Asus Transformer Prime brings premium Android tablet for $499. Honeycomb now, Ice Cream Sandwich soon

November 9, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

Asus Tablets


Asus has previously displayed the Transformer Prime, the sleek follow-up to last year’s Asus Eeepad Transformer, but we’ve still been forced to playing the guessing game about what to expect from the “world’s first quad-core” Android tablet.

First off – yes, the Transformer Prime launches with Honeycomb. When will it get Ice Cream Sandwich? Asus told us to “Stay tuned” for more news in Early December, so you’ll have to wait until then to get a confirmed date on when the Prime will transform into an ICS device.

We’re still guessing about a few things from the Transformer Prime, but I just got off a phone briefing in which Asus and NVIDIA provided some clarity about what the Prime will offer. Like the first Transformer, the Prime’s great selling point is an optional keyboard dock that adds additional battery life and a keyboard that turns the tablet into a laptop. However, that’s about where the similarities end because Asus made some big upgrades in other departments.

Perhaps the biggest upgrades come via the camera and processor. We’ve already covered why Tegra 3 might blow your face off, but this is the first time we got some solid details on the 8 megapixel rear camera that will probably be the best-performing rear camera on a tablet. We’re not much for taking pics with a tab, but I was impressed by the auto-focus, back illuminated CMOS sensor, and 1080p HD video shooting. Along with an F2.4 aperture, the Transformer Prime should be able to capture more light in photos to reduce noise and improve overall picture quality.

The hardware is more polished thanks to a 0.3-inch slim and 1.29-lb weight without the dock. There’s a smudge-and-oil-free aluminum frame with amethyst gray (gray and purple) and champagne gold (gold and silver) color finishes. There’s also Corning Gorilla Glass with strong viewing angles (178 degrees) for protection against scratches and easy sharing with friends. The Super IPS+ screen should lead to much better lighting displays, so the screen is an all-around improvement. The Prime also has a 1.2 MP front-facing camera.

Other assets include:

  • SonicMaster technology for “crisp and acoustically accurate audio.”
  • 6% larger speakers with “Crystal clear” sound to improve audio levels for music and vocal performances
  • 32 GB or 64 GB of storage
  • Preloaded apps: ASUS Launcher, Sync, and WebStorage; App Locker and App Backup; Supernote; TegraZone; Polaris Office
  • 12 hours battery life, 18 hours with dock

You might think this puts the original Eee Pad Transformer out to pasture, but not so says ASUS.

“We are still selling the first generation for the Eee Pad for the mainstream while the Transformer Prime will be geared towards the premium market,” said an ASUS marketing manager during a recent press briefing.

The ASUS Transformer Prime will retail for $499 for the 32 GB, and $599 for 64 GB. The mobile dock will be an additional $149. (U.S. prices only, costs may vary according to region.)

Asus Transformer Prime Specs

  • 10.1 LED touschreen with Super IPS+ (1280×800 resolution) with Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Android 3.2 Honeycomb (Android 4.0 upgrade forthcoming)
  • NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-core CPU
  • 1 GB Memory LP DDR2
  • 32 GB or 64 GB internal storage
  • 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR connectivity
  • 1.2 MP front-facing camera, 8 MP rear with auto-focus, flash, and F2.4 aperture
  • Docks/Ports: PAD 2-in-1 audio headphone/microphone jack, micro HDMI port, microSD card reader, internal microphone, stereo speakers, USB 2.0 port, SD card reader
  • G-Sense, light sensor, gyroscope, E-compass, GPS
  • Pad: 263 x 180.8 x 8.3mm / 586 g
  • Mobile dock: 263 x 180.8 x 10.4mm / 537 g