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Displaying items by tag: Asus

Tuesday, 27 December 2011 07:13

Asus' P9X79 Deluxe stops by for a Photo Shoot

board07As 2011 comes to a close the big name in desktop CPUs is Intel. AMD’s Bulldozer failed to impress the market and while it is not a terrible product it does not have what it takes to grab the CPU performance crown from Intel. The top product for Intel is its new Sandy Bridge E CPUs and the X79 chipset. We have taken a look at Intel’s X79 Desktop board and Gigabyte’s G1.Assassin2. Both of these products let the Sandy Bridge E stretch its legs and run. Now we have our third X79 board in the lab. This one is from Asus and is the upper end of their consumer line. The board in question is the Asus P9X79 Deluxe. This board features the standard Intel LAN (you get dual LAN but only one is Intel in this case) as well as Asus’ BTGO (Bluetooth Go) 3.0. This is a continuation of the Bluetooth that Asus has been putting on their boards since the beginning of the year (we saw this at CES 2011). Now they are also dropping in Wireless (just like most other X79 boards), but wireless and Bluetooth are not all that Asus has packed into this board. So let’s take a look at exactly what you get with the Asus P9X79 Deluxe.

HP-TouchPad-TabletThe tablet market has pretty much exploded. It seems that everyone has one or wants to build one. ARM (the company that holds the IP for 99% of the CPU technology that goes into tablets and smart phones) is enjoying a huge success. So much so that now Intel and AMD have set their sights on them, but we will get into that later. ARM’s designs as produced by companies like Samsung, Texas Instrument, nVidia, and many others have improved and are even encroaching on the x86 market.

Published in Editorials

Tansformer_and_Dock02One of the issues in the modern consumer electronics market is of course competition, but it is not the biggest issue. No, believe it or not the biggest issue in the world of consumer electronics is the throw-away mentality for most consumers. Back in the 1950s this problem was visited on the car industry. The automobile makers (in the US) were pushing people to replace their car every two years (yea that is true). This caused many cars to become quickly outdated (in many cases long before their time was really up). By the mid to late 60s the trend had changed because people did not have the money for this and the banks were starting to tighten up on their lending practices. The automotive industry had to change tactics and started pushing longer last vehicles (with better trade in and resale values).

Published in Editorials

board04So the X79 is out along with the fastest CPU family on the planet (consumer CPU that is). This means that all of the P67, H67, H61 and Z68 boards are history right? Well you would be wrong. There are still a large number of motherboards out there from the P67 lineup that will not only turn your head, but also perform well enough to satisfy 99% of the enthusiast and gaming community. We have one of these in the house from Asus and are getting ready to see what it can do with our Core i5 2600k (you know the one that can hit 5.1GHz).  So let’s dive into the $300 Asus Maximum IV Extreme and see if it can drag your eyes away from the sexy new thing on the market.

Wednesday, 09 November 2011 18:24

Tegra 3 prospects looking up

tegradimeToday is a good day for nVidia and their Tegra 3 SoC. Although we previously told you about the Asus Transformer Prime earlier it still bears repeating that today is the official launch. We can expect the new quad core Android Tablet to hit the stores in the US in December (let’s hope they make it before Black Friday). Unfortunately the rest of the world will have to wait a little bit.

For those of you checking your bank accounts we will update you with some more information on the new device. The Transformer Prime will be shipping with a Tegra 3 “Kal-el” SoC which packs four processing cores that runs between 500MHz and 1.4GHz. This dynamic allocation of performance is responsible for the great battery life that has been talked about on the web (by nVidia and Asus). If you are running HD video you will get a very nice 12 hours out of your battery.

Other specs include 1GB of RAM, a 1280x800 Super IPS Display protected by Gorilla glass, mini HDMI, an 8MP f/2 camera, and a MicoSD slot. It will ship with Honeycomb (3.2) but Asus has already promised an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich as soon as it is ready.

The Prime will come in two main flavors a 32GB model at $499 and a 64GB model at $599. Both will still bring you in under the cost for the same sized iPad 2.

