It may seem to many of you that this article is passé since the Asus Transformer Prime was released some three months ago. However, when I explained my proposal to Chris, he agreed to let me write it based on my personal change in attitude regarding it. First of all, I originally saw little merit in the addition of yet another tablet unit being released onto the current market since I had become numbed by the rhetoric that the Apple iPad is the tablet to buy and others need not apply. My attitude, however, began to change when a friend of mine mentioned he was going to purchase an Asus Transformer Prime because it came with a ‘quad core processor’ (something he mentioned at least a dozen times over the course of one evening).
With his comments in mind, I decided to do additional research into the Asus Transformer Prime confirming that, while it had experienced a few issues that needed to be addressed (including a rebooting issue), three updates in February of 2012 appear to have resolved the issue.
Fortunately, I was able to see this for myself last Monday when my friend brought his Asus Transformer Prime for a visit and I got to spend three hours navigating its Android system.
My first impressions:
- The aluminum circular swirl back plate is very attractive and stylish.
- It is fast. Have I told you it has a quad core processor?
- It appears to me that this unit is just slightly thinner and lighter than an iPad.
- Screen quality equals that of the first two generations of the iPad (not the newest and greatest).
- Micro HDMI and Micro SD card slots make the unit more versatile.
- The eight-megapixel camera is an improvement over most tablets.
As I navigated my way around the system, I found the tablet very easy to use. This may be due to the fact that I am an experienced Android user, and have previously used versions from 2.0x to the newest Ice Cream Sandwich. But like most versions of Android, the manufacturer has modified the system to meet its needs. (Or should I say perceived needs?)
The system wasn’t perfect, though, since we were unable to activate the sound using the settings option, no matter how many times I tried to slide the sound on. Believe me when I say that this became quite frustrating and it took me venturing out to the Asus Transformer Prime forum to discover a voice of reason stating that you just had to swipe across one menu item to activate the sound icon. In other words, the solution was easy, but this information had to be searched for.
Once we had finally achieved this milestone, we were ready to install the desired applications. But before we could do that, we had to take the time to look at some of the pre-installed toys to see how well they worked. We began this process by testing the video quality of the Netflix HD program using the micro-HDMI hooked to an HDTV. I found that I was very impressed with the quality of the video and it was, in fact, 1080P quality. In addition, there were no slowdowns, jerking, or jitters within the video or sound, which made for a pleasant viewing experience. Of course, I am sure that the addition of a 10 G cable connection via a wireless router helped with the quality performance.
Next, we downloaded some MP3 files that the owner had previously purchased and were, at the time, sitting in the cloud. Once they were downloaded and installed, we learned that the tablet’s lone speaker was placed where one would typically have their hands when holding the tablet. This resulted in the sound coming over as muffled, but the simple act of moving our hands solved the problem.
The best feature, however, is the built-in camera that features eight megapixels with Flash. The picture quality was definitely above average — even exceeding the quality of some smartphones that I have used. In addition, the rear-facing camera is OK for video conferencing but I didn’t notice anything different than what one would normally expect for video conferencing. Despite the quality, though, I still think that it is easier to use a smartphone to capture those special moments in life than to lug around a tablet.
Once finished with checking out the unit’s built-in features, I was able to check out Asus’ docking station and keyboard, which my friend had purchased for an additional $149. He felt that the addition of these features would make the unit more versatile for him since he is often on the road. However, in my opinion, it merely turns the Asus Transformer Prime into a nifty laptop replacement.
With that being said, though, I enjoyed the brief time I spent trying the keyboard and found it very comfortable to type on. The only potential problem I saw with the docking station was that it was charged via the tablet unit.
This once again brought up another observation. Is a tablet meant to replace business laptops or desktop systems? This issue must be considered, in the cost analysis, prior to purchase since Asus’ Transformer Prime costs $499 for the unit and another $149 for the dock/keyboard. As a business owner, one must therefore consider that a fairly well-equipped laptop computer can be bought for approximately $650. In fact, in December 2011, I bought a 17″ Toshiba with a quad core processor, 6 GB of memory, 650 GB hard disk, Blu-ray player, HDMI out, along with other toys for around $600.
However, my laptop doesn’t have…
- the cool factor. A laptop just isn’t cool, whereas tablets are.
- touch screen capability.
- the same ease of transport as a tablet (something that brings it up more than a notch when you think of lugging it through an airport terminal).
- an aura of fun. (Tablets are just fun to use).
However, if cost is not an issue, I believe that tablets like Asus Transformer Prime can do just about anything that a laptop computer can, albeit not as well. Additionally, once you are done working, you can use your tablet for entertainment purposes from games to surfing the Internet.
So while I will always believe that Apple produces a quality product, I also believe that the Asus Transformer Prime is an excellent option for those who want to use an Android operating system instead of being locked into the Apple iOS / iTune vice. While I am sure there are those out there who may have never even thought of opting for a non-Apple tablet, I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest that others may wish to give serious consideration to the Asus Transformer Prime, which is a definite contender.
Comments, as always, are welcome.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by johncatral