Computer maker ASUS' Eee Pad Transformer Prime is expected to hit the U.S. market in 2012 but a rumor suggests the 32GB Amethyst Gray version could be made available to certain pre-ordered customers after Christmas.

However, the tablet has to deal with the iconic Apple Inc.'s iPad 2, as the benchmark for design and performance has been set by the California giant.

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime features a 10.1-inch Super IPS + LCD Gorilla Glass display with 1280x800 screen resolution. It is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU, ULP GeForce GPU and offers 1GB RAM and 32/64 GB internal storage, which can be further expanded by another 32GB via microSD card.

It sports a rear-facing 8-megapixel Flash camera with 1080p video playback and a secondary 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. The Eee Pad Transformer Prime optimizes Google Inc.'s Android 3.2 Honeycomb OS that could be upgradable to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

The Transformer Prime is the first tablet to have the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor. Tegra 3 brings a number of significant advancements over the dual-core Tegra 2. Technically, Tegra 3 has five cores and it's the fifth core that really makes the difference. This is called the companion core.

ASUS uses IPS technology in the Prime and maximum brightness is at 584cd/m2. It has a good screen on which to watch high definition movies and play games, delivering excellent blacks and viewing angles because of the Super IPS+ Panel technology packed inside.

The tablet weighs 586 grams and is 8.3 mm thick. With these dimensions, it can compete with Apple iPad 2, which weighs 607 grams and is 8.8 mm thick.

Price-wise, ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime is likely to cost $499 for the 32GB version and $599 for the 64GB version. This is lower than the iPad 2, which costs $729 for the 32GB version and $829 for the 64GB version.

However, Apple is not the only competitor that ASUS will face. It will also meet Samsung's ultra-thin tablet, the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Here is a look at how ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime's features fare when compared to Apple iPad 2:

Size: The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime has a dimension of 263 × 180.8 × 8.3mm, weighs 586 grams (pad only) / 263 × 180.8 × 8-10.4mm, weighs 537 grams (dock only), while Apple iPad 2 has 241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8 mm and weighs 607 g.

Display: The Transformer Prime tablet has a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 pixels Super IPS + LCD capacitive touch screen display with Corning's Gorilla glass whereas the iPad 2 features 9.7-inch 1024 x 768 pixels LED-backlit IPS TFT capacitive touch-screen display.

Input Features: The input features in Transformer Prime are accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate, ASUS Waveshare UI, multi-touch input method, touch-sensitive controls with rotating icons, G-Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, E-compass and GPS. However, the Apple iPad 2 has Fingerprint scratch resistant oleophobic surface, multi-touch input method, accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate and three-axis gyro sensors.

Memory: The memory found in the ASUS tablet is 1GB RAM and 32/64 GB storage capacity with a microSD card slot giving an extra 32GB support, while the iPad 2 has 512 MB RAM with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB internal storage support. The Apple iPad 2 doesn't have an external storage space.

Operating system: Apple's tablet has an iOS 5 operating system compared to ASUS, which features the Android OS 3.2 (Honeycomb) with a layer of the latest Waveshare UI. The ASUS tablet could be upgradable to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the future.

Processor: The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime tablet has Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU, ULP GeForce GPU compared to iPad 2's 900 MHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU Apple A5 chipset processor.

WLAN/Bluetooth/USB: The ASUS tablet has Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 version with EDR, and USB 2.0 version. On the other hand, the Apple tablet has Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 version with A2DP and EDR, and USB 2.0 version.

Camera: The camera in ASUS tablet is an 8-megapixel 3264x2448 pixels with LED flash and autofocus features, while iPad 2 has only a 0.7-megapixel camera with geo-tagging feature. There is a secondary VGA camera in the iPad 2, while the ASUS tablet has 1.2-megapixel camera. The Apple iPad 2 is capable of video playback at 720p, while Transformer Prime offers 1080p video playback capability.

Battery: When it comes to battery life, the Eee Pad Transformer Prime pad (with dock) has a 22 Wh Li-polymer Battery that is expected to give 18 hours of battery life on video playback, whereas the iPad 2 features Li-Po 25 Wh which gives 10 hours.

Pricing: ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime is likely to cost $499 for the 32GB version and $599 for the 64GB version. This is lower than the iPad 2, which costs $729 for the 32GB version and $829 for the 64GB version.

Other Features: The Apple iPad 2 has features like E-mail, Push E-mail, IM, HTML Safari browser, downloadable, incl. motion-based games, A-GPS support, digital compass, MP4/MP3/WAV/AAC player, movie playback, iBooks PDF reader, Google Maps, TV-out, audio and video player.

The Transformer Prime has features like HTML, Adobe Flash, Email, Push Email, IM, Assisted-GPS support, micro HDMI port, MP3/WAV/WMA/AAC player, MP4/H.264/H.263 player, microSD card reader, 2-in-1 audio jack and Polaris Office editor. It also has special applications such as ASUS launcher, @Vibe Music, ASUS WebStorage, MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, File manager, ASUS sync, SuperNote, App Locker, App Backup, and TegraZone.