ASUS Transformer Prime: Perfect for business trips (review)

ASUS Transformer Prime: Perfect for business trips (review)

Summary: The Tranformer Prime is the top Android tablet with powerful hardware, and coupled with the optional laptop dock becomes a viable alternative for leaving the laptop at home.


My quest for a tablet/ keyboard combination that will let me leave the laptop behind on short business trips took an unexpected turn with the arrival of the Transformer Prime. The Transformer Prime is a top-of-the-line Android tablet from ASUS that runs Ice Cream Sandwich and has a Tegra 3 quad-core processor. The tablet is as good as it gets in the Android world, and when you throw in the laptop dock the pair is unequaled in capability.

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Transformer Prime Hardware specs:

  • Display: 10.1-inch Super IPS+ (1280x800)
  • OS: Android 4.x (Ice cream Sandwich)
  • Processor: Tegra 3 quad-core
  • Memory: 1GB
  • Storage: 32GB (64GB available)
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, bluetooth
  • Cameras: 1.2MP front; 8MP rear (F2.4), auto-focus, flash
  • Ports: 3.5mm audio, HDMI, microSD slot, dock
  • Battery: 25 wH (12 hours)
  • Dimensions: 263 × 180.8 × 8.3mm ; 586g

Laptop Dock Hardware specs:

  • Ports: SD card slot, USB 2.0
  • Battery: 22 wH (8 - 10 hours)
  • Dimensions: 263 × 180.8 × 8~10.4mm ; 537g

The 10.1-inch screen of the Transformer Prime is nice and bright, and when you turn on IPS+ mode the 400 NITS is bright enough to use in broad daylight. Everything about the Transformer Prime indicates good design and construction, and ASUS includes software that rounds out a great tablet.

The tablet easily pops into the optional laptop dock, which is basically a laptop without the screen. The chiclet keys are nearly full-sized, and are good for touch typists. There is a full row of special function keys that work with the Transformer Prime to perform common tasks. The trackpad with integrated buttons can be toggled on and off with one of those keys. The four arrow keys are excellent for working with the tablet for precise cursor placement.

L: iPad 2 ZAGGfolio case; R: Transformer Prime docked

The tablet and laptop dock turn the Transformer Prime into a no-compromise Android laptop, which makes it a great alternative on business trips. I have been testing the iPad with keyboard cases for replacing my laptop for short periods, and the Transformer Prime has proven to be a better fit for my needs. The Transformer Prime keyboard is better which is important for a writer, and one app available for the Transformer Prime makes it serve my needs better than the iPad 2 I have been testing.

A lot of my work is done online in a browser, and the Google Chrome Beta is as good a browser as the desktop version. Using Chrome on the Transformer Prime is the difference of being able to do most (but not quite all) of my work while travelling, and being able to do everything. I can complete everything I do for my work with Chrome and the Transformer Prime, making it clearly the best fit for my needs.

iPad 2 in case vs Transformer Prime thickness

I'm not saying this is the best tool for everyone, but for my needs I could travel with this kit and leave my laptop at home. That has distinct advantages, the real-world 18 - 20 hour battery life chief among them. There is no need to worry about battery life with the 10 - 12 hours of the Transformer Prime and the second battery in the laptop dock that extends it to the max. Portability is another advantage this has over the laptop, as the tablet in the laptop dock is no bigger than the iPad 2 in a tiny keyboard case. It's a win all around carrying the Transformer Prime, functioning as a good laptop when needed and a great tablet out of the dock.

ASUS announced a newer model of the Transformer Prime, the Transformer Infinity, at the MWC this week so the Transformer Prime may not be available much longer. Pricing for the newer model has not been given by ASUS. The Transformer Prime as configured has a MSRP of $499 and the laptop dock another $149.

See also:

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Mobility, Tablets

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  • Why Android?

    I've replaced my work laptop with an Asus Eee Slate with 4 GB of RAM, 64GB Storage and it's running full blown Windows 7 rather than Android. Why would anyone settle for an Android tablet when you can get essentially the same exact tablet with more RAM and running a real OS?
    • Cost

      I was out looking a newer devices and the $1499.00 USD was a bit of a put off.
      • Lol 600 dollars for a Prime plus keyboard

        On discount.

