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A Travel Photographers Tablet? - Asus Transformer Prime Tablet Full Review

I have put the new Asus Transformer Prime Android tablet through the paces over the last month and have finally released my review. As a full time photographer that regularly travels the globe, I am always looking for the best gear that is both effective and functional. No tablet has met that challenge....until now.
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64 comments
 
I am happy to say I am a proud owner of an Asus Transformer Prime with Docking Station and am very VERY pleased with it.
 
Appreciate the "Uses for a photographer" part of the review. Helps to see what role the new tech can play vs getting it b/c it's shiny, and putting it to use.
 
That is on my wishlist since I first saw it....
 
Great review, I think I will stick with my Xoom a bit longer though. :)
 
i am waiting to buy this Asus Transform Prime.. how much cost? dod you buy Hot Spot?
 
awesome review. I use mine to replace my laptop at work when I am in meetings. With Evernote can take notes and they are synced back to the my laptop at my desk, plus as you said the battery life with dock in everlasting. I find myself charging the keyboard at night (which recharges pretty quick) and then bump giving the combo a quick charge in the morning. I don't even power off the tablet anymore just put it in airplane mode overnight since the boot up time is still atrociously long.
 
+Ricky L Jones - You running ICS on your Xoom? I loaded it up for my Wife and she loves it. For me, the keyboard is what makes the Prime and the Xoom will never have that so :)
 
Thank you for that review. I hope my wife enjoys the tablet as much as you do.
 
+Sally Wang - I have my phone as a hotspot, so I did not buy that. I have the 32gb Transformer Prime with the keyboard dock. Together it was $650 USD.
Wes Lum
 
If it had an SSD, it'd be even better...you could use it as your backup drive on trips too.
 
+Wes Lum - Thats the plan. I am doing a follow up in March or April with having it fully replace my MBA. SSD would make it heavy. I can have SSD externals for backup on the road. At 1/4 the cost of a MBA, I am stoked to see if it can fully replace it.
Wes Lum
 
Oh, I see you use a USB though...I guess that works pretty well too! Neat.
 
Great review. Added it to my hardware options for my next big trip. The ability to offload my photos is a huge plus.
 
+Wes Lum It has 32GB flash storage(there's also a 64GB version), and a microSD slot on the tablet itself. The dock has a fill size SD slot, you won't be lacking for storage.
 
+Colby Brown I read all the article and must agree with you on all you said to the point. My question now is preferred applications. What are your preferred applications for Editing? Viewing/Displaying Images? (Like if you were showing a portfolio) and Generic use??
 
The Prime setup looks like the way to go today. Ages ago (7 months) I got a Thrive and have been happy with it. I use most of the same apps you have listed and on trips in the back country the spare battery comes in handy. The full size USB lets me download the camera into the SD card sort out what I want to keep and then download to a 1tb pocket drive. Who knows what the hardware will be like in a year but for the time being I know that we will be happy with what we have. And how is Jack doing, is he holding reflectors for you yet?
 
+Ricardo Williams - For displaying images I use Just Pictures or QuickPic and for editing I mostly just use Photoshop Touch, although when Nik Software releases Snapspeed soon, that will be another great option.
 
+Ron Sprouse - Haha. Working on it. Just getting the hand eye coordination down. Give another few weeks for me to get him to be assisting full time ;)
 
I read about Snapspeed after I read your article... cant waint until they have something for droid devices. It sounds pretty awesome, thanks for the reply. I have quickpic myself and it seems pretty solid, will check just pictures.
 
Great Review. I think the same. I use the Asus Transformer Prime with a Samsung Nexus as Hot Spot since two months. I like the new Album or "Just Pictures" with connect to (Google+) Picasa. Fast, looks good and many more...

Ich habe das Asus Transformer Prime auch schon fast zwei Monate. Als Hot Spot nutze ich mein Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Die beiden arbeiten gut miteinander und ich kann über den Dock-USB mein Handy laden. Das neue Album mit direkten schnellen Zugriff auf meinen (Google+) Picasa Alben ist schon sehr schön anzusehen.
 
+Colby Brown Being in the UK, I had to wait longer than you, but got mine the day they were available here so I already know how good it is. The section on the photography apps was really useful though, as I didn't know about some of them. Thanks.
 
Just got mine yesterday. It's amazing, and Full SD card slot combined with Photoshop Touch really makes it a great tablet for photographers on the go :)
 
Very Nice +Colby Brown. Thanks for delivering on your promise to provide us with this thorough review. Great work!
 
