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oldcpu's meandering thoughts on Computers, GNU/Linux and openSUSE

Some interesting Tablets as of end-May-2011

Rating: 2 votes, 4.50 average.
I took a small look on the Internet at some tablet PCs that were released in the past few months, and the tablet market is starting to get interesting.

Dispelled preconceptions and some assumptions

The first thing I had to dump (for now) was the idea of running openSUSE on any of these Tablets. In truth, openSUSE (nor most other Linux distributions) are up to that task. I also noted none of these Tablets are yet at the stage where their OS (Android or Windows7) can compete with the iPad2, despite hardware superiority of the Tablet PCs. IMHO software orchestrated and manged by Apple, for now makes the iPad2 a clear winner as a Tablet.

BUT, and this is a BIG but for me, I am not an Apple computer/tablet/phone fan. Very very far from it. The proprietary aspects of Apple will likely ensure I'll never buy an Apple device, and so for now, I'll be looking at the slightly to significantly less capable competition who adopt a slightly more open policy.

Requirements

Then I had to sort what would be my requirements for a Tablet ? I decided
  • Operating System and Software stability with a reasonable application selection (this is HIGHLY subjective and depends a lot on the forum/internet reviews of other users)
  • Internet Surfing via Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless (or 3G if available – which it is NOT for the Tablets I looked at)
  • Email (for casual reading/replying and not serious writing) – although one tablet opened up the possibility of doing more here ...
  • Multimedia playback (play back 720p and also 1080p videos/movies would be nice)
  • Ebook reading capabilities
  • Front mounted 'webcam' for Video chat (and hence video chat support)
  • Photograph album
  • Navigation (ie with GPS … )
  • selected games (chess would be nice)
  • reasonable battery life (~8 hours or longer between charges)
  • good quality multitouch capacitive display


In the profession where I work, where I need to write a LOT, and thus I do not see major office work as an area where a Tablet can be of much use, although one Tablet (the Acer Eee Pad Transformer) might have some capabilities here due to its optional (and very portable) keyboard.

Two Tablets I looked at

Anyway the two Tablets I ended up reading about were the Acer Iconia Tab A500 and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, both running Android 3.0 (or possibly 3.1) operating system. (The Acer Iconia Tab A500 also has an MS-Windows version called the W500). I did not look at the Motorolo Xoom in detail due to price (its too expensive) nor did I look at the LG-G-Slate in detail. And later in the year there are Tablets purportedly coming out from Samsung, and Sony ( ? ) , Dell, and other hardware suppliers. So this is a rather restricted look at only a couple of Tablets.

Hardware spec comparison

From a strictly tablet perspective, the specs were interesting. Both have the nVidia Tegra 2 Dual Core CPU, with 1GB RAM, SSD hard drives, HDMI port, speakers, combined mic/headphone jack, an SD card port, front/rear cameras and docking stations, GPS and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n.

But from there (and in some details) things differ.

USB

Important to me, is the Acer Iconia has both a USB and a micro-USB on the tablet's side. The Asus does not (although I read this is mitigated in part by its bottom power adapter might be useful to use to access flash devices or one's PC). I give the Acer a big edge here, ... but as noted, there are further mitigating considerations wrt the USB inadequacies of the Asus Transformer (which is the 'transformer' part).

Display

I read the Asus Transformer with its IPS display (1280x800 resolution) is superior to the display all PC Tablets currently on the market (and comes closest in quality to the superb display of the iPad2). Having typed that, Acer Iconia's LED display (1280x1024) is purported not bad, but is available viewing angles is not as good as that of the Asus Transformer.

Cameras

The Acer Iconia's rear 5 Mpixel camera (2592x1944 with its flash) is purported superior to the Asus's 5 Mpixel camera (also 2592x1944 with no flash). One article suggested the Acer's front 2 MPixel Camera (1600x1200) is superior to the Asus's 1.2 MPixel front camera (which has a higher 1920x1080 resolution) which does not make much sense to me. But in truth, a 1.2 Mpixel front camera is adequate for the video conferencing I plan to do, and I don't need a quality rear mounted camera on a Tablet, so the Acer's edge here was not important to me.

