Tag Archive | "review"

More Asus Transformer Prime Videos and Details

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is shaping up to be a hot seller with its quad-core Tegra 3 CPU/GPU combo and its attachable keyboard. Just a few days ago, our pal Ritchie got his hands on the Transformer Prime and produced a great overview video of the device. Now he’s drilling down the specifics.

Ritchie has fielded a number of questions from folks interested in the Transformer Prime, and prepared a whopping 5 new videos for your viewing pleasure. We’ll drop one here, but if you’d like more, certainly go visit the post over at Ritchie’s Room.

Huawei MediaPad 7 Honeycomb Tablet Review [video]

Tags: , , , , , , ,


I recently got my hands on a trial Huawei MediaPad 7 and over the last week I have been using it instead of my Eee Pad Transformer to see how it stacks up in the workplace.

The screen is one of the Huawei MediPad 7′s strongest features. It’s a 7” capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1280×800 and is IPS. It’s bright and produces colors well and is perfect for photos and videos but is also great for reading text. E-books look fantastic and the text jumps off the “page”.

Build quality

Firstly I am impressed with the look and feel of the Mediapad 7 and it seems to be very well made. The materials are first rate and the fit and finish equal to any other high grade tablet I’ve used. The device feels solid in the hand and it’s ergonomically easy to hold. The MediaPad7 feels a bit heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 (380g vs. 391g) and this may have an impact if you intend to carry it around a lot or hold it for extended periods while reading or watching videos.

Personally I like the smaller form factor but with a high resolution screen and the 7″ size if you don’t have good eyesight you may struggle with the MediaPad 7.

The Cracked Screen

I found out the hard way that the MediaPad doesn’t have Gorilla Glass screen as unfortunately my Son dropped the tablet and it landed screen first and slid a bit. It scratched badly and has a crack running edge to edge across the top of the screen. And this from a drop onto a wood floor from a height of less than 2 feet!  I’d highly recommend a screen protector and a case as the first accessories you buy. Personally I don’t like screen protectors and haven’t fitted any of my devices with one and the Eee Pad, for example, hasn’t got a scratch on it. I don’t know whether it was just bad luck or a soft screen but this scratching is the worst I’ve ever had on a tablet or phone screen and it didn’t take that much of a fall. YMMV as it could also have been a freaky perfect storm of impact and angle.

Cameras

Moving on to the device, I tested the cameras and I was pleasantly surprised by the rear facing camera.  It’s a 5 megapixel camera and just using the standard Android camera interface it handles low light well and the image looked nice and crisp. This photo of a teddy Bear was taken in the middle of the loungeroom with filtered light from a window about 10 feet away and there’s little grain in the image. The front facing camera is 1.3 megapixels and also handled room-only lighting easily. Under low light the MediaPad 7 performed as well as any of the other Android cameras I’ve tested and so would be fine for video conferencing or VOIP calls.

Test image from Huawei Mediapad camera

Keyboards and Mice 

Periperals like my portable Bluetooth keyboard and mice setup worked fine. I couldn’t connect any USB devices or drives because the MediaPad 7 doesn’t have a full-sized USB port, so this was untested.

Battery life

Huawei claims 6 hours for the battery and this feels right to me. I didn’t run any formal benchmarks on the battery but I could easily get through the day and night using it and have 25% left in the battery when I plugged it in at night. I had WiFi and Bluetoth on, auto brightness, and default screen time-out and sleep settings. My ‘all day’ is from 7 am to midnight usually. The MediaPad 7 will do well for active all-day use.

Overall

I liked the Huawei MediaPad 7. Cracked screen aside, the Medipad 7 is well made, fast, has a great screen, and is very portable. With the right accessories, like a good case and a keyboard, it could work OK in an enterprise environment (of course with the standard Android limitations) but the lack of a full size USB port hamstrings the MediaPad 7 for enterprise work. This may be the tradeoff you have to make to get a 7″ form-factor so you need to asses whether the ability to connect drives or peripherals via USB is a real need for you. I prefer the 10″ screen tablets for work but a 7″ is great for portability and as a quick around-the-house consumption device. I’d consider the Huawei MediPad 7 if it’s priced correctly — stay tuned for pricing announcements which should be coming soon from Huawei.

