It looks like you won’t have to wait long at all to check out Google’s visually rich Play Store revamp — it’s rolling out now. The refresh doesn’t appear any different on the surface, but a quick dive shows very different product pages that are clearly inspired by the company’s multi-layered Material Design philosophy. Cover art plays a much larger role, and details like rating overviews and genres have been moved into easy-to-read icons. You might not like everything about the new storefront — there’s considerably more scrolling involved, for one thing. On the whole, though, it’s both prettier and easier to understand at a glance. The revamp should reach your device within days, but Android Police has an installer if you just can’t wait to see what’s new.
Our latest update is rolling out right now! We’re excited to share a sneak peek of what you’ll get in the coming days pic.twitter.com/k5BidxR4Vu
- Google Play (@GooglePlay) July 23, 2014
Source: Google Play (Twitter)
Lenovo is back again with another addition to the Yoga tablet line. It’s safe to say that Lenovo’s top-of-the-line Android tablet is better than ever. As we mentioned with our review of the Yoga Tablet 10, Lenovo is pushing the envelope of design, which could be good or bad depending on which way you look at it. The new Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ has some nice upgrades from the previous model, but still falls short in some of the same places.
As with the previous 10-inch Yoga tablet, the build quality in the HD+ is excellent. The device features a 10-inch 1920×1080 display, a 1.6 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 8 MP rear-facing camera and 1.6 MP front-facing camera. The display is pretty sharp and bright, but one thing that could be annoying to some is its glossiness. I didn’t find it a problem when using it inside or in shaded area. It also has some decent viewing angles, which is always a plus. One of the best features, which also could be considered its worst, is the tablet’s design and like the previous model, it’s extremely thin at its thinnest point and up to about 3/4-inches at its thickest. The thickest part of the device is sort of a cylinder with the power button on one end and the 3.5 mm headphone jack at the other, which it’s also a handle for the device. This is a good idea theoretically in my opinion and great comes in handy when holding the device or transporting it, but it’s a slightly awkward feeling if you’re holding the device and using it in portrait mode. The thick side also houses the built in kickstand that is still a bit hard to engage, as with the previous model. If you are using the device on a table or to have it sit up on your lap, it’s perfect, but if you wanted to have it in a position that you could type on it, it’s a bit too tall in my opinion with the kickstand out. If you were using it the same way but without the kickstand engaged, it’s seems to be too small of an angle. To give you an idea of how these angles differ, think of an iPad with its Smart Cover as a happy medium just about in-between both of these angles which seem either slightly too large or small for completely comfortable typing. The tablet comes with 32 GB of built-in storage that is more than enough, plus hidden behind the stand is a compartment where you can add additional storage with up to a 64 GB MicroSD card. I mentioned above that the HD+ has a Snapdragon 400 processor and 2 GB RAM, which is more than enough to satisfy the standard user. Just about any app I used on the device ran with no issues, including games like The Dark Knight Rises. Comparing TDKR running on this with it running on my OnePlus One with a Snapdragon 801 processor, it’s clear which is the winner, so as you can imagine, the graphics on high-end games are reduced and it’s just slightly choppy. Games that aren’t as graphics intense like Leo’s Fortune and even Horn ran beautifully. The cameras on the device are fairly decent for a tablet cameras. I didn’t test them extensively, but the photos I took turned out pretty clear and were decent in lower light. You should have no problems video chatting with the front-facing camera either. Two of the last things I want to mention about the device is that the 9,000 mAh battery is fantastic as well as the fact that it has front-facing speakers. In use, the tablet gets about 18 hours of battery life, but I’ve seen the tablet display that it had about 38 hours of battery life when I didn’t use it a lot. There were times when I didn’t use it for a week or more and barely any power was lost, so it works great in standby mode. The speakers on the device are loud and were great for tablet speakers, especially when I tested it out watching Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon.