SSD drive Memory

The Acer Iconia comes with 16GB and the capability to expand up to 32 GB maximum using its SD card slot. The Asus Transformer can come with either 16GB or 32GB and still have another 32 GB more space available via a mini SD card slot. This suggests to me it might be possible to have more portable storage capability on the Asus Transformer (64 GB total) vs a maximum 32 GB on the Acer Iconia, but I can't say that for certain.

Docking station

Both Tablets have docking stations, but it was the Asus Transformer Docking station that really grabbed my attention. It is a nice form fitting (and relatively thin) combination keyboard/battery/USB-hub/charger that is IMHO superior to anything else on the market. This 'docking station' in effect converts the Asus Transformer from a tablet, into a Netbook PC.

Yes, the Acer Iconia has a blue tooth keyboard available, but its not a keyboard that I would lug around in a backpack. But I would carry the Asus Transformer's keyboard/docking station due to its superb integration.

I really really like the Netbook conversion concept that Asus have implemented in the Transformer (and hence its name), and if it were not for (1) it being almost impossible to buy due to demand outstripping supply and (2) other user-comments/software factors wrt the Asus, that would make the Asus a hands down winner.

User experiences

I visited some user forums for these Tablets, and also looked at many youtube video reviews, and I noted there were glowing reviews for both the Acer Iconia and for the Asus Transformer. The criticisms however were revealing. In essence the Iconia's software integration came across as having significantly fewer bugs and hiccups than the Asus Transformer, which had many.

The Acer Icona A500 had a criticism that it would randomly switch ON (?) while the Asus Transformer had a criticism that it sometimes would NOT wake up without over dozen attempts to power it up. Not being able to power up is very worrisome.

Also comments on the Asus Transformer noted its Android-3.x implementation was not so stable yet, and this was also evident in some of the YouTube views, where some apps just did not work (and a reboot on the YouTube and other videos being needed).

Conclusions

While originally I was thinking no Tablet for me until 2012 or 2013, I am now tempted to buy one this year. Some of this is work related (I may need to take an office MS-Windows laptop on business trips and I want another device (other than Windows and other than Mac) to use in the Hotel room. Carrying 2-laptops is too much and hence I won't be able to carry my openSUSE laptop with me on such trips. Thus a Tablet would be very handy.

If I had to buy a Tablet today, I might go for the more stable Acer Iconia A500 … its reported superior stability (and competitive price) is THAT important to me.

However I'm going to be watching the Asus Transformer as it evolves over the next few months with BIOS updates and Android software updates. The Acer Transformer (without the optional integrated keyboard that turns it into a Netbook) is even more cheap than the Acer Iconia, and for a lot more money I really really really like the Asus Transformer keyboard concept, as its optional-keyboard/docking station opens up the door for more writing intensive activities that I can NOT do from a tablet PC without such a keyboard. I also like the Asus Transformer's capability for more SSD card storage. But software stability is important. And from what I have read, like most Android tablets on the market today, the Asus is not quiet there yet, and the Acer Iconia appears to have a superior implementation here.

This is early June. … Assuming I recover from this bout with Montezuma's Revenge (and not end up another German E-Choli statistic) I plan to go on vacation to another continent in September, and then again (to a yet a different continent) in December. So its possible that before the December trip (and possibly before the September trip) I could purchase a tablet.

This could get interesting !

Its just too bad openSUSE does not (yet) install/run smoothly on such portable computing machines ! That would likely be a deciding factor in any Tablet selection if it was a viable possibility.

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Updated 23-Jul-2011 at 16:09 by oldcpu (removed reference to my being ill ...)

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Comments

  1. kgroneman's Avatar
    Hehe..only the first paragraph of this blog shows in the blog preview. It doesn't entice me to really want to click on it to read further, but the title didn't match the text so I clicked. Glad I did. :-)
  2. FlameBait's Avatar
    Quite informative and useful opdcpu. Both of these Tablets are more than I want to spend though. I am still looking.

