I Love/Hate My Tablet

TF-201 Asus Transformer Prime tablet

I did a lot of research before I bought my Asus TF-201 Transformer Prime tablet. I guess I did a bad job. The tablet has not lived up to expectations. Considering its hardware and operating system that shouldn’t be the case.

The TF-201 is a 10″ tablet with 1280×800 resolution. The screen uses IPS+ technology which makes for faster response, wider viewing angle and sharper colors. No complaints there.

There are cameras front and rear. Image quality is very good. It’s a great machine for Skype or any other video chat app. Again, zero complaints.

The CPU is an NVIDIA® Tegra3™ Quad-Core with 1GB RAM. That should be enough. It is not. I don’t think it’s the CPU’s fault.

Graphics are smooth. Animations are smooth. Video playback, even at high resolution, is smooth.

The Transformer Prime’s weakness seems to be Asus’ implementation of Google’s Android operating system!

Webpages that should load immediately can taken 15-20 seconds or longer. While pages load, the browser often turns unresponsive. The only way you know the page has finished is by the appearance of an error message saying the process is taking too long!

It’s slow with the stock browser, Chrome and Firefox. Unfortunately the browser enters into the bulk of computer use.

It’s possible the answer to my problems is just a jailbreak away. I’m not sure. Often these unofficial aftermarket ROM images do the trick.

I’ve looked around. I’m not sure I know how to ‘get root’ with this machine. There are instructions scattered on the web, but often with missing steps… or what seems like missing steps.

Even if I do load a new ROM will it make a difference? Your guess is as good as mine.

I use the tablet all the time, but my sessions nearly always end in frustration. That shouldn’t be.

Impressions On The New Tablet

The screen is more prone to fingerprints than anything I’ve ever used. It’s not a real problem when you’re using the tablet, but it’s disconcerting to see when the tablet is waiting to be used.

My Asus Transformer Prime came a few days ago. There’s more learning ahead, but I understand this slab of digitalia much better than I did Thursday. It’s obvious this is the next logical step beyond laptops especially with people for whom typing is incidental.

The electronics work well. There’s no heat coming from the unit I can feel. The shape is nice and it feels exceptionally sturdy.

The screen is more prone to fingerprints than anything I’ve ever used. It’s not a real problem when you’re using the tablet, but it’s disconcerting to see when the tablet is waiting to be used.

Everyone who picks it up comments on how light it is. I wish it was a little lighter.

The screen doesn’t have the intense blacks of my Samsung Galaxy S2 which uses OLED technology. It is responsive and will differentiate between ten fingers at once!

With a quad core Nvidia CPU it’s fast though this isn’t a multitasking machine.

This tablet has a 1280×800 screen. That’s comparable to a laptop and can easily display most websites when in landscape mode.

Many sites see my browser’s signature and move me to their mobile presentation. Terrible! Not all Android screens are alike. Sending me to a mobile site is wrong.

The same goes for some Android apps I’ve tried–even a few made for tablets. I’ve already given up on the NY Times Android app in favor of their regular website. The app is supposed to be an enhanced experience. In reality you’re trading down if you use it!

HuffingtonPost has an excellent Android tablet app. Using it gives a taste of what tablets will be.

I downloaded a sample chapter from a book. It’s a pretty good paper book replacement. Will it hold up to long reading? Not sure.

The SlideIT keyboard has been installed and works pretty well. You type without lifting your fingers! Just slide from letter-to-letter and the program mostly understands what you’ve typed.

I’ve taken a few photos of Doppler with it. Like my phone it does a good job and makes you wonder who will ever purchase a point-and-shoot camera? I haven’t used the video cameras yet though I’ve downloaded Skype.

In many way using this tablet is like being the first homeowner in a new development. Everything’s going to be there, just not yet.

I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces.

The Tablet Arrives

After a few hours playing I wiped the tablet clean, brought it back to its factory configuration and started over. That’s become common with me. It’s tough to know what you need before you know what the tablet does.

“So it’s a toy?” That was Helaine’s comment after some pointed questions about my new tablet. Of course it’s a toy! I already have enough practical stuff.

My Asus Transformer Prime arrived by UPS yesterday evening while I was at work. Unboxing took place about two minutes after I was ‘pajamaed’ up for the night!

The Transformer was on my Christmas list, but Asus had trouble keeping up with demand (after a pre-release recall) and Amazon said I’d have to wait until February. Last week I saw a note that NewEgg had them in stock. The rest is history.

For the geeks reading this the Asus Transformer Prime is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core CPU with 1Gb RAM and 32 Gb storage. It runs Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich). This tablet connects to the Internet solely through WiFi.

It’s amazing how little there is to the tablet. It’s wafer thin though it feels substantial and solid. The screen is bright with lots of contrast. Unfortunately it’s also a fingerprint magnet!

I loaded up some apps and started playing around. I screened a few minutes of a movie over Netflix. Beautiful.

I let the Android Market sync my apps from the Samsung phone. That was a mistake. Lots of those are formatted for the smaller screen of a cell phone.

I was disappointed Swype isn’t compatible. I love Swyping! I’m using the SlideIT Keyboard app instead. Pretty similar. Swype may lose me.

After a few hours playing I wiped the tablet clean, brought it back to its factory configuration and started over. That’s become common with me. It’s tough to know what you need before you know what the tablet does.

I still haven’t tried out Skype or any of the video functionality. That’s still to come.

Everyone said I ‘needed’ one. Now the fun begins.

BTW – this entry would have been done hours ago except I was playing.

Tablet Order Cancelled

I was hoping to get a tablet for the holidays. Very exciting. Helaine Santa ordered an Asus Tranformer Prime (TF201). It was considered hands down the best hardware available.

Yes Apple fans the TF201 has better hardware than the iPad2 though Apple’s IOS 5 is currently a smoother, more intuitive operating system than the version of Android that ships in the Prime.

The point is probably moot. An hour ago I asked Helaine to cancel the order.

First, you might be wondering, why am I still waiting for this tablet on January 9th. Good question. I have no good answer.

Meanwhile as the CES opens (and with my tablet still a no show) Asus has announced the next model!

The original Transformer Prime TF201 is barely a month old, and it received solid reviews for its strong performance and sleek design. Hot on its heels is the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF700T. This model is due out in the second quarter of 2012, and will complement the existing model; pricing starts at $599 for the 32GB version, and $699 for the 64GB version.

The new model has new placement for the GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth receivers. There have been some complaints those elements under performed in the original model.

Meanwhile Acer has unveiled the Iconia Tab A700. It also looks to have beefy guts in a slender form.

I’m used to computer hardware quickly supplanted by new models, but while I’m still waiting for delivery? Please!