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Posts tagged ‘Asus’

1
Aug
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ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8 review: small, speedy tablets that cut a few corners


ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8

The MeMO Pad HD 7 was arguably the sleeper hit among small tablets in 2013. ASUS’ device didn’t have the speed of the Nexus 7 or the interface tricks of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 3 line, but it was superbly balanced. It ran smoothly, packed smart software and (most importantly) carried a sub-$200 price. For that reason, this year’s MeMO Pad 7 and 8 are potentially exciting; they stick to that familiar formula while bringing in faster processors and a fresher interface. What’s not to like? As you’ll find out in our review, there are a few aspects that definitely need improvement, or even take steps backward — but it’s also clear that ASUS has budget-tablet design down to a science.

Hardware

ASUS MeMO Pad 7

The strongest evidence of ASUS’ if-it-ain’t-broken philosophy manifests on the outside. If you’ve used either the MeMO Pad HD 7 or HD 8, the basic layouts of their MeMO Pad 7 and 8 sequels will be very recognizable. And that’s mostly a good thing. They’re easy to hold, with rounded edges and side buttons that you’re unlikely to hit by accident. You’ll find micro-USB and headphone ports on the top, the power and volume controls on the right and a microSDXC storage slot on the left. There’s little on the front besides the company logo and the front-facing camera (0.3 megapixel on the Pad 7, two megapixels on the Pad 8). On the back, you’ll spot a rear camera above (two and five megapixels, respectively), and stereo speakers below.

That’s not to say that ASUS is simply recycling its hardware. Both of the new entries are a tad thinner and lighter than their predecessors. The 7-inch MeMO Pad 7 is the featherweight of the bunch, at 0.65 pound and 0.37 inch thick; its 8-inch counterpart is unsurprisingly heavier, at 0.7 pound, but it’s also slimmer at 0.3 inch. The designs are narrower than last year’s models too (4.4 and 4.9 inches, respectively), so they’re ever so slightly easier to grab with one hand. I was happy to use either for significant stretches of time without propping them up on my lap; these are fine devices for reading on the couch or playing games that demand a two-handed grip.

ASUS MeMO Pad 8

That conservative design approach does mean the MeMO Pads inherit a few flaws. Those buttons may prevent unintended presses, but they’re also harder to activate on purpose. Since you can’t see them most of the time or quickly identify them by feel, it’s all too easy to accidentally lower the volume when you meant to put the device to sleep, or vice versa. The matte finishes also have their quirks. The 7-inch slate’s smooth backing tends to stay relatively pristine (at least in a red hue), but it’s a bit slippery; the textured 8-inch model is more stable in my hands, but it picks up lint like nobody’s business. The MeMO Pad 8′s new camera layout also doesn’t do anyone any favors. ASUS has moved the camera from near the center to the corner, making it a little too trivial to block the lens when you’re shooting. The Pad 7′s rear shooter is in the same position as on the HD 7, though, so you won’t easily smudge its glass.

Not much has changed on the inside apart from the processor, although that’s not shocking given that the Pad 7 and 8 cost just $150 and $200 respectively. In US models, you’ll still see 16GB of built-in storage (11.1GB free), 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. Sadly, there’s no HDMI output, so you’ll have to lean on Miracast streaming to send video to a TV. ASUS does have an ace in the hole with its built-in GPS and GLONASS positioning, however. You can use any of these devices for navigation so long as you have offline maps; many rivals, including iPads, can’t do that unless you buy their cellular-equipped variants.

Display and sound

ASUS MeMO Pad 8 display

Although the MeMO Pad 7 and 8 are separated by an inch in screen size, you get the same basic display technology: a 1,280 x 800, IPS-based LCD. Neither tablet’s screen is especially sharp (the Nexus 7 and Dell’s Venue 8 have much crisper-looking 1,920 x 1,200 panels), but they’re reasonably attractive for the price you’re paying. Both deliver rich colors that aren’t overdone, and you only really lose brightness when you look at them from sharp angles. There are a few practical differences beyond the raw surface area, mind you. The Pad 8′s display is a bit brighter, at a high 400 nits versus 330. Either model is easily visible indoors, but you’ll definitely want the larger slab if you venture outside. I also noticed that the Pad 8 had a warmer, slightly yellowish color cast out of the box, although ASUS’ Splendid screen utility makes it easy to dial that out.