    Hoping you have beat your intestinal difficulties.
  3. oldcpu's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kgroneman
    Hehe..only the first paragraph of this blog shows in the blog preview. It doesn't entice me to really want to click on it to read further, but the title didn't match the text so I clicked. Glad I did. :-)
    Yes, in hindsight I could have done a much better job in writing the blog.

    Now that I've made a couple of blog posts I've learned a bit more about this.
  4. oldcpu's Avatar
    I note now that Samsung with the Galaxy 10.1 tablet have an interesting offering with the Android operating system. Its almost identical in size to the iPad (possibly even thinner) and offers capabilities competive with the Xoom, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, and Acer Iconia A500.

    I've also changed my mind and decided to consider the Apple iPad. I'm finding the Android operating system so restrictive in Tablets that I see no point in excluding the Apple iPad from consideration. While Apple are very restrictive in their policy, its turning out the Android implementation (with no root access, no means to update one's OS without it being done by the manufacturer, and other aspects) means Android is not all that much more open than Apple. Hence the Apple significant application lead is relatively more important to me than before.

    But before I purchase anything, I may just wait a bit longer to see how the MeeGo operating system evolves. MeeGoo hopefully will be closer to the GNU/Linux philosophy that I like. .... Although MeeGo's future is a bit worrying given Nokia have mostly withdrawn their support from it (after their deal with Microsoft, presumably to support the upcoming Microsoft Windows-8 Operating System).
  5. oldcpu's Avatar
    I saw an interesting summary of some tables on AllTouchTablet.com - Best Tablet PC, iPad/Android Reviews, News :

    • iPad2
    • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
    • Asus EEE Pad Transformer
    • Acer Iconia Tab A500
    • Acer Iconia W500
    • LG G-Slate
    • Motorola Xoom
    • Asus EEE Pad Slider
    • Samsung Sliding PC 7 Series
    • Archos Arnova 10
    • ViewSonic ViewPad 10 dual boot
    • Archos 101


    I was surprised to read that the Acer Iconia W500 came with Windows7 (as a tablet) which made me wonder if one could easily replace it with a GNU/Linux distro

    Another option, if one does not mind 3x (or more) the weight is to look at a "netvertible" (ie netbook/tablet convertible). An interesting summary list of more interesting models

    • Asus EEE PC T101MT
    • Dell Inspiron Duo
    • HP TM2
    • Gigabyte T1125N
    • Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t
    • Asus EEE PC T91MT
    • Gigabyte TouchNote T1000P


    I have not formed an opinion on any of these yet, although they are all intriguing. I note openSUSE is reported running on the Gigabyte TouchNote T1000P
  6. oldcpu's Avatar
    I had a chance to very VERY briefly look at the iPad2 and also the Motorola Xoom today (not side by side, but about 2 hours apart).

    iPad2

    First my wife and I in one of the local notebook shops looked at the iPad2. It was switched OFF, and I could not switch it on. My wife (who has an iPod) showed me how to switch it ON. OK, so it was not intuitively obvious to me.

    I pressed on a browser app (Google came up) and could not see a keyboard. How to get keyboard ? It was NOT intuitively obvious to me.

    My wife showed me how to bring up the key board (just press in the location bar). When finished, how to remove the keyboard? My wife showed me. Again, it was NOT intuitively obvious to me.

    When finished with the browser, I could NOT figure out how to go to another app. My wife showed me. Again, it was NOT intuitively obvious to me.

    I started another app. Photo Album. Very nice. We rotated the screen 90 degrees. Nothing. No iPad2 screen rotation. I looked at my wife. She took the iPad2, shook it, and the screen rotated. Ok. Was that supposed to be intuitively obvious ? It was NOT intuitively obvious to me.

    We tried some other apps. All very nice, but frankly, if my wife had not there, it would have been an unmitigated disaster. NOTHING was intuitively obvious to me. It was the same experience I had when my friend lent me his Apple Notebook for a couple of hours a couple of years ago. NOTHING on the notebook worked for me. He had to show me everything and after he left I could only remember a fraction of it.

