Asus Transformer Prime 32 GB Champagne Gold - Review Updated 01/23/12!!!
****Update January 23, 2012: I thought I would post that I have decided to return my Prime TF201. I'm on my second one actually because of a few problems. I still think that this is a great device for those that aren't having the problems. But for me, it just wasn't worth the hassle.
I have 2 problems. First are the physical defect on both that I received. The first one, as I mentioned below in my initial review, was the scratch on the Gorilla Glass. Had I put the scratch there, I wouldn't have a problem because it isn't scratch proof, rather, it is only scratch resistant. So I went on to tablet #2 and there are no scratches on the screen this time, however, there are dents on the silver border around the screen when looking at it straight on. One at the top and 2 at the bottom. While this may not bother some, I'm paying good money for this and I want it as close to flawless as possible. Also, the port for charging seems to be dented a little as well. It still fit the charger, but it looks like someone pressed really hard on the metal around the port and bent it downward. AGHH
Problem 2: The second problem, on both devices is that once upgraded to ICS, I have numerous lockups and reboot problems. Too many to consider keeping it. I feel that this isn't really the Prime's fault but more an ICS problem, and may be fixed in a future update, but I can't take it. On the first tablet, it happens while doing any simple task, like scrolling thru a page on the default browser, or playing a simple game, or using the camera. It is just not acceptable for me. It locks up for about what seems to be 20 seconds, then automatically reboots itself. Then it is good for a short while, like 15 minutes, and then it does the same thing. I really hate making this decision but it just has to be done. Also, for those concerned, the GPS update seemed to help mine slightly for locking onto satellites with no WIFI turned on, but was still not very strong. And the Wifi strength, after careful testing and review, was just too weak. Dropping it a star due to both of them having physical defects.
****Update January 9, 2012: I just received my Ice Cream Sandwich update to 4.0.3 and it went smoothly, plus there was another camera update as well right afterwards. When the tablet boots up now, it gives the option to unlock and go to the main screen if you swipe to the right, or go straight to the camera if you swipe to the left.
I was hoping for the ability to move apps to the SD card, but no such luck yet. Mine is not rooted. Although my bootup time went from 3 mins 30 secs down to 1 min 31 secs with ICS then even down to 1 min 20 secs the next time I booted up. I like the long hold on the main screen for Live Wallpapers and plain photo wallpapers.
For those that thought ICS may improve GPS functionality, it did not for mine. I figured as much, but thought I'd test it out. Wifi seems the same as before the update. Though mine seems very good cause I'm always near the router. (But like I said below, I'm NOT using this for GPS functionality. If you are, and you like the Prime for the specs, wait for the new Prime TF700t. Even though in my opinion, it doesn't look as nice and it costs more. Or wait for the smaller 7" tablet, unnamed as of yet, which will also run ICS and have the Tegra 3 processor. ANd it will only be $249.00. Or look around. Lots to choose from.)
Looks like they also included an updated version of the web browser. I also see a Downloads App in the app section.
I like the transitions from screen to screen in the app section as well. Although, while scrolling to the Widgets section after the apps, mine just locked up and this was after 5 mins from a fresh boot. Not sure what that was about. I couldn't do anything but the tablet rebooted on its own. I'm sure there will be updates to come to clear any glitches.
****Update January 3, 2012: for those concerned about the locked bootloader, Asus made an announcement they they will provide an unlock key to allow root access at the risk of the user voiding the warranty. Here is hoping that Asus holds true to their promise, but they usually do. GPS is another issue for those concerned about it. I put my star rating back to 5 because Asus has been very good with updates and listening to the buyers. I just wish there was a way to get a plastic backing to replace the aluminum one for those that need GPS fixed to their wishes. I hope you all are enjoying your Prime as much as I am. And those of you waiting for yours to arrive, I'm sure you will enjoy it, just be aware of the issues before getting it. Or cancel your order and wait for a better option. Don't forget CES 2012 is right around the corner Jan 10-13. Maybe there will be something more suited to your needs.
****Update January 1, 2012: I added a few photos to the image gallery here on Amazon that I took with the rear camera. Keep in mind that the photo upload here does not allow the full sized image. They seem to be compressed and shrunk down in size so you can't see it in full detail, but you get the idea, i hope.