Really, it all comes down to dimensions. Just how much screen real estate do you need? Having held the two MeMO Pads side by side, I can safely say that you’ll want the 8-inch version if you can at all swing the extra cash. It’s much easier on my eyes for long gaming and reading sessions, and it gives me more overall breathing room than I get with the cramped 7-incher. The lower pixel density isn’t a problem at normal viewing distances, in my experience. The tinier hardware will do if you don’t have the money or free space for the bigger hardware, but it’s tougher to justify in an era when many smartphones aren’t that much smaller.

There’s a similar split when it comes to sound quality. While the MeMO Pad 7′s stereo speakers are clear-sounding, they’re a bit quiet and lack even the vaguest hint of bass. The Pad 8 isn’t an audio powerhouse, but it produces louder, fuller output that’s just good enough to make me forego my headphones. With that said, the stereo separation on both tablets is virtually nonexistent. I’d really like to see ASUS put the speakers on opposite ends, like it does with the larger Transformer Pad TF103C.

Software

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 ZenUI up close

If you’ve read our review of the new Transformer Pad, you’ll know what to expect software-wise. The two MeMO Pads are running the same ZenUI interface, which spruces up Android 4.4.2 KitKat with a trendy “flat” look and a handful of customizations. ASUS strikes a careful balance between adding its own flourishes and leaving Android’s better features alone. You’ll get quick settings, some well-done media galleries and app drawer sorting, but multitasking and most other Google-made elements remain intact. Yes, that means you’ll miss out on multi-window support and other perks from heavier Android skins, like what you get on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 line. Still, it’s hard to object to ZenUI’s more restrained approach — it’s simple, colorful and responsive.

There isn’t an avalanche of preloaded software, either. ASUS’ own titles are dominated by simple utilities like the previously mentioned Splendid display tool, What’s Next (a simplified calendar view) and Do It Later (a to-do list). The more substantial apps are a mixed bag. SuperNote is great for scribbling and typing notes, but I just couldn’t find a use for Story’s diary-keeping abilities. The third-party app selection, meanwhile, is small, yet smart. Flipboard and Kindle are practically must-haves for reading, and I can see some subscribing to either eMusic’s song-download service or some of Zinio’s magazines.

Performance and battery life

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8 ** Nexus 7 (2013) Samsung Galaxy Tab S *** Amazon Kindle Fire HDX (7-inch)
Quadrant 2.0 19,495 6,133 18,591 19,655
Vellamo 2.0 1,933 1,597 1,672 N/A
SunSpider 1.0.2 (ms)* 607 602 1,109 554
3DMark IS Unlimited 14,171 N/A 12,431 N/A
GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 7.5 N/A 5.5 N/A
CF-Bench 22,284 15,366 31,695 N/A

*SunSpider: Lower scores are better.

**Average score for the 7- and 8-inch models.

***Average score for the 8.4- and 10.5-inch models.

Don’t expect to see a performance gap between the two MeMO Pads… or the TF103C, for that matter. They’re all using the same quad-core, 1.33GHz Atom Z3745 processor with 1GB of RAM, which means the benchmark scores are virtually interchangeable. Not that there’s much room to complain. As you can see above, either of the entry-level tablets can match or beat more expensive challengers. It’s not shocking that they can outpace ASUS’ own Nexus 7, a year-old device using an even older processor. However, they also fare well against Amazon’s speedy Kindle Fire HDX, and even the premium Galaxy Tab S 8.4 — not too shabby when you’re paying up to $250 less.

The numbers translate well to the real world. The Atom chip doesn’t break a sweat while navigating through the interface, and it’s equally adept at both web browsing and intensive 3D games like Real Racing 3. As I touched on with the Transformer Pad, the low resolution goes some way toward easing the workload. You don’t need a rocket to power a paper airplane, after all. However, the offscreen graphics tests suggest that neither MeMO Pad would have much trouble handling 1080p. It’s just a shame that the displays can’t match the might of what’s under the hood.

ASUS MeMO Pad 8 surfing the web

More memory would be nice, too. Although the devices didn’t get bogged down as I juggled different apps, it’s evident that 1GB of RAM isn’t quite enough for very demanding apps. One benchmark I ran would randomly spit “out of memory” errors, even after rebooting to give it as many resources as possible. You might never encounter these problems yourself, but I’m concerned that the MeMO Pads could choke on software a year or two down the road.

