Tag Archive | "honeycomb"

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Features Impressive Super AMOLED Screen and 1.4GHz Dual-Core CPU – First Hands-on Video

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tab 7.7It’s about time Samsung got a true successor to the Galaxy Tab 7 out the door. Today at IDF they’ve announced the somewhat leaked Galaxy Tab 7.7, which features one of the largest AMOLED displays ever seen on a consumer mobile device.

Please excuse the video title typo!

The CPU has been upgraded to a 1.4GHz dual-core CPU which is apparently of Samsung’s creation, which they say can run 1080p video just fine along with DivX support; they’ve otherwise been quite quiet about the specifics so far. This sets the Tab 7.7 apart from most other Honeycomb tablets which use Nvidia’s Tegra 2 dual-core CPU which runs at 1GHz.

The press release lists the RAM at 8GB, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that is a typo. We’re probably looking at 1GB of RAM. On the capacity side, you’ll be looking at your classic 16/32/64GB flavors with a microSD slot for adding even more.

From my experience with the AMOLED display on Samsung’s Nexus S, I can say that I’m quite excited to see the Tab 7.7 in person. This is the first mobile device that I’d actually want to watch movies on. Thanks to the AMOLED technology you can expect the 1280×800 screen to have an exceptional contrast ratio when compared to other mobile devices (and even some TVs), most of which use LCD technology.

The Tab 7.7 runs Honeycomb 3.2 out of the box with Samsung’s custom TouchWiz modifications, and they’ve brought the device down to an impressive 7.89mm thick and 335 grams (from the original 12mm thickness and 380 grams)! The back is made out of aluminum and the whole device does look impressively svelte.

galaxy tab 7.7 product image_02

The cameras have sadly not seen a big bump in MP (just 3MP on the rear camera and 2MP on the front-camera), but it’s quite possible that the optics have been upgraded. Both cameras have sufficient resolution for capturing 720p HD video, though Samsung hasn’t clearly stated that the device will be able to record at such resolutions.

It sounds like initially the Tab 7.7 is going to be released with carriers, but we may eventually see a WiFi-only version, as we did with the original Tab 7.

The unit has HSPA+ connectivity, and Samsung’s press release says it can make calls, but it isn’t clear whether they are talking about true cellular voice calls or VoIP.

Like the Sony Tablet S, the Tab 7.7 has infrared built-in for remote control functionality on your TV and other IR equipped devices.

Samsung says that the Tab 7.7 supports something called “WiFi channel bonding” which is used for “bonding two channels into one for improved network connection and data transfer at up to twice the speed”.

If Samsung can keep the AMOLED display from making the device too expensive, they could have a big hit with the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

Top 12 Tablet Weights Compared — At 595 Grams, Sony’s Tablet S is the Second Lightest 10” Tablet on the Market

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Though Sony’s Tablet S has been known about for months now, today they finally unveiled official specifications for the device. While weight isn’t the spec that everyone jumps at immediately, it’s certainly an important factor for a large 10” tablet. Sony says that their Tablet S is just 595 grams, which makes it the second lightest of the top 12 tablets, right between the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Apple iPad 2 (with the Tab 10.1 being the lightest) – quite impressive considering that the Tablet S design isn’t as thin as many of the other tablets on the market because of it’s interesting folded shape, though it should count itself lucky to be considered a 10″ tablet when the screen is actually only 9.4″. Have a look at how the top 12 ten inch-category tablets compare:

Image 9

I would love to be able to say that tablets are getting lighter as time goes on, but as you can see, there are four Honeycomb tablets that were released after the first (the Xoom) that are actually heavier (though the Eee Pad Slider sort of has an excuse!).

tablet s leverage

The Tablet S is only about 1% lighter than the iPad 2, but Sony designed it with that funky shape specifically to make it feel lighter in one hand by grouping the weight on one side and reducing leverage again your hand. I’d be curious to see how much torque the iPad 2 puts on a hand vs. the Tablet S.

Sony Tablet S Available 9/16, Starts at $499; Trade in an old Tablet and Save $100

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sony tablet sFollowing the official unveiling of the Tablet P and Tablet S (formerly the S1 and S2) at IFA this morning, Sony now has official pricing and release dates available online. Right now you can go to SonyStyle.com and pre-order the Tablet S (the single-screened one) in its 16GB flavor starting at $499 (to match the iPad 2, no doubt), while the 32GB version goes for $599.

