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ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Review

Seriously, this is our Transformer Prime review. As you know,we first got our hands on this next-gen Android tablet back in December, but for reasons we can’t explain (other than Kellex being bored to death with Android tablets), we are just now putting it all together. Apologies are in store though, we really have no excuse for this being 5 months late. With that said, you should already know that it is one of our favorite tablets as we talk about it probably more than any other Android tablet that is available. It’s a beast of a slate, so let’s get started. 

The Good:

  • ASUS: This might seem silly, but these days, which manufacturer you decide to buy from plays a huge role in how well your device will be supported down the road after your purchase. Lately, ASUS has been the number one company when it comes to software and firmware updates for their products. The Prime has received a large array of various updates and fixes that make ASUS our favorite tablet manufacturer by far in comparison to let’s say, Motorola? Whenever a new version of Android is rolling, we can almost count on this company like clockwork to deliver it to our devices in a timely manner.
  • Performance: The Prime was the first tablet to launch with a quad-core processor which was its main market draw. It is a Tegra 3 from NVIDIA and since we opened up the box, we could tell this chip actually made the Android experience better. Homescreens were flinging with no hiccups, games were performing with no lag, and once Ice Cream Sandwich hit this tablet, it was brought to a completely new level.

  • Mobile Gaming: If you consider yourself a mobile gamer (like myself), then the Prime is the go-to tablet. With its 12-core GPU (delivering 3x the Tegra 2 graphics) and games such as ShadowGun THD being specifically made for it, you just can’t beat the performance and graphics you receive.
  • Build/Feel: The Prime is sleek, extremely well built, and has that super sexy purple-ish metallic backplate which is resistant to most scratches, scuffs, and fingerprints. Besides the actual glass display, I think this tablet could take a pretty strong beating and still hold up. The only downside is the volume rocker on the side of the device which is slightly hard to press. They are so tightly flush with the device, that sometimes you have to strain to control the volume. Nothing you can’t get used to though. Holding the Prime is a joy (once you get past how cold the backing is – read section below) and with its incredible lightweight, lugging it around in a bag or in your hand is completely painless.
  • Display: This display on this tablet is acceptable. It is a Super IPS+ (1280×800) screen that might have a lower pixel density than some competitors, but the Prime actually delivers some pretty decent images. At times, the display looks “cold” and sort of has a darker tint to it, but for some, this a plus and is much easier on the eyes.
  • Overall Specs: With 32GB and 64GB variations available, all having micro-SD slots, you can easily find a Prime to suit your storage needs. All variants sport 1GB worth of RAM and feature Corning’s Gorilla Glass to protect the display. The Tegra 3 is clocked at 1.3GHz, capable of beating out almost all competition when placed side by side, but with a  Li-Po 25Wh battery, you sometimes run out of juice well before you wish you were. Other notable additions is the powerful speaker they were able to throw on, but for whatever reason, they placed it right where your hands are supposed to go, making watching videos and playing games sort of a pain when you’re trying to enjoy the music/sounds. Once you find the right spot for your hands, you’re good to go.

  • Camera: The 8MP back shooter is capable of delivering some pretty decent pictures and 1080p HD videos. You won’t want to replace your SLR, but if you’re out and about and see something or have a cute wolf puppy that you can never have enough pictures of, you will have no troubles snapping a quick picture of it to share with your friends or family. ASUS has stated that the camera available on the Prime is one of the best in the tablet market and considering that we seldom take pictures with our tablets, we will have to agree with them.
  • Accessories: The most well-known accessory for the Prime is the matching lapdock docking station. It turns your tablet into a full fledged laptop in a single click, and surprisingly, it works extremely well. The keys and mouse pointer are very responsive and one could most certainly perform a variety of average tasks that one could do on a full laptop. It’s definitely perfect for in-flight use or road trip work and even adds some 5-7 hours of battery life to your Prime while connected. It’s a must have.

