ASUS Transformer Prime

Take one of the more popular -- if not wonderfully eccentric -- Android tablets of 2011, slim it down, clad it in brushed metal, pump it full of new specs and march it off into 2012 with the likelihood of one of the first upgrades to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Oh, and throw in a nearly full-size keyboard dock with trackpad, full USB and SD ports, turning it all into a solid Android laptop.

This, friends, is the ASUS Transformer Prime. And this is our Transformer Prime review.

Welcome to the era of NVIDIA's Tegra 3 platform. The Transformer Prime is but the first of the quad-core devices. Other tablets are no doubt on their way, and smartphones are coming down the pike as well. But the Transformer Prime is the one leading the way, and it's definitely doing so in style.

So let's dive on into our Transformer Prime review and look at what's new, what's continued from the Transfomer line, and what it means for you.


The Good

ASUS has refined the design of the original Transformer, making it slimmer and sexier while boosting the internal storage. NVIDIA's quad-core Tegra 3 processor is nothing short of astounding. The optional keyboard dock has gotten an excellent makeover as well, turning the whole thing into an outstanding Android laptop.

The Bad

Is shipping with Android 3.2, but has already been promised an upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. While you now get more bang for your buck with Tegra 3 and the internal storage upped dto 32/64GB, it's still a pricey package for both the tablet and keyboard dock.

Conclusion

The Transformer Prime ushers in a new breed of Android tablets. Familiar, yet more powerful (and thus with more potential) than anything you've used before. If you can part with a minimum of $650, it makes for a great Android mobile computing/gaming rig.

Inside this review

More info

Ed. note: We've had the Transformer Prime here for review for a short time. Not too short to jump it throught most of our usual hoops for a proper review, but some features -- particularly battery life -- will be revisited. Check back for our updated findings.

Also note that we're going to refer to the original Eee Pad Transformer as the Transformer, and the Transformer Prime as the Prime.

Hands-on video walkthrough


Youtube link for mobile viewing

The hardware

The Transformer has definitely grown up with the Prime, both inside and out. Let's start with the exterior.

ASUS Tranformer Prime

Gone is one of our initial complaints about the Transformer, which had a rear cover of textured plastic. Not that plastic in and of itself is unusual or a bad thing -- something about it just struck us funny, almost cheapening the overall feel. That's of no worry with the Prime, which has traded in the checkered plastic for a "metallic spun finish." It's not quite the same as a brushed metal finish, but it's close enough for our taste (and likely not as cold). Either way, it's a certainly more polished matte finish.

ASUS Transformer Prime

The edges of the prime are nicely rounded and full of features. One of the short edges sports the 3.5mm headphone jack; the other the HDMI out port, volume rocker and microSD card slot, along with a pinhole mic.

ASUS Transformer Prime

On the top edge you'll find the power button (with an inset LED that lights up orange when charging) and another pinhole mic.

ASUS Transformer Prime

The bottom edge has the proprietary data/charging connector, along with two slots that are used to seat the tablet in the optional keyboard dock. The slots are covered by rubber stoppers that need to be removed before using the keyboard -- good luck not losing them.

ASUS Transformer Prime

Also on the rear of the Prime is the 8-megapixel camera (more on that in a bit) with flash, and the ASUS logo.

ASUS Transformer Prime

The Prime touts having stereo speakers. But unlike in the Transformer and most other Android tablets we've used, they're only coming out of one section of the device. That means when you're holding the tablet in the normal landscape position, everything sounds like it's coming out the right-hand side of the device, because it is. It's a pretty disappointing change -- especially if you've used tablets with proper speakers. (If you're coming from an iPad 2, you won't know any better.)

And it's even more disappointing because of the way it affects gaming. We don't really expect too much from the speakers that you get in devices like this, insofar as audio quality goes. But it's a shame that the first Tegra 3 device to hit the market is lacking in basic audio quality. In other words: Use headphones or external speakers.

ASUS Transformer Prime

Flip the Prime over to its business end, and you've got a 10.1-inch Super IPS+ display, and a front-facing 1.2MP camera. The front side's been refined a bit, too. It's still got a pretty large black bezel, which is unfortunate. But the glass -- Gorilla Glass, actually -- is now edge-to-edge. You lose the Transformer's sort of faux speaker look on the bezels, but it's traded in for cleaner lines.

ASUS Transformer Prime

While IPS displays (it stands for in-plane switching) have been around a while, this one gets its extra Super and + designations by having a turbo-charged backlighting option. There's the "standard IPS mode," which allows for a maximum brightness of 380 nits (which is a unit of brightness), or there's "Super IPS+ mode," which jacks things up to a whopping 600 nits. ASUS has done a nice job tweaking the tablet's quick-settings menu with (among other things) a toggle switch for "Super IPS+" mode alongside the usual brightness slider and auto brightness buttons.