I don’t have similar reservations about the battery life. Where the Transformer Pad TF103C’s runtime was disappointing for its size class, both the MeMO Pad 7 and 8 are at least on par for their price tier, if not a bit above average. ASUS claims that both of them should last for nine hours when looping a 720p video at a low 100-nit brightness, but that’s fairly conservative. In my testing, which upped the brightness to the halfway mark and threw in periodic updates from Facebook and Twitter, both gadgets were still within the ballpark of that official estimate. The 7-inch unit managed a respectable eight hours and 36 minutes before shutting down, or enough to trump the current Nexus 7 and multiple older Samsung tablets. Meanwhile, the 8-inch model lasted for nine hours and 21 minutes, putting it ahead of both the TF103C and Sony’s Xperia Z Tablet series. Neither result holds a candle to the longevity of the Galaxy Tab S, ASUS HD 7 or most iPads, but they’re more than acceptable given the blend of raw power and discount pricing.

Tablet Battery Life
ASUS MeMO Pad 8 9:21
ASUS MeMO Pad 7 8:36
Microsoft Surface 2 14:22
iPad Air 13:45 (LTE)
Apple iPad mini 12:43 (WiFi)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10-inch) 12:30
Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8-inch) 12:22
Apple iPad mini with Retina display 11:55 (LTE)
Apple iPad (late 2012) 11:08 (WiFi)
ASUS Transformer Book T100 10:40
Apple iPad 2 10:26
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 10:04
ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 9:56
Apple iPad (2012) 9:52 (HSPA) / 9:37 (LTE)
Acer Iconia W4 9:50
Nexus 7 (2012) 9:49
Microsoft Surface RT 9:36
Toshiba Encore 8:45
Sony Xperia Tablet Z 8:40
ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C 8:26
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet 7:57
Nexus 10 7:26
Dell Venue 8 Pro 7:19
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 7:18
Nexus 7 (2013) 7:15
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 7:13
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 6:55

And in real life, the battery is healthy enough that you likely won’t notice the difference. I can get through a day of moderate browsing, social networking and photography even on the MeMO Pad 7, and I had less to worry about with the Pad 8. Heavy-duty gaming chews up a lot of that precious energy, although you can counter that by invoking a special energy-saving mode that cuts internet access when the tablets aren’t in use. It’s a last-ditch measure, to be sure, but it might save your hide if you need a working device at the end of a daylong trip.

Camera

ASUS MeMO Pad 8 camera sample

Here’s where ASUS seemingly backtracks on its earlier successes. I lauded the MeMO Pad HD 7 for having solid cameras, but you’re not guaranteed a similar experience with its 2014 follow-ups; to achieve what I saw in the HD 7, you’ll have to spring for the costlier MeMO Pad 8. Its 5-megapixel autofocusing rear camera is nothing special with noisy low-light shots, blown-out highlights and processing that tends to erase finer details, but it generally produces accurate colors and can take reasonably well-exposed photos in dim indoor environments. The front 2-megapixel sensor is similarly unremarkable, but it’s good enough for an HD-quality video call or selfie. Whichever camera you use, there’s a fairly sophisticated set of filters and manual camera settings, so you can add an effect or tweak the white balance if an image isn’t quite to your liking.

It’s the MeMO Pad 7 that you have to watch out for. ASUS has dropped the HD 7′s 5-megapixel back camera in favor of a 2-megapixel, fixed-focus shooter, much like that in the TF103C. Predictably, the downgraded equipment is terrible — you can’t get close to many subjects without losing focus; colors are slightly off; and shots in anything less than good lighting generate an abundance of noise. Both this and the equally lackluster 0.3-megapixel front camera are serviceable if you only need to capture a chalkboard or join a Hangouts chat, but they’re unfortunate regressions on a tablet that’s otherwise a big leap forward.

The competition

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 showing its competition

Just what represents competition will depend heavily on whether you’re considering a MeMO Pad 7 or 8. The smaller slab may be the easiest choice. Poor cameras notwithstanding, the Pad 7 outmuscles much of what you’ll find around its $150 sticker. Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD, LG’s G Pad 7.0 and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 are slower and carry less storage. The Kindle and Nook don’t even have any cameras to speak of, while LG and Samsung don’t offer much more photographic prowess than ASUS. HP’s Tegra 4-packing, $200 Slate 7 Extreme is no real threat either. The biggest danger may come from Dell’s Venue 7, which offers noticeably higher-resolution cameras (if also a slightly pokier Atom chip) for $10 more. Neither the Kindle Fire HDX nor the Nexus 7 justify their premiums as much as they did roughly a year ago — $80 more gets you an exceptional screen and perks like the Nexus’ wireless charging, but they’re not faster.

Move up to eight inches and it gets trickier. Frankly, the Venue 8 may be a better buy than the MeMO Pad 8 if you’re interested in getting the best hardware possible for $200. It’s using a dual-core Atom, but it has a far nicer 1,920 x 1,200 LCD for a similar hit to your wallet. You will get more for your moolah than other tablets can typically muster, though. The G Pad 8.0 isn’t available in the US yet, and the $270 Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 is both more expensive and comparatively sluggish. If you’re open to trying Windows, keep your eye on the Venue 8 Pro; Amazon affiliates frequently sell it for as little as $200, and it may be worth giving up some battery life in the name of a desktop-class operating system or (optional) pen input.

