The Display: Perfect

The original Transformer had a display that performed similarly to the iPad, but was far more reflective thanks to a fairly large gap between the outer glass and the LCD panel underneath. I excused the first generation Eee Pad in the display department because it was good enough and $100 cheaper than the competing Apple solution. The Prime reaches price parity with the iPad 2, and as a result it must meet a higher standard. ASUS doesn't disappoint - the Eee Pad Transformer Prime has the best display I've seen on a tablet to date.

The resolution is a Honeycomb-standard 1280 x 800. The 16:10 panel measures 10.1-inches diagonally, giving it a very similar surface area to the iPad 2's 9.7-inch 4:3 display. The increase in resolution more than makes up for the larger screen however, ASUS delivers 145 pixels per inch compared to the iPad 2's now quite-dated ~132 PPI.

It's not all about pixel density here, the Transformer Prime has better white and black levels than anything else in its class. It also sets the new benchmark for contrast ratio at nearly 1200:1. The huge gap between the outermost glass and the IPS LCD panel has been reduced significantly, in turn reducing glare.

Display Brightness

Display Brightness

Display Contrast

ASUS also has a Super IPS+ mode that drives the display to a class-leading 683 nits. The Super IPS+ mode obviously draws more power but ASUS recommends it if you're trying to use your tablet outdoors. In our review of the PlayBook we found that 600 nits was really the cutoff for usability in sunny conditions, and ASUS easily exceeds that. It's also worth pointing out that while Super IPS+ increases black levels as well, the resulting contrast ratio remains the same.


Original TF (left) vs. Super IPS+ enabled on the TF Prime (right)


iPad 2 (left) vs. Super IPS+ enabled on the TF Prime (right)

Viewing angles are absolutely awesome. Yes this is the same ASUS that let us down with the UX panels but it definitely got the panel right when it came to the Transformer Prime. Fingerprints are still going to be evident on the display but they don't seem to be as bad as on the original Transformer, and they do wipe off easily. This time around ASUS bundles a microfiber cloth to aid in keeping your Transformer looking fresh.

ASUS, Apple and the rest of the tablet world are in hot pursuit of even higher resolution panels, the problem is yields on these small 1080p and 2048x1536 panels just aren't high enough yet. The Android crowd will have to wait, although Apple is apparently pushing very hard (and trying to buy up a lot of inventory) to deliver a "retina display" equipped iPad 2+/3 by Q2 next year. I'm hearing Q3/Q4 for everyone else and it's still not a guarantee that Apple will be able to meet its aggressive targets either at this point.

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  • ATOmega - Tuesday, December 06, 2011 - link

    Exactly my reasoning, and it's easy enough to see that the Transformer Prime boasts better features like GPS, camera and display.

    After having owned an iPad2, there must be a reason why I want this thing. And it's for all the things Apple decided to fleece me on so that they could jack up their margins.

    I never liked Apple in the first place, but it's obvious they don't want to truly compete with the Android OS.
    Reply
  • sigmatau - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    I was really hoping Nvidia would have something special with kal-el. This is pretty horrible when compared to hardware that has been available for about a year.

    It seems that the Nvidia-equiped tablets should be targeted at a much lower price point. They definetly should not be in the top tier tablets. I can see them selling at $300 or less.
    Reply
  • UpSpin - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Don't forget the display brightness. I don't think that the processor makes such a huge difference in power consumption, but the display on the Prime is much much brighter than the display of the iPad, and this will consume a huge amount of power. It's also brighter than the display of the first gen transformer, and the prime has a quad core and it gets the same or higher battery life than the first gen, I think that's really a big improvement.
    And if you want to use a tablet on the go, outside the house, you really need the brightest display possible. And as you can see in the picture, the difference between the sunlight visibility of the iPad and Prime is like day and night. Therefore I at least, sacrifice the 3 hours less battery life.
    Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    The display surely only uses more power if you drive it at a brighter level?

    And a well-designed tablet should have a light sensor, and should do a good job of auto-calibrating the brightness to the environment, so that most of the time it is NOT running the screen in bright mode. After all, that's what we expect regarding the core --- we throttle CPU when it's not needed. So, sorry, I don't think this is an acceptable answer.

    I continue to state my original thesis --- I suspect that DRAM power is substantially more important than most people believe, and that one of Apple's advantages is that they ship iOS devices with minimal DRAM. This is obviously a hassle for developers, and even for some power users, but that's the tradeoff one has to make.

    (Also what's the story with Android and VM? iOS does NOT do any "write" swapping --- code is paged in, but data is not paged out, and I expect that this is a power issue, nothing else --- Apple doesn't want the power hit of swapping.
    I thought Android was like this --- did not write pages --- but I have read stuff recently that said no, it is now using standard desktop type VM, which is likely also a power sink.)
    Reply
  • metafor - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    nVidia's solution is actually much more sophisticated than that. It's similar to a method Intel started using a ways back for laptops.

    It's not just auto-dimming the entire screen; it's auto-dimming every pixel individually. There is fine-grain control over the LED backlight of the display. Areas in each frame that contains black will now not only have the LCD crystal for that pixel in a "block" mode, but it will also have the backlight for that specific pixel dim.

    This actually produces benefits other than just battery life; one of the biggest problems with LCD's is that blacks aren't really black because the crystal isn't able to block 100% of the backlight.

    By dimming the backlight, the parts of an image that is supposed to be black will be closer to true black. This improves contrast and provides for more accurate pictures.
    Reply
  • UpSpin - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    how shall this work if the backlight is created by an LED array at the edge, which almost all smaller (<20") displays are. So with an edge lit backlight you can't reduce the LED brightness block wise.

    This is different if the used panel has a full array of LEDs, which is expensive, more power consuming and thicker, so a no go on a mobile device that thin. And neither Intel nor Nvidia have impact on this, because this requires a different panel.
    Reply
  • TechAnandUser - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    BenchMarking App's are not yet optimized. So please wait !! Reply
  • fteoath64 - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    Why would you want a Win8 tablet ?. Its slow, heavy, short battery-life and probably cost 50% more!.You are better off with a mid-range slim laptop which you probably have. So unless you grab one of these or already have an ipad, you have no idea what a tablet can do for you. Reply
  • eddman - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    You might have a time machine then, cause right now there are no win 8 tablets, let alone ARM based ones. Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, December 15, 2011 - link

    "Its slow, heavy, short battery-life and probably cost 50% more"

    Citation needed, citation needed, citation needed, and citation needed respectively. None of us have tested finalized W8 table hardware yet, unless you are from the future.
    Reply

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