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First Quad-Core Android Tablet Reviewed 218

Posted by timothy
from the must-eliminate-desire dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime happens to the first Quad-Core Android Tablet, which also makes it the fastest and most powerful tablet. The secret ingredient is Nvidia's five-core Tegra 3 chipset, including four cores which work together at up to 1.4GHz each and a 'companion core' which runs alone. When tested on the Antutu system benchmark, the Prime scored a breathtaking 10,619, which is roughly double the score of even fast devices like the HTC Jetstream. Benchmark results for Sunspider and Browsermark browsing scored at 17ms and 98324, respectively, which also happened to be amongst the best. The tablet weighs 1.3 pounds and measures 10.4 by 7.1 inches, but it's very slim at 0.3 inches."
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First Quad-Core Android Tablet Reviewed

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  • by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:11AM (#38255782) Journal

    By all accounts they sold 1.6 million of 'em, which isn't bad for a few months on a new product - about $2B the first half year. To have the next gen come so soon after is quite awesome. The original one will continue to sell on a long tail for some time, since it's great and has the best port mix of all Android tablets.

    I've got one, and it rocks. Updates come quick and I'm really looking forward to ICS. All the apps I bought for my phone just automagically are available on the tablet and work great. Other tablet platforms might have a "limited apps" issue, but apparently Android was well designed to scale to different resolutions since version 1.6 oh, so long ago. If you get one, try "Corby." Google Talk is also nice - it lets me video chat with the kids when I'm away from home on business. Kindle is essential - I just downloaded "At Napoleon's Side in Russia", the journal of Armand De Caulaincourt of the Napoleonic siege of Moscow that many years later disheartened the Nazi invaders as told here. [collegehumor.com] I'm gaining a new respect for the strength of the Russian people's character, which isn't a benefit I expected from a geek toy. The miniHDMI port is handy for giving presentations in conference rooms because the included Polaris Office handles Powerpoints nicely, and for reference docs there's PDF. It does Flash, which is nice when I want to research what the Internet is for.

    The launch of the Transformer Prime solves my biggest problem with the Transformer: holding on to the damned thing. Apparently my wife and kids (and grandson) are fond of these apps and want to use my tablet all day. Now I can hand it down to them and get me the Prime. Sweet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rtb61 (674572)

      Have you dropped it yet? Do you use it on the move? Do you miss the lack of a DVD drive or HDisk in the dock able keyboard. If your use is mainly stationary would not sya a 12 icnh or 13.3 inch screen be better?

      Perfect is still a long way off in tablet/smartbooks.

      • by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday December 04, 2011 @06:44AM (#38256098) Journal

        It's got a crack in the corner because I dropped it while dodging a nickel rocket and the rocket blasted it. Apparently the Gorilla glass isn't proof against rocket exhaust. I can live with that little crack as it doesn't impact anything and frankly that was my fault. Yes, I've dropped my Transformer a dozen times, and it's daily handled by kids in the 2-9 year old range without supervision. God only knows what they do with it. It seems to be durable enough for my purposes.

        I've ripped a number of DVDs, and downloaded some HD videos and played them on it. It's quite capable - it plays nearly every thing I feed it. Even Dell's .wmv's I've been using it to skill up on their latest gear.

        I bought the HDMI cable so if a bigger display suits me better I can have my desktop monitor 23", my bedroom 47", or the the family room 55" without any degradation in quality. I'm coming nearsighted, so this happens a lot. My kids totally dig HD YouTube Zelda videos on the bigscreen, which is improving our bonding.

        Perfect is an unachievable goal, but these things are "good enough" and then some.

        • by pla (258480)
          I dropped it while dodging a nickel rocket and the rocket blasted it.

          Forgive the OT, but what does "nickel rocket" mean in that context? I've only heard it used to refer to someone who will always take the cheapest approach to any problem; and Google pretty much just confirms my definition.
          • by symbolset (646467) *
            Slang term. One of the larger bottle rockets. The body of the rocket is about the same diameter as a nickel.
      • by Fri13 (963421) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @06:48AM (#38256108)

        Lack of DVD or HDD are even in todays laptops more or less legacy thing.
        Search earlier slashdot article about DVD needs by laptop owners and you find out that most people have used it only few times.
        HDD is not good idea at all for small laptops what can be hold on lap or table or when walking. As there is bigger risk to drop it. But on bigger laptops like 15-19" versions, you want a table for those so HDD is "safe".

        But, I would take a 15" tablet, with 2cm thickness so it could have huge battery on it. And demand would be it has a hybrid display with very accurate pen (not a small stylus) and when pen is in use on screen, touch does nothing.
        And by my opinion I would definetely take it with Android instead Windows 8.

         

      • by symbolset (646467) *

        Second reply, sorry. No, my use is definitely not stationary. My best use of the thing is catching a whole movie on Netflix, which in my life involves dodging projectiles, feeding children, being evicted from the room several times an hour, and sometimes leaving the house entirely. Before I had the Transformer completing a 2 hour movie in under a week was just not possible. A 12-13.3" screen would be better, and I expect to see it soon.

