A couple of weeks ago we were teased with the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime and told a full announcement would come 11/9. Well, ASUS was true to their word and they released the details. The Prime takes the Transformer and turns it up to 11. It is running a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 which clocks up to 1.4GHz on a single-core or 1.3GHz on all four, compared to the 1.0GHz dual-core Tegra 2 in the original. NVIDIA has a comparison of the two Tegra generations.
The tablet comes in 32GB and 64GB versions with a microSD slot for up to an additional 32GB, and it has 1GB of DDR2 RAM. It also has a microHDMI port, 3.5mm combo (headphones & mic) audio jack, a built-in mic, stereo speakers with SonicMaster technology and a built-in subwoofer, 8MP rear camera with auto-focus and LED flash, 1.3MP front camera, and a 25Wh battery that yields 12 hours of use. It supports 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. The screen is a 10.1″ 1280×800 Super IPS+ display with an 178° viewing angle and Corning Gorilla Glass. It has a ‘metallic swirl’ finish available in two colors, Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold. It will ship with Android 3.2 Honeycomb, but it will be one of the first tablets to receive Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
It is 263mm x 180.8mm x 8.3mm (10.4″ x 7.1″ x 0.33″) and weighs in at a svelte 586g (1.29 pounds). The original Transformer was 271mm x 175mm x 12.95mm and 675g. The Prime is even thinner and lighter than the iPad 2 – 241.2mm x 185.7mm x 8.8mm and 601g. It is in the same league as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which is 256.6 x 172.9 x 8.6mm and 565g. It is thinner and narrower than the iPad 2, and only slightly longer, with a larger, higher resolution display based on better tech, more storage for a given price point, twice the RAM, and a far, far more powerful CPU.
Of course, what makes the Transformer lineup so unique is the keyboard dock which effectively turns it into an Android netbook. The dock is 263mm x 180.8mm x 10.4mm (10.4″ x 7.1″ x 0.41″) and weighs 537g (1.18 pounds). Aside from the keyboard and touchpad, it includes a 22Wh battery that extends run time to 18 hours. It also includes a full-size USB 2.0 port and a full-size SD card slot.
The MSRP on the 32GB model is $499, while the 64GB unit is $599. The keyboard dock is $149. The Transformer Prime will be positioned as a premium tablet, while the original Transformer will remain for the mainstream market at a lower price point. The 16GB will be $399 and he 32GB $449, with the dock remaining $149. Personally I don’t know why anyone would go for the 32GB Transformer when the 32GB Transformer Prime is only another $50. The performance difference, not to mention the design of the tablet itself, is well worth it.
Several months ago I was trying to decide which Android tablet to purchase. I decided on the Transformer, but before I pulled the trigger rumors of the ‘Transformer 2′ were out with talk of the Kal-El processor (code name for the Tegra 3) and improvements all around. Since I don’t really have a pressing need for a tablet, so much as technolust, I decided to wait to see how it shaped up. I’m glad I did, this is the tablet I want. Now I just have to decide if I want 32GB or 64GB. Given how much is based in the cloud now, I’m not sure I’d need the larger capacity.
NVIDIA is really touting the Tegra 3 that lives at the heart of the Prime. And with good reason, it is arguably the latest chip to claim the title of most powerful in the mobile market. While it is generally touted as a quad-core chip, the Tegra 3 actually has five cores. Four cores are ‘full-power’ cores which can clock up for 1.4GHz individually, or all four can clock up to 1.3GHz simultaneously. But these cores are only needed when launching apps, running compute intensive tasks, gaming, etc. Most of the time the work is handled by the fifth core, which clocks up to 500MHz. Running a single, lower speed (and thus lower power) core and only utilizing the higher powered cores when needed prolongs batter life. They’ve released a number of videos showing off the chip’s capabilities and/or describing it’s features.
ASUS press release announcing the Transformer Prime below:
ASUS Announces the Eee Pad Transformer Prime
Featuring the NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 Quad-Core Processor the Transformer Prime is designed to greatly enhance the mobile computing experience
Fremont, CA (November 8, 2011) — ASUS officially announces the world’s first tablet with the NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core processor – the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime. The Eee Pad Transformer Prime is ultra-thin at 8.3mm (0.33″) and lightweight at 586g (1.29lbs) while featuring a stylish metallic swirl design with class leading enhancements including ASUS SonicMaster audio technology, an HD 8MP rear auto-focus camera with LED flash and battery life rated for up to 18 hours* when combined with the optional mobile dock. Pricing will range from $499** (32GB) to $599** (64GB), with the optional mobile dock accessory priced at $149**.