Wrap-up

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8 en repose

Of the two MeMO Pads, I’d choose the 8-inch model without hesitation, as it’s simply a better bargain. Spending $50 more nets you better cameras, longer battery life and that all-important larger display. The 7-inch system offers superb speed for a $150 tablet, but it’s somewhat hobbled by the downgraded cameras. I’d make the sacrifice, as I rarely snap photos with any tablet, but it isn’t as well-rounded as last year’s MeMO Pad HD 7.

It’s a harder call when pitting ASUS against its opponents. While it should be clear by now that the MeMO Pads can take on most any task you’d expect from a mobile tablet, they’re not the best at everything; you can find nicer screens and cameras without much difficulty, especially if you’re willing to go beyond the $200 mark. I don’t think that specs alone tell the whole story, though. ASUS makes a good case for custom Android interfaces. ZenUI is more helpful than the largely stock Android implementation on the Dell Venue 7 or 8, yet it never gets in your way. I can comfortably recommend both the MeMO Pad 7 and 8, but you do have to be aware of what you’re giving up — these aren’t so much sleeper hits as they are wisely calculated trade-offs.

Filed under: Tablets, Mobile, ASUS

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23
Jul
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The top 12 tablets you can buy right now


Whether you’re looking to replace your laptop or just find something to keep you entertained, there’s a tablet out there to suit you. But with an ever-increasing array of slates crowding the market, narrowing down the list can be a chore. So we’ve sorted through the pile and picked out some of our favorites for both power users and media consumers. Our complete buyer’s guide is always just a few clicks away, but feel free to cruise through the gallery below for a quick rundown of the best tablets you can buy today.

Filed under: Tablets, Mobile, Apple, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, ASUS, Google, Amazon, Acer

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23
Jul
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ASUS has the world’s fastest WiFi router… for now


Hey look, a new router from ASUS and, apparently, it is super, super fast. According to the Taiwanese company, its RT-AC87 is “the world’s first” with Wave 2 features, which bring better reliability, major speed boosts and overall performance improvements to the 802.11ac generation of WiFi routers — one that, by the way, has yet to break through to the mainstream. Thanks to this novel technology, ASUS’ RT-AC87 can beam out 5 GHz signals with up to 1.73 Gbps speeds, making it a great option for someone who has a lot of different 802.11ac-equipped devices under a single roof. People that, you know, love watching stuff on Netflix, like to livestream games to the internet or just have too many connected things happening all at once. The RT-AC87 will be available “shortly” for $270, though it’ll be limited to North America. For the time being, ASUS can enjoy having the speediest router in town, at least until D-Link, Netgear, Belkin and the rest of them show up to the party.

Filed under: Wireless, Networking, ASUS

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Source: ASUS

23
Jul
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Android 4.4.2 update heading to the Asus Transformer Pad TF701T



I can remember a time when we all talked about and wanted an Asus Transformer Pad. It was an Android tablet, with a detachable keyboard, that made its self into a laptop. It was pretty amazing when Asus first put them out. Now the line has come down a notch and other OEM’s have started to do even bigger things. Nvidia and the newly announced Shield Tablet comes to mind. Asus was always fairly good about keeping the Transformer line updated and squashing bugs though. The higher-end Transformer Pad, the TF701T, is picking up an update that owners will be happy to see.

Asus Transformer Pad TF701T


In a typical staged roll-out owners should all start to see a pop up to let them update the wonder tab to Android 4.4.2. You can head into the device settings and hit that software update button if you want to. If you happen to be impatient, you can also visit the Asus website and look for your devices SKU and side load it. Although they don’t offer any documentation on how to install it. AndroidPolice recollects that you tossed the file on an external SD card and popped it into the tablet to trigger the update process. You may want to do some research on the matter before hand and be sure you get the right file as well.

Any Transformer TF701T owners out there seeing the update on their devices today?

Source: Android Police


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The post Android 4.4.2 update heading to the Asus Transformer Pad TF701T appeared first on AndroidSPIN.