    With the Apple notebook my friend was shocked, and I was annoyed ... It was like if you can't figure out the 'Apple' way then you are automatically categorized as a blasphemous idiot. Blasphemous for not finding the Apple product intuitive and 'just working'.

    I thought Apple products were supposed to have a 'just works' intuitive interface ?

    It reminds me of the song "Just another brick in the wall". With an Apple product, there is either the Apple way or no way. ie you are just 'another brick in the wall', or just another 'apple on the tree'. I don't like that. Not at all.

    I do concede with my wife's tutoring the iPad2 was REAL nice. But I can't have her there all the time.

    Motorola Xoom

    After shopping for shoes, a watch strap, had a snack ... etc .. my wife headed off to visit friends and I dropped into another of our local PC shops. They had four tablets on display, the iPad2, an Archos (unknown model) an Acer Icona Tab A500, and a Motorola Xoom. There was a line up of people waiting to play/test the iPad2, the Acer, and the Motorola. The battery was dead on the Archos. The iPad2 line was a zillion children wanting to play games. No way that line was going to disappear any time soon. I got to the front of the Acer Icona Tab A500 line and the battery died just before I got there .... < arggg > ... So I hopped in the Xoom line and got to play with it. Of course my wife was not there to tutor me.

    Still after my FRUSTRATING iPod experience, I found the Android-3.0 operating system running on the Motorola Xoom surprisingly intuitive compared to the frustrations I had with the iPad2. What gives ?? Is this NOT supposed to be the opposite ?

    I like the way one can switch between 'desktops' with a swish of the finger. I liked the easy to figure out friendliness for adding an app to the desktop. The apps them selves ? well they worked without my wife's help (as she was NOT there to guide me) although I did note they were not as slick as the iPad2 apps.

    Conclusions

    As I stated, I did note the applications on the Motorola Xoom (in the store) were not as 'slick' as those on the iPad2 (in a different store). But I also note the 'slick' Apple iPad2 apps did NOT work for me without my wife's tutoring. But the Android (Motorola Xoom apps) DID work for me with no such tutoring, even though they were not as slick.

    I have a lot more looking to do, but IMHO 'the jury' for me, is still out. I may purchase an Apple product, or I may purchase an Tablet with an Android OS. If I do go for Apple, I'll have to use a lot of mouth wash, as right now I have a very sour taste toward Apple and their proprietary philosophy and products, and a design that for bizarre reasons only known to Murphy (and the big jester in the sky) don't seem intuitive to me. ... < sigh > ...
    Updated 18-Jun-2011 at 06:43 by oldcpu
  7. oldcpu's Avatar
    My wife pointed out to me today two Lenovo tablets that are soon to hit the market (with You Tube Marketing reviews):


    While the IdeaPad has a 'sexier' shape, I like the pen and keyboard that one can get as options with the Thinkpad Tablet. There is no battery in the Thinkpad Tablet's keyboard (unlike the keyboard of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer which has a battery in its keyboard case) which makes the Thinkpad Tablet lighter overall (when including the keyboard). I confess I significantly prefer that Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet strategy over the Asus Eee Pad Transformer's strategy. Add the pen option to the Thinkpad Tablet and for me it has a slight edge over the Asus Eee Pad Transformer (assuming the Transformer will update to Android-3.1)

    Speaking of Android-3.1, both these Lenovo Tablets come with Android-3.1 which is a significant improvement over previous Android OS versions.

    Still, I'm struggling philosophically with the significant departure in Android from the traditional GNU/Linux operating system and I am finding it very difficult to rise above that philosophical barrier. I noted in this blog entry my difficulty with the OS philosophy of the current mainstream Tablets.
  8. oldcpu's Avatar
    The specifications of the Dell Inspiron Duo Convertabile Netbook-Tablet looks to be interesting.

    There is a good review here: Review Dell Inspiron duo Convertible Netbook/Tablet - Notebookcheck.net Reviews


    I like the small size and I like the convenience of the way the machine converts from a Netbook to a Tablet (via a simple innovative screen rotation).

    The weight is less than I feared at 1.5 Kg. Yes, that’s 2 to 3 times the weight of a tablet, but its on the light side for a Netbook and as such its appealing.