Video

ThinkPad Tablet — Owner’s Impressions Series: Part III, Front-End Enhancements [video]

Tags: , , ,


In this part of the series, I’m going to talk to you about some of the front-end enhancement that Lenovo made to the ThinkPad Tablet,  and I’ll be steering away from digital inking until the next part of the series. One of the main reasons I am doing this is because I knowingly go ga-ga for digital inking, and when it is done even moderately well, I tend to give a device a pass on other areas where it falls short. To try to avoid this, I’ll kind of go through this as if the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is almost two different devices; today we will cover all of the software topics outside of the inking experience. Before we get started, here’s a recap in case you missed the prior series:

Now then, the first things I want to cover are the additional embellishments to the OS’ front end. Lenovo has added some degree of functionality to the homescreens and the pop-up settings menu in the lower right-hand corner above and beyond what is in stock Honeycomb. Along the top edge of the ThinkPad Tablet’s homescreens, Lenovo placed five indicators (I call them meatballs) that indicate which homescreen you are on. Because there are only five homescreens available on a stock Honeycomb device, I do not think that this enhancement adds that much value, and I rarely need them. However, if the number of homescreens in Honeycomb ever increases, this might be a welcome addition. I will admit that when I am working on a Gingerbread device with seven or more homescreens configured, I can sometimes get lost as to where I am, so maybe I can understand what Lenovo was trying to address when it tacked this on.

The more valuable additions for most people are likely the ones present in the pop-up settings menu. On my other Honeycomb devices, the only controls that surface from this menu are selections for Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Screen Brightness, Notifications, and a selection to launch into the full Settings menu. Lenovo has provided some additional selection options on the ThinkPad Tablet to more fully surface the configuration settings that users might want available at their fingertips. In addition to the options mentioned above, the following settings are also available in the ThinkPad Tablet’s pop-up menu:

  • Auto-Rotate Screen
  • GPS
  • Bluetooth
  • Email Sync
  • Attached Display

This is not a bevy of additional controls, however, the addition of these five settings are enough to keep me from diving into the full settings app as frequently as I might with another Honeycomb device. Speaking of the Settings app, there are a number of additional configuration options present in that area as well. I will not go into the details of every single one, as the rabbit-hole of setting on the ThinkPad Tablet can go quite deep. Here are the big ticket items:

  • You can configure use and access to the Microphone and Cameras (I believe that when the ThinkPad Tablet is managed through an Exchange Server, these components can be disabled by IT admins)
  • Data encryption selections are available for both the device and removable SD Cards; on other Honeycomb devices I have only seen encryption available for the device itself
  • Absolute Software provides a LOJACK style security app. The app’s persistence can be enabled or disabled through the settings app
  • The MicroUSB port has discrete permissions settings for various uses, including Charge only, Mount SD Card, Media Transfer Protocol, and Ask on Connection
  • Access to SD Cards can be allowed or disallowed.

I do not use a lot of these. Specifically, I do use the option to disable my ThinkPad Tablet’s microphone and camera when I am in the office in order to ensure that there are no apps that access those components without my express permission. I am sure that corporate users will want to take advantage of the device-level and SD Card encryption. Unfortunately, I have the Absolute Software disabled as it is under suspicion of being one of the apps that never releases the Wi-Fi connection when the device is in standby as discussed in my previous installment in this series.

I will give you the quick run-down on the pre-installed apps. Let me say that just about any pre-installed app that I have received on any Android tablet has gone immediately to the unused apps category. Because I use Android all of the time, I pretty much have a list of apps that I want installed and will use. Pre-installed apps serve to pretty much just get in the way of me getting down to business. That all being said, sometimes I will get around to trying one of these apps out and will discover a gem that actually adds value. I have not hit that point with the ThinkPad Tablet yet, primarily because testing out all of the various ink apps and getting to a point of having a sustainable level of productivity is taking up any time that I could devote to experimenting with some of the ThinkPad Tablet’s pre-installs. So here is the list of pre-installed apps (to the best of my knowledge), although most of these I have never even run before:

  • Absolute
  • Lenovo App Shop
  • ArcSync
  • McAfee Security Suite for Business
  • Citrix
  • eBuddy
  • eReader
  • Mobility Manager
  • mSpot Movies
  • mSpot Music
  • Notes Mobile
  • ooVoo
  • Pocketalk
  • PrinterShare
  • Social Touch
  • USB File Copy

