Introduction, Design and Ergonomics
Can the Prime challenge Apple’s champion?
Tablets are growing in popularity, but the market is still immature. There are only a handful of serious contenders sold in North America (discounting the cheap knock-offs you can find on eBay and other sites).
Apple’s iPad is the clear leader in terms of sales. It is trailed by similar Android-powered options like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Acer Iconia and (of coures) the ASUS Transformer Prime. We reviewed the Prime when it hit store shelves earlier this year and concluded that it was the best Android tablet money can buy. That makes a comparison with the new iPad obvious.
The constant stream of rants for or against Android and iOS devices in the media may lead you to think that the comparison between the two is highly subjective. I don’t believe that’s the case. There are a number of objective measurements that can be used to judge these products.
Yes, there is always going to be some degree of preference between operating systems, but we’re not really going to get into the iOS vs. Android argument here. That’s a topic that would require its own article, and most likely one several times longer than this comparison. Subjective points will be limited to design and ergonomics.
Enough talk. It’s time for the competition to begin.
Apple’s new iPad looks much like the old iPad. There’s not a lot going on – just one button adorns the front and the rear panel is essentially a slab of matte silver material with an Apple logo and some obligatory FCC text.
Yet the sum of these meager parts is an elegant and attractive device that never looks out of place no matter who is holding it or where it is being used. Apple seems to be the only company in the electronics business that understands most people prefer luxury over fun.
The Transformer Prime is also aesthetically pleasing and buttoned-down, but the design is not as cohesive. Instead of using a single piece of material on the back ASUS uses two – a thin frame that covers the edges and nearly flat piece of metal over the internals.
ASUS also has to deal with the fact that the company has no corporate logo. It’s difficult to make your product look elegant when four chrome letters is the only way you can brand it.
Build quality is in favor of Apple. The device is nearly seamless. In reality there is a gap between the display panel and the rear cover, but you’ll never notice it until you go looking for it. No other company builds a tablet with tolerances as tight as Apple.
I can’t say the same for the Prime, but that doesn’t mean it’s poorly constructed. Both devices feel rock-solid in hand and there is nothing wrong with the gaps between its materials. ASUS simply can’t compete with the tight tolerances of Apple’s tablet.
Placing the ASUS Transformer Prime and the iPad 3 side-by-side proves that there is some room for differentiation among tablets. Though they are both flat slabs, they are different in their size, weight and materials.
While the Transformer Prime and the iPad 3 have a similar quoted display size (10.1” vs 9.7”) the physical shape of each tablet is quite different. This is due to the format of each display. While the Prime has a 16:9 widescreen panel the iPad uses an old-fashioned 4:3 format. In terms of total surface area the Transformer Prime is the larger tablet, but by less than 10%.
There are pros and cons to each format, but I think Apple has the better idea. The 4:3 format results in a tablet that is more square and thus easier to wrap your hands around. Using the Prime (and any other 16:9 tablet) is not easy when it’s held width-wise.
Despite this, ergonomics is only a minor win for the iPad. Why? Size and weight. The Prime is just 8.3mm thin and weighs about 580 grams, while the iPad 3 is 9.4mm thick and weighs about 660 grams. The difference is a bit difficult to notice unless you have the tablets side by side, but over time the added weight of the iPad 3 adds up. It is a bit more tasking to hold for long periods of time.
This review is incorrect. It
This review is incorrect. It IS in fact a single piece of metal. I have torn mine apart at least 15 times.
Matt, you’re mistaking the Asus Eee Pad Transformer (TF101) for the Transformer Prime(TF201).
Might want to check out tear down video’s if you’re not going to take apart your own. Its a single piece for the aluminum housing of the TF-201 Transformer Prime.
Sorry for the mistake,
Sorry for the mistake, then.
It’s a little beside the point, though – what I was trying to get across is that, for some reason, ASUS decided to make it appear as if there are two pieces of trim on the back of the Prime.
