Preview of Tegra 3 Tablets: Asus Transformer Prime vs HTC Quattro vs Lenovo LePad K2 vs Acer Iconia A700

by: LucianDecember 12, 2011

Even though Tegra 3 tablets are arriving much later than when Nvidia promised us at MWC this year (for late August), they should still be able to hold the ground as the most powerful tablets for at least a few months. Plus, I believe the only quad core tablets in the first half of 2012 will be the ones with Tegra 3, and maybe a few of them will have quad core S4 chips by the end of 2012. It won’t be until 2013 that we’ll see quad core Cortex A15 tablets.

Asus Transformer Prime

I really believe Asus is onto something big here with their hybrid tablet/netbook device with the integrated keyboard dock, and the slim ultrabook-like build. I hope Samsung and the others will start shipping similar devices next year. It would help their tablet sales and would also give more credit to this new market of hybrid devices. The Asus Transformer Prime is also the first with a quad core chip, which has been a big part of its marketing and its appeal.

But the Asus Transformer Prime is also sort of transition device because it still has many of the features this year’s tablets had – like only 1 GB of RAM, which is still DDR2, although as fast as DDR2 can be ever be. It has the same resolution 1280×800 like all tablets had this year, and next year’s tablet should have resolutions like 2560×1600.

The CPU, although quad core, is still based on Cortex A9, and most chips that will show up in the first half of 2012 will be based on new chip architectures like Krait in Qualcomm’s case, or Cortex A15, like in Samsung’s case. TI won’t be ready with OMAP 5 until the end of 2012. Last but not least, it will be the last major tablet to come out with Honeycomb, rather than Ice Cream Sandwich.

HTC Quattro

HTC Quattro is much like the Transformer Prime, more of a transition tablet, than a true 2012 tablet. It will have a similar 1280×768 resolution, a Tegra 3 chip (a first for HTC, not using Qualcomm chips), 1 GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, 5 Ghz band Wi-Fi, 2 MP rear camera (about time they cut costs on unnecessary cameras) and a 1.3 MP with 720p video recording front-camera. It will be 9 mm thick, and run Android 4.0 from the start, which is a plus.

But again, I don’t see this tablet too much of a game-changer for 2012. It’s better than the Prime in the sense that it comes with Android 4.0, but chances are that by the time the Quattro is out, Prime will have been updated to Android 4.0 by then anyway, so it will be hardly a better choice than the Prime, considering the Prime has the option for the keyboard dock, and the HTC Quattro most likely won’t.

Lenovo LePad K2

This might not be the exact name of the next-gen Lenovo tablet, but I figure it will be the successor of their LePad K1. It’s also a Tegra 3 (T33) tablet, but it will be overclocked to 1.6 Ghz (rather than 1.3 Ghz per core like the Prime, except the first core which is 1.4 Ghz). It will also have a higher Full HD resolution of 1920×1200, which should be especially interesting to people who care about pixel density, but be warned that this will also draw from its GPU performance, and possibly even the battery life.

It looks like we’re really starting to get into laptop territory here with high resolutions and also with another first, which is the addition of 2 GB of DDR3 – 1600 Mhz RAM. Although I think the Transformer Prime is still the tablet to get in the next few months, especially if you’re interested in the keyboard dock, I’ve felt from the beginning that the lack of more and faster RAM was its biggest shortcoming.

Today, 1 GB of RAM is definitely not enough for a Windows 7 machine, and it will be barely enough for an Android device that you intend to use heavily for browsing. Websites today eat a lot of RAM, which means that if you like to keep a lot of tabs open, it won’t be long before the whole RAM gets filled. Lenovo works towards addressing that with double the RAM, which should make it more future proof, too (think 2+ years). The tablet will most likely ship with Android 4.0

Acer Iconia A700

Iconia A700 is a possible name, but regardless of its name, it should be a much thinner tablet than the first one, have Tegra 3 (although clocked at 1.3 Ghz like the Prime), also a higher Full HD 1920×1200 resolution. It’s not known yet if it will have 1 or 2 GB of RAM, but knowing Acer, which is more focused on specs than anything else, they will probably go with 2 GB. It should come with Android 4.0

All these tablets are expected to show up in the next few months. The Asus Transformer Prime was supposed to arrive early December, but now it may have been delayed to early January. The other tablets I’d expected in the January – February time frame. If you want a tablet now and you care about the keyboard dock, I’d still recommend the Asus Transformer Prime. If you want to wait for higher resolution tablets and faster chips, you might as well wait until summer to see Android 5.0 tablets with Cortex A15 or Krait chips.


  • Any excess of the quad-core Cortex A15 tablets.

  • Mamoon N.

    11.6 inch 2560×1600 tablets will be launching next year. These 10.1 inch 1280×800 tablets will be nothing compared to the ones which will be launching in April-May.

    • Gersonlisto

      and those tablets will be nothing compared to the ones coming out next December and so on. If you stay still always waiting for the newest technology you will never buy anything at all

    • Majkl

      that big resolution is nonsense on 10.1, even 11.6 inch tablet… its just marketing trick how to be “better” than the rest of competitors. Trust me, no soc at this moment and even in the near future can handle perfectly full hd resolution. Well, in 2D maybe but not in 3D. The performance will be extremely crippled and for what? for nothing. You can forget of playing newest and the most demanding games in 60 fps. Oh yes, angry birds will be ok, but…shadowgun? bladeslinger? davinci? riptide? No way… but yes, you can always say that you have got full hd tablet and the rest only hd ready, but the rest will have smooth experience isntead of you. For me is the asus prime the best option from all the tablets mentioned above and I wouldnt bought it if it has full hd resolution. Chips arent ready for this resolution yet. Just my 2 cents.