        Because I've got this tablet and NetFlix I've caught up on the cult

        • Because I've got this tablet and NetFlix I've caught up on the cultural context of Weeds and Breaking Bad, which frankly was leading to some awkward conversations among my peers who expect me to know absolutely everything they care about.

          You know, you ARE allowed to tell people you don't care about things. That's what I do when coworkers ask me if I "caught the game," whatever the hell that means. [youtube.com] I don't ask them how many home runs the Steelers scored on the Knicks, and they don't ask me about how I rolled two consecutive natural 20s and took out a red dragon wyrm with a Stunning Fist on the first move on Saturday night.

          I love Breaking Bad, and don't give a rat's ass about Weeds, so I watch Breaking Bad and join in those conversations, a

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Sunday December 04, 2011 @08:27AM (#38256380) Homepage

      One major advantage of the Transformer and many other high end Android tablets is the 1280x800 screen resolution. I stopped using my old Thinkpad because the 1024x768 screen just wasn't very comfortable for viewing web pages or even PDF documents. I wouldn't get a tablet with anything less than 1280x800 now, although my current 13" laptop is a Panasonic Let's Note with 1400xSomethingOrOther screen and a weight of less than 1Kg (including optical drive!)

    • by johnkoer (163434)

      Looking at the specs [amazon.com], does the 1GB RAM limitation have a negative impact on performance? I have also heard complaints on the responsiveness of the UI at times, is that still an issue?

      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob&hotmail,com> on Sunday December 04, 2011 @09:44AM (#38256632) Journal

        I have also heard complaints on the responsiveness of the UI at times, is that still an issue?

        Only to people who've never used one, and don't want anyone else to use one.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          I have also heard complaints on the responsiveness of the UI at times, is that still an issue?

          Only to people who've never used one, and don't want anyone else to use one.

          It depends. If you don't mind slight pauses in the UI, then it's fine. If you want silky-smooth "teh snappy", then you'll find it annoying.

          About the biggest complaint I have with Android tablets, at least the ones I've played with in the stores is they seem to stutter a lot. I take the Galaxy tab, and after unlocking it, it's got screens to

          • by Andy Dodd (701)

            Simple answer: Power consumption.

            To achieve the best battery life, most devices are sold with CPU frequency governors that are biased towards keeping the clock speed low unless you REALLY need it. A tiny bit of lag on unlock is a classic example of this.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by symbolset (646467) *
        No. The iPad has half that and does OK. The software is not retarded like the Windows software that you know. It's actually designed to deliver performance, not prevent it. So 1GB is far more than enough.
      • by goombah99 (560566) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @11:16AM (#38256996)

        The obvious remark that someone could make is "spec don't matter, the ipad will prevail". This device is going to be the acid test of that theory. Here, finally, is a device at the same price point with unarguably more processor power and a bigger scree and more ports. It's running the first mature (in my opinion) android OS. Will this compete with the ipad when nothing else has?

        What is also instructive is that the benches show that all the processor power is very helpful for graphics and math computing but relatively unimportant for many things people use tablets for like checking e-mail and surfing or watching a video. Other things like touch lag or seemless integration or simplicity of syncing are likely to be concerns. What buyers know is that if they buy an ipad they won't regret it. But they worry about the transformer. Will the processor spec overwhelm in interface concerns?

        This will be very interesting to watch. it puts out a marker for both the tegra concept and a technical challenge for the ipad 3

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:12AM (#38255786)

    I don't care how fast it can run angry birds. I just care about the improved battery life this core provides!

  • Tegra (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:12AM (#38255788)

    The weighted companion core will never threaten to stab you and in fact cannot speak.

    How is the battery?

    • Re:Tegra (Score:5, Informative)

      by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday December 04, 2011 @06:00AM (#38255938) Journal
      The battery rocks. It's like "don't worry about it" kind of good. 16 hour flight? No problem.
      • Re:Tegra (Score:5, Funny)

        by tsa (15680) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @07:09AM (#38256162) Homepage

        So you say it's... better than the iPad? But that's impossible!

        • Re:Tegra (Score:4, Interesting)

          by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday December 04, 2011 @08:13AM (#38256326) Journal
          Only with the keyboard, which has an extra battery (frankly for mass to balance the tablet-as-screen). The Transfomrer Prime's commited lifecycle is exactly that of the iPad 2. Completely an accident, I'm sure.
        • Must be love (Score:5, Interesting)

          by abarrow (117740) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @09:45AM (#38256634) Homepage

          I have an Acer Iconia Tab (It was side by side with the Transformer at Best Buy, but the $100 gift card sold me on the Acer). Same processor as the Transformer. I love it - lots of ports, fast, and as another poster said, apps from my android phone automagically appear on the Iconia.

