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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  • aZUEStablet - Wednesday, July 06, 2011 - link

    There is tons of use for it right now... the only issue is that it needs to be supported for a while and asus needs to build enough trust that it will continue to be supported for more that a season.

    i was pretty impressed when the tablet when it when up on my door step!! i was so stoked on it i spazzed out a little and made a (kind of) dumb video of me hooking it up to my aaxa tech m2 micro projector: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_AFAPJGSLs
    Reply
  • xype - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    "So why do companies keep introducing tablets with known software issues? I always remember what AMD's Eric Demers once told me: the best way to lose a fight is to not show up."

    Uhm, you do know that showing up unprepared for a fight only gives you very slightly better chances than not showing up? And that showing up to a _real_ fight might get you killed, while staying at home won't?

    This whole talk reminds me of geeks dating. You think by showing up looking like a hobo will give you a chance to woo the other person with your inner values—but it won't. You'll just disqualify yourself from further consideration (at least for a while).

    All the companies producing Android tablets would do better to wait a bit, get a haircut, apply some makeup and then try to woo the customers. Right now, they're all just making a bad impression and—as is always the case with Android—spout promises of a better future.

    Either Google will really, really increase their development tempo and hire some good designers (which they won't, because they're retarded) and magically overtake Apple, or they'll simply stay that ugly chick that hopes some horny guy will take her home at the end of the night.
    Reply
  • Rick83 - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    If you're the horny guy, it's better to take home the ugly chick for cheap than wait 2 months until the pretty girl is available only to find out that she won't put out unless you bath her in champagne and diamonds... Reply
  • xype - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    Ooor, you work your, get a haircut, some manners and score a score of hot chicks. But that sounds too much like effort and risk, doesn't it? Never been the strong suit of Apple's competitors. Reply
  • medi01 - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    BS.
    Many products out there have superior hardware and features than iStuff.

    Not only that, but creator iStuff is the only company out there that dares to deny user free access to his own content. (not able to sync ipod with more than one PC? not able to read stuff from it? "comfortable" isn't it?)
    Reply
  • xype - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    1) No, not many. At best a few are better in a category or two.

    2) I have "free access" (whatever that means) to everything on my iPhone and was syncing it with two computers when I had two. Don't blame others for your incompetence.
    Reply
  • anishannayya - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    Medi01 is talking about the ability to root the hardware. You know, take full functionality and capability of the device that you forked your hard owned money for. In your words, don't blame others for your incompetence (ignorance). Reply
  • Azethoth - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    Ya know, I am a computer programmer and while I did not mind hacking out some mods for the WoW ui which really needs it, why on earth would I want to do that for a phone? A phone that comes with thousands of apps that do useful things. In other words, it is about the apps. It is not about hacking the OS.

    So please actually state what it is you get from rooting your phone? What is so important in its guts that you feel ripped off not getting in there and mucking around with it?
    Reply
  • evil bob - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    The ability to strip out all the battery eating bloatware the carrier installed and insists you want running 24/7.

    Sprint, for example, installs Nascar and Football applications amongst its bloatware that run in the background nearly every phone they currently sell. You can go into the phone settings and turn them off, check again in a couple minutes and they're back up and running again, their bloatware is persistant.

    Rooting my Evo 4G and stripping out said bloatware doubled by battery runtime the day I rooted it. Further refinements went into the OS, installation of an app killer and a CPU manager, and now I'm getting 30+ hours out of my smartphone when before in stock form it was lucky to last 6 hours off the battery.

    It was well worth the time mucking around with the "guts" to more than triple the battery life.
    Reply
  • Sukaflops - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    I may not be the biggest fan of IOS devices but you can sync them on 5 authorized computers. Reply

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