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Acer Iconia B1-A71 review

Acer Iconia B1-A71 review

Acer created a lot of buzz when it announced its decision to jump into the Budget tablet segment with the Acer Iconia B1-A71, that it first announced during CES, and later, as reported by us, launched it in India at an attractive price of Rs. 7,999. Here’s our review of the tablet.

Hardware/ Build & Design
The Acer Iconia B1-A71 is a 7-inch tablet, and accordingly comes in a compact form factor. However, the first thing that you notice about the tablet is that it’s very apparent that it’s made of plastic. The tablet is light-weight but feels flimsy. The hardware doesn’t exude the feeling of durability, and if you put even a little bit of pressure on the screen, you’ll see that it creaks and pushes through.

Talking of the design and construction, the front of the tablet has a big black bezel, and the screen peeps through it in a manner similar to a digital photo-frame. The top sports Acer branding at the middle and a VGA camera at the right side. There’s a strange Blue-coloured frame contouring the tablet at the sides, and sadly, it doesn’t do much to enhance the look of the device. It looks more like a toy, and though we do understand that it’s a budget tablet, Acer has cut corners when it comes to the quality of materials used.

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The back has also been done in black coloured plastic. There’s some Acer branding, a small speaker grill and certification labels. A Micro-USB port is located at the bottom with a slot for a micro-SD card that is covered with an insert, while the 3.5 mm headset jack sits at the top of the device. The volume rocker and the power/sleep button, also done in black plastic material, have been placed at the right side of the tablet.

Display
The 7-inch (diagonal) WSVGA capacitive multitouch screen comes with a resolution of 1024×600 pixels, which is nothing to write home about. The pixel density is about 170 ppi. The screen is bright, but we found that it’s very reflective, and this hampers visibility under sunlight. Also, the colours appear to be washed out and due to the low resolution, images also appear to be less sharp. Viewing angles, especially from the sides (vertically) are bad, and colours appear different from what they should. Although text doesn’t appear very sharp, the screen is decent for reading e-books and magazines. The touch sensitivity is excellent and we didn’t encounter any issues while using the device.

Software/ Interface
The Acer Iconia B1 runs Android 4.1.2 – Jelly Bean and except for a few tweaks in the notification bar, doesn’t include any custom skin. At first boot we also found Google Play apps for Movies & TV, Books and Magazines, but they disappeared as soon as we connected the tablet to a Wi-Fi network – this is likely because of region restrictions. Acer also includes a Registration app. We like the fact that there’s no bloatware and Acer has tried to keep the experience as close to stock Android as possible.

Acer Iconia B1 is one of the few 7-inch tablets that run Jelly Bean. Similar to the Nexus 7, the tablet’s onscreen controls (for Home, Back and App Switching) are at the centre, and the notification tray and quick access settings (for brightness, screen timeout, Wi-Fi, Screen rotation, Bluetooth, GPS cars, Airplane mode and shortcut to Settings) are located at the top area in the notification tray, in a manner which is a bit different from the stock build of Android on the Nexus 7.
acerIconiaB1UI.jpg
There are five customisable home screens that can be filled with app shortcuts and widgets. The standard app-launcher and dock that allows users to place six of their preferred apps are omnipresent across all home-screens. The standard lockscreen allows users to either unlock the device or go straight into the camera. Of course, users can customize it to put a Face Unlock, Pattern, PIN or Password lock.

During our use, we didn’t notice much lag while navigating through menus, and Google’s much touted ‘Project Butter’ makes the overall experience more responsive than tablets running Ice Cream Sandwich.

The other major feature that Jelly Bean brings is ‘Google Now’, a voice based information assistant and an extension of Google search. You can ask questions and the tool returns answers or search results. It uses ‘cards’ which are essentially small boxes that offer different sets of information ranging from weather forecast, directions, traffic information, scores, appointments, and currency conversion, among others. Google Now collects information based on the user’s behavior, location and even e-mail to offer information, automatically.

We’re not sure if the tablet will get updated to Jelly Bean 4.2, but if it does, features like multi-user accounts (different profiles and access for different users) and lock-screen widgets would also come to the tablet.

Camera
The Acer Iconia B1 comes with a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera. Although, personally we’re no fans on using tablets for clicking needs, some may miss having a rear camera that can be used for taking casual shots or just for scanning some documents. The pictures that we clicked with the front camera, indoors, were very grainy. It’s functional at best and does a decent job when used for making video calls over Skype or other video chat apps.

