Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction, Design and Connectivity

 

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All of my past tablet reviews have come to a similar conclusion – buy the iPad. Unless you have a particular, specific use for your tablet which Apple’s walled garden does not support there is little reason to go with anything else. The problem is a combination of both hardware and software. Cupertino’s closed approach, which develops both in-house, has provided better products so far.
 
If you can’t beat them, you can always sell to a somewhat different market. And so we have the Google Nexus 7. There are three things about this tablet that has made many geeks very interested – it has a Tegra 3 processor, it runs Android 4.1 and it starts at $200 for the 8GB version.
 
This is, in fact, the production version of the $249 Tegra 3 tablet that we all ooo-ed and ahh-ed over during CES 2012. Google hasn’t paid much lip-service to ASUS, but the company’s logo is on the back of the tablet. I have no complaints about this partnership. ASUS has made the best Android tablets for some time, so going with them is an obvious choice.
 

Asus Announced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Updates to Tablet Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 20, 2012 - 10:11 AM |
Tagged: transformer prime, transformer pad, transformer infinity, tablet, asus

ASUS recently announced that they will be bringing the latest version of Google's Android operating system – Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" to its line of Transformer tablets. Among the tablets to receive the update are the ASUS Transformer Pad, ASUS Transformer Pad Prime, and ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity. They will be getting the updates within the next couple of months, and more specific release dates will be announced closer to launch, according to the company.

The Transformer Prime tablet with keyboard dock

ASUS further stated that they are continuing to evaluate the feasibility of upgrading other devices to Jelly Bean, but there is nothing official in regards to devices that will for sure get it beyond the tablets listed above.

In an email, Senior Technical marketing Manager Gary Key stated the following:

"At ASUS, one of the key commitments we make to our customers is a relentless drive to deliver the best user experience. We constantly strive to achieve this goal through our ‘Design Thinking’ philosophy that includes regular software and firmware updates for our products."

While I don't have a Transformer tablet myself, It's great to see that they are continuing to support their devices, unlike a certain smartphone manufacturer (heh, yeah I'm still jaded over my Infuse 4G's update situation). If you have a ASUS tablet, be on the lookout (or follow PC Per!) for the Jelly Bean updates as it has some really neat new features.

For now though, you will have to settle for watching Ryan ogle over his Nexus 7 on this week's podcast :).

Source: ASUS

Nexus 7 Teardown Reveals Easy User Serviceability

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2012 - 07:22 AM |
Tagged: tablet, nexus 7, jelly bean, google io, google, Android

The Nexus 7 is not even shipping yet, and it has already been torn apart to see what it is made of. The folks over at the ifixit website have managed to get their hands on the newly-announced 7" tablet. After breaking open the outer case and dismantling it far past what I would be comfortable doing to my own tablet, they found that it is relatively easy to take apart and repair. The tablet is a single millimeter thicker than the iPad, but that extra bit of space allowed Google and ASUS to use retaining clips to hold the back and front outer panels together instead of the glue used in the iPad. Using glue made for a slightly thinner tablet but it is much harder to take apart and put back together correctly, as Will and Norm of Tested discovered.

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From the ifixit teardown. The battery is easily replaceable.

Inside the tablet is a large batter, “L” shaped motherboard, front facing camera, two speaker drivers, microphone, and display. The battery looks to be very easy to replace as it is not soldered onto any other hardware and is only secured by a bit of glue. Unfortunately, the display is another story. It is reportedly fused to the Gorilla Glass covering, which means that if the screen cracks – even the display itself is not damaged (only the Gorilla Glass) – users will have to replace the entire screen assembly. There is a small bit of recompense in that the tablet does not utilize any proprietary or security screws, it uses Philips #00 throughout.

For more details on the exact hardware chips used, and to see the new 7” tablet taken apart to see what makes it tick (or not, rather) head on over to the iFixIt tear down guide.

Other tablet news:

Source: ifixit

Google Selling Nexus 7 At Cost To Promote Its Play Ecosystem

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2012 - 03:47 AM |
Tagged: tablet, Nexus, jelly bean, google io, google, Android

We first saw an ASUS 7” tablet at CES 2012. That tablet would quickly drop off the radar only to emerge again at this year’s Google I/O developer conference as the Google Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 is a 7” tablet that closely resembles the original ASUS model but tweaks the case and knocks the price down to $199.

