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I've never seen the movies, but I want the Transformer Prime


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#1 of 18 OFFLINE   Hanson

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Posted November 17 2011 - 02:08 AM

Say hello to my new tech crush:


Transfer Prime Android Tablet


Thinner than the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and only a skosh heavier, with Tegra 3 quad core and 12 hour battery, the Transformer Prime is a nicely featured tablet for $499.  32GB internal and an expandable SD slot?  I'm there.  If it can stream HDTV .ts files over the network (a reasonable expectation since I can do that with my Epic Touch although it's too stuttery to be practical), I would become verklempt.  And then it goes over the top.  Waaay over the top.


Another $149 nets you the keyboard dock, which adds 8 hours more battery life, a full keyboard and touchpad as well as a USB port to add a bluetooth mouse or a USB storage drive.  Oh, and another SD card slot.


When people bandy about phrases like, "laptop replacement", the question is, "what do you do with your laptop?" If your laptop was for emails, videos, and surfing the net, then yes, a tablet can be a viable laptop replacement.  But if you need to run a program that's Windows or Mac only, then there's no way a tablet can be a laptop replacement.


However...

If you have a desktop or server and install a remote client, a docked Transformer Prime, with a bluetooth mouse essentially allows you to run your desktop on your tablet.  Not only is the Transformer Prime bundle lighter than a netbook, the battery life is five times longer than what you find on your average netbook.  Granted, it's wifi only so you won't be able to do this on the road without some sort of mobile hotspot, but if you have a Citrix server at work, you could use the Transformer Prime as a remote access device with keyboard and mouse that's even more portable than laptop.


Unless something gets announced with even more insane features or if it turns out that the tablet itself isn't all that it's cracked up to be, I am going to own this thing.  I'm salivating at the prospect.


Unfortunately, it won't fit in my pants pockets...




#2 of 18 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted November 17 2011 - 07:08 AM

So Android now has a mouse cursor?



Will it be coming to dedicated netbooks now (no touchscreen required, could shave the price down a lot without the convertbility). Is this the start of conflict / overlap / merger between Chrome and Android?




#3 of 18 OFFLINE   Hanson

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Posted November 17 2011 - 07:20 AM

In the reviews of the first Transformer, the mouse cursor was a little laggy in response to the touchpad or mouse.  I'm hoping the Transformer Prime will fix that little issue.



#4 of 18 OFFLINE   Hanson

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Posted November 28 2011 - 05:35 AM

I am even more excited about this product:


http://ritchiesroom....ime-first-look/


BTW, it appears neither SD slot is writable by the OS.  So the only real use for them is to load movie files on them externally and then pop them into the tablet.  I think you can connect the tab to a PC via USB and copy files over via storage mode as well, but it's probably more convenient to copy them via a USB reader assuming the cards are hot swappable.  As long as I can use the tablet as files are being copied I'll be a happy camper, but this does mean the era of wireless file transfers to SD is over.





#5 of 18 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted November 28 2011 - 06:19 AM

The problem is that only a spoonful of keyboard-tablet systems will sell, so there will never be a mass market of such systems, and so software and support for such systems will be limited and of lower quality.




#6 of 18 OFFLINE   Hanson

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Posted November 28 2011 - 07:16 AM

Well actually, the first iteration of the Transformer sold like hotcakes and was in backorder for a while.  So there is a market for this kind of device, just completely untapped.

Also, one of the big selling points for the Transformer was that Asus offers great support for their products and shot out updates very quickly (being wifi only, they didn't have to coordinate their updates with the carriers).  They are already promising ICS before the year is out -- that's just a couple of weeks after release.


I'm not really sure how extensive keyboard support needs to be -- you're going to use that for office products (which support it) and email (which also supports it).  Also, ICS natively supports HID devices, so that's really all the support you really need.





#7 of 18 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted November 28 2011 - 07:54 AM

As the last three quarters sales estimates for ASUS puts them in 4th place, with about 120k units sold (about 1.5% the sales leader), I don't know what "selling like hotcakes" means.


And as a decade of Windows Tablets shows, simply providing "support" for "devices" can be a long ways from having a solid library and userbase of applications that make excellent use of those interfaces.


As apps appear that refine and innovate touch UI (e.g. Twitter with its pull-and-release spring method or Android's swipe-from-top notification access), will those  best of breed apps simultaneously support equivalent keyboard support? How refined and "good" feeling will the mouse-click-and-drag support be for that pull and release refresh or notification access? How well will multi-touch trackpad support be compared to direct touch?


