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Asus has surprised many people by managing to consistently create tablet computers that are not just competitive but actually able to outdo major rivals in a whole plethora of areas. The Eee Pad Transformer Prime is the first true next-generation tablet to arrive on the market, at least from a hardware point of view. While it may run Android 3.2 rather than version 4.0, its components make it more than capable of facing the following 12 months and still looking like a high end tablet at the end of it.

Firstly the Transformer Prime is the world`s thinnest tablet, outpacing even the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 when it comes to its slender profile. Slimness is not everything, but for tablets it is becoming important because people are starting to seek out devices which can promise a comfortable user experience when being held for long periods.

Of course the Transformer Prime`s party trick is the fact that it can be combined with a separate keyboard dock and consequently used like a netbook rather than a touch-only tablet. The dock also adds to the battery life and aids in productivity, particularly when your tasks for the day involve typing. You can buy the tablet on its own or bundled with the dock, which is a good option.

Another area in which the Transformer Prime makes an impact is processing power. It sports Nvidia`s brand new Tegra 3 chip that has four cores, each of which runs at 1.3GHz. This means that high definition content streams seamlessly, applications can run simultaneously with no lag or interface slowdown and the gaming potential of this device is much higher than on any other Android tablet.

Despite the power increase the quad core CPU is actually more efficient at using the battery of the Eee Pad Transformer Prime than its predecessor. This means that you can carry out processor-intensive tasks, such as watching an HD video and still get more usage time out of the tablet before you have to plug it in.

The Android 3.2 interface will be familiar to anyone who has tinkered with a Google-based tablet in recent months, but for the uninitiated it is essentially easy to use thanks to a fully touch-optimised setup and multiple homescreens onto which you can place live widgets and between which you can easily navigate. The Android Market is accessible from the Transformer Prime, but Asus has tweaked the look and feel of this digital download service so that it feels far more intuitive and much simpler to use. Finding the app you want is not only uncomplicated but it also looks great on the 10.1 inch screen.

Cameras are something of an afterthought on some tablets but the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime has an eight megapixel snapper on the rear and a secondary 1.2 megapixel unit on the front, the latter of which is for video calling. Delivering full HD 1080p video capture that will look better than the quality of some DVD players, the rear camera shows off what the powerful hardware can achieve and completes one of the most comprehensive tablet packages on the market.