Yes, Transformer Prime will ship this month

Posted by Mark Raby

Despite creeping rumors that Asus's ambitious new tablet was being put on hold, the company has confirmed it is 100% on schedule.

The Transformer Prime will begin shipping and fulfilling pre-orders next Monday, December 19.

Apparently, an online retailer called NCIX exhausted its pre-order allotment and when it began canceling new orders, that's when the delay speculation began.

But in an e-mail to Slashgear.com, the company wrote, "We are trying to confirm who released this statement and for what purpose right now. At this point, we still show to be on schedule to start shipments the week of 12/19. I will provide an update once I have additional information."

The Asus Transformer Prime is not your momma's tablet. With the latest version of Android Honeycomb (3.2) and guaranteed upgrade-eligibility to Ice Cream Sandwich, a massive quad-core processor clocking in at 1.3 GHz, 1 GB of DDR2 RAM, and a 10.1-inch display, the Prime is chock full of iPad competition.

The device also packs in an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1.2-megapixel front camera along with the standard inputs/outputs like HDMI and SD.

The device is available in 32 GB and 64 GB models, priced at a respectable $500 and $600. Color choices are "amethyst gray" and "champagne gold." The tablet is up for pre-order at outlets like Best Buy, Amazon, and Tiger Direct.

What Asus really wants, though, is for you to buy the extra docking station, which acts as both a secondary battery and a keyboard, turning the tablet into a fully functional laptop with up to 18 hours of battery life, according to the company.

That will cost you an extra $150, but even with the two together, you're getting a ton of computing power. So there's no doubt that on a price-per-performance scale, the Transformer Prime can stack up quite nicely. But the real question is whether or not it will make a splash in the mainstream.

Asus does not have the appeal - or the marketing budget - of companies like Amazon or Samsung, and if people don't know about the Transformer Prime it won't be a serious competitor.

On the flip side, if it manages to generate a lot of media impressions, it could very well gain huge mass market attention and potentially even shake up the current dynamic of the tablet-PC market.

So there are two possible extremes here. We'll have to wait and see which one the Prime ends up taking.