Sony is running a promotion through October 1st which will provide you with $100 off of the Tablet S if you’re willing to trade in an old tablet.

On this page you can enter your old tablet’s details and see if Sony considers it valid for the promotion. At the moment, Sony lists the following tablet manufacturers as those which would be valid:

  • Apple
  • Archos
  • Dell
  • HP
  • Motorola
  • Samsung
  • Viewsonic

Once you select a brand you need to specify the model, so not every old tablet may work, but it won’t hurt to give it a try if you want to trade up to a newer device.

Pre-ordering reveals that the device will become available on September 16th, a little more than two weeks away. It’s nice to finally see Sony get their tablets to market, but I don’t think they represent the bar the Sony had once set for handheld devices.

The dual-screened Tablet S is not immediately available for pre-order alongside the Tablet P, and the release date has not been indicated on Sony’s site.

Sony Tablet S and Tablet P Hands-on at IFA

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Following the annoucenement here at IFA I managed to get some hands-on with the Sony Tablet P and Tablet S.

Acer Iconia Tab A100 Now Available Starting at $329–First 7” Honeycomb Tablet

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iconia tab a100The wait is officially over. Today, Acer announced that the Acer Iconia Tab 100, the first 7” Honeycomb tablet, is available in the US today and will be coming to Canada next month. It haven’t yet found it officially listed for sale on the site of any major retailers (or even on Acer’s own site), but I’d expect it to start popping up later today

We’ve actually known pretty much all there is to know about the Iconia A100 for some time now, other then when it would be launched. Right a the end of the July, we covered a story by Engadget that indicated that the A100 would be available in August, and it seems that they were right on the money.

Speaking of money; it was unclear which capacity the $300 price-point that we heard originally was intended for. Now we’ve got that information officially. Acer is offering an 8GB and 16GB variant of the device. The 8GB has an MSRP of $329 USD and though $329 USD is only $324 CAD, Acer lists the CAD MSRP as $349. For the 16GB version, the MSRP is $349 USD and $399 CAD.

These low initial prices are great as we’ll likely see them come down further relatively soon.

Another good thing is that the Iconia A100 will be shipped with the latest Honeycomb 3.2 installed, which means that, at least for now, customers will be able to enjoy the latest and great version of the OS and not have to worry about whether or not they’ll receive timely updates… yet.

Joanna Stern has some hands-on photos and early impressions over at This is My Next. She’s already reporting some unstable software on the device, which will hopefully get cleared up soon.

I’m still concerned as to whether or not Acer is lying again about the 1080p support on the A100, as they did with the Iconia A500. At launch, Acer claimed that the A500 would be able to do 1080p output even though it actually couldn’t. They promised an update that was supposed to hit in June to include the functionality, but that never came, and to my knowledge, still hasn’t. The press release for the A100 claims 1080p output capability, just like the A500 situation. Time will tell whether or not they are lying again.

Swing by our Acer Iconia Tab A100 forum for discussion, and if you missed it, you can find full product specs, links, and more on the Iconia Tab A100 tracking page in our database.

WiFi-only Dell Streak 7 to Receive Honeycomb Update, 3G/4G Variant Being Left Behind with Android 2.2

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honeycomb streak 7According to our pal Jenn over at StreakSmart, the WiFi-only version of the Dell Streak 7 is set to receive an official update to Honeycomb next month.

Details haven’t emerged yet, such as which specific version of Honeycomb will be used and whether or not it will be customized or left stock. Jenn says the the update is expected to greatly increase the battery life of the device.

This is great news for Streak 7 owners, but it only applies to the WiFi-only version of the device. Apparently T-Mobile’s 3G/4G variant, which StreakSmart points out was recently discontinued, may never receive the update.

An alternative option to acquire Honeycomb is a custom ROM which is an unofficial software release that can be installed to your device if you’ve got the skills necessary. Jenn has a link to that ROM on her original post, go check it out.

Are you a WiFi-only Streak 7 user who’s excited for the Honeycomb Upgrade? Or perhaps a T-Mobiler who’s angry that your device wont be updated? Let us know in our Streak 7 forum.

Breaking: TouchWiz “Emulator” for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Goes Live + Review Roundup

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Breaking: The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 TouchWiz Interactive Emulator just went live. Samsung calls it an emulator, but its really a simulator! Still, it gives you a way to play with TouchWiz before installing it on your device.

