Transformer Prime Champagne Gold impressions
Transformer Prime Champagne Gold impressions
Well, as karma has it, I was able to get a 32GB Champagne Gold Transformer Prime, with the dock, last Friday and played with it over the weekend.
I was worried about many of the problems people were reporting and I was slightly afraid when starting up the device, I did not want to see bad light bleeds or dead pixels and so on. While the tablet itself ended up being perfect, I was still hit with a crippling bug of the keyboard dock not being able to be used for typing at all.
I found it almost ironic that I ended up with a serious flaw like that. I really thought that forums give a wrong impression about ASUS quality control, but reality is that it really is very, very bad. It is almost like gambling, chance that you'll get a functioning device without flaws that will annoy you from the very beginning, are very low.
I'll get the device replaced and essentially add to the pile of devices that are being returned to ASUS. But that aside, here are my impressions about the tablet, since I did use the tablet without the keyboard quite a bit.
Champagne Gold is absolutely beautiful in real life. It is a really attractive looking device, it's not as 'white' as Apple's aluminum devices are and is so much better for it with the slight golden gue making it look less clinical. Pictures don't do it justice, Champagne Gold Transformer Prime is the best looking tablet I've held in my hands.
The build is also very sturdy. I am glad I did not go for one of the plastic built tablets of yesteryear as I really love the feel of the tablet when I hold it. It is slightly heavier than I expected but only because I've never used tablets this extensively before.
Of course this design has its drawbacks, such as very weak GPS, but I tend to use my phone for GPS due to assisted GPS from cell towers, which is just much quicker. As for WiFi issues, I did not notice any, but I also did not run any speed tests. I mostly make the tablet use my phone as source of internet and it didn't have any problems doing so.
The first bootup ran Honeycomb and I immediately noticed that it simply did not run smoothly despite quad-core processing power driving it. But I liked the screen and after wiping the screen properly, touch responsiveness was good.
A mere 15 minutes later the device had updated itself to Android 4.0 and I had no stutter or lag issues anymore when moving around the menus or using the browser.
The screen is really beautiful and bright with good contrast. And the external sound is better than I expected. I watched the new 30 Rock episode with girlfriend on a couch and it was a nice experience, much better than trying to hold a laptop comfortably while watching a show. MX video player works very well on Prime, I watched Boardwalk Empire on my way back home on a train and it is a great device for extended viewing. It is amazing how much more natural it feels to watch series or movies on a tablet device like this as opposed to laptop.
Most apps seem to run quite well on Prime. But Android has its drawbacks on tablets, a lot of really great looking games do not have HD versions, making them look less attractive on the screen. Some of my favorites such as truly amazing World of Goo and Cut the Rope worked well on Prime, but their beautiful art was stretched to full screen, making the games look less magical than they felt when I was playing them on my Galaxy Nexus phone (which has a similar resolution to Prime, but far smaller screen).
I tried to use my tablet as a netbook, but without working keyboard I coould not really give it as much of a go as I hoped. But browsing around in the internet was fast and smooth and I really like Android for a tablet OS.
Battery lasted less than I hoped, but I cannot say it was bad since I did not charge it enough times for it to live up to its full potential. But I did not have to charge it while I was using, so it did not cause any battery stress.
I also liked that ASUS does not enforce its things on the user. Majority of pre-installed apps can be disabled and ASUS own enhancements are good for the device. They did not add anything that felt like bloatware.
As for the screen, yes it is certainly a fingerprint magnet. It does not bother me until I start watching a movie or whatnot. Makes me feel like I should clean it up because it simply is dirty (even when hands are less oily and have recently been washed).
Is this the best tablet I have ever used? Not really, iPad 2 is still a better media and content consumption device and I find Prime a much less comfortable to use when held in portrait mode as opposed to iPad 2 (but of course widescreen videos are much better on Prime as a result). But I can really see how the keyboard dock can enhance the Prime experience enough for me to never consider iPad 3, even if it comes out with HD screen and even better battery life.
I should also make additional note about the keyboard dock. I don't find the build of the keyboard dock to be as good as I hoped, it angles up really awkwardly on the Prime when screen is lifted, the back hinge is basically the thing it starts 'resting' on and differently from the rubber it rests on in front of the dock, the back rests on plastic knob-thingies, which have less grip. So on a less sturdy surface or when typing, the device is prone to move a lot more than you'd expect.
To sum things up, ASUS did a good job at everything except quality control and body design for GPS. If it had 3G, better WiFi and functioning GPS I would easily grade it the best tablet ever, but right now I don't see iPad 2 being actually dethroned before the end of this year where Google's rumoured tablet and possibly another Transformer can really kick things up a notch.
2012 is the year of 4G and HD screens on tablets, but I must say I did not really think Prime needs a HD screen. It is not because it would not look more beautiful - it would and I can easily see pixels when reading the web on Prime - but I just think that Android market won't catch up to HD apps before 2013. Today most apps look stretched and the apps that don't, do not seem to need HD anyway.
But yes, a wonderful device, just make sure to not throw away the box and other items so you can quickly refund, since chance has it that it might come with a hardware flaw or two.