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    Eee Pad Transformer Prime announced


    During Asia D, Jonney Shih promised us news of the next Android Eee Pad on November 9th and this morning Asus made good on that, with official confirmation of the Transformer Prime.

    As the first tablet out the gates to sport NVIDIA's 1.3Ghz Tegra 3 SoC (System-on-a-Chip) and an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich 'shortly' after release, Asus have potentially grabbed two firsts with today's announcements. Tegra 3 isn't just a beefier version of its predecessor, four cores are only part of what makes Kal El so special. The new chip also includes a much improved GPU but possibly more significant a fifth lower voltage low frequency processor core which takes over when the tablet is idle/in standby to reduce power consumption of background processes.

    Similar to the previous model, the Transformer Prime has 1GB of RAM, but capacity has been bumped up, the base unit now has 32GB of storage and a higher capacity model 64GB. The display is again shielded behind Gorilla Glass but this time is described as "Super IPS+" with the same 178 degree viewing angle and 1280x800 resolution of the last device, quelling worries that Asus had abandoned the wider aspect ratio seen on the original Transformer.

    Following the styling of the new Zenbook ultraportables and as shown in the above photos the Prime will be available in two colours "amethyst grey" and "champagne gold". The tablet portion is now only 8.3mm thick, almost a third thinner than the TF101.

    Two cameras adorn the Prime, a 1.2MP front-facing similar to the last tablet, while the rear camera of the has been upgraded from 5MP to an 8MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor with LED flash.

    In terms of battery, ASUS have managed to squeeze four hours more runtime than the TF101 from the Prime, suggesting a runtime of 12 hours on a single charge. Combined with the 22Wh battery in the optional keyboard dock and it's good for 18 hours in total.

    The last Transformer was absolutely bristling in connectivity and the Prime is no different, with audio jack, micro HDMI, micro SD, microphone and stereo speaker in the tablet and USB and full-size SD presented via the keyboard dock.

    Asus are quoting $499 for the 32GB, $599 for the 64GB, the dock is an optional extra for $149 and stock will be available in December. A release from their UK PR this morning suggests that the UK will see a bundle of tablet plus dock for £499 in January, we're seeking clarification to find out if this means the UK will be behind in getting supply of the tablet, or if the dock bundle is simply coming later as it did with the last launch.

    Source: Asus UK, NVIDIA

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    Assume that the original Eee Pad keyboard dock won't be compatible with this one, but it would be great if it was. The manufacturers need to take a leaf out of Motorola's book and at least attempt to find a way of making all the accessories compatible across the range and the newer models to ensure an easy upgrade path for early adopters. Would be great to be able to use the same keyboard on a phone and a tablet for example.

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    The new tablet is slightly different in terms of dimensions to the old, the port may be compatible but the new tablet is also quite a lot thinner, if you can get it connected into the new dock all the strain is going to be placed on the port rather than the holder :-(

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