That seems strange and unattractive. If it’s just one piece, then that’s actually even more unusual. I don’t know why ASUS would go out of its way to introduce an additional (perceived) seam to the device.
Also.. setting these screens
Also.. setting these screens at a percent based brightness puts the prime hugely at a disadvantage. It is WAY brighter than the Ipad. Also, the prime has a cpu clock of 1.4ghz MAX, 1.6ghz is only availible through overclocking (it is technically in ther kernel, but disabled.) This review is riddled with misinformation. I expected better from PCPER.COM.
“That puts it at a severe
“That puts it at a severe on-paper disadvantage against Tegra 3, which offers four cores running at up to 1.6 GHz (though they run at between 1 GHz and 1.4 GHz in the Transformer Prime).”
Show me one device running at
Show me one device running at 1.6ghz. Tegra3 will never run that high. Tegra t33 will.
There is not much of a
There is not much of a brightness difference between the iPad 3 and the Prime and the iPad is lighting many, many more pixels, which gives it a huge disadvantage too…
More pixels does not mean
More pixels does not mean more power. the iPad has more pixels but each pixel uses much more power. Brightness has a far greater effect on power consumption.
The point being made is the Transformer Prime at 30% brightness will be FAR brighter than the iPad 3 and therefore use far more power. Equal brightness test would be far more useful comparison
You are comparing crapple to
You are comparing crapple to oranges. There has never been a large market for tablets. MS tried selling tablets ten years ago, and failed miserably. There is, however, a large market for iPad’s; the reasons for this I will leave to those who want to delve into the psyches of the people buying iPads.
The vast majority of people buying iPads are not interested in how they match up against competing products: in their minds there are no competing products. To them, they are not buying a tablet, they are buying an iPad. And the vast majority of people buying iPads would not be interested in what tech sites have to say about them. They are an impulse purchase. The people that buy them do not think about why they need them or what they will use them for. They find this out after they buy them.
The vast majority of enthusiasts are not interested in gadget reviews or comparisons between gadgets. Those that are, can find plenty of them on theVerge.com and many similar sites.
Not only is the market for android tablets minuscule when compared to the market for iPads, but Android is obviously flawed, as you love to reiterate every time you have a chance. What enthusiast cares anyway. Most get much more excited about video cards and psu’s and even fans.
I am sure the Windows 8 tablet experience will be terrific, but once again, people are not interested in tablets. They want there iPads. I say, let them have them and stop making them a fixture on this world class enthusiast site.
The amount of content that PC
The amount of content that PC Perspective offers for traditional PC enthusiasts isn’t decreasing, and we think it’d be foolhardy to ignore other devices. The tablet is developing into a very small PC – and we review laptops. So why ignore them?
I’m a computer enthusiast,
I’m a computer enthusiast, gamer, and I spend about $8m a year at my company on computers and electronics. I read the entire review and thought it was great. This guy that is flaming your review is simply a troll.
Agree, anyone that thinks the
Agree, anyone that thinks the iPad is not the overall winner here has not used one.
“There has never been a large
“There has never been a large market for tablets”
Not sure where you get your information, but there is a HUGE market for tablets including iPads, Nice android tablets like Prime/Iconia/streak/playbook/etc, and crap android tablets that are made by companies in China you have never heard of.
I have to agree. It’s a sad
I have to agree. It’s a sad day when on the home page of a PC hardware site there’s yet another also ran review of yet another new Ipad, which technically isn’t even called the Ipad 3 anyway. Ipad people as you say couldn’t care less about the specs on the unit, how sharp the screen is, or it’s storage capacity. They want it because they are sheep that want to buy what everyone else they know buys. Most Android users won’t switch to Apple because of the mess that is Itunes, and the fact that if you have a decent size MP3 collection you’ll need to shell out a King’s ransom for the 32 or 64gb Ipad. Notice I said most users though, as Android users are far more open minded when it comes to the idea of switching tablets. To Apple users it’s a religion and anyone else is to be shunned as a non-believer!