Performance/ Battery Life
The tablet is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor alongside 512MB of RAM. We did not encounter any crashes while working on this tablet and multitasking was comfortable. We also did not notice much lag and were able to play tablet-optimized games, without a hitch, though loading time for apps is on the higher side. We were able to play 720p HD videos but the tablet wasn’t able to play 1080p videos.

The tablet comes with the native Android browser and Chrome, and renders all webpages well. The speaker grill on the back of the tablet delivers average quality sound. There’s no voice calling or support for 3G data via SIM card or dongles, and the only way to connect to the Internet is through Wi-Fi. In our tests we observed that download speeds were a bit slow compared to other devices. The tablet comes with 8 B of inbuilt storage and a micro-SD card slot that allows users to expand storage. Interestingly, the tablet also features a GPS module, but without 3G or data connectivity of any kind on the road, you’ll have to rely entirely on navigation apps that include offline support.

The Iconia B1 comes with a 2710mAh battery, which we feel is a little inadequate, especially if playing music and videos is a major part of your everyday usage. We were able to completely charge the battery in about 3 hours. We were able to get around 4 hours of video playback, with the display on full brightness levels. The standby time with push notifications and e-mails, and intermediate usage, was about a day. The tablet gives between 5-6 hours of continuous usage on a single charge.

Verdict
The main USP of the Acer Iconia B1-A71 is the price. At Rs. 7,999, the tablet packs in a lot of features, and if you’re not constantly on the road and don’t require 3G connectivity (or use a 3G hotspot), then the tablet is a great deal if price is a major consideration. To offer the tablet at this price, Acer has cut corners when it comes to the overall quality of the hardware, which we feel doesn’t appear to be very durable. Other tablets that run Jelly Bean in this segment include the Karbonn Smart Tab 8, an 8-inch tablet that sports a better screen and larger battery, though we’re yet to test it. If price is not a consideration, then the Huawei MediaPad Lite (with voice calling) and the Nexus , are other 7-inch Android tablets in the premium segment that you can consider, though the Nexus 7 isn’t officially available in the country yet. The Acer Iconia B1 is a great option if you’re looking for a tablet for casual web browsing, reading e-books and playing casual game.

Acer Iconia B1-A71: First look
Pros

  • Runs Jelly Bean
  • Attractive pricing
  • Decent performance

Cons

  • Quality of materials used is underwhelming
  • The screen’s viewing angles are bad & colours looked washed out
  • Battery life could have been better

Ratings (Out of 5)

Design: 3
Display: 2.5
Performance: 3.5
Software: 4
Battery Life: 2.5
Value for Money: 3.5
Camera: 1
Ecosystem: 3.5
Overall: 3

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Original Article here

Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism Review: Gaming in Style

Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism Review: Gaming in Style

The growth of the gaming scene in India has led to a massive upsurge in the availability of quality gaming peripherals. One particular segment that has benefited from this is gaming audio. A steady stream of personal gaming audio products has been making its way to the market, including products from top brands such as Kingston, Asus, Razer, and Steelseries.

Speaking of Danish manufacturer Steelseries, one of its latest products in India is the Siberia Elite Prism. At Rs. 16,999, it’s a fair bit more expensive than a lot of competing products such as the Kingston HyperX Cloud II and Asus Strix Pro. Unlike Kingston and Asus however, Steelseries is a specialist in gaming peripherals and is closely associated with electronic sports and professional gaming around the world. Does that give the Siberia Elite Prism a leg up over its competitors? We find out in our review.

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Design, fit and specifications
The Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism has a frequency response range of 16-28,000Hz, with an impedance of 32Ohms and a sensitivity rating of 120dB. The standard cable that is permanently attached to the headset is 1.2m long, but a 2m extension cable is also included in the box. Both of these cables are flat and tangle-resistant.

The standard connector is a UC-E6 pin, which connects to the included Steelseries USB soundcard. A couple of adapters have also been included, which convert the UC-E6 signal to either a combined 3.5mm headset plug or individual 3.5mm microphone and audio plugs. The headset has a retractable and flexible unidirectional microphone as well. The Siberia Elite Prism is compatible with Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, and the Sony PlayStation 4 out of the box, while Xbox One compatibility requires an adapter which is sold separately.

steelseries_siberia_elite_prism_software_ndtv.jpg

The included USB soundcard is housed inside a compact piece of plastic that takes over digital-to-analogue conversion duties from your PC when plugged in through USB. It has no controls whatsoever on it; only ports for the UC-E6 and 3.5mm plugs and a small indicator LED. You can choose to bypass the soundcard and just use one of the 3.5mm adapters to plug the headset directly into a source device, or another soundcard or DAC. However, the included soundcard ensures Dolby virtual surround capability and a few other sonic improvements, so we suggest you stick to using it.

