The Honeycomb Update & Software Preload

When I reviewed the Motorola Xoom I praised Honeycomb for being a brave effort by Google to reinvent the Android UI, as well as for delivering a tabbed web browser as a part of the default software configuration. Since that review Google updated Honeycomb to 3.0.1 and enabled support for Adobe Flash 10.2.

The move to 3.0.1 fixed some obvious bugs with the OS; nearly everything I complained about in our Xoom review has been addressed either mostly or entirely. Right now the biggest issue that remains with 3.0.1 has to do with performance. From a clean boot, Honeycomb feels reasonably snappy but performance seems to degrade quicker with use than on earlier Android releases. Force quitting apps will generally restore performance but it's something I've noticed seems necessary more frequently than on phones that run Froyo or Gingerbread.

With flash enabled the Honeycomb web browser is pretty compatible with a lot of what you'll encounter on the web. There are occasionally issues, such as the reddit front page:

Performance is good on simpler pages but it can quickly get bogged down on anything more complex with a lot of Flash. Google is planning a major update to Honeycomb that should improve performance across the board but there's no skirting the issue that we'll need more CPU and GPU power in these tablets.

While the Honeycomb experience is mostly stock on the Eee Pad, ASUS does include some custom software. ASUS' MyNet app is a DLNA controller that lets you push content from the Eee Pad to DLNA compliant devices on the same network. The Eee Pad also has a couple of custom widgets enabled, mainly weather, time/date and email. As I mentioned earlier, ASUS even enabled screenshot functionality from within the OS:

The Eee Pad comes pre-loaded with an Android office suite called Polaris Office. Polaris includes a document, spreadsheet, and presentation app, all of which are compatible with Microsoft Office as well as Google Docs.

If you supply your Google login credentials you can edit/save documents stored in the cloud. It's a pretty useful set of apps that work very well with the Eee Pad in docked mode as a netbook replacement. Unfortunately several bouts of instability and the fact that Polaris doesn't auto save your documents kept me from using the apps to write too much of this review.

ASUS ships the Eee Pad with a custom live wallpaper it calls MyWater. The animated background represents battery life by a rising/falling water level in a virtual glass. The water will also slosh around depending on how you hold the tablet. Unfortunately battery life is impacted by the wallpaper on the order of 4% and animated backgrounds can reduce overall system performance so I recommend disabling it.

ASUS thankfully did away with the dreadful back/home/task icons Motorola used on the Xoom. The icons in the lower left of the screen are far more legible now.

Battery Life & Performance Final Words
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  • spambonk - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    Hey, Anand - did you test for light bleed?
    Some people have reported light bleed at the edges in a dark room.
    Reply
  • ol1bit - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    These are great for flights over seas! 15 hours of battery life, you can watch movies, listen to music, browse the web (over the states), type emails, edit documents.

    All without a power cord, and it's small.

    I love it and the price is killer!

    I still want one like the Atrix, so I can carry one less device, ho and for this device, it can't be on AT&T. :-)
    \
    Reply
  • lcjgol - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    Anand, you mentioned that the dock has a USB port. For the retail version review, could you stick a regular mouse in there and tell us how it works (or doesn't).

    -thanks

    After reading this review, I'm 80% sure I'm getting this for my wife's Bday in May (the remaining 20% of my decision will be based on the final retail review).

    My family may be Asus' target audience. My wife is a very light computer user at home and also slightly interested in an eReader and/or tablet. Up till now, she hasn't shown enough interests to warrant a single device, but this Asus tablet can do all of the above relatively well. I know an E-ink device would be better for reading, but she doesn't want another gadget around the house if it will only be used lightly. She also needs a keyboard sometimes, and that has been why we haven't bought a tablet yet. This dock solution is the best I've seen. Add to that the fact that I've been thinking about getting some kind of (relatively decent) touchscreen device for my young son to doodle with, and Asus may have my money yet again.

    Great review of a great device.
    Reply
  • mino - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    "ASUS was at the forefront of the netbook revolution thanks to its close partnerships with Intel and Microsoft."

    What the **** has ASUS team's ability to innovate to do with Intel or Microsoft ?!?

    (Both of which actually tried to stifle the EeePC project.)

    Anand, you have just proved to me you really lost it. Can as well rename yourself to Anand, The Spinner.

    Old rule says "money rules". Having it only proven once again somehow fails to make me less sad.

    Old reader turned hater.
    Reply
  • bplewis24 - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    Okay, hater, please explain to us how Asus would have innovated the netbook market without Intel and Microsoft products. I'll be waiting.

    Do you see his point now? He's not taking anything away from Asus.

    Brandon
    Reply
  • BugblatterIII - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    That's too heavy to carry around with the dock attached, but while I often need the keyboard I rarely need the extra battery life.

    Is the dock battery removable? If so does the dock still work, and how much weight does that save?

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • Abot13 - Monday, April 25, 2011 - link

    When you remove the battery from the keyboard (if possible) would that mean that it topples over. iaw wont the "screen" be to heavy in contrast with the keyboard? Reply
  • BugblatterIII - Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - link

    Possible; I saw another review say that the EeePad is top heavy even with the battery in the keyboard. Reply
  • ProDigit - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    Too bad it's missing a mic/line in, and lan port, and 3 USB ports is a necessity for most!
    Has a low battery capacity, though high battery life,
    Reply
  • BruceOTB - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    Lack of 3G is a deal breaker for me. Reply

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