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If there’s one thing we love here at Ritchie’s Room, it’s generating and joining in a discussion. The Transformer Prime from Asus has been a lightning rod for hundreds of comments and quite rigorous discussion around various issues.
Initially it was the hype around the Prime as it was the first Android tablet to incorporate the Tegra 3 processor. Then, as demand started to rise and stock was nowhere to be seen, floods of complaints started to flow on both our site and other forums. Finally the Prime made it into the hands of users, only to have one major feature, GPS, stricken from the specifications sheet due to poor performance.
The fast upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich seemed to temper the passions that were flaring in the initial stages, and from some of the accounts we have received, it appears to have addressed most of the issues.
One particular issue that still reared its ugly head was Wi-fi performance on the Asus tablet. Some users complained of low Wi-Fi signal strength and others of generally poor download speeds which affected browser experience.
A few days ago we decided to shoot a very basic piece for YouTube simply showing the signal strength in bars on the Prime and iPad 2, as a comparison. The signal strength was quite high on the Prime, and a tad lower on the iPad 2.
However, we received lot of comments about using a download monitor program to see what the real world differences were in Wi-Fi performance. We ended up with the Speedtest.net app and installed that on both the Prime and the iPad 2, and ran the test in the exactly the same location just seconds apart from each other. We then took both around the house, wondering in and out of rooms for a few minutes. We had some very interesting results.
First, the speedtest in the Studio room. In the same location, seconds after one another, there was very little separating the Apple and Asus models – a few milliseconds difference for Pings, virtually the same download speed, and the Prime came out on top in upload speed by o.1Mbps or so.
After we filmed that, we walked around, getting further and further away from our filming location. In each area where we ran the tests, the results were wildly different even if the units were both side by side and didn’t move when we ran a second batch just to see a repeat of the test in that area.
To give you an idea, we moved the two tablets to a room that was three double brick walls removed from our studio, and both the Prime and iPad recorded download speeds of anything from 6Mbps all the way to 18Mbps, which is what we were getting when we were metres away from the router.
In the end we decided to leave the results of the further-distance speedtests out of the video segment because they were so wildly varying and could have been a consequence of a number of factors. In the controlled environment, the iPad 2 and Prime were neck and neck, and we repeated that test a few times with very little discrepancy to give ourselves a decent level of confidence.
However, the distance tests were fraught with fluctuations of the Wi-Fi signal that could have been affected by the environment, the wireless network or the wireless hardware built-in to the Prime and iPad 2.
All we can say is that based on the tests that we ran today, the results showed no real difference in the Wi-Fi performance between the best selling tablet in the market and the most advanced tablet in the market.
Here’s the Speedtest.net video we produced today (if you can’t see the video yet, we’re still uploading):
And here’s the original basic wireless signal test video that we released a few days ago:
Now that you’ve seen these tests, here’s a question for you: Does any of it help you make up your mind about the wireless performance of the Prime? Or is the Wi-fi performance of a tablet too hard to judge given all the other factors that might come into play?
Please feel free to comment below and we’d love to hear your opinion on this topic.