        Beats anything else out there.
    • Battery life

      Battery life in x86-based devices max out at about 4 hours. If that's a trade off you can live with, then fine. But James made it pretty clear that 4 hours isn't nearly long enough for his needs, and that's not uncommon.
      Michael Kelly
    • Huh?

      Size, weight, keyboard, battery life.

      "Essentially the same"?

      Give me a break
    • My question exactly...

      Except I replaced my laptop with an Aspire One with 4gb of ram, 500gb HD space, and it's also running Windows 7. No, it's not touch, but my "real" work doesn't get done via touch. That's what my nook color is for.

      And battery life kicks butt, and I picked up this dual core puppy on Ebay for $250...

      I love my A1 :) :) :)
      • Oh yeah...

        And I have my regular battery which gets about 6 hours, and my extended that gets about 10? I don't know, I've not needed the extended one yet, but I own it JIC.

        And whenever I get in front of an HD TV? HDMI out and bob's your uncle!
      • The ASUS Prime has HDMI out as well;

        the Quad-Core Tegra 3 is perfectly capable of outputting full 1080P HD video. Tablets and Notebooks are a completely different category - although the Prime is the perfect bridge of the two. Don't forget, while it is good for work you can detach it from the dock for media, reading, and other things.

        It is extremely versatile, jumping from function to function as needed. That is it's attraction (as well as it's pure power). Storage space isn't NEARLY as high as a HDD, of course, but you can get MSD cards pretty cheap (Newegg had 32GB cards for $29.99 a day or so ago).

        Also, the Prime's battery life is basically the highest of any portable device in it's class (or any class around it, for that matter) with it's keyboard dock. That's not to say that the battery life of your Aspire isn't impressive! 10 hours with the extended battery? That's almost shocking.

        The price is right, too; you can't beat $250 for a device like that.
    • battery

      I have a laptop for when I need a full OS. But while at airports, on airplanes, or at lunch/meetings etc. I like the idea of 12 hours of battery life, then wait, i don't think it was mentioned here but with the keyboard dock it's supposed to get 18hrs of battery total according to So ultimately I'll use my Lenovo thinkpad when I need a real laptop for work, but for emails, browsing, reading, entertaining, etc. Android has everything I need for work and personal while on the go. Hope that gives you some perspective.
    • I don't know....

      Maybe +16 hours of battery life? (TF Prime + Dock)
      • Battery

        I get 18+ out of my Prime with the keyboard. And it will run for days on end if you use it and let it go into sleep mode before you need to plug it in again.
    • Why Windows?

      I'm waiting for the planned of release of OpenSUSE 12.2 ARM version which should be in July. Then one gets a full OS AND that 12-20 hour battery life!
    • A real OS?

      A real OS? That NEEDS more ram? That's the same one with 5 million and counting viruses available for it? That's the same OS that became so bloated that it's maker decided to rewrite and even drop the "Windows" name? Come on grow up!
      Johan Safari
  • Perfect for business

    I am using the ASUS TP exclusively now. Like you James I took it with me on a business trip for a whole week and leaving my laptop alone but before doing so I tried at home. It works perfectly. I am not a writer but work as an IT consultant so I obviously do a lot of technical stuff and advising. I have yet to find anything I missed being able to do compared to my laptop.

    In fact my company has decided to leave the PC/Macs behind (except for a few things that can only run on PC - but which we can RDP into from the tablets.) In another week the company will be PC-free ;o)

    That saves us the license fees to MS too - while we at the same time will be a lot more flexible/portable/efficient.

    I am impressed with ASUS while I never really got to think the other Androids or iPads where business ready. Although both are nice for different reasons. I still use my Galaxy 7' as my book reader. The iPad 2 is collecting dust. Sorry to say so.
  • Chrome?

    So what is it that Chrome does so much better than the browser on the iPad (or anything else for that matter)?

    Sounds like a post in it's own right to me.
    • HTML5

      Handles HTML5 better for one thing.
  • Whoa!

    Gotta give this a bit of thought....
    Jumping off of the iPad?

    Will edit this later after my brain digests this....
  • Wifi issues?

    There's been a lot of talk about wifi issues and I was wondering if you encountered any?
    • No WiFi probs

      I haven't encountered any problems with Wi-Fi or any other kind in my testing so far.
    • WiFi fixed

      It has been fixed in recent updates. And it was only affecting some of the ASUS TPs. As well as GPS and bluetooth issues.

      All fixed in latest update.

      I never had any of the problems though.