Nicole Scott of Mobilegeeks.com also has an Asus Fonepad so we got together in a live Google Hangout this morning to discuss it. We talk about the features, make a lot of comparisons to the Nexus 7 and give you an idea of who this tablet is designed for, what it’s key features are and issues to take note of.
If you’re like me, having a computer, tablet, and smartphone in your life is too redundant to justify. I prefer a two-device lifestyle. And while my computer-supplement of choice is a smartphone, there are many out there who enjoy the advantages of a tablet and choose it as their go-to mobile device. You wouldn’t believe how much our very own Chippy gets done on his 7″ Samsung Galaxy Tab!
While Sascha and Nicole’s test uses somewhat unscientific criteria (“tray-ability”?!), their video brings up a great question: if you’re a two-device person, is a smartphone or tablet your second device, and why?
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.
Ritchie says that the Super IPS+ display looks great, and this will be an upgrade over the original Transformer’s regular IPS display, while retaining the durable Gorilla Glass. Asus added a display brightness boosting function to the Transformer Prime which is intended for better viewing during outside use.
Tegra 3’s performance is also in full force; it appears as though it can handle 720p and 1080p video with no problems. That could make the Transformer Prime a great portable home-theater (thanks to the micro-HDMI port), with the only problem being the relatively weak Android codec support. I’m curious to know how well the Transformer Prime can handle software video decoding that comes along with some third-party applications.
The unit itself is slimmer and lighter than the iPad 2, and attached with the keyboard, the Transformer Prime is rated to run for 18 hours which is pretty awesome.
Unless there are any unforseen issues leading up to it’s launch, the Transformer Prime is certainly setting the new bar for Android tablets, and I would go as far to say that Apple better pay attention as well. The Transformer Prime has nearly everything one could want in a tablet today except for a little Ice Cream Sandwich action.
Brad Linder of Liliputing points out a lengthy hands-on video of the Slider that recently went up on YouTube. I must say that the video only makes me more excited… the device looks really well built and the sliding mechanism seems to work great!
The only thing I’m not happy to see is that there is no mouse! I feel like Asus could have easily put a nub-mouse or optical mouse on the device and that would save people from having to use the only USB port on the Slider for an external mouse.
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.
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!
We’ve got the LG Revolution on hand and have prepared an unboxing video for you which also features a flash test. I’m happy to report (and somewhat impressed) that the LG Revolution has so far handled YouTube 720p flash video quite well. This surprised me because the Revolution is using a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU as opposed to Nvidia’s Tegra. Have a look below:
JKK of JKKMobile has his hands-on video up and he takes us round the Asus Padfone explaining the technology behind the dock and the phone. It’s basically an HDMI screen and USB extender that also provides charging from a built-in battery. There’s an audio, mic and USB port extender too.
Nvidia’s Tegra and Tegra 2 hardware has been quite popular over the last year, bringing powerful CPU and GPU performance to tablets and smartphones in a standardized package. Today, Nvidia is showing off the next version of Tegra, codenamed Kal-El, which will power tomorrow’s tablets and smartphones.
Kal-El is the next iteration of Nvidia’s mobile CPU/GPU series and features the world’s first mobile quad-core CPU, and a whopping dodeca-core GPU (that’s 12, folks!). Nvidia is expecting five times the performance of Tegra 2 out of Kal-El!
They say that seeing is believing:
This impressive video demo shows some intense dynamic lighting and real-time physics. Both lighting and animations are traditionally pre-rendered onto scenes in mobile games and cannot be interacted with in real-time. Nvidia says that Kal-El’s four CPU cores and twelve GPU cores make dynamic lighting and real-time physics animations practical for the first time on mobile devices.
In the demo you’ll watch as the demonstrator disables two of the four CPU cores to simulate how the game would run on a dual-core CPU. The results aren’t very pretty as the cores max-out and the framerate drops to at least half of what it was. Returning to four cores shows each core running around 70% and the game playing very smoothly. What’s great is that Nvidia expects the production CPU to be 25-30% faster than the hardware being used for this demonstration!
The game will be available on the Android Marketplace (likely through the Tegra Zone application) once it’s complete.
Nvidia has been sending out Kal-El samples to production customers since February and expect Kal-El devices to begin production this August.
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
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.