The Citrix client is probably the only one out of this list that I see offering some long-term value to me. The rest of it, as far as I can tell, either mimics an app that is available in the Market and already meets my needs, or is an app that I have not found a need for. I should perhaps be a tad more fair. Absolute, if it is not one of the apps keeping the WiFi antenna on, will be a welcome addition to other often-used apps on my ThinkPad Tablet. I have still not found anything that I am comfortable trying out on my Honeycomb devices to take the place of  Lookout Mobile Security. Unfortunately, that app is only available for Gingerbread devices the last time I checked. So having a security app that provides some ability to reach out and touch a lost device remotely would be a welcome capability. I have not launched McAfee. I went away from using any product from that company and Symantec for security features a long time ago, and I have a staunch that once I launch the app, it will take over certain functions and not allow me to disable it.

This brings me to one of my largest issues with pre-installed apps on Android devices. I understand that, in order to appeal to corporate users, Lenovo felt the need to bake in apps and capability to the ThinkPad Tablet that otherwise might cost an organization to buy on their own. However, I despise the fact that when company’s put these additions on the device, they concurrently remove the ability to uninstall them. This is an issue on all Android devices as just about every manufacturer approaches this area in the same manner, on both tablets and smartphones.

There are a handful of other apps above that I can also see a student or business user taking advantage of. EBuddy if they are still into IM. EReader if, for some reason, they have not already become steeped in the Kindle store or B&N Nook. MSpot Music might be valuable for a user to try out if if they have not already uploaded their music library to Google Music. PrinterShare and USB File Copy might be of use to business users who are not already using other apps to meet the functions those two apps provide. I have found Notes Mobile to be one of my principle go-to apps, but I want to  hold off on that discussions until the inking session.

I guess what I can say, is that the pre-installed apps never get in the way. I cannot recall being forced to use them, or having one of them launch unexpectedly when I called a process from within the browser. In contrast, HTC Sense, for instance, launches HTC’s custom-rolled apps for certain functions when what I want to use is a stock Android app. So, in that vein it could definitely be a worse situation on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet.

I want to add a few notes on stability and responsiveness of the ThinkPad Tablet’s OS. While the device performed well in the first week or so of use, I have noticed what appears to be a performance hit that has creeped in over the last couple of weeks. The biggest issue is that I have seen more instances of the launcher crashing when I am going back and forth between apps that can only orient in portrait mode and one that I have in landscape. On a tablet that is focused on inking, you can imagine that this is a frequent use-case. It’s annoying, but I cannot say that it slows me down that much. It causes other conerns, though, with regards to inking apps and I will cover that some more during the final post on the ThinkPad Tablet.

The other major performance hit I have experienced is numerous issues when using the Google Music App; this is the version that you update to to enable access to your Google Music Beta account. When using this app on the ThinkPad Tablet, I have experienced multiple lock-ups. The app will move to the next song in a playlist and will lock. I will have no control over the app at that point. I can get back to the homescreen, and I can go in and Force Close the app, fortunately. I am completely reliant on music as background noise whenever I am working on anything, both in the office and at home. In fact, this crash impacts me more than the launcher crash, because it is not just a matter of clearing the alert and getting back to the homescreen again. So, I have taken to using WinAmp for Android, which is meeting my needs well. It is just aggravating that an app that I perceive as being core to working in an Android environment is not available on the device that is becoming my primary business companion device.

That is it for this installment. Stay tuned for the final chapter, which will be devoted to inking apps, inking performance, and practical, real-world use. I do apologize for the fact that I am not a user of Lenovo’s suite of pre-installed apps. If there is one that someone wants me to test, please let me know in the comments. Below, you will find a video where I cover some of the topics covered here.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


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!

LG Revolution Full Review

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


DSC_5161Verizon is well on the way launching all 6 of the initial 4G devices on their roadmap. First was the HTC Thunderbolt, then the Samsung Droid Charge, and now LG’s Revolution. I was expecting the LG Revolution to represent a lesser performing and lower cost entry into the 4G-equipped phone sector though it’s actually priced up there with the others, but also performing better than I had expected.

Hardware Tour:

DSC_5109

DSC_5114

DSC_5111

DSC_5110

Specs:

  • Snapdragon CPU @ 1GHz
  • 368MB of RAM
  • 4.3” capacitive touchscreen @ 800×480
  • Android 2.2.2 with Bing search and custom skinning
  • 16GB memory stick included
  • 4G LTE data connectivity
  • 5MP rear-facing camera with flash (720p HD recording)
  • 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • WiFi b/g/n & Bluetooth 3.0
  • 6.06 oz. (5.03”x2.64”x0.52”)

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

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


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!

