The Dock Experience

A few minutes after you update the Eee Pad to Android 3.1 you'll get a popup notification telling you that there's a new update available for the transformer dock. Version 209 brings some additional bug fixes to the dock as well as a new power saving mode.

In our launch review I complained that the dock would sometimes forget it was connected and sometimes result in an unexpected reboot. I'm still using the Eee Pad but thus far I haven't run into any of these issues on the new OS/dock firmware combination. In fact, the platform as a whole seems a lot more stable than it was at launch. It's too early to say whether or not it's perfect, but it's at least much improved.

ASUS enhanced the mouse tracking as well. I'm not sure if the mouse just tracks faster or smoother or both but it's a lot more natural now than it was when I first reviewed the tablet.

The keyboard experience is mostly unchanged but it was pretty good to begin with. Hitting Ctrl + L now properly shifts focus to the URL bar in the browser window without typing the letter L. After opening a new tab the focus is already set at the URL/search bar so you can just begin typing to navigate.

Android 3.1 adds support for more USB devices. The dock has two USB ports both of which worked perfectly with external USB keyboards and mice that I plugged in. Google even claims support for gamepads over Bluetooth but I didn't have a chance to try that on the Eee Pad yet.

The dock now properly idles when it's not in use and shuts off completely when the tablet isn't attached. I didn't notice any perceivable wake up time when I started typing. I'll be running the combination through our battery life tests when I return from Computex next week to see if you get better battery life as a result of the new sleep states.

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  • vision33r - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    From hardware to software the iPad 2 won't be touched by anyone this year. Even the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab II will just be another iClone running Honeyblow.

    Just look at the hardware performance differences, iPad 2 is the best gaming platform no wonder it has Nintendo 3DS beat easily this year.

    Like Steve says all other tablets will be vaporware. Even the the Asus transformer will not be wanted after 2-3 month when another tablet out does it and this vicious cycle of competition helps Apple.
    Reply
  • ncb1010 - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    "From hardware to software the iPad 2 won't be touched by anyone this year."

    Kal-El is coming out in a shipping tablet later this year and will show a 5x graphics improvement over Tegra 2. In addition, it will have 4 Cortex-A9 vs 2 Cortex-A9. All of a sudden that 2x perform increase seen by the iPad 2 over Tegra based Android system evaporates and the roles are reversed. There will certainly be hardware later this year that will outperform iPad 2. Software is up for debate based on usage scenarios.

    "Just look at the hardware performance differences, iPad 2 is the best gaming platform no wonder it has Nintendo 3DS beat easily this year."

    If you truly need to compare a handheld to a tablet in performance, I could just as easily compare a 360 or PS3 against an iPad and show how it wipes the floor with it. We are also talking about a $250 vs a $500 device regardless of being different form factors.

    If you are talking about unit sales, the Nintendo 3DS actually is nothing to sneeze at, after 1 month on the market in Japan and 1 week on the market elsewhere, it sold 3.5 million units. Estimates of iPad 2 sales in the first month of availability were 2.4-2.6 million units which are significantly lower than 3DS.

    "Like Steve says all other tablets will be vaporware. Even the the Asus transformer will not be wanted after 2-3 month when another tablet out does it and this vicious cycle of competition helps Apple."

    You don't have a clue what vaporware actually means? Vaporware is where a product doesn't get released. I don't know how you support your statement that all other tablets are vaporware by stating that another tablet gets released that is better than a previous one. In fact, it directly contradicts your statement by implying that there is a steady stream of released (i.e. not vaporware) tablets.

    As far as continual improvement in the competitor's offering helping Apple, I am afraid that is wishful thinking. While releasing a better product does make other Android tablets less competitive than they once were, it also changes the competitive landscape when comparing iPad to Android devices more favorably towards Android than it was before. For instance, when the Quad Core Tegra 3 tablet gets released half way through a iPad refresh, the ARM SoC GPU performance crown will have been stolen from Apple.
    Reply
  • thunng8 - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    You do realise that 5X performance increases is a purely marketing figure (like the 9x increase Apple claims for the ipad2 compared to ipad). I'll wait to see actual benchmarks before giving the crown to Tegra3. Reply
  • Zingam - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    Kal-El products 2012 :) So the guy is right nothing will touch iPad any time soon. Too bad... I don't want Apple too. Reply
  • robinthakur - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    I think I can see what he was getting at actually. For build quality and coherence of the platform environment, nothing is likely to touch the iPad2 until the next revision next March/April. There is an inherent problem with the constant power race and replacing chipsets/GPU's etc beyond the impressive benchmark numbers, in that it is unlikely that Apps will make proper use of the increase in power during the useful life of the tablet apart from things made by Google and a handful of others. If they were to do so, then they would be virtually unusable on the earlier hardware revisions. I can now see why Android marketplace makes hardly any revenue for it's developers compared to the AppStore and the same issue is now happening on the tablet side as the phone side! They need a common spec to develop for not a constantly changing one. At the end of the day, most people don't just sit at home running benchmarks on their tablets. Is there any software as well made or optimised as Garageband for Android?

    Instead of saying they are vapourware, a better saying would be that they would be 'gone in a flash'. Having been in the market for a Honeycomb tablet I initially focussed on the Xoom, then got put off by reviews and the high price, then the Iconia and was put off by reviews and then the Asus, but found it ludicrous that they could launch it without a working camera. Across all of them i found it hard to swallow the high price compared to the cheap-feeling build quality. I finally cracked and bought an iPad2 and don't regret my decision because you actually buy peace of mind that what you bought will not be instantly obsolete. His point about the 3DS is not well made though.
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    Crawl back into your mama's basement, fanboy. Reply
  • spambonk - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    And still no comment about the supposed light bleed which gets worse as you use the device http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1... Reply
  • Omid.M - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    Seems to follow the adage of "wait for 3rd gen." Well, I'd consider a Kal-El tablet to be 3rd gen, anyway.

    1st gen - G tab, Samsung Galaxy Tab 7"
    2nd gen - Eee Pad, Xoom, Galaxy Tab 10.1
    3rd gen - Kal-El

    I'm sad that even the Tab 10.1, made by a company known for its display tech, seems to have a mediocre screen (allegedly, based on a review of the Google I/O 2011 Tabs that were given out).

    None of the Android tabs have screens that seem to rival the quality of the iPad 2's.

    @moids
    Reply
  • Zingam - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    By the time when generation 7 is out (just like Windows) we may actually see usable tablets. Until that time they'll be toys.
    How about 2015?
    Reply
  • Shinobi_III - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    Was it only me that noticed the hilarious grammatical error in the firmware update dialogue?

    "Please do not remove the mobile dock and shut down your device."

    For the lazy, it should obviously be "...or shut down..."
    Now they're saying that I shouldn't remove it, and then turn it off while flashing... =)
    Reply

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