Yesterday we posted scattered reports coming from members of ASUS’ official support forums, indicating that the company was planning on releasing free GPS dongles called the “GPS Extension Kit” to combat the tablet’s well-documented lack of signal. Now ASUS itself has told AllThingsD that indeed the program will go forward, with signups for the free extension beginning on April 16th (two Mondays from now). All owners of the Transformer Prime should be eligible for the free GPS dongle.
The Eee Pad Transformer Prime has a hard time locking on to signals from global positioning satellites, possibly because of its all-aluminum case. If that is indeed the cause, no amount of software modification (and there have been many official updates since the problem came to light) would completely solve the problem. Many users have reported unusually low WiFi reception as well, but this problem seems to have been at least somewhat mitigated by software tweaks.
According to a post on the XDA forum earlier this week, the dongle will fit into the Transformer Prime’s docking power on its bottom edge. While the poster said that it would fit flush with the tablet itself and match the color of the exterior casing, he or she didn’t say whether there would be some kind of pass-through port. Without a pass-through, the Transformer Prime will be unable to charge or dock while the GPS dongle is inserted – making for a very cumbersome extension of something that probably should have been fixed during QA. Later models of the Transformer shown off at MWC in February do not feature the full-body metal design.