Eee Pad Transformer Review, Part 1 – Intro and Comparisons [video]

Tags: , , , ,


Damian was lucky enough to get his hands on an Asus Eee Pad Transformer as well as the keyboard dock directly from Taiwan and we dedicate this video exploring the Transformer’s design and ergonomics with comparisons against an array of others tablets that we have handy at that time, including my beaten up, original Transformer, the HP TC1100 tablet pc.

Overall we were happy with the design and ergonomics of the Transformer and the keyboard dock provides a plethora of connector ports including HDMI, USB, and SD. The keyboard also had an in-built battery which, when docked with the tablet, provided around 16 hrs of useable battery life.

The presence of this battery made the dock almost as heavy as the tablet; the combined weight of the Transformer and dock puts it past 1kg, making it possibly a little heavy to carry around.

HTC Flyer Live Review Part 1 – 5 Now On YouTube

Tags: ,


Just a quick note for those interested in the HTC Flyer that the live review videos are now available. Ill be writing up my review soon.

Part 2 is embedded below. You’ll find all the videos on the HTC Flyer product page and in the YouTube channel – stevechippy

Tablet Wars! 10 Tablets in Extended Hands-On Videos

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Sascha joined me in the studio last night for a full-on 3.5hr marathon testing and discussion session with 10 different tablets. The iPad2, Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Acer Iconia Tab A500, HTC Flyer, Blackberry Playbook and Samsung Galaxy Tab were the focus of our efforts and we recorded three parts of the live session for you to view below.

The Blackberry Playbook impressed with its smooth UI, video handling and gestures. The Flyer beat the other 7” tablets in a browsing test (and is as fast as any Tegra2 + Honeycomb browser I’ve tested.) The Galaxy Tab was crowned the value-for-money king and in the 10” category, we couldn’t really find a winner. The iPad2, of course, just sits in a special space all on its own and isn’t truly challenged by the 10” Android devices although as Honeycomb and Honeycomb-optimised apps start for mature, that could change., especiall when we look to lightweight hardware like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Anyway, here are the videos. We hope you enjoy them. All products are owned by Sascha or myself.

Don’t forget the detailed HTC Flyer Live Review tonight, May 18th,  at 2100 CEST (Berlin) on Carrypad.com/live. Follow @chippy for more on that.

The first video is an overview of all the tablets Two 10″ Devices were tested in detail in Part 2 Three 7″ devices were tested in detail in Part 3

HTC Flyer (Retail Version) Overview and Unboxing Video

Tags: , , , , , ,


Don’t forget that we’re doing a Live Review of the Flyer on Wednesday evening at 2100 CEST (your timezone here) where we do a detailed, 2hr review of the HTC Flyer with you in the chat session asking questions and steering the testing. It’s free, fun, detailed and interactive and likely to give you all the answers you need.

In the meantime, here’s the unboxing and overview video. I’ve got no comments at the moment apart from saying that the start-up sequence was smooth and that I’m a little bit underwhelmed by the pen input. Annotations seem OK but this is nothing that competes with the pen input capabilities of Windows 7, even on mobile PC devices.

160520111551

Here’s the unboxing video…

Acer Iconia Tab A500 Live Videos, Testing Notes

Tags: , , , , , ,


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

Motorola Xoom and Android 3.0 Overview Video

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


XOOM_high_POV_Home_VZWWe’ve got the Motorola Xoom [tracking page] on hand and have a nearly 30 minute-long overview session for you on video. You’ll be taken around the hardware of Motorola’s first Slate and then we’ll dive into Android 3.0 (Honeycomb).

WARNING: please turn your volume down around 0:30, 16:06, and 17:24. My phone vibrated during recording and it came out very loudly on the video, my apologies!

Samsung/Google Nexus S Review

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


DSC_3851Google’s Nexus phone program aims to combine top-end hardware and the latest Android software to create a flagship Android smartphone (and arguably, a developer phone). The first phone from the Nexus program was the Nexus One (HTC). Just recently Google has partnered with Samsung to bring the intuitively not intuitively named Nexus Two Nexus S to market. Does Google + Samsung = Success, or is the Nexus S being quickly superseded by other devices, even if they aren’t yet running the latest Android built? Step inside to find out.

