Asus Transformer Prime opens up for pre-orders

The tablet that wants to be more than a tablet is now available for consumers interested in being the first in line.

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.