          I find it interesting talking to people about it. Their first words are, "Oh, you have an iPad?" Then the description of Android begins. Generally I get two responses: they either glaze over, or they say, "So it's an iPad knock off, then?".

          The other night, coming back from a bar carrying my Acer, I slipped stepping on a friends boat. I went down, one foot in the water, the other on my knee (torn ligaments and a cast now). Where was the Iconia? Sometime during my fall, I managed to carefully lay it on the deck. I don't even remember doing it. Body broken, tablet fine. Even subconsciously I love this tablet.

          • Re:Must be love (Score:5, Interesting)

            by green1 (322787) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @03:02PM (#38258756)

            I get a different reaction when I tell people that my Iconia is not an ipad. Of course I do get the glazed over look like you describe from anyone who doesn't use such things, but the others don't refer to it as a knock off, more like "so... it's like an ipad... but better?"

            I guess it's all how I describe it... It's like an ipad... except that I can pop in a micro SD card for more storage, I can plug in devices like hard drives, digital cameras, or USB keys to the full sized USB port, and I can watch my movies from it full screen on an HD TV thanks to the HDMI output. It has a higher res camera, and costs a fair amount less. Additionally I can load any app I want on it without having to "jailbreak" because it's android.
            I've actually seen a look of jealousy from several iPad users when they see how I use the Iconia.

            Best is when I'm working with someone who sees me use it at the desk hooked up to keyboard, mouse, and external 300GB USB hard drive, and then we get a call and I grab just the tablet portion and go. Suddenly everyone wants one.

  • Touch lag (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarkDust (239124) <marc@darkdust.net> on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:20AM (#38255820) Homepage
    From the article:

    You won't see the blinding speed when you're poking around the main UI or some of Google's apps, as they're occasionally nonresponsive, although screen transitions are a bit more fluid than on other Android tablets.

    I wonder when this will finally be solved. Previously, the lag was blamed on poor hardware. With this beast, that excuse really does not hold at all anymore.

    • Re:Touch lag (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Telvin_3d (855514) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:33AM (#38255852)

      I guess 4 cores isn't enough to open menus smoothly. You think at some point they will let the hardware and software engineers talk to each other? Perhaps even get their hands on the product before it ships?

      • Re:Touch lag (Score:5, Informative)

        by AuMatar (183847) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @06:17AM (#38256006)

        Multi-core isn't going to help basic UI issues, those will all be running on a single core. The problem is Android isn't really written to be efficient. XML based UIs running in Java (with garbage collection occurring who knows when), a codebase that's frequently convoluted and an architecture that sometimes looks like someone took the Gang of Four book and tried to use every pattern at once. I mean seriously, why does setting a selection on a text view require a selection class rather than a start and end index in the widget?

        If you want to fix it, you need a complete overhaul of the framework and quite likely rewrite chunks of it in C or C++.

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          The codebase is small enough that many chunks could probably be written in assembly; the main problem being that tablet models only seem to last about 3-6 months on the market before they're replaced (and software support fades quickly after that)

        • Re:Touch lag (Score:4, Informative)

          by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Sunday December 04, 2011 @08:38AM (#38256406) Homepage

          No, the reason Android isn't as fluid as iOS is that it multi-tasks. When you run an iOS app stuff like screen transitions get absolute priority over everything else. The app is basically frozen while the screen transitions in order to make it look slick. Android apps are not tied to the UI in the same way so sometimes if you have a lot going on or if the OS needs to free up some RAM the transition effects might suffer a bit.

          Having said that they are really smooth on my Galaxy S. I don't have them all turned on because they waste time, much like the pointless window minimise/maximise animations in Windows or MacOS. Personally I prefer to have multi-tasking and more features at the expense of a slightly less slick GUI. iOS has the advantage of being design for a very limited number of specific models and thus can optimise for them, while Android has to be more generic. Again I personally prefer to have that freedom to chose devices from any vendor rather than being locked in to Apple.

          The Android API is nice and the GUI stuff scales nicely, plus Java apps are not tied to any particular CPU architecture so will automatically make use of new features such as the Neon instructions on ARM7 or SSE if Intel ever get x86 based tablets/phones shipping. iOS uses managed code too, which has similar overheads in terms of garbage collection and JIT compilation as Google's JVM implementation. You can also write native Android apps if you want to.

          • Re:Touch lag (Score:5, Informative)

            by the linux geek (799780) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @09:21AM (#38256534)
            iPhone OS applications are written in Objective-C and compiled directly to native code. It also has pointers and all the other trappings of a real language and execution environment.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by AmiMoJo (196126)

              Android OS applications are written in C++ and compiled directly to native code. Objective C is managed code and includes garbage collection.

          • they are really smooth on my Galaxy S

            On my Galaxy S, the instant search has yet to register all my keystrokes at a normal typing speed. I have to press the first letter, wait 3-5 seconds for the search to load up, and then continue typing.

