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Saturday, 21 January 2012

ASUS Transformer Prime and Android 4, good news and bad news.

Before you look at the ASUS Transformer Prime, you may want to look at Google's own write-up on their new Ice cream Sandwich (Android 4 operating system for both Pads and Smartphones.  Android seems to have come of age at last.

Now to look at the new ASUS Transformer Prime, the specification below was taken from the ASUS special website on the new Transformer Prime. At present it is over priced in the UK. It comes with 32GB or 64GB hard storage and a microSD slot for further storage.

Amazon UK are selling this complete with Keyboard for £1,057.97 but beware, Amazon USA are selling it for $858 (UK £555.60 complete) so wait awhile before getting it.

As from today, new Transformer Primes will be fitted with Android 4 and will be a slightly revised hardware edition so, if it isn't Android 4, don't buy it as it may be the original hardware edition.

ASUS Transformer Prime specifications:

Display    
10.1" LED Backlit screen with Super IPS+ (1280 x 800) 10 finger multi-touch,
Corning® Gorilla® Glass

Operation system    
Android™ 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Platform    
NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 Quad-core CPU

Memory    
1 GB

Storage    

32GB / 64GB (2) EMMC + 8GB life time ASUS WebStorage (3)

Wireless    

802.11 b / g / n, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR

Cameras
1.2MP (front), 8MP Auto focus (rear) with flash / F2.4 large aperture

Interface    
PAD: 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone / Mic-in); 1× micro HDMI port
1 × Micro SD Card Reader; Internal Microphone & Stereo Speaker
Mobile Dock: 1 × USB2.0 port ; 1 × SD Card Reader

Sensor    
G-Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, E-compass

Flash support    
Yes

Multi-tasking    
Yes

Special APPs    
ASUS launcher, @Vibe Music, ASUS WebStorage, MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, File manager,
ASUS sync, SuperNote, App Locker, App Backup, TegraZone, Polaris Office

Battery    
12 hours; 25Wh Li-polymer Battery (4)
18 hours pad with dock ; 25Wh(pad) + 22Wh(docking) Li-polymer Battery (4)

Size/ Weight    
263 × 180.8 × 8.3mm ; 586g (pad only) / 263 × 180.8 × 8~10.4mm ; 537g. (dock only)

 The following came from Amazon.com's American website from a reviewer known simply as Vlad. You may find this of interest.

After the fiasco of getting this. Here is my initial impressions out of the box of the Asus Transformer Prime. I have an Ipad2 which I will compare it with in some instances. I use the Prime and Ipad as media streamers etc and for travel and not for serious work.

The Asus Transformer is beautifully made and feels very solid for such a thin device. I've shown it off to a few people and my Ipad2 and most prefer the build and looks of the Asus Transformer. The way it docks with the keyboard and looks like a mini note book is a stroke of genius by Asus. I'm wondering why nobody else thought of doing it and promoting the why Asus have.

The Grey model is much better then I anticipated the tint of purple is faint and not too over powering as seen in some photos and videos online. (I originally wanted the silver model but could not get stock at the time).

Out of the box you get basic instructions, guarantee card and power adapter. I wish they supplied the micro hdmi to connect to the T.V but at least there is none of this adapter add on like Apple.

First off the power adapter is kind of poor quality the way the two pieces clip together the Apple one is a much better build. I'm also wondering if it breaks or I need a spare, how am I going to get a replacement.

Once powered on and setting date, wireless etc. I went to setting and looked for updates. Scrolled down in the menu to 'about tablet'. I then pressed 'search for updates' and installed ICS (Ice cream sandwich firmware 4.03) making sure I had enough battery power which was around 20 to 40 percent out of the box.

I downloaded and installed the firmware. This installed in less than 10 minutes approx. After installation another search of updates. You will be prompted to install a camera update which took less than 5 minutes.
So far I have had no real crashes with the transformer, although others have reported firmware problems via XDA forums.

The tablet has rubber plugs in the tablet for all ports that are difficult to remove. So be careful you don't damage the tablet.

Out of the box you have standard applications and widgets. Yes there are more applications on the Apple store and yes the Android store has a problem as many applications are not optimised for the transformer tablet, but from use. I find that the Apple stores' quantity of applications means wading through a lot of applications that are just rubbish.