I have the previous Asus Transformer Eee Pad Transformer TF101 and am mostly satisfied with it, but am not ready yet to replace my Mac Book Pro with it. I like to edit, describe, geo-locate and keyword my RAW files in the evening when I am on the road. But the tablets are certainly an option if you want to travel light and with less expensive equipment.
 
Thanks for review +Colby Brown. Looks so very tempting having just traveled with my oversized and heavy laptop yet again. I don't have editing software on my bloated laptop so I actually sent a couple to myself (to my iPhone) and edited there with Snapseed. Ha! The ability to use the tablet as backup/storage in such a light package is intriguing. I'm curious -- with the android RAW conversion apps you don't permanently convert the original to jpgs in the field do you? Or just a copy for a quick edit and preserve the original RAW for serious edits back at the ranch?
 
+mark waslick - It just makes a JPG large thumnail (around 1000px if I remember) that you can edit. It does not do anything to the raw file.

+Harald Walker - You do make a point, but for me, I am much more concerned for portability then full functionality. While keywording would be nice, being forced to be tied to finding an electrical outlet is not.I know of zero laptops that can last even just 10 hours. Certainly points to both sides, but for me personally, a tablet that can do decent edits while being light and having a near full day of battery life is more important. I already paid $1800 for a 11" MBA, just for it to do the same exact things I do with the Prime, which is $650.
 
Very cool review, Colby!! I haven't been sold on the ipad yet, so I'm still waiting for something better...this might be it.
 
Love my tf101. Love DSLR Controller on it. Can't wait for ICS.

Gonna skip the tf201 though, and wait for the tf700.
 
Great review, thanks for taking the time to address it specifically for photo use. I do both video and photography and I'm very interested to see if it will work as a "monitor" similarly to the camera functions. Very exciting stuff.
 
+Scott Silver - The only caveat to the tf700 is the reality of the higher screen resolution draining more battery. The current screen is sharp and vivid, displays images as well as movies great. 1080 is kind of a gimmick, atleast with movies since we hold the screen so close to our eyes to begin with. Just my opinion. I will certainly be checking it out, but I expect that screen will come at a price.
 
+Colby Brown Mostly agreed. I'm not all that interested in the native panel resolution bump. Actually, I'm a little skeptical of it, since they're not adding any RAM to accommodate the larger frame-buffer requirement.

I'm mostly interested in the GPS and Wifi refinements.

Who knows, the 201 may end up being the sweet spot between the 101 and 700.
 
What?? ... wait ... What?? There is a Tranformer 700 in the making?
 
Thank you for an amazing review of that device. I remember shopping for a tablet a while ago and when I heard about Asus lunching this new device I thought to myself why not give it a shot, though I couldn't find any information on it's battery life as this is the main feature to be of interest to me being that I travel a lot, I did purchase it, honestly I'm happy I did.
 
+Ricardo Williams - Yup and it is said to have a screen slightly larger then 1080p. Sounds nice on paper, but I worry about battery life and RAM as +Scott Silver mentioned.
 
Yeah, heard that one too, It does sound appealing but 201 does its job well, I wouldn't want to sacrifice the battery life to a higher resolution.
 
If Apple releases Aperture for iPad that can sync/export to the desktop version I would even consider buying an iPad and since +Adobe also develops Android software, maybe there is a chance for Lightroom on Android.
 
+Harald Walker - I am not a fan of Aperture but I am sure some would love that, however the issue is HD space. iPads do not allow for USB host support and never will (in my opinion). Flash memory is not small enough or affordable enough to go about 64gb yet.

The ipad is great for some, but for me, the Prime kills it in battery life and the keyboard. Apple could coat the iPad in fairy dusty but unless they fix those aspects, I can't work with it.
 
Great review, Colby. The Transformer, and now the Transformer Prime, have truly changed the scope of the tablet industry and made it more of a cross-over device. It’s a tablet, but add the keypad and you have the feel and flexibility of a laptop. Great screen resolution, the quad core processor can’t be denied, QWERTY keyboard with touchpad, additional ports for expandability/flexibility, keypad plus tablet equals 18 hours of battery life, and top it off with Ice Cream Sandwich. I can go on, but I think you get the point. My opinion, this tablet is the best of the best for today’s standard.
 
+Colby Brown Thanks for the write up. Showed me things I was unaware of. By the way, also a proud owner of the TPrime.
 
quad core tablet...what apps would actually require a quad-core processor? If it's using a quad core, I wonder what the battery-life and heat output is on that thing.
 
+Roland Gee - Please read the review :) The battery life is 18 hours, with the keyboard dock and 12 without. Quad core tablets are actually MORE efficient in battery life because they can throttle cores as required. As far as heat, it has no issues with the aluminum body.
 
