Tag Archive | "honeycomb"

Huawei MediaPad 7″ Honeycomb Tablet Hands-on

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I managed to get a Huawei Mediapad for a few weeks to trial. I only managed to get a few hours in with the device today and snap off a couple of low res pictures from my phone but I’ll follow up with an in-depth overview and some high quality photos in a few days. In the meantime if you have any tests you want me to run on the Huawei Mediapad leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

Before I give you a few quick thoughts, you can find full specs at the Huawei MediaPad tracking page in our mobile device database.

huawei mediapad

I compared it to an iPad 2 and like the Galaxy Tab found it to be roughly half the size of the Apple unit. The unit is pocketable, just, but cargo pant-pocketable none the less.

The screen is great — sharp, bright, and very responsive. The device itself is nicely built and feels solid in the hand. The Huawei MediaPad is heavier than the Galaxy Tab but it feels like the same form factor so if you are happy with the size and feel of the Galaxy Tab you’ll likely be happy with the MediaPad too.

I don’t have a lot of apps installed yet and not a lot of media on it to slow it down but I was pleasantly surprised by how fast it is. Everything is snappy and very responsive. Apps open fast, media plays almost instantly and overall the processor doesn’t seem to struggle with anything.

If the pricing comes in at the right level, I think this device will sell very well.

Chippy is also looking forward to the Huawei MediaPad, and is actually considering trading up his much-used and loved Galaxy Tab for it. Though the tab has treated him well for over a year, Chippy says that he’s overdue for the benefits of Honeycomb in a 7″ form-factor. The upcoming dual-core Galaxy Tab Plus is likely to be a potent competitor to the Huawei MediaPad, especially when it comes to availability.

Huawei MediaPad Visits the FCC

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Pocketables points out that the Huawei MediaPad, which Chippy plans on purchasing, has made its way through the FCC, likely on it’s way to a US release.

After skimming the relevant FCC documents, it appears as though this is a WiFi-only version of the Mediapad, though Pocketables thinks we may see a carrier-tied version of the Huawei MediaPad at some point.

The Huawei MediaPad has already been made available for sale in a number of other countries and is one of only a few 7″ Honeycomb tablets yet available or announced. Others include Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.7 (and Galaxy Tab 7 Plus), the Toshiba Thrive 7, Acer’s Iconia Tab A100, and a few lesser known tablets.

ThinkPad Tablet — Owner’s Impressions Series: Part II, Connections and Ports

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Today’s focus for the ThinkPad Tablet series is on ports and connectors. I wanted to take some time to let everyone know the results of some of the testing I have been doing on the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet and how it compares to some of the other tablets that are available. In the first installment we covered hardware, and mostly from a static perspective; how the tablet looks and feels. Today we will start getting into the functional aspects of the device.

HDMI Output

The first connection I tested on the ThinkPad Tablet was the mini-HDMI output, located on the right-hand side of the device. In what might be regarded as a strange choice, Lenovo elected to go with mini-HDMI as the form-factor for the ThinkPad Tablet’s video output. This is in contrast to most other tablets these days that are deploying with micro-HDMI (or full HDMI in the case of the Toshiba Thrive 10). Adapters for the latter form-factor are pretty abundant, as not only tablets, but some high-end and very popular smartphones also use this connector-type. Mini-HDMI is a little less prevalent, although adapters can also be found online easily and inexpensively. Luckily, when I ordered an HDMI cable kit for my Acer Iconia Tab A500 a couple of months ago, a mini-HDMI adapter, which I have not needed until now, came with it.

I ran a test using both the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet and the Acer Iconia Tab A500 and neither sent 1080p output to either of two displays. I first tested with a Samsung 50″ Plasma TV. To see if I would get the same results, I also tested by sending the output of each tablet to my 23″ Acer H233H monitor over HDMI. In each case I attempted playback of 1080p content. And in each case, the content was only rendered in 720p. I am re-running some of these tests using different content before I declare this issue closed, but for the time being, test results indicate that neither the ThinkPad Tablet or the Iconia A500 output in 1080p, as each manufacturer claims that they do. This has been a known issue with the Acer Iconia Tab A500 for some time. However, I am very surprised that Lenovo would claim a spec that their ThinkPad Tablet was not achieving. In the case of the Acer Iconia Tab A500, other journalists have corroborated my test results. I am reaching out to Lenovo to see if they have a statement on the issue, and once this Owner’s Impressions series is complete, I will check the other sites and forums to see if they are finding the same issue.