            I know you were addressing transitions specifically, but the instant search feature is something that's supposed to add to the fluidity, not detract from it. And 1 GHz should be plenty to capture my keystrokes (on a hardware keypad.)

            • by AmiMoJo (196126)

              Strange, are you on the latest firmware? When I use instant search sometimes there is a delay of about 0.5 seconds before the text I am typing appears in the box, after which it is instant. If I type during that 0.5 seconds the characters are buffered and not lost.

              Maybe you are using a 3rd party keyboard or something? Keep in mind that since Android multitasks you do need to pay attention to what random apps you install as some of them will sit in the background chewing up RAM and CPU. With great power come

          • by mjwx (966435)

            When you run an iOS app stuff like screen transitions get absolute priority over everything else. The app is basically frozen while the screen transitions in order to make it look slick.

            This.

            Application loading is actually slower on IOS then Android but most people dont notice it because of all the eye candy in the way.

            I have a Desire Z (running Cyanogen Mod 7) and I carry an Iphone 3GS (4.3.5 IIRC) for work. Even something as simple as opening the SMS application takes longer on IOS, of course the

        • Re:Touch lag (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @09:04AM (#38256490)

          The problem is Android isn't really written to be efficient.

          Little bit of an exaguration there. Yes, they knowingly traded some efficiency for portability, which includes architecture independence as well as screen resolution/density independence, combined with easy for development. Easily a superior trade at the expense of a few cycles during initial screen load. In other words, you extremely exaggerate the significance here.

          As for GC'ing, again you've exaggerated. For the most part programmers have relatively good control of when GC'ing occurs. Furthermore, for static layouts, its trivial to anticipate and the associated load is not worth mentioning even on hardware 1/4 the performance of this device.

          a codebase that's frequently convoluted and an architecture that sometimes looks like someone took the Gang of Four book and tried to use every pattern at once. I mean seriously, why does setting a selection on a text view require a selection class rather than a start and end index in the widget?

          Sadly, you are spot on here. The code base a total piece of shit. It looks like someone had never written a GUI before and only knew theory of design patterns. Things which should be extremely simple require gobs of vastly over complicated and verbose code. Its a stupid fest. It wonderfully shows that contrary to common myth, Google does employ very inexperience coders and designers. And when combined with the worst of Java, its a really horrible coding experience which leave only but the most naive or inexperienced cursing at the needless over engineering, unjustified complexity, and tiresome verbosity.

          As a coder I ran into some UI design (I wrote it) which I couldn't believe was so horrible on the eyes, hard to read, hard to maintain, and yet did so very, very little. It was roughly 17 pages of code. Just out of curiosity, I decided to write it in wxPython. I thought that was relatively fair since Java coders love to compare with Java and frequently push it as superior to Python. The wxPython UI was two pages. The thing is, that massive difference really isn't about Java vs Python (or not the discerning factor), its that wxPython is well written and the Android UI API is about as horribly written as you can possibly make it. Bluntly, most of the UI GUIs in Android are either a complete piece of shit or an all out abomination.

          Add to this is the fact that Android UI's are inherently ASYNCHRONOUS. That means you can accidentally push a button multiple times and, for example, have five new windows spawned before the first one renders. Its pretty easy to do in a moving vehicle. And if you don't like this inherent behavior, you have to add a bunch more code to see if the window already exists or not - which absolutely no sample code shows or even hints at the requirement.

          I love Android and it has some really cool features, but much of the APIs are absolutely horrible, horrible, horrible and without a doubt show they've been written by people who likely have never even use a computer UI before. And if they have used computer UI's before, then its a strong argument they are retarded.

        • by khipu (2511498)

          If you want to fix it, you need a complete overhaul of the framework and quite likely rewrite chunks of it in C or C++.

          Rewriting it in C/C++ will do nothing to improve this, and often makes things worse. It's easy to achieve great peak performance and CPU utilization in C/C++, but lack of peak performance is not the problem that causes UIs to occasionally lag. What causes UIs to lag is if there is some uninterruptible operation that preempts UI tasks. And it is just those uninterruptible operations (inne

        • by lehphyro (1465921)
          You really shouldn't be using C or C++ for user facing applications, unless you're doing Battlefield or something like that. You better be worrying about features than memory management and such.
    • Re:Touch lag (Score:5, Informative)

      by Totenglocke (1291680) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:42AM (#38255892)
      Sorry, but I don't believe this. I've had multiple Android phones over the last couple of years and never experienced any lag except when I was installing an app in the background and trying to do something else. Then again, the reviewer bashes the tablet because it allows tablet owners to download any Android apps and not just tablet specific apps, so he's clearly an idiot or a troll.
      • Re:Touch lag (Score:5, Informative)

        by daffy951 (546697) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @06:11AM (#38255980)
        Guess you're not as picky as many others then: http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=6914 [google.com] and http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=20278 [google.com]
        • Re:Touch lag (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Mr Thinly Sliced (73041) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @06:20AM (#38256018) Homepage Journal

          Yeah sadly it's a general latency problem with Android that doesn't seem to get mentioned.