ASUS Transformer Prime

So how's it look? Damn bright. It does so, however, with a marked reduction in battery life. Depending on what you're doing, you can almost watch the battery percentage drop. We wouldn't recommend using Super IPS+ mode for any great length of time, but it's really only intended for outdoor use anyway.


Youtube link for mobile viewing

ASUS is also touting a 178-degree viewing angle with the Super IPS+ display. That looks to be about right, insofar as you can still see a little sliver of screen at that angle, and it's not washed out or anything. But neither is it a really practical way to use the tablet. (It's a nice spec, though.)

ASUS Transformer Prime under the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 on top of the ASUS Transformer Prime

From a purely physical standpoint, the Prime's a little bit bigger than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which for most of 2011 was our benchmark for Android tablets. But adding a few milimeters to the height and width doesn't bother us much. It makes up for it by being just 8.3 mm thick -- shaving three-tenths of a milimeter off the Galaxy Tab 10.1. That's not a noticeable difference -- but it's a noticeable thinness.

All in all, what we have from a superficial external point of view is another 10.1 inch tablet. But it's the only one we've seen that can really take on the ergonomics of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. And we haven't even talked internals yet.

What's under the hood

Quad-core processor, with a fifth core to lighten the load

For all the changes ASUS has done on the exterior of the Prime, it's the parts you don't see that are really going to knock your socks off. As we mentioned in the outset and in our Transformer Prime preview, the Prime is the first quad-core Tegra 3 device to hit the market. That means even better graphics power when compared to dual-core Tegra 2 platforms, plus additional battery savings. But NVIDIA's gone even further. As you'll recall in our posts on Tegra 3, it's actually got a fifth processor -- a lower power, lower frequency core that runs basic tasks while saving the quad-core work for the quad-core processor, leading to even greater battery life.


Youtube link for mobile viewing

Yeah, yeah. That's all great. You want raw numbers, don't you. So the Transformer Prime will do up to 1.4 GHz in single core mode. It'll do up to 1.3 GHz per core with two to four main cores in use. The lower-power companion core works at up to 500 MHz.

Worried about RAM? Don't. The Prime's got a full 1GB to use.

As for on-board storage, you can get a Prime with 32GB on board, or a whopping 64GB. Those options depend on how much you're willing to spend, of course. And along with that, ASUS throws in another 8GB of ASUS Webstorage space.

Battery life

We've talked a little bit about the Super IPS+ display and what cranking up the backlight can do to battery life. We'll update this review with more conclusive real-world battery findings once we've got more time under our belts.

ASUS Transformer Prime
The three power modes on the Transformer Prime

The Prime's actually got three power settings -- "Power saving mode," "Balanced" and "Normal." Here's how ASUS describes the three modes:

  • Normal Mode: Will deliver the maximum performance and good battery life. This mode is recommended for tasks such as system benchmarking, advanced gaming and CPU-intensive media processing apps.
  • Balanced Mode: Delivers optimal performance and battery life. Balanced mode is recommended for common-use cases such as Flash-enabled web browsing, gaming, multitasking, etc.
  • Power saving mode: Power saving mode delivers the best battery life without compromising performance for use cases such as web browsing, HD video playback, casual gaming, music playback, book-reading, etc.

You can easilly switch between them via the quick settings menu. ASUS says it's to "further extend battery life." A neat trick, but here's something to consider: (True Android nerds can plug your ears now.) Do you want to be responsible for remembering to use the proper power mode? It's a nerdy setting, for sure, probably not something normal consumers will ever notice, let alone want to worry about.

On paper, ASUS says you'll see 12 hours of 720p video playback with the Prime in power-saving mode and the brightness at 60 nits (whatever that is percentage-wise) with the default volume and headphone in. That jumps to 18 hours if you've got the keyboard dock connected -- it has a battery tucked inside it, too.

The keyboard dock

ASUS Transformer Prime

This is what really sets the original Transformer and the Prime apart from other Android tablets. ASUS again has crafted an excellent keyboard that, when connected to the Prime, creates a solid, single-piece Android laptop, complete with trackpad and cursor.

ASUS Transformer Prime

Much like the change from the original Transformer to the Prime, the keyboard dock has been slimmed down and refined. The keys are relatively unchanged, done up in chicklet fashion, with dedicated keys for the traditional Android buttons (home, search, menu and back, along wtih settings keys for Wifi, Bluetooth, brightness, volume, etc.

