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Asus announces the world’s first quad-core tablet, the Transformer Prime

Lawsuit-baiting name could use some optimus-ation

Asus has announced more details about the follow-up to its popular Asus Eee pad Transformer tablet. The Transformer Prime will be powered by a new quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset, which it claims to bring new levels of performance and energy efficiency to the tablet market.

Like its predecessor, the Transformer Prime’s appeal is enhanced by its dock, which adds a full QWERTY keyboard, a touchpad and an extra battery – plus an extra USB port and an SD card slot. It will initially run Android 3.2 Honeycomb, although Asus says more news on an upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will be unveiled in December.

The Prime’s Tegra 3 chipset is based on a quad-core ARM processor and a 12-core graphics processing unit (GPU) which Nvidia claims is three times as fast as the Tegra 2. As well as four main processor cores, the Tegra 3 contains a fifth Companion Core designed to handle lower-power tasks – according to Nvidia, this includes music and video playback. The four main cores will only take over when needed, such as when the tablet is heavily multi-tasking or when playing games.

The 10in tablet will have a 1,280×800 resolution IPS panel with a Gorilla Glass finish for durability, and will include an 8-megapixel main camera and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. There’ll be 1GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, as well as a microSDHC card slot on the tablet and an SD card slot on the dock. Asus wasn’t forthcoming on plans to offer a 64GB version in the UK.

Both the tablet and dock are finished in brushed metal, with a choice of Amethyst Gray or Champagne Gold colours. On its own, the Transformer Prime weighs only 586g, making it one of the lightest 10in tablets – only the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 weighs less at 565g. The Prime’s keyboard adds another 537g, and combined it still rivals most ultra-portable laptops.

The 32GB Transformer Prime and bundled keyboard will be available in the UK in January 2012 for £499 inc VAT.

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