Asus has launched its Eee Pad Transformer Prime, the world's first tablet to feature Nvidia's Tegra 3 quad-core mobile processor.

The tablet runs on the Android 3.2 Gingerbread operating system, with an upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich available at a later date. The device weighs 585 grams and is 8.38 mm thick.  

The Eee Pad Transformer Prime is a category-defining product. Powered by Tegra 3, it launches us into a new era of mobile computing, in which quad-core performance and super energy-efficiency provide capabilities never available before. With Transformer Prime, ASUS has once again led the industry into the next generation, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said.

The key highlight of the Eee Pad Transformer Prime is its Tegra 3 processor, bringing PC-class performance levels, better battery life and improved mobile experiences.

Tegra 3, which was known previously by the codename Project Kal-El, provides up to three times the graphics performance of Tegra 2, and up to 61 percent lower power consumption.

Tegra 3 is a marvel. Its quad-core CPU, 12-core GeForce GPU and vSMP technology are revolutionary. We worked closely with NVIDIA to build  the ultimate tablet -- the Eee Pad Transformer Prime -- that delivers a magical, uncompromised experience to consumers, said Jerry Shen, CEO, at Asus.

The Tegra 3 processor implements a new, patent-pending technology known as Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing (vSMP). vSMP includes a fifth CPU companion, specifically designed for work requiring little power. The four main cores are specifically designed for work requiring high performance and generally consume less power than dual-core processors.

For gamers, the Tegra 3 quad-core CPUs are complemented with a new 12-core NVIDIA GeForce(R) GPU, which delivers more realism with dynamic lighting, physical effects and high resolution environments, plus support for 3D stereo.

Asus said recommended U.S. retail prices will start at $499 for a 32GB version and a 64GB model will start at $599. The separate mobile dock will sell for an additional $149.

The Transformer Prime would compete primarily with Apple's iPad 2, which is the market leader since its launch in March 2011. iPad 2 comes with  a new dual core Apple A5 processor and VGA front-facing and 720p rear-facing cameras designed for FaceTime video calling and provides battery life of up to 10 hours.

Let's see how these two tablets fare against each other:

Transformer Prime

Display: 10.1-inch LED backlit Super IPS+ screen at 1280x800 resolution, 10 finger multi-touch, Corning Gorilla Glass

Dimension: Tablet: 263 x 180.8 x 8.3 mm/ 586 grams; Dock: 263x180.8x10.4 mm/537 grams

Operating System: Android 3.2 Honeycomb. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Upgradable

Processor: NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core CPU; NVIDIA 12-core GeForce GPU, with 5th companion core for low power

RAM: 1GB RAM

Memory: 32GB or 64GB. Also has Asus cloud storage

Cameras: 8MP rear with flash, 1.2MP front for video calling, with flash, F2.4 aperture

Connectivity:  Wifi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR

Ports: 3.5mm audio in+out connector, micro-HMDI, microsD Card Reader, USB 2.0 port

Special Apps: ASUS launcher, @Vibe Music, ASUS WebStorage, MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, File manager, ASUS sync, SuperNote, App Locker, App Backup, Tegra Zone, Polaris Office

Battery: 25 Watt-hours (tablet only) for 12 hours of 720p video playback at 60 nits, 18 hours with keyboard dock attached.

iPad 2:

Display: 9.7-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology with 1024x768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi). The display also has fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating

Dimension: 241.2x185.7x8.8 mm; Weight: 601 grams

Operating System: iOS 5

Processor: 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 chip

Camera: 720p rear-facing and VGA front-facing cameras

Memory: 16GB/32GB/64GB, iCloud support

Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), 3G, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

Port: 30-pin dock connector port, 3.5-mm stereo headphone minijack

Battery: Built-in 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery that provides up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video or listening to music