19
Jul
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Get a new look on the cheap with these customizable phones


Deep-pocketed power users may buy new smartphones once a year or even every few months to take advantage of improved displays, better cameras and faster processors, but the majority of owners are more likely to tire of their device’s appearance long before its outdated specs. A few manufacturers have taken a new approach when designing their handsets, opting to include not only replaceable batteries, but also swappable backs, that let you change the look of your phone for only a few bucks. Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and LG’s G3 are two recent flagships that you can change up after purchase, but there are a few other options to consider, too. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you could even replace the backplate on, say, an iPhone 5s, but such an undertaking requires precise work, pricier parts and a voided warranty. Click through for our customizable picks that keep things simple (and cheap).

Filed under: Cellphones, Mobile, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, ASUS, LG

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18
Jul
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ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C review: a speedy budget tablet with a few sacrifices


ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C

When it comes to ASUS, buying a full-size Android tablet has usually meant venturing past the $300 mark; even the Transformer Book T100 set you back $349 when it first came out, and that was considered a steal. That’s no longer a problem in 2014. ASUS’ new Transformer Pad TF103C costs $299 with the company’s signature keyboard dock included, or as much as some smaller mid-range slates. While that’s potentially a hefty bargain, it begs a few questions: Just what are you giving up to get that price? And is it worth the trade-off when you could likely snag a smaller, but more powerful tablet for less? As I’ve learned, you’re making quite a few sacrifices in the name of a better deal. This is still quality hardware, but you have to know what you’re in for.

Hardware

Don’t expect a revolution on the outside. Aside from the smooth matte finish on the non-removable back and some cosmetic tweaks to the speaker grilles, the TF103C will seem awfully familiar if you’ve used a Transformer-series tablet like the T100. Not that I’m grousing much about it. That still makes for a comfortable grip, and the tablet alone is light for its size at 1.2 pounds — not as svelte as the 1.07-pound Galaxy Tab 4 10.1, but on par with LG’s similarly sized G Pad. About the only step backward is the overly smudge-prone casing on the black model. You’ll want to track down the white variant if you insist on keeping the case looking pristine.

Of course, that also means the same drawbacks have returned. The tablet’s 16:10 aspect ratio is fine for landscape viewing — arguably where you’ll spend most of your time — but not so hot for reading books in portrait mode. Moreover, the combination of dock and tablet is relatively thick (0.78 inch) and heavy (2.43 pounds) considering the energy-efficient technology you’re getting. I’m not expecting something wafer-thin, but it would be nice if the TF103C were easier to tote around than far more powerful devices like the 11-inch MacBook Air or Surface Pro 3, you know?

ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C from the side

A closer inspection reveals a few of the more conspicuous reasons why this Transformer Pad is so cheap. You’ll once more find a microSD storage slot, a micro-USB port and the volume rocker within easy reach on the left side. However, ASUS has yanked the micro-HDMI video output seen on other tablets — you’ll have to make do with streaming technology like Miracast if you want to put movies on your TV. You will find a 2-megapixel rear camera where there was no such cam at all on the T100, but the front camera is a basic 0.3-megapixel unit that rules out any HD video chats. There’s also a single USB 2.0 port on the dock instead of the T100′s USB 3.0, although that isn’t a big deal when Android doesn’t make much use of the faster connection standard.

You won’t find a lot of future-proofing inside, either. The starter Transformer ships with ordinary 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless, and my test unit carries a modest 16GB of built-in storage. There’s an 8GB version, too, but you’re not likely to find it in the US. That’s just as well, since you’d run out of space very quickly with that model; even my device had just 10.3GB free before I started piling on the apps. You will find built-in GPS and GLONASS positioning, though, so you won’t need to splurge on a cellular-ready tablet just to navigate through an unfamiliar city.

Keyboard dock

ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C keyboard dock

As always, the keyboard dock is why you’re looking at a Transformer tablet in the first place. That’s especially true for the TF103C, which has very little keyboard-equipped competition in its price range. Thankfully, ASUS hasn’t skimped on the quality just to get that $299 sticker. This is the T100′s dock rejiggered for Android, and that’s mostly a good thing. Although the keys are too small for me to type at a breakneck pace, the keyboard as a whole is supremely helpful for drafting long emails and controlling basic settings like brightness. The touchpad, meanwhile, is a slight refinement over the T100; it has the same tiny surface and hidden buttons, but none of the jumpiness. Android admittedly doesn’t make nearly as much use of mouse input as Windows does, but the pad is convenient for quickly selecting text or other moments when you don’t want to lift your hands.

Having said that, all the quirks from recent ASUS docks remain intact. The buttons are a bit noisy, and some of them (especially the arrows and function key) are too tiny to find by feel alone. It also took some time to get used to the inherently top-heavy nature of the docked combo. Mind you, that’s partly due to what’s missing in the dock this time around — a secondary battery. While you won’t find one in the higher-end TF303CL or many other dockable tablets, the absence is disappointing given that earlier Transformers often made use of a spare cell.

