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.
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.
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.
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…