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Asus unveils Eee Pad Transformer Prime

The next model in Asus's Eee Pad Transfomer line of docking tablets will come with a Tegra 3 quad-core chip, plus the promise of longer battery life, when it arrives in the UK
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By Ben Woods, Senior reporter on
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1 of 4 Ben Woods/ZDNet

Asus Transformer Prime alone

Asus plans to start selling a quad-core modular 10.1-inch tablet, the Eee Pad Transformer Prime, at the start of 2012.

The device made its debut in Taipei, Taiwan, on Wednesday. It will be priced around £499 when it goes on sale in the UK in January, the company said. It will go up against rivals such as Lenovo's ThinkPad tablet.

It is lighter and provides one fewer USB port on the dock than its predecessor, the Eee Pad Transformer, which launched in May. In addition, the Prime version is powered by a Tegra 3 quad-core processor rather than the dual-core Tegra 2 in the earlier device.

At 8.3mm thick, the Transformer Prime is a slim tablet. Its audio is based on Asus's own SonicMaster technology. It promises a battery life of up to 12 hours.

Face on, it measures 263mm by 181mm, and it weighs 586g.

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2 of 4 Ben Woods/ZDNet

Asus Transformer Prime display

The tablet will run Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). The ICS build of Google's mobile operating system has features such as resizable widgets as well as tailored Gmail and Calendar. It also brings contacts on the device into the People app, which integrates updates from social services like Google +, similar to the People hub on Windows Phone 7.5.

ICS is the first version of the mobile OS designed to run on both tablets and smartphones. Previously, most Android smartphones ran the Gingerbread version and tablets used the Honeycomb build.

The Eee Pad Transformer Prime will ship with 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded via the microSD card slot. Purchasers also get access to Asus cloud-based WebStorage, which provides up to 2GB of free storage. The professional version of the service is priced on a per-usage basis.

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3 of 4 Ben Woods/ZDNet

Asus Transformer Prime docked

The Transformer Prime includes standard tablet features such as Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth 2.1, 8-megapixel camera on the rear and a 1.3-megapixel forward-facing camera for video calling. It also includes a micro-HDMI port, but omits 3G connectivity.

An Asus spokesman said the company is considering selling a 3G-equipped version of the tablet at a later date, depending on consumer reaction to the Transformer Prime.

The device also comes with a few business-targeted apps pre-installed. These include the SuperNote text and graphics notepad, plus Polaris Office, which allows users to read and edit Microsoft Office 97-2007 versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel files on the move.

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4 of 4 Ben Woods/ZDNet

Asus Eee Prime with dock

As well as being a standalone tablet, the Eee Transformer Prime can be placed in a keyboard dock to use as a laptop. Docking it adds one USB 2.0 port and an SD card reader, and extends the overall battery life to 18 hours, according to Asus.

The dock on its own weighs 537g. The tablet will be available in the UK in grey or gold, and the keyboard dock is included in the £499 price tag.

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