All About Updates

gingerbreadThere’s one thing we should talk about up front. Google’s Nexus phones offer updates to the very latest Android built right as it’s released regardless of the carrier or manufacturer. On pretty much every other Android phone/device, updates are pushed through the carrier or OEM. This means that if users want the latest enhancements for Android (and who doesn’t?) they have to wait for a middle-man to get around to setting everything straight before they get the update. Unfortunately promised updates have failed to come to fruition in a number of cases, leaving users without important feature updates and performance improvements. And even when promised updates do eventually come through, they aren’t always as simple as upgrading right on your phone, making updates unobtainable for those less versed in the computer world.

With the Nexus program, Google provides access to the very latest Android software. Updates always come as soon as they’re released from Google, and they install straight through the phone. This gives any of the Nexus devices an advantage over most other phones. The Nexus S is one of the only [perhaps the only] devices on the market today that comes out of the box with Android 2.3 installed. And, even then after powering it on, the phone will ask to install several incremental upgrades that have been made since the initial Android 2.3 release.

And now back to our regularly scheduled reviewing!

Hardware

DSC_3812Let’s has a quick look at the specs of the phone and a tour around the device. As usual, you can see detailed specs, links, photos, and even compare devices with the Nexus S at it’s tracking page in our device database.

Briefly, before we get to the aforementioned, you might be interested in having a look at our Nexus S overview video:

Specs:

  • Android 2.3
  • Cortex A8 (Hummingbird) CPU @ 1GHz
  • 4” curved Super-AMOLED capacitive touchscreen @ 800×480 (1.67:1 aspect ratio [non-standard])
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 5MP rear camera (only capable of 720×480 [DVD quality] video recording) with single-LED flash
  • 0.3MP front camera (640×480)
  • 16GB of internal memory
  • WiFi b/g/n & Bluetooth 2.1
  • GPS & digital compass
  • 129g (0.284 pounds)
  • NFC (near-field-comm) chip, acelleomoeter, light sensor, proximity sensor, 3-axis gyro

Hardware Tour:

DSC_3808 DSC_3809

DSC_3817

DSC_3818

DSC_3819

DSC_3820

And that’s all! Yup, it’s a pretty simple phone.

HTC Surround & Windows Phone 7 Review

Tags: , , , , , , ,


IMG_4938Microsoft wants to get in on the modern mobile OS action, and after the inevitable fall of their previous version of Windows Mobile, Microsoft has sought to restart their mobile offering, thus Windows Phone 7 was born. The HTC Surround pairs WP7 with well-built hardware and an interesting approach to phone audio, but will Windows Phone 7 be able to catch on, or is it too little too late from Microsoft?

Hardware

Here’s a quick rundown of the HTC Surround’s specs, follow by a hardware tour of the phone:

  • Windows Phone 7 OS (as reviewed, version 7.0.7004.0)
  • Qualcomm QSD 8250 CPU @ 1GHz
  • 576MB of RAM
  • 8GB of built-in memory (no expansion)
  • 3.8” capacitive touchscreen @ 800×480
  • WiFi b/g/n & BT 2.1
  • 5MP camera with single-LED flash (records up to 720p video)
  • Slide out speaker with Dolby Mobile and SRS audio technology
  • 165 grams (5.82 ounces)

Hardware Tour

IMG_4974

IMG_4976

IMG_4978

IMG_4980

Design

IMG_4927Let me start by saying that the HTC Surround feels great in the hand. It’s been too long since I tested a phone that had some real heft to it (in a good way). Recent phones (cough*Samsung*cough) have left me with a feeling of cheapness. The Surround however feels like a premium device right out of the box.

IMG_4929Metallic accents are found all around the phone . The front is a combination of brushed and polished metal and has a wide ear-piece that fits the look of the phone well. The back is rubberized much like the Droid X [review], and it has just a hint of metallic sparkles in it that you’ll see if you hold it in just the right light. The back is also home to a polished HTC logo, and above that is the 5MP camera and single-LED flash, both of which are encased in a metal accent piece with small radial ridges that emanate from the lens.

IMG_4956But this is all before sliding the device open which reveals a speaker bar that comes about 1/3 of the way out of the side of the phone. I’ll talk more about the speaker bar below, but on the design side of things I wanted to mention that the sliding mechanism could be better. I’ve definitely seen/felt worse, but the Surround’s sliding mechanism could use a bit of work to make it slide more evenly and have less wiggle.