Display and sound

ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C showing a purty picture

If the dock is why the TF103C’s price is so alluring, the screen is a big reason why the tablet costs so little in the first place. A 10.1-inch, 1,280 x 800 display is no great shakes in an era when 1080p or higher is quite common, even on small hardware like the G Pad 8.3 or Nexus 7. The low pixel density (149 ppi, to be exact) isn’t terrible, but it was noticeable whenever I was reading or playing a visually intensive game. At least the overall picture quality holds up. The IPS-based LCD produces rich colors, shines brightly at 400 nits and only loses a moderate amount of that brightness when viewed from sharp angles. If all you’re looking for is a reasonably true-to-life image, you’ll be happy with what this Transformer has to offer.

Audio is another story. The two rear-firing speakers are barely loud enough for a quiet environment, even if you cup your hands around the speakers to direct the sound forward. Bass is equally weak — playing dance music will leave you without the satisfying punch you get on the G Pad 8.3 or recent iPads. While the output is clear, I just couldn’t get engrossed in movie dialogue or music without plugging in some headphones. Should you want a mobile media center, you’re better off giving up the TF103C’s screen real estate to get something with a fuller sound and a sharper picture.

Software

ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C

If you’ve tried the Padfone X or other ASUS devices circa 2014, you’ll have a good sense of what to expect from the Transformer Pad’s ZenUI interface — minus the phone part, of course. The company has given Android 4.4.2 KitKat just enough of a makeover to make it distinctive, with trendy “flat” (read: textureless) icons and bright colors. It’s otherwise a very hands-off approach, though. While you’ll see useful upgrades like quick access to settings and more polished media galleries, aspects like multitasking have largely gone untouched. I won’t deny missing out on some advanced features that require more customization, like Samsung’s multi-window support. Nonetheless, there’s a certain refreshing simplicity to ZenUI. It’s easy to find your way around, and it’s blissfully free of unnecessary effects and transitions that might slow you down.

ASUS doesn’t go overboard with preloaded apps, for that matter. Most of what you’ll see are lightweight utilities that fill in a few gaps in Android’s stock interface, like Splendid (display calibration) and Do It Later (to-do lists). Some are deeper, if not always useful. I most appreciated SuperNote, which lets you jot down a mix of typed and drawn notes; Story, on the other hand, is the classic diary app that you try once and quickly forget. I found the third-party software more practical. You’ll have Flipboard, Kindle and Zinio apps for reading, while eMusic gives you another means of downloading tunes beyond Google Play.

Performance and battery life

ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C ASUS Padfone X Samsung Galaxy Tab S ** Apple iPad Air ***
Quadrant 2.0 18,921 22,032 18,591 N/A
Vellamo 2.0 1,873 2,308 1,672 N/A
SunSpider 1.0.2 (ms)* 611 906 1,109 393
3DMark IS Unlimited 14,171 19,523 12,431 15,328
GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 8.2 12 5.5 12.7
CF-Bench 22,586 32,937 31,695 N/A

*SunSpider: Lower scores are better.

**Average scores for the 8.4- and 10.5-inch models.

***Not all of our Android benchmarks are cross-compatible with iOS.

Intel-based Android tablets like the TF103C are nothing new, even if they’re still rare. However, the quad-core, 1.33GHz Atom Z3745 processor found here is very much up to the job of powering Google’s mobile platform. If anything, this budget hardware regularly punches above its weight class. It’s typically speedier in benchmarks than an Exynos 5 Octa-based tablet like the Galaxy Tab S, and it’s not all that far off from Snapdragon 800 devices like ASUS’ own Padfone X.

That’s borne out by the real-world performance. I’ve already touched on the zippy interface, but the Transformer Pad doesn’t act like an econo-slab when running apps, either. Web pages pop up quickly, and even a graphics-heavy 3D game like Real Racing 3 runs smoothly regardless of what’s on the screen. To some extent, the lower-resolution display helps keep things quick; there aren’t as many pixels to push around, after all. Even so, it’s apparent that this Transformer Pad has more muscle than you’d expect, and our offscreen graphics test (GFXBench) shows that it wouldn’t be a slouch with a 1080p display.

ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C up close and personal

Just don’t plan on juggling many apps at the same time. While the TF103C’s 1GB of RAM was generally adequate, there were a couple of moments when it balked; even after purging the device’s memory, I couldn’t run one benchmark until I’d rebooted. I wouldn’t say that’s a dealbreaker for Android gear this cheap, but it does make me worry about software performance in the long run, when operating system upgrades and next-generation 3D games put some extra strain on the memory. If I were running the show, I would have kept the T100′s 2GB of RAM just to guarantee a hiccup-free experience.