Incredibly Slim yet Incredibly Powerful
Featuring an ultra-slim form factor, the Transformer Prime is only 8.3mm (0.33″) thin and weighs in at a mere 586g (1.29lbs without dock). This makes watching movies, surfing the web, playing games, taking photos, finishing up homework or video chatting with friends or family so easy and natural that you’ll wonder if the Transformer Prime was designed specifically with you in mind. Its innovative metallic swirl design is made of aluminum for a secure yet extremely comfortable grip that comes in two gorgeous colors: Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold.
The Transformer Prime is the world’s first tablet to feature NVIDIA’s next-generation quad-core Tegra® 3 processor. With the quad-core CPU, 12-core GeForce® GPU and vSMP technology, the Transformer Prime delivers an optimum user experience featuring smooth multitasking capabilities, lightning fast app loading, a rich and fluid web experience, full 1080P HD video for realistic media playback or recording and of course, incredible gaming performance that allows you to experience games in an entirely new way.
Fantastic Battery Life
While the Transformer Prime is extremely slim and light, ASUS did not forget about battery life. Thanks to the advanced power management features of the Tegra® 3 processor and ASUS optimizations the Transformer Prime has a battery life of up to 12 hours*, but when combined with the mobile dock, it lasts up to an incredible 18 hours*, the longest battery life of any current tablet. That’s enough battery life for a trans-ocean flight, all-night game session, viewing several movies on a long road trip or even video recording, editing, and then playing back your child’s school play all in 1080P HD clarity.
The Eee Pad Transformer Prime boasts a wide 178° viewing angle IPS display, protected by Corning® Gorilla® Glass, which features new ASUS technology to enhance the brightness of the screen for a better outdoor reading experience while still offering a remarkably vivid and brilliant viewing experience of photos, books, videos, movies and web pages indoors. Thanks to Multi-Touch technology, you can use your fingers to do everything from swiping through photos, surfing the web, playing the latest games, typing emails, instant messaging, reading books or magazines, and starting your favorite movie.
A 1.2MP front camera allows for instant photos or high-quality video conferencing with friends, family or coworkers while an 8MP rear camera with auto-focus and LED flash takes brilliant photos or video thanks to a large F2.4 aperture, back illuminated CMOS sensor, touch-to-focus depth of field and low-light noise reduction to provide the clearest and sharpest photos or even 1080P HD videos.
The Transformer Prime offers impressive audio capabilities in a tablet, powered by ASUS exclusive SonicMaster technology, renowned for crisp and acoustically accurate audio. It produces crystal clear sound with a wide sound stage, increased audio fidelity, and distinct vocal enhancements for an immersive audio experience with your favorite music track, video, or movie.
The Transformer Prime is offered with either 32GB or 64B flash storage options for quick, efficient and reliable access to your applications. Both models feature a micro SD card slot, 3.5mm combo audio jack and micro HDMI port so sharing both what’s inside and on-screen is quick and easy. However, the function that gives the Transformer Prime its namesake is the mobile dock, which gives new meaning to the term versatility. This innovative and convenient design seamlessly provides the user with a keyboard and touchpad, along with limitless expandability options via the USB port and SD card slot.
ASUS will include several innovative applications like SuperNote that is fantastic for its ability to take, draw or record notes and Polaris® Office which is great for staying productive with the ability to read, edit or create Word, Excel and PowerPoint (MS Office 97-2007) compatible files. Thousands of top rated applications and games are also available at Android Market that fully takes advantage of the Transformer Prime’s amazing features and power.
*Battery life will vary based on usage patterns and options.
**Pricing will vary by country and SKU. North American MSRP pricing listed.
ASUS, the world’s top 3 consumer notebook vendor and the maker of the world’s best-selling and most award winning motherboards, is a leading enterprise in the new digital era. ASUS designs and manufactures products that perfectly meet the needs of today’s digital home, office and person, with a broad portfolio that includes motherboards, graphics cards, optical drives, displays, desktops, Eee Box and all-in-one PCs, notebooks, netbooks, tablet devices, servers, multimedia and wireless solutions, networking devices, and mobile phones. Driven by innovation and committed to quality, ASUS won 3,398 awards in 2010, and is widely credited with revolutionizing the PC industry with the Eee PC™. With a global staff of more than 10,000 and a world-class R&D team of 3,000 engineers, the company’s revenue for 2010 was around US$10.1 billion.