Specifications include a quad core Tegra 3 processor with 12-core GPU component, 8GB or 16GB of storage space, and 1GB of RAM. Other features include WiFi, NFC, and Bluetooth. Further, Google announced during its Day 1 keynote that the Nexus 7 weighs in at 340 grams and offers up to 9 hours of video playback time. All that hardware drives Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and an IPS display with resolution of 1280x800 resolution.

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All Things D talked with both ASUS CEO Jonney Shih and Google’s Andy Rubin about the new Google Nexus 7 tablet and how it came to be. Reportedly, ASUS had just four months to come up with a 7” tablet for Google that they could sell at cost for $200. Both of those added up to a tight time schedule with 24-hour development cycle and a tablet that was mostly similar to its CES tablet but at the lower Google price point. Dubbed Project A Team internally, ASUS added a number of new people to the tablet project and moved engineers around the work – including some postings in Silicon Valley so that they could work closely with Google. It also enabled ASUS to work around the clock on the hardware (albeit by different workers). Google has stated that ASUS was one of the few companies that could have pulled off the tablet in the short time frame given. AllThingsD quoted Google’s Andy Rubin as saying “We went from zero to working product in four months.”

On the ASUS side of things, Jonney Shih told the site that “our engineers told me it is like torture” regarding working with Google to develop the tablet. Also, he stated that Google can be a demanding company to work with. “They ask a lot.”

 

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Granted, ASUS had a good starting point with its 370T tablet that it showed off at CES, but the difficult part was taking that same tablet and making it cost less than $200. Google’s goal with that price point was to attempt to capture the mainstream market – a market that is currently buying into the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet tablets (and accompanying ecosystems). Despite being based on Android, both Barnes and Noble and Amazon have heavily tweaked the interface and heavily tied the hardware into their content ecosystems. Google wants to do the same with its Play Store by releasing a tablet at cost on its Google Play Store that will run the latest – and bloatware-free – version of Android. The company is trying to position the Nexus 7 as the perfect tablet to consumer Play Music, Play Books, and Play Movies on. The hardware inside and out along with the latest Android OS do make it a very compelling option for people wanting a tablet with the form factor of the Kindle Fire but the full (and latest) stock version of Android. Both companies seemed to run into the Nexus 7, but in the end the pressure ASUS was under may have resulted in a "diamond in the (Android tablet) rough."

What do you think of the Nexus 7? Is it the Kindle Fire for the more tech savvy (and/or those not already heavilly invested in a competing media catalog like Itunes, Amazon Kindle, et al)?

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Source: AllThingsD

ASUS takes it's Transformer to new heights

Subject: Mobile | June 28, 2012 - 11:24 AM |
Tagged: asus, transformer infinity, tablet, keyboard dock

The 10.1" ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity sports a 1920x1200 display which doesn't quite match Apple's Retina display but is more than enough to deliver HD content and provide sharp text.  The SuperIPS+ mode which was intended to make the tablet fully readable under direct sunlight did not work perfectly but does live up to the promise when you are dealing with indirect sunlight.  The paired dock has been updated as well, with a stronger design and a keyboard The Tech Report preferred over many laptop keyboards, though if you are happy with the dock you used for the Prime it is compatible with the Infinity as well.  In the end, they only recommended this tablet when paired with the keyboard dock thanks to the extras that it offers, but even with the dock you still don't seem to get any USB ports.

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"Six months after we first laid eyes on Asus' Transformer Pad Infinity, the tablet hybrid is finally read for prime time. Join us for an in-depth look at the new Transformer and its high-density 1920x1200 display."

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Mobile

Google I/O 2012: Day One

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2012 - 07:48 AM |
Tagged: tablet, google io, google drive, google, developers, conference, chrome, asus, Android

Every June, the tech world lights up with numerous tech conferences that pack dense information into a couple days (and takes weeks to fully decompress). One of the bigger conferences (by a single company, Computex is its own beast) is Google I/O.

The biggest rumor to come out concerning this year’s Google I/O announcements is an ASUS manufactured 7-inch Nexus Tablet. It is allegedly packing some high end hardware with the Tegra 3 Soc, up to 16GB of memory, IPS display, and an extremely attractive price at less than $200. Beyond that, we can expect Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) information, developer talks, software demos, and more talk of Google Wallet, and NFC technology. Heck, Google may even make a second attempt at pushing Android@Home (or maybe not heh).

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Being June 27th, it is the first day of Google I/O and that means it is time for keynotes! On the schedule for today, Google has talks on the new aspects of Android, Google Play, cloud computing, Youtube cloud rendering, Google+ (including Hangouts), and new features of Google Maps. They also have talks scheduled with Google Drive information that should demo some of the things developers can do with the Drive SDK.

