Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

Summary: Add the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime to your holiday wish list now, gadget hounds. Here's why.

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TOPICS: Processors, Hardware
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After Asus CEO Jonny Shih oh-so-casually showed off the world's first quad-core tablet, the ultra-slim Eee Pad Transformer Prime, at AsiaD last month, we've been hoping Santa the Taiwanese company would deliver the slate in-time for this holiday season.

Well, Asus just made the next-gen Transformer official by announcing its North American pricing, and answered a bunch of questions we had about this drool-worthy tablet.

First of all, both Engadget and The Verge are reporting Asus will be shipping the Transformer Prime globally by early December, so go ahead and add this device to your 2011 wish list.

But don't expect the Transformer Prime with industry leading specs to come cheap. The 32 GB version starts at $499, with the 64 GB setting you back $599. (The first-gen 16 GB Transformer was only $399, which was part of its appeal.) Though the keyboard dock retails separately for $149, it's what sets this tablet apart from other Android devices: it adds 6 hours of juice, a keyboard, a touchpad, a full SD Card slot and USB port, which turns the Transformer Prime into a mighty productivity powerhouse.

Sharing the same "spun metal" finish of the Asus Zenbook, the Transformer Prime is certainly a looker but its innards are even more impressive. As the the world's first tablet to use Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 chip (formerly the Kal-El), the Transformer Prime is five times as fast as Tegra 2 devices but can last up to 12 hours on its 22Wh battery (18 hours with dock), putting most dual-core slates to shame. Other technical specs are as follows:

  • Display: 10.1" 1280 x 800-resolution Super IPS+ display with 178° viewing angle
  • Cameras: HD 8MP rear auto-focus camera with LED flash, large F/2.4 aperture, back illuminated CMOS sensor, touch-to-focus depth of field and low-light noise reduction; 1.2MP front camera
  • GPU: 12-core GeForce GPU and vSMP technology
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Sensors: GPS, a gyroscope
  • 1080P HD video playback
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Ports/Connectors: micro-SD slot, micro-HDMI connector, 3.5mm mic/audio jack

Although the Transformer Prime won't be shipping with Ice Cream Sandwich -- it will run Honeycomb (Android 3.2) -- Asus is already promising a free over-the-air update to ICS "at a later date," according to its press release. Out-of-box, the tablet will also have SuperNote for taking/drawing notes, and Polaris Office for editing/creating Word, Excel and PowerPoint files to complement its workhorse identity. But its built-in micro-SD slot also makes the Transformer Prime easy to side-load media files like photos and music, so it can be as much a content consumption as creation device.

At just 8.3mm (0.33-inch) thick and 586g (1.29-lbs without dock), the new Transformer manages to pack a lot more power and functionality into a compact package, without raising its price tag to a ridiculous level. The Transformer Prime it even comes in two colors that are neither black nor white (Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold) and sounds like a dream; I hope I can get my hands on one to make sure it's the real deal. Sadly, Asus did not provide any details on how to lock down a Transformer Prime this year in its announcement so stay tuned.

[Source: The Verge, Engadget, Asus press release]

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Topics: Processors, Hardware

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27 comments
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  • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

    I was afraid it was going to be priced more then the original Transformer. Guess I'll just hang onto my Transformer and wait for the third gen, since I can't justify replacing a 6+ month old tablet anyway.
    Bates_
    • Still, the hardware seems to be quite good; Tegra 3 expected to beat ...

      @Bates_: ... Apple's A5 in integer calculations, will catch up with vector floating point calculations and will be like 2/3-3/4 of A5's graphical performance, comparing to just 1/5-1/3 that Tegra 2 is comparing to A5. Tests should be interesting.<br><br>Overall, this thing will not really beat Apple's A5, but it will finally bring some competition. Because other current SoCs are really slow.<br><br>However, Apple supposed to update its SoC in Spring; lets see what they will offer.
      dderss
      • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

        @dderss
        what the hell are you talking about?
        30otnix
      • Just read it

        @30otnix
        dderss
      • @ 30otnix: That the A5 is a computational monster.

        @dderss

        And the Tegra III is the first major ARM SoC to really compete performance wise. The 543MP2 is a very fast GPU that easily outclassed the Tegra II device and current OMAP devices. Likewise, the A5 and Tegra III include the NEON SIMD instruction set where the Tegra II did not. Power-management on the Tegra II was not as good as the A5 and OMAP designs.

