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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  • Azethoth - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    Yes it is Steve. I feel special knowing that hes hanging in the forums! Reply
  • IronPalm - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    Apart from flash support if you're in my line of work...flash based dashboards... Reply
  • Rick83 - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    You're right, the only legitimate reason to buy a tablet is to show off how rich you are, and nothing does that better than an apple.

    For those that actually want to get use out of the devices, I recommend the Archos tablets, at least they're affordable, and only medium-shitty, and offer a plethora of form factors.

    Of course, personally I have the 5 inch Archos, because I don't believe in smart phones (too much to go wrong...) and couple it with an S40 phone and a Mi-Fi to get it connected on the go. But then I still have a dedicated MP3-player, so obviously I'm just some old fart who doesn't get along with the times.. All I need now is a foldable keyboard, BT mouse and hdmi 720p pico-projector, and I'll have a desktop replacement in a fanny-pack.
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    or just maybe buy a small laptop? Reply
  • Rick83 - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    I hate laptops with a passion.
    Their lack of modularity is one of the most frustrating things I've ever seen, durability, performance and screens are shitty, even on the best models, and you always lug around tons of equipment, and are still unable to work properly.
    No thanks.

    Wonder when HMD's will finally catch up (1080p@ 250 euro and no larger than a set of large sunglasses?), and tablets, laptops etc become obsolete over night, because screens are just too clunky.
    Reply
  • swaaye - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    That's an interesting opinion of notebooks. Reply
  • kmmatney - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    I do a ton of work on my laptop (it my main work machine), and my 17" 1920 x 1200 screen is pretty awesome. The only thing I lug around is the power adapter, and a few memory sticks. I've not regretted my transition from desktop to laptop one bit. I'm a Scientists / Programmer / Engineer who works in the semiconductor industry.

    Interesting take on the screens. A high-res HMD would be "less clunky" if you are talking about watching movies, or activities with light input needed, but I don't know how I could do real work (coding, excel, editing... ) with one.
    Reply
  • RickyLing - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    Anand,

    Please double check with ASUS regarding build-in GPS support cause accorinf to ASUS TW, there is integrated GPS chip inside the Transformer model with WiFi only
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    You're correct, there is an integrated GPS :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    It's a shame that the Asus EP121 has pretty much been stepped over and dissed by the reviewers as it's a really, really nice machine. Reply

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