The Not-so-Good:

  • Battery: Unfortunately, with all this fantastic performance in gaming and speed, the Prime does suffer a somewhat insufficient battery. For me, the Prime won’t even last two days with little use. Just sitting, idling, not doing anything and it will run itself dry in no time. Whether that is a fault of the Tegra 3 processor, or the smaller Li-Po 25Wh size of the battery, it is one thing to think about if you are buying this tablet with the idea that it will hold a charge over the course of a week. I do mention above however, that with the lapdock attached, you can easily get another 5-7 hours out of the Prime.
  • Metallic backplate: This needed its very own section. In comparison to the Motorola XOOM or the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Prime is really cold to the touch. Thanks to the metal backing, if left in a cold room, the Prime almost is unpleasant to pick up and operate. However, this is sort of offset thanks to the temperature at which the processor operates. After holding the slate for a few minutes, either the tablet will warm up, or your hands will just get used to being sort of numb.
  • 40-Pin Charger/Data Cable: I do realize that in order to hook this tablet up to the lapdock, you will need more than a micro-USB, but what happens when you lose your 40-pin cable? For a replacement straight from ASUS, you’re looking at a whopping $20 just for the cable, and $50 if you lose the adapter as well. I very much wish that there was two options to charge the device, 40-pin and a micro-usb.
  • Bugs (WiFi and GPS issues) Since release, many folks have complained of ongoing issues with the GPS and WiFi connectivity. I myself encountered no such issues, so I can’t personally claim to know about the issues. What I do know, is that ASUS is continuously pumping out updates to the Prime which should fix all of these issues hopefully sooner, rather than later. 

Unboxing and hands-on:



The Verdict:

The Transformer Prime can be found online for as little as $500. Not bad, considering that the Motorola XOOM WiFi is still going for $420. If you have been in the market for an Android tablet, for just $80 more, you can completely justify spending the extra cash on this one. It has top-of-the-line specs and high quality hardware which will likely always be capable of running the newest version of Android. We are talking quad-core processors here; PC-like power.

Until we get word of the the next generation of tablets coming from Samsung and Motorola, the Transformer Prime still reigns supreme when compared to other tablets in its category. It has the superior performance, looks, and a great company backing it with timely updates. With the addition of the quad-core processor and an awesome, yet functional lapdock accessory, it doesn’t get much sweeter than this if you are looking for the best Android tablet experience.

Other Transformer Prime Coverage

  • Nessajane03

    I bought my Transformer Prime yesterday. The only real issue I’m having with it so far is to get it to go to sleep mode when I’m not using it. It only seems to do it when the charger is attached. The rest of the time it stays on.

  • youdoneyo69

    My battery last for days on normal use day to day use and about 8-12 hours on heavy use.

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  • BigRed4X15

    Has anyone had issue with there HDMI out? I use a micro to full size HDMI adapter and use a standard HDMI cable. I had no problems with my Acer A500 or my Charge, but with the prime a little wiggle in the cord will cause the image to go away. anyone else have this issue?

    • ShelJW

       Just tried my Prime with a micro HDMI cable yesterday, and it worked fine.

      No wiggle where the cable connects to the Prime on my device! Only problem I had was some games would stop working when connected to my flat screen t.v. (Such as Shinerunner)…

  • Sorry… double post…

  • If you need to use Microsoft Office on the Transformer or other reasonably-spec’d Android tablets, take a look at our new InstallFree Nexus service: http://www.installfree.com. 

    • SolipsisticPsychologist

      Please fall off a very steep cliff you dirty spamhole! And if you’re still breathing when you hit the bottom, go find a bees nest, coat yourself in honey while being repeatedly stung, then find a bear that will slowly eat you alive. Oh and, have a wonderful day!

  • Justinmoser

    for me the transformer prime has fine battery life. maybe it’s just because i’m not playing games like shadowgun that take advantage of that tegra 3 and quadcore in the tablet. the only thing that bothers me a little is how when the light shines on the screen you can see the grid and small sensor dots on the screen, i would like it much better if it had a screen like my galaxy nexus.


  • MKader17

    @Timotato:disqus Have you really had that Prime since December? I thought the C20 serial number indicates one of the later releases.

  • Rjoudrey

    When will somone add vibration to the tabs for gaming experince?

  • Koz4Christ

    The way I see it is that you will only get around 4 hours on a laptop and around 8-10 on a netbook.  This is smaller than a laptop but a larger screen than a netbook.  So I cound it as a win with any tablet getting greater than 5 hours.

