back to article Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime Android Tablet

It’s only been a little over six months since the original Eee Pad Transformer landed but Asus has already launched a new model that advances the breed to such an extent that the original model appears obsolete and with it every other 10in Tegra 2 Android tablet on the market. Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 Android …

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  1. K Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Damm

    Anybody want to buy a Galaxy Tab 10.1?

    1. Martin Huizing
      Coffee/keyboard

      You can buy mine too...

      ...and glue a hinge between them and have one work as a virtual keyboard.

    2. Crocky
      Happy

      not after reading that review! Blinding and rarely use GPS

  2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Very, very interesting

    I was really tempted by the transformer, so I should really check this one out.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds pretty good, this may be a stooopid question but...

    ...what's the boot/start up time likely to be on one of these?

    1. tmTM

      boot?

      With a guad core processor and flash memory for storage - I think it's pretty quick.

      1. Keep Refrigerated

        Booting

        I have to say, if it's anything like the TF101 which is dual core, it will be a real dog booting up. Thankfully you rarely do need to reboot.

        Oddly it was quite fast at booting till the first update came through - but on delivering updates Asus have been superb so far so hard to complain.

        Not sure why you got the downvote.

    2. Stefing

      The same as my phone, about 30 seconds to full usability (I have a lot of widgets!)

  4. Neill Mitchell

    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.

    1. countd

      Where've you been?

      Very prescient comment, if most of what you predict hadn't already come to pass. Asus have spectacularly compromised the Prime by announcing its predecessor just it launches. It's called the Transformer Prime HD and comes with a redesigned rear panel, which presumably fixes GPS and reported Wifi issues.

      On that note, El Reg, why no review of the wifi - the other major problem reported with the Prime? Reports yesterday suggest that the UK models don't have this particular problem, but confirmation of this would have been nice.

      1. Neill Mitchell

        @countd

        The Prime HD will be months away. Like the Transformer dock drain issue, this is very bad PR for Asus. I expect the Prime will get a hardware fix as well.

      2. hokum
        Thumb Up

        Wi-Fi performance

        Wi-Fi does not seem to have any issues, my Transformer Prime picks up a signal just as well, if not slightly better, than a laptop and smartphone in the same location. You'll read a lot about the wireless being poor but this seems to be something which affected the earlier models, UK release is just fine.

      3. Ru
        Headmaster

        "announcing its predecessor"

        Predecessors aren't generally announced, on account of them already being released and known.

      4. Crocky
        Happy

        from what I am reading around - no issues with WiFi now.

      5. Stefing

        Follow that approach and you'll never buy any tablet, the market is moving too fast.

    2. Stefing

      I have had zero GPS or WiFi problems - but then I have very little use for GPS on a tablet so I've only tested it once (it locked just as fast as my phone)

  5. Antidisestablishmentarianist
    Thumb Up

    If I had to go over to the dark side, this would be my weapon of choice. Nice.

  6. Allicorn
    Alien

    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.

    1. tmTM

      Take it to the Apple store and have a round of 'can your tablet do this..........."

    2. Gary Riches

      When you get a tablet you normally realise it's what you've been needing without realising.

      Personally I'm not a fan of Android because I've yet to see it run acceptably, but this tablet seems super nice and looks like it might have the gubbins to make it run well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        An Apple afficianodo friend of mine

        Is using one of these as his primary machine now. According to him, he has yet to find anything that he needs to do, but can't from this thing.

        With the keyboard dock and battery life this is really what a Netbook should have been, and the tablet by itself is as good as it gets IMHO.

        I just wish I could convince the better half I need one

        : )

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Your apple friend

          Obviously your Apple friend who uses this is a retarded sheep follower who doesn't use anything but media consumption, buys the latest bling of no real use or value so using him in your argument just disqualified it no???

        2. Van

          At a price though

          "this is really what a Netbook should have been"

          There was nothing else a Netbook could have been but a mini Laptop.

          When Netbooks were all the rage, there was a demand for a small form factor that could run windows apps at a lower price point.. Traditionally, small form factor costs more money, but that was broken with the Atom chip.

          Tablets have been around Donkeys years and have only become fashionable thanks to Apple, their excellent software and the iphone.

          It's all very well bashing Netbooks, but the truth for their demise, is to extract more money from the 'i' generation, as traditional computing needs make way for that 'must have' better looking gadget and ever more efficient social networking.

