Consumers can now place orders for the 10.1-inch tablet from a range of retailers in the U.S. and Canada, including Best Buy, B&H and Future Shop. Amazon is also slated to carry the Transformer Prime, although it has not yet set up a pre-order page. The device is expected to begin shipping sometime in December.
The tablet, a successor to the Asus Eee Pad Transformer released last spring, is thin and fast. It has a 8.3mm-thick body, a 1280×800 display, a Nvidia Tegra 3 processor (making it the world’s first quad-core tablet), 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera capable of shooting 1080p video, a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera and a microSD slot. It weighs 1.29 pounds and has 12 hours of battery life.
The Transformer Prime will run Android 3.2 when it begins shipping, with an upgrade to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) promised for the end of the year.
The device costs $499 for a 32GB version and $599 for a 64GB model. An optional attachable keyboard costs $149. It comes in two colors: “amethyst gray” and “champagne gold.”
It’s questionable whether the Transformer Prime will sell as well as its predecessor. At $400, the first-generation Transformer has been the cheapest Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablet on the market, and its detachable keyboard made it a convenient alternative for those who wanted to type but didn’t need the full capabilities of a laptop. Although it’s strong on hardware, the $100 increase in price will make it a more difficult sell given that the entry-level (16GB) iPad is also priced at $499.
Leaked photographs suggest that Lenovo has a quad-core Android tablet in the works as well.
The Transformer Prime costs $499 for a 32GB version and $599 for a 64GB model.