          I write audio software and it's the poor red headed stepchild of IOS in comparison:

          http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=3434 [google.com]

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            What kind of kernel support is used by the android audio system? Is it feasible to bring JACK to Android via the NDK?

            • by Rockoon (1252108)
              ..I'm pretty sure that adding another API layer isnt going to improve latency.
            • The Android that phone builders download and customise is based on Alsa in the kernel - but Android doesn't define access to ALSA in any way (and the phone manufacturers could use something completely different.)

              The audio "layers" (and it really is that) are quite complex, with OpenSL along with the defined Java sound APIs as the only userspace methods to play sound.

              Unfortunately due to the way the layers are defined (multiple mixers for various devices, incoming call interrupt etc) it's not "Alsa" availabl

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Fri13 (963421)

        I have ZTE Blade what I would say is slowest and cheapest (about 120 dollars without contract) Android phone on the market.

        ARM6 254-600Mhz
        512 RAM
        512 NAND Flash
        800 x 600px Super bright LCD
        And I have MicroSD Class 4 in it.

        I have had Android 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 (current 2.3.7) on it and coming is 4.0 for it (there is almost everything working)

        The 2.1 had very little laggy home screen. What was fixed with ADW launcher.
        But a 2.2 fixed everything and phone was smooth and without lags in use.
        And a 2.3 was not different

      • by hpoul (219387)

        I have used the original iphone and iphone 3gs for years and then switched to nexus one and finally nexus s - i love android and develop for it, but there is still definitively some touch lag - you experience it most when scrolling or panning/zooming images - i'm not sure if this lag is a hardware (touch pannel) or software issue - but there is a lag - maybe just 50ms, it's noticable, that it's not there on the iphone- since the first version - it has always been there on the google devices i've played with

    • There is nothing to solve, it's a deliberate tradeoff. You can get guaranteed maximum latencies on all operations, but you get worse average case performance. So what people do in practice is that they optimize for the average case and try to detect and limit the worst case so that it isn't too bad.

      The kind of operations that cause these glitches are usually related to resource allocation: garbage collection, reference counting cascades, disk reorganization. Error recovery and recalibration on storage me

  • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:35AM (#38255860) Journal

    I'd like to ask why things are so bad at the other end of the spectrum... Why do we need to buy these high-end devices just to guarantee we'll have a tolerable user experience?

    Specifically, why do inexpensive Android Tablets and Phones have such horrendous touch-screens?

    I can name names. My big surprise was my recent purchase of a Samsung Transform Ultra... Which, at $230 didn't seem like a cheapo device compared to the many $99 android phones. Yet the touch screen was so horrible and glitchy that it was IMPOSSIBLE to use Swype to type anything but the shortest words. Assuming that couldn't possibly be a "feature" of a brand-name, mass-market android phone, I exchanged it for another, which had exactly the same problem. Plenty of forums with people complaining about the same thing, and saying Samsung hasn't offered any help.

    The same is true of cheap tablets I've used. The touch-screens may be glitchy, or they may be painfully unresponsive and dog-slow. With a few these are adjustable via tunables in /sys, but sadly, most are not.

    Why do so many devices, where the touch-screen is the primary and usually SOLE method of INPUT, fail so miserably in providing just a usable touch-screen?

    That's really what these pricey tablets have going for them... The cheap knock-offs cut one-too-many corners, and there's nothing in-between high end devices, and low-end junk.

    • by Osty (16825) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:46AM (#38255906)

      Specifically, why do inexpensive Android Tablets and Phones have such horrendous touch-screens?

      It's not the screens that are the problem. It's the OS. Android was historically developed without any GPU acceleration requirements, and the OS up through Honeycomb still does most UI drawing on the CPU instead. The lagginess people recognize as "bad touch input" is actually bad drawing, and doesn't exist so much in other OSes that use GPU acceleration for UI elements. For example, Windows Phone 7 renders all UI via the GPU and is generally considered to be much more responsive and smoother than Android despite only supporting single-core CPUs. Ice Cream Sandwich fixes this, but also has hardware requirements that mean very few existing devices will be supported. This is an unfortunate but natural consequence of an open platform with little or no hardware control. The OS developers can't assume things like a GPU will be present, so they have to write for lowest common denominator or consciously exclude devices.

      (Note that I'm only talking about OS/launcher behavior. Within apps themselves, developers can make things somewhat better or much, much worse depending on how they handle UI elements.)