I think a big part of the
I think a big part of the choice between the two has to be whether you want to be locked into the Apple ecosystem,it’s a walled garden.Or have more choice with Android,also if you use the dock it doubles your battery life.
Ditto. I think it has less to
Ditto. I think it has less to do with hardware details and more to do with this so-called “Eco-system”. I personally started out as a devout iOS user, and as I became more adept with mobile devices, I was drawn to Android. I started to feel like I was a prisoner with Apple and iTunes. Android on the other hand is a tinkerers paradise. It was so easy to root my tab… took about 5 minutes. Installing a custom ROM was also a snap. I still have an iPhone, but it will probably be my last. I just don’t do well with authority I guess.
Only thing is, as far as
Only thing is, as far as tablets are concerned, Apple’s “walled garden” is far superior to Android’s open ecosystem. The quality and quantity of apps optimized for Android Tablets is simply pitiful, and most phone apps look like crap blown up on a larger screen..
For me it doesn’t matter if
For me it doesn’t matter if the OS is a walled garden or a public garden. What matters to me is whether the device works without an issue every time. I switched from iPhone to Samsung Galaxy II and after my initial honeymoon, I am praying to God how soon my current contract ends so that I can switch back to iPhone. Android although is very promising, is not quite stable. Period.
you might want to update your
you might want to update your rom/firmware 😉
I hear that the Apple OS’s
I hear that the Apple OS’s are more stable than Android and Windows all the time but have seen quite a bit of the opposite.I watch a lot of the shows on TWIT.TV including IPad Today and MacBreak Weekly.Most of production is done with Macs and most of the hosts use Mac and IOS.If you watch live you’ll see them have problems quite often with apps, software and the OS that get cut out of the shows downloads.Apple,Microsoft and Android all have pro’s and con’s and all have their own problems, most of which I think are due to the software or drivers installed on them.A lot of Apple users seem to wear blinders when it comes to seeing any flaws in the Apple environment,I don’t really understand why,it’s just a device not a child or a puppy.I use Windows and probably only get a couple lockups and reboots a year,and I use a lot of alpha and beta software.I also have a HP Touchpad that I paid $99 for and put Android Ice Cream Sandwich CM9 alpha on it.This is a device that was designed to run WebOS and has Android on it.Not all the functions are working yet but it is a Alpha release,I find it very stable and enjoy all it’s options.
The problem with the iPad is
The problem with the iPad is that you need an adapter for EVERYTHING. The Prime has a micro SD slot (which every mobile device should have) and well as micro hdmi. On top of that, there is no good dock for the iPad, while the Prime’s dock is far and away the best tablet dock in existence, giving you usb 2.0, full size SD, a good keyboard, and much greater battery life. This is the big separator, making the iPad more of a toy for most people, while the Prime has serious potential to be a productivity tool without poorly designed productivity add-ons. Also, 4:3 displays are a joke and the fact that the iPad is still vertically oriented by default is silly. And the Prime gives you more bang for your buck: take the 2 base models. The Prime comes with 32gb storage on board and expandibility and micro hdmi, while the iPad of the same price comes with half the storage and no expansion options built in. The iPad legitimately only has a display advantage, which will be irrelevant when the TF700 launches in summer.
Dude, your an idiot. Show me
Dude, your an idiot. Show me any Android “productivity” apps that compare to iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand. The primes battery life is only greater when you use the keyboard dock, which you have to buy separately. A4:3 ratio display is much better for use in portrait and landscape than a 16:9 display than can be best used only in landscape — hell just get a $399 windows laptop at Offfice Depot.
A 16:9 display of text
A 16:9 display of text rotated 90° is really sweet for reading while lying down.