Controls for volume and the microphone are on the headset itself. The left casing has a switch that turns the microphone on or off, while the right one has a volume knob. The casings themselves are plastic, but feature a matte finish. The cushioning on the earpads is thick and plush, stuffed with memory foam that makes the headset an absolute pleasure to wear even for hours at a stretch. Although there is no active noise cancellation, the thickness of the padding offers effective sound isolation.

The lower headband is self-adjusting and has its own padding, while the upper headband is exposed steel, holding the entire headset together. It’s a comfortable, well-built and well-designed affair, and even though design is a matter of personal preferences, we think anyone with good taste will agree that this is a beautiful pair of headphones.

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The only real flaw is the size of the Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism, which makes it difficult to carry around. This is a big headset with no folding mechanism and no included carry case. Although light and comfortable enough, it’s still an immensely large product that might prove to be inconvenient if you’re used to taking your headphones everywhere with you.

One of the most unique features of the design of the Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism is its two 16-million-colour LED bands. Each casing has an LED band which lights up and glows when the headset is plugged in. You can use the included software to customise the colour or select pre-programmed colour combinations and light patterns. The light effects are impressive, and this is something that really makes the device stand out. It’s sure to get you a lot of attention if you use the headset in public.

steelseries_siberia_elite_prism_headband_ndtv.jpg

Steelseries recommends that you install its Steelseries Engine 3 software to optimise the experience of using the Siberia Elite Prism headset. Although the headphones will work fine without it, it’s still a good idea to get the software installed. It’s an efficiently designed application, and it recognised our review unit immediately on Windows. All settings reflected immediately, from changes in the LED colour to equaliser tweaks. The software is also necessary to switch on Dolby mode for virtual surround sound, and to adjust specific microphone settings such as noise reduction, auto compression, sidetone, and volume.

The Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism is Dolby-enabled for virtual 7.1 surround sound. Although there are just two channels, the tuning ensures that there is a decent and fairly immersive sense of where the sound is coming from. This is particularly useful in FPS games, since being able to accurately pinpoint the location of enemies by their sound can make all the difference between (in-game) life and death. We go more into detail on how the Elite performed in the next section.

steelseries_siberia_elite_prism_soundcard_ndtv.jpg

Performance
We tested the Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism with a handful of sources and material, including our hardware review rig running Windows, a standard Windows laptop, an Android smartphone, and a Sony PlayStation 4. Games used in the review were GTA V, FarCry 4, The Crew, and Destiny, while media used included a selection of movies and music across genres.

We started out with GTA V on our review rig. The game is known for having some of the best audio design and engineering of recently released games, and we were fairly impressed. The sound was clean, detailed and immersive. The impressive sound imaging and soundstaging abilities of the Siberia Elite Prism made for realistic depth and separation of sonic elements. The sonic signature has been properly tuned to achieve as much detail as possible, and you can hear every bit of audio with realistic depth and feel.

Moving on Far Cry 4, we were able to test the headset’s virtual surround sound capabilities. The effect can definitely be felt – turning slowly on the spot while a firefight was taking place a short distance away gave a proper sense of the effect. Although you can definitely feel the direction and depth of the sound, there’s just a little bit missing in terms of accuracy. The virtual sound stage is excellent, but it leaves the origin of the faintest sounds feeling just a little too wide and unspecific thanks to its subtlety. Most experienced gamers will still be able to pick up on these cues, though, so the slight lack of accuracy is definitely not a deal-breaker.

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We used The Crew to test the tone of the sound. The roar of car engines and other loud effects such as police sirens and car crashes were punchy and powerful for the most part, although there was a little bit of thump missing. Once again, this can be attributed to the subtlety and the finesse of the sound, which keeps the audio toned down a hint and doesn’t quite let it achieve the aggression and attack that is sometimes needed to bring out the excitement in game audio.

The Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism is also great for use with movies and TV shows, thanks to its virtual surround experience. Sound was a bit soft, but comfortable nonetheless. Since the tuning is geared towards amplifying mids and highs, it works well with movies and shows. The surround isn’t quite as effective as it is in-game, but it’s still satisfying. The headset’s only real weakness is its handling of stereo music. The sound is weak and lacking in any excitement whatsoever, feeling forced and boring at times.

Finally, the microphone is particularly neat in how it retracts and can be switched on and off, but there is nothing really special about it except that when extended, it is close enough to your mouth to ensure your words are picked up clearly. It functions well, of course, but we didn’t find anything about the microphone that sets it apart from the run-of-the-mill microphones that are on most stereo headsets these days.

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Verdict
The Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism is undoubtedly one of the best looking gaming headsets on the market right now, thanks to its sheer size, styling, and the eye-catching LED bands. It comes with its own soundcard and software, both of which work well, and plenty of adapters and extension cables to make sure that you don’t have any connectivity issues. The sound is also excellent for the most part, with detailed and immersive audio performance with games and movies. The virtual surround effect is also fairly satisfying and detailed.

There are some minor weaknesses, such as a slight lack of accuracy with the faintest of sounds in surround mode, and poor performance with music. While the latter would be a serious concern with most headsets, it’s important to remember that these headphones are designed for gaming and music wasn’t meant to be a strong point. Furthermore, this can be improved a little bit by playing around with the equaliser settings.

On the whole, the Siberia Elite Prism is a comfortable, good looking and sonically capable headset. While it is a bit on the expensive side, rest assured that you are getting a decent return on your investment. We highly recommend the Steelseries Siberia Elite Prism to gamers looking for an immersive, detailed and good-looking pair of gaming headphones.

Pros

  • Looks good; well designed
  • Extremely comfortable to wear
  • Soundcard, software and adapters included
  • Detailed, clean sound with excellent depth and soundstaging
  • Virtual surround sound works well for the most part

Cons

  • Slight lack of accuracy in the virtual surround
  • Could do with a bit more aggression and excitement
  • Poor performance with music

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 4.5
  • Performance: 4
  • Value for money: 4
  • Overall: 4

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Original NDTV Gadgets

Nokia Smartphone With All-Metal Body Leaked in Images

Nokia Smartphone With All-Metal Body Leaked in Images

Few images showing an all-metal Nokia smartphone has popped up on the Web, making it one of the devices the company might launch this year. It is worth mentioning that the non-compete clause in the Microsoft-Nokia buyout prevents the Finnish tech firm from releasing smartphones under the Nokia brand ended on December 31, 2015.

To note however, Nokia executives have previously confirmed that the terms of the agreement stipulate that Q4 2016 is the soonest Nokia can release a smartphone – indicating the non-compete clause was extended without public announcement.

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri had in July last year confirmed the company’s plans to re-enter the mobile market, and said it will sign an agreement with a manufacturer which will be responsible for manufacturing, distribution, and sales of its smartphones. The Finnish company followed the same strategy with the N1 tablet launch where the company signed a brand-licensing agreement with Foxconn.

Getting back to the leak, we see the images posted by a Weibo user show the box-like shaped black-coloured Nokia smartphone from back, front, and sides. The handset is seen sporting two antenna lines at top and bottom on the back with the camera at the top-centre position and flash placed above it. The company logo can also be seen at the centre of the back panel. While the volume and power buttons are on the right, the SIM card slot and possibly the microSD card slots sit on the left. The front panel features a speaker grille on top and Nokia logo below it. The sealed back and side panels also hint towards some IP ratings. Unfortunately, there are no details on the specifications or the launch date of the unannounced handset.

nokia_c1_leaked_image_weibo.jpg

The design of the Nokia handset contradicts the design we saw in previous rumour related to the Nokia C1 last year. However, since that was just render images, this might be the real Nokia C1. Nothing can be confirmed as of yet.

Going by past leaks and rumours, the Nokia C1 is tipped to include a 5-inch FHD display, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter. It is said to run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow as well. Previous reports have suggested that the Nokia C1 will be powered by an Intel chipset and feature 2GB of RAM.

Interestingly, earlier this week, Nokia published a video (seen below) that promoted its vision. In the video, we briefly see three phones – from what could be the Nokia C1, to a budget device, and a camera-focused smartphone – but without any branding or any other details.

