Asus has just announced a new version of its highly rated Transformer Prime: the Transformer Prime TF700T. The TF700T will go on sale sometime in the second quarter of the year, Asus says, adding yet another tier onto the company's line of Transformer tablets.
The Transformer Prime TF700T is actually not all that different from the original Transformer Prime -- the TF201 model released just last month. The new TF700T model has three main distinctions:
1. A new back panel design. Asus says the TF700T's back panel will "enhance" its Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS performance compared to the original Transformer Prime model. Some users have complained about issues in those areas, presumably due to the all-aluminum casing used on the original Prime tablet.
2. A higher-definition display. The TF700T will feature a 1920 x 1200 screen as opposed to the 1280 x 800 panel on the first Transformer Prime device.
3. A better front-facing camera. The TF700T gets a 2.0-megapixel camera on its front, a small step up from the 1.2-megapixel cam on the previous Prime tablet.
Asus Transformer Prime TF700T vs. TF201T: What to think?
So the big question: Does the new Transformer Prime TF700T make the original Transformer Prime obsolete? Should early adopters feel bad about their purchases?
The answer: In short, no. For most people, the original Transformer Prime is still an excellent option -- and in many cases, it's arguably the preferable choice between the two tablets.
First and foremost, Asus has made it clear that the new Transformer Prime TF700T is not replacing the original Transformer Prime TF201 model. Rather, it is an "upmarket" model -- in other words, a higher-end option. Both tablets will continue to be sold.
That said, the original Transformer Prime is already plenty high-end. The new model will cost a hundred bucks more -- $600 to $700, according to Asus, compared to $500 (32GB) to $600 (64GB) for the original Prime device -- and for the majority of consumers, I don't think that difference will be justifiable.
Here's why, item by item:
1. The back panel: I didn't experience any noticeable issues with the Transformer Prime's connectivity during my time testing the device, and plenty of other people haven't had any problems, either.
That's not to say there aren't issues -- Asus has acknowledged that the tablet's GPS functionality, in particular, isn't all that it could be -- but unless you're relying on your tablet for intensive GPS-oriented tasks (a relatively uncommon occurrence, I suspect, with a Wi-Fi-based tablet), I just don't know that they're going to be issues for you. The Prime worked well for me when it came to basic location detection and other common tasks; I also had no trouble connecting to Wi-Fi networks or Bluetooth devices. In most typical usage scenarios, the tablet's connectivity functions perfectly fine.
2. The display: Sure, a higher resolution display is nice, but bear in mind a few key points: First, the display on the original Transformer Prime is already quite good. As I wrote in my review:
The Transformer Prime features a 1280 x 800 Super IPS+ display that rivals any other tablet display I've seen. Images are crisp and clear; colors are rich and brilliant. The screen includes an outdoor viewing mode that, according to Asus, boosts brightness up to a level 1.5 times higher than any competing tablet; with this mode activated, I found the Prime easy to view even in bright sunlight.
Still, why not go for an even better display? Two reasons: One, you're paying a hundred dollars more for a difference you probably don't need -- and two, a higher-res display is bound to drain more battery power. Officially, Asus tells me the battery life in the new TF700T should be "similar" to the TF201 (which boasts superb battery life), but it's only logical that a more powerful display is going to require more power -- and that that additional power is going to have some measurable effect on the device's stamina.
3. The front-facing camera: Does a difference of 1.2 megapixels vs. 2 megapixels on the front-facing camera really mean anything to you? For most folks, that's a pretty insignificant tweak.
All considered, the new Asus Transformer Prime TF700T is a fine half-step up from the original Transformer Prime TF201 tablet, but for the vast majority of users, it's probably not a step worth taking -- not for a hundred extra dollars.
Bottom line: If you rely on your tablet for navigation or other GPS-intensive tasks, you may want to consider the new TF700T model (or another tablet) over the original Transformer Prime device. If the extra-high-res display strikes your fancy and you're willing to pay the premium for it, the TF700T might be right for you. Otherwise, the first Transformer Prime is still the best overall Android tablet I've encountered at this point, and -- taking into account its specs, performance, and overall value -- it's the top tablet I'd continue to recommend.
For much more on the Prime and how it compares to other tablet options, see my in-depth analysis:
Article copyright 2012 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.