Also, i noticed on Google Earth, everything freezes up after using it for a few minutes. Then the tablet reboots itself. This also happened on my original transformer as well. Did anyone else notice this?
Even with these glitches that I mention, i am very happy with this tablet. Just want to point out things that i notice when i play around with it. I suspect that many things will run smoother when ICS comes along, or with future updates by Asus.
I know i mentioned it before but i have to stress how easy it is to clean the screen when the fingerprints get bad. People seem to point out how easy it is to get fingerprints on it but nobody seems to say how easy they wipe off.
Lastly, i have been reading a lot of negative feedback about the gps. I did say in my review how mine is slightly off and that for me this is not an issue since i really won't be using this function. So if you are worried about very accurate gps, you may want to try the prime out at bestbuy or somewhere first. I have a dedicated gps and cell phone that does gps for me. I tested my Prime with the 'gps test' app and I lock onto 6 to 10 satellites within 20 seconds indoors but the strength rarely goes above 25 per satellite, (should be over 40). A lot of reviews on the old original transformer complained about the plastic backing, and Asus switches to aluminum and people complain because it blocks wifi and gps. Watch what you wish for. I'm still a very satisfied customer overall.
****Update December 30, 2011: Another update to my review. I have noticed when recording a movie in HD, the auto focus is nice to have, but when it changes focus, upon playback you can hear clicking while it changes focus. Nothing major but worth noting.
Also, when recording in lower light the movie can go out of focus. I had to move the camera down to the floor then backto the subject for it to refocus. Annoying, but tolerable. Anyone else notice this? I still love the tablet tho.
****Update December 23, 2011: I wanted to add an additional comment. Please inspect your screen carefully. When I got the tablet, I had noticed a small scratch on the Gorilla Glass screen in the upper right side. I contemplated not doing anything about it, but finally decided that I paid good money for this and deserve a defective-free quality product. I used Amazon's Help link and chatted online with someone who helped me resolve this rather quickly. I will do a replacement of my tablet, and since it will be within the return timeframe, it will be at no cost to me. My concern about this was that it is in high demand and I may not get the new one for quite a while. I would rather wait a little longer and get a tablet that has no noticeable defect like this. Some people may not have noticed it because it is a very fine scratch, but it is about 3/4 of an inch long. I tried wiping it with the provided cloth, thinking it was something on the glass, but sure enough, it is a scratch. I am currently dropping my star rating to 4 stars because of the promotion of the Gorilla Glass as being scratch resistant. Here is a quote right from Gorilla Glass' website, "Gorilla Glass features exceptional damage resistance to the scratches, drops, and bumps of everyday use." I am one who takes extra special care of my electronics, and there was nothing that came into contact with the screen except my finger and the provided cloth. Plus I noticed the scratch as soon as I opened it, but got more worried about it as the days went on. I really hate to return it, but I can't see living with this, knowing that the screen may scratch even more later. Maybe someone in the factory did something that caused it to scratch? I have no idea, but I will be returning it for a new Tablet of the same model and color. I thought it would be fair to mention this to other people considering buying it. I really don't see this as an Asus issue as much as a Gorilla Glass (Corning) issue, but I like to be as fair as possible. I will update again once I get my new replacement item. Hopefully there will be no other worse defects.
Also, for those that want to know, I ran the free AnTuTu Benchmark v2.5 and here are my results while using Honeycomb OS.
RAM: 2109, CPU integer: 3662, CPU float-point: 2794, 2D Graphics: 283, 3D Graphics: 1190, Database IO: 400, SD Card Write: (8.3 MB/s) 83, SD Card Read: (20.2 MB/s) 189, CPU Frequency: 1400 MHz, Total Score: 10710. I did not test battery life, but it lasts a good while without having to recharge with everyday usage.
Now back to my original review:
OK, so I will start by saying that my Amazon order was not canceled, and I received my tablet on Tuesday December 20th. So there was no problem for me as far as my order goes. However, my docking keyboard still has yet to arrive. Amazon says it should arrive around January 6th.
Please note that I had the original Transformer, but I sold it to a friend and bought this one. So I will do my best to compare, but it has only been several hours that I got to play around with the new one so far.