I am not a fan of OEM UI’s. I am even less of a fan when they are not optional (more on that later). User interfaces added onto a device by their OEM, instead of just using the one that is part of the associated OS, are always better when they can be enabled or disabled at the user’s discretion. They tend to be burdened with a lot of content that is just marketing or sell-through fluff, so being able to enable or disable them at will makes the bitter seed more palatable. 3rd party UI’s, in contrast, are designed to be competitive, and to make the developers money, and are therefore typically more lean and arguably provide more value. None of these trends have prevented Samsung from rolling out its TouchWiz UI for its flagship tablet, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, however, and maybe it is a good thing that they did.

We’ve taken some time to scour the web and bring you an aggregated perspective of how the media has received the software update so far. There are some good takeaways and some bad. Read on to familiarize yourself with the basics:

Software updates are big news these days. A press event to announce a new version of an OS would sell seats like a Justin Bieber concert, but to a much cooler crowd of people. There is no other tablet on the market today that is running Honeycomb with a custom skin, so Samsung’s release of the TouchWiz UX overlay is a first. My own exposure to TouchWiz (TW) was with an overlay for Windows Mobile 6.5. In that instance, it made sense. WM6.5 did not have much going for it in the GUI department, and Samsung took a very textual interface and made it graphical and object oriented.

The most noticeable thing that most of the reviewers picked up on is how TouchWiz on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 brings what is arguably Android’s biggest differentiator, widgets, to the forefront. Samsung has implemented a customized widget system that brings a slightly more appealing color palette and some added functionality. The new GUI version is very much about liveness of data, and goes a long way towards increasing awareness from the surface of the GUI without making you dig too much further into an app. Many views, like news and weather, are aggregated so that you spend less time bouncing through apps to get up to speed on the latest.

TouchWiz is, however, not just about widgets. Several new features come along for the ride with the update. One of those, Samsung’s MediaHub, reveals a pair of trends; one good, the other not so much so. The first trend is that there is this third tier of developer that is growing out of Android. You can think of it as Android being an engine, and developers using that engine as an SDK. But what is significant is that companies like Samsung and HTC who are going this route, are seeing the need to have their own media services coupled with the Android-flavored code-base their devices run on. MediaHub provides access to a lot of recent content, but it requires its own account and login credentials. The downside of this trend is the set of restrictions that we have seen on the rise concurrent with these services. In this case, Samsung restricts you to 5 devices that can access MediaHub content through one account. While it is unlikely that any one individual will have 5 Samsung devices, I am curious as to how MediaHub handles device retirement. Hopefully a little better than iTunes.

The major downside to TouchWiz is what might happen to you of you don’t opt-in for the upgrade. Reportedly, if you do not install TouchWiz, your Galaxy Tab 10.1 will not receive future updates to the OS. Now, it is unclear to me exactly how far this goes. Engadget reports that, at a minimum, it means no Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade. I would believe, however, that actual firmware fixes to correct a problem with the device would still be delivered. However, even for that, it is tough to have a high degree of confidence. If Samsung has to spin two versions of a firmware update (one for TouchWiz and one for non-TW), then I can see the company dropping support within a year. Of course, not every firmware update should have an interface to the classes that govern the UI, although it is feasible that some would. Either way, it sounds like if you have bought into the Galaxy Tab, then you have, by Samsung’s definition, bought into TouchWiz as well.

Regardless, most of the reviewers were pleased with the value and performance that the TouchWiz UI seemed to bring to the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The update will turn the current version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 into the first Android Tablet to market with an OEM skin on top of Honeycomb.

Could TouchWiz set off a new trend of skinned Honeycomb devices? It all depends on how well the Galaxy Tab 10.1 does at retail. If it does significantly better than other tablets out there, that just might encourage other manufacturers to roll their own skins for Honeycomb. Right now, it seems like general consumers are driven primarily by price-point. The technoratti seem to be mainly encouraged by performance. Every Android lover is looking for the same immediate-response experience that the iPad delivers. TouchWiz will need to prove itself fast and unintrusive to make it a positive differntiator of the Galaxy Tab product.

Here are some links to the original Engadget review, as well as some additional perspectives from the usual suspects. Read on after the gallery for my more of my own assessment of what the TouchWiz UI may mean for users and Samsung.