  • tomwhite86

    A couple months ago, I was incredibly busy and basically didn’t touch my Prime for nearly a week. Next time I checked it it had about 5% battery life with just 6.5 days on one charge, never once plugged into the dock. With normal use, I charge it about once every 3 days. I consider that pretty phenomenal compared to today’s typical batteries.

  • zepfloyd

    I’m waiting for the 1900 x 1200  TF700T.

    • my buddy’s mother makes $68 every hóur on the internet. She ħas been without work for 8 months bút last month her income was $8522 just working on the internet for a few hours. Réad more on this site… LazyCaśh5.Çom 

  • Stephen Morrison

    Just out of curiosity, is it possible that a laptop dock could add more processing power, ram, etc..? 

  • Aw3sk3r

    I have the 64 with a lapdock and have to say I can stream 3 movies from netflix, face chat for an hour, shadowgun for about an hour and browse the net for about 2 hours and it lasts 2 days easily.  Have no problem with wifi or GPS…  I bought a I*ad 3 for my kids and I have to say that in all respects the TF prime beats it hands down!

  • 2 things I disagree with here… 1.) Battery Life- My prime can stay idle for a week at least if I leave it, and when using it the batter will last me about 8-10+ hours of video playback using bluetooth headset. 

    2.) Speaker- thought this is terrible. It’s not loud enough at all. My speaker actually sounds better when my hand is cupping it. For some reason I thought it was done on purpose, and had to do with acoustics and bouncing the sound of your hand to create a stereo effect. 

    Love my Prime, wouldn’t trade it for anything, accept maybe the infinity series….

  • Lansdownunder

    firmware update ready for these puppies. FYI


  • droidify

    Poor battery life? You must be joking. Besides the fact the prime beat every android tablet available in the battery loop testing with over 10 hours of continuous 720p video playback (it recently moved to 2nd place behind the gtab 7.7). If I use the power saver setting in the notification area mine will last a full 7 days in standby on a single charge. You must have a bad app installed or something that is causing yours to drain.

  • love my ft101 with keyboard dock. even with all the annoying bugs (seemed to have cleared with ics)
    i would just imagine that this is just that much better than the first.
    bugs or not. its one hell of a device with specs that nothing comes close to today.

  • KMLN

    I’ve never really played with an android tab. I have an iPad but I dislike how I need the HD or iPad version of apps or it does a real bad job of using the iPhone version of the app
    How does this work on android. I’m looking at getting a tablet(mainly this one) in the next few weeks

    • SolipsisticPsychologist

      I have the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and I haven’t found this to be that large of an issue. Sure there are some apps I wish were optimized for the tablet, but that list is really small. I’ve basically found no apps that I can’t run on my tablet, even if they aren’t optimized for tablets. What I mean by optimized is usually if an app isn’t built with a tablet in mind, it will normally only view in portrait mode and not landscape. There are a few apps that just will not install on my tablet period, or some that will but they aren’t sized correctly and everything looks blown up and too big.

      But there are a whole lot more apps that are made just for the tablet now, or even more there are apps that work on both a tablet and smartphone and they just adjust themselves depending on what device you are using them on. And even when I find an app I really like that only runs in portrait mode and not landscape or both, I usually will just email the developer using the provided email link on the Market page, and ask them if they would please optimize their app to run in landscape and be formatted for tablets. And I would say 9 times out of 10, the developer responds quickly and is happy to do so. And it doesn’t take long at all to edit your code usually to accommodate tablets. So most of the time it’s only a few days or at the most a week or two, and a new update is out that supports tablets for that particular app. I find that if you’re just a friendly and pleasant person, and you are cordial when talking to the developers, that gets you a lot farther towards having another app that is fitted for your tablet. Hope this helps with your question and decision some. 🙂

    • Tom Rogers

      I’ve used iPad 1 & 2, a Vizio 8, a Moto Xoom, and Asus Transformer Prime. I think that Android does a superior job of displaying phone apps than iOS. The Vizio 8 running Honeycomb is even a 4:3 screen like the iPad and does a better job. Tab apps are always better but I think Android is the clear winner here. I think it might have something to do with how Android is setup to manage different screen sizes.

