Asus' new Android Transformer tablet going quad-core

The Asian electronics maker is betting Nvidia's new chip will help improve the prospects of its Transformer tablets, which can be used with a detachable keyboard module.

Asus offered this tease of its upcoming Transformer tablet, a model with an Nvidia quad-core processor and debuting formally on November 9. This view shows it with its keyboard attached.
screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Asus Chairman Jonney Shih unveiled his company's next-generation Android tablet today, a 10-inch model in the Transformer family that will come with Nvidia's quad-core Kal-El processor.

Shih, speaking at All Things Digital AsiaD conference in Hong Kong, said the model will be 8.3 millimeters thick and features USB and mini HDMI ports, but reserved further details for a formal launch on November 9, according to All Things Digital's report. The tablet is called the Transformer Prime, according to Endgadget.

Asus already has a similar product on the market, the EeePad Transformer, with a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, and signature feature, a detachable keyboard that can make the tablet look more like a laptop. It's not clear if the keyboard module for the EeePad Transformer will work with the new model.

It seems likely the new Transformer will come with Ice Cream Sandwich, version 4.0 of Google's Android operating system for mobile devices. Android 3.x, aka Honeycomb, was a stopgap measure intended to help Android tablets reach the market as soon as possible, but Ice Cream Sandwich is a more finished product and won't be out of sync with the OS version running on Android phones. Shih said Ice Cream Sandwich could arrive on tablets "maybe earlier" than the end of the year.

Asus has set high expectations for its tablet family, predicting earlier this year that Asus would outship all other tablet makers except Apple.

Asus also offered a tease video of the Transformer Prime yesterday. It showed a close-up view of the keyboard, including a USB port, and the combination screen and tablet detaching from it.

Nvidia already powers most Android tablets today, and it seems likely that its new quad-core Nvidia chip will be a prime selling point as Android tablet makers strive to compete with Apple's incumbent iPad.

Yesterday, Android chief Andy Rubin said at the conference that 6 million Android tablets have been sold. By comparison, Apple said Tuesday that it's sold 32 million iPads this fiscal year.

Via Android and Me

The Asus Transformer is an Android tablet with a detachable keyboard.
The Asus Transformer is an Android tablet with a detachable keyboard. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET