Hands-on: ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime with Tegra 3

January 15th, 2012 | by Raymond Lau

Android might not be the smoothest of mobile operating systems – I’ve seen it slow down even on dual-core chips – but that’s all about to change with the ASUS  Eee Pad Transformer Prime and its brand new quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor.

A brief hands-on I had earlier in the week revealed that it truly is a sea change in the responsiveness of Android, even more so than the Sony Tablet S, which until now is the smoothest Android tablet I’ve tested. With a whole range of goodies packed into this tablet, the Transformer Prime is easily the best Android tablet on the market right now.

The design of the Transformer Prime is heavily borrowed from the Zenbook, and that’s a good thing. The cold and shiny metal back with concentric circles looks and feels great. Slot the tablet into its keyboard dock and one can be forgiven for thinking that he/she is looking at a tiny Zenbook.

The front of the tablet is all Gorilla glass stretching from edge to edge. It’s smooth to the touch, and rather pretty if you can get past the huge bezel around the 10.1-inch (1280 x 800) screen. The Super IPS+ panel also looks crisp and vivid with excellent viewing angles.

The Transformer Prime is powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of storage, which you can expand with a microSD card. At just 8.3mm, this tablet is thinner than both the iPad 2 and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, and yet somehow feels more premium than both.

On the back of the tablet lies an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash, and it’s quite the camera, with a back-illuminated CMOS sensor, large aperture, high-speed autofocus and colour enhancement. Of course, you have to be the sort who don’t mind holding up a 10-inch slab to take photos.

The bottom of the tablet houses the port which connects to a keyboard dock which the original Transformer was famous for. It fits flawlessly into the keyboard dock, transforming the tablet into a netbook or sorts which greatly increases productivity with a full Qwerty keyboard, USB 2.0 port and SDcard reader.

The dock also packs an additional battery, increasing the Transformer Prime’s uptime to a promised 18 hours. It folds up nicely, too, which makes lugging the whole package around very convenient. This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill third-party keyboard accessory.

The star of the show is undoubtedly the Tegra 3 chip powering the Transformer Prime. The quad-core chip makes Android unbelievably smooth, handles multitasking admirably, and has no qualms running 1080p full HD videos and 3D games.

And I have to say, the 3D games are very, very good. The smoothness of the graphics is particularly noticeable in the water effects. And in fact, if you hook up the tablet to a 3D TV or monitor through a handy micro HDMI port and run a game with 3D graphics (which means all the X-Y-Z axis data are present), the tablet is capable of automatically splitting the graphics on the TV and letting it pop through 3D goggles, while the tablet continues displaying the game in flat 2D. It’s hard to explain in words, so here’s a photo of it in action:

It looks absolutely gorgeous, and coupled with the built-in SonicMaster audio technology, the Transformer Prime is an excellent entertainment device.

The only downside is that the Transformer Prime ships with Android 3.2 Honeycomb. But with a promised 4.0 software update that should be on the way this month, that’s not much of a problem.

Good news is, the prices are not over-the-top crazy as well.

  • Eee Pad Transformer Prime + Docking station: S$899 (GST Included) [UP: S$1,098]
  • Eee Pad Transformer Prime (Tablet only): S$759 (GST Included) [UP: S$899]
  • Docking station: S$199 (GST Included)

Simply put, if you want a top-of-the-line tablet that is not an iPad, the Transformer Prime is the one to get.

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