ASUS Transformer Prime

The keys are very much like what you'll find on any number of traditional laptops (right down to the raised bumps on the F and J keys for proper finger placement by feel) and have the same travel and feel as the original Transformer keyboard. You're still a couple of inches or so shy of using a full-size keyboard. But for something that's scaled down, it's very, very good.

ASUS Transformer Prime

Seating the Prime in the keyboard dock is the same process as with the Transformer (just remember to remove the new rubber feet from the tablet and stash them somewhere safe). You get the same satisfying click, and there's the familiar lock to keep things in place.

ASUS Transformer PrimeASUS Transformer Prime

The tablet-turned-laptop screen then can fold down in the traditional way, giving you a pretty sleek netbook-sized device. The hinge on the keyboard dock has also been slimmed down and refined, so it's got less of a bulge at the back of the device. The keyboard dock's got four rubber feet on the bottom to keep things in place if you're typing on a flat surface, like a desk.

The weight of the Prime itself isn't all that impressive -- a full 20 ounces -- and that doubles when you connect the keyboard dock. The whole package might be fairly svelte, but it's still fairly weighty.

ASUS Transformer Prime

Once everything's where it should be, the OS automatically recognizes the keyboard, a cursor appears on the screen, and the trackpad is active. Speaking of the trackpad, it's been refined as well and is now a single piece, with a thin stenciled line showing you where to press to select things. And while you start out with a traditional mouse cursor, dive into the settings and you also have the option to switch to a gesture-based control. So instead of a pointer, you're moving around a fingertip-sized dot. Very cool, and pretty intuitive.

Also like the original dock, the new one's got a full-size USB port and full-size SD card reader. There's a charge/sync port on the left-hand side with LED indicator.

ASUS Transformer Prime

About that USB port: It's magical. OK, it's just a USB port. But think about everything it can do. Want a real mouse? Plug in a corded one, or use a wireless one with a USB dongle. Want a full-size keyboard? Plug one in. Or use a wireless dongle. (Both of those examples are a little absurd, but that's not the point. It's the potential that's cool here.)

Or -- and this is something ASUS and NVIDIA will be stressing -- you can plug in a game controller (again, either wired or with a USB dongle), then output the video from the Prime to your high-definition TV via the HDMI port. And, voilà, instant Android game console. Of course, this isn't going to take the place of an Xbox or PS3. But it's a hell of a lot more portable than both of those consoles, which is a big plus.

Our only real negative about the keyboard dock is that it can be a bit cramped. But it's not like you don't know that going into it. It's not a full-size keyboard, but it's a very good scaled down keyboard.

The software

The Transformer Prime, as it stands, runs Android 3.2.1. Yes, it's a Honeycomb tablet born into the age of Ice Cream Sandwich. But ASUS has already committed to bringing ICS to the Prime, and in fact we've already seen it teased in video.


Youtube link for mobile viewing

Still not convinced? The first thing you see when you open the Prime's box is a sticker saying it's going to get Ice Cream Sandwich. So, yeah, you'll have to suffer with Honeycomb for a few weeks. Or maybe a month or two.

ASUS Transformer Prime

And, just like on the Transformer, the Prime's been slightly skinned, with custom back, home and multitasking buttons. There's a new "My water" live wallpaper that changes the waterline as the battery level decreases. (This one's also traded ice cubes for a killer whale. Very cool.)

The other major change in software is the customization of the settings menu accessible from the home screen, which you've already seen teased above. Tap the lower-right corner to bring it up. You get the date, time, Wifi info, battery level, power modes, rotation lock, Wifi and Bluetooth toggles, Super IPS+ toggle, brightness slider and autobrightness toggle.

ASUS Transformer Prime

The Prime's also got the e-mail, calendar and weather widgets we first saw on the Transformer. And there's a rather nice "ASUS MyZine" widget that comprises shortcuts to the e-mail app, calendar, book library, weather and gallery apps, as well as recent music played and recently visited website. It's really nicely done.

ASUS Transformer Prime

ASUS also has a nice battery widget that shows remaining power of the tablet (seen as Eee Pad) or the keyboard.

ASUS Transformer Prime
Bonus! ASUS has a nice slider for paging down in a hurry in the browser.

ASUS has its own on-screen keyboard on the Prime. We kind of gave it a pass when we reviewed the Transformer. Not so much this time. It's not great. At all. Consider a third-party keyboard (or at the very least the stock Honeycomb keyboard, which is also available on the Prime), or shell out for the keyboard dock.