On the software side of things, the device is running Android 4.4.2. For most of the review, it was running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean then right when I was finishing writing this up, it got updated to Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Lenovo had mentioned that the device would be receiving the KitKat update at the end July, which was about an 866 MB update One nice thing about the software on the tablet, although not the absolute latest version of Android KitKat, is that it’s pretty close to a stock experience, Before the update, it had tablet style menus in Settings but the upgrade brought a Nexus experience to the Settings, only with a slightly different color scheme .The desktop and even on-screen navigation buttons are also Nexus-style as well, so you’ll be right at home. The only downfall with the launcher is that it’s not great if you have a ton of apps or aren’t very good at organizing them since there is no app drawer, much like on the iPad or MIUI. Don’t forget, you can always install a third-party launcher so it’s not the end of the world. The notification drawer and Quick Settings are stock as well, with slightly different icons. Some nice additions that Lenovo added to the software is the Smart Side Bar that can be accessed by swiping from the bezel onto the screen on either side as well as the Dolby app that allows you to adjust sound settings for numerous modes such as for movies, music, games and voice, plus you can make custom configurations as well. The Smart Side Bar gives quick access to your videos, photos and books, recently used apps and sound and visual modes. The KitKat update appears to have made the sidebar work much better than previously as there were times when I couldn’t get it to come out when it was running Jelly Bean. Also, before the update you could double tap while on your homescreen and recent apps would appear, but that appears to have been taken out of the software, unless there is a setting somewhere that I couldn’t find to turn it back on. Another thing that Lenovo added to the software is the ability to run multiple apps at once by having one open then opening the recent apps and sliding it to the window.pane. I had no trouble watching a movie and surfing a webpage a the same time.
Along with the tablet for review, I also received a green and grey sleeve. While it won’t really protect the tablet from huge falls, it will protect it from scratches. The HD+ fits in the sleeve nicely, even with its “unique” design. It also closes magnetically so you don’t have to worry about the flap opening.
Looking at both the hardware and software together, it’s not a bad tablet for $369. The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ is a worthy upgrade from the previous model, but still has some of the same shortcomings with the stand and software. As we said with the Yoga Tablet review, if you favor battery life over raw power, then this is worth considering. There also aren’t many tablets with an included stand, front-facing speakers and Android 4.4 KitKat.
Do you remember that leak we got a few days ago regarding the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet and SHIELD Controller? Well, it looks like it has been indirectly confirmed as Gaijin Entertainment has announced War Thunder for NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet. This will allow SHIELD Tablet players to play the MMO dogfighting aerial game with other platforms like PC, PS4, Mac and Linux. The release even goes as far as to show a video that is basically the announcement video for the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet, which you can see below:
As last week’s leak predicted, the SHIELD Tablet is going to have the 192-core Tegra K1 processor that mobile gamers have been obsessing about, and it’s going to be so good that Gaijin claim that War Thunder will run “natively in parity with PC and video game consoles”. Of course, let’s not forget the wireless SHIELD Controller which is naturally going to be optimized for War Thunder on the SHIELD Tablet, particularly if you feel like connecting your SHIELD Tablet via HDMI to your TV for a more theatrical experience.
There has been no launch date set in stone for the release of War Thunder on NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet, but it will be free-to-play, and the game already contains “400 historically accurate planes and armored vehicles”, which should be exciting for those budding historians among you.
What do you think about War Thunder on NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet? Is the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet everything you wished for? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Gaijin Entertainment Announces Their Cross Platform MMO War Thunder is Coming to the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet
Enabling SHIELD Tablet Users to Play Against PC, PlayStation 4, Mac and Linux Players, Gaijin Entertainment Continues Its Commitment to Supporting New Technologies, Bringing War Thunder to More Players Around the World – On the Go or at Home on the Couch
(MOSCOW, RUSSIAN FEDERATION) – July 22, 2014 – Award-winning developer and publisher Gaijin Entertainment announced today that they will support the NVIDIA SHIELD tablet – the ultimate tablet for gamers – with their mega-hit War Thunder.
