Android and therefore Linux is finally emerging as a major PC operating system. Tablets like Motorola Xoom, Motorola Atrix, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablets already put Linux/Android in a more active role on tablets while Android has just taken top position in the smartphones market. But the clincher will be the emergence of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer as the dominant Android tablet and possible replacement of iPad 2 as the number one seller in tablets by the end of this year. Here is the what and why about the Asus Eee Pad Transformer:
The Asus Eee Pad Transformer is the first tablet to get docking totally right. This is a brilliant naming convention because it invokes the Transformer movie with the Eee Pad’s nifty ability to easily attach and detach a keyboard+track pad+2 more USB ports+battery. In short the Eee Pad is the dockable tablet so many consumers have been looking for. And the fine points that Asus has been able to refine over the past 3-4 years in the Netbook market make this tablet the Real Deal of dockable tablets. Just consider the following specs:
OS – Android 3.x Honeycomb powered
CPU – Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core running at 1GHz
Size – 271 x 171 x 12.98 mm
Weight – 685 gms
Memory – 1GB
Storage – 16/32GB, 1microSD slot
Storage with dock – 2 USB ports, 1SD card slot – unlimited storage
Storage in the Cloud – Unlimited for 1 year, ($3US + $30US/100GB) per month after 1 year– see here for details.
Display – 10.1″ 1280 x 800 pixels with tough glss, 178 degree viewing angle for IPS LCD screen
Cameras – 1.2 MPixel front-facing camera, 5 MPixel rear-facing camera.
Audio – SRS Premium Sound, stereo speakers, high quality mic
Media Interfaces – 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone/Mic-in), 1 x microSD slot, 1 mini HDMI 1.3a
Sensors – G-Sensor, light sensor, gyroscope, e-compass, GPS
Battery Life – 9.5hours, with dock 16 hours
Data networking – WLAN email@example.comGHz, Bluetooth V2.1+EDR
Docking station – keyboard, touchpad, 2 USB 2.0 ports, Dockingport, multi-card reader (MMC/SD/SDHC), 24.4Wh battery adds 7 more hours to battery life
Software – Multitasking, Flash 10.2, ASUS Launcher, MyLibrary, MyNet, MyCloud, File manager, PC Sync, Polaris Office Suite [97-2007 .doc, .xls, .ppt read/write support]
Pricing – $399 tablet alone +16GB storage, $550 with docking station
The Best Tablet on Price and Specs
First, the prices in the US are marked in red because they are very aggressive and still have not been made official. However, consider that the Asus Eee Netbook PC 1215T with AMD Athlon K125(1.70GHz), 12.1″ WXGA screen, 2GB DDR3 Memory and 320GB HDD sells for $365 – and then maybe these prices are plausible. So if they stand, these prices are $100 less than the comparable iPad 2 and $125 less than the Motorola Xoom with its lesser docking station and screen visibility.
Second, the specs are also very impressive. When compared with our Top of the Tablets review from March 2 of this year, the Asus Eee Pad comes out on top in 5 categories and is always above average in the complete set of tablet specs. At 13mm versus 10mm thin the Eee Pad is not as anorexic as the iPad 2 but it is only 90gms heavier but has double the battery life and qudruple the RAM.
Asus is deliberately pitching the Eee Pad as not just a media consumption device but also as a working productivity machine. Asus has a website already devoted to selling the Eee Pad to college students as a laptop replacement. The idea is not only is the Eee Pad economical in comparison to other tablets but it also delivers inexpensive software free or very much cheaper than the PC equivalents. Fianlly, Acer is taking advantage of Android and pitching the Eee Pad as machine that users can do useful work on with its free Galaxy Office and a variety of other software productivity tools. Think replacement for a PC.
Android/Linux as Better Client OS
Currently Android 3.0 Honeycomb delivers a very good media consumption experience with greater browsing, Flash, and Java support. The latter combination along with Adobe Air means better app support than iOS and comparable to webOS. Meanwhile, the world is still waiting for the ARM processor versions of Windows 8. And likely it will not be until this time next year for the first of that experience. But the crucial questions on Windows 8/ARM is 1)how many non Microsoft apps will be available to run there, 2)how much memory will Win 8/ARM and its Win apps require, 3)how responsive will they be and 4)how much energy will Win 8/ARM burn? That is a lot of uncertainty for software developers who were closed out of a lot of PC markets from utilities to gaming by Redmond.
In contrast to the Win 8/ARM, developers already know is that Honeycomb 3.0 allows for 9-10 hours of batter life with 16-17 hours in a docked version like Eee Pad; has superior multi-tasking performance, offers a full range of sensors and the APIs to drive them and delivers a multi-touch UI with a range of Java, Flash, and HTML5 tools to support development there. What that translates to is now Android is the superior client OS experience for developers right now . And unlike Microsoft or Apple, Google will not drive you out of the market or take 30% of your sales dollar. This means that for developers Android is the place to be – and over time that will translate into better apps for Android users.
But Honeycomb 3.0 is decried for not having native Android apps. Well, many Android apps treat the added screen real estate intelligently and run well there. Second, the availability of 4 development avenues – Android SDK, Java, Flash and HTML5 gives developers a wider selection of choices which augurs well. The availability of such tools as Android on Eclipse and Intellj, Flash Catalysts and Flex, plus HTML5 in several IDEs including Dreamweaver and NetBeans among others means that there are good tools configured for Android . Expect more great apps to appear
Finally Tegra 3 based devices will see quadcore and 5 times the speed of the Tegra 2 by this Christmas or early 2012. In addition, the ARM processor that so much mobile is built on will reach server capacity in 2013. Then the only constraints on Android will be RAM and diskspace – but even diskspace limitations have begun to meltaway. Ye Editor suspects there will be a quite a few more dockable tablets like the Eee Pad on the market and so the combo of USB linkable SSD drives and more Cloud space like Asus one yar of free unlimited storage – disk space will not be an issue. Thus, the Asus EeePad and other competitive dockable tablets a) will sell like hot cakes and b) will likely boost Android/Linux to the rare position of becoming a major client OS on the World market.
By the way, ye Editor is so confident of these projections, a bet of 1 US Benjamin is proposed with Engadget’s Vlad Savov who gave the ?Asus Eee Pad Transformer a just barely 7/10 review today. The bet: 4Q 2011 sales of Eee Pad tablet and dockable version exceed those of the iPad 2.