  • Boobiez

    Seems pretty cool but pricey. When bought my acer a500(now traded) price came into play. The xoom at the time was over my limit. Even though I hardly used the tablet is miss it but I did get a ps3 in the trade

  • fvqu

    Asus makes some solid tablet hardware, I hope the Asus Nexus Tablet rumors are true.

  • I’m so jealous of you guys… Already on 4.0, quad core, light and thin with good battery life AND a keyboard dock…

    I’m rocking a Toshiba Thrive… Which has its pluses, but I’d trade in a heartbeat.

  • Tay

    I’m looking to buying a tablet. Would it be wise to still buy the Transformer Prime or should I wait for other tablets to come out in the near future?

    • MKader17

      I had the chance to get a refund for my prime because I had one of the very first ones with problems. 

      I took it….

      …as soon as I ordered a new one of Amazon.

      I had the chance to wait it out because I spent a month with out it and was okay, but it’s really that good that I am willing to take my chances with other tablets on the horizon.

      • Tay

         Ok cool. I have been looking for a tablet for a while now. Motorola and Samsung’s tablets haven’t really impressed me, so I’m really leaning towards this one.

    • SolipsisticPsychologist

      I think that just depends ultimately on what you are looking to get out of a tablet. I would say if you find a current one for sale that meets all of your needs and standards, well go for it if you can afford it. But I would also say that if you’re in the market for the latest and the greatest, sometimes that can be a neverending waiting game. Because with the way that new devices are released, and if you base your buying choices off of hype and trend, well whatever you wait for and buy will be outdone in no time right after you buy it. I’m not saying I agree with this mindset at all, I don’t. I’m just stating that I personally think you should just find what suits your needs and get that, because waiting on the next best thing will set you up to fail and keep you waiting literally forever. Just my thoughts on the subject, hope that helps somewhat.

    • SolipsisticPsychologist

      I think that just depends ultimately on what you are looking to get out of a tablet. I would say if you find a current one for sale that meets all of your needs and standards, well go for it if you can afford it. But I would also say that if you’re in the market for the latest and the greatest, sometimes that can be a neverending waiting game. Because with the way that new devices are released, and if you base your buying choices off of hype and trend, well whatever you wait for and buy will be outdone in no time right after you buy it. I’m not saying I agree with this mindset at all, I don’t. I’m just stating that I personally think you should just find what suits your needs and get that, because waiting on the next best thing will set you up to fail and keep you waiting literally forever. Just my thoughts on the subject, hope that helps somewhat.

  • Ccraig7925

    Is this tablet still availble. Its nowhere to be found and no one seems to be getting anymore in stock. Even Staples says clearance item.

    • MKader17

      nowinstock.net keeps you up to date on who’s got it.

      • seeker1026

         officedepot on line has it.

        • seeker1026

          Remember their is a Transformer and Transformer Prime dont get the transformer get the Transformer Prime….

  • Unfortunately, the usage of my Prime is dictated by its limitations.  I love it, but I need things like Mathematica and a terminal (ssh, vim, etc) A LOT right now and neither of them are available or usable on a tablet 🙁

  • Ben Brumm

    Love my Prime. Totally disagree about the battery; like others pointed out, there were some updates which fixed other issues and killed the battery for some users (myself included). I stuck with it and the next update fixed me totally. Now I can leave it idle for 6-7 days with wifi on, and still have a little left.

    • Same goes for me, and if you do turn off wifi, it lasts even longer. Very easy and quick to turn wifi on/off.

  • Binglut9

    And one other thing you should note is that the apps and general experience is still lacking compared to other tablets

    • How so? The Prime can do things no other tablet can do like docking to a keyboard dock that has extra battery and ports.

      It can also use both wired and wireless mice and game controllers.

      None of these features are possible on any version of the iPad.

    • CheeseMcGee

      What do you mean exactly?  Please explain.

  • Binglut9

    If it dies that quickly idling than somethings wrong….

  • I would love a Transformer Prime.

    However, I am still perfectly happy with the performance of my Transformer TF101 (B40 series). Like the OG Droid, the OG Transformer will live on!

