Category: Gadgets

Asus EEE Pad Transformer (with dock)

Yeej! Yesterday I read on a Dutch forum that the Asus EEE Pad transformer with dock arrived in the Netherlands. So immediately I drove to Amsterdam to pick one up ;-) And my, my what a fancy device it is!

The specs

The tablet uses the 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, has 1GB RAM, a Gorilla Glass multitouch screen (10.1 inches), 1.2 and 5MP cameras, gyroscope, compass, GPS, HDMI output and so on.

Keyboard dock

The keyboard is little more than a dock with a trackpad and battery (without the dock, the battery life drops to 9.5 hours). With the dock Asus claims a battery life of 16 hours.

Once the dock is attached Android presents a mouse cursor. This actually works very good, especially when writing emails and doing quick navigation.

Micro + SD

The device itself has a MicroSD expansion slot. The keyboard dock includes a SD slot. I have not tried them yet. One of the main reasons for not buying the 32GB version was the availability of the memory expansion slot. The device will cost you 100 euro more for the 32GB version while 32GB of MicroSD memory only cost a much as 45 euro.

System update

After the initial setup I got a notification that a system update was available. So I installed it an rebooted the device. For some reason it gave me a black screen after the update installation so I had to reset it after the update by pressing the power button. When it started the device again I noticed that Android 3.1 was installed on it, yeah baby!

Multiple Google accounts

What I like already is that it is very easy to setup multiple Google accounts and switch between them in application. Both my wife and I will be using the device.

Agenda

The build in Google Agenda is one of the features I use most often to synchronize appointments between multiple calendar. The Agenda app in Honeycomb has a fresh and clean interface that is wel usable on tablet format.

Market

The market app is a bit different in Honeycomb from what I am used to on my Android 2.2 phone. One flaw in the Honeycomb market is that you are not able to rate applications in the market app.

Not all apps are ready for Honeycomb yet. Some apps work but a lot of them need to be updated to work on the 3.x version of Android. I have sent a few crash reports to developers already ;-)

More to come

I have been playing around with it today but it runs very smooth. I will post some impressions later this week or next week.

I’ll Keep you posted!

Xtreamer Ultra (first impressions)


29th of april I ordered an Xtreamer Ultra via the Xtreamer webshop. Customers who ordered this device before the 1st of May received a few extra`s including a remote keyboard and WIFI antenna.

Last week the device finally arrived straight out of Hong Kong to my home address in the Netherlands. In this article I will share some of my first impressions and fixes to get the device in a usable state.

Since I was not at home on the first delivery attempt, DHL left me a note that they would try to deliver the device the next day but the note also stated I had to pay 67 euro VAT! WTF?! This was the first surprise. The second delivery attempt was also unsuccessful (who the f*ck is at home during the day?!) so I had to pick up the device at the local DHL service point.

Once I finally had the device at home I unpacked it and was a bit surprised by the size. I am used to a WD TV Live which is ultra small, the Xtreamer is Ultra big when comparing it to the WD TV Live. But it does not look to bad.

I inserted the supplied USB stick in a free USB slot and fired up the device using the remote, but no luck. The remote was not doing that much. I seems that there is an issue with the bios of the first batch of Xtreamer Ultra devices and powering up the device using the remote. Fortunately there is already a bios fix for this, check the following link.

So I powered on the device by hand and tried to select XBMC to start, but the splash is so ultra fast that it booted into the Ultra OS, which is a modified version of Ubuntu. The Ultra OS is absolutely not usable when you are using the Xtreamer Ultra as a HTPC. Resolution way to high, and fonts way to small.

So a did a reset and tried to boot XBMC. Thats when I noticed that the supplied keyboard was doing jack sh!t. How little did I know that the mini keyboard contains a USB stick that you have to pull out of the keyboard and put into a free USB slot. After that the keyboard works ok, but I would not recommend it. The keyboard response is not that great.

Ok, now I had the keyboard working I selected XBMC to boot but nothing happened. Reboot… select Boxeee… nothing happened. WTF?!!!!!!!! At this point I was really pissed off… what a crappy device this is?!!!!! So I started Googling and I found I was not the only one with problems.