Source: Engadget

Further Reading:
PhoneDog
CNET
PCMag

My personal assessment is that TouchWiz worries me, and the requirement to opt-in in order to continue to receive support firmly strikes the Tab 10.1 from my “I Want” list. A few key notes:

  • On the Android platform, Samsung has had a poor record of quickness to deploy Android updates. I firmly believe this is due to the additional qualification time needed to test Android updates against their customized UI’s. They have gotten better, but are still not as quick to OTA as some others
  • On Windows Mobile 6.5 (running on a Samsung Omnia II), one of the things I did not like about TouchWiz was the replacement of key apps with TW variants. So when you called up Calendar, if TW was enabled, you received a different view and different functionality in terms of input to create appointments, edit appointments, and so forth. This pervaded into text messaging, notes, and the phone view. in some cases, the TW variant was actually better, but in others it was not.
  • The good thing was, you could disable TW in WinMo 6.5. Of course, it was all on or all off, so you got the better TW apps enabled along with the apps where you would have preferred to just run the native Windows Mobile version. This incentivized me to more often then not to run with TW disabled
  • I have found a similar effect in HTC Sense (running on the HTC Evo 3D); the Calendar app is the HTC Sense variant, which is not a 1:1 replacement for the Android calendar. This gets aggravating when running several Android devices, and then going to a Sense device and having things oriented slightly differently than every other instance of the app that you run.
  • This is where the overlay starts to get in the way of using the device rather than the overlay being a helper. The bad thing is, you cannot turn Sense off, and when running stock, the Calendar app is not even available as an app, only as a widget. Hitting the widget even, just launches the HTC Sense version of the Calendar app.
  • If TW has similar hooks, then users who run more than one Android device may not see it as appealing a differentiator as Samsung would like.

Exclusive: Eight Leaked Sony S1 and S2 Screenshots Reveal Honeycomb 3.2, Chumby App, Proprietary Adapter and More

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s1 and s2Today I went snooping around Sony’s support site where I was able to uncover some support documents for their upcoming S1 and S2 tablets that have gone public before they were supposed to.

From the leaked documents, I’ve found that the S1 and S2 will most likely be shipping with Android 3.2 as opposed to 3.0 or 3.1:

android 3.2

The same screenshot also shows us that the model of this particular tablet is called “Sony Tablet 5 (or maybe S?)” which is likely an internal codename.

It’s good to know that the S1 and S2 will ship with 3.2 as many tablet owners are still waiting to get their 3.1 updates!

Sony will also be including a ‘Wi-Fi Checker’ app which will presumably help people connect properly to the web, perhaps with more complicated enterprise connections in mind:

wifi checker

wifi checker 2

Screenshots of the app launcher also indicate that Sony will be including a Chumby app. Chumby is a sort of internet companion that’s designed for a bedside table. Sony’s Dash ‘Internet Viewer’ is powered by the Chumby OS, so it makes sense that the S1 and S2 will be able to use the Chumby app to fill a Dash-like role, though the redundancy between Chumby and the ‘Dash Dock’ is perplexing.

chumby app

Along with the Chumby app, other screenshots show Zinio, indicating that this will likely come pre-installed as well. Zinio is a digital magazine publishing platform with apps available for iOS and Android.

zinio

According to one document demonstrating how to charge the S1, the device will be using a proprietary adapter, which means you’ll be out of luck if you need a charge and didn’t bring your adapter with you! And you definitely won’t be able to fit that adapter on a keychain.

sony s1 adapter

Another screenshot shows us how the keyboard looks, and it will apparently have a number pad, though it can’t be determined if this will be there all of the time or just some of the time (or perhaps it can be toggled?):

sony s1 s2 keyboard

There’s also a look at Sony’s Music Player app which will include Sony’s creepily named SenseMe mode which seeks to play music based on your mood.

music player

And just for good measure, here’s the homescreen:

sony s1 and s2 homescreen

The S1 and S2 are due out this fall, though Sony keeps reminding us that the names are unofficial and may be changed! We’ve got a close eye on these two interesting devices, even if I’m still not convinced that they represent better value than Archos’ awesome new tablets.

Asus Makes Eee Pad Slider Official With Press Release Following FCC Sighting

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When we reported earlier in the week that the Asus Eee Pad Slider had passed through FCC approval, there was no official announcement from Asus. However, yesterday, the official press release announcing the device as part of the Asus product line went live on the Asus website. The official launch brings some additional tidbits that further pique our interest in this device.