We are excited to see if the Nexus tablet rumors are true or not, as well as learning more about the latest version of Android. If you are interested in watching the event, check out the Google I/O schedule where you can tune into the most of the events live. The first event starts soon at 9:30am PST!

Check back later today for updates!

Update: (9:00 PST) A leaked screenshot indicates that the Nexus tablet may be called the Nexus 7.

Nexus7.jpg

Update: (9:30 PST) Vic Gondotra stepped on stage to kick off the Google I/O conference. He stated that there are more than 30,000 people in attendance.

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What are you excited about at Google I/O? Let us know in the comments below!

See more updates after the break.

 

Source: Google I/O

Report: NVIDIA Tegra 3 Kai Platform to Power ASUS-built Nexus Tablet

Subject: Mobile | June 27, 2012 - 12:43 AM |
Tagged: tablet, Nexus, memo, jelly bean, ics, eeepad, asus, Android

For months, rumors have been flying about Google introducing a "Nexus" tablet platform, reminiscent of what they have done with previous phone releases. With the Google I/O Day 1 Keynote just hours away, we at PC Perspective are throwing our hat into the ring in predicting what Google is likely to announce.

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During meetings with ASUS at CES 2012, representatives from the company introduced us to a series of 3 tablets, including the Eee Pad MeMO 171, and the later to be named Transformer Prime Infinity. While these two tablets have been released or are soon to be released in some retail capacity, there is one product that they were talking about that morning which ASUS has gone completely silent on. 

While ASUS was being a little cagey about the product at the time, we did recieve some initial information for this Eee Pad MeMO 370T. We were told that it was a Tegra 3 product, and that it would come in at around $250. This device however was not particularly accessible to us like the rest of the time as it was locked in a protective case. We could use the screen of the device, but that was about it. In fact, the pictures that we snapped of this device were frankly just by chance, as we were expecting to see this product later down the line and didn't put much focus onto it.

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Moving on to later in the same day, we attended the NVIDIA press conference, which was very Tegra focused. One of the big announcements was an unnamed ASUS $249 Tegra 3 Tablet. NVIDIA was also being pretty silent about this product, but we once again expected news about their low-cost platform for tablet (Kai) in the coming weeks.

 

NVIDIA announces $249 ASUS Tegra 3 Tablet at CES

However we never recieved any more information in the following 6 months from either ASUS or NVIDIA, which brings us to this year's Google I/O. With Google expected to be working with ASUS on a 7" tablet, and the fact that NVIDIA was so hyped about a product that was never heard from again, it becomes a safe assumption to look towards the long forgotten Eee Pad MeMO 370T as the likely platform. While the styling may be altered, any potential Google/ASUS 7" tegra tablet will certainly have had roots in the Eee family.

The Surface Tablet should be cheaper than an Ultrabook, but not by much

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2012 - 10:34 AM |
Tagged: surface, ultrabook, Pegatron, windows rt, windows 8, tablet, microsoft, arm, tegra 3

You've met Microsoft's two new Surface Tablet by now, either in Scott's write up or elsewhere on the net and are aware that there is a less expensive ARM and Tegra 3 version and a more expensive Ivy Bridge model.  What you might not have known is the expected pricing, a lack that DigiTimes remedies this morning with the prediction the WinRT model will cost at least $600 and the Win8 model more than $800.  Both are being assembled by Pegatron Technology but the amount being assembled is still unknown.  The Surface Tablet is certainly attention grabbing but it costs significantly more than other tablets and many full notebooks, but it likely to be lower priced than either Intel or Apple's ultraportable devices which puts it in an odd spot in the market.  How many will be willing to pay that much for a multi-touch tablet with dock?

MicrosoftSurfacetablet.jpg

"Sources from notebook players have revealed that Microsoft's 10.6-inch Surface tablet PCs will be outsourced to Pegatron Technology for assembly; however, there is still not a firm estimate for order volumes.

The sources also estimated the end-market price of the Windows 8 Pro-based Surface tablet PC with Ivy Bridge processor to be at least above US$799, while the Windows RT-based model, featuring Nvidia's Tegra 3, will be priced above US$599."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Microsoft Surface announced -- twice. ARM, x86: your choice.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | June 18, 2012 - 06:27 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, tablet, microsoft

Steve Ballmer led the enigmatic announcement of “Surface”, a Microsoft branded consumer tablet. The tablet will contain a 10.6” display and run either Windows RT or Windows 8 Pro depending on whether you choose the NVIDIA-powered ARM variant or the higher-end Intel x86-based sibling. The device’s cover will contain a built-in Bluetooth keyboard and multi-touch trackpad.

