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Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime - CPU and Battery, Value and Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


Asus claim up to 18 hours of HD video playback with the Prime’s dock, or 12 hours without. If these numbers seem unlikely for a quad-core tablet, it’s important to remember that, unlike Tegra 2, its successor is a fully scalable architecture. Not only can Tegra 3 dynamically balance load across all four of its main cores (which can clock in at up to 1.4GHz for a single core or 1.3GHz across all), but it can completely turn them off too. Yes, all four of them. You see, there’s actually a fifth ‘companion core’ integrated into the chipset, which can handle idle modes or low-level tasks such as word processing. This unit uses less power than a single ‘regular’ core, allowing Nvidia to accurately claim its latest quad-core chip will consume less power than Tegra 2’s dual-core arrangement (and indeed those of most rival chips) in many scenarios. In other words, anyone who thinks tablets don’t need quad-core, here you get better performance married to better battery life, so there’s no reason for complaint.

Indeed, the Transformer easily matches the best of the competition where battery life is concerned. We measured over nine hours of SD video playback (sans dock), and in a test simulating average use (screen brightness at 50 percent, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on, some standby periods) the tablet alone managed a whopping 14 hours! Throw in the dock and this extends even further, though battery life won’t double as it did for the original Transformer since the dock’s battery size (and thus capacity) had to be reduced to maintain its slimness. It’s worth pointing out that the dock actually charges the tablet while the two are connected - as long as it has charge to give, obviously, otherwise it drains the device.

So how does Asus’ new Transformer Prime compare to the rest of the market, and perhaps more importantly, to its predecessor (which will continue to be available at a reduced price of around £380 with dock as a budget option)? Well, aside from kicking the stuffing out of Decepticons, the Prime also pretty much beats every other Android tablet out there without exception. The only tablet that offers more versatility than the Prime is Lenovo’s ThinkPad tablet, which includes a pressure-sensitive stylus in addition to a keyboard folio case that’s great to type on. But it’s nowhere near as slim, light, stylish or powerful, nor is its IPS screen as good.

As a tablet, meanwhile, Asus’ second Transformer is thinner and nearly as light in the hand as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, while offering a brighter screen and far more connectivity, storage and power. And as mentioned in our Transformer Prime VS iPad 2: Battle of the Tablet Titans piece, it beats the mighty iPad 2 in many regards too, especially if you’re more interested in productivity and video playback than app choice and gaming.

The craziest part is that, if the UK MSRP of £499 holds up, it will cost only £20 more than a 32GB iPad 2, and that’s with the keyboard dock included, making it an absolute bargain.

Here you can see the original Transformer on the left, compared to the Prime on the right.

So is the Prime the perfect tablet? Not quite. Until the aforementioned update to ICS arrives, Apple’s iOS still offers a smoother and more attractive tablet OS. Android’s app selection and security is also several levels below what you currently get with the iPad, though this situation is improving. On the hardware front, meanwhile, there’s still no sign of a 3G option in either original or new Transformer. We also feel that despite its better build quality and more attractive design, the dock has taken a few steps back compared to its predecessor: the keyboard is shallower and we really do miss that second full-size USB 2.0 port. If you don’t need the benefits Tegra 3 brings to the table, you might be better off with the £380 original.

However, at just under £500 the Prime's really a bit of a bargain. It can even be used as a netbook or laptop replacement if you’re happy with its limitations, and dare we say should run Windows 8 beautifully when that OS comes out, expanding its flexibility further.


Asus’ Tranformer Prime is a thing of beauty. Despite being easily as thin and light as most rivals, this aluminium-clad tablet is far more powerful thanks to its quad-core Tegra 3 internals. This also means that smooth 1080p video playback on a tablet and console-quality gaming on Android are finally realities, and the Prime shows them off on the best tablet screen we’ve yet seen.

The keyboard dock is the icing on a very tasty cake, and though there are a few concessions compared to the original Transformer’s dock, it’s still an amazing add-on that not only makes the Prime one of the most versatile devices on the market, but also one of the longest-lasting. Quite simply, the Transformer Prime is the best Android tablet available and arguably the best tablet per se.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 9
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Screen Quality 9
  • Value 10


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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