      • by SirJorgelOfBorgel (897488) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @06:19AM (#38256012)

        Ice Cream Sandwich fixes this, but also has hardware requirements that mean very few existing devices will be supported

        Google has stated that pretty much every device that can run Gingerbread (50% of all Android devices out there run Gingerbread) can run Ice Cream Sandwich.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Fri13 (963421)

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVleFJuNuQI [youtube.com]

          That is basicly work what CM developers did under a week from Android 4.0 source release.
          ZTE Blade has ARM6 600Mhz, 512 RAM, 512 NAND Flash.
          The Android 4.0 SDK was not available for ARM6 but for least ARM7. So they needed to compile it as well (one developer compiled it with netbook in 31 hours).

          Since then, GPU drivers has been added and OpenGL is coming shape so smoother UI can be excepted. Still needs optimizing but most features are there.

          If almost slowest curren

      • by AuMatar (183847)

        As someone who's written some touch intensive apps for Android- there really was bad touch input. On some phones I was seeing 9 months ago, the touch input driver could spike to 60-70% CPU (measured by running top through an adb shell) while doing continual touch events. Not all phones were like that (I don't even think a majority were), but a significant number of models used that driver.

      • by evilviper (135110)

        It's not the screens that are the problem. It's the OS. Android was historically developed without any GPU acceleration requirements, and the OS up through Honeycomb still does most UI drawing on the CPU instead. The lagginess people recognize as "bad touch input" is actually bad drawing

        Problem with this theory is that I've most certainly seen laggy input on devices with much FASTER CPUs than those of devices with perfectly responsive and snappy input. And as I've said, the responsiveness of a touch-screen

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        This isn't because it's not using the GPU, it's because it sucks. My ~20MHz, 16-bit GRiDPad 2390 had no such problem. With that said, I still want 'droid more than IOS, and I'm planning to get one of these primes anyway, so I shouldn't have the problem regardless.

      • by master_p (608214)

        Is the actual drawing not part of the video driver? applications nowadays do not write to the video frame buffer directly. So why aren't Android graphics accelerated? do they lack GPU video drivers? it cannot be the lowest common denominator thing you mention, because of how modern graphics are rendered through APIs and video drivers.

      • by sribe (304414)

        The OS developers can't assume things like a GPU will be present...

        Of course they could; they were in complete control of what range of hardware they chose to support.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:38PM (#38258070) Homepage

        Android was historically developed without any GPU acceleration requirements, and the OS up through Honeycomb still does most UI drawing on the CPU instead.

        Absolute rubbish. Android's UI is rendered with OpenGL ES and thus fully hardware accelerated. It has been since day one, it is just that most cheap phones have slow GPUs with old drivers and little graphics RAM. OpenGL ES support is mandatory for Android devices, but of course low end chipsets use software rendering to make up for lack of hardware support. Even if the hardware supports basic operations like blitting images older chips don't support DMA so the CPU has to manually copy the image into graphics RAM first.

        Bad touch input is usually down to the update rate of the touch controller (the cheap ones only manage about 12 updates per second) and phones lagging because they have crappy manufacturer supplied UI mods. You can see this easily by comparing older HTC phones running the stock firmware and Cyanogen. The stock firmware has the HTC Sense UI that slows everything down and make the touch screen unresponsive, but load up Cyanogen and set the UI to use 16 bit textures for lists and menus (to conserve graphics RAM) and it will fly along.

        People seem to expect iPhone like performance from Android devices cost 1/5th as much. My Galaxy S with all effects turned on is just as slick as an iPhone, more so in fact because it supports live wallpapers.

    • by jo_ham (604554) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (999mahoj)> on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:50AM (#38255914)

      Pretty much because the difference between the bad ones and the good ones is all in the display assembly - it makes up the bulk of the cost. A decent screen and touch interface etc is going to set you back - and then it becomes "an expensive tablet".

      There's a reason that the iPad and other Android tablets of similar quality to it are as expensive as they are - if someone could make an equivalent tablet for a lot less (ie, down in the $200 range) they would have done it already. When you go cheap, you've got no choice but to compromise on the screen - the rest of the pieces aren't really adding all that much to the cost.

      • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @07:00AM (#38256126) Journal

        Pretty much because the difference between the bad ones and the good ones is all in the display assembly - it makes up the bulk of the cost. A decent screen and touch interface etc is going to set you back - and then it becomes "an expensive tablet".

        Hang on. My problem with your analysis is that you're combining two things that are entirely separate... The INPUT and the OUTPUT.

        I realize that (eg. AMOLED) displays are expensive. No problem, though... I'm perfectly willing to settle for a lower-res LCD display based on older tech. The Samsung Transform Ultra I mentioned is a perfect example, with a nasty LCD screen-door effect (compared to my Droid) but which I quickly learned to tolerate...

        But high-res screen or no, what drives me insane is flaky touch-screen INPUT (not output), and I find it hard to believe that going from a horrible, glitchy capacitive touch screen, to a RELIABLE capacitive touch screen, costs a significant fraction of a phone or tablet's sale price. In many cases, as I said, I'd be willing to bet it might only require a software change.