I completely agree. Just the
I completely agree. Just the keyboard dock by itself totally sold me on the Transformer. Add to that the USB Host which is a H U G E plus. I can connect my camera to it and view photos, download them, re-arrange them into albums …. With the iPad, I had to buy a $40 dongle (which wouldn’t work with the iPod Touch!) and could not be used as a universal host! Then, I couldn’t create albums from the photos that I could re-arrange. I had to sync with iTunes, upload the photos, rearrange them and resync them back to the iPad. So much for a post PC device! It’s the extensibility of the Prime that sets it notches better from a hardware perspective than the iPad. I haven’t seen the iPad 3, but I can easily believe that it has a better display. However I have never seen any page look as bad on the TP as the one in the review. I did go to the PC Perspective site and some of the fonts do look bad. But it’s a very inconsistent site. Some pages (like this review) looks very good and some like the sections (“Latest …”) of the home page are using a font that doesn’t look that hot on my desktop either.
I’m not sure why the default browser is being used on the Transformer Prime instead of the Chrome browser which is noticeably faster than the default browser.
I have noticed that the default exposure on the TP camera has to be dropped by 0.5 to 1 stop when shooting in bright sunlight or mixed light. But the photos while not comparable to my DSLR are still fairly decent. I still haven’t found a reason for having a camera on a tablet though. I use it very rarely and it made no part of my buying decision. The front facing camera is useful for meetings though.
You said this comparison was
You said this comparison was not going to be subjective, but every judgment you made was subjective, presented without factual evidence other than your personal preferences.
You said measurements. Measurements are expressed as NUMBERS. Where are your numbers? Where are the specs?
Do most consumers prefer luxury over fun? If that;s true, how come there are more Android smart phones in the market than there are Apple phones?
I’m trying to decide whether this is a puff piece on Apple, or a hit piece on everybody else. I am sorry that I wasted my time reading this because I REALLY would like to know what’s Apple got that nobody else has got? Maybe they just have more shills in the media, and that’s all.
Prove me wrong. Write a decent, OBJECTIVE article with facts and numbers.
The new iPad has:
The new iPad has:
Better battery life.
Better GPU performance.
Far better absolute display resolution and pixels-per-inch.
as long as you still enjoy
as long as you still enjoy 4:3 aspect ratio. 😐
and one can argue about battery life…
What is wrong with 4:3 on a
What is wrong with 4:3 on a tablet? Webpages, ebooks, emagazines, many games, etc.. look great in portrait AND landscape mode. Maybe if you watch a lot Widescreen video–but the iPads hi res display shows every pixel of a 1080p video anyway.
…and a lot of negative
…and a lot of negative space while doing so.
agree, 4:3 is much better for
agree, 4:3 is much better for tablets
reading books is nicer
Except if, like myself, you
Except if, like myself, you like watching hd movies on your tablet. Just because 4:3 works for you, doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Choice is great.
i wonder how you do your
i wonder how you do your battery rundown test since the transformer prime connected to its dock gives you superior battery life.
I always found it strange how
I always found it strange how much emphasis people put on tablet cameras. I don’t know too many people who use their tablets as cameras even twice a month.
On another note, where did you get the 4:3 stuff from? I understand the iPad has a 4:3 pixel ratio, but I’m pretty sure that that doesn’t translate out to a 4:3 form factor. Are you sure about that?
I’m 99% sure.
I’m 99% sure.
How many times did I read “I
How many times did I read “I prefer”. Way to keep it objectively.
I agree android has ways to go in terms of all-around butter smooth experience, but it is the overall doctrine of “we know what is best for you” that android shatters. That’s why apple locks everything down and you pay for everything as you.
That is the real experience users, who think for themselves, crave.
