The Asus Eee Pad Transformer stood out in this year’s crowded field of Android tablets. An optional keyboard accessory, strong hardware, and a reasonable price gave many Android fans the sweet spot that they were looking for. Asus has wasted no time bringing a follow-up to market. The Eee Pad Transformer Prime not only improves on the original, but is also the first device powered by Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor.
Since every new tablet inevitably gets compared to the market-leading iPad 2, we compiled this handy feature-by-feature specs comparison:
Design and dimensions
These are two similarly proportioned tablets. The Transformer is a little longer, and width and depth are separated by fractions of a millimeter.
Like most Honeycomb tablets, the Transformer Prime is designed for landscape mode; theiPad 2 is a portrait mode device.
The displays are also similar. The Transformer’s screen is sharp and has slightly better specs than the iPad’s.
The Transformer Prime’s CPU is its killer spec. The quad-core Kal El chip debuts with the tablet: when paired with the right software, it will fly. Until apps and firmware are updated to better take advantage of those extra cores, many tasks may perform similarly to a dual-core chip.
The Transformer Prime doubles the iPad’s 512MB of RAM.
Apple doesn’t put SD card slots in iOS devices, so the iPad is available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB flash storage models. Asus sells the Prime in 32GB and 64GB models — with external storage via microSD card.
The Transformer Prime is a WiFi-only tablet at launch. The iPad 2 can be bought in WiFi-only or WiFi + 3G (with a $130 premium) models.
The iPad 2 has many strengths, but its camera is not one of them. There is no contest in terms of camera quality, as the shooters in Asus’ device are far superior.
Both tablets also have front-facing cameras: 1.2MP in the Prime, and too low to bother measuring in the iPad.
Take this with grains of salt: Asus lists twelve hours uptime for the tablet, but doesn’t specify what it’s doing during that time. Apple accurately advertises ten hours of web surfing on WiFi for the iPad.
Both devices transcend their specs. The Eee Pad Transformer Prime follows its predecessor by supporting an optional ($150) keyboard dock. $650 for the tablet and keyboard is a solid deal for those wanting to replace a netbook.
Another intangible for the Prime has good news and bad news: the good news is that Asus is promising an update to Ice Cream Sandwich; the bad news is that it launches with Honeycomb.
Part of the iPad’s market invincibility comes from its app library. Android’s tablet app selection has improved, but it still pales next to iPad-specific App Store apps. This has led to a catch-22 for Android tablet makers: they don’t sell because the iPad has more and better apps, but they don’t have more and better apps because they aren’t selling.
The Eee Pad Transformer Prime won’t outsell the Kindle Fire or iPad 2 (or iPad 3), but it will fill its buyers with delight. The keyboard add-on is a practical solution to the tablets’ productivity limits, and the Tegra 3 processor is the most powerful tablet CPU there is.
The Prime isn’t an iPad killer, but one gets the impression that Asus knows that. The manufacturer isn’t having delusions of dominating the market; it’s simply focused on building a great tablet for a reasonable price. If you’re determined to buy an Android tablet — and are willing to pay $500+ — then put the Transformer Prime at the top of your list.