        Basically, the Tegra II over-promised and under-delivered. Tegra III looks very good on paper. It has a 5th slow but ultra low power core (cool idea actually), a revamped GPU and a total of 4 primary cores for much improved integer performance with well threaded code.
        Bruizer
      • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

        @dderss benchmarks that are OS agnostic anywhere?

        All I can find is: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2381767,00.asp#fbid=-_EgWU7pfSJ

        And the results are mixed and questionable.
        30otnix
      • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

        @30otnix: there is no Tegra-3 test results in the link (and no wonder, production systems do not yet exist).

        Other results do not contradict to what I wrote about performance of A5 and Tegra-2 either. The latter is dramatically slower in both vector FPU and graphics.
        dderss
      • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

        @dderss <br>I was asking for your benchmarks to back up your claims of a5 vs. t2. And the results I linked to didn't mention vector FPU and graphics. It covered three benchmark tests. One of which the A5 won and the other two Clearly went to to the Tegra 2.

        I can't even tell what you are comparing? CPUs? GPUs? OSs? SOCs?

        <br><br>I was sincerely asking these questions and for more than just your say so, but in return i get nothing but more fanboi crap.<br><br>I'm done talking to you, since you clearly can't read.
        30otnix
      • @ 30otnix: ARS Technica.

        There are no "platform agnostic" benchmarks because they are not important. iOS does not run on Tegra hardware. There is no optimized option to run Android on A5 hardware.

        The lack of the NEON unit on Tegra really hurts its floating point and Tegra II's GPU simply is not a great performer. It is slightly faster than the GPU Apple used int he A4.

        Based on NVidia's claims on the Tegra III, the Tegra III GPU should come in just behind the Apple A5.
        Bruizer
      • There are platform-agnostic benchmarks; check AnandTech.com

        @30otnix: the tests show that A5 is like 8-9 times faster in vector FP calculations and 3-5 times faster in graphics comparing to Tegra 2.

        And no wonder, since only area of SGX-543MP2 is bigger than whole SoC Tegra 2 altogether.
        dderss
    • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

      @Bates_I see it priced as the same considering that the Prime has 32gb of memory and the original transformer has only 16gb. When you throw in the better specs, it's really a better deal at $499.
      mrxxxman
      • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

        @mrxxxman Not if you just spent 400$ on the 1st gen a few months ago.
        Bates_
  • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

    The metal back, and the rounded edges are what I hated about the iPad 2. These are deal breakers on the Asus Transformer 2. The higher price also solidifies the fact that I will not be buying this. Hopefully this one falls flat on its face and Asus goes back to what made the original transformer popular for the 3rd gen and I might look again. Otherwise I will be looking to another company to fill my tablet needs. For now I am sticking with my Transformer 1.
    ryanmc
  • I love my TF101

    But it's time to hand it down and step up to Tegra 3 goodness.
    symbolset
  • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

    I wonder if ASUS will make this with Win 8?
    PhillyIT
    • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

      @PhillyIT Without a doubt. I am not sure of the sales numbers but my anecdotal evidence seems to point to this device being a success for Asus. For example, the number of posts on xda for this device are higher than any other android tablet including the original galaxy tab.

      It wouldn't surprise me to see many imitators running ICS and then many many more when Windows 8 is released. I love my honeycomb tablet but I have to admit it would be pretty exciting if I could pull the screen off of my windows netbook and use it as a tablet.
      redhaven
    • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

      @PhillyIT

      I've been wondering the same thing. As much as I love my Android tablet (HTC Flyer) I don't feel that Android productivity suites are robust enough to make something like the above particularly tempting. But if I could buy a Windows 8 tablet with the same form factor, and if Microsoft produces a full featured Office suite for ARM processors, I could definitely be tempted to take a second look, at least.
      dsf3g
  • Keyboard...

    The KEYBOARD is $149...?
    Naryan
    • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

      @Naryan

      It's more of a docking station than a keyboard.
      benched42
  • RE: Asus rolls-out quad-core Tegra 3 Transformer Prime this December

    Picked up an eeepad a few days ago and took it back the next day because printing is ridiculously under-supported on tablets, be they the Android or iPad flavors. As a reasonably technical person I can deal with it personally, but my wife needs a simple print button in whatever application she wants to print from, and requiring apps to print don't offer that convenience. (Yes I know about cloud printing and other mobile print apps from the Android Market, Epson, HP, Brother etc., but they don't cut it either for numerous reasons)

    Until Google and Apple correct these sorts of inexcusable shortcomings for things that should be core features already in their mobile OS's I won't be considering a tablet regardless of how many cores its CPU has.
    predmond