Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First Impressions...Part 2 of 2

As a quick refresher to people new to the blog, I've been eye balling the ASUS TF300T Tablet for quite some time. Mainly for education purposes, since my Kindle Fire/ iPod Touch handled all of my mobile entertainment needs. The screen size on both devices and the limitations of the processors rendered both devices useless for me to use for school. As an Androgeek, I've always disliked the walled garden approach by both devices as well as not being able to add memory. I don't really like the cloud resources when it comes to something as important as school work. Adding to my woes was the fact that if I tried to open links in the text book to the companion site it would FC the book on the KF and on the iPod it would simply close, losing my place in the books, my notes and highlighting.  It was also hit and miss if the schools app would work that particular day or not. So began the great tablet hunt.

Jumping to the present, I'd purchased the Lenovo A2109 for the specs and the low price, however there were some technical glitches that I really couldn't deal with, so I swapped it for the ASUS TF300T 16 GB. In part 1 of this article I discussed the extreme similarities under the hood. However this part is going to be about how the hands on experience differed.

I'll answer some of the first questions that I believe most people would ask, how is the hardware? Heck yes, there is an incredible difference in the screens. Even with the A2109 on the brightest setting and the TF300 on mid range it was like going from VHS to DVD on an HD TV! However the A2109 speakers' logical placement and SRS sound was far nicer than the one speaker set up of the TF300. Yet the camera on the A2109 was crappy to say the least. 3.0 MP is low but I've seen web cam pics look sharper and clearer than that. The 8.0 MP on the TF300 is AWESOME, clear, crisp and fast. I didn't really worry about the camera too much on a tablet because my phone has a 8.0 MP camera and I can see myself taking it out before I would the tablet, but after seeing a picture taken with the TF300 camera alongside one taken with my phone, the tablet's picture actually seemed sharper and crisper. It was just a quick point and shoot. But later on in the week I'm going to take some pictures with both in different conditions and let the readers decide.

Next, both tablets were using ICS ( even though around 4-5 hours after I got the T300 it did the JB OTA update.) but the manufacturers' UI impacted that as well. I did like a lot of Lenovo's stock widgets, they were already grouped a common sense way, and allowed for adding more apps up to 12 IIRC, the only thing I didn't like about them is that you couldn't change the name of the folder, or least it wasn't at all intuitive. Where as the UI on the ASUS was very simple and clean and also has folders. There was only one that was already on the home screen, it was presented in a very minimal and elegant way., and you can change the title of the folder. However I can't really figure out to create my own. I don't know if it a JB thing  ( this is the 1st device I've ever used with JB) or my lack of experience with the tablet.

Finally the speed with which the home screens switch, the widgets and apps open are clearly much better than on the TF300. As a matter of fact while I was updating and downloading apps from the Play (tm) market the A2109 FC several times, granted it was about 50 apps I updated/installed with in an hour or 2 but the TF300 gave me only 1 message that the market wasn't responding, I chose wait and within seconds it continued with no more hiccups. 

Now onto the function that I purchased it for, school, specifically the text books. The A2109 seemed to load the chapters faster, but again most of the links didn't work. Clicking on them didn't FC the BookShelf app, it simply refused to open the links. My schools mobile web site opened every time and I was able to navigate the site with ease until it came to a part that directed me to the text. Again the links refused to open. On the TF300 the book seemed much slower to load at first, but I think that was because it was syncing all the notes and highlights along with finding my place in the book. I'll be taking note of this in the future.  Yet, every single link both from the text and the mobile app worked flawlessly. It was actually more responsive than using my laptop.

To sum it up, I'm not sorry that I swapped out the A2109 for the TF300, and I'm not sorry that I gave the A2109 a try. Screen issues aside, it is a solid. well made tablet, and if I could have afforded it I would have kept it as well. As an entertainment device only it's well worth the 259.00 as it shares the same specs as the Nexus 7, and bench marks scores it well above most big names. Maybe a good ROM would fix the screen flickering, and when it goes down some more as it's bound to, I'll probably pick it up as one to test out my budding ROM experiments.

I'm also linking to 2 more great articles about both tablets, I found them honest and I hope you will too.

Android Police - A2109 by Aaron Gingrich

Android Community -TF300T by Michael Crider

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