ASUS has a cadre of apps pre-installed, including @vibe Music, Amazon Kindle, App Backup (which backs up your apps and app data to the tablet as well as to external storage), an App Locker (which password protects applications), ASUS MyCloud (cloud storage), MyLibrary (an online bookstore), MyNet (for DLNA streaming), Photaf Lite (for panoramic photos), Polaris Office, SuperNote, Zinio (for magazine reading) and WebStorage.

That's all fine and dandy. But it's not so much the pre-installed apps that make the Prime so sexy. It's the games that have been updated for Tegra 3.

The camera

ASUS Transformer Prime

Like most other traditional Android tablets, the Transformer Prime sports a pair of cameras. And like most Honeycomb tablets, it's using the uninspired Honeycomb camera app. You've likely seen it before, and it has the same buttons and toggles for bouncing between settings and modes. As for those settings and modes, you can change resolutions, switch to negative or sepia filters or the like. Or you can even do time-lapse shots in video mode, though we're having a hard time figuring out when, exactly, that'd be useful with a 10-inch tablet. But to each his own.

Missing is the highly touted panorama mode added in Ice Cream Sandwich.

Front-facing camera

On the front of the Prime is the aforementioned 1.2-megapixel shooter that you'll use for video chats and such. It's decent enough. Not great, but it gets the job done. (And you don't exactly want to be having a high-def video chat through your tablet, right?)


Youtube link for mobile viewing

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ASUS Transformer Prime front camera test

Rear-facing camera

On the rear is an 8-megapixel camera with flash that ASUS is pretty proud of. It's also got an F2.4 aperture, if you're into that sort of thing.


Youtube link for mobile viewing

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ASUS Transformer Prime rear camera test

ASUS Transformer Prime rear camera testASUS Transformer Prime rear camera test

The wrap-up

There's very little doubt that the ASUS Transformer Prime is the most powerful Android laptop -- erm, Android tablet -- available. On paper and in our abbreviated real-world use, it's great. It's fast. The design is improved over the original Transformer. It's already promised to get an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich.

But. (There's always a but.)

ASUS Transformer PrimeOne thing that hasn't changed since the original Transformer is the usage case, especially when you take price into consideration. And there's a reason we haven't mentioned pricing until now. The 32GB version of the Prime will retail for $499. The 64GB version will retail for $599. And the optional keyboard dock adds another $149 to the price.

You'll see fluctuations in that pricing, of course, but that's still a lot of money for what in the end amounts to an Android tablet/laptop hybrid that for many won't completely replace a traditional laptop. Or a traditional gaming console. And with the price of the original Transformer set to drop to $399 (16GB) and $499 (32GB), you have to ask yourself if you really need the hardware bump.

Don't get us wrong -- the ASUS Transformer Prime and Tegra 3 are quite the combination, packing powerful graphics and gaming power into a platform that can also be more (and easily) productive than just about any other Android tablet we've seen. But when you're talking a minimum of $650 for the whole kit and caboodle, you're going to start looking at traditional laptops again. ASUS hasn't changed that. NVIDIA hasn't changed that. And that's not really their fault -- nobody has yet. Specs alone aren't going to change that. Even the excellent games available aren't going to change it.

But the ASUS Transformer Prime with its quad-core power plant, stable of stunning games and ability to (apologies) transform into an Android laptop for more buttoned-down use make it the best candidate yet.

 

Reader comments

ASUS Transformer Prime review

61 Comments

this is an awesome piece of tech, impatiently waiting for amazon to deliver this after my preorder, sadly still says december 25th, I hope that changes soon.

Where on Amazon is the preorder for the Prime? I can't find it anywhere, searches just return the current/original Transformer.

Thanks!

ASUS, release this in North America now! Can't wait to get my hands on it. Would make a great tablet & netbook combination. Personally, it's getting two devices for the $150 more than a tablet, which isn't that bad to be quite honest.

Because you can't get enough power from a Mini USB port to charge a huge battery for a tablet, its just not practical, data yes, but power in a timely matter, no. Just something you're gonna have to get used to. Not even the original Samsung Galaxy Tablet 7 has it's own port.

Bollocks. The HP TouchPad handles itself just fine via normal MicroUSB and it has a sizable 6000mAh battery. And there are plenty of "iPad-ready" AC and DC adapters out there that will give the full 2.1A over USB.

All of these fiddly proprietary connectors are just another way for companies whose hands have been forced to standardize on microUSB in the phone world to ding consumers for a few extra $ on sync/charge/video-out cables.

I own a Touchpad, and having an itty-bitty charging port on a big tablet is horrible. The micro-USB socket gets bent up pretty easy, and you end up having to fiddle with the cable to get it to charge. Things got bad enough for me to shell out the $40 for the **proprietary** touchstone charging dock.

