Asus Transformer Prime scores positive reviews, arriving December 19

By on December 1, 2011, 4:00 PM

Reviews are rolling in for the world's first quad-core tablet, the Asus Transformer Prime, and so far the general consensus appears to be that there's a new king of Android tablets. The device cuts no corner when it comes to hardware specifications. Besides packing Nvidia's hot-off-the-presses Tegra 3 SoC, it also sports a 10.1-inch (1280 x 800) Super IPS+ panel covered in Gorilla Glass, 1GB of RAM and comes in either 32GB or 64GB sizes -- all wrapped in a 8.3mm-thick bushed metal casing that's a hair slimmer than the iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Other specs include an 8-megapixel shooter on the back and a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front, as well as microHDMI and microSD ports. Like its predecessor, the Transformer Prime connects to an optional keyboard dock ($150) that adds an extra battery, a trackpad, and full-sized SD and USB ports.

Asus' flagship tablet comes preinstalled with Android Honeycomb 3.2.1 instead of the latest and greatest "Ice Cream Sandwich" release, but the company says an update to 4.0 will be out soon. It's also Wi-Fi only for now and there has been no word yet on 3G-equipped versions for the U.S. market.

Besides these relatively minor details and the ocassional stutter when opening menus or switching apps -- which hopefully will be fixed with the ICS update -- reviewers praised the device's aesthetics, long battery life, beautiful display, and graphics prowess. The Verge also says it packs best camera on any tablet.

Available in either Amethyst Gray or Champagne Gold, the 32GB model starts at $499 while the 64GB is going for $599. Pre-orders are open at several retailers, including Best Buy and Newegg. That said, there's still some confusion as to when exactly the device will start shipping, but several reports indicate it will hit online shelves December 12 followed by availability at retail stores on December 19.

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