    It has an Atom N550 processor, which is about 10% faster than I have on my much larger 15.5" screen 3-year old Dell Studio 1537 laptop (with a Intel Core2 Duo P8400 cpu). For graphics it has an on-board Intel GMA 3150 (which allows HD playback). Typical with this machine is 2GB RAM. It comes with a 250GB hard drive (or an optional 350GB). Purportedly the drive 7mm height dimensions make it difficult to replace it with an SSD.

    A minimalist approach was taken to the ports, which may have been 'too minimalistic'. I note two USB-2.0 ports, a 3.5mm stereo audio jack (for speakers or external headphone) and a power connector. But that’s all. No RJ45 for wired Ethernet. No No analogue video output (VGA). Missing those is a purchase 'blocking' limitation for me as I need those for business.

    Its sort of too bad to be missing the RJ45/VGA output, as the Netbook is appealing and would be tempting to me IF it had those. Its placed itself where it is too heavy to compete purely with tablets, and missing those two interfaces it can't compete for the sort of Netbook that I would like.

    It has an Atheros AR9285 (802.11 b/g/n WiFi) that one can use for Internet access, and has a Bluetooth 3.0 +HS (AR3011 controller). It also has a UTMS module for 3G connectivity with an appropriate SIM card (although that is an extra cost option). It has a touchpad that supports multi-touch, as does the touch capacitive screen. Its capacitive touch sensitive screen is 10" in size with a nice 1366x768 pixel resolution. The screen is not bright enough for outdoor use (I've read that’s pretty much impossible on this Netbook/Tablet). And purportedly it can be procured with a 1.3 MPixel webcam.

    If one wants more capable interfaces, one needs to procure its "Audio Dock" (docking station). This provides two more USB-2.0 ports, a card reader, audio output, and an RJ45 ethernet (plus 2 speakers and a charging capability). For me the RJ45 is so important it would force me to either leave the Netbook at home (because I don't want to carry the Audio Dock with me) or bring both Netbook and Dock - read: means extra weight to have to cart around.

    Battery life is not high, at about 3.5 hours.

    Its operating system is Windows-7, which is nominally good for a netbook, and bad for a Tablet. If it supports Windows-7, then IMHO there is a reasonable chance GNU/Linux would run on it.

    I read a complaint that in tablet mode the performance is choppy and not great. There were complaints about the slow responsiveness of the tilt sensor.

    But the main blocking items for me are the missing RJ45 and VGA connector. I need those for business meetings. Heck even an original iPad, with the correct adapter, can provide a VGA output. So I will likely pass on this convertible Netbook/Tablet, although at first appearance it appeared to be very tempting.
  9. oldcpu's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu
    I saw an interesting summary of some tables on AllTouchTablet.com - Best Tablet PC, iPad/Android Reviews, News :

    • Acer Iconia A500 Tablet (w/Android)
    • Acer Iconia W500 Tablet (w/Windows7)


    I was surprised to read that the Acer Iconia W500 came with Windows7 (as a tablet) which made me wonder if one could easily replace it with a GNU/Linux distro
    I finally had a chance to play with both the Acer Iconia Tab A500 and the Acer Iconia W500 in one of our local PC shops. The Acer Iconia W500 was running MS-Windows7 Home Premium, and the Acer Iconia A500 was running a version of the Android operating system.

    Both were nice.

    I liked the familiarity of a 'desktop' PC that comes with the Acer Iconia W500 (with its MS-Windows7). Plus if it runs MS-Windows7, I can't help but be left with the impression that it might run with openSUSE. I note a thread here where a GNU/Linux user has it running on a Fedora version and another (older) thread where another GNU/Linux user has it running on an Ubuntu version.

    My wife pointed out that both Acers (A500 and W500) were heavy compared to an iPad/iPad2 and hence would not likely be very good as an ebook reader. Although I'm thinking now Amazon with their latest series of Kindles are re-writing the ebook reader market.

