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Transformer Prime firmware update protects gamers from themselves

I'll say this about the Transformer Prime: Asus definitely keeps this thing updated. The latest update coming in the form of small, but significant user interface tweaks and additions released last week.

The system lock, um lock, protects gamers from their careless selves. Eric Franklin/CNET

I had the chance to briefly play around with the latest Transformer Prime update. My impressions are thus:

System bar lock
By enabling the system bar lock, the system bar (which lies across the bottom of the screen) will be unavailable until unlocked by the user.

This could prove especially useful if playing a game like Riptide GP where your fingers are usually locked into position at the bottom corners of the screen. With the lock on you'll no longer waste precious nanoseconds instantly popping back into the game after you accidentally tap the Settings icon. Say "thank you" gamers.

Not to say it works perfectly, though. Periodically, after locking the screen, it would revert back to an unlocked state after a couple seconds.

Lock-screen notifications
When seconds count. When accessing your notifications means the difference between receiving them at 8:12:05 p.m. or 8:12:10 p.m., this is the feature you'll be most grateful for.

Snark aside, while the capability to access notifications from the lock screen seems insignificant, this kind of time-saving option can make a big difference in the user's enjoyment of the tablet or phone experience. I know it has for me on iOS.

From here you can see how easily notifications can be accessed from the lock screen. Also, you can see how easily I cry when no one sends me e-mails :( Eric Franklin/CNET

More music, better interface (?)
Asus also updated its @Vibe music service. The update purportedly improves the interface and provides access to more music than before. I couldn't really verify the difference though as I haven't opened the @Vibe app since I reviewed the Prime back in mid-December 2011. Hey, I really don't listen to much music. Podcasts and audiobooks own me.

USB Ethernet
Prime owners will now be able to access networks with a wired coonection. The new update brings USB-to-Ethernet support and and requires only a USB-to-Ethernet adapter to get it working.

And the rest...
Other additions include ad hoc support for ICS, two new modes for the HDMI interface: crop and scale; however, based on my short time using it, it seems Crop actually scales the image and Scale crops. Asus may want to look into that.

Lastly, icons for Google apps have been updated to Google's new "Play" style branding.

That's it for now, but I'm sure we've not seen the end Transformer Prime updates by a long shot.