        Furthermore, I'm not sure your statement is actually accurate. All sources I could find point to an iPhone 4's Retina display at about $30:

        http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jun2010/tc20100627_763714.htm [businessweek.com]

        http://www.bgr.com/2011/10/06/apple-maintains-big-margins-on-iphone-4s-according-to-ubm-analysis/ [bgr.com]

        • by jo_ham (604554)

          Look at the cost breakdown of HP's fire-sold tablet, according to them the display assembly was the biggest portion. Note we're talking about tablets here, so the price of the screens goes up *considerably* over phone-size displays. Large high quality displays (and large high quality touch interfaces) cost money.

          http://www.isuppli.com/Teardowns/News/Pages/HP-TouchPad-Carries-$318-Bill-of-Materials.aspx [isuppli.com]

          Here the claim is that the 9.7" display in the Touchpad is $70 alone (not including the touch interface, wh

        • by Zadaz (950521)

          I'm pretty sure that's exactly what the parent was talking about. "Screen" isn't an output device on tablets, it's an IO device.

          The devices with the best touch screen behavior have a fair amount of hardware support to work smoothly and reliably across the complete surface. Massaging the noisy crap that comes off these sensors into information as reliable as an optical mouse's movement is a significant accomplishment.

    • The cheezy touchscreens are resistive and have one point of control. The capacitive touchscreens have to be licensed so the tech costs more, but have up to ten simultaneous touchpoints and things like pressure sensitivity. Buying a license to the patents costs money.
      • by evilviper (135110)

        No, I'm actually talking about capacitative touch-screens exclusively.

        I'm aware of the limitations of resistive touch-screens, and avoid them completely. The inability to use gorilla glass seems like a show-stopper just by itself.

  • why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by perryizgr8 (1370173) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:51AM (#38255918)

    i ran the browser mark test on chrome running on my core i3 laptop. 380000. on a dual core at 2.26ghz. this new tablet thing has 5 (five?!?!) cores at 1.4ghz and it gets only 98000?? is this because arm sucks or because android sucks?

    • Re:why (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @06:14AM (#38255996)

      For at least the past 5 years, processing performance in almost all envelopes has been limited by power consumption and/or heat (which are two sides of the same coin).

      Your i3 has a 35W TDP, this CPU looks like perhaps 2-4W TDP. So yours is 3.9x the speed while using 8.8x the power. Targeting a lower performance tends to allow for better efficiency, and so does having more cores/threads to do the work. This is largely because structures in a core that improve single threaded performance have diminishing returns for the amount of power they consume (caches, out of order execution instruction windows, buffers, wide superscalar execution, etc). So you can't necessarily say the Tegra 3 is a better device than the i3, but neither can you say the i3 is better (you really need to compare the same power or performance).

      • if this is true shouldn't i be able to group together several tegras and make a laptop that rules everything??

    • by ferongr (1929434)

      The reason is ARM.

      TFS and the shitty FA mention "17ms Sunspider time" (and that's impossible), while the Anandtech figure is a more believable 1695ms. Anand's review also measuers linpack performance at 47.2 MFLOPS. Compare that to the 508ms and 162MFLOP result (lower is better) of a 2004 single-core AMD Sempron 3100+ running at 1.9GHz. And this 2004 CPU is very slow compared to anything modern.

      Currently, ARM is very slow for general computing, and don't listen to what x86 doomsayers parrot everyday.

      • also, chrome gets ~330ms in sunspider and ie9 gets ~260ms?!?!?! looks like something is broken with sunspider...

    • by Solandri (704621)
      A laptop i3 will burn close to 30 Watts while running a benchmark. The Tegra 3 peaks at about 2 Watts. So in performance per Watt, the Tegra 3 is about 4x as efficient as your i3.

      Or put another way, if you hooked up the Tegra 3 and the i3 to same-size batteries and calculated pi until the battery died, the Tegra 3 would calculate 4x as many digits as the i3. Now which one do you want on your battery-powered phone/tablet?
  • Regarding tablet apps, they are a bit harder to find because Android developers roll their tablet versions into the same app as their non-tablet versions. None of this iOS "buy the app for your phone, buy the tablet "HD" version for three times the price". Android does scale on it's own, but you'd be surprised how many apps actually have special tablet layouts built-in.

    My personal favorite tablet app has to be DSLR Controller [dslrcontroller.com], though it also runs on some phones (tiny tiny buttons). I'm getting the Prime as

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by perryizgr8 (1370173)

      i don't get it. what's up with menus and app launchers working smoothly only when they are h/w accelerated? windows xp wasn't accelerated. it was pretty responsive. when you've got even a single core at >1ghz you shouldn't be allowed to make excuses about something as basic and simple as the ui of your fucking os.
      all this, imo shows how fucked up android really is.

