Today we're comparing the top two 10" tablets on the market: the New iPad and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime. We've reviewed both these tablets, but now that the iPad 3 is out, let's see how the Prime compares. Both are 10" tablets with metal backs, thin and light designs and primo IPS displays. The Transformer Prime packs a quad core Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU while the new iPad has a dual core A5X CPU with quad core graphics. Quite the match. Both tablets start at $499, though you'll get twice the storage with the Prime. Note that the Prime does not come in a 3G/4G flavor: if you need that feature, it's not the tablet for you.
This isn't an iOS vs. Android smackdown. Many of you already have a preferred OS, and each has their strong points; particularly Apple for ease of use and Android for customizability and openness. I like them both, and I'm not here to tell you one is better than the other. This comparison and video comparison is for those of you who are new to both, or are open to both, and are trying to decide on the best tablet that meets your criteria.
This is the gorilla in the room: the new iPad has a wonderful 2048 x 1536 Retina Display. It isn't just sharp; it has 44 percent increased color saturation according to Apple, and very good contrast.
The Gorilla Glass clad Transformer Prime has one of the best mobile OS tablet displays on the market. It's a Super IPS + display with a high brightness mode that makes it very viewable outdoors. The contrast is supreme, and to our eyes higher than the iPad 3's, and colors look simply rich... until you see it next to the new iPad. Apple's latest tablet has even richer and deeper colors.
Note: Asus will release the Transformer Infinity 700 later this year with a 1920 x 1200 display that might give the Retina Display a run for your money.
Winner: New iPad. Both are excellent, but the new iPad's Retina Display wins for sharpness and color depth.
These are both very fast tablets. The iPad prioritizes user input, so it still feels a hair faster in terms of your interactions with the tablet. Both can play challenging 3D games, and they do it equally well. The Transformer Prime has a quad core CPU clocked at 1.2 to 1.4GHz (depending on how many cores are active). It's actually a 4 + 1 architecture with a fifth companion core than handles less demanding tasks to save power. The iPad has the same 1GHz dual core CPU as the iPad 2, but it uprades the GPU to a quad core unit.
There aren't many cross platform benchmark apps, but we tested them both with GeekBench and GLBenchmark. The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime wins on the CPU front by a solid margin, and the iPad takes the lead with GLBenchmark (graphics). Since the CPU is more important for most applications, I give the edge to the Tegra 3 in the Prime.
Winner: Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime
Both are Energizer Bunnies. The iPad 3 gets there by the way of a huge battery that's double the capacity of the iPad 2. The Prime has an ample battery and that fifth companion core to save serious power when computing power isn't really needed. Both tablets run about 8 hours on a charge in mixed use. The Transformer Prime gets the nod for its optional keyboard dock that has a secondary battery that adds 4 hours of additional battery life. The Prime also charges more quickly.
Tie, when counting just the tablets. Prime wins if you intend to buy the keyboard dock too.
The new iPad is still ahead of Android for tablet-optimized applications. But honestly, there are so many top apps available for Android tablets now, that I never feel like a second class citizen when I use my Prime. I do feel a little underfed when it comes to high quality 3D games: there are hundreds more for the iPad. Recently, 3D games have picked up pace on Android, but we've got a long way to go.
Winner: New iPad.
Expandability and Customization
In general, Android tablets rule here. Unless you jailbreak the iPad, the user interface offers very little customization. It may be a very good UI, but you can't tweak it to suit your needs nearly as much as Android. The Prime has a desktop with myriad widgets available for download (some are pre-installed) and you geeky types can even install custom launchers and alternative ROMs to really change things up.
On the hardware front, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime has its signature keyboard dock that transforms the tablet into a 10" notebook complete with keyboard and trackpad. It has a microSD card slot and supports USB host, so it's easy to get files of all types on and off the tablet (no iTunes sync or cloud sync needed). You can use USB flash drives, hard drives and game controllers. The Prime is more of a computer replacement in terms of peripheral expansion. It also has HDMI, while you have to purchase a separate adapter to get HDMI out on the New iPad.
Winner: Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime
Ease of Use
The iPad is so easy to use, I can't imagine anyone being baffled. The UI is very simple and direct, and it's the exact same experience you get on the iPhone. I honestly don't consider Android OS 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich difficult to use. If you've used an Android phone, you should feel largely at home. But it is less directed and open, and can be harder on less technically inclined types. If you're buying a tablet for someone who's not terribly comfortable with technology, the New iPad is likely the better choice.
New iPad vs. Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime Comparison Smackdown Video: