Transformer Prime gets a fresh serving of Ice Cream Sandwich, we go hands-on

Like many of you, we couldn't wait to serve our Transformer Prime Google's latest dessert, so we took a brief respite from the CES grind to enjoy our upgraded (and suddenly dated) tablet. Yes, our Prime is now rocking Ice Cream Sandwich, and although its only been sporting the update for a few scant hours, we're already pleased. Read on to find out why.

Naturally, the first thing we noticed about our firmware-fresh slate was how ICS' new font, Roboto, gussies up the lock screen. The cleanly scripted date and time is accompanied by an equally crisp update to the lock circle. The font change was a small, expected touch, but the subtle change helped make the (still young) tablet feel new again. There were fewer user-facing changes underneath the lock screen, although small touches – like a light, teal glow under a toggled navigation button – add plenty of flair. Speaking of navigation controls, ICS' swipe-to-close trick works wonders on the Prime -- pulling apps from the vertical list was previously a chore, our fingers often failing to bullseye the tiny "x" that "closed" a given program. Now? A simple user-friendly swipe, and it's gone. That's a thing of beauty.

ICS seems to go a long way toward banishing the few hiccups and stutters our review unit occasionally suffered from -- in fact, some actions are markedly better. On Honeycomb, the Engadget homepage could take an abysmal 10-20 seconds to load on a 10Mbps connection; on ICS the site was usable in less than three, and fully loaded in six. In fact, the entire browsing experience is snappier, and we found ourselves quickly scrolling through long pages with nary a stutter. It's not perfect, of course -- Flash-heavy sites can still can give the Prime pause -- but it's a definite improvement.

So, is life better with a scoop of Ice Cream? Well, we've only just scratched the surface, but we'd have to say yes. In our short time with the update, our Transformer Prime looked sleeker, browsed better and afforded us the benefits of ICS' new features. Heck, even the dock's trackpad seemed a little more responsive -- although we'll admit, that was probably just our imagination. This firmware upgrade might not solve your GPS issues, but it's definitely worth the device reboot.