    • ASUS has announced an update for it too.

  • Coderedpl

    I get pretty good battery life with mine. I can’t really complain at all. Make sure you adjust your screen brightness. I leave mine running in balanced mode majority of the time with no lag.

    I read up on xda that someone suggested going into developer options and checking AND THEN unchecking stay awake and it seems to have helped with battery life drain while idle. Not sure if that helps or not as i haven’t personally checked.

  • ATBvsBFZ

    No battery problems on my Prime. I think what is running on it has an effect, ie, bad apps can keep it from sleeping. My old Xoom would last for days with light use until I put on some new apps – then it ran down in < 24 he's under light use.

  • interesting how you said for the best “android” tablet experience

  • Satelliteparts

    I just wonder now that the TF201 has been out for a while how many of the respondents here have a cracked screen?  It seems that a lot of us who went and purchased the keyboard dock are now experiencing cracked screens due to the stress (twisting) of the tablet when it is opened and closed in the dock.  ASUS will deny the claim, no matter how well you have treated your tablet they feel is the screen is cracked you are at fault, period.  That is about a $200 expenses.

  • Anon

    I’ve had the Prime since Day 1, my experience can best be described as “meh”. I love android to death, but I can’t help getting annoyed when I open the chrome browser on my Prime and start inputting a web site address only to have it lag and prompt to with a pop-up to “wait” or “close” because chrome is unresponsive.  Also, (cr)apple is right to brag about it’s tablet app ecosystem, android tablet apps just aren’t there yet.  

    • It doesn’t seem to be a widespread issue, but I’ve heard other people write about it. Some people have recommended to add a couple of bumper guards to the corners on the open side and one each on each side of the hinge on the dock. Try to get them the same height as the built-in bumper guards near the trackpad and the side of they keyboard dock.

      The problem seems to be with the keyboard dock having some flex when it’s in the closed position. The additional bumpers reduces the flex significantly when closed. The problem is not with the tablet itself. All the cracked screens seem to get damaged when they were docked.

  • Btrbver2

    Unless you have some crazy newer version, the TF201 only has never speaker afaik.

    • Btrbver2

      Sorry, that’s “only has one speaker”

    • Updated. Sorry about that, wrote it all in one day and got mixed up. The ONE speaker is awesome, as long as you don’t cover it with your hand 😉

  • I also pair the Prime (stock) with a rooted/romed Nexus. Incredible mobile business power. I need nothing else, unless I am doing high end video/audio processing. My prime with dock has the best battery life of any mobile device I have ever owned, I chucked when I read that as a con.

  • Nick040489

    My Jo bought me one to use around the office. Its a very comparable solution to carrying around a laptop. The battery doesn’t last long but I’m pleased

  • What’s really wrong with this tablet is the price. With competing tablets going for $350 (Acer A200), $500 seems a bit too much. Sure, it’s better than A200, but it’s not that much better. Same OS, same screen size and in most cases performance and battery life would be the same.
    Should be $400 or less.

    • After doing the research, there is NO competition out there compared to this device. It took me about a weeks worth of research and I am proud to say that I have owned this device for a few months now and it is AWESOME!

  • Ddlugatch

    That was the worst review about the prime I have read so far.
    Get an IPAD.

  • I too, disagree with the battery life.  Mine supplements a work computer and a Galaxy Nexus, I charge it every 2-3 days, and probably get 10-11 hours of life out of it,. maybe more.  

    There is a previous update that “locked” all 4 core on, and destroyed battery life … is it possible you don’t have the most recent update?

    • I try to stay up to date as much as possible and I am running the newest available version of the firmware. I am basing my experience on my overall time with it and not just this past day or so, which have been normal I guess you could say. 

      As far as my experience has gone, I can unplug it at 100%, come back in two days with no use and it’s dead. Maybe I got a broken one :-/ 

      Thanks for all the input, guys!

      • will bartlett

        i know if i switch it to battery saver and turn off wifi if im not going to use it for a while it will stay charged for over a week losing 1-2% a day. its nice if im not gonna be on it constantly

      • Ryan C

        I know if won’t be using it for awhile, such as when i go to school, i turn wifi off and put it on power saver before i put it to sleep and it will loose maybe 1-4% over the day in my backpack. And generally if it’s at 100% and i use it with wifi on, it will last for 8 hours. Which, i think is impressive.