    I still have no fixed direction as to which Tablet I might buy (possibly as a Christmas present for myself).
  10. oldcpu's Avatar
    I was surprised to stumble across the Sahara Slate PC® i500 Tablet PC can be purchased with openSUSE as an option: Sahara Slate PC i500 Tablet PCs by TabletKiosk

    Of course its $1,749 US starting price tag pretty much ensures none of us would ever consider it. What does one get for that price ? I don't know. But one can add to the basic configuration to obtain the following specs (which likely costs > $2000 US ) :
    • Intel® Core™ i7-640LM (2.13GHz/2.933GHz max, 25W max TDP)
    • RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet LAN)
    • Wireless is an Intel® Centrino® Advanced-N 6200
    • 2x 204-pin DDR3 SODIMM sockets, user accessible with support for 1GB/2GB/4GB SODIMMs for each slot (ie one can setup this tablet with 8GB RAM)
    • Integrated Intel® HD Graphics with a 12.1" WXGA (1280x800) AFFS+ with LED Backlight display, where input is a Wacom Active Digitizer (and a Projective Capacitive Touch Screen available)
    • 320GB HDD storage [but a 40 GB SSD (optional instead) ]
    • Audio has a High Definition Audio Codec (ALC272-GR)
    • Bluetooth
    • DisplayPort++ Digital Video Out
    • 6-pin IEEE1394a (Firewire)
    • 2x USB 2.0 Highspeed
    • Combination eSATA+USB 2.0 Highspeed
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Out, 1x 3.5mm Audio In
    • 1x DC-In
    • 1x Cradle Connector (Optional Docking Cradle adds 4x USB 2.0 ports, 1x IEEE1394a port, 1x 15-pin D-Sub connector (VGA), 1x RJ45 jack for 10/100 Mbps Ethernet LAN, 1x DC-In with power pass-thru)
    • Weight: 1.49 kg (3.3 lbs.) with two standard batteries installed !! That's HEAVIER than my wife's Lenovo X220 netbook that she recently purchased !!


    And they call it a tablet !! Its heavy, .. REAL heavy. But powerful. And purportedly it can be procured with openSUSE.
    Updated 26-Oct-2011 at 13:54 by oldcpu
  11. oldcpu's Avatar
    A new Asus Transformer TF 101 Tablet fortuitously came into my possession for free (given to me as a token of appreciation for for the volunteer work I've been doing). It was shipped from the USA and arrived yesterday (Friday afternoon). After unpacking, I immediately plugged it in to charge overnight, as the user manual recommends one charge it for at least 8 hours prior to first use.

    Relative to a netbook, the Asus Transformer Tablet is light (680 grams, and 12.98mm thick). It has a A 5MP rear camera and 1.2MP front-facing camera. There is no native USB port. There is an audio jack (for headphone/mic), HDMI port, SD-Card port, and a docking port (which with the right adapter can function as a USB port). It has an integrated mic and side speakers. Battery life purported ~ 8 hours.


    I plan to make a separate BLOG entry (possibly in a few weeks) on my experiences in using it specifically with openSUSE, but for now this is just a general non openSUSE specific entry ...

    I did not receive the Docking station/keyboard with this.


    The external docking station/keyboard (which I believe also functions like a cover) in addition to providing a keyboard, also provides a touchpad, 2xUSB ports, full size SD card reader, and a second battery for another 8 hours of life. It is my plan to purchase the external docking station/keyboard in the near future.


    First Switch On

    I switched the Asus Transformer Tablet on for the 1st time this morning, ... and fortunately my wife was there to help (as she has a lot of iPod experience) ... which was invaluable in helping me know what to look for, albeit as expected (for a number of reasons) there are major differences between techniques used in the iPod's Apple iOS and the Asus Transformer's Android.

    Alternate Language

    Of course with my Thai wife helping, that meant the first order of business was installing Thai Language Fonts/keyboard (in addition to the English(US) keyboard). And that we did and it worked well. I can see my wife could end up taking over this Tablet if I am not careful !