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Original Article

Apple iPad 2: The emperor’s successor

Apple iPad 2: The emperor's successor

Introduction:
The first iPad was a revolutionary product. There were naysayers galore, nobody was even sure it would work – neither a laptop nor a netbook, and there was no keyboard. Xxx years later, the iPad has sent the competition scrambling to produce tablets of their own.
So is there a tablet better than the iPad? Yes there is. The iPad 2.
These are interesting circumstances for a new version of the device. It’s only competition is the first version of itself, which was so pathbreaking a device that it’s a very tough act to follow.
With iPad 2, Apple has done what it does best with follow-up acts – they’ve kept it simple. Users complained that version 1 was too heavy for prolonged use, and carped about the lack of cameras. Version 2 is 30 per cent slimmer, 15 per cent lighter, and has two cameras. Under the hood, there is a new dual-core A5 chip, to make iPad 2 run a bit faster. As a bonus, there is a nifty smart cover. Lets take an in-depth look.


Hardware
The iPad 2 scores full marks on the way it looks. The square edges of the first iPad have given way to an absolutely thin edge which curves a bit to the back, very similar to the first iPhone.
The whole design of the iPad 2 makes it look slimmer than it actually is. But, even at its thickest, it is just about a third of an inch thick – a hair-breadth thicker than a pencil.
Among the most important additions to the iPad 2 are the cameras. On the front, the camera is housed in the middle of the top bezel and on the back it is housed on the top right corner. More about the cameras below.
The other connections and buttons remain the same as they were on the previous iPad. These include a sleep/wake button on the top right, a headphone jack on the top left, silent/screen lock rotation on the right, housed next to the volume rocker and the 30-pinApple connector at the bottom edge.
iPad 2 is available in both black and white.


Cameras
Welcome addition though it be, this is one upgrade that Apple could have done better. The cameras are barely adequate for a path-breaking device like the iPad. They probably use the same sensors as the iPod touch.
The front camera is a VGA and the rear camera is about a megapixel as it can shoot HDvideo in 720p. The cameras are adequate for occasional video, but are best avoided for taking photos.
But the one thing they work particularly well for? Facetime, Apple’s version of video chat. The iPad’s big screen coupled with the two in-built cameras make video chat a very special experience on the iPad 2. The only catch is that Facetime does not work on 3G and requires a Wi-Fi network.
Gaming and multimedia
Apple has introduced their latest A5 processor in the iPad 2. The dual-core powerhouse promises to make the tablet twice as fast as the previous version and multiplies its graphics performance by nine times.
The difference really pops while gaming on the new iPad. The visuals are detailed and crisper. The difference is pronounced enough for games like Infinity Blade and FIFA to launch updated versions optimised for the iPad 2. Even Angry Birds Rio seemed to work faster on the iPad 2 than the original iPad. There is also a separate section in the app store that caters to games optimised for the iPad 2.
Videos and music are not very different from the original iPad and are of the same top-notch quality. Better in-built speakers would have helped. iPad 3, maybe?


Apps
With the new iPad, Apple also launched some new applications – the Photo Booth, Garage Band and iMovie. While Garage Band will even make novice musicians sound like maestros, iMovie tries to make movie editing on the move easier. iMovie in particular makes use of the faster processor in the new iPad to quickly edit movies, apply cool transitions and include snazzy sound effects. But, you might face a problem while importing video to edit. You will either need to shoot the video using iPad’s in-built cameras or import them using the SD card adapter while ensuring that they have been shot in a format that the iPad can play with.
Photo Booth remains a lot of fun in its iPad avatar too. It will entertain children for hours and possibly get the adults interested for a while. With 9 different live previews at one time, it really shows how the iPad’s graphics prowess has increased.


Smart Cover
A key innovation to the new iPad is the Smart Cover. Unlike other cases, the Smart Cover is more like a screen protector that is, well, smartly built. It not only protects the screen, it helps to clean it too and wakes up the iPad as it is opened.
The way it connects to the iPad is also quite unique, by using magnets. It will take you all of 3 seconds to attach the smart cover to the iPad. The ribbed construction also allows you to fold it into ways that makes the iPad easy to hold and prop-up on the desk.
However, it’s not all good – the Smart Cover does come with a set of problems. It does not cover the back of the iPad, so you will end up scratching the shiny aluminium back sooner than you think. The ribbed construction causes ugly dirt lines on the iPad screen if you do not clean the screen regularly. Despite these minus points, it is, beyond doubt, the smartest iPad cover till date. So much so, some people wanted to buy the iPad just for the cover.