My guess, keyboard / mouse support will be second fiddle to touch and will not be represented by the top tier apps. That's fine for the handful of students and computer workers than buy it. But if ASUS is selling under 200k units a year, will a keyboarded solution represent more than half of that? Fine for those that need it --but not  a netbook-- for whatever reason, but it doesn't represent a large, lucrative hardware combo to target by the top-flight developers.



It's a weird hardware solution no matter how I look at it. It's great for those people that *need* such a solution. Maybe it will be a hit with college students, too? But it feels like a very niche product to me.



#8 of 18 OFFLINE   Hanson

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Posted November 28 2011 - 08:27 AM

I think if you're planning on using the keyboard dock for every function, you should maybe think about getting a netbook.  The whole idea of the Transformer is that if you're in a situation where you need a keyboard to be productive, you have that option.  But it's still a top of the line stand alone tablet, which is when the refined touch controls would be used.  Remember, the keyboard dock is an optional purchase.


BTW, I'm not sure where you got your numbers from -- here's an article from July about Transformer sales:


http://www.pcworld.c...tml#tk.rss_news


It's the number one Honeycomb tablet, so yes, it's selling well.  Not iPad well, but then again...



#9 of 18 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted November 28 2011 - 08:54 AM




Quote:

  Remember, the keyboard dock is an optional purchase.

I completely agree. And like any low-volume, optional hardware gadget, support for this both in the OS and apps will be secondary and second-best to the dominant touch-interface.

Maybe I'm wrong...MS is pursuing an integrated OS solution. And Apple is pushing OS X and iOS close together with Lion. Maybe I'll be wishing for a full computer replacement via keyboarded tablet next year. I don't know.



Originally Posted by Hanson 

BTW, I'm not sure where you got your numbers from -- here's an article from July about Transformer sales:


http://www.pcworld.c...tml#tk.rss_news


It's the number one Honeycomb tablet, so yes, it's selling well.  Not iPad well, but then again...


https://www.npd.com/...ases/pr_111122b

NPD's latest report on units sold places ASUS at about 10% of 1.2M units sold the previous 3 quarters. the article you reference is about units "shipped" which has nothing, necessarily, to do with what people are actually buying.


NPD might be a bunch of dummies (well, they are, but I can only assume these numbers are mostly right), so if you've got better numbers of units sold, that's dandy. But "units shipped" seems to be corporate-weasel speak for "sitting in a warehouse unsold" or "we're too lazy to actually analyze the market we claim to be Business Analysts for".



#10 of 18 OFFLINE   Hanson

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Posted December 01 2011 - 05:16 AM

Reviews are trickling out:


Engadget



Quote:
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has had a long run as the top-tier Android tablet in the 10-inch size, but that position has now properly been usurped. The original Transformer was a very good tablet and it successor steps up another notch. The Transformer Prime is thinner and lighter than the rest and, with 32GB of storage available for a dollar under $500, it's a better deal than most of the top-tier contenders.


The dock, however, is a bit of a tougher sell. If you need crazy battery life on the road then it's definitely a good choice, even if you won't be relying on that cramped keyboard too often. In fact, the less you have to use that part the better, but it's still a perfectly usable way to enter URLs and it sure beats the pants off of any virtual, touchscreen text input method.



The Verge



Quote:
The Prime is an incredible piece of hardware. It has a marvelous display, form factor, the best camera on any tablet yet, and it’s new quad-core internal organ puts more graphics and gaming power in your hands than you’ll know what to do with (quite literally in fact, until the games start appearing). And then there’s also the added keyboard dock that adds over 10 hours of battery life and really does transform the tablet into a highly-usable laptop.

But a true laptop replacement isn't about raw power; it's about the productivity that power enables, and Honeycomb just isn't up to the task. The operating system hasn't been optimized for that ridiculous processor or that beautiful display, the app selection remains pitiable at best, and it's just not that intuitive to use. Asus may have produced a brilliant piece of engineering at a price that's competitive with the iPad, but Android hasn't yet matched iOS when it comes to unlocking all that potential. Android 4.0 (or even Windows 8, which we expect to run on this very sort of hardware) might just rectify some of these issues, but one thing is for sure: the laptop of the post-PC world needs the software to match it.


Android Central


Quote:

There's very little doubt that the ASUS Transformer Prime is the most powerful Android laptop -- erm, Android tablet -- available. On paper and in our abbreviated real-world use, it's great. It's fast. The design is improved over the original Transformer. It's already promised to get an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich.

But. (There's always a but.)

One thing that hasn't changed since the original Transformer is the usage case, especially when you take price into consideration. And there's a reason we haven't mentioned pricing until now. The 32GB version of the Prime will retail for $499. The 64GB version will retail for $599. And the optional keyboard dock adds another $149 to the price.


