updated 06:50 pm EST, Wed December 14, 2011
May have Android Ice Cream Sanwich preinstalled
ASUS Italy has revealed on their Facebook site that the availability of the Transformer Prime tablet has moved back until the end of January. The company has apologized to potential customers for the device not being available in time for the Christmas shopping season. The Italian arm of ASUS also indicated that corporate HQ had decided that the tablet worldwide will have Wi-Fi, but not 3G.
The subsidiary explained away the lack of 3G by saying that because many Android phones are now shipping with tethering and hotspot support, users would no longer have a need for a second 3G-enabled device.
With the delay, the tablet may actually ship with Android 4.0 pre-installed, ASUS said. Initial releases in the US will ship with Android 3.2 and only get 4.0 later.
The Transformer Prime is the first ever with an NVIDIA Tegra 3 chip. This was was supposed to make it the first tablet on the market with a mobile quad-core processor. It also sports an eight-megapixel, autofocusing, rear-facing camera with flash and an f2.4 aperture, along with a 1.2-megapixel front facing camera. Storage will be either 32GB or 64GB. The company is also offering lifetime 8GB of cloud storage.
ASUS was rumored to have plans to ship 350,000 units of the tablet by the end of 2011. However, with the delay in shipping, ASUS is unlikely to achieve this goal. There is also some uncertainty as to when the Prime Transformer might be available in North America. Late last week, online retailer NCIX, citing problems with Wi-Fi performance, told its pre-order buyers that the tablet wouldn't be available until after the Christmas holiday and possibly not before the end of 2011. Earlier this week, however, ASUS responded that this was incorrect, and that the tablet was on track to start shipping December 19.