The way widgets and the wallpaper on the Android tablet can be customised is simply amazing. Live wallpapers are gorgeous. I have the paid version of the Koi live wallpaper. It makes it a pleasure just to watch the fish swim about and make ripples with your finger.

There is no discernible slowdown on using the transformer prime that I can detect and live wallpapers run smoothly with no lag. If you like customising the options are truly astounding for example widgets can be re-sized, icons can be personalised to certain styles, multiple wallpapers can be displayed on each screen.

I have an Ipad and find it dull and boring the way the applications are in uniformed rows and folders. I suppose if you like simple things with little to do the Ipad would seem a better choice. For the more technical minded the ability to root the Transformer will expand our options further and the release of a bootlocker tool. To give us the option to flash Custom Roms. Custom Roms will give us advantages such as beta builds of updated software not available or to gain improved features and the ability to remove software not wanted. However, this is for more advanced users and will VOID YOUR WARRANTY if done.

After playing about with different applications. I have found the applications below the most useful. (Available from Android store)

1. MX PLAYER PRO (paid but there is a free one)- plays mkv 720p and 1080p files with no conversion needed. It also supports avi and MP4 plus it supports 'srt' soft subtitles in tests with no conversion. (I wish there was a player as good as this on Ipad) I prefer the Asus display then the Ipad2 for video as the tablet is more suited for wide screen resolution it also has super IPS mode for outdoors under bright light viewing.

2. Mantanto Reader (paid or free) - plays pdf and shows books in different views eg bookcase, list, thumbnails. I have my ebooks in epub format. but alternatively you can use Amazon kindle if you want to use mobi books bought from Amazon. (use a program called
Calibre to convert if needed)

3. Aldiko (paid or free) - same as Mantanto (I prefer Mantanto for pdf magazines)

4. Perfect Viewer - To view comics. Has library and collection option - works with cbr files with no conversion.

5. Opera Mobile browser -alternative to stock browser -fast and responsive. (Apple still have the advantage in smooth browser operation in panning via pinch and zoom but not by a massive amount)

6. Drop Box - free 2GB cloud storage (Access documents or other media across multiple devices such as phones, tablets or computers)

7. Astro Manager or File Manager HD. For a more familiar windows or mac layout for your file folders. (I find the stock manager fairly good though)

8. Diceplayer - no full version with out ads at the moment. Alternative to MX player.

9. PULSE - Have all your RSS feeds in a beautiful layout.

10. Ezpdf Reader - A more comprehensive use of pdf with more options then the above readers

11. Adobe Flash 11 - Found it a bit of a pain to install properly. On Opera the config options would not come up on browser. (I hope they improve it with an update.) I find flash as a positive for the Transformer Prime, but I find I use it less and less now. I hope they phase it out.

For music. I'm using the stock Google music. but will change my recommendations when I find something better.

For office users there is an application called Polaris which seems good. but I have barely used it to give impressions of it. Seems compatible with excel and work docs.

Also included by Asus is Splash Desktop (located under Mycloud icon) which gives you access to your pc via your transformer this is a brilliant program allowing me easy access to important applications and docs when away from my main computer. It makes up for the fact there is no program as good for streaming video on Android as Air video is on ipad.

For gaming there are less choices then Ipad. I also found the same games on the Android store more expensive then the Apple store. However the Nvidia Tegra 3 chip does have a couple of games that show off the power of the Transformer Prime. One being Riptide and the other being Shadow Gun. (I have not really played this much)(been playing Air Attack HD), but have heard there are some problems with Shadowgun due to the ICS update.

Also the ability to use gamepads with these game makes it feel like a portable console. (I really suck at touch screen controls)
I have also tested it with N64 emulators mainly Mario kart and its a joy to use.

In terms of doing more and listening to what people want. Asus gave us the ability to upgrade and increase our memory space. I'm using a SanDisk 64GB Mobile Ultra MicroSDXC Memory Card with SD Adapter for Hd movies over 4gb (formatted to ntfs).

This brings up my space to just under 90gb to play with. I also have the spare keyboard sd slot for up to another 128gb. If I want it.(A bit expensive though) Plus the keyboard dock gives the Asus Prime more battery life for those who take it on the road.
Also it has the added bonus of a usb 2 port. A major plus point for those who want to use an external mouse or add a usb hub for additional peripherals.