“The days of being pious to one platform are dead. We are platform agnostic because we believe that our community demands that they have access to War Thunder on as many platforms as possible. Gamers have many tastes and it is a bad business model to restrict your game to a single platform when your community has ever evolving tastes and preferences and are always on the lookout for the next great gaming adventure,” said Gaijin Entertainment’s Creative Director Kirill Yudintsev. “War Thunder on the SHIELD tablet will be that next great adventure. It provides our growing community of almost eight million players another amazing option to battle with or against friends and foes in cross platform play across the widest variety of home platforms, mobile devices and VR headsets – more than any other game in the industry.”
The SHIELD tablet is the first Android-based device that can run War Thunder natively in parity with PC and video game consoles. The SHIELD tablet includes the world’s most advanced mobile processor, the 192-core NVIDIA Tegra K1. It’s the only device capable of running today’s AAA video games such as War Thunder without hiccup or stutter.
The SHIELD tablet will allow War Thunder fans to take the WWII blastacular experience with them on the go, using a specially created control scheme for the touch screen. When in need of a TV screen experience, players can connect via HDMI and enjoy War Thunder using the high performance, precise SHIELD wireless controller with ultra-low latency Wi-Fi direct.
“Gaijin Entertainment has done an amazing job with War Thunder, creating a cross-platform experience with unbelievable graphics on SHIELD tablet,” said Keita Iida, Senior Director, Global Content Management at NVIDIA. “Tegra K1 really brings the game to life and we’re excited to deliver a game GeForce gamers can play at home – and continue playing anywhere, anytime they want.”
No launch date has been announced for War Thunder on the SHIELD tablet, but Gaijin Entertainment can confirm that War Thunder will remain a free-to-play, cross-platform, massively multiplayer military masterpiece, that allows players to fight their way across air and ground with access to over 400 historically accurate planes and armored vehicles. Fans can expect hundreds more added as Gaijin Entertainment commits to ongoing development via regular updates.
See the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VohrddwVQqg
For more information visit: http://warthunder.com/
The post Gaijin Entertainment announces War Thunder for NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet appeared first on AndroidSPIN.
Want to know why traditionally PC-centric companies like Microsoft are pouring so much energy into their mobile efforts? Look no further than China, which now says that more of its residents are getting online with phones and tablets than PCs. Of the 632 million internet users recorded this June, 83 percent (527 million) were using mobile devices at least some of the time; meanwhile, 81 percent (512 million) hopped on using computers. Internet adoption was almost exclusively driven by ultra-portable gadgets, in fact. While overall internet use grew about 2.3 percent in the space of half a year, the number of mobile surfers jumped by 5.4 percent. The growth pattern suggests that many first-timers don’t have a PC at all — whatever’s in their pockets may be the only way they connect to the digital world.
It’s not too hard to see why the Chinese would eagerly embrace mobile data. Phone-friendly internet services like the Tencent Weibo social network and WeChat messaging are already huge despite their absence in other countries; the researchers counted 275 million socialites in their findings. Also, a combination of cheap devices and relatively low average incomes (the gross domestic product is just $7,333 per capita) makes it more practical for some people to forego an expensive computer. While we have yet to see a similar shift in the US and other big countries, it may just be a matter of time. Studies already suggest that you’re using your phone more often than your PC; if so, it may not be long before you question the need for a PC in the first place.
We’ve seen many leaks when it comes to Nexus 8/9/Flounder/Volantis tablet… it’s been called so many names we quite frankly don’t know which one to use and apparently neither does @evleaks from whom today’s leak comes from.
The known leaker posted yet another HTC Nexus 9 rumor:
“Besides the T1 Volantis/Flounder/Nexus 9, HTC is developing two other tablets: the T7 and T12″
He seems rather convinced HTC is working on the upcoming Nexus tablet and you can see its alleged specs here. Well, the Taiwanese manufacturer is allegedly working on additional tablet hardware next to the Nexus tablet. Codenames the leaker mentions are T7 and T12. Unfortunately we don’t get any additional information at this time, but this sure does sound interesting considering HTC has been out of the tablet business for a while now.
Do you think there’s any truth to this? Note that @evleaks is usually spot on when it comes to leaks. Would you be interested in a non-Nexus tablet made by HTC?
