Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Google

Introduction, Interface

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The Prime seems to have no trouble achieving notable firsts. It was the first tablet with a Tegra 3 processor to go to retail, and now it’s the first tablet to have official Ice Cream Sandwich support. The update, scheduled originally for January 12th, actually went live after a surprise announcement on January 9th during Nvidia’s CES conference.

Since we still have our Prime review unit, this update provides us with a unique opportunity to compare Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich side-by-side on the same device. This update is important for the Prime - and all upcoming Android tablets - because the operating system is something that’s currently holding back a number of products with great hardware.

Honeycomb was never an OS that impressed me. It’s often jerky, lacks elegance, and has poor app support. So long as Honeycomb was the version of Android shipping on tablets there was simply no chance for an Android tablet to defeat the iPad 2. The software simply wasn’t up to the high standard set by iOS. 

Ice Cream Sandwich is a chance at redemption. The rumors have spread like wildfire. Various sources have reported improvements including better multi-core support, a faster web browser, improved notifications and much more. Official announcements have generally limited themselves to commenting on feature improvements, however - going into the ICS update I didn’t have any expectations for performance improvements because none were ever provided by Google. Nvidia also never set any expectations about the improvements, if any, we’d see from Tegra 3 processors running ICS.

Now that the Prime is updated we can test ICS out for ourselves. Let’s jump in, starting with the interface updates.

Continue reading our review of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on the ASUS Transformer Prime!!

CES 2012 - Round 'em up! Ride 'em in!

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2012 - 11:56 AM |
Tagged: trinity, corsair, CES, asus, amd

The Tech Report have been updating their coverage of CES 2012 as they try to sooth their aching feet, with pictures and information from three different vendors.  The most impressive, or at least most looked forward to, was seeing AMD's Trinity running in the wild.  We now know there will be two variants of the chip, one running with a 35W TDP and the smaller version at 17W.  Not only will they require less power than the current A-series, expect improvements in performance for both graphics and general computation. 

At Corsair's table is a case that looks to steal into NZXT's market with the $90 Carbide Series 300R which offers some nice features for a lower cost case,  Corsair is also beefing up their line up with the more expensive Obsidian Series 550D with many noise dampening features.  Finally they headed to ASUS and were given a peek at the newest audio technology that will replace the current Xonar models.

Remember to click on www.pcper.com/ces to see all of our hard work.

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Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

 

Asus Shows Off New Networking and Audio Equipment At CES 2012

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 05:34 AM |
Tagged: wireless router, motherboard, audio, asus

At CES 2012 this week, popular motherboard manufacturer Asus showed off quite a few products. Among the new products, the company is releasing a wireless gigabit router, wireless repeater and Ethernet bridge, a new motherboard, and the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Xonar Phoebus audio sound card set.

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The two new wireless products are the Asus RT-N66U, which is a dual band Wireless N Gigabit router, and the Asus EA-N66 Wi-Fi Ethernet bridge. The RT-N66U is a dual band Wireless N router that promises up to 900 Mbps over Wi-Fi thanks to two simultaneous Wireless N streams of 450 Mbps maximum each. One stream is done at 2.4 GHz and on the other stream data is broadcast and received on the 5 GHz spectrum. Asus has bundled the router with 26 dbm Wi-Fi amplifiers to extend the network's range. Other hardware includes three Wi-Fi antennas on the rear of the device, a four port Gigabit Ethernet switch, WAN port, two USB ports, power button, power input, and reset button. The front and top of the router shows off a stylish black pattern, blue status LEDs, and the Asus RT-N66U "Dark Night" name/logo while the back/bottom of the router contain plenty of ventilation ports and a stand to hold the router vertical. On the software side of things, the router features QoS, or Quality of Service, traffic management that the company claims can address up to 300,000 data sessions, eight SSIDs (for setting up guest networks, for example), and the company's ASUSWRT firmware. Downloading files without needing a PC and remote management of USB devices are also features.

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The EA-N66 is a wireless Ethernet bridge and Wi-Fi access point. Under the hood of the rather (shall we say) stylized design, it is capable of using either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz wireless spectrum in 450 Mbps bands. Asus claims that when the repeater is paired with their new router, "the EA-N66 gives gamers incredible network speeds and coverage for multi-player gaming sessions."

