“Wow”. That was my initial reaction upon opening the box.
The whole process had been a bit dampened though. What a palaver the pre order process was. How annoying was it to have Asus announce an updated model even before this one had even reached the UK market. How annoying was the fact that Asus released the American models with some dodgy hardware and firmware. The Asus Transformer Prime has had one of the most disastrous releases since the iPhone 4 and it’s antenna.
But eventually I received my shiny new tablet / netbook / ultrabook and boy was I was impressed. Judging a book by its cover is never a good thing to do though so I set about charging it up. I had ordered the Amethyst Grey model with the keyboard dock and upon the box I was confronted by an impressive well crammed in selection of parts. After a good few hours I was ready to boot it up and see what it had to offer me. “Oh it shipped with Honeycomb guess I’ll update that then” was the first thing I said once it had booted. A short while later I was running Ice Cream Sandwich, I had several Google accounts up and running and my usual selection of social networks set up. I was now ready to test it out.
So here are my initial thoughts on the device. We will have a more in-depth review soon, so if you want to see anything in that review please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to include it.
The whole device is made from a sort of light metallic purple metal. At first I thought it would be awful and then when I saw the other colour was gold I went for this. There is a band of colour matched plastic around the edges for some of the ports to go through. Talking of ports on the tablet there is micro SD slot, 3.5mm headphone socket, micro HDMI and also the power button, a volume rocker and a proprietary charging and docking socket. The power button and volume rocker are quite fiddly to correctly use, especially the power button. On the keyboard dock there is a full size sd card slot, a full size usb slot and another charging socket which you use when the tablet is docked. Both of the memory card slots are a little shallow which means the cards protrude from the device, meaning you could easily knock or catch the card and it would pop out. Maybe some sellotape will help here.
The docking action is nice and smooth and secure, the dock has padding inside to stop the tablet getting scratched. Some people are finding that if the use a screen protector and a case protector they can’t get the screen to dock properly. There is a release button on the keyboard to release the two catches that hold the tablet in place. The keyboard is great, it has an extra row for numbers which smaller keyboards often forgo. There are also a selection of buttons for media controls and home, back and menu. You can also turn on wifi and adjust brightness with keyboard buttons. I like the feel of the keyboard, when I compare it to my Acer Aspire One keyboard it is much better laid out.
Hardware wise there isn’t much more to note. There is a single speaker that works better than you would expect for a mono speaker. For any serious music listening I would be plugging in headphones or speakers anyway. There is also the two cameras with the rear camera having a flash and a couple of microphone holes so you could use it for video callng.
It also seems that Asus have released two batches of Transformers and some seem to have wifi issues, bluetooth issues and gps issues. I seem to have been lucky and so far haven’t seen any of these issues.
Asus have bundled a whole host of apps and widgets to make the whole experience of the Transformer Prime better. None of them really outshine their competitors. The apps they include are as follows.
Ice Cream Sandwich seems to be the main problem with the software at the moment. A lot of Honeycomb apps have quickly made their app compatible, but a lot of apps seem to be stuck in the profile orientation or massively stretched out to fit the screen. I guess as more tablets come onto the market running Ice Cream Sandwich things will improve. At least there are Honeycomb apps already out, when the Xoom came out there were barely any tablet apps at all.
The Asus Transformer Prime is a great piece of kit. I think that once the Tegra 3 games actually get released and the Android Market gets some nice tablet specific apps it will be a great device. At the moment it will be a great tool for web browsing, working on the road, playing games, watching films and listening to music. So plenty to do with it whilst waiting for things to catch up.
We will have a more in-depth review soon. So as I mentioned earlier if you have any questions or things you want to see in the review, then let us know in the comments below.