Final Words

Assuming the WiFi and minor dock issue I encountered aren't widespread (ASUS insists they aren't), I am comfortable calling the Eee Pad Transformer Prime the absolute best Android tablet on the market today. The hardware looks and feels great. ASUS picked the best display possible and married it to some really good industrial design. I was impressed with the styling of the Zenbook, and the Prime continues to position ASUS as a purveyor of high quality mobile devices.

At the same time, NVIDIA has finally delivered an SoC capable of delivering the sort of smooth experience we'd expect from a $500 tablet. Honeycomb was a great first attempt by Google at a tablet OS, but Tegra 3 really makes the whole experience complete. Everything you'd expect to be smooth, is finally smooth. Video playback is no longer an issue, the Prime and Tegra 3 can finally play back virtually anything you'd want to throw at it. Thank goodness.

As good as the combination is today, I admit that I still can't wait to put Ice Cream Sandwich on this thing. Even more polish on the OS side (and the absence of any hardware issues during the testing process) would've easily catapulted the Prime into editor's choice territory.

Battery life is the big unknown at this point. At worst it's roughly on par with the old Eee Pad Transformer. I'll know more in the coming days, but 9 hours of continuous use isn't bad. The question is how much better will it be as we start playing with the available power options? I'm also curious to see what having four cores does to web page loading performance. There's clearly an impact on JavaScript rendering, but what about the overall real world experience? In my testing I was limited by the WiFi issue I mentioned earlier, but I hope to have an answer to this soon enough.

The inevitable iPad comparison is, well, inevitable. I still firmly believe there's not a whole lot of iOS/Android cross shopping. If you want an iPad, that's what you should buy. Android isn't an iOS substitute, just as iOS isn't an Android substitute. You can do similar things on both, but personal preference will really determine what suits you the best.

I'll have more coverage on the Prime over the coming days, but if you're making your decision before then: this is the Android tablet to get.

Update: ASUS has removed GPS support from the Prime's official spec sheet. Check out our update here as well as our follow-up to the review.

HDMI Output, Controller Compatibility & Gaming Experience
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  • metafor - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    1. The advantages of a companion core apply just as much to single, dual or quad core systems. In each case, individual cores can be power-gated. The companion core is there to provide lower idle power even beyond a single core. So no, going with a dual-core doesn't somehow make a companion core less necessary.

    2. A15 is huge compared to A9. Huge. Both in area and power. If anything, an A15 SoC needs a companion core even more than anything based on A9.

    3. Because A15 is huge, a quad-core in a smartphone form factor isn't very feasible at 32nm. Nor is quad-core really all that useful for the vast majority of use-cases anyway. Especially since A15 performs so much better per-core than an A9.
    Reply
  • phantom505 - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Yeah, who can put up with a mere 9 hours of continuous playback. It's so bad....

    Oh wait...
    Reply
  • medi01 - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    iPad 25 Wh battery.
    Galaxy Tab 14.8 Wh battery.

    ;)
    Reply
  • thunng8 - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Why are you comparing the ipad to the 7" Galaxy tab? Of course the ipad will have a bigger battery. Reply
  • quiksilvr - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    I was actually surprised too. To be fair, the A5 chip is huuuuge in the iPad, but that doesn't change the fact that it's still beating a quad core setup.

    My guess is ICS will optimize quad core capabilities more and we'll be seeing a very different picture once that is released.

    So I say wait for ICS and then pass judgement.
    Reply
  • vision33r - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    How is it a surprise? Core i5 can match up against Core i7 in 95% if apps without needing the extra cores.

    In real world test, the difference between Core i5 and i7 performance is hardly measurable.
    Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Of course by the time ICS is actually available on these sorts of devices, iPad3 with A6 will probably be out...

    Point is: a "my vaporware can beat up your vaporware" contest is generally not very enlightening to anyone.
    Reply
  • daveloft - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    It has nothing to do with the CPU, it's all about the GPU. Reply
  • medi01 - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Yeah, iPad wins hands down and it's very practical too.
    Think about encoding video in a browser using javascript, for instance
    Reply
  • metafor - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    I think a lot of people (including myself) go with Android because we like the additional features provided by the OS -- true multitasking, choice of a plethora of browsers, third party players, no iTunes, Google integration, etc.

    But yes, iPad 2 has been king of both performance and battery life for a while now.
    Reply

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