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How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Rebooting
And Love My Asus Transformer Prime

 

Although the tablet Asus fans had been waiting for, the Transformer Prime, was announced back in November and released in early December, most of us didn’t get our hands on one until after the new year. Something about supply and demand and quality assurance.

OK. That’s fine. We don’t like these things to be rushed. When you rush a product to market, it doesn’t always perform the way it should. Case in point, my own random reboot experiences once I got my Prime that had not been rushed to market. And I’m not alone, witness message board and forum post after post wondering WTF is up with users’ new, top-of-the-line Transformer Prime for which they had just shelled out top-of-the-line money.

Three updates later and we’re still trying to figure out why this thing is so unstable, trying to figure out the large, weird lines across the screen and random reboots. This could be all yours for the low low price of one destroyed dream and anywhere from $350 to $850.

The Android 4.0.3 home screen in portrait mode with widgets.

You don’t need a marketing degree to know how weird it is that Asus had the Transformer Prime ready for release in time for CES, but didn’t mention it. I mean, here was the company known for the industry’s sexiest computers with its plants rolling out the first tablet with a new idea –a snap-off, snap-on keyboard/cover–hence “Transformer.” So what does Asus say about the Transformer Prime at CES? Zilch. Instead they announce the next tablet–the one that isn’t shipping yet. Oh, it’s got a better display–1920×1200 pixels compared to the 1280×800 on the prime. It has a 2 megapixel camera instead of the Prime’s 1.3 mp. That pesky reboot issue? Also supposedly fixed. The new TF 700 Prime is coming out with a new ICS on it, hopefully better tested than the TF 201.

Meanwhile all of us who hopped on the best-Android-tablet-so-far train ride are left dealing with random reboots that came with the ICS update, phantom serial numbers for those who pre-ordered early, and other instability issues. I understand how you have to keep moving forward, but we’re talking a few weeks here. Profit. right? Why not just stall the release of the original Prime, then release one ultra mega Prime that actually works, at the same time satisfying all of us who dropped a healthy load of cash on this device, and keying in on the whole fad that is using the word “ultra” to describe your device. At least it’s not “extreme.” Every time I hear the word extreme, I think of Doritos.

Inside settings about my Prime.

 

 

 

My game panel. All highly recommended.

 

The Asus Transformer Prime digesting an OTA update.

 

As a frustrated Prime owner, this whole rebooting issue is really heart breaking to me. This was supposed to be the Android tablet. The specs the Prime packs in it’s super sleek and sexy case speak for themselves. This is a phenomenally shiny piece of hardware, and Ice Cream Sandwich is a fantastic operating system I love this device, when it works. I also love Android–again, when it works.

 

If you have an unstable Prime, I find it helps to disable the Asus applications.

 

The Nvidia Tegra Zone. You can download games that take advantage of the Tegra processor's graphics core and stereoscopic 3D.

The GlowBall and Rip Tide demos are impressive showing off what the 1.3 Ghz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor is capable of. 3D nuts will drool over being able to plug in an HDMI cable and play your games on a big 3D TV screen. All those Contract Killer games look great both on the Prime and on a home theater screen.

Frontline Commando hooked up via HDMI to a large monitor. It sort of looks like an oversized Prime!

Most other apps look great. Especially if they come out with a tablet specific app. I’ve been enjoying BeyondPod’s tablet version, as well as the tablet version of A.I. Keyboard Plus, which is A.I. Tablet Keyboard. It gives you that split keyboard that is a necessity if you plan to do any amount of typing in landscape mode.

BeyondPod for tablets. One of my most used apps.

My6sense tablet edition. A very efficient way to sift through the noise and consume your media.

The camera is great, although not as fast on the shots as the Galaxy Nexus. All mobile cameras are low light sensitive, but for the most part the newer devices are getting much better and dealing with it. The video shoots nice HD footage, although the mic could be a bit better. Then again, it’s a tablet, and so how much video are you really going to shoot with it? I’m more interested in using it for live streams than anything. But if it’s all you have and you need video, you won’t be disappointed. Here are a couple of screenshots showing you what it’s like to look through the tablet as a viewfinder. It’s a very cool experience.