Headphones and Audio

I am a background music junkie and so I have been using the ThinkPad Tablet with my Bose TriPort Earbuds just about every day. I have not come across any issues with the headphone port so far. The audio is not significantly better or worse than audio I have listened to on other tablets. Because I do not have a high-bar for audio quality, I did not run comparison tests against the A500 and Xoom. Stick around for the whole series though, because there are some issues that could effect your audio enjoyment which will be discussed in the next installment.

Micro-USB, Charging, and Battery Life

The micro-USB connector is the first place where we find ourselves in the swamp with some issues with the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet. The good thing about the device is that it charges over micro-USB. Just about every other Android tablet has a proprietary connector for the power supply, and the micro-USB connector on those devices is only used to establish a data connection to a host PC. The ThinkPad Tablet uses a micro-USB-to-full-USB cable to the power supply for charging. The cable detaches from the wall wart to provide the aforementioned data connection. There are a lot of different ways that you can configure how the micro-USB port can be used; a topic we will get into in the next installment on OS Customization and ThinkPad Tablet Apps. The main point to take away for this section of the series is that you can use the connection from a PC to charge the device. This makes so much sense, and it has really aggravated me to carry a laptop on travel, and then have to carry a charger for a tablet, when I can charge all of my other mobile devices via the laptop’s USB ports.

However, there are issues with charging the ThinkPad Tablet. There is a belief that there are some apps continuously communicate over the devices WiFi antenna and never allow it to power down. When this occurs after the screen times out, power continues to drain from the battery. You can determine if this is occurring by turning the device over and checking the red LED that sits above the “i” in the ThinkPad badge on the rear panel. There is also a belief that this was occurring at the device’s launch when it was connected to certain D-link routers. A software update supposedly addressed this issue, however the issue persists, and is being attributed to apps. At any rate, if the LED remains on when the display has timed out, and the device should be in standby, the recharge rate is incredibly slow when using the stock charger. The first night with my device, I charged it overnight and was only at 88% when it was time for me to leave the following morning, after some 8 hours of charging.

I am not sure that I believe the current assessment that this is due to certain apps. I am not running anything unique on the ThinkPad Tablet that I do not run on at least one other Android device, if not several, and those devices do not have this problem. So my feeling is that if there are certain apps that are doing this to this tablet specifically, it is due to an interaction with something that Lenovo customized in this specific device, not due to the apps themselves. At any rate, there are several work-arounds to contend with this. There is pretty steady discussion on this topic in the Lenovo support forums, as well as in reviews threads on Amazon and other online vendors. Most users should be ok if they set the wireless antenna to power down whenever the display is off. My problem with this fix was that for the first couple of days with the device, I could not find that setting. It is not in the same place that it is on every other Honeycomb device that I have used, so I set other configuration settings in lieu of this one step, and for a time, I did not want to change them since I had it working the way it was. I am just getting around to trying to back some of those changes out to see if the WiFi work-around will be enough in and of itself.

In the meantime, my personal configuration settings have made the constant LED-on condition go away, and the device charges normally. I get a full-day’s work out of the device (easily). Right now, battery power is reporting out at 49% and Juice Plotter, which has proven very accurate, shows 8 hours and 15 minutes of use remaining. Lenovo also states that the ThinkPad Tablet charges faster when placed in the dock, which is an add-on that the company sells for $69.99 and currently shows a 4-week-plus shipping date. For some reason, this accessory only shows up as a bundled add-on when ordering the tablet, and not available for stand-alone purchase. I have started to keep a 3rd-party generic micro-USB charger made by TomTom at work and it has worked fine so far. A word of warning: despite the fact that the ThinkPad Tablet can be “cured” of the egregiously slow charging speeds with a work-around, the fact is that micro-USB is still a slower charging delivery mechanism than a direct, dedicated power connector would be. Therefore, even with the LED symptom work-around, the TPT still charges slower than other tablets with proprietary direct and dedicated power connections.

SD Card Slot

There have been no issues that have surfaced while using the SD card slot. I use an SD-to-micro-SD memory card adapter with several micro-SD cards. I have not had the opportunity to test the SIM slot. I will take Lenovo’s word for it that the SIM card port does not work.