      • Rob

        I didn’t use mine much last week and it lasted (with the keyboard) over 8 days on standby.

        • MKader17

          Same thing for me. Considering the keyboard and tablet both have the same size battery I think it’s same to assume 4 days with just the tablet.

          • Rob

            I honestly feel like mine has gone longer than that without the dock. When it was at 8 days I still had 17% or something like that left.

      • Sirlandry

        Hey Tim-o-tato! I’m one of the winners from last week and on the dock after two days of no charging the dock battery is at 96% and the tablet is at 85%. and that’s after showing it off to my parents on their tv for about 15 minutes or so with a little Shadow Gun THD some Netflix and a couple of old school videogame ROMs. Not sure if you have a lemon or what. I have noticed a couple of random reboots but nothing too big.

      • DanKemple

         Yeah that isn’t normal, I leave mine on overnight on eco mode, drains 1-2%.

  • Michael_NM

    How’t the LTE on it? Sorry, jealous Xoom owner here. 🙂

    • Michael Major

       Fantastic when hooked up to my GNex via hotspot. 😉

      • Michael_NM


      • dreadnatty08

        I first used my Prime tethered to my Nexus. Works great!

  • Charles C

    The GPS issue won’t be fixed with software updates as it is a known issue that with the metal covering in the back, the RF can’t get a proper GPS signal unless your outside. Asus has even removed it from their features. Anybody else thinking about getting this table should wait for the new Transformer Infinity. Much nicer and should be out in a few months.

    • Androidfan1981

      bruh  when i got my TF201 the gps and the wifi worked fine don’t no what the hell your doing to that tablet  but in my yard it works great 

  • batterylife… I definitely disagree with that. (no keyboard dock with performance ______ [governor?])

    • Greg Morgan

      That’s crazy awesome! What would you say the use was for this?

      • Are you being sarcastic? I can’t tell what you mean.

        • Greg Morgan

          I mean is that moderate use, heavy use? lol

          • (not being snarky) You can see on the screenshot where it says SCREEN ON that I had VERY VERY VERY little usage. It was a very busy week, and I didn’t have time for recreation. 😛
            I thought you were saying what was the use of buying the tablet if I wasn’t going to use it 😛

    • Hah! That’s awesome. Wish my experience was the same as your own. Congrats!

      • I’ll get back to you with the keyboard dock. I just got it 😛

        • I like the dock. Obviously. I could actually see myself substituting my laptop in a time of need for this thing. 😛

          • I actually bought the tablet for school (reading books, notes, etc.). It’s great for typing and then I bought a stylus so I can draw things if necessary. 
            Another thing to mention is the bloat… that’s good bloat for once. I like the ASUS Sync thingy (I put my Dropbox in it (cloudception) and the Splashtop thing. 

          • I love the dock.  It doesn’t get nearly enough coverage in reviews.  Most people don’t realize it’s not just a keyboard, or battery, but adds a full SD Port, and a USB port for controllers, storage, mice, and now Ethernet.  

          • Very true, The added USB port is something I should add. Thanks!

          • MKader17


            It was a pleasant surprise when I plugged in my wireless mouse and it immediately worked.

            If/when we get Ubuntu on this, it won’t even be a question anymore for which tablet is the best.

          • Its been done before, look it up. Dual booting though is another thing.

  • Strange. I charged my Prime on Thursday night last week (with dock) and it has only run through the dock battery with minimal use.

    • Do you have the setting to have the keyboard on standby to be able to wake the device?

      • It has power saving enabled. Plus I leave the tablet in standard mode most of the time. Not performance.

  • Droidzilla

    Great review, Tato. I may replace my Cr48 with an ASUS one of these days.

  • Disagree about the battery life – I think its pretty good. I can get like 9 hours of constant use. I usually charge it every night, but I recently didnt and had a fair amount of life life after 2 days.

  • ASUS has really been great about the updates. I don’t care if they fix anything, I just like seeing the notification. 🙂
    I’ve thought about rooting/romming but I haven’t seen anything worth it.