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Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime review

Ardjuna Seghers




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Our Score:



  • Thinner and lighter than most
  • Gorgeous, super-bright IPS screen
  • Quad-core yet excellent battery life
  • Keyboard dock adds connectivity and battery
  • Full HD video plays smoothly


  • Dock’s keyboard inferior to original Transformer
  • Metal finish relatively smudge-prone and slippery
  • Top-heavy docked design requires care on lap
  • Poor speaker positioning
  • App selection still inferior to iPad
  • No 3G (yet)

Key Features

  • 10.1in SuperIPS 1,280 x 800 screen
  • Tegra 3, 1GB RAM, up to 64GB storage
  • Detachable keyboard dock with battery
  • MicroHDMI, microSD, SDHC, USB 2.0
  • Up to 14hrs battery without dock
  • Manufacturer: Asus
  • Review Price: £499.00

Of the original Asus Transformer, we said it was the “best Android tablet out there”. And this was confirmed when it won the number one spot for best tablet and gadget of the year in our 2011 Awards. The game-changing Asus Eee Pad Transformer combined a great standalone tablet with a keyboard dock that not only let you type properly but also doubled the device’s battery life and gave you such connectivity gems as full-size USB ports and a regular SD card slot, essentially turning the tablet into a mini laptop that had a better screen and lasted longer on the go than any netbook.

Want the cheaper alternative? Read our Transformer Pad 300 review.

But now its reign is about to be ended, by none other than Asus’ own Transformer Prime, AKA the TF201. This sequel to the Transformer is lighter, slimmer, more stylish, metal-clad, comes with an even better screen and, perhaps most significantly, with a quad-core CPU and 12-core GPU combo courtesy of Nvidia’s Tegra 3, making it the most versatile and powerful tablet on the market.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Even without its keyboard dock, the new Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is a stunning device. In the inevitable iPad 2 comparison, it holds up very well indeed, as you’ll see if you have a read of our Transformer Prime VS iPad 2: Battle of the Tablet Titans article. Just to sum up, the new Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is both thinner and lighter, its metal chassis feels almost as sturdy and it looks just as good as Apple’s effort. It also offers better connectivity, more powerful specifications, superior cameras and, most strikingly, a sharper screen which literally outshines all competitors thanks to its 600nits brightness. Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

As the Asus Transformer Prime is also the first quad-core tablet in the world, it’s potentially more powerful than nearly any rival – barring Windows tabs like the Samsung Series 7 Slate, which costs more than double at £999. We’ll explore the full performance in a bit, but suffice to say that there’s more untapped potential here than most developers will know what to do with – oh, and HD video of all varieties will finally play back smoothly, a feat hitherto unmatched in tablet land.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

With Asus having committed to updating the Transformer Prime’s Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwhich AKA ICS) very soon, the current lack of a 3G model is our only real gripe with the latest Asus Eee Pad Transformer - on paper. Mind you, it’s likely there’ll be a 3G version coming out further down the line, and with the keyboard dock attached it’s easy enough to plug in a dongle or tether your phone, but for now it is still a potential issue. With all that out of the way, let’s find out if the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is as good as it appears to be…


December 16, 2011, 5:58 pm

If I was Google, I'd be working my butt off to make sure that my tablet/phone OS was extremely Desktop friendly. What I mean is hurry up the VLC Media Player guys to release for Android, with Google Music or something like it, make an interface like iTunes so sync between your tablet and phone and PC. (Make software that comes with the OS that syncs music between your tablet and ipod for that matter, something Apple refuses to do for their iPad.) Create drivers that work with things like Samsungs USB external DVD writer... If Google don't knuckle down and get to work on this, they will have their heads kicked in when Windows 8 get's released for the Asus Transfomer Prime....


December 16, 2011, 11:51 pm

This is EASILY the best tablet on the market! beats any tablet/pad! - Quad-core yet excellent battery life (fantastic achievement) - Superb design, top-notch performance. - Super slick and smooth UI! all this for only 499 euros Love it!


December 17, 2011, 12:33 am

This does look like a gorgeous bit of kit. Hats off to Asus!! However, (inevitably) I do have a slight gripe! Inferior dock, smudge prone metal, top heavy screen and poor speaker position.......you still give it 9/10 for design!?!? All the other catogaries I would say fair enough.

Lee Marshall

December 17, 2011, 1:30 am

I have been waiting for this tablet for what seems like an eternity. Just ordered it (from Ebuyer, you cannot beat them when it comes to quick shipping). I just hope it arrives before I spend some time in hospital in mid-January.


December 17, 2011, 1:41 am

Even though Honeycomb isn't quite sufficient to make me give up replacing my iPad with the next model (although that's as much down to my purchased apps as anything), this makes me incredibly hopefuly for Windows 8 and a world where I won't need both a laptop and a tablet but one device that does both tasks perfectly well. Bravo Asus.