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As Asus demonstrated for us at CES, their new Rampage IV Formula motherboard features a SupremeFX III sound card chip connected to the rear audio ports by traces on their own PCB layer. This "moat" of traces (that light up red, even!) being on a separate PCB layer helps to eliminate interference caused by the other electrical components on the board. Now, you get isolated sound without needing to take up a PCI-E slot. In the video below, Asus shows off the feature.

The Rampage IV motherboard also comes with a bundled headphone amplifier dubbed the ThunderFX. It provides up to 120 dB of amplification and can support up to 600 Ohm high end headphones. The amplifier is EMI shielded and with ENC support, the ThunderFX has dedicated channels for headphone audio and in-game voice chat. Further, the box is compatible with both PCs and game consoles (PS3 and Xbox 360), and enables regular PC gaming headsets to be used with the consoles. Last up, it has three audio presets for FPS, RTS, and Racing games.

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Asus is also showing off the Xonar Phoebus sound card and breakout box for gaming under the company's Republic of Gamers brand. The set includes a PCI-E sound card capable of driving 600 Ohm headphones and a SNR (signal to noise ratio) of 118 dB. The card itself is shielding using, according to Asus, "carefully selected materials and perfectly shielded" to block EMI (electromagnetic interference) and and isolate itself from other issues caused by the other components in the case. The other piece of hardware is the Xonar Phoebus control box that integrates array microphones to reduce environmental noise when using voice chat and VOIP calls by "up to 50 percent." It further allows volume control and has Dolby Home Theater V4 surround sound and the GX3.0 gaming engine to enhance headphone audio when gaming.

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More information can be found here. Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Asus

ASUS Rampage IV Formula and Gene plus dual LGA2011 MB showcased

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 08:38 PM |
Tagged: rampage iv gene, rampage iv formula, lga2011, gene, CES, asus

While we have already detailed the ASUS tablet and notebook products shown here at CES, the company didn't leave the enthusiasts and PC builders out in the cold.  In this video we chat with J.J. Guerrero about the upcoming Rampage IV Formula and Gene motherboards that bring some interesting new audio features to the X79 platform.  Oh, and just for fun, a quick look at the upcoming dual-socket LGA2011 Xeon motherboard for those that think 32-thread systems are the way to go.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

ASUS Transformer Prime and its faithful companion core

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2012 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: eee pad, transformer prime, asus, tegra 3

The Tech Report just wrapped up a review of the ever popular EeePad Transformer Prime, the tablet with a keyboard for a dock.  This particular model is updated with the 5-core Tegra 3 processor, which means faster performance and the presence of the ultra-low power GeForce GPU that NVIDIA has been so secretive about.  There were more improvements than simple processing power, a SuperIPS+ mode which makes the screen bright enough to easily read in direct sunlight and more consistent colour reproduction.  The improvements seem to come with a cost as the battery life is less than the previous models although not prohibitively so.  Check out the good and the bad of the first Tegra 3 powered device on the market.

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"With an updated Tegra 3 processor and a sleek new design, the Transformer Prime may be the hottest tablet around. We take a closer look to see if Asus has created another compelling iPad alternative."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

 

CES 2012 Day 2 Podcast - 1/9/12

Subject: Editorial, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 04:45 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Transformer, spectre, podcast, memo, Intel, hp, envy, CES, asus

PC Perspective CES 2012 Day 2 - 1/9/12

Join us tonight as we talk about our second full day of CES 2012 - including Digital Experience, ASUS, more from OCZ, Thermaltake and more!!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Matt Smith and Allyn Malventano

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Video Perspective: ASUS MeMO 701 and ASUS Transformer Prime TF700T Hands on!

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 04:15 AM |
Tagged: CES, transformer prime, tf700t, memo, asus

Matt already posted up a pictorial look at the new ASUS Eee Pad MeMO 701 but I wanted to share a video demonstration we made while visiting the ASUS suite.  Enjoy!