I've seen the solid Asus Transformer proprietary connector, and it is much more robust. It's bulky, it's not floppy, and it holds some nice hidden features like pins for USB out.

i wish there were a standard then. i had the original transformer, and the proprietary connector was far too short, and that forces you to try to find more to buy, and since it's proprietary, it's difficult and annoying. this and the speaker set up are definitely flaws in my book, but the device is cool enough that i'll still probably bite. my other wish would have been a full SD slot on the tablet itself. if it had that, it would have been amazing (as i need far more storage than 64gb).

still, i think this is on my xmas list. not sure about the keyboard yet though.

I have a Transformer with dock. No, the dock does not come with a charger. It uses the one that comes with the tablet. That same proprietary port on the tablet is what connects to the dock and tablet together. So they are using one port for both tasks.

When you use the tablet on its own. You are using the tablets battery. When you are using the dock/tablet. You use the docs battery first. Then when that drains, you use the tablets battery.

When charging you can charge them both separately one at a time. Or both together if they are docked. If you charge them together, the tablet charges first, then the dock.

I also like that if I run down the battery on the tablet. I can just dock the tablet and the dock will recharge the tablet even if not plugged in. Assuming the dock as a charge.

Hope that helps

My Amazon says ship's after December 25th then says est. Shipping date of January 6th. Perhaps I was in the late pre orders? However when I Orderd the docks had yet to be posted so i do think I was on the closer bandwagon ...hope im really not waiting till January what's everyone's est. Shipping?

So, the old transformer 32 gig gets the price drop to 500, while the brand new prime starts at the same price for the same amount of storage? Genius strategy Asus. Gimme another 100 of the original before I'll bite

Get ready to bite then. I think it was a typo. The original 32GB is $450 right now and I remember reading it will drop to $400 to create the $400/$500/$600 model lineup. Original 16GB will be phased out I assume.

EDIT: Looking back at the article, they might be referring to the combination original tablet/keyboard price?

Now we're talking. That's a price I can digest. A 32 gb tablet/keyboard combo would be right nice if it came in a shade under $500.

That is a hefty price. But considering the iPad is in close proximity when it comes to price, is it really wrong to give it a price as such? (horrible comparison, I know).

Great review, I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to get one for my Birthday (since I pre-ordered it...haha), and I can't wait.

I will say, since this is my first tablet and I prefer to keep electronics as long as possible, it's worth the $600 for the 64GB Prime and get a longer use cycle than saving $100 and having the hardware become antiquated sooner. But that's just me.

Also, I'm looking for a messenger bag to carry this (and assorted accessories) around when I'm traveling, does anyone have any suggestions? I'd prefer a bag with a dedicated sleeve/pocket. Thanks!

I don't really think that extra space is going to keep a device that has two different slots for extra capacity from becoming antiquated. 32gb is a good bit of storage. If you need that much space though, then that's a good decision.

Timbuk2 has awesome bags of all sizes and shapes that can be customized to your favorite color/material type. They may even have a sleeve that will fit the Prime perfectly. Look 'em up. (www.timbuk2.com)

Sad to hear about the speakers. That mars what could otherwise be seen as an exceptional product.

-Suntan

Man the turning in that wave racer game is awful. i have it both on my phone and tablet and everyone i show it to goes.

awesome looks great

2 mins later they are playing something else.

it always goes into the wall and doesnt turn right no matter what its played on. i wish they would fix that. if you try really hard you can kinda make it work but still its impossible not to flat our crash into a wall while trying to turn as hard as you can.

I have a quick question no one else has seemed to have asked or even thought about. Is this tablet really faster than a dual core tablet? I know that sounds crasy but if the main core that runs the tablet is only clocked at 600mzh unless you are playing a game then wouldn't a dual core tablet that runs every task you do at 1ghz dual core all the time actually be faster? My train of thought is that it sounds like only certain games will take advantage of quad core but for everyday app use and surfing the web it will only be a 600mhz companion core running the tablet. Any help would be much appreciated as I am contimplaiting on either buying a dual core or waiting for this quad core. Thank you.

Dual- core tablets do not run at 1ghz djal core all the time. The CPU is constantly scaling up and down. At rest, it is probably running at 100 or 200mhz and then as soon as you (or an app) do ANYTHING it scales up to meet demand. If demand is swiping to another desktop screen it night only jump up a couple hundred MHz, if you're loading a game it'll go on up to full capacity.

