Asus reveals trim, stylish Transformer Prime

Asus’ Eee Pad Transformer has quickly become one of the most popular iPad alternatives in the rapidly growing tablet market. Now, the company has officially unveiled the next-generation Transformer Prime. This slimmed-down successor measures just 1/3" thick, almost exactly matching the slender profile of the iPad 2. At 1.29lbs, the Prime is actually a little bit lighter than Apple’s latest.

Despite shedding weight, the Transformer has managed to put on some muscle in the form of an Nvidia Tegra 3 system-on-chip. Otherwise known as Kal El, this quad-core chip doubles the number of CPU cores in the Tegra 2 SoC found inside the original Transformer. The Tegra 3 also has an additional companion core designed to extend battery life when the system isn’t being taxed. Asus calls the chip’s graphics component a "12-core GeForce GPU." However, it didn’t provide any additional information on the integrated GeForce.

Like its predecessor, the Transformer Prime features a 10.1" IPS panel with a 1280×800 display resolution. The Prime also boasts a "Super IPS+" mode that’s claimed to deliver a brightness level of about 600 nits. Asus says this mode offers better color reproduction and should make the screen easier to read in outdoor environments.

The panel’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass has been skinned with a "hydro-oleophobic" coating that’s said to resist smudging. The same coating has been applied to the Prime’s textured metal exterior, which has a "spun" finish similar to Asus’ Zenbook. This exterior will be available in gray and gold hues—with matching keyboard docks, of course.

Yes, the Transformer’s defining characteristic makes a return with the Prime. The dock is thinnner now, but it still packs a touchpad in addition to the chiclet keyboard. There’s also an auxiliary battery in the dock that purportedly extends the Prime’s 12-hour run time to an impressive 18 hours.

The dock plays host to a full-sized USB port and an SD card slot, while the tablet sports a Micro HDMI port, a Micro SD slot, and a 3.5-mm audio jack. Amazingly, the built-in speakers are actually slightly larger than the ones in the original Transformer—and Asus says they sound better, too. The cameras have also been upgraded to 8MP rear and 1.2MP front units. The former can record 1080p video if you can get over how silly you’ll look while recording video with a tablet.

Although the original Transformer’s $400 asking price has surely helped its popularity, the Prime will start at $500. Asus is going to keep selling both models, so it makes sense to price the Prime at a premium. Besides, it’s still a better deal than the iPad 2. The base iPad model only gives you 16GB of built-in memory for $500, while the Prime offers 32GB. A 64GB model will be available at $600, the same price as the 32GB iPad 2.

So when, exactly, will this new Transformer be available? Asus isn’t giving a precise date, but the Prime is slated to launch in December. It will arrive with Android 3.2, a.k.a. Honeycomb, and receive an over-the-air upgrade to Android 4.0, otherwise known as Ice Cream Sandwich, when the new OS code has been "optimized, tested and approved."

Comments closed
    • JLW777
    • 8 years ago

    Decided to get this besides an ipad 2, as then I can be both AMD and Nvidia fan boi and can bash apple exclusively 😛

    • TO11MTM
    • 8 years ago

    LOLOLOLOL. Android 4.0 will be “Tested and approved” I have yet to see a version of android since 1.5 that doesn’t slowly turn into a pile of dogshit over the first few months of ownership.

    • mutarasector
    • 8 years ago

    I’m hoping that Asus has designed this thing to be pretty much capable of being the base platform as their ARM based Win 8 tablet as well. One thing that gives me hope for this is the presence of the GeForce GPU. Given the number of notebooks that use it, it’s got to be considerably easier for Nvidia/Microsoft to support, no?

    • allston232
    • 8 years ago

    Hasbro is gonna go after asus’s ass!

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    this form factor with the dock would be a immediate sale if it dual booted win 8.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      SD slots — it’ll be dual-bootable somehow.