I have both of these tablets
I have both of these tablets and the iPad is far better and nearly everything. I have had to reset the Prime so many times and the browser is so freaking slow at reacting to anything. Internet browsing is horrible on the Prime. Not the mention the horrible WiFi signal. ICS did help the Prime performance but over all i just hate the internet browsing experience on it. Now what I love about the Prime is its weight and ergonomics; it is much easier to hold then the iPad. I also think it looks better. The Prime is the best Android tablet on the market but when comparing it to the iPad it just doesn’t hold up (this is just my opinion and experience).
Have you tried any of the
Have you tried any of the other browsers in the Play store? They have many free ones.I like the Firefox ones because of the sync.They have Firefox,Firefox Beta and Aurora which is a Firefox Alpha.I use Aurora.
I disagree. I use my Prime a
I disagree. I use my Prime a LOT more than my iPad3. Then again, I’m a True Power user, you may just use it as an appliance or a toy. I love media streaming from my server, Rooting and Overclocking, watching movies is better on the Prime due to the 16:9 display. BUT, if you prefer a simple toy(can’t blame you, I love how solid and reliable the iPad3 is)then of course you prefer the iPad3. I like messing around with my devices which is why I visit sites like this and HardOCP. The iPad3 is more for the sheeple, while the Prime is more for Tech-Gear heads. It’s a personal choice really.
I am sure apple or maybe even
I am sure apple or maybe even that dead guy paid you dearly for this piece of iCrap. There is no doubt in my mind everything mentioned here is your opinion only, and there are no facts or figures to back what you are spewing.
This was several mintes of my life wasted that I can never get back.
I used to slag apple off all
I used to slag apple off all the time to when I used android, now I can actually afford apple products they are the pinnacle of engineering! People who kick APple generally do this as they can’t afford them!
I could buy a loaded 12 core
I could buy a loaded 12 core (dual socket 1366 + 2x X5650 Xeon’s) Mac Pro right now if I choose to… but I choose to be smarter with my money than buying something that I can personally build at less than half the cost.
Your comment is quite assenine.
You forgot to mention the
You forgot to mention the pads woeful browsing experience and pathetic wifi performance.
You have to love the screen though.
There is nothing wrong with
There is nothing wrong with the browsing expirence on iPad, it loads complex web pages better than the stock Android browser and scrolling, zooming, etc.. is much smoother. As for the wifi issues some are having, when you’re cranking out millions of these as fast as you can there’s bound to be a few problems crop up.
there’s many comparisons
there’s many comparisons using stock android browsers on a quite a few different android devices that show google’s webkit browser (gingerbread and up) outperforming iOS’s… and that includes android’s webkit browser rendering flash objects which should cause the android browsing to loose out to iOS’s webkit browser… but it doesnt.
I forgot to mention it
I forgot to mention it because it’s not true. In fact, the web browsing experience on the iPad is one of its greatest strengths – it’s night and day, Android is way behind.
WiFi performance? It was quite strong on my unit. Though I did hear just a few days ago that Apple is looking into WiFi connectivity issues and may replace some iPads because of it.
You say that browsing is one
You say that browsing is one of the iPads greatest strengths so I would like to know when the iPad started supporting Flash? 🙂
Is that the best you’ve got?
Is that the best you’ve got? Everybody knows HTML5 is the way to go. Let it go man. Have you actually seen a iPad3? It really is that good. The display is amazing.
When people say Apple’s A5X’s only got 2 CPU core, we say it’s weak, but when they’ve got 4 GPUs and 2048×1536 display we say it’s unnecessary. I don’t get it.
Just admit it. iPad3 is the best in the market, it’s a fact. Accept it. Don’t hate because the competition is weak.
Someone keeps forgetting to
Someone keeps forgetting to tell the vast majority of websites that still use Flash about HTML5 being the way go. I may not like it but it’s everywhere.
Yes; I have seen Samsung’s LTN097QL01-A02 panel in person. It’s nice. I’m used to 2560×1440 which has over 500,000 more pixels, albeit over a much larger area, but I would still take my IPS panel over a PLS panel anyday. However, it’s about the only thing that would tempt me to get it.
