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Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 Review

Software Overview

The Asus Transformer Prime originally launched with Android 3.2 Honeycomb back in December of last year and was then one of the first devices to get upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. This makes Asus one of the best manufacturers of Android devices when it comes to software updates. In fact, as soon as the initial setup was complete it was already downloading a firmware update for me.

Asus has not messed that with the Primes user interface. All they have added to the stock Android experience is some of their own useful widgets (see above) and a tab for some Asus customised settings.


A lockscreen is a lockscreen, and unlike what HTC does on their Sense skin the lockscreen serves no real productive purpose other than being a layer of security.

By default the lockscreen security termed as slide is enabled, which enables you to quickly unlock the Prime or launch the camera application. You can also disable lockscreen security entirely or use a pattern, PIN or password to secure your tablet.

You are able to encrypt all of your data using a numeric PIN or password, which you’ll need to enter on start up to unencrypt your data. Forget this and you’ll have to wipe every piece of data on the tablet.

The notification overlay can be accessed from the lockscreen now, something that is new in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and is a big step forward.


Once your top of the line tablet has been unlocked you are presented with five homepages, each of which has a 8 by 7 grid to hold all of your favourite widgets and application shortcuts. You cannot add more, or take away homescreens.

The series of dots in the top right corner takes you to the application drawer. Part of me wishes there was a way that could allow you to access the application drawer from where the rest of the Android navigation buttons are – permanently in the bottom left of the display.

The other functions found in the bottom left corner are the back, home and multitasking buttons. The multitasking button will bring up a transparent overlay to quickly resume recent applications. Swiping the individual tiles left or right will close the applications. A application specific menu does appear when the application has not been updated for Android 4.0’s new button scheme.

The bottom right corner is home to quick notification thumbnails, the time, connectivity logos and a battery bar.

This lower status bar area does not disappear at all, at any time. Although you can enable a lock on it so you won’t accidentally tap the home button when trying to play Angry Birds. When watching videos or pictures it does fade out slightly but true a true full screen ability is not present.

Tapping on this area will display an extended overlay that Asus has modified to include some of their own settings such as Super IPS+ mode, auto brightness and rotate toggles. There are also toggles for Asus’ modified power profiles for the Tegra 3 chipset – power saving, balanced and performance.

On top of this is the usual notification, time and date and battery percentage information.

Application Drawer

An application drawer is exactly that and there is not much more to it than that. Under Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich there are two tabs you can choose from; apps and widgets.

Apps displays all installed applications in alphabetical order. There is no option to view your downloaded applications but it really didn’t bother me personally. Long tapping an application will allow you to add a shortcut to one of your homescreens. Depending on whether you installed the app yourself or not, it will give you the option to uninstall it without having to go deep into the application settings.

The widgets tab will display all of the installed widgets in alphabetical order, a long press of one will allow you to add it to one of your homescreens, given there is enough space. There is also the link to the the Google Play Store in the top right corner.

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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