ASUS Transformer Prime getting Ice Cream Sandwich Jan. 12, bootloader unlocking tool coming soon

The ASUS Transformer Prime is the best Android tablet available and the first to run Tegra 3, so why are so many Android fans complaining about the hot new tablet? Well, because the Transformer Prime has a locked bootloader, making it difficult for users to gain full control of the device and modify its software to their hearts’ content.

Since a member of the XDA forums discovered that the Transformer Prime has a locked bootloader, ASUS’s Facebook page has been bombarded with angry comment spam from users saying that they have canceled their Prime pre-orders or will not buy the device unless ASUS reverses course. Page administrator “Mark” told folks that an official response from the company would arrive soon, saying that “Some people posting on our wall about the bootloader need to take a break. They are about to pop =).”

That official response is as follows:

Regarding the bootloader, the reason we chose to lock it is due to content providers’ requirement for DRM client devices to be as secure as possible. ASUS supports Google DRM in order to provide users with a high quality video rental experience. Also, based on our experience, users who choose to root their devices risk breaking the system completely. However, we know there is demand in the modding community to have an unlocked bootloader. Therefore, ASUS is developing an unlock tool for that community. Please do note that if you choose to unlock your device, the ASUS warranty will be void, and Google video rental will also be unavailable because the device will be no longer protected by security mechanism.

A locked bootloader is an irksome hurdle to customizing an Android device, but is typically employed phone companies looking to secure their devices or prevent hacking to unlock paid features. Therefore a locked bootloader on a Wi-Fi only tablet, which has no carrier tie-ins, seemed out of place. Now that ASUS have blamed the issue on DRM and publisher requirements, that’s likely to appease users.

ASUS also took the time to say that it will update the Transformer Prime to Android 4.0 beginning on January 12. The availability of Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) might help attract more users, but the vocal minority of Android fans who want to customize their software are unlikely to be swayed by the promise of updates. You can read the full statement here.

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