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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  • Penti - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    It looks like they have finally a pretty good product and software, they should dump the Eee pad and the redundant awkward name now and it would be even better :)

    Would love to see better optimized software, but this is what you could have expected plus with a great screen and I wonder how well it would work as a thin-client with Citrix? Keyboard and touchpad should make it a pretty good experience, does it? Chromebooks can just forget it any way :) Here we have form factor, local software, multimedia (Chromebooks are not even having accelerated H.264 as standard) and so on. With keyboard docked and standard, and not just a browser that was obvious would be replaced by a Android distribution of some kind any way. Maybe that time is now. Even though I wouldn't except Asus to complete that process. Fun to see them kinda getting there act together though.
    Reply
  • Malih - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    I agree that Eee is an awful name, especially for a flagship/cutting-edge product.
    Eee is associated with low-end Atom netbooks, since that's the first device that uses the name. And I always hate that Samsung name their mobile devices Galaxy.

    IMHO, the name Zenbook sounds good, maybe they should invent something consistent with that for their top-line tablet, Zenpad?
    Reply
  • Penti - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    Zenbook is still kinda awkward but it's better, ZenPad doesn't do anything for me and sounds silly. Transformer Prime is a pretty good name. Transformer might cause some confusion though, if they decide to release one without any keyboard attachment. Their Windows tablet PCs (slates as of now) might as well get some updated finish and release as a Zenbook slate though. Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    "The 16:9 panel measures 10.1-inches diagonally, giving it a larger surface area than the iPad 2's 9.7-inch 4:3 display. "

    If you do your math, this isn't actually true. A 10.1" 16:9 display has a surface area of 43.58", while a 9.7" 4:3 display has a surface area of 45.17". This is one of the main reasons behind widescreen, they get to trumpet a larger diagonal measurement while actually saving costs on smaller total area. I am a little disappointed you fell for it.
    Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    some numbers you can plug in for verification (rounding all around!):
    16:9 10.0" display has sides of 8.8 and 4.951. 8.8/4.95 ~= 16/9 (correct ratios). 8.8² + 4.95² ~= 10.1² (correct dimensions for given diagonal, shown via pythagorean theorem).
    area then: 8.8*4.95 = 43.96.

    4:3 9.7" display has sides of 7.76 and 5.82. 7.76/5.82 ~= 4/3 (correct ratios). 7.76²+5.81² ~= 9.7² (correct dimensions for given diagonal, shown via pythagorean theorem).
    area: 7.76*5.81=45.09.

    45.09 is larger than 43.96. Ipad2 has a screen with a larger surface area. Run the numbers. Do it without dropping as many places as I did in this post, result will be the same. Again, disappointing

    (I don't have a horse in this race, I own no Apple products. I do hate widescreen monitors though)
    Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    interestingly, the gap was closed somewhat when I dropped more places in typing up the second post. The first is more accurate, and the gap is bigger. But they both show the ipad as having more surface area, and that will hold true with pretty much whatever level of exactitude one wishes to calculate it Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    It's actually a 16:10 panel, my statement was incorrect. But the Prime's display measures roughly 8.5" x 5.25". The iPad 2 by comparison measures approximately 7.75" x 5.75". 44.625 in^2 vs. 44.5625 in^2, giving the Prime a slightly larger display (albeit negligible). Reply
  • Solandri - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    At 9.7" diagonal and 4:3 aspect ratio, the iPad 2's screen is 7.76" x 5.82".

    At a 10.1" diagonal and 16:10 aspect ratio, the Prime's display is 8.56" x 5.35".
    Reply
  • Solandri - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Anand's math is right. His aspect ratio is wrong. The Transformer Prime has a 1280x800 screen, which is 16:10, not 16:9. At a 16:10 aspect ratio, you end up with 45.85 square inches of surface area.

    Personally I think 16:10 is the "right" aspect ratio for a multifunction device. You waste10% of the screen when displaying a 16:9 video. A 4:3 device wastes 25% of the screen. The extra width is nicer for web browsing too.

    Where the 4:3 screen does better is displaying pages scanned from paper or magazines. Subtracting a 1-inch margin along all four sides, a 4:3 screen wastes 4% of its screen displaying a Letter-sized sheet of paper, while a 16:10 wastes 13%. (With A4 paper and 2-cm margins, it's reversed. The 4:3 wastes 12%, the 16:10 screen wastes 6%.)

    But that's counter to the whole point of tablets - to free us from the shackles of a paper-bound world. As a media consumption device, I think 16:10 is the better aspect ratio. It's almost exactly the golden ratio too (1.62), so most art which is produced will fit in it better.
    Reply
  • GnillGnoll - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    For browsing the web and reading, portrait orientation is often a better fit. Though it requires a certain minimum width and resolution to work really well. Reply

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