In many ways, the Google Nexus 7 has long been the standard of near perfection for an Android tablet. With a modest 7-inch screen, solid performance and low cost, the ASUS-built hardware has stood through one major revision as our top selection. Today though, a new contender in the field makes its way to the front of the pack in the form of the ASUS MeMO Pad 7 (ME176C). At $150, this new 7-inch tablet has almost all the hallmarks to really make an impact in the Android ecosystem. Finally.
The MeMO Pad 7 is not a new product family, though. It has existed with Mediatek processors for quite some time with essentially the same form factor. This new ME176C model makes some decisions that help it break into a new level of performance while maintaining the budget pricing required to really take on the likes of Google. By coupling the MeMO Pad brand with the Intel Bay Trail Atom processor, the two companies firmly believe they have a winner; but do they?
I have to admit that my time with the ASUS MeMO Pad 7 (ME176C) has been short; shorter than I would have liked to offer a truly definitive take on this mobile platform. I prefer to take the time to work the tablet into my daily work and home routines. Reading, browsing, email, etc. This allows me to filter though any software intricacies that might make or break a purchasing decision. Still, I think the ASUS design is going to live up to my expectations and is worth every penny of the $150 price tag.
The ASUS MeMO Pad 7 has a 1280x800 resolution IPS screen. This 7-inch device is powered by the new Intel Atom Z3745 quad-core SoC with 1GB of memory and 16GB of on-board storage. The front facing camera is of the 2MP variety while the rear facing camera is 5MP - but you will likely be as disappointed in the image quality of the photos as I was. Connectivity options include the microUSB port for charging and data transfer along with 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz WiFi (sorry, no 5.0 GHz option here). Bluetooth 4.0 allows for low power data sync with other devices you might have and our model shipped with Android 4.4.2 already pre-installed.
The rear of the ASUS MeMO Pad is a pseudo rubber/plastic type material that is easy to grip while not leaving fingerprints behind - a solid combination. The center mounted camera lens takes decent pictures - but I can't put any more praise on it than that. It was easy to find image quality issues with photos even in full daylight. It's hard to know how disappointed to be considering the price, but the Nexus 7 has better optical hardware.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 27, 2014 - 05:22 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tablet, HP 7 Plus, hp, cheap tablet, cheap computer
Years ago, HP purchased Palm with the intention of producing tablets based on WebOS. After a very short time on the market, the company pulled the plug and liquidated their stock for $99. These tablets, of course, sold instantly. Now, HP has developed an Android tablet which actually intends to be sold at that $99 price point.
Called the HP 7 Plus, this tablet has a quad-core SoC from Allwinner Technology, based on the low-power ARM Cortex A7 architecture. This is the architecture that you often see paired with Cortex A15 cores in their "big.LITTLE" arrangement. Complementing this processor is 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, 640x480 front-facing and 2MP rear-facing cameras, and about five (5) hours of battery life. It is capable of Miracast over WiFi, which is an impressive feature for its price.
The operating system is Android 4.2.2, Jelly Bean. While this is not the most recent distribution of Android, it should definitely serve users looking for an under-$100 tablet. Seriously, this space is huge and often a crap shoot in terms of reliability. If HP released a decent device, it could be a winner.
The HP 7 Plus is apparently available now, but out of stock, for $99.99. I do not know whether they already released and sold out immediately, or if it is still waiting on its first shipment.
Subject: Mobile | May 24, 2014 - 11:47 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Windows 8.1, thinkpad 10, Lenovo, ips display, Intel, Bay Trail
Lenovo made the previously-rumored ThinkPad 10 tablet official earlier this month. The business-friendly tablet starts at $599 and will be available in a couple of weeks. Lenovo has packed in quite a bit of hardware into a 10-inch aluminum chassis to create a device capable of up to 10 hours of battery life (productivity not guaranteed).
The official ThinkPad 10 specifications closely match the previous rumors, but we do know a few more finer details. In particular, Lenovo has gone with an aluminum shell hosting a 10.1” 1920x1200 IPS display with 10-point multi-touch (and Gorilla Glass technology), two cameras (2MP webcam and 8MP rear camera), an optional digitizer pen, and a number of docking options.
Fans of handwriting recognition will be pleased with the confirmation of a digitizer while typists will be able to pair the 10-inch tablet with a keyboard dock. Lenovo is also offering a Quickshot cover accessory which is a soft screen cover/case that has a corner that can be easily folded to reveal the camera (and performing this action automatically opens up the camera app).
The tablet dock (which doubles as a charger) is a docking station that adds two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, and one Ethernet port. On the other hand, the keyboard dock has an angled slot for the ThinkPad 10 to sit in (there is no angled hinge here) and features a physical keyboard and small trackpad.
