ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime: 10-inch Super IPS+ display, 12-hour battery and quad-core Tegra 3, ships in December for $499

For three weeks now, Android fans have been fidgeting impatiently. Specifically, ever since ASUS chairman Jonney Shih took the stage at last month's AsiaD conference and teased the next-gen Transformer tablet. Though he only gave us a quick glimpse, he recited a laundry list of specs: a 10.1-inch display, 8.3mm-thick body, mini-HDMI output, microSD slot and an update to Ice Cream Sandwich by the end of the year, if not sooner. Not to mention, it'll pack NVIDIA's hot-off-the-presses Tegra 3 SoC, making it the first-ever quad-core tablet. We knew this: we'd learn more on November 9th.

Well, that day has come, and so have the juicy details. We just got word that the tablet will go on sale worldwide in December, starting at $499 with a beefy 32GB of storage, moving up to $599 for a 64GB model. (That signature keyboard dock you see up there will cost $149.) In addition to those basic specs Mr. Shih revealed last month, we now know this has a 1280 x 800, Super IPS+ Gorilla Glass display with a 178-degree viewing angle and a max brightness of 600 nits. It also packs 1GB of RAM, GPS, a gyroscope, SonicMaster audio and a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera. Rounding out the list is an 8MP shooter with an auto-focusing f/2.4 lens and a back-illuminated CMOS sensor that captures 1080p video. Touch-to-focus is also an option here, and ASUS claims a 30 percent boost in color enhancement over competing tabs.

As for battery life, we initially heard reports of 14.5-hour runtime, but ASUS is now saying the tablet alone can squeeze out 12 hours thanks to a 22Wh battery, and that the dock will add an additional six hours of juice. In addition, the slimmed-down, 1.2-pound dock brings all the other benefits the last-gen model offered, including a touchpad, USB 2.0 port and full-sized SD slot. Software-wise, it'll ship with Android 3.2 and apps such as SuperNote and Polaris Office, and we're told we'll learn more about that ICS update in "early December."

In terms of design, you may have already noticed the Prime sports the same spun aluminum digs as the company's Zenbooks, though this is the first time we're seeing clear, close-up shots of it -- and in two colors, no less! At 8.3mm (0.33 inches) thick and 586 grams (1.29 pounds) without the dock, it's a smidge skinnier than the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1, which means, unsurprisingly, that your old Transformer dock won't be compatible. Finally, ASUS coated both the display and metal cover with a hydro-oleophobic coating that makes it more fingerprint-resistant. For now, we've got photos below and if you can wait a few more weeks, we'll most definitely be putting this thing through its paces in a full review. And if you're looking for something a little less expensive, well, the original Transformer should be getting Ice Cream Sandwich soon, and we wouldn't be surprised if Santa brought a few holiday rebates.

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ASUS Announces the Eee Pad Transformer Prime
Featuring the NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 Quad-Core Processor the Transformer Prime is designed to greatly enhance the mobile computing experience

Fremont, CA (November 8, 2011) - ASUS officially announces the world's first tablet with the NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core processor – the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime. The Eee Pad Transformer Prime is ultra-thin at 8.3mm (0.33") and lightweight at 586g (1.29lbs) while featuring a stylish metallic swirl design with class leading enhancements including ASUS SonicMaster audio technology, an HD 8MP rear auto-focus camera with LED flash and battery life rated for up to 18 hours* when combined with the optional mobile dock. Pricing will range from $499** (32GB) to $599** (64GB), with the optional mobile dock accessory priced at $149**.

Incredibly Slim yet Incredibly Powerful
Featuring an ultra-slim form factor, the Transformer Prime is only 8.3mm (0.33") thin and weighs in at a mere 586g (1.29lbs without dock). This makes watching movies, surfing the web, playing games, taking photos, finishing up homework or video chatting with friends or family so easy and natural that you'll wonder if the Transformer Prime was designed specifically with you in mind. Its innovative metallic swirl design is made of aluminum for a secure yet extremely comfortable grip that comes in two gorgeous colors: Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold.

The Transformer Prime is the world's first tablet to feature NVIDIA's next-generation quad-core Tegra® 3 processor. With the quad-core CPU, 12-core GeForce® GPU and vSMP technology, the Transformer Prime delivers an optimum user experience featuring smooth multitasking capabilities, lightning fast app loading, a rich and fluid web experience, full 1080P HD video for realistic media playback or recording and of course, incredible gaming performance that allows you to experience games in an entirely new way.

Fantastic Battery Life
While the Transformer Prime is extremely slim and light, ASUS did not forget about battery life. Thanks to the advanced power management features of the Tegra® 3 processor and ASUS optimizations the Transformer Prime has a battery life of up to 12 hours*, but when combined with the mobile dock, it lasts up to an incredible 18 hours*, the longest battery life of any current tablet. That's enough battery life for a trans-ocean flight, all-night game session, viewing several movies on a long road trip or even video recording, editing, and then playing back your child's school play all in 1080P HD clarity.

Unrivaled Visuals
The Eee Pad Transformer Prime boasts a wide 178° viewing angle IPS display, protected by Corning® Gorilla® Glass, which features new ASUS technology to enhance the brightness of the screen for a better outdoor reading experience while still offering a remarkably vivid and brilliant viewing experience of photos, books, videos, movies and web pages indoors. Thanks to Multi-Touch technology, you can use your fingers to do everything from swiping through photos, surfing the web, playing the latest games, typing emails, instant messaging, reading books or magazines, and starting your favorite movie.

A 1.2MP front camera allows for instant photos or high-quality video conferencing with friends, family or coworkers while an 8MP rear camera with auto-focus and LED flash takes brilliant photos or video thanks to a large F2.4 aperture, back illuminated CMOS sensor, touch-to-focus depth of field and low-light noise reduction to provide the clearest and sharpest photos or even 1080P HD videos.

Advanced Audio
The Transformer Prime offers impressive audio capabilities in a tablet, powered by ASUS exclusive SonicMaster technology, renowned for crisp and acoustically accurate audio. It produces crystal clear sound with a wide sound stage, increased audio fidelity, and distinct vocal enhancements for an immersive audio experience with your favorite music track, video, or movie.

Unlimited Productivity
The Transformer Prime is offered with either 32GB or 64B flash storage options for quick, efficient and reliable access to your applications. Both models feature a micro SD card slot, 3.5mm combo audio jack and micro HDMI port so sharing both what's inside and on-screen is quick and easy. However, the function that gives the Transformer Prime its namesake is the mobile dock, which gives new meaning to the term versatility. This innovative and convenient design seamlessly provides the user with a keyboard and touchpad, along with limitless expandability options via the USB port and SD card slot.

ASUS will include several innovative applications like SuperNote that is fantastic for its ability to take, draw or record notes and Polaris® Office which is great for staying productive with the ability to read, edit or create Word, Excel and PowerPoint (MS Office 97-2007) compatible files. Thousands of top rated applications and games are also available at Android Market that fully takes advantage of the Transformer Prime's amazing features and power.

*Battery life will vary based on usage patterns and options.
**Pricing will vary by country and SKU. North American MSRP pricing listed.