    • None of this iOS "buy the app for your phone, buy the tablet "HD" version for three times the price".

      just FYI, that has nothing to do with iOS. Its about when the hw was released and that some developers decided to have multiple apps to increase their revenue, kinda like Microsoft and all the versions of Windows. Most iOS devs stopped doing this when the iPhone 4 was released, and subsequenly maintain a single app for all iDevices. Also, its not necessarily a resolution-dependant issue, but a size-interface issue. While doubling the resolution of an app designed for a smaller screen will work on a screen t

  • Cell phone, tablet processors are becoming more powerful by the day, much faster than the desktop processors. Will there be a day when tablet processors are as fast as the desktop ones and we would just be hooking phone/tablet to monitors? (though we should solve the heat dissipation problem)
    • Never (Score:5, Interesting)

      by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @08:06AM (#38256308)

      "Cell phone, tablet processors are becoming more powerful by the day, much faster than the desktop processors. Will there be a day when tablet processors are as fast as the desktop ones and we would just be hooking phone/tablet to monitors? (though we should solve the heat dissipation problem)"

      Never, with the reason is access to electricity, not necessarily the heat dissipation as such.

      Still, the tablets of today may outperform the top-of-the-line CPUs of yesterday. But the time gap is there due to energy requirements, where the battery-powered line-up has the lower hand.

      Still, the effect-size may not be that relevant in the very near future. If you can do whatever task that most people do, then the innate upper hand of a desktop CPU may not matter.

      As it seems, former high-end tasks like 3D gaming, 1080p video etc is no real match for many slate CPUs. It will be the apps (tasks) that set the limits in the future too.

    • problem is, as i discovered today, an arm cpu running at 1.4ghz with 5 cores is shit compared to any intel/amd cpu. run the same tests on your laptop/desktop. even with old processors, you will get a massively higher score than any tablet.

  • by dell623 (2021586) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @07:22AM (#38256178)

    Although Asus is just behind Samsung among companies that are learning fast how to take on Apple, it is a really bad decision to launch this device without an upgrade to ICS 4.0. Honeycomb is never going to compete in the tablet market. Even if it has reached the point of being quite usable, there are hardly any tablet specific apps available, the iPad is so far ahead. No one outside the geeky world is going to care about quad core, especially when the software experience still lags so far behind Apple, and the iPad still has a better GPU so it can look flashier playing games. The Prime is an incredibly sleek device but it is badly let down by the software, I still don't understand how they can make an incredible device and launch it with awful software.

    Google need to convince developers to make tablet apps for Android. They also need to distinguish Google Android tablets from cheap chinese junk that has really damaged Android's reputation. The slow laggy bloated bloatware infested Android phones and tablets that major manufacturers have released haven't helped either of course.

    It would be a terrible failure for Google if having a two year lead over Windows 8 they still can't develop a decent tablet OS and ecosystem to take on Apple.

    • I agree on most points.

      However, re: releasing-with-Honeycomb-instead-of-ICS, this is a marketing ploy to be the first quad-core tablet on the market, pretty much. In most countries, the Prime will not be released with Honeycomb, but with ICS, mid/end January. I would not be surprised of the version that is now being released in the USA will be hard-to-find, and stores wont be flooded with Primes until the ICS firmware comes preinstalled.

      All in all, it'd still be a safe bet to say probably 95% or more of Pri

    • by ErikZ (55491) * on Sunday December 04, 2011 @09:05AM (#38256494)

      Man, if only Google had money. They they could PAY developers to build apps for Android.

  • Chipset? (Score:5, Informative)

    by imroy (755) <imroykun@gmail.com> on Sunday December 04, 2011 @07:38AM (#38256228) Homepage Journal

    The secret ingredient is Nvidia's five-core Tegra 3 chipset

    You really think these compact machines use sets of chips? Quite the opposite. They're systems on a chip [wikipedia.org] (SoC), often even a package on a package [wikipedia.org] (PoP) i.e multiple chips layered into one package. Now, don't get smart and point out that technically a PoP is a chipset - they're used for packing an SoC with DRAM and flash memory. The multiple functions of a chipset (e.g peripheral interfaces) are all on the one chip of the SoC.

  • I'm getting one.

  • I'll wait for the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Megatron, that'll be totally badass!

    How long before Hasbro decides it's lawsuit time?

  • Yay, another great piece of hardware crippled by a phone OS. There have been reports of Ubuntu and Gentoo on Tegra systems, but they seem to involve a lot of ugly hacks. Probably because of all the closed bits in hardware/firmware. If only something like this [ourlibreway.org] were actually available in stores...
    • Ghah, what is that, a joke? ..

      Why does every laptop now have to look like a macbook (but in plastic, of course....)? Can't companies come up with their own clean designs? What if I like the clean design philosophy of apple, but don't like the black on gray? Even Apple had some variation, with the white on white and black on black models....

      • by TeknoHog (164938)
        I don't consider that a Macbook ripoff at all. There aren't really too many choices for a clean metallic design. The problem is all the other manufacturers who put rally stripes and malware ads all over their cases, so of course Apple products stand out, as if they had invented clean design.

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