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Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime - Camera, Screen, Audio and Video

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


It might be a long time before cameras on tablets will match up to the best examples mobile phones can offer, but for now the one on the Transformer Prime’s rear is leading the pack. The 8MP shooter features a back-illuminated CMOS sensor with an F2.8 aperture and LED flash, and supports dynamic auto-focus.

It takes usable photos, especially in good light, and also lets you record video in up to 1080p where most tablets ‘only’ support 720p.

The Transformer Prime’s 10.1in, 1,280 x 800 screen is even more impressive. To say it’s the best we’ve yet seen on any tablet is an understatement, and it actually justifies Asus’ marketing hype of calling it Super IPS. Viewing angles are as close to flawless as LCD gets, with hardly any noticeable shifts in colours or contrast. Dark detailing is good (if not quite perfect) and blacks are deep, all without compromising the brilliantly bright whites. There are no backlighting issues or bleed to spoil the party either.

With its retina-searing 600nits brightness this is also one of the few tablets that’s actually usable in sunlight, and regardless of the kind of content you’re consuming, Asus’ latest Android effort makes it all look vibrant and almost three-dimensional. It’s a real pity the Transformer doesn’t support a pressure-sensitive stylus (like the Wacom one used on Samsung’s Galaxy Note or the N-Trig supported by the Lenovo ThinkPad and HTC Flyer) as this is the kind of quality display anyone editing photos or creating illustrations would want.

You can see the relative screen brightness compared to the original Transformer and iPad 2 in this shot. The iPad is on the left, the Transformer (TF101) on the bottom and the Transformer Prime (TF201) is top right.

Unfortunately the audio doesn’t begin to compare, despite the SonicMaster branding. Though it’s improved over the original Transformer (and indeed superior to most rivals) that’s not exactly saying much. Perhaps the biggest failing with the speaker is that it’s located in the exact area you cover with your right hand while holding the tablet in landscape mode. It’s also worth noting that audio from the headphone jack is on the quiet side, which is an unnecessary annoyance.

While we’re on the topic of entertainment, we’re glad to report that media playback on Tegra 3 is everything we hoped it would be and more. You might have tried playing back HD video on previous tablets (including the first Transformer) to end up with a juddery mess – or, in the case of Full HD 1080p content, a slideshow. Well, no more. Unfortunately Android Honeycomb’s stock player doesn’t support a huge range of video content, but a quick trip to the Android MarketPlace for a trial version of DicePlayer (other media players may also work as long as they support hardware acceleration), and the Prime played back every single test file we threw at it – including a high-bitrate 1080p MKV that even most dedicated hardware media players like the WD TV HD can’t handle!

When your tablet plays back video material that dedicated hardware can’t cope with, you know you’re on to a good thing. Hard as Samsung worked to ensure its Tegra 2-based Galaxy Tab 10.1 played back a large portion of 720p content smoothly (above and beyond its rivals including the Apple iPad 2), there were still plenty of limitations. With the quad-core Transformer Prime these are finally a thing of the past. Oh, and did we mention outputting that glorious HD video content to your TV is as easy as plugging in a microHDMI cable? And Tegra 3 gives you enough power to handle 3D video and gaming, so that you can, for example, watch 3D YouTube videos with a compatible monitor or TV? Yep ladies and gentlemen, welcome to your portable HTPC.


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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