Is This the Future of Laptops?
The folks at Asus seem to be onto something with their Transformer Prime tablet. When attached to its docking keyboard, the Android-based Transformer Prime looks remarkably like a slimmed-down laptop. That resemblance has some wondering if the Transformer Prime can replace their bulky laptops. Let's take a look...
Can Transformer Prime Replace Your Laptop?
The Transformer Prime from Asus isn't a laptop, and it doesn't run Windows. But snap on the optional keyboard, fire up a few office apps (or the cool remote control software) and you might be convinced otherwise.
So, can the Prime tablet replace your laptop? It's possible, depending on what you need in a portable computer. Portability is the obvious first choice, and the Transformer Prime beats any laptop easily. The tablet alone weighs only 1.29 pounds and measures just 10.35 by 7.12 by 0.33 inches. Add the docking keyboard and the weight climbs to 2.47 pounds, compared to the Macbook Air's 2.38 pounds.
Battery life is another important aspect of portability. Most laptops give you only 4-5 hours. The Transformer Prime tablet will cruise for 9.5 hours on battery, according to Asus, or an astounding 18 hours when docked to the keyboard. Whether you believe that or not, Android tablets definitely burn less power than laptops.
A combination of installed apps and cloud-based software provides most of the productivity software that mobile users need, enabling the Transformer Prime to be a contender for serious business use. The Prime comes with the Polaris Office app, for editing locally stored word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation files (even when you don't have an Internet connection.)
Cloud-based office apps such as Google Docs and Google Drive give you the option to create, edit and store your business documents online. If you need to collaborate with others, or access the documents from other devices (your office desktop, for example), this is the way to go. Asus also offers a generous 8GB of free cloud storage.
Need access to programs (or games) that run only on Mac or PC platforms? Not a problem with the remote control program called MyDesktop that's included with the Transformer Prime. My Desktop lets you connect to another computer running Windows 7 or Mac OS X, and interact with it via the touchscreen or keyboard. You can see the MyDesktop software in action to understand how cool this really is.
Transformer Prime Hardware Specs
The Transformer Prime TF201 costs $499 and ships with 32 GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot. Connectivity options include 4G LTE, WiFi, and Bluetooth. Just to avoid confusion, I'll mention that there is also a Transformer Pad TF300, which is almost identical to the TF201 model. The TF300 sells for $379 (16GB) or $399 (32GB), and comes with the latest Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system. Aside from the lower price and OS upgrade, the most significant difference is that the TF300 uses more plastic in its design than the sleek aluminum case of the Prime.
The docking keyboard itself gets impressive reviews from professional writers. The keys are responsive, large enough, and laid out well. The inclusion of a trackpad makes the Transformer Prime's keyboard experience virtually indistinguishable from a laptop.
The 10-inch, 1280x800 pixel display is certainly small by laptop standards. But proponents of the Transformer Prime argue that it's good enough for serious work. The Prime does have a mini-HDMI port, so you have the option of adding a larger external monitor if you wish to do so.
The Transformer has Nvidia's 1.3-GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, making it the first quad-core tablet. However, few Android apps have been optimized to take advantage of this level of performance. That will surely change as the Android and quad-core markets evolve.
Road warriors are always looking for something lighter and smaller to carry. Netbooks were yesterday's "next big thing." The Transformer Prime may be tomorrow's. Of course, your thoughts are welcome on this topic. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 1 May 2012
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