Despite the premium feel of the phone (considering the materials used and the weight of it), the buttons didn’t seem to receive too much attention. All physical buttons on the phone, except for the camera button, don’t provide very good feedback. It’s hard to tell when you’ve pressed the power/lock button. The volume rocker is a bit better with slightly more feedback, but the camera button is the only one that has enough “click” for my taste.

IMG_4954The bottom of the phone has a pry-slot to pull the back cover off, but it generally feels like you’re on the brink of ripping the phone into it’s two sliding halves. I haven’t found a good way to get the back cover off without stressing the sliding mechanism in a way that it wasn’t design to move. If you are a road warrior who relies on swapping batteries during road trips, be weary of this fact on the Surround as repeated removals could lead to breakage.

On general aesthetics of the device: I think it’s a good looking phone. When you make the investment to purchase a phone that will be with you for, perhaps several years, people should expect more than a piece of plastic. The Surround would feel even more solid if they rid it of the sliding segment, but despite this extra hardware, the Surround isn’t much thicker than many of it’s contemporaries.

Samsung Continuum Review

Tags: , , , , ,


DSC_2625.NEFSamsung previously piqued my interested with it’s Galaxy S Fascinate [tracking page][review], so I’ve been excited to give the Continuum a try. The Continuum is much like the Fascinate except it has a 1.8” 480×96 AMOLED “ticker” display underneath the main screen for notifications and quick access to info like time/date/weather/twitter/facebook/etc. Does the extra display equal extra functionality or is it merely a monotonous novelty without much depth? Read our full review to find out!

We’ll start out with the classic hardware tour, but before that I want you to know that, as I mentioned, the Samsung Continuum is very much like the Samsung Fascinate that we reviewed a little while ago. It’s pretty much the same device in a slightly different body and without the Continuum’s extra display. We aren’t in the business of boring our readers so I’m not going to hit you with information that we’ve already covered. I’ll point you to the Fascinate review if need be, but for the most part this review is going to focus on the Continuum’s unique aspects (ie: the ticker display) and it’s particular performance. Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

Hardware Tour

Here’s a quick visual rundown of the Continuum to get you familiar with the device:

DSC_2655.NEF

DSC_2656.NEF

DSC_2652.NEF

DSC_2661.NEF

And here’s the specs (as always, you can find more detailed technical info on our Samsung Continuum tracking page in the device database).

  • 3.4” capacitive Super-AMOLED screen @ 800×480
  • secondary 1.8” capacitive Super-AMOLED @ 480×96
  • Android 2.1 (custom Samsung overlay)
  • ARM Cortex A8 CPU @ 1GHz
  • PowerVR SGX graphics
  • 366MB of RAM
  • 5.0MP auto-focus camera with single-LED flash (capable of 720p HD recording)
  • WiFi b/g/n & BT 3.0

Meet:Mobility Podcast 62 – Mobile Computing @CES 2011 Review

Tags: , ,


JKK, Sascha and Chippy with show number 62 on Jan 12th 2011. Happy New Year and welcome to a special CES review edition where we’ll focus on the important mobile computing news from Las Vegas. Don’t forget to rate us if you’re listening on iTunes.

Listen, subscribe and download at MeetMobility here.

Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate Review

Tags: , , , ,


IMG_3178Samsung has now launched 5 phones under the “Galaxy S” brand. They are all quite similar with 1GHz Samsung hummingbird CPUs, 512MB of RAM and running Android 2.1. The only outlier being the “Epic” which has a slide out QWERTY keyboard and 4G service from Sprint, while the others all lack a physical keyboard and 4G radios.

We’ve got the Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate (the Verizon version) on hand for review and dare I say, it might be the best Android handset that Verizon is currently offering.

Hardware

As usual, we’ll look at the device’s important specs and show you a quick hardware tour. For more detailed specs and info, check out our Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate tracking page.

Specs:

  • Android 2.1 OS
  • 4” 800×480 AMOLED capacitive screen
  • 1GHz Samsung “Hummingbird” CPU (ARM Cortex A8)
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 5.0MP auto-focus camera with single-LED flash
  • 18GB of memory (2GB built-in, 16GB card pre-installed)
  • WiFi b/g/n and BT 2.1
  • Android Marketplace access

Hardware tour:

IMG_3194

IMG_3195

IMG_3198

IMG_3200

IMG_3188

Carrypad Sites and Partners