USB Port

As is the case with some of the other Android tablets sporting a full-sized USB port, that connection is the star of the ThinkPad Tablet’s utility. I have been able to use USB hubs, mice, keyboards, and thumb drives with the tablet. I have not tried my 32GB PNY thumb drive, but several 4GB drives have worked with aplomb. I use ES File Explorer as my file browser and management app on the ThinkPad Tablet, and it continues to meet all of my needs. The unit comes with a pre-installed file browser app directly from Lenovo, but I have not used it as I use ES File Explorer on all of my Android devices.

Summary Opinions – Connections and Ports

Overall, the connections and ports on the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet leave me pretty satisfied, with some caveats:

  • As I mentioned in the first article in this series, I would have preferred both an SD card slot, and a micro-SD port. I realize that there is a cost advantage to producing the same chassis for all variants of the ThinkPad Tablet, but it seems like Lenovo could have made the WiFi versions with a micro-SD slot in the place of the useless SIM card port.
  • I am a fan of the microUSB port being used for charging, and I am willing to take the slower charging speed for this increased utility.
  • The decision to go with a mini-HDMI port over a micro or full-HDMI port leaves me a little miffed, but I do not connect to HDMI that often. The main problem is that with an adapter and an HDMI cable hanging out of the side, the combination tends to sag in the port because it is was machined with too much tolerance, leaving a fit that is not that tight. So the cable and adapter sag, placing strain on the connections. Maybe it will not cause any issues with the connection over time, but any gadgeteer out there is likely not a fan of seeing a lot of connection or cable-strain being applied to their device.

Sidebar – Accessories (or the lack thereof)

I wanted to include some info on accessories as we are about to move into focusing on software after this post. Probably the most disappointing thing to me loosely associated with ports and connectors is not directly attributed to the device itself, but the dearth of accessories available for the ThinkPad Tablet at this point. At the time I purchased it, I could not even find screen protectors cut specifically for the device, so I modified one that I ordered for the Toshiba Thrive 10. There are the type that use a spray-on application to seal the screen protector to the tablet, but I am back to not trusting in the concept of deliberately putting a fluid on an electronic device.

I would love to be able to place my ThinkPad Tablet in the Lenovo Dock at work, but I am not willing to pony up cash for a 4 week wait period, and right now you cannot order just the dock from Lenovo. The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet Keyboard Folio Case also has a 4 week wait period, and also cannot be ordered direct from Lenovo by itself. There are a few vendors that list the Keyboard Folio and the Dock as an item for sale, but almost none of them actually show the items as confirmed in-stock.

The Tablet Pen is available as a stand-alone purchase for for $39.99 but shows a shipping wait of 10 days. Anyway, I would recommend that if you want the pen, get it up front with the tablet. Purchased as a bundle, the pen adds $30 to the Lenovo price vice the $40 price as a stand-alone purchase. However, you can also easily find the 32GB ThinkPad Tablet with the pen for $30 $70 less (I ordered mine from TigerDirect for $569.99 – they are even cheaper now at $529.99) than the Lenovo price for the ThinkPad Tablet without the pen (Lenovo sells the tablet $569 without the pen, and charges another $30 to bundle the pen and tablet together) at other online vendors carrying the device. The Thinkpad Tablet Folio case is available for $49.99, for order by itself, and shows a 10-day delay from order to shipping. In my opinion, $50 is too much to spend on a folio case. For the time being, I am using the folio case that I ordered for the Toshiba Thrive. It is not a perfect fit, but it gets the job done. I also purchased a generic hard-shell carrying case for 10″ tablets to use as an alternate that provides some degree of protection for the TPT when I am walking around the plant.

Stay turned for further impressions coming over the next few days!

Toshiba Thrive 7 Launching in Early December With HD Display [Photos]

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toshiba thrive 7Toshiba is announcing the Thrive 7 today, a 7″ Honeycomb tablet which is the second addition to the Thrive series. Toshiba described the Thrive 7 as a smaller version of the Thrive 10 and it will feature that same grip-friendly back. The Thrive 10 is a ‘utility’ tablet of sorts, featuring a range of full-sized ports. I was hoping that the Thrive 7 would retain these full-sized ports, but unfortunately they had to be shrunk to their smaller counterparts in order to fit inside of the Thrive 7.

While other 7″ Honeycomb tablets have so far been released with 1024×600 screens, the Thrive 7 has been fitted with a 1280×800 LED backlit display. Honeycomb 3.2 is installed out of the box.

