Tag Archive | "hdmi"

Acer Misses Update Deadline, Still No 1080p Output from Iconia Tab A500

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Back in May, I called out Acer for launching their Iconia Tab A500 and advertising that it could do 1080p output when it was actually unable to do so at the time of launch. Their self-imposed deadline for releasing an update to fix this has come and gone with no news from the company.

The Iconia A500 launched back in May and has been rather well received. A number of users how now received the Honeycomb 3.1 update, and while it made some nice improvements, it didn’t enable the claimed 1080p output.

Acer noted in some fine print that the device only supported 720p output through its mini-HDMI port at launch, despite claiming that it can do 1080p output in various marketing materials. The fine print went on to say that an update in June would enable the device to push 1080p video – more than doubling the number of pixels of output – through the mini-HDMI port.

June came and went, and so did July. Now we’re into August, and even after the Honeycomb 3.1 update, we still can’t get the A500 to do true 1080p. That same fine print, claiming that an update will arrive in June, is still present on Acer’s site.

We’re trying to get an official response from Acer, but I must say that I’m just about sick and tired of these unfulfilled update-promises. It’s about time Google get’s its update alliance rolling.

Now I’m wondering whether or not Acer is going to try to pull the same stunt with the upcoming Acer Iconia Tab A100.

How to Not Get Ripped off when Shopping for HDMI Cables for Your Gadgets

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hdmiThe age of HDMI is finally upon us. Go to the store and pick up any HDTV and there’s about a 95% change that it’ll have at least one HDMI port. It’s not just TVs either. From the Motorola Atrix to the Acer Iconia Tab, HDMI is being included on a number of devices for connectivity to monitors and HDTVs.

However, as always tends to happen with new technology, people are jacking prices up tremendously (remember when DVD players used to cost $1000)?

Rule #1: Never buy first-party as an accessory.

Case-in-point. Motorola is so kind as to offer you a micro-HDMI cable that’ll go just perfectly with your new Atrix as an accessory on their site. How much do they ask for it? $40! And this is only a three foot long cable. Come on Motorola, surely you can do better.

If you are purchasing a cable (that isn’t proprietary) directly from the company that is also selling your gadgetry, they are likely buying from the same cheap source that you could find offered online and jacking up the prices to pass on to you. Cut out the middle man and go straight to the source.

Rule #2: Buy online.

Heading to your local electronics store is just asking to be ripped off. I’ve seen RadioShack asking $50 for a six-foot HDMI cable! The best you’ll find for a micro-HDMI cable from Best Buy is around $30.

Rule #3: Don’t be fooled by component-speak.

With analog signals, the components that the cables are made out of can arguably affect the quality of the signal as it passes through the cable. Companies like Monster charge some wicked premiums for analog cables that are described as having “patented 24k gold contact 12-cut Turbine connectors for enhanced signal transfer” and “dual solid-core center conductors for deep, tight bass and smooth, natural midrange”. I could dig up a number of debates about whether or not any of those features actually impact the quality of the signal, but do not let them pull this trick on you with the digital data that runs through HDMI cables.

As a digital stream, the data coming out of the other end of an HDMI cable is all-or-nothing. We’re talking ones and zeros here, not analog signals. As the ones and zeros travel through the HDMI cable, it doesn’t matter what material is conducting them, or how many carats gold your connector is plated in; the ones and zeros will still be read as ones and zeros once received, and that’s the beauty of digital signals.

Yes, quality of the cable is important so that you don’t see breakage after a short period of use, but do not let someone talk you up about the quality of the components in the cable and make you think that you’ll be getting better quality or clarity from the signal as it passes through based on materials – this is total BS. (Did I mention that Monster wants $90 for a four-foot HDMI cable?)

Finding Reasonable Prices

Fortunately, it is possible, perhaps even easy, to find a great deal on an HDMI cable. Here are the places I’d check:

Deals.Woot.com – The folks at Woot run a number of sites and you’ve likely seen us calling out relevant gadget deals in the past (no affiliation, we promise). They’ve got a neat site called Deals.Woot which is a community-sourced deal site. In a nutshell, community members point out good deals around the web and everyone benefits. The easiest way to approach looking for an HDMI cable is to simply type “HDMI” in the search box at the top of the page. This’ll show you any currently running deals involving HDMI cables.