          My 2 Netbooks are 3 and 4 years old, cost £190 and £150 respectively (£250 machines found via hotukdeals) They run Windows 7, Office 2007 and will both run Snow Leopard if I'm in the mood. They also make excellent media players, as does the still popular Nettop

          Windows 8 and ultra books, may as well start the battle on the catwalk. And with many people happy to dismiss a £250 Netbook for a £500 tablet, there's certainly no need for manufactures to worry about profit margins.

          I just read this review and think what's wrong with a laptop anyway?

          1. Graham Dawson

            You can't pull the screen off and turn it sideways to make reading easier.

    3. Stefing

      That was exactly what held me back, but my PC and phone, both of which I would normally be using now, are currently switched off.

      Sent from my Prime ;)

  7. b166er

    '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.'

    It's only a packing item anyway, huh, Alun? lol

    I hope they do a 7" pocketable version at some point.

    1. Mikel

      The 7 incher is on the way

      And even with ICS and Tegra 3, it's going to be $250.

  8. dotdavid
    IT Angle

    But...

    ...when you were out and about with it did anyone mistake it for the leader of the Autobots?

    Sincerely,

    Hasbro Inc.

    (IT angle because is it IT or an alien lifeform?)

  9. Ian Yates

    Tempted

    But I can't justify the price with the original Transformer at home (though, it does see a lot of usage).

    Shame they couldn't make the Prime fit the original dock...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Couldn't? or wouldn't?

  10. uhuznaa

    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.

    1. Ilgaz

      6 months

      Consumer tech cycles every 6 months. No matter what you buy will be replaced with a better spec in half a year. I personally go with previous or even 1 year old tech since they are cheaper, way more stable (thanks to early adopters) and less "show off". I can easily put my cheap Huawei to Starbucks table and watch news without anyone thinking I am showing off/ bragging.

  11. TonyHoyle

    Pity it's already dead

    The TF700 was announced before the Prime had even launched. Asus botched this one big time.

    Only reason to buy this is if you *really* can't wait until April for the fixed version.

    1. Peter 48

      not really

      From what I understand the TF701 will cost more and Asus will continue to sell the current prime (TF201) alongside it. How is that a botch?

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Look up the Osborne effect

        "How is that a botch?"

        Announcing a new and improved product while the current generation is just launching is hardly a good idea. This product is called the Asus Transformer Prime after all. Tell people that an even tablet is around the corner will dampen sales of this device. I also expect that whatever the new tablet costs it can't be much higher than this. Apple might be able to get away with charging stupid money for their devices, but other manufacturers have to be a little more realistic.

  12. Adam Nealis

    And next month's tablet is...

    Wonder how it stacks up against the Toshiba Excite?

    1. Neill Mitchell

      Tosh has no keyboard...

      The killer app part of the Prime is that it has the keyboard. The value of which can't be under rated. So comparing the Prime to the Tosh is a bit apples and oranges.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > The value of which can't be under rated.

        Like

        "They misunderestimate me" -George W. Bush

        then?

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Steve Ives

        Or Ralph Wiggum.

        "...the keyboard. The value of which can't be under rated"

        So it has to be over-rated?

        RW - "Me fail English? That's unpossible!"

  13. Luke McCarthy

    I was going to get one

    Then the TF700T was announced. Now to wait half a year...

  14. ThomasC
    Linux

    I was under the impression that the TF700 was not a replacement for the Prime but a new model that was going to be more 'high end' and by default, probably more expensive! and you will have to wait 6months plus for it to be available to purchase.

  15. DrXym Silver badge

    The best thing about this

    Is it puts downward pressure on lesser tablets which have been coasting for far too long at a high price point. I don't think this device deserves to be so expensive either (the aluminium is the clue that the price is marked up well beyond it deserves) but it certainly does look like a great device.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boot doesn't really come into the question unless you have for some reason (rare) to restart. Tablets are just 'left on' they go to sleep\hibernate at your specified time. I have ASUS TF101 and it is a very neat device. You hit the wake button and you are ready to surf within a second maybe two. Still not a replacement for a dev machine. Pop into a local shop and give one a blast.

  17. Steve Renouf
    Unhappy

    Hmmmm.... Nice but...

    Can you run a dev. web-server on it? And video editing software?

    Until there is a device I can take with me and keep working, it won't be replacing my laptop any time soon. Nice as it is, it would only be a toy in my particular world.