You have to realize that the new iPad has over four times the resolution of the iPad 2 but with only twice the GPUs so, if anything, it is now under-powered.
I have tried many Android and
I have tried many Android and iOS devices and i don’t understand this “being locked into to the Apple ecosystem” comment. You are locked in to the Android ecosystem if you go that way. What’s the diff!
I can’t run things outside of either or across either.
Tall Poppy syndrome is major disease carried by most tech enthusiast
I’m a hardcore PC builder and
I’m a hardcore PC builder and diehard windows NV fanboy (at times) and I love my Blackberry and…..
My iPad. Great Review. Very Fair Also. Thanks
I still haven’t found a
I still haven’t found a reason for having a camera on a tablet though. I use it very rarely and it made no part of my buying decision. The front facing camera is useful for meetings though.
Why no mention of the
Why no mention of the impending Transformer Prime with the 1920×1200 screen? Has it been renamed Transformer Pad Infinity or something like that?
Honestly, this “Comparison”
Honestly, this “Comparison” seems a bit biased, IMO.
First few things have already been mentioned, such as construction, camera tweaks, and so on. But the first thing that struck me as off, is you battery life tests. Engadget’s review had the 3rd Gen iPad’s battery life as shorter than the Transformer Prime by almost an hour. Also, you don’t mention that bigger battery means longer recharge time (Hence why i’m sticking with my iPad2)
Secondly, I also feel that each OS has different strengths to the browsing experience. TPrime, for example, can easily force the PC version of a web page, where an iPad may not be able to load a desktop page. Secondly, Android browser.. DOES support Flash.. yes I hate flash, but Nostalgia Critic still hasn’t switched to HTML5. Finally, Android allows 3rd party Browsers, such as Chrome. Which is superior to the default browser, and has things like desktop window syncing.
And, why did you stop short of going over TPrime’s Hardware advantages? So, $499 gets you a 32 GB Prime.. or a 16 GB iPad… But the Prime you can expand the storage, and the iPad you’re locked in at that 16 GB for life. I can do $699 for a 64 GB iPad, or $530 for a 64 GB TPrime. Second, HDMI out and USB host mode.. so people can put their pictures on the prime.
Now, I don’t disagree entirely that, for now, the iPad is still the better tablet, but I feel this article did not even allow the Prime to stand up on it’s own merits, while allowing the iPad to bask in it’s merits. You didn’t want to talk about the Software and OS, but you talked about the browsing experience, and not email, where android has the better experience. And So you mention the You Tube app crashed, but the android You Tube app is supirior, having better support for subscriptions, favorites, setting thumbs up.. and so on.
Why are the GL benchmarks
Why are the GL benchmarks running with the Prime set to normal not performance? The iPad automatically steps up its processor to performance when running?
Also, where is the cost comparison for performance.
Furthermore, the Keyboard dock is not sold separately in large parts of the world and should be included in tests, especially battery life.
Finally, given increase in speed in real world usage (messaging, document editing, searching) which comes from a physical keyboard why are these not in your “objective” tests?
I have a Prime and while it is far from perfect, most of the performance scenarios you use are skewed to ways people use iPads, not tablets. By your reckoning only a tablet that out ipads an ipad can have a greater value.I have no doubt that the 3 months that saw the ipad develop beyond the prime will be repeated when the next set of ASUS eeepad (infinity) comes out. But then people will be saying “oh of course its better but the ipad is 3 months old”
Just bought the transformer
Just bought the transformer prime today, currently have an ipad 2 16gb which i love but certain things really wind me up… Mainly the age old “no flash”, but also the non expandable memory and i cant find anything that will let me use my ipad like i can use this asus…just done a quick google but no definitive answer, will it run windows 8?
doubt there will ever be an
doubt there will ever be an offical win 8 release for the Prime but I’d keep an eye on the XDA forums, I’m sure someone will give it a try when the ARM version of win 8 is released.