Verdict
Bottomline: is it faster and thinner? It is. But, as we said straight off, the original iPad is a tough act to follow. It doesn’t warrant an immediate upgrade, even though the iPad 2 is a worthy successor. If you have the original iPad, you may want to hold on to it, unless you want to video chat.
If you do not have a tablet and are thinking of buying one, the iPad 2 is a nobrainer. With thousands of apps and no serious competitor, it is your best available choice.

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Original Article here

Review: Asus Eee Pad tablet transforms into laptop

Review: Asus Eee Pad tablet transforms into laptop

The tablet computers that compete with the iPad have mostly been uninspiring. The Eee Pad Transformer stands out with a design that isn’t just copied from the iPad: It’s a tablet that turns into a laptop.
For $399, $100 less than the cheapest iPad, you get a tablet computer with a 10-inch screen and hardware that doesn’t cut corners. It’s fully usable on its own. For another $149, you can buy a keyboard that connects to the tablet. Together, they look and open like a small laptop.
The Transformer is made by Asustek Computer Inc., the Taiwanese company that started the brief “netbook” craze a few years ago by selling small, inexpensive laptops. With the keyboard attached, the Transformer is nearly indistinguishable from a netbook.


But before you get too excited about the prospect of a laptop-tablet hybrid that combines the best of both worlds, I have to tell you that you’re not getting a Windows laptop in the bargain. The Transformer runs Google Inc.’s Android software, originally designed for smartphones.
That means it doesn’t run full-blown Windows programs or connect to peripherals such as scanners. This isn’t all a bad thing, as Android comes with important advantages, such as a long battery life, programs designed for touch input and a computer that comes to life almost immediately when you open the lid.
The keyboard may sound a bit expensive for $149, but it does more than help with typing. It has a track pad with “mouse buttons,” just as you’d find on a laptop. It also contains an extra battery that charges the tablet’s battery, two USB ports for connecting peripherals and a slot for SD memory cards, used in most digital cameras.


I tested the battery life by playing a high-definition video over and over again, with the screen set to medium brightness. I got a respectable nine hours from the tablet alone and 13 hours with the keyboard attached. That compares with 10 hours for the iPad 2.
The screen uses the same technology as the iPad’s, making it easy to read from any angle and in any orientation. It is slightly larger than the iPad’s and has a slightly higher resolution.
The Transformer has two cameras, as we expect from this year’s tablets. The picture quality is so-so but more than adequate for videoconferencing through Google Talk.
Of course, you could get an iPad and an accessory keyboard instead. There are good reasons for doing so — I’ll talk more about the software below — but let’s stick for the moment to discussing what’s good about the Transformer.


The iPad doesn’t make any particular accommodation for a keyboard. The accessory ones connect using short-range Bluetooth wireless technology, which can be a hassle to connect and troubleshoot. It also means the keyboards need separate batteries — Apple’s own model uses two AAs. The battery in the Asus keyboard doesn’t need to be charged for the keyboard to work, and in any case, it uses the same charger as the tablet.
Most iPad keyboards don’t attach to the tablet itself, because there’s nothing to hang on to. This is fine if you’re at a table, but juggling an iPad and a separate keyboard on your lap can be difficult. Some iPad keyboards are built into a case, which covers the tablet and forms a laptop-like unit, though an inelegant one.


The Transformer has two slots for the keyboard to lock into, forming a sturdy whole that’s easy to use on a lap or tummy, for those really lazy moments on the couch.
There’s another nice thing about the Transformer keyboard: The keys are designed for the software. There are keys that bring you to the Home screen and Settings. Others control screen brightness, volume and media playback. There are buttons for the Back and Menu functions of Google’s Android software.


This isn’t the first time we’ve seen small laptops running Android, but it is the first time I’ve used one that runs Honeycomb, the first Android version specifically designed for tablets rather than smartphones. The update makes Android much better at taking advantage of a 10-inch screen.
But as tablet software, Android is still far behind Apple’s iOS software for the iPad. The biggest problem is the low quality and poor selection of applications from outside companies. Many of my favorite iPad apps, including Netflix and The Wall Street Journal are not available at all. Others, such as The New York Times, are available only in inferior versions, designed for the smartphone screen rather than the tablet.


I also had frequent crashes when using the applications. The Transformer is perhaps the best Android tablet out there, especially considering the price, but the software is still a major weakness. Still, the beautifully integrated keyboard should tempt people who don’t want to decide between a tablet and a laptop.

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Original Article here