ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Review Part II: Battery Life & Moreby Anand Lal Shimpi on December 15, 2011 3:45 AM EST
I stand by my original conclusion to our Eee Pad Transformer Prime review—this thing is definitely the best Android tablet on the market and it cements ASUS' image as being a company that is good at both engineering and design.
I also stand by my conclusion that the Prime isn't perfect. The Prime definitely needs Ice Cream Sandwich. The hardware upgrades alone are enough to make Honeycomb more than sufficient, but it's clear that we're bumping into the limits of the OS itself—particularly when it comes to multitasking. I am hoping that ICS brings about greater responsiveness in those areas where Honeycomb suffers today. On the bright side, stability is much improved over the initial releases of Google's tablet OS and it's totally usable for netbook style workloads.
ASUS' willingness to rush the launch is still inexcusable, and despite my third review sample working properly I'd like to see evidence that all (or at least the vast majority of) retail samples will be similarly well built. What I'm afraid of is seeing some of the issues I encountered with my first two samples out in the field. I do hope ASUS proves me wrong.
I still need to spend more time with the TF Prime in varied WiFi conditions to get a good feeling for how big of a deal the range limitations are. The fact that ASUS included WiFi antenna diversity in the TF Prime indicates that it knew the aluminum construction was going to be an issue. As to why ASUS didn't opt for a plastic RF window similar to the Apple logo on the iPad, your guess is as good as mine. If all of the retail units behave like mine, however, as long as you're in a place with good WiFi signal you should have no issues with network access on the Prime.
The Prime's aluminum chassis also proved to be a problem for GPS reception. ASUS has since removed GPS support from the Transformer Prime's list of specifications as a result of poor GPS performance. If you're looking for an Android tablet to function as a GPS receiver, the Transformer won't fit the bill.
Power efficiency has been improved by a tangible amount. Battery life is now in the realm of the iPad, whereas before there was a more distinct divide between Honeycomb and iOS tablets. While some may argue that it's disappointing to still see battery life numbers below the iPad 2, at least we finally have something more competitive.
As far as NVIDIA and the Tegra 3 are concerned, this is honestly what the launch platform for Honeycomb should have been. I do have concerns about the SoC's ability to scale to even higher resolutions, but for a 1280 x 800 display Tegra 3 works well. I'm still not sold on the move to four cores, but they aren't a detriment to performance or power consumption so I can't really complain. To be honest, I'd much rather have four A9s than just a higher clocked Tegra 2 so I'm mostly okay with the move. My preference would be for a brand new architecture, but we won't get that until 28nm hits. If Qualcomm can deliver what it's expected to, however, Krait may be a formidable competitor in the not too distant future.