With the quad core, it uses that extra core at idle and for very low demand things like switching desktop screens, then wakes up the other cores. Look around for the nvidia video where they have a transformer prime with a screen overlay showing cpu activityand you'll see it all in action.

I've got more questions on the screen:
- The brightness mode sounds great, but how does it compare to the Galaxy Tab's SAMOLED+ screen? Are the blacks as good?
- Is the terrible glare problem from the original Transformer fixed?
- Is it finally a 24-bit display? (the old Transformer had an 18-bit display w/ dithering)...

I was late to trigger a pre-order in Amazon. So I went with JR because my credit card is giving me 5% back on it. I asked for Grey one first but when I called yesterday, they told me they only have Champagne Gold color left. Since all the pre-order sale are disappearing everything, I stick with it.
But after reading your article and seeing the video, I got 2 things on my mind I want to share it with you all.
Did I make a mistake on it? I am not a Greek god to go around with a golden tablet. So I will have to see if Gold is a good color to keep it.

The last third paragraph from this article hunts me terribly, "And with the price of the original Transformer set to drop to $399 (16GB) and $499 (32GB), you have to ask yourself if you really need the hardware bump."
There are only 3 visible upgrade from Transformer to Transformer prime and one is cosmetic. 1, of course, Tegra 3 from Tegra. 2, IPS+ from IPS, and the case.
But hey, I think I can take an extra $100+ for the first tablet with ICS.

I like how this review basically says "This thing is freakin' amazing...but don't buy it. It's too expensive".

When you consider it's direct competition i.e. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1/iPad 2. This thing is a steal. It's beefier spec-wise in every way. Faster processor, better camera, etc. Has more storage capacity for the same price 32GB (+ microSD slot and 8GB of cloud space) for $500 vs $600 for the Galaxy Tab and iPad (Do not include keyboard in the price, as that's an OPTIONAL ACCESSORY). And is guaranteed and ICS update. I don't know about you but that sounds like a pretty good buy to me.

I also think the keyboard should have had it's own review. It's like writing a review for an MP3 player and basing part of your overall grade on a 1st party accessory you can buy for it. Probably not the best analogy, but you get the idea.

Other than that, overall good review. Still a couple of questions to be answered, but good review. Looking forward to seeing how the battery performs in a real-world situation.

Good post. I don't get the expensive angle when you get double the storage at the same price as the main competition plus better specs. Again, the keyboard is optional and not something i'd buy right away. I'd get it eventually.

Pre-ordered mine from TigerDirect on November 23rd and still backordered! Cannot wait to get my hands on this gorgeous tech.

Mine says back-ordered too. I just called yesterday and they said it'll say back-ordered until they physically have them in-stock and then they'll ship them out to be in our hands on release day. They have closed their pre-orders since they sold out so it's a good sign rather than bad (like them cancelling the orders like Amazon!).

Here's my take on the use case question: currently I use an iPad 2 which I carry everywhere at work and take meeting notes in Evernote, email and web browsing. At home the iPad is next to me on the couch but so is my 13" laptop, and it often gets more use because I like the keyboard for emails, posting, etc.

I'm a touch typist and find most on-screen keyboards just passable. When I know I'm going into a meeting where I'll take a lot of notes or if I'm travelling I take my Apple wireless keyboard with me to use with the iPad.

The Transformer Prime with the keyboard dock looks fantastic to me and I would definitely use that combination in most meetings/note-taking situations. However I like the table format for casual web browsing, on-the-fly note taking, etc.

So for me a critical component of this will be what are the case options. I don't want to have to have the keyboard dock with me just to prop the tablet up on the table to type on it or watch a movie on an airplane. The iPad Smart Cover works really well in this regard, for me to switch the Prime I need a similar type cover that lets use the tablet the way I use the iPad without having to dock it in the keyboard.

The Apple wireless keyboard was $70, so to me the extra premium (roughly double) of the Prime dock/keyboard is worth it because you get the keyboard but also the extra ports, extra battery, and the track pad. I just need to check out options on the tablet covers before I can make the jump.

Since it isn't out yet, the type of covers and cases that exist for the iPad and even the original Transformer obviously aren't available, but Asus and Amazon Germany (not much help to most I know) are showing their own version of the Smart Cover for the Prime: The Transleeve. If you look at the bottom of the page of the Asus info on the prime, it shows some accessories that will be coming soon, including the Transleeve: http://www.asus.com/Eee/Eee_Pad/Eee_Pad_Transformer_Prime_TF201/

and this:

http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/17/asus-origami-like-transformer-prime-s...

shows a slightly closer look at the same product.