I stumbled upon an OpenELEC version of XBMC for the Xtreamer Ultra (latest versions can be found here). Right now I am using this version (updated to r7188). OpenELEC is an embedded Linux version for XBMC. You can install it on your USB stick. With this installer you can create a OpenELEC installation. So basically you need 2 USB sticks or one USB stick (with the installer) and a HDD. I created an USB stick and fired up the device. Finally some results, XBMC booted ok and I got to play a bit with XBMC on the Xtreamer Ultra, yeah!

First I needed to adjust the overscan compensation through the Video calibration screen. Once this was correct and I could view the entire image I was ready to watch a movie. But my enthusiasm was not for long, when I started the first movie I had no audio… I used the Optical audio cable that I had been using for years on my WD TV Live. But no luck. I tried different settings and after two days I gave up. I was ready to send back the device. As a last option I tried a different Optical cable and…. there was sound!!!!!!!! My XBMC Audio Output settings:

  • Audio Output: Optical / Coax
  • Speaker Configuration: 5.1
  • Boost volume level on downmix: off
  • Dolby Digital (AC3) capable receiver: on
  • DTS capable receiver: on
  • Audio output device: HDA Intel iec958
  • Passthrough output device: HDA Intel iec958

Happy as a child I fired up a movie (The Hit List) and started watching….I immediately noticed that there was something wrong with the video… there was a vertical sync issue with the video, btw: I did not know this existed until I started Googling. Apparently you can enabled vertical sync to be always on in XBMC, this solved the issue for me. You can enable this via System Settings > Video Output and select Vertical blank sync to Always enabled.

This left me to the only remaining piece, the remote that was not working. On a forum I found that after the bios update, removing the batteries from the remote for a minute and putting it back in made the remote working again… pffff.

So… now one week after I received my device I finally have it up and running. It caused me a lot of headaches already but it is working now. My short conclusion is that this device is capable of being a HTPC but it is not for mainstream users. It has way too much flaws that only geek (am I one?) can solve.

A few links to other resources:

Android Market on POV MobII tegra 10″ Tablet (updated)

A few days ago I bought a Point of View Android based Tablet. The device has a nVidia Tegra 2 chipset and is capable of playing HD content. The Point of View MobII basically is a rebranded Advent Vega Tablet with some extras.

Since I have a HTC Desire Android based smartphone I wanted to install the apps that I already knew like, for example, Angry Birds, YouTube, K9 mail, Skype, WinAmp, etc. I was really pissed off to find out that the Market app is not available on the POV MobII tablet but instead has the AndroidPit market build-in. Thank god for the Internet, there is a workaround available ;-) I found the solution on a Dutch forum, click on this link.

What you need to do to get the Market working

Download a zip file called market_update0.zip from http://itablet.freeoda.com, this is the same link the AppDownload application will open. The Android Forum tab contains a link to the market update, this will open an anoying site that requires you to wait for 60secs for the file to download. I`ve uploaded the file to my DropBox account you can download it here directly.

I copied the zip file to a MicroSD card and inserted the SD card into the tablet. Make sure NOT to extract the files and install the .apk files manually, this wont work. It is also not necessary to root the device! Just put the downloaded zip on the MicroSD card.

Once the ZIP is on the MicroSD card and the card is inserted into the table, go the to the device Settings and then select to the Software Tool. Select the Software Update option and point to the market_update0.zip file. The device will now reboot and apply the software update. After the reboot you have a working Market.

Market Fix
I have already installed most of the apps I know from my Android Phone. On a side note, not all the apps are compatible with the tablet resolution, I also noticed that some apps are not available in the store. This will get you most missing apps from the market, except some “protect market apps”

Setting–>Manage Applications–>All–>Market (Clear Cache then ‘Force Stop’ — DO NOT clear data)
Setting–>Manage Applications–>All–>Google Services Framework (Clear data then ‘Force Stop’)

REBOOT again

After the reboot you can download Google Maps and Gmail right from the market.

Advent Vega internals
Since the PoV and Advent Vega are identical, check out the following page if you want to view the internals of your PoV MobII. Warning, opening the device is at own risk: http://android.modaco.com/content/advent-vega-vega-modaco-com/324250/vega-internals/

Update
Also make sure to check out the latest version of the firmware: http://downloads.pointofview-online.com/Drivers/

Update (2)
Make sure to check out the great work of MoDaCo who build a ROM for the Advent Vega. This device is hardware identical to the Point of View. Try installing this ROM (at your own risk) if you want to get the Google Services working like Market, Calendar etc. Check out this forum.

Enjoy!!