For three weeks now, Android fans have been fidgeting impatiently. Specifically, ever since ASUS chairman Jonney Shih took the stage at last month’s AsiaD
conference and teased
the next-gen Transformer tablet. Though he only gave us a quick glimpse, he recited a laundry list of specs: a 10.1-inch display, 8.3mm-thick body, mini-HDMI output, microSD slot and an update to Ice Cream Sandwich by the end of the year, if not sooner. Not to mention, it’ll be the first tablet packing NVIDIA’s hot-off-the-presses Tegra 3
SoC, making it the first-ever quad-core tablet. We knew this: we’d learn more on November 9th
Well, that day has come, and so have the juicy details. We just got word that the tablet will go on sale worldwide in December, starting at $ 499 with a beefy 32GB of storage, moving up to $ 599 for a 64GB model. (That signature keyboard dock you see up there will cost $ 149.) In addition to those basic specs Mr. Shih revealed last month, we now know this has a 1280 x 800, Super IPS+ Gorilla Glass display with a 178-degree viewing angle and a max brightness of 600 nits. It also packs 1GB of RAM, GPS, a gyroscope, SonicMaster audio and a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera. Rounding out the list is an 8MP shooter with an auto-focusing f/2.4 lens and a back-illuminated CMOS sensor that captures 1080p video. Touch-to-focus is also an option here, and ASUS claims a 30 percent boost in color enhancement over competing tabs.
As for battery life, we initially heard reports of 14.5-hour runtime, but ASUS is now saying the tablet alone can squeeze out 12 hours thanks to a 22Wh battery, and that the dock will add an additional six hours of juice. In addition, the slimmed-down, 1.2-pound dock brings all the other benefits the last-gen model offered, including a touchpad, USB 2.0 port and full-sized SD slot. Software-wise, it’ll ship with Android 3.2 and apps such as SuperNote and Polaris Office, and we’re told we’ll learn more about that ICS update in “early December.”
In terms of design, you may have already noticed the Prime sports the same spun aluminum digs as the company’s Zenbooks, though this is the first time we’re seeing clear, close-up shots of it — and in two colors, no less! At 8.3mm (0.33 inches) thick and 586 grams (1.29 pounds) without the dock, it’s a smidge skinnier than the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1, which means, unsurprisingly, that your old Transformer dock won’t be compatible. Finally, ASUS coated both the display and metal cover with a hydro-oleophobic coating that makes it more fingerprint-resistant. For now, we’ve got photos below and if you can wait a few more weeks, we’ll most definitely be putting this thing through its paces in a full review. And if you’re looking for something a little less expensive, well, the original Transformer should be getting Ice Cream Sandwich soon, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Santa brought a few holiday rebates.