The Thrive 7 uses that familiar Nvidia Tegra 2 platform that most Honeycomb tablets are using today, which means you’ll find a 1GHz dual-core Cortex A9 CPU and 1GB of RAM inside. As for ports, the tablet hides micro-HDMI, mini-USB, and MicroSD away underneath a dust-cover. I thought an error had been made when I heard mention of mini-USB (instead of micro), but we’ve double checked and it is confirmed that the Thrive 7 has a mini-USB port instead of micro-USB. Why Toshiba went with mini-USB instead of micro-USB is unclear. However, you will be able to charge through the mini-USB port, or through the docking connector on the bottom. I think I speak for most of us when I say it would have been awesome to see full-sized HDMI/USB/SD on the Thrive 7, but I suppose they couldn’t cram all of that in the chassis of the 7″ form-factor.

In addition to the aforementioned ports, you’ll find a volume rocker, lock/power button, and rotation-lock switch on the Thrive 7, just like the Thrive 10. There’s also a 2MP front facing camera and a 5MP rear sensor.

At 11mm thick and 399 grams, the Thrive 7 won’t be the thinnest or lightest tablet on the market, but it’s trimmed way down compared to the Thrive 10 which is 16mm thick and weighs in at 725 grams. 16/32GB capacities will be offered. Though the Thrive 7 is focused on mobility, Toshiba says it has no plans at the moment for a 3G version of the unit.

Toshiba will be offering a range of cases for the tablet, including one which will allow the device to be propped up in both landscape and portrait modes. To make use of the docking connector (not found on the Thrive 10), Toshiba is readying a sort of multimedia dock which will play nicely with a Bluetooth keyboard that will also be offered with the device.

Pricing will be revealed closer to launch, which is planned for early December.

ThinkPad Tablet — Owner’s Impressions Series: Part I, Hardware

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The ThinkPad Tablet is not going to be for everyone. I mention that now because, over the next few days, my postings on the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet may make it sound like the coming of the Holy Grail of gadgets. I am a particular type of user and, for me, this device mates very well with many of my use-cases. in fact, in many ways, this is the device that I have been waiting for for years. So much so that, with three other tablets in the house, I am hard pressed to figure out if I am willing to spend days using the other tablets and letting the Thinkpad sit. I may just have to go to using the Thinkpad Tablet all of the time.

The Thinkpad Tablet arrives on the back-end of a week of tablet troubles. I originally purchased an Acer Iconia Tab A100 to fill the space of a 7″ device in my kit, and replace my Dell Streak 7. The A100 functioned for a few days and then failed, areas of its display no longer accepting input. I RMAed it for a Toshiba Thrive, hoping to leverage the added connectivity of the full-sized ports. Despite applying all Toshiba updates, the device was unusable after a full night of testing and configuration. It would sometimes not wake up from sleep, or it would wake up, but the WiFi antenna would not power back up, or it would not go to standby when I pressed the power button. That device I sent back as an RMA as well.

So, I will admit that my impressions of the Thinkpad may also be colored by this rash of poor tablet quality that I have been recently exposed to. And that is one reason why this is not titled as a review. I have been working on the Thinkpad Tablet for about four days total. These are my first days’ impressions of the device, which I hope to provide updates to after a month or so of use, as well as follow-on long-term reports.

The Thinkpad Tablet is not a lithe device. It will not be winning any awards for svelteness. That being said, while its understandable that people are enamored with the 11mm thickness of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, I consider that device flimsy and not something I personally want to throw in my bag every day. I do like the feel of the Xoom and the Acer Iconia Tab A500, and the Thinkpad has some similarities to both of those devices. Throughout this part of the first impressions series, by the way, we will be doing a lot of comparisons between the Thinkpad Tablet, the Xoom, and the A500, as I have used all of these.

The entire back of the Thinkpad Tablet is rubberized, much like the majority of the back of the Xoom. The back provides a small degree of additional grip, which I always like in a device. It gives me more confidence that the device will not wind up on the floor. The Thinkpad Tablet feels like it is a little lighter than the Iconia Tab A500 to me, despite the fact that the Iconia’s list weight is about 0.05 pounds less than the Thinkpad’s. The Xoom supposedly weighs in at the same weight as the Iconia Tab, and also feels heavier than the Thinkpad to me. I believe this has a lot to do with weight distribution and the ergonmics of the designs. Regardless, when you get down to it, with a 0.05 pound weight difference between the Thinkpad and the other two devices, it should not make a big difference to anyone.