The post HTC is developing 2 other tablets next to the Nexus 9/Flounder/Volantis, rumor says appeared first on AndroidGuys.
Looks like that render from yesterday was the real deal. Just a day after seeing a a possible render of NVIDIA‘s latest gaming hardware (and info about a possible controller), today we get a very detailed leak regarding what is expected to be called the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet and SHIELD Controller.
Like the render we saw yesterday, the SHIELD Tablet looks a lot like the the Tegra Note 7 except that the SHIELD Tablet will instead be slightly larger at a Full HD 8-inches. Also different is the fact that the SHIELD Tablet will carry NVIDIA’s lauded Tegra K1 processor, which, with its 192 CUDA cores, can output some very un-mobile graphics. Rounding out the hardware of the SHIELD Tablet are 2GB RAM, 5MP cameras on the front and back, and come in 16GB Wi-Fi only or 32GB Wi-Fi + LTE models. The price for these variants will run you $299 and $399, which compared to other high powered tablets seem like pretty good prices.
Like we suspected yesterday, the SHIELD Controller is going to be a bespoke wireless controller for the SHIELD Tablet. Instead of the standard Bluetooth connectivity, the SHIELD Controller will instead use Wi-Fi to connect to the Tablet, which will reduce any noticeable lag, however means it will only be usable with NVIDIA products. Interestingly, the controller itself also has a headphone jack and microphone which suggests it might be best used in a lounge room setting (Chromecast mirroring, anyone?) and looks similarly designed to the original SHIELD handheld. Most impressively, the SHIELD Controller is allegedly going to cost just $59, which makes a bundle of the high performing SHIELD Tablet paired with the SHIELD Controller a very affordable prospect.
What do you think about the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet and SHIELD Controller? Are you enticed? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.
The post Hello there: NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet and SHIELD Controller get a thorough leak, prices and All appeared first on AndroidSPIN.
If you fancy nabbing new tech by leveraging your Bitcoin wallet, another online retailer has just joined the fray. CEO Michael Dell alerted the masses via Twitter that his company would begin accepting the digital currency, claiming that the outfit is “world’s largest ecommerce business” to do so. The device maker is partnering with Coinbase to power its transactions, and those looking to snag a new Alienware rig will earn a discount when forking over Bitcoin for payment.
[Photo credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images]
- Michael Dell (@MichaelDell) July 18, 2014
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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 ***|
|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|
*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.
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.
|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|
|Sony Xperia Tablet Z||8:40|
|Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet||7:57|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
Earlier this month we’ve seen leaked specifications of NVIDIA’s Shield tablet. Those specs were nothing to scoff at, Tegra K1 chip, a 7.9″ 2048×1536 display and 2GB of RAM all sound really good. Now we have another leak for you.
Known leaker @evleaks shared an alleged image of the tablet along with the title: “NVIDIA Shield Tablet, 2014″. This tablet is expected to provide great audio (everyone knows what BoodSound is by now), great build and performance. These are all points in which HTC is good at, great even. There is no more information on the tablet except the rumor which says it will feature a 192-core GPU. All in all this device should be a real gaming beast and other than the specs we expect all kinds of gaming-centered features along with it.
No word on the release date at this point, but we should get more information soon. When that happens you’ll be the first to know.
We’ve been hearing rumblings about NVIDIA’s slate-style Shield successor, and now we have a face to go with the info. Thanks to noted leaker @evleaks, we’re given a glimpse of the gaming tablet’s front side. From the looks of it, speakers line the top and bottom (or left and right in landscape) of the display with what appears to be a front-facing camera as well. All told, the gunmetal gray color scheme drapes a design that resembles last year’s Tegra Note. As far as internals go, previous rumblings point to 7.9-inch screen with 2GB of RAM and a quad-core Tegra K1 CPU, complete with Unreal Engine 4 abilities. What remains to be see is if that controller we got a peek at a while back is an accessory to wrangle traditional controls or if the new NVIDIA slate will also double as a home console for PC title streaming. We shouldn’t’ have to wait long for a proper introduction though, as the company has already hinted that the official reveal will happen before the end of 2014.