It is a little strange looking to be completely honest, but from what I can tell, does it's job. I'm sure once the Prime officially hits the market, there will also be several other cases and covers to come.

Ha, well its pretty strange looking but I agree with you, it looks like it will do exactly what I want. Cool.

Oh, and it needs to be able to play all my .m4v movie files that I made in Handbrake using the Apple TV 2 profile :) Phil, any feedback/comments on video playback and formats?

I'm assuming you can use the keyboard from the Transformer on the Prime? Can anyone confirm that? If it is in here, I didn't see it.

Thanks.

No you can't - one of the bigger complaints from previous transformer users. It isn't backward compatible, which is a shame given the quick upgrade time (7 or so months?)

I'm not going to get the dock right away. So without a USB port how will I put music and movies on the internal 32gbs? Thanks for you help and replys.

The tablet itself comes with its own microUSB and microSD slot. Not to mention it has preloaded software to connect to your other computers and is Bluetooth enabled, so at the worst, you might have to get yourself a USB to microUSB adapter.

Thank you! I didn't know it had a micro USB port. I need to read the whole review. Great news. Now how can I pre order a 64GB version? No Amazon and no Best Buy preorder.

Damn, it says December still but just "notify me when in stock", I can't find a "pre-order" button. Must be sold out already.

I've been researching this device very heavily & pre-ordered from TigerDirect... There is NOT a microUSB port on the tablet itself. The only USB port is on the Keyboard. I, too, was disappointed about this and am trying to find a work-around. However, it'll be easy enough to have it plugged into your computer to transfer files so I'm not too worried. Good luck and I saw Gamestop still has them available!
http://www.gamestop.com/browse?nav=16k-asus+transformer+prime

You're right. Sorry about that. The site I was using for info awhile back didn't show the micro HDMI and instead listed the Micro USB slot. It does still have the micro SD and bluetooth connection though. I would think between the pre-loaded MyCloud, Asus sync and free 8 G online storage they give you it could be done fairly easily even without the dock, but it certainly would be more work then just plug and transfer the USB would give.

EDIT: The connector port to the dock is just a 40 pin connector port. You can easily use that to connect to pretty much any computer or device using a 40 pin to USB connector adapter.

I cannot believe that I paid $150 in June for a keyboard which is not supported by a 2nd generation device released just 5 months later. Unbelievable. Yeah, I'll be sure to buy this one. What a joke...on me.

The solution for the original Transformer was very good but had some issues, so they have greatly improved it in the new version. The entire hinge mechanism has been updated. Couple that with them shaving width from the keyboard (by slimming down the edges) to allow for a narrower, consistent bezel on the tablet, rather than the extra wide profile of the original. The two would not marry when closed even if they had kept the same large hinge. It is tough to innovate when constrained by design restrictions dictated by compromised solutions in an original design.

Not sure what it is like where you are, but units with the keyboard are selling much better here on ebay than the tablet alone (the differential seems to account for the majority of the purchase difference if the keyboard was bought as a bundle). Bought as a separate the loss would be higher. The original transformer is a fantastic product and is still current and will likely be on sale for some time to come, so keep enjoying it.

I just preordered my prime, after getting a tf101 on black friday and purchasing an Ipad 2 as well, which I'm really satisfied with mainly because I can make professional music on it(Ipad 2 only). In the case of the TF201 purchase it's a risky investment in my personal opinion, due to several reasons:
1. Nvidia is trying to control Ice Cream Sandwich(ICS), they already took over honeycomb, but there are no guarantees others will follow. Google already bought motorola division, new motorola xoom2 doesn't have a nvidia tegra CPU, clearly motorola and now samsung are walking away from nvidia solutions.
2. What would happen if other major players start using samsung or Qualcomm or TI Cpu's, the android market will be simply fractionated even more.Ipad 2 success was due a quality software(itunes store)and because it's a lot easier for software developers to support only 1 device ,professional audio manufacturers have already started adding dedicated hardware for the infamous Ipad2. I don't see this happening anytime soon for android platform(FL Studio for example it's being working on a low-latency audio engine for android platform for almost a year and still is a work in progress)until then This just a portable expensive e-reader with multimedia capabilities.
3. Android Gaming platform lack standards, nvidia is trying to push certified games for tegra 2, however it's been already proved that some games will not be entirely compatible with other than tegra2 CPU's, artifacts or simply no effects will be shown, this is due game developers use nvidia libraries.
What is the worse could happen? I may end with an overprice and fancy gadget if things turn out differently from nvidia/asus plans.
I really like the 1280x800 screen for mobile browsing, I hope android OS and hardware as well keep improving on the road, this will benefit to all of us, no matter what platform you chose(iOS5 or ICS) at the end apple will be force to really improve its ipad line to keep it competitive dragging the prices down. If tegra 3 becomes a success I bet upcoming Ipad 3 will be cheaper. Asus Prime is already setting new standards for android devices.