The other exciting news from the Tegra 3 world is the confirmation that HTC is indeed making a smart phone with this quad core monster in it. So far the details are light but it looks like this new phone will have a 4.7-inch screen that will be capable of 720p HD resolutions. This will be the first phone from HTC that has not had a Qualcomm SoC under the hood so it will be interesting to see how it all turns out.  

It looks like the Tegra 3 will enjoy a very good end of 2011 and a great 2012. We will try to get you more information on both of these products in the next few days.

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Published in News

trnas08Asus is known for taking a concept and running with it. At least in the last few years they have been that way. When the idea of the “netbook” entered the market the thought was a cheap, light device for content consumption that could compete with some of the smaller products from Apple like the iBook. Many companies jumped in on this market bandwagon, but only one really went the whole distance (meaning that most companies stayed in APAC or the EU). Asus decided to develop the EEE line up and then pushed it to the global market.


After this daring move (and in less than three years) Asus went from an unknown on the mobile market to one of the highest rated companies for customer satisfaction (based on return rates and consumer complaints). Now we are seeing something very similar in the tablet market. There is no doubt that Apple owns the lion’s share right now but Asus has put out not just one, but three compelling competitors for the market to feast on. At the very top and for the Windows fan is the EEE Slate EP121 with a dual Core i5 ultra mobile CPU, 4GB of RAM and up to a 64GB SSD for storage. Beneath this we find the Transformer which is a 10.1 tablet with a keyboard/dock and battery. The last in the group is the slider, another tablet and keyboard combination but this one has the keyboard under the display and it… you guessed it slides out for use.

Now you might be wondering why I am giving you a rundown of Asus’ tablet offerings. Well the reason is simple; you cannot understand where a company is going until you know where they have been. Let’s take a look at what we have and what Asus has said publicly to gauge where they are headed in the tablet market for 2012.

For the Windows fans we have the current EEE Slate EP121. This is a great product, but there are many that look at its size and weight as an obstacle. In my experience with it there are times when it is just too big. Added to this is the complete lack of any usable accessories for the product. There are no cases for it, no stands, nothing. It makes using it troublesome for the average user.

Fortunately Asus is working on this issue. We have heard that they are planning at least two Windows 8 tablets and if the information we have is correct one of them will be x86-64 while the other is some form of ARM CPU (most likely Tegra).  This will put the Windows user’s minds at ease.  

For the Android market we know that the Transformer Prime will already hit the market in just 8 days. This device will be thinner, lighter and much more powerful with a quad-core Tegra under the hood. For the rest of the lineup we find that Asus has plans for two “Hero” products in Q1 2012 that will run Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich. One of these (so the rumor goes) could be a 3D display model (or maybe both will be).  nVidia is big on 3D and there have been some outstanding work done to bring the glassless 3D Panels up in quality and down in price. I would not be surprised to see a 3D enabled Quad Core Tegra under the hood of one of these two “Hero” products next year.

What we are seeing is the same thought process that Asus has used again and again with their products. They actually do some good market research and then they use the tried and tested shotgun approach. They launch multiple products and see which ones take off. In the case of the tablet; all three have but for different reasons (because different markets want different things). This is actually a great win for Asus as they can now work to perfect these products like they have done with the EEE PC line up which is now moving into another generation.

This is what Asus does though, we have heard about it since we started our relationship with Asus back in the late 90’s. They were not quite where they are now, but the one thing they talked about consistently and asked about all the time was “what can we do to improve this”. Now they have a much larger market to ask that question of and they also can watch what their competitors do to gain an insight into how to build on their product portfolio. It has been interesting to watch them at work and to also see how their products impact the market (we will talk more about that later).

We will be keeping an eye on the tablet market as well as watching the development of Windows 8 to see how the chips fall and if Asus will become the leader in the “non-Apple” world of the tablet both x86 and ARM.

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Published in Editorials

asiadday22011keynote2004Asus had some great news during the AsiaD conference today. Not only did they finally show off the next generation Transformer (now called the Transformer Prime) but they also announced Ultrabooks, the Padfone and gave us a rough idea of when we can expect to see Ice Cream Sandwich for their line of Android Tablets. Now that we have set the table let’s dive in and see how each one of these tastes.