    1. Stephen 10

      5 seconds on google tell you

      That there's actually a few choices for web servers for android - so potentially yes.

      And it comes with a video editing app, at least my TF-101 did. Haven't used it as yet but there are options again.

      I'm using the tablet alongside my Mac Pro and it makes a great combo, just remote log into the Mac Pro when I need serious grunt/disk.

    2. durbster

      They aren't designed to compete with laptops though.

      Like many people I couldn't see much point in a tablet when I have a laptop and desktop at home but I bought a TF101 primarily for developing apps. It's now in constant use and they're an incredibly useful device to have in the home. They're far closer to what many home users need than a laptop.

      Ours is a recipe book, email checker, web browser, TV guide and occasional timewasting games machine.

      Surprisingly useful, is probably the best way of summing them up.

      They are not, however, development machines!

  18. Havin_it

    Intrigued

    If not for the price tag, this would make a pretty compelling "netbook that breaks in half and has a touchscreen", but the price is a bit off-putting. For this money I'd expect it to be at least 12in, moving it into the "Ultrabook(TM) that breaks in half" territory.

    I'd be interested to know:

    1) Is it practicable to just "forget" the separability and carry, use and maintain it just as though it were a netbook? Is sellotape required?

    2) Is the OS reasonably rootable/hackable, and if not how does it fare with rival Linuxen?

    1. Al Taylor
      Alert

      from the author - use as a netbook/laptop?

      Indeed you can. The hinge and dock connector are both very robust. With the tablet locked in place you can treat the Prime in exactly the same way you would treat a netbook or laptop. Actually I'd say you can be more brutal with the Prime because the hinge joining the tablet and dock feels far stronger than most laptop hinges I've comes across.

  19. Putonghua73

    Apps and Flash

    I caved in last year and bought an iPad2, which has proven to be indispensable. However 2 minor well-documented irritations:

    1. no removable storage (without Apple dock)

    2. Flash (lack thereof)

    I can live with the lack of removable storage because Dropbox takes care of most things. However, as a media consumption device, the lack of Flash is starting to hurt. Even stripping out the Riko Tachibana fixation, I'm starting to feel the hurt because a lot of sites I visit are predominantly flash.

    The Asus and keyboard dock for me would act as a desktop replacement as I rarely play games now. Can't say the same for the iPad2.

    What is the Android marketplace like in terms of apps? I notice that my core apps are catered by Android re: Anki, Pleco, Economist, Skype, IM app, etc but I do not know how they compare to the iPad experience.

    Also, are updates through the air, so to speak? Or do you need to update via a desktop / laptop?

    I could be sorely tempted to see if I could trade my iPad2 (via Gumtree) for one of these bad-boys dependent on answers to the above.

    1. Al Taylor
      Alert

      from the author re. updates

      All updates are over the air - out of the box my review unit was running Honeycomb but it downloaded and installed the ICS update and a camera firmware update without any problems.

      For what it's worth I've always been of the opinion that a tablet could never replace a laptop. The Prime has changed my mind - it can easily do 95+% of the things I do on my Ubuntu netbook.

      1. Putonghua73

        Re: from the author re. updates

        Thanks Al.

        I found this out via Google just as the Heathrow Connect pulled into Paddington.

        This is the clincher for me, especially as I'm 75% leaning towards emigrating to China end of the year. If this does transpire then the following become deal-breakers for the iPad2 (as I plan to use the tablet as my sole device - de-cluttering my life):

        1. Removable storage

        2. OTA updates

        3. Flash (Riko Tachibana)

        Once I get my desktop to POST and update my iPad2 to iOS5, time to look into a potential swap for the Asus Transformer Prime.

        Then see if I can sell my Samsung NC10 (Ubuntu 10.4 installed) and my Bookeen Opus e-reader (might go to charity instead - no way I'll recoup anywhere near original early adopter cost).

        1. dogged

          Nobody in their right mind is going to swap one of these for an iPad2.

          Sorry.

          If you own a Transformer Prime then unless you're desperate to use it as a GPS device, you won't want rid of it and any frothing Apple cultists will just have bought something fruity instead.

  20. Sam 15
    Happy

    All our Yesterdays

    Thank you, thank you, thank you...

    For mentioning one of my all-time favourite units - the nit.

    If only you had found a way to include the stilb my happiness would have been complete.

    They just don't make units like they used to back in my day.