Just wondering how the back of the tablet will resist scratching when you place it down on a surface. Haven't seen reviews mentioning that.

So versus an IPad: both great looking devices, both have adequate but not spectacular displays, realistically enough processing power for a tablet (yeah yeah I know never enough..but let's face it these are not for 3d autocad!), strong browsers, good if not great user interfaces...pretty even battle.

One question I have is:How does Asus interact with Mac OSX?

I use a MacBook Pro as my daily computer, and a HTC Incredible as my phone. One of the few things I dislike about my droid phone is the lack of integration with Mac OSX. Syncing music, potos, etc is not nearly as streamlined as I think it should be. As an example I have all my music saved as apple lossless because I care about the fidelity. (I often use airplay or my laptop directly to play my music through a high end audio system.) Android cannot read apple lossless. And even simply syncing my itunes music requires me to have multiple versions in different folders when I mount my phone as a storage device.

Do any of the brands of android: Asus, Samsung, HTC etc. have software that offers better interfaces with Mac OSX than the others? If not what do you guys use to sync multimedia files with your tablets? Photos, music, movies etc seem much easier to sync with an IPad.

If you are already a Mac user for your more mainstream computing, then it doesn't really make much sense to move away from Apple. My own personal issues with Apple aside, all their products are made to interact easily with each other. Certainly an iPad will give you a better connection to your current computer than an Android based system simply because they are both products of the same company and, in many ways, are designed to heighten experiences when working together: its a great marketing strategy at the very least. All devices and OSes are made by the same company. If you have one, then your interaction with all the others is much easier than with other systems simply because Apple is such a closed system.

That isn't to say there aren't many different ways to have access to all your files from a Mac to an Android, it just isn't a preloaded click away.

Take the Prime for example. Asus as given you several options: Asus preloaded MyCloud onto it, which means that you can access any files you store at your Cloud database. Apple certainly is Cloud friendly and it wouldn't be hard to use an online server for everything as opposed to your computer itself. Asus also, with the purchase of a Prime, gives you an incredible online storage database of its own if you have some issue with Cloud specifically. Since all Android devices give you access to the internet, it would certainly be accessible, but again, you would have to upload everything to another location. You can also mirror your computer onto any Android device (VCN using any of the multiple programs out there, including Asus sync)though mirroring isn't the same as streaming just within a program.

But to be honest, while I am not an Apple user (the few areas where it really flourishes simply aren't things I do) and it has been years since I have seriously considered becoming a full fledged one (long before ipods and back even before Apple almost disappeared only to come back), if you are someone who is one - your desktop, assuming you have one, your laptop, your phone and, if you even still have one, your mp3 player are all apple - then it doesn't really make sense to switch over to Android now simply for your tablet.

I charged mine last Saturday (with the keyboard dock) used it every day for hours. Got home Thursday with it at 10%, used it for hours on the internet than played Shadowgun for an hour or two, brought it down to 3%. Still haven't completed 3 full charge and discharge cycles, after they say the battery life improves which I have found to be true for my phones as well.
All in all the battery life is the most amazing thing to me. When the screen is off it does not drain at all. One day when I first got it I brought it to work but only turned on the screen once, at the end of the day it was still 99%.
AMAZING!!

It all looks so perfect - until I realised that it doesn't come with GSM support, i.e. it can only connect over WiFi.

Am I missing something?

perhaps... why do you want to sign another contract when your android phone turns into a hotspot? what is the point of having 2 cell bills? Some Android phones aren't even locked by the carrier=free hotspot

after waiting and watching for the past month i finally got my hands on both the t.prime and docking station three days ago. i had one minor hiccup but that had to do with me needing to power down my modem and temp. disabling wps so i could connect. after that all was perfect. went into settings to check software version and found the update was ready. went to notifications, powered down, uploaded ics v4.0.3 in less than five minutes. from my standpoint it looks like the bugs that plagued the first ones released are all gone now. i'm impressed and glad that i waited. imho they may be hard to come by but worth it if you can find one. one last thing i decided to go with the 32gb version, for a third of the cost/price diff. between the 64gb tablet you can get an 32 gb sdcard, there are 64gb cards but they cost around $150. so for me, now with current prices i just plan to pick up two of the 32gb cards and wait til the price drops on the 64gb ones. just a thought for anyone looking to pickup the t.prime and save a little money. feels like christmas just a little late...