Asus Android tablet could rival iPad 2 this Christmas

by Dale Wright

Are you looking forward to getting an iPad 2 soon? Asus are launching a new Android tablet which could be available in the US just in time to make a dent in Apple’s sales, and it will be heading to the UK in early 2012.

The original Asus Transformer was a surprise winner of Stuff’s Gadget of the Year award in November. The killer feature is a docked keyboard and trackpad which turns the tablet into a netbook computer. Even with a Bluetooth keyboard, the iPad 2 cannot be used with a mouse or trackpad unless it’s jailbroken.

The Asus Transformer Prime builds on the success of the original with the same signature keyboard dock and a more powerful feature set. The tablet is the first to sport a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and runs Ice Cream Sandwich – the newest version of the Android operating system. It has a comparable screen size to the iPad 2, and is capable of 1080p video recording via an 8 megapixel camera. It also has a reported battery life of 18 hours. The Asus Transformer Prime has Wi-Fi and GPS built-in, but no 3G capabilities. However, it can be tethered to an Android phone.

Originally, a source supposedly credited to Asus estimated that the tablet would just miss out on the Christmas shopping season in the US due to a technical glitch, but Asus denied the rumour one week later – although many shoppers had already cancelled their pre-orders by the time Asus responded. The company has confirmed that the first Transformer Prime tablets will be available on December 19th in the US, and since so many pre-orders have been cancelled, shoppers could now have another chance to grab it a last-minute gift.

If you’re in the UK, you’ll have to wait until January to get your hands on one, but you can pre-order now to be one of the first. The Asus Transformer Prime will be available in the UK with a price tag of £550 for the grey 32GB Prime with keyboard or a grey 64GB version without a keyboard.

Could an Android tablet with a physical keyboard tempt you away from the iPad 2?