Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 Review

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For some reason I always get tablets over the duration of my school breaks and while the Transformer Prime is not going to satisfy my needs for Battlefield 3 or Skyrim over this time it comfortably found a place in my life. Although I don’t yet see the point of purchasing a tablet for myself as my smartphone can do 98% of the stuff I found myself using the Prime for, with a near-equivalent user experience.

The Asus Transformer Prime is arguably the best looking tablet currently available but the aluminum backing doesn’t add to functionality. It has been widely documented that the Prime falls flat on its face when it comes to GPS functionality. The HTC Incredible S and One X can both pick up and use at least 6 satellites and get accurate locks to 40 feet from a window with a not so clear view to the sky. The Prime fails to view a single satellite at all, an issue so bad that GPS functionality was removed from its specification sheet and Asus are now issuing GPS dongles that remedy the problem.

Asus are aware they messed this up big time in the Prime and the solution (a RF window) will be present on the upcoming aluminum-bodied Transformer Pad Infinity. The recently launched Transformer Pad TF300 doesn’t have any issues in the first place because it has a plastic backing.

Getting away from the connectivity issues, the Prime’s body looks and feels good in hand. The 586 gram mass of aluminum and Gorilla Glass doesn’t feel too heavy in hand thanks to the 8.3mm thin profile. The aluminum back is going to be prone to hairline scratches, however.

The Super IPS+ display is frankly amazing, colours are true to their origins and the viewing angles are a ridiculous 178 degrees. The only real let down of the display on the Prime is its relatively limited resolution of 1280 by 800. All flagship tablets from now on should be shipping with Full 1080p displays.

The Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset is arguably king of the hill in the tablet world, its closest competition being Apple’s A5X in the new iPad. The only time I noticed the Prime ever skip a beat was when the power saving performance profile was enabled whilst playing graphic intensive games.

Asus ships the Prime with a lightly modified Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, no silly manufacturer skins here. While sometimes you may associate a lack of bugs with a basic user interface and lack of functionality, this is not the case. The only bugs we ever noticed was the occasional browser crash. There was a noticeable amount of Asus related bloat though. Something that can easily be forgotten about considering Asus appear fully dedicated to providing firmware updates.

The 8 MP rear facing camera on the Prime is simply amazing, we never expected something this good in a tablet. The only drawback is that it doesn’t have the instant shutter feature of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and HTC One series.

Finally, the bundled keyboard dock adds a great deal of value and productivity to the experience and that’s not even considering the added battery life. If you find yourself doing a lot of typing on the go but also want the tablet experience you really don’t have anywhere else to look.

So how much will it set me back?

The Asus Transformer Prime has a RRP of £499.99 for the 32 GB models, this price also includes the keyboard dock.

Other tablets to consider

There are no other Tegra 3 tablets widely available other than the Prime and, to an extent, the recently launched Transformer Pad TF300 . There is no sign of other tablets coming from major players any time soon either; strange. The Transformer Prime really has no direct competition.

asus transformer pad1 300x232 Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 ReviewASUS TransformerPad Infinity 700 300x245 Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 Review

If you need true GPS functionality, go with the Pad TF300 as it is £100 cheaper and includes much of the Prime’s features. It arguably offers better value for money but we’ll have to wait to get our hands on it ourselves to be sure.

Meanwhile if you can’t resist the temptation of a Full high definition display on a 10.1 inch screen (again with Asus) the Transformer Pad Infinity is also due to be launching soon. It will also have a higher clocked Tegra 3 chipset and fix the GPS problems found in the Prime.

Software Information

Our unit was running Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich with build number 9.4.2.21

Pros

  • 32 GB of storage and the keyboard dock included in the £499.99 RRP.
  • Wonderful display in terms of colours and viewing angles.
  • Tegra 3 chipset surpasses anything else out there.
  • Runs a relatively untampered version Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
  • Asus arededicated to providing firmware updates.
  • The camera and video quality is impressive to say the least.
  • Very few bugs encountered over a two week period.

Cons

  • Display only has a 1280×800 resolution.
  • GPS functionality is non-existent by nature of design.
  • Those wanting a 3G model will have to wait for currently unreleased tablets.
  • Aluminum backing scratches relatively easily.

KitGuru says: Tablets, by nature of their form factor are mostly just pieces of plastic, glass and aluminum glued together to me, whereas phones are the beholders of the beauty and design. The Asus Transformer Prime comes under the phone category in regards to this. While it will never make calls or connect to 3G networks in the traditional sense (or GPS for that matter) we really don’t care about that in a tablet. What the Prime combines is some of the finest exterior design, internal specifications and a wonderful keyboard dock into an experience that is currently unrivalled by other tablet manufacturers.

We still can’t wait for the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity and its Full HD display though.

WORTH BUYING12 300x300 Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 Review

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 Review, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
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  • Davy

    Wow thats a hell of a review. so much information my brain hurts :)

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  • Davis

    Its impressive, but the Ipad 3 has put a real dampner on these due to the low resolution and the catch up they all need to play now against Apple.

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  • Rt23ds

    I think its a little expensive for what you get if I was being blunt about it, but its a nicely designed product and it seems powerful for even casual gaming. Retina display has pushed everything forward really which has made this look already a little out of date.

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  • Guil

    Two weeks with this tablet were more than enough for me to experience all the issues already pointed out by other reviewers plus a brand new one: the shockingly poor build quality.

    Yes, the WiFi is faulty. I use both the TF201 and a Galaxy Nexus in bed and, although the signal is quite weak on the smartphone, it never disconnects and the browsing/downloading speed is very good. The same can’t be said about the tablet, which often disconnects and sometimes requires a reboot so I can use the internet again (and what’s a tablet with dodgy WiFi? A paper weight?).

    Yes, the GPS is useless. Asus dropped the ball twice here, first by not testing the unit properly and then by removing the function from the specs list. Shameful, to say the least.

    Now to the build quality: although the TF201 is a stunning device and both its screen and its metallic body look fantastic, my unit proved to be cheaply manufactured when the glass started detaching from the main body a few days ago. It’s a month old tablet and I’m extremely careful with my electronics.

    Right now all I can do is regret as I purchased this tablet in the US and brought it back to Ireland, so sending it back will be a costly pain in the neck both for me and for my wife’s friend who would have to drop it at UPS.

    I’m really disappointed with Asus and the current selection of Android tablets in the market. No wonder the iPad is flying off the shelves, all that Apple has to do is release products that don’t suck.

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  • http://www.kitguru.net Blair McClelland

    Cheers Davy!

    I have to agree Davis, perhaps the reason it is taking so long for other Tegra 3 tablets to come out is because everyone is running around trying to find a decent supply of FHD display to create a tablet that can go head to head with the new iPad’s

    It’s decent value to me Rt23ds, 20 quid more than the new 32GB iPad. It really depends if you’d prefer a higher resolution screen or the ability to type anything of length

    Guil, I encountered no Wi-Fi problems that I could attribute to my review unit (the dodgy router is to blame). Completly agree on the GPS points. The review unit I had could have been cherry picked but it has definitely been around the place and all it had to show for it was a few collections of scratches on the back. Have you tried getting in contact directly with Asus? Either way it’s really bad to hear you’re having issues with your Prime

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  • http://notebookspecification.com lekko

    Its impressive, but the Ipad 3 has put a real dampner on these due to the low resolution

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  • http://www.kitguru.net Blair McClelland

    I’d have to agree Ieeko, it’s not majorly noticeable by itself by switching between a decent phone and the Prime the extra pixel density is noticeable. Shouldn’t be too long until we start seeing Full HD tablets though

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