Our Motorola Xoom [tracking page] has finally managed to find the Android 3.1 Honeycomb update that Google pushed out the other day. We gave you a thorough overview of the 3.1 update based on the official information provided, but there’s only so much that text can say. To understand the changes sometimes you just have to experience them. Often times a lot of the little changes go largely undocumented. So to answer that call, we’ve got a hands-on video for you. Have a look:
WARNING: Please turn your volume down before 14:20. I forgot to enable airplane mode on my phone and the subsequent vibration is frighteningly loud. My apologies!
I’m happy to see that the Flyer includes a good-looking case. It’s been far too long since I’ve seen any decent included accessories in today’s tablet-world.
Chris’s video will take you through the box and into the software for a brief look at the totally new HTC Sense and you’ll see some stylus action.
I’m really disappointed to see that the stylus doesn’t work system-wide. As you’ll see in the video, there are times where the stylus can be used for some things, but the finger has to be used for others. I’ve seen such issues before on the Nokia N810; it creates a bothersome disconnect between finger/stylus input usage for the end-user. This could likely be fixed through software, but it’s going to cause some annoyance for people who are interested in using the stylus.
I managed to snap off this quick video testing HDMI out on the Acer Iconia A500 [tracking page]. The retail unit doesn’t include a HDMI cable (it requires a mini HDMI connector) so I had to scrounge one up to test it on a monitor. I shot it with the Motorola Atrix [tracking page] so you’ll have to excuse the sometimes shaky video but I was keen to see and share how the HDMI worked. The video test shown is using the Windows 7 sample video “Wildlife” and is a wmv file shot in 720p HD I find it’s quite a good test as it challenges a lot of PC’s to play it without skipping frames. The Atrix, and the Viewsonic Gtab play it without issues. Since the included media player on the A500 couldn’t play the wmv I downloaded, I installed Rockplayer Lite and while it played the file it was very jumpy.
Being able to play videos or view slideshows on a big screen is a great feature for using this tablet in a business setting but unfortunately I wasn’t able to play the architectural render that one of my co-workers needed to show at an afternoon meeting so he had to take the laptop.
You might also notice I used the Sniffer file explorer (from the Notion Ink Adam [tracking page]). Since the A500 comes with both a full sized and mini USB connection, which enables simple file transfer and is a great connectivity option for all kinds of USB peripherals, I was surprised and a bit disappointed to find that there was no file explorer included out of the box. I actually installed Sniffer using dropbox so I could access some files for testing off a USB thumb drive. I actually prefer Sniffer over other file explorers as it is intuitive to use and has some nice features I haven’t found on other such as the simple copy and paste functions.
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.
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.
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)
An announcement on the Google mobile blog tells us that Google Talk with video and voice chat will be released to Nexus S [product page][review] devices in the next few weeks as part of the Android 2.3.4 update. This is great news in itself, but once you realize that it’s only for Android devices running Android 2.3 or higher, you’ll see why it’s actually sort of upsetting.
According to data released from Google Android 2.3 only represents 2.2% of current Android devices so it may be a while before we see it on the majority of devices out there. Froyo (2.2) is currently the most popular Android version with 63.9% of devices.
Some neat features include: while video chatting, any text chats from that person will also appear overlaid on the video; also when switching to a different application while video chatting, video is paused but audio continues to run in the background. Unlike Apple’s Face Time, the Google talk video works over Wi-Fi and 3G which is nice. The app will work with desktop users (which includes Mac/PC/any platform that has a browser than can access the webcam) by enabling video chats from within Gmail.
For Android users it seems like this might be a good option if you need video calling functionality for your device, PC, tablet or smartphone, but it’s a ways away for the majority of users out there. There’s still no real news on when Skype will add video calling support for Android and indeed it’s hard to think what to make of the recent announcement that Qik was purchased by Skype for around $100 million.
Google has a short video showing Video Chat in action:
Tablets increasingly seem to want to go from companion device to dedicated device, but there’s a lot of catching up to do in terms of productivity before that can actually happen. Today, most modern smartphones are capable of capturing 720p video, that means that if a tablet wants even a chance at being a standalone device, it’s going to need to at least be able to edit those files.
Android 3.0 (honeycomb) comes pre-baked with a Movie Studio application which wowed the press with what appeared to be full-fledged video editing on the tablet. But now that the Xoom [tracking page] is available to the public, we have to ask (and I can’t believe I haven’t seen people be more critical about this): Is the video editing really up to the task? You be the judge:
Incidentally, this video was shot, edited, and processed on an iPhone 4 (but not uploaded, damn YouTube file size limitations!).