Review: Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

With Android Ice Cream Sandwich on board, I experienced more fluid scrolling and a much-reduced pinch-to-zoom response time. This showed up while browsing the web, and also within books and magazines downloaded from Zinio and Press Reader. Swiping around in the menus and dismissing notifications feels very natural, as does the new action of grouping app shortcuts into folders directly on home screen. As for the OS’s ten-finger multitouch capability, there’s still no real situation where you can use it to its fullest. Same with the new, geeky Face Unlock feature.

Just like the tablet, the keyboard dock is also slimmer than last year’s version, which means you won’t be able to use an old dock with the Prime and vice versa. The keyboard is still a 92-percent-sized QWERTY and comes with a single USB 2.0 port and an SD card reader. If you type a lot, you’ll love it as much as I did, especially when dealing with all your files inside Polaris Office, which comes pre-loaded.

Pairing the tablet to the dock is easy, just slip the slate into the connection port until you hear a sharp click. It locks down on both sides. I never worried about the dock dropping off — to release it, you need to press a dedicated button on the left side.

It has its quirks. For example, since you can’t disable the touchpad, you may find yourself moving the cursor around the screen while typing, causing some weird jumping between rows. [Update: You can disable the touchpad, via a key above the “3” on the keyboard – thanks for pointing that out in the comments.]

But the strength of the dock is the extra six hours of battery life, and the fact that you can turn your tablet into a decent laptop replacement.

By calling it “Transformer,” the hint is that you’re supposed to actually transform the tablet into a notebook. But the tablet experience is mainly centered around browsing the web, watching videos, reading books, and using touch or controller-based applications like games. So do you really want (or even need) a keyboard and a mouse for that stuff?

To each his own. Personally, I did just fine without the dock.

Maurizio Pesce is a staff writer and editor covering applications, consumer electronics and the automotive industry. Follow him on Twitter as @pestoverde

Photos courtesy of Asus

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