Review: ASUS Transformer Prime (TF201)
‘By far the best Android tablet I’ve ever laid eyes on’
While that statement holds true for the most part, the ASUS Transformer Prime (TF201) does have some faults. However, when these faults are not in plain view I am taken aback by the true beauty, precision and usability of the Transformer Prime TF201.
|High-resolution camera||GPS Signal|
|Very fast||WiFi connectivity|
|Helpful keyboard shortcuts||Occasional bugs|
|Incredible build quality|
WHAT WE LIKED
The ASUS Transformer Prime is fast. Yeah, it’s really damn fast. The TF201 is one hell of a beast. The NVIDIA quad-core Tegra 3 processor that is found inside the Prime has not aged a second since its debut in late 2011. The tablet has been able to power through pretty much any task, the most difficult of multi-tasking, produce beautiful graphics and a great gaming experience. In terms of performance, the Prime has absolutely no drawbacks.
The screen is bright. Very bright. ASUS obviously spent a lot of time developing the screen of this bad boy. The ultra-bright IPS+ display has super wide viewing angles and a display that can be viewed in almost any lighting conditions (I’ve never found a condition my Prime unit couldn’t handle). I took the Prime to a few parks, lookouts and such to check it out in different lighting conditions. Heck, I even had a few strangers test it out for me. The Transformer Prime did not receive any negative comments and was appraised by almost everyone.
It’s sleek. Boy, is this thing nice. I’ll be touching on this further in the design section of this post later. However, it is just one of the best things about the Prime. It’s incredibly thin, light and made of an incredibly nice spun metal. When using the Prime I felt as though people were looking at me and eyeing off when they could make a pounce for the Prime. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take it out though – just keep a close eye on it!
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE
The Prime has some major glitches that really grind my gears. For one, there is a really odd problem with the notification bar – at times it just can’t seem to sit still. Now, I haven’t read about this elsewhere so it may just be the unit that I had to test. However, I can tell you that it was really quite annoying. The notification panel would jump up and down, which worsened as it got closer to taking the screen out of the keyboard dock and placing it back in. I also used my Prime to study for my University exams (I study Psychology at RMIT on the side). The below image outlines the issues on the screen and the video shows the back button on the notification bar jumping around.
The Prime also has an issue with GPS and WiFi connectivity. While there has been a GPS dongle supplied to help fix the issue, it is not all that useful. On the other hand, the WiFi issues have not seen any real fix. For the majority of the time I didn’t really find these issues too horrible. I don’t have a big need for GPS on my tablets and the WiFi was able to connect most of the time. Just shave 20% off your WiFi range and you should be good to go. While that shouldn’t be a fix it does the job and allows the rest of the tab
If this can be a negative, the build quality is almost ‘too good.’ The Prime is made of an incredibly nice spun metal and looks like a sparkling piece of machinery that is sprinkled with pixie dust. That being said, I was scared to place the tab down on any hard surface. Don’t worry, this was only when not connected to the keyboard dock. When using the tablet alone I really could not bear to place it down on any surface in fear that it would scratch. I’m not saying it will scratch – as I didn’t test that – but let’s just say I was not happy with the tablet (minus the keyboard) being on a hard surface.
The ASUS Transformer Prime is made of the most prime (pardon the pun) of materials. Its spun metal finish produces an incredibly nice looking tablet (almost too nice) that is just a real pleasure to use. Every edge on the Prime feels like it’s just not an Android product. The metal feel makes a bit more of an ‘i’ feel, yet it is very welcome on Android and puts claims of low Android build quality to rest.
When docked to a keyboard, the Prime actually does look like a laptop. It’s got the same build quality you would expect from any laptop or computer, with quite a few notable goodies. ASUS has managed to cram these niceties under the hood and make for the closest thing between a tablet and a laptop. Of all Android tablets I’ve used the Transformer Prime is definitely the best that I have come across. One thing I would wish is that ASUS would have made the keyboard slightly nicer to use, rather than have it be so slimline. You see, when connected to the keyboard dock I am not so interested in an ultra-thin device, but more-so an ultra-usable (yet still portable) device. That being said, I was still able to type quite fluently on the Prime’s keyboard.
- Added Connectivity - I love that the Transformer Prime has a USB slot, space for both a micro-SD and normal SD card. This gives great added connectivity to the Transformer Prime.
- The Keyboard Dock – ASUS have really done a masterful job here. The keyboard dock makes the Android tablet ever more usable and includes a whole host of extra functions. The specialised Android keys provide you with greater tablet navigation, as well as an improved ability to use the tablet. I love being able to type quickly and actually produce work on my tablet, rather than just consume other media.
- ASUS’ minimal custom UI – This is something that ASUS has always really done quite well. The custom UI is not intrusive and does not add too much bloatware to the device, which I must say goes quite well with the quad-core power of the TF201.
- Bug issues – Although this is most probably the best Android tablet around, it still has its problems. As mentioned above, the screen has on occasion turned had major issues with display. Worse than that, at one point (during a meeting might I add) the Transformer Prime completely switched off. At the time I was astounded this could happen to my favourite Android yet.
- Besides for that the Prime is scot free!
|Operating System||Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.x|
|Processor||NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A9|
|Screen||10.1″, 1280 x 800 resolution|
|Camera||8 MP camera, 1.2MP front facing camera|
|Storage||32/64 GB Internal memory, expandable via microSD|
|Battery||Li-Po (25Wh), up to 300 hours standby time|
Let me put it this way. If I had the Transformer Prime instead of my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, I would be over the moon. If I had the Prime instead of the Acer Iconia tabs, I would be ecstatic. The Prime is by far the best 10.1″ Android tablet out there and possibly the best Android tablet around. While it does have its issues it is almost the perfect tablet. ASUS are about to take this one step further with the Infinity Pad 700, which will surely make a huge splash down under. If you’re looking for an Android tab,which pretty much excels in every area, then the Prime is a good move. I’d suggest having a look at the ASUS Infinity 700, which is about to launch, as it will take the Prime’s spot as a high-range device. This will give you two options. Either get ASUS’ newer tablet or get the Transformer Prime at a discounted price soon – your call.