Am I glad I updated to this one, yes. Are there major noticeable differences? Some, but not drastic. Obviously some new Tegra games cannot be played on the original Transformer, so there are the obvious hardware updates to this Prime model.
The new operating system, due later, may make this tablet act completely different. So I will update once that comes out also.
* Tegra 3 chip makes for more powerful gaming with games that are designed for it, as well as overall performance improvements.
* The enhancements on Honeycomb OS are subtle, but nice. Hopefully ICS will be a HUGE improvement.
* The screen has that special coating that they talked about, and although it does fingerprint up like crazy as with any touch screen tablet, it is SO much easier to clean off the prints. Wow, it is nice.
* The rear camera is a huge improvement over the previous model. Perfect? no, but incredibly improved? yes. The auto focus is nice, although sometimes jittery when making a movie. But overall it is great.
* The rear camera has an LED flash now, which is very nice to have.
* I like the gold color a lot more than I thought I would. It is very subtle.
* For only having one speaker this time around, I was impressed by the sound for both music and games and general sound bites.
* They included a longer charging cable than the original 3 footer. Looks to be about 5 foot this time around. Thanks for that Asus. The extra 2 feet seriously helps.
* The overall-design looks and feels better than the original.
* When I opened it, and booted up, I had 2 Asus updates ready for me.
* Wifi speeds seemed the same as the previous model. I didn't test it, just from using it and judging by memory.
* The screen looks much improved from the original, even though it is the same resolution, the brightness helps and the colors look better.
* Movies look amazing on this screen.
* Adobe Flash sites work on this tablet.
* Not sure why we need it, but there are 2 microphones this time around.
* Asus implemented a new file manager which is really nice and easy to navigate.
* Headphones connected sound amazing, and are in stereo. (I read others questioning if headphones would sound good or not)
* HDMI port is not the same as the original Transformer. This is Micro HDMI and the original was Mini HDMI. But it looks great on my HD TV.
* The Gorilla Glass, which is supposed to be scratch resistant, came with a scratch on it. See my update above for details.
* As far as design, the biggest complaint I have is that the power button is hard to press because it doesn't stick out far enough. You have to try to press it to truly understand. Took my a while the first few tries.
* If you use it, the MicroSD card sticks out more than it did in the original. Probably due to the Prime's curved edges. Not a major flaw, but noticeable if you had the original Prime.
* As per usual, the more apps you install, the longer the start-up boot time. Not Asus' fault, but this is with any Android Tablet. I have quite a few apps installed (I installed 107 apps myself), and while it still shuts down very quickly, it went from taking 30 seconds to boot, all the way up to 4 minutes and 10 seconds now. That is a LONG boot up. Like I said, before I installed my apps, it was only 30 seconds. Anyone else experience this?
* There have been a few glitches in some apps that I've used. I will try to take note as to which ones and update on here.
* Some movies that I had were not able to be played on the default player. I downloaded MoboPlayer and the codecs and no problems now.
* There is only one speaker. Granted, it is great sound, but still only one speaker? What were they thinking? I guess it was a design limitation? I have no idea here. But it least it is loud and great quality for one speaker.
Let me tell you that this one, compared to the original model, does not feel that different as far as noticing performance improvements. As I stated before, this may (or may not) change when we get the new ICS operating system later. I don't want to sound biased and say that it will be amazing with ICS, but logically it makes sense that it will run smoother and faster overall, with the exception of older apps that aren't designed around the quad core, etc.
So don't expect to see an astonishingly noticeable difference if you played with the original Transformer.
I plan to upload some videos to youtube soon that show the use of the front and rear camera as well as some still photos.
If I notice anything else, positive or negative about the Prime, I will post as soon as I get the chance.
My overall review: This was worth the extra money in my opinion. I like to keep my gadgets up to date, and I loved the specs on this tablet. If you have the extra money, I say go for it, or at least wait until ICS operating system comes out to hear if it really makes a big impact on performance, or to see if it is all hype. It was a major bummer about the scratch on the front, but I am very particular about things like that when you pay over $100 for an item. I hope that everyone gets theirs soon also, just don't forget to inspect your glass. You only get a short time to return the item, so test it out.