Tech, Gadgets, Photography, Social Media and Poor Spelling
As a long term iPad user i’ve to previous Tablet usage from another OS and as such i’m always going to compare any other Tablet I use to an iPad 1 and 3. This i don’t believe is a bad thing. Having prior knowledge and something to base an opinion on is good when presenting facts and information.
The Asus Transformer Prime TF301 is the latest incarnation of Asus’s much loved Transformer range of Android Tablets, it’s got a 10″ (ish) screen on it which has a 16:9 ratio on it The display shows images at a resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels, and the Tegra 3 chip inside the device is a powerful beast providing the unit with 12 cores of power.
The unit when used on its own as a tablet has a 10-hour battery life this can be extended to 15 hours with an additional battery in the optional keyboard dock. The dock has a full keyboard and a touch pad to make the tablet a functional laptop. The dock also has Android-specific buttons for quick access to tablet functions, and also USB 2.0 and SD card slots.
There is an 8-megapixel rear camera on the tablet can shoot video at 30 frames per second which is not ground breaking and won’t be replacing your DSLR any time soon however takes a reasonable photo. There is also a 1.2-megapixel camera on the front of the tablet which you’ll more than likely be using for Skype or another online vide conference tool maybe Oovoo?.
There is also a micro-HDMI port allows the tablet to be connected to TVs. For expandable storage, the tablet has a microSD card slot.
For communications this unit comes unfortunately just Wifi, i’m not got any 3G or 4G in it as standard, terrible really from a mobile device perspective. I’ve already written about this in another post.
So these are the specs and this is the device however what is it like?
Specs aside what we really want to know is just how does this run? It’s fast, i’ve only ever used one other Android Tablet a Samsung 8.1 and that was responsive compared to my iPad 1 at the time. This is more so, it feels just as quick and the screen moves around just as fluidly as my iPad 3. Apps load quickly and the screen doesn’t freeze occasionally like it did on the samsung.
The unit comes with a stock Ice Cream Sandwich build on it which is a good thing, this is Android just how Google wanted it to be shown it’s got no bloatware on it other than some Nvidia Tegra tools and a couple of Asus Apps.
One of the big sales points of the Transformer line is a simple premise that keyboards on tablets are not easy to use and the Transformer range have a purchasable Keyboard dock which as well as offering an Android compatible keyboard with Android keys, it tops up the battery life by an additional 5 hrs to 15hrs of battery..
Do you need it? Well let me put it this way, you think you do, it does make sense, and with Android yes the onscreen keyboard is worse than Apple’s IOS keyboard. However Adding the keyboard does turn this Tablet into a Laptop and while getting a mouse pointer on Android is a nice touch what did you want to buy a Tablet or a Netbook?
I’ve got the keyboard and I do like the add-on.. One thing i will say is the Tablet is slightly heavier than the keyboard which does cause some slight top heavy action and occasionally the Tablet slips over.. but not often.
I’ve been using android pre 2.0 on phones and love it as a phone OS, my Samsung Galaxy S has 2.3 on it and I was excited to see that 4.0 which is installed as stock on the device was like. It’s a great improvement on the 3.0 on the Samsung i’ve used before. While I don’t believe it’s quite up to IOS 5 yet (ooh controversial) it is not far off it. I’m not a huge fan of Widgets they are covered up as soon as I open an app. However the settings menu and other little things Android does which i do wish IOS had (and does if you jailbreak, like improved notifications)
The plus point is as this device comes with 4.0 built in as stock I’d expect 4.1 to be very quick arriving to the device, and i can’t wait go have a go on Google Now…
If you are in the market for a Tablet, and 3G isn’t important to you (Maybe you’ve taken up root in the London Underground) then without the keyboard this is a solid device, it’s well built and Android is a great platform especially if you already are factored in to the Google world then moving forward IOS will i suggest not be getting some of the better Google functionality and Android is the platform for you.
With the keyboard the dynamic changes of the device and it does become a netbook with a touch screen. the keyboard is a great add-on for a road warrior and is easy to type on with a nice tactile feel.
Where i think Asus have missed the boat here is simply the lack of the 3G built into the device. This is essential to a mobile platform the ability for always on and instant internet is essential.
That being said this for me is the BEST range of Android tablets on the market and the NVIDIA tegra chip is blisteringly fast.. Well worth the cost and will last a good number of years.
And yes, the observant among you will notice that last photo isn’t a T301..