    Wireless/LAN

    I still don't really know what I am doing with Android, and it may take me a while to learn this new OS. I do note this Transformer has Android-3.1 with the 2.6.36.3 kernel. I had thought Android-3.2.1 was available, ... maybe I just need to wait a bit for Asus to push Android-3.2.1 to the Tablet ? (I have no idea how that works). Anyway, wireless with our home LAN is working. My wife was able to read files on the Transformer from her Windows7 Lenovo (with both Tablet and her laptop being on the same Wireless LAN). Visa versa was not possible as her Windows7 Zone Alarm fire alarm blocked the Transformer from seeing share files, and that was not something easy for my wife to change (maybe some other time).

    The Transformers Android browser just worked on the Internet. Nothing much to say there.

    Some applications

    I set up the Transformer's email program to download (but not delete) my pop-email and also access my hotmail email. I tested reading some emails with attachments and could open JPG and PDF attachment files with no problem (I opened the PDF attachment with Polarus Office). I installed a scientific calculator (at my wife's suggestion) and Installed a chess program (stockfish) and of course flash video. It was not long before my wife was on the phone to a Thai friend who has an iPad2, noting 'our' Transformer could play Flash video (she tested first prior to phoning) while her friend with the iPad2 has been complaining about the lack of iPad2 Flash support. < gulp > ... Note the 'our' in bold red! Already its graduated from 'my' Transformer to 'our' Transformer !

    We installed Skype and it worked for voice. We have not tried video yet with Skype.

    Transfer files via mini-SD Card

    I copied some files to the Transformer via a mini-SD card. One thing I noted was the mini-SD card did not work in my Dell Studio 1537 laptop running openSUSE-11.3 (with an SD card adapter) but the mini-SD card did work in the same Dell Studio 1537 laptop running openSUSE-11.3 with a USB stick adapter. Strange. For testing I copied an MS-Word document (old XP format), Power point presentation (old XP format), and some videos (MP4 @ 720p and high 8000 Kbs bit rate, MPG file (NTSC DVD compliant) at lower 1000 Kbs bit rate, and a MKV file of 480p and at 1400 Kbs bit rate).

    Office application

    The Transformer with Polarus Office application opened the MS-Word and Powerpoint documents with no problem and displayed them well. Editing was possible. This will be VERY handy for business, once I get the HDMI to VGA adapter so I can drive presentation projectors in a conference room.

    Video playback

    Playing videos were another story. The MP4 @ 720p and 8000 Kbs file (which I copied to the Transformer) played with brilliant colours and resolution BUT it stuttered in the video playback (audio was smooth) making it less useful. Neither the MPG nor the MKV would play, ... likely a codec issue.

    I then installed the free moboplayer from the app store which recommended armv7_vfpv3 codec package (which I also installed) and with moboplayer I was able to play both the MKV (480p @ 1400 Kbs bit rate) and the MPG (dvd compliant at 1000 Kbs bit rate). That was good news ! I can see myself putting videos on this Transformer to play while in transit on business trips (when not reviewing documents with Polarus office). I do note that the higher definition/quality MP4 video (720p @ 8000 Kbs bit rate) still played with the same problem ... ie again the video stuttered. IMHO 720p at a high 8000 Kbs bit rate is beyond the Transformer's capability. I need to play a bit with different bit rates to see what bit rate at 720p is playable on the Transformer.

    Misc

    I noted that I need to order the USB adapter (and dockingstation/keyboard) before I can do any testing with openSUSE connectivity compatibility.

    Tonight I will likely order (1) USB adapter, and (2) HDMI to VGA adapter. The keyboard/docking station order may wait a few more days. I have a business trip in just under 2 weeks and it would be great to have those adapters for that trip.

    Transformer attached to its 'dockingstation' keyboard:
    Updated 05-Nov-2011 at 05:15 by oldcpu
  12. oldcpu's Avatar
    Network Printing from Tablet now setup ....

    I ended up installing an Android app called 'PrintBot', and all I had to do was
    • enter my printer's IP address
    • enter the printing 'standard' (I may have that term wrong) which for my Network printer is 'jet direct'
    • select my HP printer from a drop down list

    and I printed a test page.

    I do not know yet which Android apps can take advantage of this.