity applications.

Price

The Transformer Prime 32GB model is priced at $499 and the 64GB model at $599. For those of us over in the UK, who struggle to make the conversion, as a comparison, the original Transformer is currently priced at $399 for 16GB and $449 for 32GB. Expect to pay £399 and £475 for the two models, then.

A significant rise in the price, especially for those who want high-end features but do not wish to pay a premium for a few gigabytes of extra flash memory. The keyboard dock remains the same price, at $149. It truly seems that ASUS intends to enter the market of the iPad with this new device, mimicking even Apple's pricing structure, whilst offering more storage at an equivalent cost, giving the Prime that much-hope-for competitive edge. ASUS has confirmed it will continue to offer the original Transformer to the low-end market.

Summary

If there were to be a so-called iPad killer, this would be the one, guys. We can't wait to place our hands on one.



HEXUS Forums :: 16 Comments

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Lets hope the tegra 3 lives up to all its hype, if so I might finally buy a tablet
stick MW3 on it will you :D
Wish Asus would do a (limited time?) trade in deal for Transformer Mk1 - I'd be in there like a shot. :rockon: Even if the cost to change was something crazy like £150.

Looks like a damned fine piece of kit - although the smaller battery and 50% reduction in USB ports is a retrograde step as far as I'm concerned. Got to say that a 32GB one with the keyboard dock would suit me fine - given it's still got the uSD slot I've no need for a 64GB variant.
I think I'll be getting this, if the prices are fair.
See how long it is before Apple start with the lawyers…

Personally I have the Xoom 3g and one of the things that annoys me with it is where the power cable plugs in when charging, makes using the unit a pita with it in its folio and on charge at the same time as the folio doesnt allow me to flip it upside down and have it on charge, the Otterbox was fine as it can be rotated in the clam section and have the power cable stick out of what is then the top, hopefully Asus have put the power on one of the sides so it can be charged and docked at the same time..