You got a Prime? I'm now jealous. :)

I have the "old" Transformer that was released last year. I leapt on it when the prime was announced and Transformer prices plummeted. Even with the first-gen Transformer, my experiences with it have been the same as Colby's. I could now go on a long trip without my MacBook Pro.

The biggest difference between the models is the old TF101 only has a dual-core processor (and is still on Honeycomb for now). If anyone out there is lusting after Colby's tablet, but scared off by the price, take a look at the original Transformer. You can probably snap up a tablet that's nearly as good for under $400.
 
Just wondering. Is 18 hours the average battery life or the max (with power-saving mode on)? Also with powersaving mode on, what's the clock speed of each core? Core throttling is nothing new, and has been incorporated even in P4 chipsets back in the day. Quad-cores are not necessarily more efficient unless you have software which does dynamic throttling, meaning the amount of voltage you give your cores isn't based on a setting but by an application by application basis. IMO having a quad-core chipset on a tablet is wasteful unless you expect to be running multiple upon multiple applications on your tablet at which case you should really be using a desktop. All of your photo-editing can easily be done using a dual core processor with lower clock speed. But that's just my two cents. As a technophile, this product is simply amazing. However as someone who values practicality, I don't think I am going to be picking one up any time soon.
 
Thx great write up. I've been resisting the tablet craze because they are not quite laptops and only accessories used mainly for entertainment. All of which could be done from just about any smartphone. This seems to come the closest to actually replacing a laptop. I would want the keyboard though and that's probably a little more than I would want to pay for a tablet
 
+Roland Gee - The 18hr is average for me between Normal and Performance modes. While you do have a point, as a "technophile" you should also know the dual core processors in tablets (Tegra 2 and A5) are NOT capable of watching movies in HD (720p and certainly not 1080p in high pass). On top of that, while not important to my photography business, quad core gives you 5 times the performance for gaming as well, which for me is nice on a longer 10 hour flight. While photo editing is fine on dual cores, if you look at the big picture, there is no doubt that quad core processors offer you much more in terms of capabilities, even if they are not used 100% of the time.
 
+Colby Brown how fluid is the DSLR Control app? Is data throughput on the Prime sufficient enough for reasonable X-fer times of full frame Raw images? Just started shooting tethered on location myself and love it but I do wish it was a bit more instantaneous. Shooting a 5D MkII into a Slate PC via USB 2.0.
 
+Colby Brown how do you yourself game on a tablet? Most tablet games don't require much firepower to run at 60fps. I am saddened at the fact that a dual core tablet cannot run 720p or 1080p HQ movies, (though I would contest watching true 10+ gig encoded video on a screen smaller than 23 inches) because my laptop of 6 years with first gen intel dual core (ie centrino) can play "truHD" video. Anyhow good review, I look forward to a future of powerhouse mobile tech.
 
+Barry Shaffer - It does a good job. I use the tethering not so much to feed the RAW files through, but contol the camera with a massive beautiful live view screen. On top of that, it is so simple to do things like time-lapse stills using DSLR Controller.
 
+Mr Anderson - Mine has been about on par with my Xoom and other tablets. The aluminum body does play a role with GPS so I am sure it effects wifi as well. I haven't ever noticed it being an issue when out using public wifi, so it doesn't effect me. It works in every room of my house as well.
 
+Mr Anderson - I would return it if you still can. As I said in the review, generally tablets do not get as good wifi reception then laptops, but mine works great for me. There are a couple things you can adjust on your wifi, such as choosing a lower channel, while 6 is common, try 2. Also running a wireless N or wireless G can have an effect on any device.

However if you are not satisfied, I would return it.
 
+Colby Brown - Thank you for the review. I purchased my prime a couple of weeks ago and am still getting use to the differences between Windows, iOS and ICS. My original intended use of the tablet was primarily entertainment and blogging, but after reading your review I realize that once I get the keyboard (my local supplier was out of them at the time) there is so much more I can do with it. I love the tethered shooting capability and using the tablet on the road will mean I don't have to carry a netbook with me to make on site backups of that days shooting. You've certainly opened my eyes to numerous new possibilities for this wonderful machine. Thanks again!
 
Thanks for this, after reading your review I did a little more online research on it and ended up ordering one for myself. I should get it tomorrow, can't wait to play around with it and try out that DSLR Controller!
 
Colby, now that you've been using this workflow, how has it been?  I have the same tablet and keyboard and the one thing that annoys me is the transfer speed to backup my pictures off my CF cards using the keyboard USB port.  
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