  21. Wanda Lust
    FAIL

    Rocking horse faeces

    These doo-dads seem to be rarer than poo from rocking horses. It's been that way since about Christmas, pre-orders were gone, now Amazon isn't even listing it as available.

    Seems like deja vu from 2007/2008 when I waited from Dec '07, when I ordered one, thru to Apr or possibly May '08, for an Asus 701 netbook to arrive.

    I wouldn't bet on TF201s being available again before the TF700/Prime HD hits the shops.

    Apple likely pishing themselves laughing.

  22. Mikel
    Angel

    Looks nice

    Asus looks to be hard-charging into the future with these Transformers. Now if they could make enough of them to satisfy demand...

  23. AHale
    WTF?

    Confused

    OK, I'm trying tomake my first foray into tablets and I'm trying to decide between the Transformer TF201 and all the other Android tabs out there. Is the TF201 generally fast and good build quality etc? I don't want to end up with a sort of cheap feeling piece of kit. Dunno what to do??

  24. Len Goddard

    mkv

    I've got the original transformer and it does everything I want of a portable device, except play mkv video. I have a lot of those and I really don't want to have to transcode them to mp4 in order to play them on the device. Anyone know if this beastie cures the problem.

    1. MrT

      MX Video Player...

      ...on the Android Market, supports .MKV inc subtitles, is ICS-compatible and has Tegra2 HW decoding which might play ball with T3, though the software decoder is there as backup.

    2. Stephen 10

      Asus generally pretty good

      I've had my TF-101 for nearly 7 months and it looks the same as the day I bought it, neoprene carry sleeve helps. Solid.

      The TF-200 looks slightly better built, saw my first one at lunch today. Quality shouldn't be an issue for you.

  25. Long Fei
    Thumb Up

    MKV

    "I've got the original transformer and it does everything I want of a portable device, except play mkv video. "

    Don't know what player you are using, but mine can play these no problem. Try downloading a few different players.

    Yeah, looking a bit envious at this new one, but can't afford an upgrade. Still, my original Transformer is fine, and I've been using it to replace my old laptop with no real problems. (Except for printing stuff, but I can work around that).

  26. Lilo

    I really want one of these but...

    I'm not sure after reading some negative comments! Can anyone who has one help me out? Advice please!

    1. Dotter

      It's pretty good for me so far. Yeah, there are the negative comments about the GPS etc, but that's something a lot of people (myself included) never use.

      I'm not going to replace my laptop with it as I still want to use Windows/PC games, but I've used the previous model in places I don't want to lug around a 15" laptop and been very happy with it.

      The Prime supposedly has a 16hr+ battery life which is far better than the 2hrs I get off my laptop, so yeah, it's good for general use.

    2. Brian Sturridge
      Thumb Up

      I LOVE MINE :)

      @lilo... i fully recomend getting one of these, ive had mine for a while and ive had no problems.

      the wifi has been working fine on mine and the software has been working fast and effiiciently. i have had a few tabs and thisis by far thebest yet

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice hardware. Horrible operating system. I will wait until Win8.

    1. Jon Green
      Devil

      One of your eyes has fallen off!

      But that's OK, someone will be along soon to sew that button back on the sock, and you'll be back in working order again.

  28. morbid

    *sigh*.... another new device that's stuck on the half-ass and antiquated 2.4ghz. With all the nice parts in this kit, I'm surprised they didn't spend a little more for decent wifi! 2.4ghz around my house is way too saturated... so I'm not buying any new toys that's won't support 5ghz 802.11n.

  29. Mike Campbell 1
    Meh

    Zinio Mags & PDFs display speed ?

    Alun

    I guess you like it. Now we're cooking - maybe.

    Have you tried reading a Zinio Mag or a colourful, complex PDF document on it ?

    These display virtually instantly on the iPads.

    However, on Motorola Xoom (Android 3.2) & Samsung Galaxy Tab 7inch there is a distinct delay in rendering the page images. Hence rapid page "flicking" is impossible. This could be because the hardware, graphics engines or software are just not up to it or the Zinio Android App is inadequate. Or all of the above.

    This is real life stuff irrespective of how pretty the device is or how fancy the specs.

    Notwithstanding, things are improving.

    1. Neill Mitchell

      Zinio is fine on my TF101

      It renders the page instantly at a viewable resolution and then takes about a second to render the text at full resolution. Images are the same. They're very nearly full res instantly and them go full res along with the text after a second. Perfectly good enough for page flicking.

