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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  • horangl3e - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    do you have to post the review as soon as the NDA is lifted? If that is not the case, why not wait a few more days to share the final review? I enjoyed reading what is present right now but was just wondering. Also would you recommend waiting till Win8 tablets if I have no necessity for tablets this very moment? Reply
  • bupkus - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Also would you recommend waiting till Win8 tablets if I have no necessity for tablets this very moment?

    Sounds like you answered your own question.
    Reply
  • MadMan007 - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Yes, they have to post as soon as the NDA is lifted because first reviews = page hits. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    It's generally a good idea to have something up when the NDA lifts (plus, if you don't have something up when the NDA lifts manufacturers may think you don't need to be sampled alongside those who do post when the NDA lifts). In the PC space this is rarely an issue since we normally get 7 - 40 days with a product before the NDA lifts. In the mobile space it's a much bigger problem as many reviewers seem to be ok with a 2 - 24 hour testing period (+time for writing). As I mentioned in the article, I fully expect this to change over time (and I'm actively campaigning for it to change), it just doesn't help when ASUS contributes to the problem. To ASUS' credit however, I don't believe this was ultra intentional but it happened nonetheless.

    The tablet space is one area where you should wait if you can. The segment is evolving too quickly.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • euler007 - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    You have to give them a pass though, clearly their #1 goal is getting it out to stores before Christmas and they had to compress their entire release schedule, not just the delay between shipping it to reviewers and lifting the NDA.

    Why not do a first impression and an in-depth review after a few days?
    Reply
  • metafor - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    That seems to be the better way of it. The problem with mobile launches is that they do occur very hot-off-the-press in terms of final software/hardware release. They occur so often every year and there's such a race to compete that even if you got a sample very early on, it likely would not have had nearly as complete a software stack. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    This was our first impression post :-P The replacement Prime arrived this morning and I've been working on it since it showed up :) Expect more in the coming days.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • aggrobot - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Sadly, they do. The reason for this is to get the page views. Yes, a more thorough review would be great, and it'll come. For now though, they have to keep up with the competition of suffer the lost visits. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    I felt like I did as best as we could given the WiFi issues of the test sample, more is coming though...

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • MadAd - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    is it only me that hates that ugly black border around virtually every tablet since the iplod?

    I mean what wrong with having screen to the edge? Somewhere to put your fingers? pfft ill trade that space for working area and hold it at the edge, or if not make it smaller for my pocket
    Reply

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