To say that the launch of the Asus Transformer Prime has been rocky would be the height of understatement.
Poor GPS signal strength and continuing performance issues are big problems. The release of its bootloader unlock tool a few days ago should’ve improved the situation. It didn’t.
This tool is important for a lot of reasons. For developing custom ROMs, you need an unlocked bootloader for loading custom recoveries and performing various low-level device optimizations. A custom recovery tool, such as ClockworkMod Recovery, is especially essential. It allows you to create full backups. The development community needs that level of access to improve on what it buys.
When Asus finally released the tool, eager devs got right on it. I threw my hat in the ring and installed the tool that first day, too. When I launched it there was the expected End User License Agreement. But there was a catch.
According to these terms, in order to unlock the Prime’s bootloader you must agree to an end user license agreement (EULA) and also a secondary agreement. Both state that use of the tool voids out the warranty.
Mess with your device and accept the consequences, right? Not quite. There is no exception for hardware defects noted here. And hardware is the issue behind the bulk of Asus Prime returns and exchanges.
This goes too far.
Sure I’m pleased that Asus released one of the easiest bootloader unlocking tools I’ve ever used. But Asus should allow those who use its new bootloader unlocking tool to set their devices back to factory state without voiding the warranty or any other punishment.
That’s a common practice among many PC manufacturers and enterprises. Instead of that, Asus chose a draconian approach that absolves it of any responsibility whatsoever for quality control issues. And that directly affects anyone who wants to hack and tweak the device.
This is abhorrent treatment of the customers Asus needs to back it most. Worse, this response to customer demand for an unlocked bootloader shows an even more deeply flawed mindset from Asus. And that is that creativity is only acceptable within the boundaries the corporation defines.
Even more disturbing is that this way of thinking is starting to catch on. Stroll through XDA and other Android sites and you’ll see what I mean. The act of tearing something down and building it back up — improving upon it, even — is an act Asus frowns upon and even punishes, if you take this agreement at its word.
What if all hackers and tinkerers gave in to the notion that creativity is only okay if a company tells you that it is? That is why no one should just brush over issues like what surrounds the Asus bootloader unlocking tool.
Reinforcing corporate policies that discourage and even punish developers for getting creative with their hardware and software is no good. That is why I unlocked my Asus Transformer Prime. And I would do it again, too.