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Hands-On with the ASUS Eee Pad MeMO 171 Tablet

Subject: Mobile | January 9, 2012 - 06:33 PM |
Tagged: tablet, memo, eee pad, CES, asus

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We already reported on the announcement of the MeMO, but today we had the chance to go hands-on with the device. You’d expect it to be nothing more than a 7” version of the Prime – but you’d be wrong. The MeMO, as the name implies, is designed to enable easy use as a note-taking device.  As such it includes somewhat large bezels on the right and left (when held in landscape mode) to provide an easy grip. There’s also a stylus. Yes, that’s right – a stylus. It may seem old-fashioned, but it works with bundled software to make hand writing simple. 

You don’t have to rely on the stylus, however. Choose to ignore it and you have an attractive 7” Android tablet. Though the version we looked at was running Honeycomb, ASUS plans to ship MeMO tablets with Ice Cream Sandwich. We also had the opportunity to use a Prime running ICS after we checked out the MeMO, and though we could not run benchmarks, first impressions told us that web browsing in ICS is much snappier even when the same hardware is available.

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Unlike other 7” tablets, the MeMO 171 isn’t asking users to sacrifice resolution to obtain a smaller size. The MeMO is to ship with a 1280x800 display, the same resolution as the current Transformer Prime.  It’s also bestowed with an IPS display. This gives the tablet a substantial hardware advantage over the small tablet competition we’ve seen so far.

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Speaking of hardware advantages, the MeMO 171 is powered by a dual-core Qualcomm 1.2 GHz processor. The reason for this is compatibility with mobile carriers. We were told that the Qualcomm version will be usable as a mobile phone (though ASUS is still working with North American carriers – none are planning to offer offical MeMO support yet). 

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Because sticking 7” tablet to your face would be a bit ridiculous there will also be a small handset and media control that can be paired with the tablet. ASUS did not have a functional version to display, however – perhaps indicating that the kinks aren’t worked out just yet.

Overall, the MeMO looks like a promising tablet. It is sleek, fast and small. However, pricing is not yet available. I’m hoping for $299 to $349. While this is in essence a smaller version of the Prime, it is packing a stylus and potential mobile network support – things that can really ramp up a device’s price. 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

ASUS' P9X79 Deluxe, the new baseline for the X79 series

Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2012 - 01:45 PM |
Tagged: x79, asus, p9x79 deluxe, lga2011, Intel

X-Bit Labs discusses Tick+ and Tock- in their reivew of the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe, as Intel's original Tick-Tock product strategy seems to have been changed recently.  As you can see the board is quite crowded, in part because of the 8 DIMM slots, so crowded that ASUS moved some of the power chokes to the backside of the board.  You get four PCIe 3.0 slots, of which two can run at full 16x speeds when populated, as well as a pair of PCIe 2.0 1x slots.  On the back are a half dozen USB 3.0 ports as well as four 2.0 ports, S/PDIF out as well as 6 analog out provide sound and it even sports WiFi and Bluetooth.  Check out what X-Bit considers the new standard in X79 boards.

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"ASUSTeK mainboards are the leading brand today that is why this particular model seems to be an ideal choice for opening a series of articles dedicated to the new platform. We will dwell on absolutely everything about it: package, accessories, technical specifications, EFI BIOS functionality, new programs and utilities, overclocking potential, performance and power consumption."

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Motherboards

 

Source: X-Bit Labs

CES 2012: ASUS Updates Transformer Prime with 1920x1200 Display

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2012 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: transformer prime, Transformer, tf700t, CES, asus

The ASUS Transformer and the newer Transformer Prime are often considered the best Android tablets on the market and the most likely to be able to compete with Apple and its iPad in 2012.  Our own review from Matt Smith tells the same kind of story and is definitely worth a read to get some context for this news today.  

At CES 2012 ASUS is unveiling a new version of the Transformer Prime with the TF700T suffix that adds a couple of really nice features including a high-resolution 1920x1200 screen and a new 2.0 MP front camera for HD video conferencing.  These replace a 1280x800 resolution screen and a 1.3 MP front camera.

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The current Transformer Prime that might already be outdated...

Also worth noting is a change to the back plate on the device that ASUS claims "should enhance WiFi, BT and GPS performance."  Some users had complaints about WiFi issues and this should address it, if you are willing to pay the higher price for the better hardware as well.

Expect to see this selling for $599 to $699 when it is available this quarter.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!