It's interesting that all three reviewers liked and disliked different aspects.  Personally, I'm still going to get it -- it sounds like an amazing piece of kit as is.  My only reservation going in was that the keyboard dock might be unresponsive and require button mashing, but there weren't any comments that the keyboard was slow or unresponsive.  Plus, half of the Verge review was drafted on the Prime itself, so that's very encouraging (although it is noted that the only reviewer not to complain about the size of the keys presumably has the smallest fingers).


The Verge touched upon the gaming aspect a little, but there are so many emulators available for Android, and the dock solves two issues:


1) USB gamepad (YESSSS!!!!)

2) It's its own stand


All the emulators have keymap settings, so it looks like a 6 button gamepad for me and N64 emulation goodness.  Also, it may make those Gamevil RPG's playable -- on-screen D-Pads are just shit.


$650 is more than I would spend on a laptop, but then again, I am not a fan of laptops and would always prefer to use a desktop.  Yes, a laptop is portable, but it's not handheld -- the convenience of the handheld form factor is what makes it worth it.  The trade off is the limited input options when you really need them -- that's where the keyboard dock proves it's worth.  I would be excited about the Prime but not committed to buying on if it were simply a tablet.  The dock, with it's extra battery, USB port, and keyboard input is what makes the Prime the only 10" tablet I would even consider.


And when I say "consider", I mean "buy right now".


ETA: AnandTech



Quote:
Assuming the WiFi and minor dock issue I encountered aren't widespread (ASUS insists they aren't), I am comfortable calling the Eee Pad Transformer Prime the absolute best Android tablet on the market today. The hardware looks and feels great. ASUS picked the best display possible and married it to some really good industrial design. I was impressed with the styling of the Zenbook, and the Prime continues to position ASUS as a purveyor of high quality mobile devices.








#11 of 18 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted December 01 2011 - 08:21 AM

Read Engadget's review. Sounds like the best Android tablet so far. I'll mention it to my dad who is still curious. "(Though if you want to pinch-zoom you'll have to reach up on the display.)" Answers that question I had. Keypad is not multi-touch.

#12 of 18 OFFLINE   Hanson

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Posted December 01 2011 - 09:49 AM

I'm not a big fan of touchpads, but the one on the Prime sounds particularly bad considering it gets in the way of your typing.  There is a toggle to turn it off, so I guess I will be using a USB mouse with it after all.


I thing I read that was not mentioned in the reviews is that the pad will allow you to scroll through web pages, but it is counterintuitively a swipe up to go down and vice versa.  That's because it's mimicking how you would swipe in the screen -- you flick up to scroll down.


#13 of 18 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted December 01 2011 - 02:19 PM

Love The Verge's video review. And love any site that has Chronicles of Narnia box set lurking in the background of a video review ;)


What's the deal with TV output? Is the Transformer running 3D games in 1080p? Or is it a lower res output to an external display?



#14 of 18 OFFLINE   Hanson

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Posted December 02 2011 - 05:06 PM

Dave, if you want to (briefly) see the mouse in action, check out this video:






#15 of 18 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted December 03 2011 - 05:56 AM

Thanks, that's interesting. I'm going to tell my dad to take a look at the system. His office uses Windows RDP of some sort that no iPad / iOS software can support. For whatever reason, Android does have support for it. This kit with keyboard might be what he needs and wants. If it's on display at BestBuy or similar, perhaps we can noodle with it over Christmas.



Snarky...


Mmm...live wallpaper...I remember turning that off on Windows 98 15 years ago :)


And excellent choice by the reviewers to film a glossy screen outside with the sun behind them. Posted Image



#16 of 18 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted December 07 2011 - 01:02 PM

No demo units at BestBuy yet.


I'm advising my dad to take a serious look at it. Considering his needs and desires, if this will do Windows RDP he needs, an $800 kit with ~10 hr battery life and keyboard in a 3 lb package, might be great for him. If so, I'll also suggest switching from his laptop-based USB 3G to a Verizon mifi. Maybe 4G.



(I mis read. I thought the keyboard added 10 hrs of battery. Rather, it increases total duration to about 10 hrs.)



#17 of 18 OFFLINE   Hanson

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Posted December 08 2011 - 12:22 PM

I have mine on pre-order, but should I have waited for this?


Rumored 11.6" Galaxy Tab with 2560 X 1600 resolution


Nah.  Prime is just a couple of weeks away.



#18 of 18 OFFLINE   Hanson

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Posted December 19 2011 - 06:23 AM

Good news and bad news -- it appears that ASUS has sent a limited amount of units to a few retailers to make their December ship date (on paper).

Unfortunately, my retailer is not one of them.  Like most of the pre-orders, my Transformer is backordered until January.


JANUARY CAN'T GET HERE FAST ENOUGH.