      But what exactly do you think the ARM version of Windows8 is going to get you? I’m genuinely curious. I could understand the appeal if MS was committed to some sort of virtualization/emulation/x-compiling of x86, so that the huge library of existing Windows apps was runnable (at least the apps that don’t require a lot of performance, thanks to both ARM and the nature of such tech), But even with a concerted push by MS — who don’t command developer attention the way they once did — the library of native Win8/ARM apps is going to be tiny initially (I wouldn’t even count on Office being there right away), and certainly smaller than Android, So I don’t really see the benefit except in some nebulous “future” that doesn’t arrive until long after this hardware is obsolete, if it arrives at all.

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 8 years ago

        you are right I forgot it won’t run x86 apps, lol. never mind this is perfect.

    • phez
    • 8 years ago

    So I recently went out and bought a cheap laptop for relatives overseas. I found the [url=http://shopping1.hp.com/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/WFS/WW-USSMBPublicStore-Site/en_US/-/USD/ViewProductDetail-Start;sid=Bs2Ms9Vt79iMs5vXoAdLJwxi1MO0wgdjPrw=?ProductUUID=NEUQ7EN5uvcAAAEx4IgUGue2&CatalogCategoryID=JlIQ7EN6L8YAAAEuBn0io97A&JumpTo=OfferList<]HP 635[/url<] for about $360CAD after tax; Fusion E450, 15", 4gb ram, Win7 pro, even hdmi out. I was pretty surprised at the features and performance I get for those measley dollars. With the HDMI it makes for quite the little moviehouse. Then I saw this thing announced ... twice the price, the cost of sleek industrial design? Android only? Tablets have always perplexed me in their use and function, and this doesn't change my opinion. I'll pass.

      • Laykun
      • 8 years ago

      The value proposition of the laptop you purchased is quite high for what you want to use it for. However it misses some of the core features of the tablet that make the tablet somewhat pricey.

      Compared to the 15.6″ laptop the tablets have a far superior array of sensors. 8mp + 1.2mp cameras, multi-touch input, magnetometer/accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensor. Tablets also have a plate of strengthened glass you won’t find on a laptop, solid state memory array for storage and an IPS panel for the display. Together I imagine these factors tend to drive up the costs of the device and why manufacturers might have been reluctant to get into the market before the iPad to see if customers would actually be interested.

      There is a lot of patented technology that goes into building a tablet, and the cost of getting the right to use that technology will be passed onto the consumer.

      There are a lot of things your laptop can’t do that a tablet can because of these technologies.

    • willyolio
    • 8 years ago

    see, this tablet is almost good enough for me to consider replacing my laptop for school. with a good office suite and the keyboard attachment, it has enough power to do things and battery life to last a full day.

    but it still doesn’t do windows, i’m guessing. can’t open up a PDF + a word processor side by side?

      • Beelzebubba9
      • 8 years ago

      Android has good multi-tasking – why wouldn’t it be able to run a PDF reader and a word processor at once?

      I think it’d make a pretty great ultra-portable if size and battery life were the top considerations….

        • crazybus
        • 8 years ago

        You missed the operative phrase “do windows”.

        • willyolio
        • 8 years ago

        i don’t want to switch back and forth, i want them displayed side-by-side.

        or add a third window if necessary, maybe an internet browser. that’s pretty common for me, browser + word processor + pdf.

        • PsychicMuffin
        • 8 years ago

        He was saying “do windows”, not “do Windows”. He was specifically referring to the fact that all android apps are full-screen, thus you can’t open two of them and look at them at the same time side by side.

        • indeego
        • 8 years ago

        Severe memory limitations, up until this generation of phones.

    • ModernPrimitive
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve never been a huge tablet fan but for the price/(possible) performance this one does pique my interest. I’m waiting to see how outlandish the price on the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is also….

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      Wish it had a win 8 option honestly or mobile windows.

        • ModernPrimitive
        • 8 years ago

        Good point. I think that would interest me even more.

        • Beelzebubba9
        • 8 years ago

        What would Windows 8 improve over Android 4.0? It’s not x86, so you don’t have any application support, so what’s the draw?

