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Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime - Gaming, OS and Apps

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


Aside from HD video playback, the other area where Tegra 3 really makes its presence felt right now is in gaming. Asus pre-installed some nifty game demos to give a taste of just what Nvidia’s latest and greatest mobile chipset is capable of, and suffice to say we’re impressed. The enhanced version of Riptide GP, for example, shows jaw-dropping water effects: waves now have dynamic whitecaps and highlights, while water splashes convincingly onto the screen. There’s also advanced motion blur when racing at high speeds.

Frankly, running the Tegra 3-optimised version of this game alongside the A5-optimised version for the iPad 2 shows just how much extra power is at play here – though that doesn’t necessarily mean the graphics of Nvidia’s latest will be superior to that of Apple’s in every scenario. In fact, for raw pixel-pushing power the A5 still wins out, and a lot will depend on efficiency of development. Compared to Tegra 2 things are less ambiguous, with the previous-gen chip thoroughly shamed by its successor across the board.

Even more than Riptide, the game that blew us out of the water was Gunslinger, a Wild West take on Infinity Blade. Considering we’re dealing with a developer preview, the graphics are superb (though the same couldn’t be said about the gameplay and overall, Infinity Blade 2 on the iPad 2 still looks better), with realistic dust, smoke and flame effects. Glowball, meanwhile, showed of the stunning lighting Nvidia’s 12-core GPU can bring to the table. Nvidia even attests there should be enough power left over to play in stereoscopic 3D.

Another of Tegra 3’s outstanding features is that it supports the majority of popular joypads and controllers at a hardware level. PlayStation 3 controllers, for example, will work without requiring an app, and now Wiimotes are invited to the party too. Xbox 360 pads will work as long as they’re wired (through USB), and most wireless or wired PC gamepads should also play nice. Combined with its easy TV output/mirroring and decreased lag, the Prime has bucketloads of gaming potential.

Unfortunately, Android 4.0 - also known as Ice Cream Sandwhich (or ICS for short) - didn’t make it in time for the Prime’s launch. So we’re still stuck with the good old Honeycomb/Android 3.2 we’ve all come to know and love. However, we’ve never seen it running quite this smoothly or quickly before. Though there’s still the occasional judder, it’s now so minor you might not even notice.

Even so, it’s not really fair to judge the latest Transformer on an OS that wasn’t even remotely designed to handle its power, so we’ll give you our final take on the matter once ICS has arrived. Thankfully Asus has promised ICS very soon, and with the Transformer Prime being a development tablet for the latest Android OS, there’s little reason to expect otherwise. In the meantime, we’re glad to report that not just the OS and apps, but also mundane activities like browsing the web, feel just that little bit faster and more responsive.

Finally a quick word about included apps. Asus has preinstalled SuperNote, which lets you type with its own virtual keyboard, and draw or write with your finger. The paint tool is actually reasonably sophisticated, certainly a step above the likes of Windows Paint. You can also insert pictures or media files in SuperNote documents, and it lets you record video or voice too.

Many Android users will already be familiar with Polaris Office, which is one of the biggest Office productivity apps for the platform. It accepts most Microsoft Office files and allows for the creation of text documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Though we prefer Documents to Go, Polaris is certainly one of the top two contenders. App Locker provides password protection for individual apps, while App Backup… backs them up to external storage. Asus’ MyCloud, meanwhile, gives access to 8GB of online storage that’s set aside for every Prime owner.


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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