Keeping the 11-hour battery life would have been nice, too. The Transformer Pad’s 19-watt-hour lithium cell is officially rated for a less ambitious 9.5 hours when playing non-stop 720p video, and that’s assuming you both keep the screen relatively dim (100 nits) and avoid social networks. In Engadget-grade stress testing, which upped the brightness to the halfway mark (200 nits) and allowed for updates from Facebook and Twitter, the tablet conked out after eight hours and 26 minutes. That’s not terrible by any stretch, but it’s a far cry from the 10-plus hours of the T100, the Galaxy Tab S and most iPads.

Tablet Battery Life
ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C 8:26
Microsoft Surface 2 14:22
iPad Air 13:45 (LTE)
Apple iPad mini 12:43 (WiFi)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10-inch) 12:30
Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8-inch) 12:22
Apple iPad mini with Retina display 11:55 (LTE)
Apple iPad (late 2012) 11:08 (WiFi)
ASUS Transformer Book T100 10:40
Apple iPad 2 10:26
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 10:04
Apple iPad (2012) 9:52 (HSPA) / 9:37 (LTE)
Acer Iconia W4 9:50
Nexus 7 (2012) 9:49
Microsoft Surface RT 9:36
Toshiba Encore 8:45
Sony Xperia Tablet Z 8:40
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet 7:57
Nexus 10 7:26
Dell Venue 8 Pro 7:19
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 7:18
Nexus 7 (2013) 7:15
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 7:13
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 6:55

Most people don’t watch that much video, though, and the good news is that you won’t have trouble getting through a full day of less demanding uses that include web browsing, social networking and small bursts of gaming. If you need to go further, there’s also a special energy mode that will drop the internet connection when you leave the device idle. No, that’s not really practical in most circumstances, but it might save your hide if you need to check your email after a long trip.

Camera

ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C camera sample

You might have gathered that the TF103C wouldn’t be a photography champ from the specs… and you’d be right. The 2-megapixel rear camera isn’t the worst I’ve seen on a device — that dubious honor belongs to the ZTE Open — but it produces drab-looking photos and videos even in good lighting. Low detail, blown-out highlights and lots of noise are commonplace. In darker conditions, the results are downright ugly. Meanwhile, the front 0.3-megapixel camera is only properly useful for video conversations. It’s slightly ironic that the shooting interface includes a full range of filters and settings (including ISO and white balance), since you’re rarely, if ever, going to get a masterpiece. Really, the cameras are more utilitarian than anything. They’re here to make sure you can capture a whiteboard or say hello on Skype, and not much else.

The competition

ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C showing a flower

It’s tempting to argue that there isn’t any real competition for the TF103C, at least not in the most literal sense. How many budget 10-inch Android tablets come with their own keyboard docks? There is one obvious parallel, however: Archos’ 101 XS 2. Mind you, it’s not much of a contest. The XS 2 does ship with a healthier 2GB of RAM, but its quad-core, 1.6GHz Rockchip processor isn’t even in the same ballpark as the Atom in the Transformer Pad. It’s also not as elegant, since you can’t just fold things shut when you’re done; you have to detach the keyboard cover every time you’re ready to pack up. Archos’ hardware does have front speakers and mini-HDMI, but you’re making way too many compromises just to get those features.

But what if you don’t need a keyboard? That’s where it gets complicated, and where ASUS has some reasons to be nervous. As mentioned earlier, Android fans have a lot of options around $300, and what you get depends on how much you crave a 10-inch display. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 doesn’t fare well here. For $50 more, you’re both ditching the keyboard and taking a performance hit; you’d have to be a huge fan of multi-window support or better cameras to splurge. LG’s G Pad 10.1 delivers more value at $250, but it’s still underpowered. And it may be smarter to forego some screen area if raw power is what you’re after. LG’s G Pad 8.3 now sells for the same $299 with a much nicer 1,920 x 1,200 LCD, a fairly nimble Snapdragon 600 processor and superior cameras. As I write this, you can also shell out $40 more for Amazon’s 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX to get many of the G Pad’s features in a bigger body, provided that you’re okay with missing out on Google’s app ecosystem.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on a couple of Windows alternatives, in case you aren’t wedded to Android. HP’s Omni 10 officially sells for $400, but it’s easy to buy for much less — you can pick one up for as little as $250 from Amazon. You’ll lose the keyboard, but you’ll get an extra-sharp screen along with heaps of additional storage and memory. ASUS loyalists, in turn, will want to consider the Transformer Book T100. It costs a reasonable $350 if you play your cards right, although you may end up buying through smaller stores (such as Newegg’s affiliates) to score that kind of discount.