Finally, if you are more into the Microsoft Surface-style touch keyboard, Lenovo offers a case with an included touch-sensitive keyboard (keys with no physical actuation).
Internally, the ThinkPad 10 uses a Bay Trail Atom Z3795 SoC, either 2GB or 4GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of (eMMC 4.5.1) internal storage. Internal radios include 802.11n, Bluetooth, and cellular (3G and 4G LTE). The tablet itself has a micro HDMI video output, micro SD card slot for storage, and a single USB 2.0 port.
All decked out, you are looking at an aluminum-clad tablet weighing less than 1.4 pounds running the full version of Windows 8.1 that starts at $599 for the tablet itself. The four optional accessories (the docks and cases) will cost extra (see below). Note that the touch-sensitive keyboard case and a ruggedized case will be made available later this summer following the June launch of the tablet and other options.
The $599 price ($728 with keyboard) may scare away consumers wanting an entertainment device, but business users and content creators with frequent travel needs (see our own Ryan Shrout) will appreciate the niche features, battery life, and build quality.
For those curious, the accessory costs will break down as follows:
- Ultrabook Keyboard: $129
- Tablet Dock: $119
- Quickshot cover: $59
- Rugged Case: $69 (available later this summer)
- Touch Case: $119 (available later this summer)
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 22, 2014 - 04:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tegra k1, nvidia, iris pro, iris, Intel, hd 4000
The Chinese tech site, Evolife, acquired a few benchmarks for the Tegra K1. We do not know exactly where they got the system from, but we know that it has 4GB of RAM and 12 GB of storage. Of course, this is the version with four ARM Cortex-A15 cores (not the upcoming, 64-bit version based on Project Denver). On 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, it was capable of 25737 points, full system.
Image Credit: Evolife.cn
You might remember that our tests with an Intel Core i5-3317U (Ivy Bridge), back in September, achieved a score of 25630 on 3DMark Ice Storm. Of course, that was using the built-in Intel HD 4000 graphics, not a discrete solution, but it still kept up for gaming. This makes sense, though. Intel HD 4000 (GT2) graphics has a theoretical performance of 332.8 GFLOPs, while the Tegra K1 is rated at 364.8 GFLOPs. Earlier, we said that its theoretical performance is roughly on par with the GeForce 9600 GT, although the Tegra K1 supports newer APIs.
Of course, Intel has released better solutions with Haswell. Benchmarks show that Iris Pro is able to play Battlefield 4 on High settings, at 720p, with about 30FPS. The HD 4000 only gets about 12 FPS with the same configuration (and ~30 FPS on Low). This is not to compare Intel to NVIDIA's mobile part, but rather compare Tegra K1 to modern, mainstream laptops and desktops. It is getting fairly close, especially with the first wave of K1 tablets entering at the mid-$200 USD MSRP in China.
As a final note...
There was a time where Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, said that the difference between high-end and low-end PCs "is something like 100x". Scaling a single game between the two performance tiers would be next-to impossible. He noted that ten years earlier, that factor was more "10x".
Now, an original GeForce Titan is about 12x faster than the Tegra K1 and they support the same feature set. In other words, it is easier to develop a game for the PC and high-end tablet than it was to develop an PC game for high-end and low-end machines, back in 2008. PC Gaming is, once again, getting healthier.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 17, 2014 - 04:07 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Lawsuit, google, apple
If we all could just get along and get back to work...
On Friday, May 16th, Apple and Google (including the remains of its Motorola Mobility division) released a joint statement marking the end of all patent litigation between the two companies. The two companies have been in legal warfare for three-and-a-half years, now. The two companies will also "work together in some areas of patent reform". It is unclear what that actually means.
This decision does not seem to affect Apple's ongoing litigation with Samsung. Those two companies are still in a famous and fierce skirmish over mankind's greatest UX innovations, like slide-to-unlock and the little bounce that happens when you scroll to the end of a list too fast. Those are, honestly, the issues that we are facing. I have a suggestion for an area to reform...
... but that has been beaten to death for years, now. It, at least, shows a willingness to cooperate going forward. It also shows a slight bit more promise for products like Ubuntu on phones, Firefox OS, and even smaller initiatives. You can say what you like about the current litigation, but closing the road for independent developers with great and innovative ideas is terrible and bad for society. Unique smartphones could be made, each with slide-to-unlock, just like unique OSes can use icons and web browsers can use tabs.
Subject: Mobile | May 16, 2014 - 04:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: motorola, Moto E, adn
Motorola has carved a nice niche for themselves with smartphones costing around $100 and have just released a new device called the Moto E. This phone sports a 4.3" 960x540 resolution display with a small bezel and a water resistant which gives a good grip and some protection against water damage. The 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor and 1GB of RAM are running Android 4.4, see the full review at The Inquirer.
