Android this week: Chrome browser arrives; Transformer Prime reviewed; Android 4.0 updates planned

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After two weeks of using the Asus Transformer Prime, I’m convinced that it’s the best large Android tablet available today. That could surely change in the future; after all, the Prime is the only tablet that comes with Android 4.0 and uses a quad-core processor. Both of these features help provide a solid tablet experience, but perhaps the icing on the cake is the $150 optional keyboard dock.

Although the dock weighs less than the slate, which could result in the device tipping over, it adds tremendous functionality to the Transformer Prime. The $150 price may put some off, but it adds more than just a keyboard and trackpad.

You gain another 6 or more hours of battery life because the dock has its own battery. Between the slate and dock, you could push this package for around 18 hours on a single charge. The dock also adds a full sized USB port, which I’ve used for with an Xbox 360 controller for gaming, and a full-sized SD memory card slot.

New this week to the Prime and any other devices running Android 4.0 is Google’s Chrome beta for Android. After using Chrome for just three minutes, I made it the default browser on my Galaxy Nexus for a number of reasons. It’s at least as fast as the stock browser, if not faster. The user interface is better suited for touch, with easy methods to swipe between open tabs. And it brings a seamless web experience between Chrome on the desktop and Chrome on a mobile device. On my Nexus, for example, I can see a list of the open Chrome tabs from my Mac; one tap and I’m able to view the same web page on my phone. Here’s a short video overview:

Unfortunately, very few devices have Android 4.0, so most can’t yet take advantage of the new Chrome browser. HTC aims to change that situation with software upgrades to its four Sensation models next month. The company announced through its Facebook page that Android 4.0 would roll out to these devices starting in March. Additional handsets will follow this year, but HTC didn’t provide specific dates for these devices, which include the following: HTC Rezound, HTC Vivid, HTC Amaze 4G, HTC EVO 3D, HTC EVO Design 4G, HTC Incredible S, HTC Desire S and HTC Desire HD. No word on the HTC Flyer, a 7-inch tablet that currently runs on Android 3.2.

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