One of the trends that is disturbing me in the Android infrastructure is the implementation of proprietary solutions to various use-case problems in new premier devices. Asus bundles Asus WebStorage with the Slider as a solution to cloud storage and populating an on-line archive with data you might need to access from multiple mobile devices. It is a nice touch (I guess), and I am sure one or two users will decide to use this solution instead of already existing cloud file services like Google Docs and DropBox, or cloud notebooks like Evernote or Springpad. My main issue is that every time a manufacturer deploys one of these in-house services on a tablet, the app is usually not uninstallable. The problem goes away if you wipe and root, but if you want to just run the device stock, these pre-loaded apps are annoying. It is very clear that the pre-loaded epidemic that plagued desktops and laptops for so long is creeping into the tablet market, as well.

Fortunately, that rant gets any negative take-aways I have from the press release out of the way. Most everything else is good news, or at least enticing news until we see some more definition from various allusions in the release. One of those items is in the area of the Slider’s ports. We were aware of the microSD port, but the Slider’s specs now also call out a 16/32GB Embedded Multi-Media Card (eMMC) port. This is called out as a discrete port in addition to the microSD port, so it makes me wonder if this will be a full-sized port like the Toshiba Thrive and Dell Streak 7 feature.

Also revealed is the fact that the device will be available in both pearl white and metallic brown color schemes. That designation appears to apply to the brushed layer applied to the slide-out keyboard, as can be seen in the pics attached. Android 3.1 will be pre-loaded and Asus indicates an upgrade to 3.2 as an OTA delivery, as we would expect. In case we were not certain before, the launch announcement confirms an IPS display (similar to the one used on the iPad) with a claimed 178 degree wide angle of view.

You can peep the specs in our product database here. A link to the press release is included in the source citations below. There is nothing in the press release on pricing or a release date.

So…is anyone holding off on that Asus Eee Pad Transformer purchase to snag a Slider instead?

Sources:

Gizmodo

Asus Eee Pad Slider Press Release

Sony Lets Media Get Their Fingers on New Tablets [video]

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Sony S1 Tablet

Some members of the media were granted access to a Sony event held in Germany yesterday. Front and center at the event were the Sony S1 and S2 Tablets (which were first announced back in April), both of which take a differentiated approach to the tablet solution. Quite a few sites got some hands-on time, so let’s go through some of the general impressions.

As one would expect, Sony seems to have nailed the hardware design. The S1 is a “full-sized” 9.4 inch tablet running Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Most of the press seem to feel that its design invokes the feeling of a folded newspaper or magazine. One item of note is that the rear of the device is textured, which should result in better grip. I think a lot of tablet manufacturers fail to recognize the importance of grip in a tablet device. Good grip can compensate for a device that might otherwise be deemed too heavy.

In stark contrast to the S1′s design, the S2 features two 5.5 inch screens, and folds into a clamshell position for transport. It also currently runs Android 3.0 Honeycomb. I suspect that the actual OS version at launch might be a step-up of the 3.x-series by the time the S1 and S2 ship. Sony was mum on specs today. However, they did announce that the S2 will launch running on AT&T’s 4G network. AT&T has an HSPA+ network now, and is deploying LTE networks this summer. No one from the press appeared to get specific word on which variant the S2 will support, or if it will support both.

While most 10-inch Android Tablets are deploying with 1200 X 800 displays, the S1 has a 1280 X 768 screen. Despite the slightly lower resolution, the report from Germany is that viewing angles were good from both side and overhead perspectives.

Both devices are Playstation Certified. The jury is stil out on whether or not this feature is truly value-added. It certainly has not hepled reception of the Xperia Play, which debuted to lukewarm reviews.

This Is My Next caught a solid video of the S1 and S2 in action:

All-in-all, the hands-on reports seem to indicate positive interest. Of course, the proof will have to wait until the actual launches. No one is really certain how the Sony proprietary customizations of the Android OS (Quick View and Quick Touch) will be received. Sony’s Android solutions have not been hits so far, neither have they been complete failures. We’ll definitely let you know if these devices hit the mark or not when they release later this year.

Galaxy Tab 7 Props-Up Q1 Android Sales

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tab fingerThere are quite a few sales stats floating around for the tablet market. A recent report from IDC gives us two important checkpoints that, when considered with other stats, point towards a popular 7” Android tablet market that could be purely dependent on Galaxy Tab 7 sales unless Honeycomb ramps up quickly.

