The iPhone isn't the only thing that drives techies wild. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime are two of the hottest 2011 Android gadgets, and the Prime barely made it under the wire for 2011. This 10.1" Android Honeycomb tablet has just started shipping in small quantities now, after missing the holiday shopping season thanks to delays. We were fortunate to snag a retail model, so this is what you'll actually get in your hands if you buy one, it's not a review unit from Asus. Is it worth the wait? We'll tell you in our in-depth video review, but I can tell you so far it's looking pretty impressive after a day of testing.
The Transformer Prime is Asus' second generation Android Honeycomb tablet, and the follow up to their popular Asus Eee Pad Transformer. It has the same transforming design, and that means you can buy a $149 keyboard dock that turns the slate into a netbook form factor device. The dock has a secondary battery to greatly extend runtimes and a USB 2.0 port for USB peripherals. The tablet itself lacks USB ports of any kind. It has a 3.5mm stereo jack (compatible with headphone-mic combo units), the Asus dock connector that's also used for charging and copying files from your computer to the tablet over USB, a micro HDMI port and a microSD card slot.
The tablet features an IPS display that Asus calls Super IPS+ because it has a super-bright mode to combat bright outdoor light. It's very thin at 0.326" and it weighs 1.29 lbs. making it a hair thinner and lighter than other thin and light 10" tablets. It has the usual Bluetooth, GPS and access to the Android Market as well as Tegra Zone games. It's available in your choice of two colors: amethyst gray and champagne gold. The Prime comes in 32 and 64 gig versions with the 32 gig being available now at $499.
This is a WiFi only tablet and it's hot because it's the first quad core mobile OS tablet. The Transformer Prime will get Ice Cream Sandwich too, hopefully in January 2012. The quad core Nvidia Tegra 3 has a fifth companion core that runs at 500MHz to handle lightweight tasks like background syncing when the tablet is syncing (this saves power). The Tegra 3 has a max clock speed of 1.4GHz when running a single core, and ramps down as more cores are active (i.e.: 4 cores active run at 1.3GHz or lower). The tablet feels fast and responsive, and we can't wait to see what ICS does in terms of taking greater advantage of the many threads and cores in the Tegra 3.
Here's our Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime unboxing and first look video. We'll have an in-depth video review after we've had more time to torture test the tablet.