Say what you want about ASUS, but they certainly go the extra mile in the customer service department. When ASUS released the Transformer Prime late last year, they were soon inundated with complaints of a weak GPS signal on nearly all devices. ASUS’s initial response was to remove GPS from the list of features for the Prime, which did nothing to tame the endless rants on messageboards across the net.
Eventually, ASUS worked with several customers to work out another solution: the GPS Dongle Kit. While it may not sound all that enticing by itself, here’s the kicker….ASUS decided to give these away for free (provided you register your device on their website). Something like this would generally go for about $60-$100, so that’s a pretty good deal if you ask me. So, does it actually help?
While I didn’t buy the Prime for GPS functionality, I could understand why some people felt disappointed by ASUS and their response to the GPS problems up to this point. Like most Prime owners, my GPS was all but non-functional, so at the very least I thought it would be cool to try out and possibly give some hope to other Prime owners who actually planned on using GPS.
I was already registered as an ASUS VIP member, so all I had to do was log in to their website and request the dongle. It arrived for me roughly a week later in a small padded envelope. Inside was the dongle in your typical plastic packaging (see picture above). There wasn’t much to the dongle itself; it was all one piece that simply looked like the dock from the keyboard docking station but without the keyboard. The dongle attaches to the bottom of the tablet where the power would connect. Unfortunately, this means you can’t have the keyboard docking station attached at the same time or be charging your tablet. Once the dongle is installed there is a slider on the bottom that locks it in place and activates the device.
I’ve been using GPS Test from the Google Play Market to test the Prime’s GPS functionality previously, so it made sense to continue using it here. Right away I could see improved signal quality as satellites immediately started popping up. Seeing as how I would previously see, maybe, one or two satellites after about 5 minutes, this was a huge improvement. I was getting 10-12 satellites and signals were showing anywhere from 20ft to 60ft accuracy. The signal seemed to be best when the dongle was actually at the top of the tablet, holding the tablet (technically) upside-down.
At this point the GPS was actually comparable to my Galaxy Nexus, not quite equal, but darn close. Certainly a vast improvement over what you get without the dongle. Yes, the dongle adds bulk and pretty much eliminates the use of a case or the docking station keyboard, but if you are looking for GPS functionality this is absolutely worth getting. Add to the fact that it’s completely free, there’s really no reason not to at least register your device and get it sent out to you.