14 January 2012

My New Toy - Asus Transformer Prime

I was toying with the idea of getting a tablet for a while. the idea of been able to use your phone for the internet is great but due to the size of the screen, even in landscape and pinch zooming I found it hard to read

I have a Smsung Galaxy SII which I love to bits, it's the best phone I ever had, so I thought about complimenting it with a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

When I started to research it's features and specs, I was disappointed to find it had no sdcard slot

I said to myself I would wait and see if Samsung had a new model due out  that would include a sdcard slot, there was no sign of one coming.

Then Nvidia announced the TEGRA 3 chip and Asus announced it would to be the first manufacturer to use it in their new Transformer Prime, this the tablet I decided I would go for

Info on the TEGRA 3

Nvidia - Tegra 2 And Tegra 3 Super Processors - Do More With Multi-Core Processor Performance

More Detailed Info

Anandtech - NVIDIA's Tegra 3 Launched: Architecture Revealed

Info on the Asus Transformer Prime

Asus - Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 - Paired And Primed To Perfection

Asus - Paired And Primed To Perfection

Asus Promotional Video

Reviews For The Asus Transformer Prime

Anandtech - ASUS Transformer Prime Detailed: Quad-Core Tegra 3 Tablet

Ubergizmo - Asus Transformer Prime: Preview

Endgadget -  ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Review

Ritchies Room - Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime – First Look

AndroidNZ - ASUS Transformer Prime: Unboxing, Hardware Tour, Brief UI Demo

AndroidNZ - ASUS Transformer Prime: Video Playback Shootout

AndroidNZ - ASUS Transformer Prime: Connectivity Video Demo

AndroidNZ - The Transformer Prime 'Real-user' Review: Part 1 - "A first time for everything..."

The Transformer Prime went on pre-order in the USA in the middle to end of November 2011 with availability due on December 5th. This was pushed back to December 12th and finally December 19th with rumours that it may not arrive till 2012

It will not be available in Europe until early Q1 2012

I pre-ordered mine in the USA from Best Buy on December 1st

People were getting annoyed on how Asus handled the pre-orders. Pre-orders outstripped the numbers that were made available by Asus and both Amazon and Best Buy sent out Emails to people who had pre-ordered informing them that their orders were cancelled because of low availability from Asus

This happened last year with the original Transformer and still Asus got it wrong

People who were lucky enough to receive theirs early, discovered issues with WiFi and GPS and that the tablet was loaded with Honeycomb 3.2 instead of Ice Cream Sandwich as advertised, also issues with bleeding from the back light and dead pixels were discovered and issues with lag in the browser and other areas.

One of the ways Asus tried to solve the issue of the GPS was to remove it from the specifications on there website so future buyers would not be misled

Then to add insult to injury Asus blocked the ability to root the device and it was also discovered that the bootloader was encrypted so the ability to create and load custom ROMS was impossible.

Also the ability to downgrade to an older firmware is also blocked

The XDA-Developers forum became the place to read about all this and some people were even cancelling their pre-orders over the growing WiFi and GPS issues

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime Forum

A petition on XDA got everyone  to spam the Facebook and Twitter pages of Asus about the encrypted bootloader and the GPS and WiFi problems

Asus responded by agreeing to develop a tool that would allow the bootloader to be unlocked but that your warranty would be completely void if the tool was used. This was to be released shorty after Ice Cream Sandwich which was due to be released on 12 January 2012

They also acknowledged the issues about the WiFi and GPS basically blaming the Aluminium back plate as the cause

These issues caused Asus to issue a .33 update. For some people this solved their issues and renewed their faith in the prime, but there were still people having the same issues after installing the .33 update

As each day passed I was undecided whether to cancel my order with all of these issues on a device that was costing $499 without the keyboard dock - I decided I would let it go through and take my chances.