My Transformer recognises external hard drives I have tested with My Book Essential WDBAAF0020HBK - Hard drive - 2 TB - external - Hi-Speed USB recognised as USBdisk1. I have also tested with a usb powered drive theWD My Passport Essential SE 750 GB Black Portable Hard Drive (USB 3.0/2.0) which works without the need of a power supply (remember to eject before removing usb cable). Videos and music play smoothly on both drives.

I've been waiting for usb connections from Apple from day one.(Does not look likely I'll ever get it)

My Ipad2(32gb) is stuffed to the brim. Just with music alone (There is cloud for music, but if there is an no internet connection you are stuffed). This lack of expansion is a serious let down for those who like to travel with high resolution media. Or those who film in high definition and want to copy it somewhere.

The keyboard on the Asus dock is solid. Keys are very low and don't have quite as good tactile feel as a full keyboard on a laptop, but typing is responsive and if your out and about its good enough to jot down notes etc.
I find the short cuts are well implemented on the keyboard for specific tablet operations such as home and back button.

The sound on the Transformer Prime tablet is okay. I find the sound is better on the Ipad2. Due to there being only one speaker and its location which tends to be muffled a little by your hand when picked up. However plugging in my Westone 4 headphones. The sound is full stereo with much improved clarity and base, but I did find the sound is lower than the maximum volume on my Ipad2.

I have not plugged through an Amp yet. but will update my review when I have.

The camera for both the back and front are better then the Ipad2. The back being much better. but I don't see myself shooting video with the tablet. So I see it as a minor advantage over Ipad2.

In terms of use Ipad2 is easier to use. My parents and kids can pick up and play without any prior knowledge. It shows how well iOS is implemented that it is so easy to pickup and use without any instructions. Even for technology-phobic people.

However, for more technical minded people. The Asus is a better bet, customisation and not being locked into Itunes is a joy. The fact I can connect my Transformer to my PC and transfer video and music, docs etc.. over usb and just copy and paste is like gaining freedom. No more adding one album and having to sync it to Itunes. Just to add to your library.

On the other hand, the Ipad has the advantage if you leave it on the table and someone picks it up. Its kind of difficult to mess up your setting. With the Asus Transformer I find myself having to lock down certain applications and setting so no one accidentally messes something up.

Please note GPS does not work with the Transformer well. It takes too long to position and seems to be slightly off with its positioning. Wireless has been fine so far. However, signal strength is at least 10-15% better on Ipad2 after testing. My test is based on increasing distance until signal is lost from my router. Tests done on Be-Internet (adsl) and Virgin (cable optical) Routers that came as standard on installation.

Other minor issues I have noticed with Prime is that soft subtitles will not display over hdmi. So blue ray rips or hd rips without forced subs will fail to mirror on T.V. Sometimes crashs can occur with players if fiddling with settings while mirroring over hdmi. Keyboard can fail to work, but if you pull the tablet out and clip it in. It will respond again. This happened only once and Tablet had been left on standby for along time without use.

All in all. I'm happy with the Transformer Prime and give it the edge over my Ipad2. For the non-technology minded or if you have young kids an Ipad2 is a better investment. For all others get the Transformer its more versatile and value for money. 

21 comments:

slef2003 said...

The price listed is misleading as it is the price offered by a greedy bas tard or two. The general price when it is available on Amazon and other vendors is £499. It might pay to amend or acknowledge this in your article as it is somewhat misleading.

Your comment on the changed hardware is also erroneous as the ICS (android4) update is being rolled out to all TFP's and is not related to any hardware changes, just production dates.

Hope this helps
Andy



It compares with the 32Gb ipad which is £25 cheaper but does not have the companion keyboard which is a brilliant addition and enables the tablet to morph into an android netbook.

Piet said...

Where is your assumption hardware changes are comming with the out of the box delivery of the unit with 4.0 based on?

Andrew Ampers Taylor said...

I ckecked with Simply Electronics,Their price for the 65GB is £549.95 (Amazon USA it is £387.88 They also have complete ones at Simply Electronics but only with American keyboards.,

The warning about the hardware changes is that ASUS have brought out a later version and by suggesting people buy the ones with Android 4 already set up by Asus will insure they have this later version. I think it has very minor changes only though.

I intend to buy one as soon as they become available at a reasonable price. I am going for the 64GB and UK keyboard as I like the idea of working at home with the Keyboard and just taking the tablet when I go out.

slef2003 said...

Personally I have seen too many negative comments about simply electronics to have much confidence in their statements, I think there are many more reputable vendors out there.

