ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Review Part II: Battery Life & Moreby Anand Lal Shimpi on December 15, 2011 3:45 AM EST
In our original review of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime I did the best I could do given limited testing opportunity with the platform before the NDA lifted on all the reviews. I made the commitment back then to come back with additional findings after I had spent more time with the platform. Today I'm back to make good on that promise.
Two more Eee Pad Transformer Prime samples later and here we are. Next week retailers and etailers should begin shipping the first orders of the Prime out to customers. There were a number of gaps I wasn't happy with in our original review of the Prime, and I've spent the past couple of weeks trying to fill them. Even what I'm presenting today isn't perfect, but when combined with the original review it should paint a more complete picture of the Eee Pad Transformer Prime.
And I've got video, something I had to cut out of the original review due to time constraints:
The WiFi Story
I'm on my third Transformer Prime. The original sample was almost completely broken when it came to wireless connectivity. I had very little range on the integrated WiFi and performance typically hovered around 0.5Mbps, sometimes reaching as high as 2Mbps. ASUS originally claimed that no one else had this issue but it looks like the CNet reviewer also noticed it. That sample went back to ASUS for diagnosis but I don't have the results back from the autopsy yet. A simple guess would be an antenna that wasn't properly connected, although it could just as easily have been something more complicated.
ASUS overnighted me a second Transformer Prime; this one was tested at ASUS in California before making its way out to me. As I published earlier, I had issues with the second sample and any Apple wireless access points (Time Capsule or Airport Extreme). Using a Netgear AP I saw 16Mbps pretty consistently, but I could only get ~32Mbps if the tablet was at the right orientation with respect to the AP. ASUS' HQ eventually conceded that there might have been a problem with the second WiFi antenna on pre-production review samples. Apparently this issue was fixed in the retail lot, but may not have been addressed in what ASUS originally shipped us. Wait—second WiFi antenna?
It turns out that the Eee Pad Transformer Prime features WiFi antenna diversity. We've talked about antenna diversity most often with reference to the cellular chain on Apple's iPhone 4 and 4S, but here it's present on the Prime's WiFi. There are two antennas on the Transformer Prime, one located on either side of the front facing camera. In the second Transformer Prime sample, one of the two wasn't working. In my third review sample, taken from the retail lot that's on its way to vendors this week, both were fully functional. The result is peak WiFi performance that is virtually identical to the original Eee Pad Transformer.
There is no RF window on the back of the Prime where the two antennas are located. Aluminum does a fairly good job of attenuating RF signals, which contributes to worse range on WiFi than the original plastic Eee Pad Transformer. WiFi performance at the edge of reception as well as the maximum usable WiFi range are both noticeably lower than its predecessor. I'm still finalizing our tablet WiFi range tests to be able to quantify some of this stuff, but it's safe to say that if you were at the edge of WiFi coverage on the original Transformer, the Prime won't be any better.
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Alienate - Friday, December 16, 2011 - linkSo, if I buy one of these now, will I be able to upgrade to Icecream ?
If so, how?
niteflyguy - Friday, December 16, 2011 - linkMy one concern is the single speaker. How doesit sound?
stelek - Saturday, December 24, 2011 - linkHi Anand,
Have you tested the GPS performance? Does it work? What's the accuracy?
The first users report some serious problems and for me this is definitely a deal breaker. Could you please verify that? Please see here:
I'm supposed to pick up my pre-order in a few days. But I'm not gonna do that unless I know that GPS is not broken in Prime.
Krewe - Monday, January 2, 2012 - linkA brain injury rewired my hearing so that fan noise from computers/TVs/etc can literally cause me to leave the room.
To Anand or anyone who is absolutely sure on this issue, are there fan(s) in the original Transformer or Prime or their Docks?
Many thanks in advance.
Krewe - Saturday, January 7, 2012 - linkAnand,
Thank you for the Transformer Prime teardown. Your attention to the Prime's fanless heat dissipation was not lost on me.
shopscounty - Monday, January 9, 2012 - linkSurely you will find on ShopsCounty. You can buy a <a href="http://www.shopscounty.com">ASUS Transformer</a> at ShopsCounty.
kulpret - Saturday, March 3, 2012 - linkAnand,
Would love to see an update to your review now that ICS has been on this tablet for awhile. I personally haven't touched my iPad2 since I received my TP. I use it in place of my laptop and netbook as well. I rarely have to pick up anything else. I am a road warrior with a Verizon MiFi and Sprint Hotspot on my phone and always have internet connectivity and this thing is always with me.
Between onlive, emulators and all the gaming options from Android (including the great Tegrazone games) this makes the case for a mobile gaming platform with console quality graphics but also the dead simple casual gaming making this a great fit for both types of gamers. Onlive is excellent on this platform btw.
I just recently added Onlive Desktop to my subscription and I have full blown Office at my finger tips along with Internet Explorer. It is limited to the MS stack on the desktop, but I find that good enough. Native to the tablet I use Polaris Office, Adobe, Firefox, Chrome, Android Browser and Dolphin. I literally have not found office content that I can't access. The same is true for web content including Flash support.
All the usual app suspects are here. Netflix, Pandora, Hulu + (installs but doesn't officially support the device takes a little bit of know-how to get it working. ie developer mode and config files.) One must have app for Android here MX Video Player It plays all my years of movie collecting, works as good as VLC on Windows/Linux.
I also have this working with my ActiveSync Mail server for my corporation and actively use this device for presentations and note taking in customer meetings.
I only hope they continue to develop and support the Transformer platform and I only see a bright future for this tablet.
gmulak - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - linkWhat a great review. Very detailed and complete. I do agree a signoff would be nice. I have had a little trouble finding out about battery "memory", I didn't catch that in the review, which would have been nice. Finally found what I think is correct on Asus web site. It is best to let the tablet discharge completely and then recharge it. I will definitely follow you. Great job.