ASUS Transformer Prime

ASUS this morning teased some news regarding the locked and encrypted bootloader on its quad-core Transformer Prime tablet -- and it's good news. A bootloader unlock tool indeed is on the way.

As to why the bootloader's encrypted in the first place, ASUS says it was done for DRM -- digital rights management -- purposes.

The reason we chose to lock it is due to content providers' requirement for DRM client devices to be as secure as possible. ASUS supports Google DRM in order to provide users with a high quality video rental experience. Also, based on our experience, users who choose to root their devices risk breaking the system completely.

If you do choose to unlock the Transformer Prime's bootloader, you'll be voiding your warranty and all that jazz.

And in even better news, the anticipated update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will begin to push out starting Jan. 12. It'll be a worldwide over-the-air update.

Also, ASUS addressed concerns over the GPS on the Transformer Prime, saying the metallic unibody construction can essentially lead it to not perform as well as "a professional GPS device." We'll just let that hang out there by itself for a bit.

The full statement is after the break.

Source ASUS Facebook page

Thank you very much for all of the support you have given to ASUS. Eee Pad Transformer Prime received excellent reviews and great demand when it launched in December 2011. Now, we are continuing to make the Transformer Prime available in the worldwide market, and doing our best to fulfill the incredible demand. ASUS strives to create the best products and provide the best service for our customers, and will be releasing an FOTA update for the Transformer Prime shortly. This update, version 8.8.3.33, will improve the focus of the camera, the fluidity of the touch experience, and the APK capabilities in Android Market.

ASUS has been working hard to make the highly anticipated Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich available on the Transformer Prime, and today, we have good news for you. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich FOTA worldwide update for the Transformer Prime will start from Jan 12th, 2012. Thank you for your patience and support through this process.

In addition, we would like to address your concerns related to GPS and bootloader on the Transformer Prime.

The ASUS Transformer Prime is made from a metallic unibody design, so the material may affect the performance of the GPS when receiving signals from satellites. Please note that this product is not a professional GPS device, and signal performance can be easily influenced by factors including, but not limited to: weather, buildings, and surrounding environments. Please understand there are limitations when using the GPS function. To avoid inconveniencing users who demand a powerful GPS device, we made the decision to remove it from our specification sheet and marketing communications. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Regarding the bootloader, the reason we chose to lock it is due to content providers' requirement for DRM client devices to be as secure as possible. ASUS supports Google DRM in order to provide users with a high quality video rental experience. Also, based on our experience, users who choose to root their devices risk breaking the system completely. However, we know there is demand in the modding community to have an unlocked bootloader. Therefore, ASUS is developing an unlock tool for that community. Please do note that if you choose to unlock your device, the ASUS warranty will be void, and Google video rental will also be unavailable because the device will be no longer protected by security mechanism.

Thank you for all the understanding and support for the ASUS Transformer Prime. Happy New Year!

 

Reader comments

ASUS says bootloader unlock tool is coming, Ice Cream Sandwich update starts next week, GPS is hard, y'all

66 Comments

LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!!

My iPad2 is so jealous of my new Transformer Prime. It can do SO much more and as for the app market, all of my ipad apps are on my prime so take that itunes!

Buying this device, regardless of it's ability to be unlocked via their tool, is a vote for DRM and it's ability to treat paying customers like criminals.

Care to tell us what device you recommend we buy instead, since they all have DRM functionality since the support is standard? If ASUS is giving us the ability to unlock it, they're already ahead of the game. You'd prefer we use something more mythical?

I'd prefer to use a device that doesn't have a locked bootloader. Sure they are going to let you unlock your device but it should come unlocked out of the box. Having it locked is just not acceptable to ME. Perhaps to you but I'm not buying their bologna.

The fact that you can unlock your bootloader, that alone voids your warranty and the fact that it is already having some major quality control issues should be a GIANT RED flag to you as a customer.

You need a list as to what devices do not have an encrypted bootloader?

I have an sgs2 which is not encrypted, my wife as a NGS 4g which is not encrypted, I also have an Evo 4g which is not encrypted. My son has a kindle fire which is not encrypted and my daughter has a SGS 5.0 wifi, which to the best of my knowledge does not have an encrypted bootloader.

My father has the crappy G-tablet, which doesn't have an encrypted bootloader and he now has the original Transformer which I am unsure of if it has an encrypted bootloader or not.