Some good news at last, a rooting tool was made available on 4th January by the Development Community, not from Asus

As mine was still taking the slow boat to China to arrive, between Christmas and New Years Holidays I got word from Best Buy that mine was dispatched to my US address on December 23rd 2011

It was dispatched by DHL to Ireland on the 4th January 2012 and arrived in Shannon at 7am on Friday 6th January 2012 where it was nabbed by Customs, where it would normally stay for 2 - 3 working days for clearance.

I struggled to wait this long and was not going to wait another few days, especially when the DHL depot was only a 20 minute drive. I rang DHL and was told to ring back at lunchtime for an update.

I heard from someone that if you ring customs in Shannon they might expedite the clearance.

I rang Customs and explained my situation, they took my details and number and said they would call me. I didn't think that any thing was going to be done and I would have to wait until Monday

I didn't get a chance at lunchtime to ring DHL, but rang at 3.15 instead

I was delighted when DHL told me my package had just cleared customs and a charge of €67 would be needed in order for me to pick it up

I don't know if ringing Customs had anything to do with it, they never rang me back.

I drove down to Shannon, paid my $67 and drove home with my new Transformer Prime.

On arriving home and unpacking the prime, there were no apparent scratches, dents or creaking.

However my joy was short lived, after powering on the tablet, what looked like a scratch appeared on the top left hand corner, only was visible on the dark black background during the boot up phase of the tablet or when in Apps with black backgrounds.

So I proceeded to check for all the other issues that people were having and was delighted that were none.

WiFi - Perfect - Mostly because my AP is beside my PC in the same room where I would be using the prime mainly

GPS -  not too bothered about it, I have it on my phone and don't use it, I have it in my car so that is enough GPS for anyone

After configuring the tablet to use my WiFi I got a notification that there was a software update, the .33 update.

I installed the update without any issues and noticed an immediate improvement on all aspects of the tablet.

I then tried to Root the tablet but was having issues with the Google ADB drivers on Windows 7 64bit, but once I got that sorted out, The Root completed with out any more issues.

Next I started installing Apps. I tried to install some of the Samsung Apps from my Galaxy SII, but because they use the Samsung Framework and Touchwiz they would not work on the Asus. All other Apps installed without any issues.

Ice Cream Sandwich was released 4 days early and surprised a lot of people, because with updates from Asus, you can postpone the update prompt 3 times, but after that the update will install automatically without any more prompts. This annoyed a lot of people because they had not a chance to save the Root before they updated. There is an App from the market called Voodoo OTA Rootkeeper. This only works for Over The Air Updates and unfortunately does not include Samsung tablets. It backs up the Root. After the update, you run the App and it will restore the Root.

I was lucky to have known about backing up the root, and had it backed up. I was afraid that all my settings and Apps would be gone with the update, another surprise, everything was kept, so I had no installing of Apps or configuring of settings to do.

So now I have Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.3) on my tablet and Rooted.

Still no sign from Asus of the Bootloader unlocking tool

I am currently setting up the home screen, so when I have it finished I will post a screenshot.

I am very happy with my Prime (except the scratch) although it does not interfere with the operation of the tablet, knowing that it is there sometimes takes away the good from the tablet

It is unfortunate that the Prime has had such a lot of bad publicity and a lot of technical issues for a new product.

A lot of this comes from people over exaggerating in the XDA forums with their issues

Of course every new product will have issues, but for a company like Asus it is most unusual

As usual when I buy something a newer model seems to be announced straight away, and yes Asus announced a new Transformer at CES 2012, with more powerful WiFi and GPS, 1920 x 1080 LCD panel and a newly designed  backplate which appears to be plastic and with a black plastic strip at the top where the WiFi And GPS antennas are

I will hold on to mine for 6 months or so and then I might change to the newer one, hopefully with no scratches during power up

Now I am starting to save for the dock. I did not get it with the tablet, otherwise I would have been raped with Customs charges

I have used other Asus products before and have not had any issues at all, I have recently upgraded my 2 PC's with Asus motherboards with the latest P67 and Z68 chipsets.Their Motherboards are among the best out there atm

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