There's something awesome about having a camera view finder this big. (I know you're jealous of my Android beanie. It's OK.)

Google Music looks amazing on this beautiful display, and the recent albums area is very fluid. I wish the whole Android Tablet experience was like using Google Music, and BeyondPod, and the My6sense tablet beta. Life would be good. The browser is also becoming more and more like Chrome. I find it more than sufficient to handle my browsing needs. I’ve dabbled with other browsers like Firefox and Dolphin HD, I find them wholly unnecessary. Unless I’m not going to the same sites you are, the stock browser handles everything I throw at it.

The Google Music app scales especially nicely, especially when viewing your most recently played tunes.

Other browsers provide added functions and plugins, but Asus' stock browser is all you really need.

Overall,in the time it took me to type this review up, the Prime never once rebooted. Taking a look at my Prime status, I’m currently at over 67 hours uptime. Ever since the last over-the-air (OTA) update on Jan. 17, things seem to be getting more stable. Then again it could also be the fact that I’m using my Prime less, have it on balanced power mode and use auto brightness. You never know. I did try to flash the beta update on top of the OTA, but it kept giving me the red dead android. Apparently once you get the OTA you can t flash the beta. Or maybe I m just an idiot.

The Galaxy Nexus and Transformer Prime. A match made in digital heaven.

 

I know there are a lot of people out there who are having amazing times with their Primes. I am not one of those people. I used to be, but I am no more. There are also a lot of people packing up their primes. I am also not one of those either. At the very least Asus should give us a way back to Honeycomb until they figure out exactly what is causing this instability. It is refreshing they have someone in the XDA Developers forum on the official Asus thread for random lockups on the Prime. But the update can’t come soon enough.

I found this petition online signed by more than 1,500 people who all bought the TF 201 Prime and are not pleased. There was one post that was great. It was from Twitter, and it said, “Transformer Prime 700 is what the Transformer Prime 201 should have been all along.” Period. Yes, that pretty much sums it up, or as someone else on the petition said, “We are not angry. We are just not totally happy with our products. All we want is for our Primes to work.”

Like I said at the start, this device is so shiny–and I can’t believe I’m saying this–it almost doesn’t matter if it works or not, because that’s just how damn pretty it is to look at. Yeah, I could turn on the super bright screen with IPS (in-plane switching) which makes for the best LED display you can find. But then it would just give me the uneasy feeling that any second it could lock up. If you are looking to get a new Android tablet, you might want to wait until the next one comes out and save yourself the headache. If this one ever gets fixed–an Asus is aiming for sometime this month– I’ll be sure to let you know.

Since you’ve bothered to read all the way down to the bottom, you might as well find out about our free weekly Android podcast over at AttackoftheAndroids.com! Do yourself a favor and listen to the latest couple of episodes of Attack of the Androids, then when you’re hooked, email [email protected] and tell them it’s all my fault.

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5 Responses to How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Rebooting
And Love My Asus Transformer Prime

  1. Richard February 1, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    Why not return yours? It seems like this is a defective product.

  2. mat February 1, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    If you read on the forums, people who are returning theirs have a 50 / 50 chance of getting a prime that’s even worse. Mine has been fairly stable now, like i said in the review, asus has a guy on the xda forums and they are working on a patch. Not sure if this is something that can be fixed with a patch, but it’s worth a try.

  3. Mat Lee February 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    I’m also really digging some of the Asus live wallpapers that don’t suck your battery dry. The tree scene where the sun comes up and goes down depending on what time it is, is really pretty to stare at. It’s one of the Asus bits that don’t actually make the Prime more unstable.

  4. Mat Lee February 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    I recently did a factory reset, and that seemed to fix the broken youtube app problem that broke in the update. Not saying it will work for everyone, but it might be worth a try. The prime also seems a lot more stable since the factory reset.

  5. derp March 27, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    “I know there are a lot of people out there who are having amazing times with their Primes.”
    — perverts

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