For instance, as of this writing, I see a six-foot HDMI cable for $2.39 (likely with a few bucks for shipping). Still, even if shipping was $10, you’d save 76% ($37.61) off of RadioShack’s ridiculous offer!

Unfortunately, because Deals.Woot highlights deals that live and eventually die, you may not find that a micro-HDMI deal is currently being offered. Fortunately, there are other places to look.

This link will take you to Deals.Woot.com with the most recent deal results for “HDMI”.

Amazon.com – Amazon sells name-brand products but also functions as a marketplace for more obscure companies. Competition in the Amazon marketplace keeps everyone honest about their prices and the customer benefits. Remember how Motorola wanted $40 for a three-foot HDMI-to-Micro HDMI cable? One search for “micro HDMI” on Amazon shows a six-foot cable of the same type for $2.85 (including shipping)! That’s a 92% ($37.15) savings which is quite impressive.

This link will take you directly to an up-to-date search of Amazon for “micro HDMI”.

I hope this simple guide will help you not get ripped off on future HDMI purchases. Enjoy your cables and your savings!

Acer Iconia Tab A500 Not Actually Able to Output 1080p… Yet. Update Coming in June to Enable Full HD Output

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Despite pushing the “1080p” line all up and down their press release, it looks like the Acer’s Iconia Tab A500 [tracking page] isn’t actually walking out the door with 1080p capabilities.

According to a tiny footer I’ve discovered on the A500’s official product page, the unit can only currently push 720p video through its mini-HDMI port. However, an update slated for June will allow the A500 to output 1080p, more than 2x the current output resolution.

It’s a good thing that the A500 is using the Nvidia Tegra 2 processor as it is indeed rated to handle 1080p output. Tegra 2 also supports decoding of a pretty impressive list of codecs, but in our testing so far, we’ve found that the A500’s built-in software can only play a very limited number of file-types.

Here’s to hoping that this update promise doesn’t go the way of just about every other promised Android update from carriers or OEMs, you know… the way that they tend to come months later than expected.

There’s no word yet as to whether or not the same update treatment will have to be given to the soon to be released Acer Iconia Tab A100/A101 [tracking page], or if it’ll actually ship with 1080p output capability.

Notion Ink Adam Reviewed, Android 2.3 and Other Changes Coming in an Update

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notion-ink-adam

The Notion Ink Adam [tracking page] may have wow-ed most at the CES 2011 but the proof is always in the pudding once the tablet is truly unleashed for general consumption in the consumer market.

It took a little while, but Engadget’s Sean Hollister managed to get his hands on a unit and wrote a good review on the Adam. From the review feedback, the Adam may not have lived up to expectations as being a perfect technology marriage of form and functionality.

Let’s explore the Adam, shall we?

The Adam has a unique form factor which differentiates it from most uniformly slim-line tablets – it has a rather rounded bulky rear (pictured below).

Notion-Ink-Adam-rear

 

Some may find this rather unsightly but from an ergonomic’s perspective, I think this is a good design as it may allow a good one handed grip when using the Adam in a portrait mode. This is especially important as the Adam weighs in at rather hefty 1.6 pounds and therefore having a good grip whilst single-handedly using it is a must.  Sean mentions the cylindrical rear holding a pair of stereo speakers as well as three-cell battery which makes me wonder if the unit may be possibly top heavy (or bottom depending on which direction you hold it!) when held in a landscape position.

The reviewer wasn’t impressed with the four capacitive touch buttons (pictured above) which are neither backlit or possess haptic feedback.

One thing the Adam has going for it is the plethora of ports, from two full-sized USB ports as well as a HDMI slot that is capable of 1080p display mirroring.  I feel that this is a key feature that distinguishes the Adam as a tablet meant as a serious productivity workhorse or mobile home-theater from a tablet meant soley as a sofa surfing device. I cannot tell you how many times I have been frustrated when someone at work hands me a USB thumb drive and I am unable to transfer files via USB to my Dell Streak 5” nor my Samsung Galaxy Tab 7”!