Firstly though, take a look at these exciting numbers from IDC.

  • Q1 2011 tablet sales were 7.2 million worldwide
  • Forecast for 2011 sales: 53.5 million
  • Android tablet sales now 34% of the total

Why are they exciting? These numbers are big enough to build quality software development projects on. I mean serious software development. Word processing. Audio editing. Photo editing and other applications that are generally rather ‘light’ on the ARM-based tablet platforms.

Clearly IOS is moving forward at a fantastic pace and we’re seeing productive software advance very quickly but there’s something in the Android figures that might be worth considering.

If about 350,000 Google experience Android devices were activated on average per day through the period (source) and Honeycomb runs at 1% of all Android versions (source), it means we can derive the following:

  • Android tablet sales in Q1: 2.45 million
  • Total Android activations in Q1: 31.5million
  • Assuming all sales will be activated, Android tablets account for about 8% of Android device activations
  • Honeycomb tablets in the market = 1% of 31.5 million = 315,000. This could rise fast due to sales/activation lag.
  • Non-Honeycomb tablets in Q1: 2.135 Million (88% of all Android Tablets activated in Q1)

Yes, there’s potential for error in those figures as you can’t compare sales with activations for the same period but the important think here is that Android 2.x is most popular on tablets at the moment. When you think carefully about that, you’re effectively saying that the 7” tablets are taking the lions share. With the Galaxy Tab sales figures indicating a possible 500,000 sales per month,  you have to wonder just how much of those Android tablet sales are just Galaxy Tab sales. Probably most of them. The Android Tablet market lived because of the Galaxy Tab 7.

Why?

It could be the form factor. Many, many people have commented on the portability. It could be the availability. The Galaxy tab has an incredible global distribution. It could be the price. At 350 Euros here, it’s a bargain and way cheaper than the larger, Honeycomb products. Quality is also going to be a factor. There aren’t many bad reviews of the Galaxy Tab out there.

What does that tell us for Q2-Q4?

The Galaxy Tab had good early reviews which is important for setting up great search results for subsequent sales of a product. Global carrier and shelf distribution is important. Price helps a lot. It also means there are few players that can achieve the same figures. Any Honeycomb device will suffer from the lack of tailored apps. Pricing needs to drop quickly. Only global players have a chance. Given the age of the Galaxy Tab and the momentum Samsung have, they look set to dominate again if they bring out a new Galaxy Tab 7”

10”, Honeycomb devices are in a pickle. Early reviews weren’t fantastic and the numbers of sales are low too which means developers won’t be interested in investing time and money into apps. If Samsung don’t update the Galaxy Tab, will overall Android tablet sales suffer unless another global player comes along with a killer product or will combined sales of new products start to ramp up numbers to solve the applications problem? Or will I write a similar article about Amazon this time next year?

Today Only! Motorola Xoom 32GB WiFi-only for $399

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woot xoomThanks to the folks over at deal-a-day site, Woot.com, you have the option of picking up the first ever Honeycomb tablet, the Motorola Xoom, for $399. This is a refurbished 32GB WiFi-only unit. The 10.1” tablet is running Honeycomb 3.1 (the latest version).

If you don’t mind picking up a refurbished unit, you’ll be saving yourself a cool $200 off the asking price of $599 that you’ll find for a new WiFi-only Xoom direct from Motorola. This deal even beats the device new from Amazon which would run you $499.

It is my personal opinion that Honeycomb is not yet good enough for the mainstream. If you want value in a tablet today, go buy an iPad 2. The Xoom itself is a decent bit of hardware, if a bit heavy, but the software still needs time to mature. The Android Marketplace is not yet loaded with enough Honeycomb apps to make the Xoom shine as a tablet, and the Honeycomb interface is not intuitive enough for your average user.