To kick things off Jonney Shih brought out the new Transformer Prime. This is the one that everyone has been talking about since rumors first popped up about a new Quad Core tablet in early September. Then just yesterday Asus dropped a nice teaser video on the internet that again ran around like mad. Now we are finally getting to see this new device. Although not a complete launch (that is on the 9th of November) Jonney showed use a 10 inch tablet with an 8.3mm thick slate. Under the hood is a Quad Core Tegra 3 SoC which should be more than capable of handling just about anything you throw at it. Although the amount of memory has not been fully disclosed we are betting on 2GB as that is in keeping with the typical 512MB per core that nVidia likes to have. Other items of interest on the Prime are a mini-HDMI, an SD Card Slot… pretty much the same thing you find on the current Transformer.

Next up is something that we have been wondering about since we saw a video explaining Asus’ direction for the coming years. This is the Padfone, at the time it show it was all concept art and not much else. However now we find out that it is going to launch in Q1 2012 and should ship with Android 4.0. For those of you that are no familiar with this it is basically a “super phone” with a 10.1-inch tablet that it can dock into. Think of the Atrix with quite a bit more style and class.

Last on the list of cool things coming from Asus was an announcement of Ultrathin Netbooks that will look something like the Zenbook, only smaller. According to Shih the netbook is not dead but does need to evolve to survive. We will try to get some more information about these items (especially the Transformer Prime and Padfone) in the next few weeks and get this out to you as soon as we get it.

Source and Image Credit Engadget

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Published in News

trnas07In our second dive into the Non-Apple Tablet market we take a look at one of the more popular Android based tablets available right now. This is the Asus EEE Pad TF101 known more affectionately as the Transformer. This 10.1-inch Tegra 2 sporting device was first shown off at CES earlier this year. It generated quite a bit of interest as it not only works as a tablet but also has an available dock that lets you use it like a small netbook (and get a few extra hours of battery life).  The Transformer comes in two flavors; one with 16GB of internal storage and one with 32GB. Other than that they are identical. You get the dual 1GHz Tegra 2 SoC (which features an nVidia GPU core and Cuda Acceleration for Flash) plus 3D SRS surround sound, MicroSD and SD Card readers (the SD card comes with the Dock) and much more. The best part of all of this is that you can get the 16GB Transformer with Dock for only $50 more than an iPad 2 16GB WiFi. Now the question is, is it worth that much and have we found a non-Windows tablet that is anything other than a toy? Read on to find out.

Published in Mobile Computing
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 23:26

Windows 8 on the EEE Slate Days 2 and 3

win8Ok, so I missed telling you about the installation and setup of all of the tools that I use on a daily basis. The two main ones that I have to have are Office and Photoshop. Office presented no issue at all (I did not expect it to) and the install was pretty quick,… considering.  The biggest problem I had in getting things installed was (and still is) the issue with the hot keys. It is FAR too easy to get stuck on a Metro UI screen that has NO WAY OF GOING BACK. This is a HUGE flaw in the OS and the UI. If you have no option to go back or way to bring up the OSK (On Scree Keyboard) then you have a useless UI. To keep moving forward and get everything installed I had to disable the Metro UI with a fun Registry hack. Tos get this done I had to plug in an external keyboard (again because the OSK cannot be manually launched with the hotkeys) run Regedit from a command prompt and then change the RPEnabled value from 1 to 0 in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ registry key.

After that things went a lot smoother although there were still times when I could not do anything because the OSK would not open up and there was no way to force it.  The rest of our productivity applications went in without a hitch. Windows Live Messenger, Skype, Canon Zoom Browser, Zune (yes Zune), even Daemon Tools worked well.  The last item we installed, but were leery of was VMWare’s Workstation 8. We use this for a small Mandriva install that I keep on a USB key. It is fun to tinker with and also is nice to have in case I need to examine files without too great a risk.

Day was uneventful on the installation range. However, we still cannot get the system fully operational. The lack of full audio support and the hot keys is huge for us on this tablet. There are just too many things that are not working without these.  