Another feature which had us all eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Adam is the famed Pixel Qi display.  Unfortunately, the reviewer found that the Adam’s 1024×600 resolution Pixel Qi display was not good, describing the display’s viewing angles as “terrible” with the colors being “a bit washed out”. A saving grace is that the reviewer found the Adam’s Pixel Qi’s reflective mode working well and once the screen backlit is switched off, the screen is viewable even outdoors and conserved hours of battery life.

The reviewer also found the 3.2MP camera’s picture taking capabilities to be unimpressive, describing issues with the autofocus as well as over exposed pictures. Note that the camera is able to swivel front to rear, vice versa.

Under the hood, the Adam sports a dual-core 1Ghz Tegra 250 and the reviewer has found no issues with general performance of the device.

From an operating system perspective, the Adam runs Android 2.2 aka “Froyo” but Notion Ink designed its own user interface known as the Eden UI that provides an innovative-looking PanelView (pictured above) that allows the multiple applications to be open and active on the same homescreen.

Though the hardware issues can’t be fixed through a software update, Notion Ink will be releasing a significant update to the Adam’s software. The update will contain the following:

  • a new e-book client
  • a new Browser (the name of the book client and browser will be released in a separate blog next week)
  • updated Kernel
  • optimally over-clocked Tegra
  • Gingerbread 2.3
  • lots of usability Issues resolved
  • new multi-tasking environment (easier way to manage all tabs and applications)
  • Chords Music Library and Player (Simple and straight Music Player)
  • Video Library and Player
  • DSP support, so now equalizer will work in better way. Soon we are adding more bass boost in the speakers as well (not a part of this update).
  • Flash pre-installed
  • and more

Readers may wonder why the update to Android Gingerbread 2.3 instead of Honeycomb 3.0, the reason being that Google only releases the Honeycomb source code to a selected few partners at this point and Notion Ink isn’t one of them.

The release date of the update is still unannounced at this stage.

Notion has certainly challenged the tablet manufacturer’s norm by designing a tablet that has the capability of replacing a desktop thanks to USB peripheral support. I certainly hope that it is able to rectify the hardware quality issues and deliver the software update in a timely manner.

Here’s Notion Ink Adam Picture Gallery thanks to Engadget!

HDMI-out Test on the Acer Iconia A500 [video]

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I managed to snap off this quick video testing HDMI out on the Acer Iconia A500 [tracking page]. The retail unit doesn’t include a HDMI cable (it requires a mini HDMI connector) so I had to scrounge one up to test it on a monitor. I shot it with the Motorola Atrix [tracking page] so you’ll have to excuse the sometimes shaky video but I was keen to see and share how the HDMI worked. The video test shown is using the Windows 7 sample video “Wildlife” and is a wmv file shot in 720p HD I find it’s quite a good test as it challenges a lot of PC’s to play it without skipping frames. The Atrix, and the Viewsonic Gtab play it without issues. Since the included media player on the A500 couldn’t play the wmv I downloaded, I installed Rockplayer Lite and while it played the file it was very jumpy.

Being able to play videos or view slideshows on a big screen is a great feature for using this tablet in a business setting but unfortunately I wasn’t able to play the architectural render that one of my co-workers needed to show at an afternoon meeting so he had to take the laptop.

If you are interested in the Iconia A500, don’t forget to see Chippy’s extensive testing session and notes!

You might also notice I used the Sniffer file explorer (from the Notion Ink Adam [tracking page]). Since the A500 comes with both a full sized and mini USB connection, which enables simple file transfer and is a great connectivity option for all kinds of USB peripherals, I was surprised and a bit disappointed to find that there was no file explorer included out of the box. I actually installed Sniffer using dropbox so I could access some files for testing off a USB thumb drive. I actually prefer Sniffer over other file explorers as it is intuitive to use and has some nice features I haven’t found on other such as the simple copy and paste functions.

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