I know that a lot of people don’t like the Xoom’s placement of the lock/power button, but having used several Android tablets, it is my favorite placement for a power button because it limits the frequency with which a user accidently hits the button and wakes the device up or sends it to standby. This is especially true when inserting or removing a tablet from a case. I routinely hit the power button on the Thinkpad taking it in and out of bags. The Iconia A500’s power button is on the side and has a very small surface area, so hitting it accidently is pretty unlikely. The Thinkpad Tablet’s sits on the top left-hand corner. Not a show-stopper, obviously, but occasionally annoying when you also have a Xoom that has a comparatively better design.

The left-side of the Thinkpad Tablet is populated with just the two nubs for Volume Up and Down. The right-hand side has the majority of the ports: Headphones, MicroUSB, HDMI, and the dock connector. Hidden underneath a pop-out port cover are the slots for the SD Card and the SIM Card. As far as I have been able to ascertain, the SIM Card slot on my model does not do anything and will not allow 3G communications. While I like the full-size SD Card slot, I would have preferred another slot dedicated for MicroSD; as it is now, you have to use a MicroSD-to-SD adapter if you have MicroSD cards laying around that you want to use. Initially, this feels like an inconvenience to me because I cannot simply grab a spare microSD card and insert it into the Thinkpad Tablet sans adapter. I may come to see this as a convenience later, as this setup does mean that I just pull out the card-in-a-card and insert it directly into one of my laptop’s card reader port if I want to swap files between the two.

The bottom edge of the tablet has a sliding port cover, which reveals a full-sized USB port. Accompanying the USB port is the device’s single speaker. There is a cubby in the lower-left-hand corner of the back panel for the stylus (yes it’s an active digitizer). The cubby is notched for retention, but it does not have the more secure feel that a spring-tension retention mechanism does. Of course, with no mechanical, moving parts, it also means not having to worry about something else to break. So far, the stylus has remained securely snug in the cubby when I have had it placed there.

For the chassis design, I would give the ThinkPad Tablet an average to above-average rating. I would have preferred stereo speakers, like my other two Android tablets have. I understand this is a business device, but I would still have preferred better audio for watching presentations or iTunes University lectures. I previously mentioned my on-the-fence perspective of the SD card slot. And I would have preferred the Power Button to be located elsewhere. But I love the feel of the back of the device, its weight and overall size. The Thinkpad Tablet is thicker than the Xoom, but the Xoom concentrates a lot of its weight in the center, which sometimes causes a strain when holding that tablet one-handed at the outside edges for a long period of time. The ThinkPad Tablet distributes all of its weight evenly. It also has a lot of bezel, which normally would be undesirable. However, for inking, it is nice to have ample area to hold the tablet without coming into contact with the screen. The shape of the ThinkPad Tablet makes it the one device that has some closest to feeling like writing or working on a paper notepad for me, and that makes a difference when we get to talking about inking later on.

In side-by-side comparisons, I give the nod to the Thinkpad Tablet’s display. The A500, however, has the brightest display. I tested this by pulling up a wallpaper of a riff on the Atari logo, which shows 5 bands of different colors on a black background. I then took the ThinkPad Tablet, Xoom, and A500 and laid them side-by-side with this image on their screens, and the Honeycomb pop-up menu surfaced, as well, so I could some some contrast. I compared the image across the displays. I then zoomed in until the screen was primarily taken up by a very large area of black and the yellow stripe of the logo. While observing the images, I had the display brightness set at maximum and Auto off. As mentioned, in terms of sheer brightness, the A500 seemed to come out on top. When it came to looking at the zoomed image, the ThinkPad Tablet had the best color saturation of the yellow stripe, the deepest blacks, and the best contrast. The display also features Corning Gorilla Glass. This technology is now so prevalent, that I am starting to look askance at any device that does not come with it.

There are four hardware buttons on the right edge of the Thinkpad Tablet’s front panel. I use these buttons infrequently, but I also do not find them intrusive. Kudos to Lenovo for putting in a button that locks the auto-rotation, instead of having to do the normal two-step drill-down to access the lock-screen rotation option.

OK, that’s it for the hardware impressions and comments on the chassis. Over the next week, we will go over connections and ports, Android customizations and software performance, and finally we will wrap-up with the digital ink experience. This will also give me a few more days to work on the device on the job, where I have used it to replace my Acer Iconia Tab A500 as my primary business companion. Stay tuned!

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