        I’m excited for eventual Windows 8/x86 tablets when Intel drops the next generation Atom at 22nm, but I’m unconvinced on ARM.

          • ModernPrimitive
          • 8 years ago

          In my case curiosity only. For myself I would only be interested in basic functions and wouldn’t need a huge app ecosystem but among the .00001% I’m afraid. Good point sir.

    • dragmor
    • 8 years ago

    The 2nd generation looks like a decent improvement but until they fix the problems with the dock its not worth it.

    I’ll wait for the 4th gen with Intel’s Haswell, a super hi res screen and a working dock.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]the Prime is slated to launch in December[/quote<] I see what you did there, and I wish you hadn't.... We have one of the original Transformers in our 'testing fleet' and it's one of the least-popular units. I'll ask around for input as to why and report.

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      I don’t see what he did. explain.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 8 years ago

        …”slated” to launch, and it’s a slate-esque computing device.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 8 years ago

          I have to think this was unintentional. If he’d done it on purpose, I would think it’d be “slated to roll out”, combining as many Transformer and tablet puns as possible into a handful of words.

      • bthylafh
      • 8 years ago

      I’m not impressed with the keyboard on the one I had for testing. Too laggy and too prone to detect phantom keystrokes or phantom touchpad movement. Also the power management sucks: won’t sleep worth a damn, so standby power life is crap even with the keyboard’s extra battery.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 8 years ago

    THIS is what I’ve been holding out for. Well, the Prime AND someone to give me the money to buy it and a dock. Maybe for my birthday next year.

    • NeelyCam
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]However, it didn't provide any additional information on the integrated GeForce.[/quote<] .. because there isn't anything worth mentioning..?

      • Farting Bob
      • 8 years ago

      I would say the performance of the GPU is worth mentioning as Tegra 3 is supposed to have more grunt than its older sibling in that department. Maybe this is a scaled back version that doesnt offer much improvement but enables more battery life as a result.

    • RtFusion
    • 8 years ago

    I really like the metal finish on the back, really stylish.

    • UberGerbil
    • 8 years ago

    Hard to say, but it looks like the keyboard still lacks a delete key and may have some of the other limitations [url=https://techreport.com/articles.x/21332/2<]Geoff noted[/url<] in the first one. And it looks like it's thinner, so the keys will have less travel, making the whole typing experience worse. But I'll reserve judgement until Fry's gets one in and I can put actual hands on it.

      • ludi
      • 8 years ago

      Delete key, no. Double-width backspace key, yes:

      [url<]https://techreport.com/image.x/2011_11_8_Asus_reveals_trim_stylish_Transformer_Prime/big_apart.jpg[/url<]

    • Johnny5
    • 8 years ago

    “brightness level of about 600 nits. ”
    What’s a nit?

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      Something you pick.

        • ModernPrimitive
        • 8 years ago

        LOL… thanks, you caused me to take a breath while trying to swallow my coffee…whew. My bad though. I’ll make sure one drink is complete before going to the next thread from now on!

      • DancinJack
      • 8 years ago

      A unit of [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nit_(unit)<]luminance[/url<].

    • ludi
    • 8 years ago

    So…netbook evolution. And it do look pretty.

    • link626
    • 8 years ago

    is hasbro going to sue asus yet ?

    • moriz
    • 8 years ago

    it’s soo pretty….

    • grantmeaname
    • 8 years ago

    So the transformer prime is the optim[s<]us[/s<]al one?

      • burntham77
      • 8 years ago

      I bet this thing would handy when it’s time to roll out.

      • tviceman
      • 8 years ago

      At the end of the day, one tablet will stand (upright in it’s dock) and one tablet will fall (if you try to stand it up without a dock).

    • Phydoux
    • 8 years ago

    Want.

      • Price0331
      • 8 years ago

      Indeed.

      • Yeats
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah.

      I’m not much of a gadget person, but I want this.

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