Considering all the fallout both HTC and Moto have received and negative press in relation too, I'm surprised that Asus has taken the stance that it has.

Regardless of if they released the unlock tool, I think their stance that most users that root and tinker with their tablets ultimately break it and they saying that somehow making it encrypted makes the device more secure for media consumption is laughable at best.

The aforementioned devices that I have listed can rent movies from Google as well as Netflix as well as others without having to have an encrypted bootloader so their stance that it's required for DRM purposes is a lie.

Further more, if my choices consisted of solely devices that all consisted of encrypted bootloaders I wouldn't buy any of them.

Hey, don't mean to get into the middle of this with you two, but just so you're aware, encrypted and locked are different things. Some devices just have a locked bootloader which is relatively simple to unlock; others come with a locked + encrypted bootloader, namely some Motorola devices, which is a much bigger pain.

I'm fully aware and the Prime has an encrypted bootloader. It's not stated in my original statement but I wouldn't buy a device with an encrypted bootloader.

If you were "fully aware" of the difference, then it seems pretty shady that you only used encrypted when pressed on your recommendations.

lol, think you need to give it a rest. I meant to say I wouldn't buy a device with an encrypted bootloader which the Prime has as the article states.

Being able to have a device with a locked bootloader stock then being able to unlock said bootloader is the perfect way to turn the tide of this DRM crap. As soon as there is a large enough of a user base with rooted devices that are not able to rent movies. They will find another way to sell/rent us movies. We can only hope more people want a rooted device than want to rent movies. The loss of warranty is not valid. I have had warranty work done on most of my rooted devices without denial as long as the root didn't cause or make possible the issue.

It's certainly better than the alternative: releasing a single device with an unlocked bootloader into the market filled with devices that have locked bootloaders. If you do that, you'll quickly have a reputation for devices that are "broken" because you can't play DRMed content on it. You competitors will beat you up over it and you'll only get a niche following.

Still hoping Acer and maybe even Lenovo bring it at CES. Too many issues up front with the Prime for me to take the plunge. I really want a quad-core tab without a skin. The Galaxy Nexus has spoiled me a bit.

The three icons at the bottom left of ICS don't match the ones on the keyboard...SO...I'm not gonna upgrade, 'YES I CARE THAT MUCH'...

I swear to god, if this is out before google releases ICS for NS4G, I will boycott the nexus line for the rest of my life!!!!

That is Sprints fault not GOOGLE. As far as I know the TMO version of Nexus S is the only truely unmodified one (wifi tether and no crapware) I got the ICS update (4.0.3) 2 days after the Galaxy Nexus launched (which has VZ crapware on it and tethering locked down) this is why I love TMO and I will wait for the Galaxy on their network.

You know everywhere I look one person will say it's Sprint's fault, the next will say it's Google's fault. It seams to me that basically no one knows who's job it is to upgrade the NS4G. All I know is if the Transformer Prime beats us to an upgrade I will be very pissed.

On a side note Sprint's own webpage touts "The Latest Android Platform. Now, and Always" on http://now.sprint.com/nexus/?ECID=vanity:nexus#/features (3rd box down on the right). Just a tad bit of false advertising. Sprint is selling this phone as a Nexus device that is supposed to upgrade before all others yet we are being left behind just like the rest of the non Nexus handsets. Personally I did not buy a Nexus to NOT get my upgrades. I have contacted Sprint several times and they refuse to give a release date of any kind. I do not take kindly to being lied to, someone should sue them.

Absolutely agree! Someone should class action sue the carriers for charging you more to use your limited data cap to tether, you are still under the limitations of your data plan, it should not matter whether you tether or not. Nexus phones were supposed to be PURE GOOGLE phones (not modified with carrier crap) but the fact that it is modified by SPRINT updates proves this problem is created by SPRINT http://www.zdnet.com/blog/gadgetreviews/sprint-kills-free-tethering-on-t...

This was pretty much as expected. We'll let you unlock, but no warranty for you. It makes perfect sense if you take into account everything that can be done once it's unlocked, overclocking for starters.

I'm still disappointed about the GPS response. Not that they are working on it, but we'll just take it off the spec sheet? So what's actually being done to all the Primes being sent back to ASUS for RMA? Are they actually fixing the GPS or returning them with 'updated literature'?