      • Spark Christopher

        if the next gen screen are 2560×1600 then they can be scaled down to 1280 x 800

        • Toddb

          2560×1600 on a 10-11 inch panel

          rotflmao, what ever for? you won’t even be able to see a difference.

      • Madeux

        The overclocked processor, and twice the amount of MUCH faster ram could very well give the Lenovo the power it needs to outperform and outshine the prime.

      • Toddb

        I purchased a Toshiba Thrive, not overly happy with it’s performance, but next Christmas the market will have a better selection. The Asus prime was just a good design gone bad. Oh and btw: video/ movie/live tv playback on the toshiba 12000×800 (+/- ?) screen is pathetic, not that the image is poor just not enough cpu/gpu power to deliver smooth playback.

        • Anonymous

          Try Dice Player! 720p mkv files can easily be played on the Thrive in HW mode. If you convert to a friendly container (perhaps mp4 or m4v) you could even watch FullHD with Dice Player

  • guest

    I’m actually excited by better cameras on the new generation of tablets. For many professionals who use their tablets in the field, cameras capable of taking quality photos which can then immediately be viewed and manipulated would be a huge plus!

  • Spark Christopher

    I think the person who wrote this needs to brush up on tech it is not possible to have one core at 1.4 ghz whilst the other 3 are at 1.3 ghz managing cores like this is the holy grail not even the six core i7 x86 can do this and id very suprised if all for cores can go full throttle for very long, the maximum turbo mode of the i series is acheived by turning off most of the cores due to heat generation

  • Spark Christopher

    Im going to wait to the real world benchmarks are out, the first generation tegra 3 that were shipped out had a memory controller bottleneck on the soc.

    • i fully agree.
      after the massive disappointment i had from the tegra 2 chip (AND its GPU), i’ll wait before i jump the gun on ANY tegra powered device. the 2010-2011 tegra 2 GPU couldn’t even beat the 2008 powervr 543…

      so yes, i’ll watch a bunch of reviews first or even see it with my own hands first before buying it.

      • Spark Christopher

        not to fussed, nvidia plan to release a new tegra chip every six months so around june time a tegra 4 will be announced theres a whole road map on wikipedia, i dont mind my tegra 2 asus it does perform quite well in the cpu department but the gpu is slightly lacking trouble is it based on a desktop geforce gpu the standard benchmarks dont really mean much as it has a few tricks although the powervr in the ipad2 absolutly slaughers everything in respect of polygons per second but it is a dualcore powervr 543mp2, besides onlive for androids been released and working so ive messing around with that pc gfx on a tablet.

    • Toddb

      let’s not forget the aluminum back that effectively killed wi-fi and gps and then there is the ICS upgrade that didn’t install properly and bricked the tablet. Asus really Phucked up an otherwise good idea. Needless to say I passed on buying it and had to settle for a lower powered machine.

  • John

    I won’t buy a tablet unless it has a full sized USB port and an SD memory port. Those seem to be going away rapidly in favor of the cloud. :-(

    • Yeah it’s a shame to see this, as Cloud based storage is dependent on having a good network connection. I definitly prefer to have my music and films stored on a device rather than having them stored online

      • Toddb

        the scary thing with cloud storage is. your data is here today but could disappear with out notice. I refer you to the US feds recent activity where a Virgina server farm was completely shutdown because a small group of pirates used their services for data storage. Not good considering the thousands of people and companies who were using the service for legal activities… poof all gone…

        I’ll stick with home based data storage and sd cards for now…

    • Transformer Primes keyboard extension has a full sized usb port on the keyboard extension.

      • Toddb

        And the problem is you may not want to shell out the $100 to 150 for a keyboard, or you may not have the keyboard with you when you need a usb port. Surprise, the tablet doesn’t have ANY usb ports with out the keyboard.
        Instead you have to buy a $50 cable, not very swift thinking if you need to be mobile and plug in a usb drive, the table grows a tail, that will fall off/get lost etc…

        • Anonymous

          Regular Micro usb to fullsize usb adaptor from Motorola (entitled Camera Connection Kit) costs $ 9.99. No brand cable that does the same range from $ 1-4 on ebay. Don’t see no fifty bucks cable.

    • Anonymous

      What’s the paranoia with full sized usb port? There are adapters like Motorola’s camera connection kit… instead the wish for a full size usb makes the tablet bigger!
      There is absolutely no reason for a tablet not to use microUSB.
      Now charging over usb is one very important requirement!

      • Toddb

        A full sized sd/usb port makes the tablet bigger ??? BS

        wtf are you talking about ???? the difference between a micro and a full size connector is minimal. go look at the connector specs there isn’t much difference. the biggest problem with mini and micro connectors is they are cheap and easy to break, meaning service shop revenue.

        • Anonymous

          I don’t need to check specs, I own a Verizon

  • Mulyacell69

    Kayaknya sih bagus semua, punya kelebihan masing-masing. Andai ada yang mau merekomendasikan dari salah satunya, saya sangat berterima kasih. Masalahnya saya tunggu sepak terjangnya masih lama untuk dinikmati di Indonesia

  • TLC

    Transformer Prime has design flaw issues with Wifi and GPS seemingly due to the aluminum case. That is why it hasnt made it out yet in any great numbers. 10 minutes to lock on satellites? Poor Wifi strength? ASUS has decided to drop GPS from list of features which to me indicates a serious design flaw. I really like the Prime, but I think I would wait for second generation because I like the features but I want a functioning device

  • The Quattro will have HTC Scribe Technology. And i have the feeling that the dual core qualcomm krait processor will beat the quad-core tegra 3.