Where have you seen an official statement about the hardware being changed? I would honestly like to know (though there was a batch of 300 or so early production machines that did have a problem that has now been sorted)

Keep an eye out on ebuyer this week as they are likely to have further stock but you might want to think about the 32Gb model as AFAIK there have been no 64 GB models appear over here yet and you might have a little wait.

ps the general price for the 32GB model in the states is normally around the $500 mark which does not include the dock which is in short supply over there.

I hope you are able to get your hands on one as they are cracking little beasts.

If you get a good un then you will be happy (I hope)

Andrew Ampers Taylor said...

It was that early statement I was referring to. I tried to keep it simple by suggesting that people just brought one with Android 4 on to be absolutely certain.

I have decided to wait for the official UK products as I don't want a US keyboard, that's for certain. I have decided to slip down the "bell curve" a little and wait till they are more plentiful over here and therefore carry no premium prices.

SWMBO says I have to sell a couple of things on eBay first anyway :-)

slef2003 said...

"SWMBO says I have to sell a couple of things on eBay first anyway :-)"


Know that feeling!!!!!!!!

ChrisM said...

I think the 64Gb version is not available in the UK.

Andrew Ampers Taylor said...

No, I can't see it anywhere so I may buy direct from the USA, can't from Amazon as they won't sell it to the UK, but even if I buy elsewhere and courier it across, it will still be a lot cheaper than anywhere in the UK.

I will wait for a UK keyboard though. The pad has different languages so I presume the screen keyboard will change with the language.

ChrisM said...

I was desperate for one of these, but I don't want the 32 Gb version. I have heard rumour of an HD version being released later on on the year, so will wait for either that, or a business trip the the US.

Andrew Ampers Taylor said...

Samsung have a 512GB card now I believe, a solid state card would be just the thing.

But I don't know if ASUS have such a product yet.

It might pay me to have a holiday weekend in New York :-)

ChrisM said...

Weekends in New York are self justifying; cheap electronics are just a bonus ;-)

ChrisM said...

Mind you, Nevada might be better. You have to watch out for the New York dollar. It looks just like the US dollar, except it is only worth about 63 cents.

Andrew Ampers Taylor said...

I have had permission to add a reviewers comment from elsewhere but the blog doesn't allow me to put it in comments as it is rather long. So if you all read the main article again you will see the long review at the end of the original article.

Ampers.

ChrisM said...

Hmmm, I fancy this one.

http://www.itproportal.com/2012/01/19/asus-transformer-prime-hd-released-summer/

Andrew Ampers Taylor said...

Yes, I will wait for that, by then we may have a super Samsung replacement for their Galaxy. I think Asus have shot themselves in both feet, using just the one bullet.

ChrisM said...

What is clear is that there are a number of extremely desirable Android tablets about, and they are now no longer the poor man's iPad.

Joe Public said...

Hi Ampers.

This might interest you, and influence your purchase decision.

http://www.reghardware.com/2012/02/02/uk_retailer_clove_refuses_to_sell_asus_transformer_prime/

Andrew Ampers Taylor said...

Interesting. So far I have used my Prime extensively and have been pretty happy with it. Although only a 32GB machine, I can put one of the new 64GB SDXD cards )48GB abd 64GB) although I have only added a 32GB card.

The keyboard also takes a full size SD Card.

My Wifi is excellent and in my house, I get a better signal on it than I do on my Netbook at the other end of the building.

Haven't tried it with GPS yet, and it's too bleddy cold to go wandering outside, but perhaps I should!

But I'll keep a watchfull eye on things.

ChrisM said...

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/293055/20120204/asus-transformer-prime-hd-release-date-ipad.htm

I am looking forward to this!

ChrisM said...

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/293055/20120204/asus-transformer-prime-hd-release-date-ipad.htm

I am looking forward to this!

Andrew Ampers Taylor said...

Seems very small hard disks.

I have the 32GB Prime, it takes SDXC cards so I can increase it to 96GB on the tabley and 64GB on the Keyboard giving a whopping 160GB.

However, I have kust put in a 32GB on the tabley and I had an old 16GB card hanging around and popped that in the Keyboard. 80GB will be overkill as it is.

Just paid a little over three quid a year to update my Google Docs account from 1GB to 20GB so will be putting all my documents on that.

The price is more reasonable than Dropbox or Ubuntu One or Asus.