GPS wasn't a feature I was too concerned about, but I will definitely return mine back to J&R (once I receive my pre-order) at the first sign of any bluetooth or wifi issues if ICS doesn't resolve them.

:) this just makes me laugh... the manufacturers just cant get the gps working right either!

this begs for only one question--

prime OR wait for nexus tablet?

GPS is it's only issue.. I have one and have no problems with it what so ever. I have a phone with GPS so there is no reason to complain about it. Who would honestly use this big ass tablet as a GPS in their car?

I would use it. but that's for work. I'm a Real Estate Broker, so showings properties on the road and locating surrounding properties through the RedFin app would need GPS, I could preview the photos, location, pass the tablet to the clients....

On my unit which I have received, I have the GPS problem.. that's the only thing that has not worked. I might return it and wait until it's resolved.

Everything else works so far. WIFI is fine, also I don't believe the body is metal or aluminum. it's a plastic that looks like metal.

GPS is a deal breaker for me, though if i didn't need it so much i would think it's a great tablet.. i still like it.. i'll just see what happens.

Yeah, that's a weird one. It sounds like it makes sense at a glance, but I've had two HTC phones with aluminum bodies that had no GPS issues at all. Maybe the tablet casing is thicker and that causes an issue?

Metal backing versus metal unibody. It could be that the GPS is surrounded by more metal on the Prime. Or they could have used a different GPS receiver that has more issues with metal. Or...

PRIME is AWESOME. Puts IPod to shame. I personally have a rooted android phone and will root my Prime but AFTER the ICS update comes through. I was expecting the update to be the end of January so I am excited for the 12th. Only thing now is WHERE IS THE DOCK?

EVO3D and Transformer PRIME

I've got the dock and it's pretty nice! Can't do any hardcore typing sessions like I can w/ my ASUS laptop, but it's good enough! (And much better than a software solution!) Looks sleek too.

I could see having an unlocked bootloader would void parts of your warranty, but let's say a button stops working or your display stops working. There's no reason for an unlocked bootloader to void the warranty on that. To me the unlocked bootloader should void:

- Software support
- CPU/GPU warranty (overclocking once unlocked)

The rest should be business as usual.

I've had to take my rooted phone into Sprint for issues like that, and there was no problem. You'll find many other, also, on the forums that have had similar experiences. The "your warranty will be voided" is just a CYA thing for the manufacturer so that they can't be sued by some crazy, irate customer. In reality, there seems to be a level of common sense that if the screen starts to separate, or backlight stops working, that's obviously not because you rooted it.

Would there be a way to wipe the device & re-lock the bootloader? Or will unlocked Primes be registered on a website (which is what HTC does)?

I would assume if someone were to use ASUS's unlock tool, it would be registered that you voided your warranty.

Maybe a 3rd party developer will get an unlock method working so it could be wiped & re-locked.

Meanwhile original Transformer owners can get bent. :( $10 on we may see ICS sometime around the May-July timeframe with multiple updates from Asus for Prime between January and then. Never buying Asus ever again. Hell because of the cluster that was Honeycomb I may never buy another android tablet ever again. I should have held off because of the closed source nature of Honeycomb...but NOOOOO.

He's correct on that aspect. Over-reacting a bit, IMO, but correct. Google never released the full honeycomb source. There are many rumours floating around from "the code is an ugly hack and they don't want anyone to see it" to "they want to stave off the flood of craplets running honeycomb to prevent the OS from getting a bad name". Don't know what's really true, but they've obviously gone back to open-sourcing the code for ICS, so everyone's fear that Android was going to no longer be open source has been put to rest at least.

I'm really enjoying my Prime but very disappointed to hear the GPS issues can't be fix with software. This is bigger deal then it seems because GPS is used throughout the mobile environment not just navigation and Google maps. Most mobile webpages check for your location by default. Obviously several apps do as well. My experience is sometimes it works perfectly with no perceived delay and then other times it simply can't seem to lock in my location even when I'm in the same place as before.

The Prime's CPU is incredibly fast I just hope more apps begin to take advantage of Tegra 3 abilities. Still waiting on my dock that I ordered at the same time on 12/4/11.