Microsoft generated a lot of hype around their latest announcement.

In the end what we received the entirety of what was expected -- except the product looks compelling.

The Surface, borrowing the brand from their business-oriented smart table products, is a series of consumer tablets with a 10.6” 16x9 form factor. Would you like a full Windows 8 Pro experience on an Intel device or would you prefer a thinner and lighter Windows RT device powered by an NVIDIA ARM processor? Let us weight the Pro and cons.

surface-cover.jpg

So would this be like -- an Ultra…clipboard? Ooo -- Ultraclippy, that has brand power.

Early reports testify that the device feels well built. The announcement made somewhat of a big deal that the tablet has a magnesium chassis and a Gorilla Glass 2 screen. You will cover the screen of the device with a small Bluetooth keyboard which will be available in a few colors. With the tablet resting on its included kickstand and its keyboard cover flowing out from beneath it -- the Surface looks very similar to a laptop.

surface-kick.jpg

So -- magnesium chassis. This should be fun to thermite.

The Intel variant will feature a larger battery although extra battery life is not an immediate guarantee. The Pro device will allow for MicroSDXC cards, USB 3.0, and mini DisplayPort output. Both devices feature 2x2 MIMO antennae for their WIFI connectivity which could provide a fair chunk of bandwidth for streaming media.

Pricing and availability are currently unannounced except that they will be comparable to what is available. The ARM device will be available in 32 and 64GB models with the x86 Pro-class device available in 64 and 128GB.

Source: Microsoft

Rumor: Microsoft announcing branded Windows RT tablet with Tegra 3

Subject: Mobile | June 18, 2012 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows on arm, tegra, tablet, nvidia

Today at 6:30pm EST, Microsoft is holding an event in Los Angeles for a "major announcement" and there are rumors floating around the web that this could be anything from a new e-reader device in cooperation with Barnes & Noble to a custom-built Windows phone.

After sifting through some rumors and going off of some information I got during Computex this month, I think the answer is pretty obvious as to what we are going to see tonight: a Windows RT tablet device that will be branded and sold by Microsoft.  Rather than depend on partners like ASUS, Dell and Toshiba, Microsoft will pull out all the stops to compete against the Apple iPad directly by making the "reference" device to spark the Windows tablet market.

mstab03.jpg

Who will actually BUILD this Microsoft branded Windows RT tablet?

While this is unusual for Microsoft, this isn't the first time we have seen this.  The Microsoft Zune was a great device for the music player market that just happened to come along too late as the convergence of phones and music took hold.  However, the Zune software and music infrastructure live on with the Windows Phone devices and I think you'll find it a part of today's announcement for the Microsoft Windows RT tablet. 

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Ah, the first Zune HD.  Yes I still use mine!

One of the most interesting parts of this announcement is going to be the hardware itself.  Will Microsoft go the "safe" route and base the tablet on a timid design like we saw from the Amazon Kindle Fire or will they go more aggressively after the iPad with a higher resolution screen and mobile carrier plans? 

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Amazon's Kindle Fire

When talking with the major ARM SoC vendors about Windows RT in May and June, one thing became very clear to me - only one hardware vendor claimed to be ready for the pending release of Windows RT - NVIDIA.  While Qualcomm and TI were struggling to bring performance levels to where they needed to be to run the operating system effectively, NVIDIA was the vendor best prepared for the new ecosystem.  We saw that play out with the first public demonstration of a Windows RT tablet device coming from ASUS and NVIDIA earlier this month.  

I fully expect the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor to be at the heart of the new Microsoft Windows RT tablet announced tonight - and that would be a HUGE victory for one of the smallest (in terms of volume), yet loudest, SoC vendors competing in this market.  And NVIDIA and Microsoft already have a history of working together with Tegra products - remember that the Zune HD player was the first major product win for NVIDIA's SoC

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I believe this tablet will have the NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC inside

A Microsoft-built Windows RT tablet will no doubt miff some of the company's partners, the same companies we mentioned above like Dell and ASUS, but MS may finally be realizing, much like Google has with the coming Nexus Tablet, that competing with Apple requires a different kind of mindset than previous hardware battles.  On the other hand, a Windows RT tablet that combines Zune music service, Barnes & Noble e-reader integration and maybe even some Xbox and TV options would be a VERY compelling product.