Tablets

Asus Transformer Prime Teardown: Solid tablet, but not without flaws

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is a solid Android tablet, but its case is tricky to open and quality control during assembly needs improvement.

Credit: Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

In April 2011, Asus released the Eee Pad Transformer tablet. Less than a year later, the company rolled out a redesigned, quad-core version of their Android tablet--the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime.

In this week's episode of Cracking Open, I show how to open the Transformer Prime without damaging the front panel and what's inside the device. I also explain why Asus needs to improve quality control during the manufacturing process.

Our Transformer Prime has a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM, 32GB of flash storage, a 10.1" WXGA IPS+ LCD (1280 x 800), 802.11 b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, 1.2MP front-facing camera and 8MP rear-facing camera. The Prime measures 7.1" (H) x 10.4" (W) x 0.3" (D). It weighs 1.3 pounds.

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Cracking Open observations

    Credit: Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

  • Trick to opening the Prime: The front panel (digitizer) is held to the aluminum case with a series of plastic tabs (which you can pop loose) and eight plastic posts (which you can't pop loose). The posts are held in place by two internal locking mechanisms. To avoid breaking the plastic posts, you must slide these mechanisms into their unlocked position. First, you'll need to remove two rubber plugs along the device's bottom edge. Inside each stopper hole, you'll see a circular indention. Insert a thin tool with a pointed tip into the indention and slide the catch sideways. If you're holding the tablet face up, slide the catches to the right. Once you've unlocked both mechanisms, you can use a thin metal blade or plastic case opening tool to pop loose the front panel's remaining plastic tabs.
  • Credit: Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

  • Clean internal layout, but why all the yellow tape? The Transformer Prime's internal hardware layout is clean and well-organized. Unfortunately, Asus also used a lot of yellow tape throughout the device. Practically every connector is covered with a piece. This makes me wonder about how well they would hold on their own.
  • Quality control problems during assembly: Asus appears to have quality control problems with the device's assembly. Our test unit's battery and LCD each had two empty screw holes.
  • Little metal shielding on motherboard: There is almost no metal shielding on the the motherboard. Perhaps the Prime's aluminum case provides enough protection from electromagnetic and radio frequency interference, but it's still odd to see so little shielding.
  • Replaceable components: On the positive side, many components (such as the battery, docking connector, cameras, control buttons, and speaker) can be removed and replaced independently. And, the LCD is not permanently fused to the front panel. The two components are held together with screws and strong adhesive. A heat gun or hair dryer should allow you to soften the adhesive and separate the two.

Credit: Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

Internal hardware

Our Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime test machine has the following hardware:

  • 10.1" HannStar HSD101PWW2 LCD
  • 7.4V 3,380mAh, 25Wh Li-Polymer Battery Pack (C21-TF201P)
  • 1.2MP front-facing camera
  • 8MP rear-facing camera
  • Quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor (1135A3 KT NAA665.001)
  • 1GB Elpida DDR2 SDRAM (B8132B2MA-6D-F 11290R33200)
  • Winbond 4Mb serial flash (25X40BVIG 1137 6124 2N900ZZ)
  • Nuvoton NPCE795 keyboard controller (NPCE795LA0BX 2134B069-AA2 136ABFA)
  • 32GB Kingston NAND Flash (2400005-005.A00G 1125 M10678412.00 KE4BT506A) Some units have Hynix NAND Flash chips.
  • Broadcom BCM47511 GPS receiver (BCM47511IUBG UD1137 P10 158050 5N)
  • AzureWave AW-NH615 wireless module
  • Realtek ALC5631 audio CODEC (ALC5631 B6P06H4 GB33E)
  • Atmel MXT768E touch screen controller
  • Texas Instruments TPS51125A Dual-Synchronous, Step-Down Controller (51125A)
  • Texas Instruments bq24725 2-4 Cell Li+ Battery SMBus Charge Controller (BQ725)
  • Texas Instruments SN75LVDS83B FlatLink 10-135MHz Transmitter (15CENTT LVDS83B)
  • Texas Instruments TPS659110 Power Management Unit with DCDC Controller (PTPS659110 2 A2 19AK2NW)
  • Fairchild AccuPower FPF2700 Integrated Load Switch (PBKAX FPF 2700)
  • Fairchild FDMC4435BZ -30V P-Channel Power Trench MOSFET (FBBCBF FDMC 4435BZ)
  • FM34NE 395 B24EB
  • 3V ML1220 CMOS battery

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

7 comments
madstork91
madstork91

I had an issue with my battery not showing a charge at all. I knew it was charged because I ran it for more than a few hours (8+) with wifi and BT turned on before it crashed. I then charged it up for a long time (8hours+) and it still read the battery as 0%. After reading a bit on the issue, I cracked it open using your methods and what I found was shocking. Not only were there also two screw missing, but 3 screw mounts had been screwed so tightly that they were busted. (Major sad face) I then disconnected and reconnected my battery, and powered the device on... It worked fine, and the batter had a reading again. Something must have nudged the loose battery just right...

suern22
suern22

I would never buy another ASUS product again. There customer service is horrible. My charger for my transformer Prime is under warranty and broken. It is impossible to get a replacement without making many phone calls and they can never find my RMA number. Horrible customer service.

mvpcloud
mvpcloud

@Paul im also having Wifi issue on my Asus tablet, i hope they fix this type of problem on the next generation. Aldo Vargas From Myunlockcode.com

vincent tham
vincent tham

Just bought a transformer, but am unable to slide in the pad to the dock bcos the dock can't be up righted. Is there a button or device to do this?

timshady337
timshady337

How did you disconnect the 2 degitizer ribbons from the motherboard? Do they just slide out? thanks for your time.

paul.artictech
paul.artictech

There have been negative comments on GPS and WiFi connecting problems because of the blocking effect of the metal case to these signals.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

In this week???s episode of Cracking Open, I show how to open the Transformer Prime without damaging the front panel and what???s inside the device. I also explain why Asus needs to improve quality control during the manufacturing process. http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/cracking-open/asus-transformer-prime-teardown-solid-tablet-but-not-without-flaws/399 How would you rate the build quality of the ASUS products you've used/supported? Take the poll in the article and share your experiences in this discussion thread.

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