That said, you may not be a mainstreamer, and may be willing to put up with Honeycomb’s rough edges for the sweet customizability that is Android’s hallmark. If that’s the case, we’ve had our hands all over the Xoom; if you need some questions answered, feel free to comment below. We’ve also got some Xoom related content that might aid in your potential purchase decision (also check below for specs):

Have a look at the specs:

  • Android Honeycomb 3.1
  • Dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 CPU @ 1GHz
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 10.1” capacitive multitouch screen @ 1280×800
  • Micro HDMI-out
  • MicroUSB port
  • 32GB of built-in memory
  • Rear-facing 5MP camera (capable of 720p recording)
  • Front-facing 2MP camera
  • WiFi a/b/g/n & Bluetooth 2.1
  • GPS, magnetometer, proximity sensor, accelerometer, and gyroscope
  • Android Marketplace access
  • 3250 mAh battery
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Adobe Flash capable
  • 249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9 mm / 9.8 x 6.6 x 0.5 inches
  • 708 grams / 25 ounces

Don’t forget that this deal be completely gone at 1AM EST, and may sell out (likely will!) before that time comes. Best of luck!

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Review, Part 2 — USB Connectivity Tests and HDMI-out [video]

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Damian and I are at it again with another indepth review of the Asus eeePad Transformer and this time, we decided to throw as many USB goodies at the Transformer [tracking page] and keyboard dock as possible in an attempt to defeat it.

The USB selection included a Samsung USB keyboard with a trackpoint, a rather ancient looking Microsoft USB mouse, an USB Flash drive, a Sarotech ABIGS multimedia hard disk enclosure and a USB SD Card reader.

This video segment was totally unscripted and thus the we were genuinely surprised and excited that the Transformer worked and functioned with every USB device tested.

This is good testimony that the Transformer and the keyboard dock accessory is a real contender to replace the netbook as most of the common USB devices that we rely on for everyday computing will function on the Transformer.

Damian also commented that Asus will be releasing some useful Transformer adapters (including USB) for the tablet really soon which means you won’t need to get the optional keyboard dock in order to tap into the USB goodness!

The next challenge we had for the Transformer was hooking it up to a LCD TV via the HDMI out connection.

Note that the Transformer uses the mini-HDMI which differs from the Acer Iconia A500 that uses the micro HDMI instead. (If you’re looking for HDMI cables, don’t miss our guide on how to avoid getting ripped off)

There were no issues with getting the display mirroring working albeit a ‘gremlin’ moment when the LCD output display froze — this was rectified by detaching and reattaching the HDMI connector on the Transformer.

We tested video playback using 2 sets of 720p and 1080p video files and playback was disappointing on both the tablet as well as the LCD TV display out – both audio and video were terribly choppy and experience dropouts. This was encountered even after the latest Android system update which promised performance improvements which certainly weren’t evident in the video playback.

The system update did deliver some new cool features such as video editing application but that is review for another day, so stay tuned for that!

Quanta Snapdragon-powered Honeycomb Tablet Turns Up at Computex [video]

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Tweaktown shared a video of a new Honeycomb tablet that stands out form the crowd because it’s running a Qualcomm snapdragon processor. It’s made by Quanta, one of the world’s biggest contract PC manufacturers. It’s only a prototype but the first look video shows it has some good capability.

It uses the MSM860 processor which is dual-core and a competitor to the Tegra 2 which all major Honeycomb tablets have used so far. Qualcomm has no intention of selling the device but is looking for a manufacturer to bring it to market. The tablet looks to be nicely put together and the Company has a good pedigree of creating quality stuff given that they manufacture the iPod Touch and iPhone for Apple.

Here’s hoping they find someone to release it with:

Medfield Tablet Running Android to be Demonstrated at Computex

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Amongst a packed keynote from Intel at Computex today that includes Ultrabooks, Ivy Bridge, Cedar Trail and cloud talk, Intel showcase a Medfield tablet running Android Honeycomb.

At least, that’s what a pre-event press release via Engadget says. The event and press release hasn’t even happened yet! (Scheduled for about 2.5hrs from the time of this post)

The press release is interesting though and goes on…

Intel showcased a “Medfield” design running Google Android* 3.0 (“Honeycomb”) for the first time. In production later this year, the platform will enable sub-9mm designs that weigh less than 1.5 pounds for tablet designs in market the first half of 2012. It will support a range of operating systems including Android and MeeGo.

We’ll be back with some pics, vids and info from the teams on the ground very soon. I posted the full press release here.

Acer Iconia Tab A500 Live Videos, Testing Notes

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Thanks to everyone (350+ people) that dropped in on the live session with the Acer Iconia Tab A500 last night. I have to say that there’s no better way than to spend a focused 3 hours testing a new device than with a camera and knowledgeable audience!

