Asus Transformer Prime review

It may be getting on, but don't underestimate the Prime

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime
This very thin Android 3.2 tablet rivals the Apple iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

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We said up front that we will answer questions about whether the Asus Transformer Prime beats the Apple iPad 2, or manages to compete with the new iPad, as well see how it shapes up against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Truth be told, some of the factors that will help you decide between the three similar tablets are subtle, yet important.

Let's start with the hardware design. All three tablets look remarkably similar. An untrained eye wouldn't know the difference between them.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Turn the Asus Transformer Prime over on its back, and there's a silver back cover that looks much more durable than the white plastic back of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and grey back of the iPads. The front IPS screen, made with Gorilla Glass, is also durable and sharp.

The concentric rings which provide a pattern on the rear of the Prime is part of Asus' new design ethos, and can be found on its range of ultrabooks, the upcoming Asus Padfone and other Transformer series tablets - while the back is metallic and durable, it's worth noting that it's not exactly scratch or smudge-resistant.

There's a proprietary charge port below the main horizontal screen on the Asus Transformer Prime, which doubles as the digital connection between tablet and keyboard dock.

Asus Transformer Prime review

There are two extra ports that secure the tablet to the dock, and when housed that way, the Transformer Prime works reliably as a touchscreen laptop.

Keyboard Dock

The keyboard dock is helpful for a number of reasons. For one, it adds another 8 hours to the total battery life (the dock itself can take a charge, and then charge the tablet), plus it also sports USB and SD card ports.

Then there is the keyboard itself, and if you've used a netbook before, you'll know what this dock is like – typing speed suffers from the slightly cramped confines of the lapdock - but you get used to it after a while and it's still easier than typing on the screen.

Asus Transformer Prime review

Measuring 263 x 180.8 x 8 to 10.4mm, and weighing 537 grams, the dock is small enough to fit into a laptop bag, but it is like carrying another tablet around all day.

There are dedicated keys for changing brightness level, volume, and wireless, which makes it easier to control the tablet. When docked, you can use the mousepad or finger input on the tab.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

One helpful software change would have been to disable the mousepad when you type because the small size of the keyboard makes it easy to inadvertently brush the mousepad. In a pinch, the keyboard helps you type up longer docs but it in no way competes with a full notebook keyboard.

Some of the port covers on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime's dock are a bit hard to remove. For example, the one that covers the USB port might require some prying loose with a knife.

Overall, the Asus Transformer Prime is easy to handle. It's wider than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, so is easier to grip, with a slightly wider bezel. But it seems a bit less portable for that reason as well.

John Brandon

John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.