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Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 Review

Included by default with the Transformer Prime is Asus’ keyboard dock accessory. The dock is just 8mm at the front edge, up-sizing slightly to 10.4mm at the back edge. It combines a 22Wh battery, a basic touchpad, a keyboard straight from a netbook and a plethora of Android specific buttons.

There is also a full size SD card slot and a full size USB 2.0 port, which was able to spin up a Western Digital 2.5 inch portable hard disk drive. Again we see the proprietary connector to charge the dock’s battery and then the tablet itself (only through AC) plus add data connectivity. There is also a small orange LED by this port to indicate the dock is being charged, it then turns green once fully charged, just like the one embedded in the power button.

The Android specific buttons lay mostly above the number row and include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and brightness toggles. There are also screenshot, device settings, media, volume and browser buttons. The browser button directs you to the stock browser even if you have another browser like Chrome or Opera installed.

Also included are home, search and menu buttons. You can also Alt-Tab between recently active applications, although there is no Alt button on the left side of the keyboard. Making it a job for a two hands.

There is also a button that locks and turns off the display, it will also unlock the display if you have no lockscreen security such as a pattern or PIN. Sadly however it does not wake the display, but tapping the touchpad or clicking the associated button does wake the display – but this functionality strangely disappears after the tablet has been dormant for about 30 seconds.

The Prime is attached to the keyboard dock by sliding it into mechanism that links the data and charging connections, this is then secured by two metal locks. This additional security while using the tablet in laptop mode does come at the expense of two open ports in the base of the tablet.

Luckily, Asus have implemented a degree of forward thinking here and included two rubber plugs that insert into these slots. While they are easy to insert, they are impossible to remove by hand. If you often like to mix it up between tablet and netbook mode you will be forced to live without the rubber plugs. These things were also be inherently easy to lose.

You detach the tablet by flipping the docking latch and pulling the tablet out of and away from the dock.

As you might expect, you can fold the display down to protect the display. However, opening it again requires the use of finger tips to pry it open. On the plus side, the display automatically turns on when you do manage to get it open.

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  • Davy

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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