Last year, I was one of the first 100 to pre-order the Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101. It was indeed a transforming experience, being the first tablet with integrated foldable keyboard. I wrote a comprehensive review on it, covering my thoughts on how such a tablet device can work for me.

One year later, the Transformer Prime TF201 is released. I have since sold my original Transformer and bought myself a proper laptop to meet my needs. While a laptop can’t last as long as a tablet, nor has much interactive fun apps to occupy your idle time, a laptop allows me to be productive in what I want to do, for instance, drafting this blog entry in a fast food restaurant.

Attention to curvy details

But that doesn’t mean a hybrid tablet computer like the Transformer is not useful. If you find an Android tablet very useful but wished for a more integrated device with keyboard that comes with more battery, USB port and an SD card slot, to boost your productivity by a notch, then you should try the new Transformer Prime and power up your mobile lifestyle.

Transformer Prime in Champagne Gold

Here’s the list of improvements on this second generation Eee Pad Transformer: Prime TF201.

  • Thinner, lighter and made of brushed aluminium body, giving a much more premium feel. (537g vs. 680g. With dock, the TF201 weighs 1123g. And if it’s of any interest, the new iPad 3 weighs 652g)
  • More powerful quad-core Tegra 3 processor (vs. dual-core Tegra 2) with an additional low-power core for minor activity to further save your battery utilisation.
  • 8 megapixel rear camera (vs. 5mp on the TF101)
  • The dock lock mechanism is improved, so it’s easier to dock.
  • New Transformer comes with vibration for silent notification.
  • Trackpad is more sensitive – perhaps too sensitive for some.
  • The power button is now moved to the top instead of next to the volume rockers, so that you will not accidentally press the power button when you wanted to control the volume. But the lock key on the keyboard is still at the same position, and I tend to press that accidentally when I wanted to hit “backspace”.
  • Better screen quality thanks to Super IPS+, but still the same reflectivity, which is rather annoying.
  • Plays video files and games smoother

Overall, the new Transformer Prime TF201 offers some improvements compared to the original Transformer TF101. You will not feel drastic benefits if you plan to upgrade, unless you are a gamer, or use the camera to take a lot of important photos, or prefers the weight and design of the new model. 

And when you upgrade the Transformer Prime to ICS (Android 4.0), you will enjoy the ICS benefits plus a handful of Asus custom settings, apps, widgets and enhanced notification window, which I find very useful.

  • Task manager widget – easily monitors open apps and kills them
  • Dual battery indicator – no need third party apps
  • Asus notification panel – comes with additional setting icons, similar to Samsung Touchwiz
  • ICS improvements (which I have shared in my Galaxy Nexus review) like Gmail swipe-to-next, Notification swipe-to-remove, nice icons

My experience with the Transformer Prime is dented primarily by the OS, which doesn’t seem to run optimally. Issues include frequent lags, unresponsive apps, and slow camera operation like laggy shutter (a far cry compared to the Galaxy Nexus). These problems are not traits I expect out of a quad-core processor. I suppose future firmware updates may smoothen things out.

Transformer Prime on top of the Macbook Air. Just as sexy and stylish.

If you have always wanted an Asus Transformer but never got the chance to own one, the new Transformer Prime might interest you due to its Zenbook-like design. The lack of 3G models might discourage mobile warriors to get one, but casual users can easily rely on their mobile phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot to provide data connectivity.

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