Hands-On with ASUS’s New Line of Transformer Tablets for 2012

It seems like the Transformer Prime just came out, but ASUS is already prepping consumers for their new tablets for 2012, all of which will be branded with the Transformer Pad name. ASUS introduced high-end, mid-tier, and low-end offerings, but all three manage to pack in some very impressive tech, regardless of price point. All of these live up to the Transformer name, too – thanks to keyboard docks, the transformer series is a series of hybrid tablets-laptops. The recognizable zen concentric circle design is also present on the back of all the tablets, which remain slim at around 8.5 mm.

The ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity Series takes the lead, offering full HD, 4G/LTE/3G/Wi-Fi tablets with 1920 x 1200 full HD Super IPS+ displays, which are made of contoured Corning Gorilla Glass 2. All models will be powered by the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor except for the LTE version, which will run on an almost equally impressive 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Krait dual-core processor. Ice Cream Sandwich is a go for all models. The rear camera is 8 MP, with LED flash and an f/2.2 aperture lens for improved low-light performance. The front-facing camera is 2 MP.

The ASUS Transformer Pad Prime is the mid-tier tablet, but it looks the part of a high-end offering. That same NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor is still inside, but this tablet runs on Android 3.2 Honeycomb. Not to worry, though – an Ice Cream Sandwich update will be forthcoming. The battery life is promised to be 12 hours, which will be bumped up to 18 hours when paired with the keyboard dock. The audio is handled by ASUS-exclusive SonicMaster technology, offering wide range and high fidelity. The rear camera is 8 MP, with auto-focus and LED flash and a f/2.4 aperture lens for better low-light performance. The front-facing camera is 1.2 MP. The display is 10.1” worth of Super IPS+ 1280 x 800 LED backlit touchscreen, made from Corning Gorilla Glass. That will support 10-finger multi-touch.

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Despite being the low-end tablet, the ASUS Transformer Pad 300 Series still features the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor. These tablets come in blue, red, or white, and are aimed at the teenage crowd looking for their first tablet. Even more surprising is that this is the one tablet that actually combines a quad-core processor with LTE compatibility. The cameras are identical to that of the Infinity Series, except the front-facing camera is only 1.2 MP. Battery life is said to be 10 hours, which will increase to 15 hours when the tablet is docked. Ice Cream Sandwich is a go right out of the box, but the display, also 10.1”, is only a WXGA 1280 x 800 resolution touchscreen, though it is LED backlit and supports 10-finger multi-touch.

All of these come in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB models except for the 300 Series, which only comes in 16 GB. All three also include 8 GB worth of free cloud storage courtesy of ASUS. Watch for these devices to transform the tablet race in 2012. Pricing and availability details are currently unknown.

Chance Kinney contributed to this report.

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