      I would image it would be even faster on a Prime. PDF's are fine as well.

      1. Mike Campbell 1
        Happy

        Zinio is fine on my TF10

        Neill

        Many thanks.

        Excellent.

        Mike

  30. David Ndhlovu
    Stop

    No 3g :(

    Damn...

    I almost whipped out the cash monies card as I am in need of a new laptop or tablet solution and this would have been perfect.

    ... except for the lack of 3g capability.

    In today's market I would expect all tabs to come with a 3g option/version...

    Actually... I would expect new flag ship technology to be built-in... A 3g version with LTE capability would scream "Buy me now, and I am all you that will need for the next 3 or 4 years".

    And that's the point... as great as this tablet is, the lack of 3g and LTE makes me think "hang on to see what happens with the other tegra 3 tablets that are just around the corner, I am going to be spending around £500 after all".

    ASUS could even release a new version with said bells and whistles, but rumour mill shows that they are in full denial.

    Which means that it's most probably on its way.

  31. Stephen 12

    Touch Issues

    My Prime is great on wifi just to clear that up but when docked I cannto touch the top line in the browser. No close or open windows buttons work.

    Is this just me or does anyone else have this problem? I assumed it was a software issue to be fixed later? Not a show stopper as I use the touchpad normally when docked in any case.

  32. Jon Green
    Facepalm

    Just hope the dock's trackpad isn't the Zenbook UX31's model

    ...or the whole damned thing's doomed to disaster.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Glorified netbook with a detachable screen - wow

    Woah, hold up Asus. Bring out a successor and then name it with a ridiculous name "prime". Amazing how the Transformer "2" wasn't good enough indicate the 2nd gen device on the same product line.

    Anyway, the review has more bias than a Apple-fanboi. Especially with comments like "The UI now glides about with a baby oil smoothness that makes even iOS 5 on the iPad 2 look jerky.".

    This sort of thing always breaks when teenagers get hold of it as well.

  34. hexx
    Thumb Up

    that's one really good looking android tablet (from iPhone user ;) )

  35. Andy Watt
    Go

    Unlocked boot....?

    Did Asus relent? I didn't keep up. Looks like a slick device though, and it's only taken Android what - 2 years to catch up and create a compelling UX tablet? ;-)

    1. Mikel

      Boot unlock is on the way

      It will be an official ASUS release.

  36. UxBoD
    Thumb Down

    No GSM :(

    When will tablet manufacturers start to release them with GSM! If the Prime had GSM I would have jumped all over it. RDP via HTML5 and VoIP over GSM would have been awesome when combined with a Bluetooth headset. Pitty :(

  37. P. Lee Silver badge
    Trollface

    Vanilla linux available?

    I just picked up the uberkernel for my touchpad with nfs, cifs, iscsi...

    All the basics in polished tablet gui. All the cool stuff underneath. Perhaps tablet interfaces are the trojan to get linux on the desktop.

    Top marks to Asus for putting decent hardware into an android system.

    Now if someone would just port webos to it...

  38. nederlander

    yes but..

    Can I replace the battery?

    1. Mahou Saru

      by another keyboard ;)

  39. Squiggle
    Thumb Up

    I have one ...

    ... It's awesome! Couldn't be happier with it.

    I have tested the GPS and it works fine for me, although I will admit I have little use for GPS on my tablet.

    3G really isn't an issue for me, as I never leave home without my phone and if you're the type of person to buy one of these you're almost definitely going to have 3G on your phone! I just activate wireless hotspot and away I go without having to pay for another monthly sub.

    In short, if you're thinking about getting one of these ... stop thinking and just buy one, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mines on its way...

      Ordered mine yesterday from Misco (one of the few places that have then in stock), should arrive today.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ... It has arrived, wife angry for some reason

        Please help.

        1. mrunix
          Go

          it's easy....

          take the transformer, surf to net-a-porter .com and let her buy some nice stuff for the same ridiculous amount you just spend on this wonderful gadget,,,,,,

  40. mrunix
    Linux

    once you have one

    you cant imagine not having one :-)

    but, if you don't need the keyboard, go for archos G9.

  41. Flash_Penguin
    FAIL

    O for *deitys* sake

    3G is missing. Doh.

    The Ipad has got that bit fixed. I dont care that I can tether it, thats 2 devices eating power. Its a portable computer, I want T'internet with that!

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