Wrap-up

ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C backside

Spend enough time with the TF103C and it’s patently obvious why it only costs $299. ASUS has whittled the dockable tablet down to the essentials, with just about every luxury tossed aside; you won’t find a breathtaking display, good cameras, long battery life or video output. What’s left, though, continues to be tempting. This is a brawny tablet for the money, whether or not you use the netbook-like functionality all that frequently. If you do, it might even be an ideal laptop substitute. The Transformer Pad is more expensive than the cheapest Chromebooks, but it’s slightly faster and carries an abundance of native apps.

You do have to ask whether you need the keyboard at all, though, and that’s the real dilemma — many people don’t. If you’re no fan of the Transformer concept, the TF103C won’t change your mind. The savings from passing on the keyboard can be rolled into a tablet that may not be as good at productivity, but could easily be superior for books, games and movies. Give the Transformer Pad a close look if you’re at least mildly curious about the dock; just be sure to keep its competition in mind before you take the plunge.

Filed under: Tablets, Mobile, ASUS

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15
Jul
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[DEALS & STEALS] Get a refurbished Nexus 7 (2013) 32GB on eBay for $160 (54& off)


nexus_7_new_720

Nexus 7 (2013) is definitely not the newest tablet, a year has passed since Google announced it. Not only that but we’ve been seeing a lot of rumors on its successor, we might even see it announced rather soon. All this aside, Nexus 7 (2013) is still a great device and it will serve you like a champ.

If you’re not waiting to see what will Google bring with its refresh, you can get this device rather cheap on eBay. Refurbished 32GB model is on sale now for $160 (54% off) with free shipping for U.S., although it is available all around. If you’re interested in getting one of these you might want to hurry, we don’t know how long will this last. You can pick one up by following the source link below.

Source: eBay

The post [DEALS & STEALS] Get a refurbished Nexus 7 (2013) 32GB on eBay for $160 (54& off) appeared first on AndroidGuys.

10
Jul
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PC shipments appear to flatten out after two years of steep decline


Both Gartner and IDC appear to have some good news for the PC industry — the seemingly never-ending death spiral may have come to an end. While the two research groups don’t agree completely on the numbers, it does appear that after two years of stead and sizable declines, the PC industry is seeing shipments flatten out. In total, according to Gartner, 75.8 million computers were shipped in the second quarter of 2014, a negligible 0.1 percent drop from the same quarter a year ago. While IDC saw a much more sizable 1.7 percent fall in PC shipments, that’s still a far cry from the 7.1 percent decline it anticipated and the smallest it’s measured in two years.

Two years ago the netbook market imploded and tablets started eating into laptop sales. Since then shipments of traditional computers have been falling at an alarming rate. IDC doesn’t necessarily expect this to indicate a longer term trend towards flat PC sales. Basically, the worst may not be over yet. Despite impressive growth from major players like Dell, HP and Lenovo smaller companies are still seeing tremendous drop off. And the declines are particularly steep in markets like India where the most potential for growth is. Instead the improvements during the quarter were carried primarily by the US and Western Europe, which might not be able to keep the industry from declining further in the long run.

Filed under: Desktops, Laptops, Apple, ASUS, HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo

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Source: Gartner, IDC

28
Jun
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ASUS is reportedly making the cheapest Android Wear smartwatch yet


LG G Watch running Android Wear

If the first crop of Android Wear smartwatches falls just outside of your price range, don’t fret — ASUS may soon come to your rescue. TechCrunch claims that the Taiwanese firm is developing Google-powered wristwear with a target price between $99 and $149, or at least $50 less than LG’s relatively frugal G Watch. There’s no mention of what if anything would make this wearable truly special, but it would have an AMOLED screen like that in Samsung’s Gear Live. ASUS had also hinted that it could use gesture controls in a smartwatch on top of the usual taps and swipes. The device would show up in September (possibly around Europe’s IFA tech expo) if the scoop is accurate, so it won’t be long before you find out whether or not an affordable Android timepiece is in your future.

Filed under: Wearables, ASUS

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Source: TechCrunch

27
Jun

ASUS reportedly working on budget friendly Android Wear Device


It has been about 24 hours or so since the first two commercially available Android Wear smartwatches made their appearance in the Play Store. The LG G Watch hit with a price tag of $229 in a traditional black or the in a white/gold offering. The other was the Samsung Gear Live. Very similar to […]

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