Asus Transformer Prime First Impressions [Video]

The Asus Transformer Prime has been one of the most anticipated and elusive gadgets of the beginning of the new year. It is backordered and sold out nearly everywhere, and orders are beginning to trickle out from a few online retailers. Now that we finally have our hands on one, is it worth the wait? Is it worth the $499 for the base model? Let’s take a look.

Hardware

The outside of the Transformer Prime is what first really struck me as impressive. The 10.1″ 1280×800 SuperIPS display maxes out at a ridiculously bright 600 nits. It has a MiniHDMI port and MicroSD card slot, and the volume rocker and power button are in decent locations along the upper left and top of the tablet respectively. The speaker sits right behind where your right hand typically is when holding it, but it has blown me away with its clarity and volume. The spun metal finish on the back is a nice touch, and it all comes in a razor thin package thinner than the Galaxy Nexus. Classy.

Software

The Transformer Prime is currently running Android 3.2.1 Honeycomb with a bit of an overlay by Asus. This overlay is responsible for the wicked fast homescreen responsiveness, extra software and widgets, and a few extra features like the ability to remove apps from the multitasking tray and the brightness slider in the notification panel.

This tablet has been guarenteed Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich this month, which should even further boost performance and functionality. I wish I knew whether or not Asus has plans to release a skinned version or a completely clean stock version of ICS, but I don’t. We’ll have to wait and see. January 12th is the confirmed date. Keep your fingers crossed.

Performance

This thing is fast. It’s unusually fast. It had me impressed straight away from the first boot. In the full review we can dive into full detail about how the Tegra 3 processor’s fifth core manages background applications and reserves the four main cores for bigger tasks.

Whether it’s opening and closing apps, switching between homescreens or open tasks, playing games, sorting through emails or taking pictures: The Transformer Prime handles it all with a seemingly effortless power. As mentioned in the video, this seems like what Android really needed: A set of specs that can handle everything you can throw at it without stutter or lag. I never thought of my Xoom as slow, but after playing around with the Prime for just a few minutes I can understand the frustrations other people had with the older generations.

So it works, and it works well. Applications are stable, for the most part (save for a few Google Earth freezes after the update) and are extremely responsive. But the bottom line is that this thing flies.

First Impressions

This is the best tablet I have ever used. The hardware is stellar, and the software feels like what Honeycomb should have been at launch. As far as speed and everyday use, I have no complaints. I can’t speak too deeply about battery life or durability, as I’ve only had the device for about 24 hours. But if you’re looking for an upgrade to just about any Honeycomb tablet on the market and have $500 to burn: Buy the Transformer Prime.

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