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Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 Review

While I would expect many people to leave behind Android 4.0’s stock browser for something like Chrome or Opera, I have based this section on the stock browser to keep things more interesting between reviews.

Most of us just expect something to work, and work without drawing any complaints. The stock browser on the Prime does exactly this. Asus has decided to leave the browser untouched, much like the rest of the software, so it is the stock Ice Cream Sandwich browser. Adversely, HTC often goes to lengths to improve the web experience, without actually achieving anything of notice.

Thanks to the fact we have a 10.1 inch tablet with a 1280 by 800 resolution you able to view and read full webpages with ease. Text reflow is still present for those few occasions you may encounter tiny text.

At all times at the top of the screen will be the tab bar which also grants the option to open a new tab, that by default opens your homepage.

Further to the right along the same bar is three vertical dots menu key, this is new to Android in Ice Cream Sandwich. The old menu button that used to be with the rest of the Android navigational buttons has been retired by Google.

Options accessed from here include refresh, new tab, new incognito tab, share page, find on page, request desktop site, page info and settings.

Also new to Android 4.0 is the ability to save webpages for offline reading, and it is accessed from the menu dropdown. It saves an image of the page and can be retrieved from the bookmark menus. It works well in practice, but since it is an image it does save it in the state you left the webpage. No text reflow or links, just the ability to zoom, scroll and read. It even acts like a ad-blocker of sorts, we found that it removed the ads from the top right of KitGuru’s pages.

Below the tab bar is the URL bar and it is treated by the browser like an additional header to the page. It has the usual back, forward and refresh buttons on the left side of the URL bar.  While on the right is a star, a search magnifying glass and a link to the bookmark menus.

The star is obvious enough, it is there to add bookmarks to either a homescreen or locally on the tablet. Adding bookmarks here to your Google account bookmarks will sync with your Google account and changes are reflected on your PC or laptop.

The search magnifying doesn’t do much more than selecting and clearing the URL bar. Double tapping it will allow you to use voice search.

Into the bookmarks menu now, which is accessed from the right end of the URL bar has three tabs for bookmarks, history and saved pages. Your Chrome bookmarks are integrated into the browser and there is a small collection of local bookmarks as well.

In the history tab you are able to see history based on the date it was viewed or by most visited webpages. You can delete your history straight from here instead of having to take a trip into the more detailed settings menu.

The saved pages tab will display your previously saved pages in a tab format, tapping once will load up the page. A long tap will bring up the option to delete it. It is all pretty simple yet functional; we have Google to thank for that.

Page Loading

Page loading on the Prime was impressive, KitGuru loaded in about 6 seconds and BBC’s desktop site in 4 seconds over my 10 Mb/s Wi-Fi connection. The stock browser’s performance felt overall equal to Chrome for Android.

The main conclusion is that you wont be complaining about the Prime’s page loading performance, or scrolling smoothness for that matter, but that is to be expected when you have a quad core processor under the hood.

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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