What does a laptop in the post-PC era look like? Is it an ultrabook with familiar internals and software in a dramatically slimmed-down shell? Or is it possible to use a modern mobile OS like Android, energy-efficient chips, and build something that bridges the gap between the portability of a tablet and the power of a laptop? Leave it to two companies with deep roots in the PC industry — Asus and Nvidia — to take a stab at that question with the Eee Pad Transformer Prime. It’s the world’s first quad-core Tegra 3 tablet, and not only does it have double the power of today’s dual-core ARM processors, but like the original Transformer, it's available with a keyboard dock that transforms the tablet into a more traditional laptop. On top of that, the $499 device (with 32GB of storage) has been slimmed down from its predecessor and given both an 8-megapixel camera and a brand new SuperIPS+ display. You can see why the package sounds like the perfect blend of tablet and laptop, but is it? Do the added cores enhance the user experience? And as a tablet, is it primed to take on the iPad — the frontrunner in this post-PC competition? Those are big questions, all of which will be answered in the review below.
Is there any tablet that's hotter than the Transformer Prime right now? (Please, don't say the Kindle Fire.) For weeks we geeks, early adopters and people who love their tech toys have been awaiting this, and none too patiently. Make no mistake: this will be one of the slickest products we test this year and it isn't just because the original Transformer had such an inventive design. The Prime is the first device packing NVIDIA's hot-off-the-presses Tegra 3 SoC, making it the world's first quad-core tablet. This comes with promises of longer-than-ever runtime and blazing performance (five times faster than Tegra 2, to be exact), all wrapped in a package measuring just 8.3mm (0.33 inches) thick -- even skinnier than the iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab 10.1. Throw in specs like a Super IPS+ Gorilla Glass display, eight megapixel rear camera and a confirmed ICS update in the pipe and even we seen-it-all Engadget editors were drooling.
- Classy, solid, and svelte design
- Tremendous gaming power from quad-core processor
- Includes useful software tweaks, microSD card slot
- Not a lot of software optimized for quad-core CPU
The stylish Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 delivers both high performance and high value, a rare combination in the world of Android tablets. It uses Nvidia's Tegra 3 processor, which powers the tablet to several performance firsts and delivered terrific image graphics rendering in games optimized for the new processor. Given its promised future upgrade to Android 4.0.1 Ice Cream Sandwich and its next-gen technology, not to mention its appealing price--$499 for the 32GB model and $599 for 64GB (prices as of 11/30/2011)--the Transformer Prime represents one of the best tablet values today.
Around midday yesterday, I received my review kit for the Transformer Prime, complete with dock, wireless gamepad, and HDMI cable - meaning I'm well equipped to take a deep dive into the hottest new tablet to hit stores. But to be completely honest, an in-depth review on a product this brand-spanking-new requires more hands-on time than can be had in two days. The full review will be up on Friday, but in the interim, enjoy the initial impressions and gadget porn below.
Take one of the more popular -- if not wonderfully eccentric -- Android tablets of 2011, slim it down, clad it in brushed metal, pump it full of new specs and march it off into 2012 with the likelihood of one of the first upgrades to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Oh, and throw in a nearly full-size keyboard dock with trackpad, full USB and SD ports, turning it all into a solid Android laptop.
Some hands on videos