We recorded three sections of the live session and the important notes and videos are below.  I will continue to test the A500 and if I find anything of major importance, will report it here. You’ll find further reports on Honeycomb over at UMPCPortal as I take on the task of tracking productivity apps that become available in the ecosystem.

So far I’m seeing good hardware from both looks, materials and an efficiency perspective but a number of software problems from the OS to the apps level that really fall below expectations. At 499 Euro I would expect to see multiple video codec support, a supplied micro HDMI cable and at least a simple stand or case. With the stability issues and application issues seen,  it raises a red flag at the moment. Unless you need the Iconia Tab A500 (and this applies to the other 2 Honeycomb Tablets available right now) I’d say wait for two things. 1) Price drop of about 15-20% should arrive within months. 2) Asses ongoing firmware updates and progress of Android applications for Honeycomb. Of course, you’ll also need to track future products from competitors. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is likely to be available in the next week or two.

Notes:

  • Battery life: 6hrs full use. WiFi, 50% screen, testing. I suspect you could run it dry by gaming on it for 5 hours but on the other hand, you might get more than 6hrs use if you’re gentle on it.
  • Battery life: 100hrs on, WiFi,  screen off. In idle state, with the Wifi on and screen off and with the device set to synchronize various apps, it will last between 75 and 100 hours. (Up to 4 days.) That’s a good figure.

Here’s the battery drain graph showing our testing, an overnight ‘sleep’ and some work I did with it today.

More notes:

  • Honeycomb observation: Why no HD available through YouTube application?
  • Stability. When using a USB keybaord the device crashed 4 or 5 times. I also saw the A500 crash twice without the keyboard but under heavy testing. Stability could be better.
  • Screen resolution and viewing angles are very good. Color, contrast too. Brightness average.
  • PDF one-page view is readable. That’s something you can’t do on a 7″ tablet, whatever the resolution.
  • Speakers clear, loud
  • Finish of design is excellent. Metal back gives it a stylish look and feel.
  • MicroSD card works. 3G Card slot is blocked off on this Wifi-only model.
  • Docking port was a surprise. No details of what is passed through that though.
  • No MicroHDMI cable supplied to test the HDMI output.
  • No extra codecs. (WMV, Divx and other formats don’t play) Have yet to see a 1080p file play back on the device.
  • Camer quality and video quality is so-so.
  • Gtalk video quality also, so-so. Easy to use though.
  • Weight (and this applies to many 10″ tablets) is still too heavy for one-hand holding for any length of time.
  • No built-in, or supplied stand
  • No USB mouse support
  • USB keyboard and mass storage supported. 3G dongle not tested.
  • Honeycomb apps seem few and far between. Existing apps in Market are often for portrait mode only and do not use all the space well.
  • Performance is comparable with other Honeycomb/Tegra2 tablets.
  • There’s possibly a Gyroscope sensor that improves responsiveness in games that use it. (Unconfirmed)
  • Compass, GPS confirmed.
  • Skype audio works without headset (built-in mic and speakers work. Rear faceng speakers help cut down feedback)
  • Google Earth impressive
  • No noticable heat build-up
  • Power cable only 1M in length
  • Approx 28GB of 32GB free for user storage.
  • Acer includes non-standard multimedia apps.

Videos:

Part 1 – Overview

Part 2 – Testing Browser and Performance

Part 3 – Further testing. Video, Cam, Batt, USB

Acer Iconia Pad A500 Unboxing

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The Acer Iconia Tab A500, a 10” Honeycomb tablet arrived today and, as per the ‘law’ I unboxed it straight away for you.

Interestingly, it crashed during the first tests! I was messing with an external keyboard at the time but that wasn’t expected. I also found out that there’s only one language installed and that the media player can’t handle WMV or DivX files that I had on a USB stick. Not a good start.

060520111486The build quality is impressive though and as you can see in this image, I did manage to get the Samsung Q1 keyboard working with it. The mouse didn’t work.

The screen has good viewing angles and the speakers are reasonable too. Set-up was, as always with Android, a breeze and working down in my studio I was able to see hotspots that I don’t usually see so the Wifi seems strong.

I’ll leave it there for the time being as we’ve got a live session running with the Acer Iconia Tab A500 this evening where we’ll find out everything there is to know. We’ll record some of the session and get it written up for you in a first-impressions post at the weekend.

Details for the live session are here.

Full Specifications, Links, Images, Reviews for the A500 are here.

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