It is therefore only logical for slate manufacturers to keep their successful products’ basic lines and to add just enough originality to convince technology enthusiasts of buying the new gadgets. That’s what Asus has been trying for quite a while with the second generation of the very popular Eee Pad Transformer and the results seem interesting, to say the least.
The Transformer Prime has been officially unveiled today and with a very similar design to the original Transformer, but also added functionality and enough technical tweaks to become the most powerful slate out there, it keeps us on our toes until its release, scheduled for this December.
Let’s take a look at what the Prime brings to the table, including all the tech specs, features, but also the pricing details known right now.
Design and build
If you though that the original Transformer looked nice, elegant and strong, the Prime will probably mesmerize you completely. Available in two very ‘’premium’’ color schemes, Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold, Asus’s new hybrid is set to be made out of strong and smooth aluminum and to resist water, as well as fingerprints.
Even though it’s made out of metal, the tablet will weigh less than the first Transformer and will also be considerably thinner. The Prime is therefore set to weigh 1.29 pounds (586 grams), which is 0.2 pounds less than the original Transformer, and to measure a mere 0.3 inches thick.
The Prime will come with the same optional keyboard dock as its predecessor, but this should also be slightly tweaked, featuring a larger and more comfortable touchpad.
Screen, hardware and performance
The 10-inch display sported by the Prime should be in theory just as nice as the one featured by the first Transformer, coming with an IPS panel and 1280 x 800 pixels resolution. However, Asus promises to come with a brighter screen than usual, using a so-called ‘’IPS+ technology’’ and to also increase the responsiveness by more than 100%.
As for the hardware, we already stated that the Prime can be the strongest tablet in the market and we weren’t exaggerating at all. The new Transformer is set to be the first ever slate to come with an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and, while we don’t know how will this exactly translate into raw power, it should theoretically be five times stronger than the Tegra 2 powering most of today’s tablets.
The Prime will also feature 1 GB of RAM, as well as 32 or 64 GB of internal memory and should provide the ultimate gaming experience (at least as far as tablets are concerned), as well as very smooth web surfing.
Cameras, software, battery life and ports
One of the original Transformer’s biggest downsides was the insufficiently clear and capable rear-facing camera. Things should change in this area too with the new Prime, which is set to feature an 8 MPx shooter with LED flash, back-illuminated CMOS sensor and large F2.4 aperture. The front-facing camera is the same 1.2 MPx one featured by the first Transformer, but that should still be decent enough for video calls.
In terms of software, the Prime is not set to initially come with any kind of important changes, running the same old Android Honeycomb 3.2, but the tablet will most likely be upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich sooner or later.
On the other hand, Asus is planning to ship the new 10-incher with a bunch of new and original apps, like the Asus Launcher, Asus WebStorage, App Backup and Vibe Music, which should complete the wide range of third party apps, available through Android Market.
As for the battery, the new tablet should go for up to 12 hours on its own and no less than 18 when docked, if we are to believe the producers claims. And while we would expect a couple of hours less of running time in reality, the Prime should still be extremely capable, if not the most capable of all tablets today.
The Transformer Prime should come with a bunch of ports and connectivity options as well, including microHDMI, a microSD card reader, Wireless, Bluetooth 2.1, but also a full SD card reader and a full USB port on the docking station.
Pricing and availability
Looking at this new gagdet’s tech specs and features, you might expect a not very affordable price tag… Well, you are wrong, because the Prime will in fact sell for 499 dollars (the 32 GB version), which is very close to the iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1’s current prices.
The docking station will go for an additional 149 bucks, raising the total price of the future Prime ”ensemble” to a pretty fair 650 dollars tag. Both the tablets and the optional keyboard are set to hit the market in December, but the exact date is still kept under wraps.
With a winning design, great functionality, but also very important technical and performance progresses, the Asus Transformer Prime could be one of Android’s first worthy opponents for the iPad 2.
However, there are a lot of ”coulds” and ”shoulds” right now surrounding the new Asus 10-incher and we would expect its official release, as well as a couple of tests and reviews before saying more than it looks like a great product on paper.