"MOTOROLA ANNOUNCED the Moto E on Tuesday, a dirt-cheap Android 4.4 Kitkat smartphone that it hopes will see the same success as last year's Motorola Moto G."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 @ The Inquirer
- Huawei Ascend P7 @ The Inquirer
- Acer Iconia One 7 @ The Inquirer
- MSI Primo 81 Tablet Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Galaxy S5 vs Note 3 @ The Inquirer
- Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One M8 @ The Inquirer
- The HTC One (M8) Smartphone Tech Report @ TechARP
- Gigabyte P35K-CF4 UltraBlade @ Kitguru
- Acer Aspire Switch 10 @ The Inquirer
- XTPower XT-10000ADF 10000mAh Power Bank @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | May 15, 2014 - 05:02 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, xaiomi, mipad, tegra k1
Tegra K1 is NVIDIA's new mobile processor and this first to implement the Kepler graphics architecture. In other words, it has all of the same graphics functionality as a desktop GPU with 364 GigaFLOPs of performance (a little faster than a GeForce 9600 GT). This is quite fast for a mobile product. For instance, that amount of graphics performance could max out Unreal Tournament 3 to 2560x1600 and run Crysis at 720p. Being Kepler, it supports OpenGL 4.4, OpenGL ES 3.1, DirectX 11 and 12, and GPU compute languages.
Xiaomi is launching their MiPad in Beijing, today, with an 8-inch 2048x1536 screen and the Tegra K1. They will be available in June (for China) starting at $240 USD for the 16GB version and going up to $270 for the 64GB version. Each version has 2GB of RAM, an 8MP rear-facing camera, and a 5MP front camera.
Now, we wait and see if any Tegra K1 devices come to North America and Europe - especially at that price point.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 15, 2014 - 02:59 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Sound Blaster E3, Sound Blaster E1, Creative
Okay, so these products (SoundBlaster E1 and SoundBlaster E3) are confusing because they have several roles. Both are billed as "headphone amplifiers" with battery power. These types of products are somewhat rare and niche on the whole. Probably the main reason for using the amplifier portion is if you had high impedance headphones. Creative claims to support 600 Ohm headphones with both of these models.
And this is where Creative started tossing other features in.
Both the E1 and E3 can be used as an external sound adapter for PCs and Macs. While features, such as EAX, have gone by the wayside due to modern audio APIs, there is still room for sound devices to differentiate in terms of signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and so forth, especially when compared to some on-board solutions. Speaking of SNR, the E1 advertises 106dB while the E3, 110dB. Also, sometimes you just want another sound card and USB is convenient. Both include ASIO drivers which is especially useful, although not too uncommon, for professional recording software.
The E3 then goes off on a tangent. Its USB hookup can attach not just to PCs and Mac, but also Android and iOS mobile devices. While it also has Bluetooth for iOS 5+ and Android 3.1+, it can be used as a wired, external sound card over USB on Android 4.2+ (using USB Streaming over Android Open Accessory Protocol 2.0) and iOS 7+ (using a Lightning USB adapter). This allows users to bypass the built-in amplifiers of their smartphones and tablets without Bluetooth compression. I would be interested to see reviews of this unit compared with the 3.5mm jack quality of typical mobile devices.
Subject: Mobile | May 8, 2014 - 11:02 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, tegra, shield, half-life 2
Remember that cake we got last week? It was sent by NVIDIA to celebrate the release of Portal (May 12th) on SHIELD. They are at it again...
When you get a FedEx box meant for a poster or tube of some kind, but you didn't order said poster, you are likely to be confused. Imagine my surprise when I opened it up and found...a bright green crowbar. This might become a habit for them; we received a pry bar from NVIDIA in April of 2012 to tease the release of the GeForce GTX 690.
Based on the message on the crow bar it seems that a Half-Life 2 release on SHIELD is going to be following soon. Sorry to disappoint anyone that was expecting Half-Life 3...
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 7, 2014 - 02:26 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt, nvidia, GeForce GTX 780 Ti
Externally-attached GPUs have been a topic for many years now. Numerous companies have tried, including AMD and Lucid, but no solution has ever been a widely known and available product. Even as interfaces increase in bandwidth and compatibility with internal buses, it has never been something that a laptop salesperson could suggest to users who want to dock into a high-performance station at home. At best, we are seeing it in weird "coin mining" racks to hang way more GPUs above a system than could physically mount on the motherboard.
Apparently that has not stopped the DIY community, according to chatter on Tech Inferno forums. While the above video does not really show the monitor, MacBook Pro, and GPU enclosure at the same time, let alone all wired together and on, it seems reasonable enough. The video claims to give the MacBook Pro (running Windows 8.1) access to a GeForce GTX 780 Ti with fairly high performance, despite the reduced bandwidth. Quite cool.