Apple new iPad vs. ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime: Tablet comparison

Which is the better tablet? Apple's new iPad, or the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime

New iPad vs. Transformer Prime: Design

The new iPad features a near identical design to the iPad 2. It has the same single-button front fascia, brushed metal rear and flat back so it sits stable when placed on a desk or table. The edges of the iPad curve as they meet the front edge of the device. Its once again available in black or white colours. The new iPad is slightly thicker and heavier than the iPad 2. Wi-Fi models are 51g heavier, and the Wi-Fi + 4G models are 49g heavier.

On the other hand, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime is just 8.33mm thin and weighs only 586g. That's thinner and lighter than the new iPad and even thinner than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The latter is admittedly 21g lighter, but this doesn't make a huge amount of difference in day-to-day use. The back of the Transformer Prime is constructed from sturdy feeling aluminum and has an attractive swirl design. Unlike the original Transformer, the aluminium backing exhibits little to no flex when some force is applied and it doesn't creak or rattle. However, the metal edges can dig into your fingers and the speaker is covered when holding the tablet with two hands.

Verdict: This is a tough call, but we would slightly favour the Transformer Prime. It's lighter and thinner than the iPad and the only real issue is that the edges can be sharp, and the speaker is in an awkward position. The iPad is a superbly built device but the design isn't remarkable: its software rather than hardware that makes the iPad what it is.

ASUS Transformer Prime The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime is just 8.33mm thin and weighs only 586g making it both thinner and lighter than the new iPad

New iPad vs. Transformer Prime: Software

Although it isn't a new feature, Apple's iOS software once again makes the new iPad a compelling product. The iPad is dead easy to use. It's simple, effective and engaging. It has more apps than any other software platform, but more importantly, it has a large range of excellent, quality apps built specifically for a tablet device with a large screen.

The Transformer Prime runs the latest Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 version of Android, which admittedly is a big improvement over previous editions of the platform. Performance is much better — apps open quicker, home screens are no longer choppy to scroll through, and the entire user experience feels much more refined and slick. However, Flash video performance remains hit and miss, and there were various times when the Transformer Prime slightly lagged. Scrolling in the Web browser is smoother than ever, but still not up to the standard set by Apple's iOS. Finally, third-party tablet apps on offer remain well behind the iPad, and there is also no easy way to determine if an app in the Android Market is designed to work on a tablet.

Verdict: The iPad is a clear winner here. Ice Cream Sandwich is definitely an improvement over earlier versions of Android but it remains well behind the iOS platform on tablets. The iPad offers a far slicker user experience and it has a wider selection of quality apps designed specifically for a tablet.

new iPad The iPad has a large range of excellent quality apps built specifically for a tablet device.

New iPad vs. Transformer Prime: Cameras

The new iPad has a significantly upgraded rear camera to the one on the iPad 2, which was a dreadful 0.7-megapixels. The new iPad's camera features some of the same technology used in the iPhone 4S, but in a 5-megapixel lens with backside-illuminated sensor. It also doubles as a full HD 1080p video recorder. Images aren't as sharp or clear as the excellent camera on the iPhone 4S, but they are certainly good enough for small prints. The front-facing camera on the new iPad this disappointingly remains a low quality, VGA snapper.

The Transformer Prime's 8.1-megapixel camera is one of the best on a tablet. It snaps good quality images with reasonable detail levels. Auto-focus can be slow at times and colour reproduction isn't always natural looking. It also does a fine job of recording full HD 1080p video. The front-facing camera on the Transformer Prime is 1.2-megapixels.

Verdict: We don't see the big deal about a rear camera on a tablet: taking photos with such a large device is simply impractical. However, if you are to use a tablet to take photos, both of these devices will do a relatively good job. The Transformer Prime gets the win here because of its LED flash and the fact that its front facing camera is better quality, too.

New iPad vs. Transformer Prime: Internals and other features

Apple is never keen to advertise the specs of its devices but the iPad is packing some nice hardware. It's powered by a dual-core A5X processor but has a quad-core graphics processor. The main beneficiary here is gaming, though it is tough to judge the graphics processor given there isn't currently many games that take advantage of the new chip. Infinity Blade II is one such title and admittedly, the graphics are very impressive. The iPad has 1GB of RAM and comes with either 16, 32, or 64GB of internal memory but there is no memory card slot to add to that.

ASUS Transformer Prime The Transformer Prime's keyboard dock adds a full-sized USB port, a full-sized SD card slot and a trackpad, as well as its own built-in battery.

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime packs some serious specifications, headed by a quad-core 1.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 chip, 1GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of internal memory. The keyboard dock, which ASUS bundles with the Transformer Prime in Australia, adds a full-sized USB port, a full-sized SD card slot and a trackpad, as well as its own built-in battery. Disappointingly, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime doesn't have 3G connectivity, so its a Wi-Fi-only tablet.

Verdict: The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime has a faster processor, expandable memory and a keyboard dock that adds some very handy features. In the end, how the internals work depends on the software: the iPad may have a slower processor on paper, but is anything but a slow tablet. In the end, we'll call this one a draw, though the added flexibility of expandable memory is a key feature in ASUS' favour.

What do you think about the new iPad and the Transformer Prime? Let me know in the comments below!

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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