Fortunately, though, the wifi is able to determine your location as well, although not precisely. This is why the best combination for locating yourself as precise as possible is by using a combination of wifi and GPS. To me, in my experiences with the Prime so far, I never have GPS on and the websites and whatever else is used "throughout the mobile environment" can all find me just fine having just the wifi on.
For example, the weather widget finds me immediately.

So unless you really, reallllly want to use a 10.1 inch tablet for GPS...I think you'll be fine.

I think most units are having GPS issue, it's just that most people don't even care about the GPS. they probably left the wifi location and think the gps located them.. sadly I might be one of the few that would actually use the GPS not in a WIFI zone. : (

I was planning to buy a Prime, but why would I want a borked tablet when other T3 tablets that work completely are right around the corner? Granted, GPS isn't as critical here as it is on a phone, but doesn't it seem bizarre that Asus didn't notice the issue until after the tablet was released? Makes me wonder what other defects have made it through QA and are just waiting to come to the surface.

I have to agree. I also wonder how all the sites that reviewed the prime early didn't catch this problem, either. Some of the android sites would do well to follow maximum pc's old school approach of "minimum bs". Everyone is all over the newest latest, but your average consumer is strapped into a 2 year contract, where newest latest ceases to matter and updates, and manufacturer support start to. As a consumer, I haven't seen any accountability from carriers, or manufacturers for mistakes made with the hardware, or software. It's non existent. We have to suck it up, and soldier on. The web sites talk about the problem, but pretty much take a neutral stance. My advice with android is buyer beware. There's not much being done about issues like the prime. HP used to recall whole pc production runs for a mistake like this. Android Central and Android Police mostly cover what's new and cool. Why not take a closer look and investigate just how something like this could happen. The more android matures, the smaller newest latest bloggers become, because most of us are in contracts. Just sayin'.

Asus showing me once again that every time they make a new device, it's one of the best. They started with the best motherboards, then amazing laptops, now tablets, and they're doing phones next. The point that they already have ICS going out to everyone is amazing, I really do like Asus. If I can buy an Asus phone in the future, I might think about jumping ship from Motorola for a little while. And my next laptop will be Asus or Alienware...And I want one of these lol.

Dude...did you read the article? They've released a product, realized after the fact that it has a major design flaw, and, rather than do something about it, they're REMOVING THE FEATURE FROM THE SPEC?!? This is so bush-league, I can't even believe it. Can you imagine if Apple tried that? "Oh, yeah, the GPS in the iPad 3 doesn't work, so we're just REMOVING IT FROM THE SPEC." Please. As much as I dislike Apple as a company for many of their business practices, I have to admit that they're professional when it comes to delivering quality hardware, and doing what they can to fix it when there's an issue.

Every Prime with this issue should be recalled and replaced with repaired hardware.

Dude... did you read the article... they are stopping adveriseing that it has GPS on the spec sheet. This is professional so people don't buy it with the intention of heavily using the GPS. I wasn't even aware it had GPS until after I bought it. As for your hypethetical apple I pad 3 issue. are you completely forgetting the fact that the iPhone 4 had major antennae issues with cell phone reception. That's the whole purpose of a phone! You know what they did ...deny the problem snf tell their loyal customers thst theyre holding the phone wrong!!! are you kidding me?! At least Asus addressed the issue and is working on a fix. I am typing on my Asus transformer prime right now. I've been using it since before Christmas and haven't had any isues yet.

As I said, not an Apple fan - I'd never own anything that they've made - but they DID give everyone who had bought the phone to date a bumper guard to resolve their issue, and they DID fix the issue in future phones. There's NOTHING in the above release that says anything about them working for a fix...they give a reason for the problem, and say that they're removing GPS from the spec, nothing more.

I'd love it if you were right, though...if you've seen anything from the company that says they're working on a fix, please send a link!

I suppose my question is, why can I get a warranty on a laptop that I can overclock and mod all I want, but can't get one on this thing... maybe the warranty... is INSIDE the keyboard!

"They've released a product, realized after the fact that it has a major design flaw, and, rather than do something about it, they're REMOVING THE FEATURE FROM THE SPEC?!? This is so bush-league, I can't even believe it. Can you imagine if Apple tried that?"

Hmmm.... Really!
Kind of like the iPhone 4 antenna being blocked when you hold it in your right hand and calls being dropped. Apple's fix for this problem - hold it in your left hand.