Neil Richardson

December 19, 2011, 10:25 pm

1080p playback on a 1280x800 screen? Um. Am I missing something?


December 19, 2011, 11:04 pm

You guys at TR are very slow to reply to these comments?


December 20, 2011, 1:06 am

No 3G is the deal breaker. NBG.


January 5, 2012, 8:30 pm

Agree completely @jsg, I can't fathom why Google won't make a proper media player for Android, for example. After all, if Samsung can get most 720p video to run smoothly on Tegra 2 with a little extra programming elbow grease, why can't Google who actually make the OS?


January 5, 2012, 8:35 pm

Waiting for that day too. Lenovo's ThinkPad Android Tablet came so close to being an all-in-one champion (review will be up soon), just wish it had Tegra 3 inside... Regardless, I predict Windows 8 will be the driving force behind a higher level of (blessed) device integration, which we're already seeing on the hardware side with the likes of the Asus Prime and PadFone.


January 5, 2012, 8:38 pm

Yes you are, the video is still in 1080p, it's just downscaled; the processing required doesn't become less intensive. Also of course, you can output to a Full HD TV or monitor through HDMI to show off 1080p content with all its pixels intact :)


January 5, 2012, 8:41 pm

Sorry about that Chris, I was ill over the already hectic Christmas and the New Year period so didn't stay on top of these like I would usually try to. Our readers' comments are always valuable to us so please keep them coming :)


January 5, 2012, 8:44 pm

There have been rumours of a 3G version coming in the near future and you can use a dongle with the dock, but I do agree that right now it's very annoying not to have the option integrated...


January 5, 2012, 10:38 pm

I do agree with you, but perfect products are far and few between, and that's why it's 9/10 rather than 10/10. As a tablet the Prime well deserves that score, as it's one of the sleekest, best-built and best-looking models available despite its love of fingerprints. Also, most of the niggles concern the dock which is a detachable bonus.


January 12, 2012, 2:48 am

This tablet is very nice for the price I paid. Don't expect the brightness and clarity you see on an Apple iPad which costs $100-150 more, but you won't be disappointed with the screen. The tablet is very responsive, apps open quickly and touch functionality is very adequate. I've had no issues with wi-fi or GPS. If you have wi-fi connection issues, it could be your brand of router or your router security settings (try different security protocols, WPA-AES, WPA-TKIP, etc.) What I like most about the Android OS is the freedom to customize the device, as well as the ability to easily copy pictures, music and other data from a PC to the device. Connecting the Transformer to a PC allows you to do this without any additional, cumbersome software (i.e. iTunes).



January 12, 2012, 3:34 am

Nvidia plan to incorporate a 3G modem into their upcoming SOCs, so perhaps the Asus Transformer Optimus of 2013 with a 2400 by 1600 screen will have the 3G option built in. I wouldn't be surpised to see this in a year's time (that's if the economy hasn't collapsed), as Asus seem to be on a twice-yearly update schedule for their tablets.


January 23, 2012, 9:06 pm

From what I can gather, an integrated 3G option is planned before then. Mmmm, Transformer with 2400x1600 screen [drools]


January 24, 2012, 9:53 pm

well so much so this android tablet - the price is really high for both 32gb and 64gb and that dock not included in either case......i have acer iconia w500 which is a FULL windows FULL touchscreen computer and guess what dock comes included in the w500 package and one more thing the display is almost as good as transformer....need i say anything further !
i want asus to lower the price of these new TFs as they are just tablets NOT FULL OS [windows] computers , mind u


January 27, 2012, 10:27 pm

A nice review.... Thanks!

I had a play with one at Currys yesterday (with ICS). All that you say about the beautiful construction and display is true.

Where my experience became disappointing was:

1) the apps. The beautiful screen only served to highlight the substandard quality of many of the essential apps (for eductional purposes). Akin to a webcam jpeg blown up to poster-size. (Not the fault of Asus, one hastens to add)
2) the virtual keyboard in landscape mode was like an enormous, trackless waste (No Country For Old Typists)
3) for nimbleness and efficiency when working with academic materials from a range of sources to a range of destinations, I remain to be convinced that the Android approach (as it stands) gives anywhere near the benefits of IOS (where everything works together to facilitate mobile online research and education).

A beautiful machine, undoubtedly. But, as I played with it, I found my eyes wandering to a nearby 'budget' Macbook Air which, with university educational discount, is not that much more expensive.... And with which I think you are probably getting somewhat more..

It might have been nice if you had given greater emphasis to the current weakness of the Android experience when apps are taken into account.


February 19, 2012, 8:34 pm

If you like it that much you'll have visited your own site and noticed that you're not serving Android tablet users the desktop version.

Any chance? You are almost as bad as The Guardian.

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