Observations; The Metro UI has been designed for a touch interface this is obvious by the simple icons and the easy slide that you have. However, Microsoft had better make some changes fast. The lack of a “back” or home button in the UI is a serious oversight and not one that I would have expected from Microsoft. The UI is also missing some other very important features; where is the run line? How can I run the command line if there is no option for an on screen keyboard on a touch screen?  Why do the most basic gestures not work on any of the Metro screens?
These items have pushed me back into using the no Metro UI for now and there are still plenty of hurdles to get over before we can consider this a success. Now that we have our basic productivity tools loaded we can begin to try and get to work.

Day -3

This one is a short entry; I was able to get the system going without too much of a fuss, but the lack of the OSK for many things is still a hindrance. One place where this stands out is using remote desktop. You can do everything you need to connect, but once you are in there is no way to type unless you plug in a keyboard. Again the simple lack of an OSK launcher or a working hot key button is killing the usefulness at this stage.  On the other hand when you can get it going the new OSK is brilliant. It is not quite a full QWERTY keyboard but when you press the “&123” you are greeted with a very nice layout for symbols and numbers. I love the 10-key layout for the number pad as it is perfect for entering in IP addresses and also performance numbers in Excel. Kudos to MS for this, now give us a back button in the Metro UI and an OSK launcher that works in all apps.

osk-01 osk-02
osk-03 osk-04


Other than my obvious frustration with not being able to do things I could do easily in Windows 7, the developer preview of Windows 8 is very quick and responsive. I am more than a little impressed with the speed of the OS even at this early stage. Now we just need to work with MS and Asus to get all of the functions of this EEE Slate EP121 working and things will be outstanding.

Check back for Day 4 when we try out Hyper-V on the EEE Slate.

Read our Day One observations

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Published in Mobile Computing

InstallDay one was a lot of prep work. The first thing I did was to download all of the drivers and utilities from Asus’ web site for my tablet. This was just in case I needed them to get everything working. Next was to back up my favorite tablet by using a system imaging software. I used the Acronis software that comes with the Kingston SSD Now kits. This worked great an in a little over an hour I had a full block level image of my old system.

Next  step was the actual installation. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the touch screen worked even during beginning phases of the install. Under Windows 7 (when I ran a full installation) I did not get full touch screen access, I had to have a keyboard plugged into one of the USB ports. This small victory had me in good spirits as I watched the installer do its job. The actual install only took about 20 minutes and boot time was amazing right around 8 seconds from power on to login screen. This is to be expected with a Core i5 470UM, 4GB of RAM and an 80GB Intel SSB under the hood. Once the installation was done I started to load up drivers….
Install-2
Here is where I ran into my first issue (and one that took almost 6 hours to get past). After installing the HotKey Service I would get an error at every boot. “Missing Asus ACPI Driver, Please install Asus ACPI Driver” The only option was OK, but you had to click it about 10 times before it would stop. I tried everything. I uninstalled the driver, reinstalled, ran compatibility mode, everything. In the end I had to disable automatic updates and set it to “download but let me chose when to install them”. Once that was done I had to install Microsoft Update (in place of Windows Update). Suddenly there was an update for the ACPI Utility Driver. I ran this update and the error went away.

Now, as this driver is needed for the hot keys on the device I figured we were all good to go. I was wrong. The button that brings up the on-screen keyboard does not work, The “home/application scroll” button only works like CTRL+ATL+DELETE and will not get you back to the start screen, and as a final item the volume buttons do not work. However, it is the keyboard and home button that is a deal breaker. This single item has stopped everything in its tracks. Without this functionality you get stuck in any of the Apps run on the Metro UI. If you open up the Weather App, there is no way to get back without the start button or a home button.  I am hoping to get in touch with Asus and see if there is anything they can offer in the way of help, after all Microsoft is testing this so there has to be a way around it. For right now I cannot find it and cannot move forward much without this option.
So for now we are stuck with the following items working;

The basic tablet features (touch screen etc)
Wireless
Full Video Support

Here is what is not working
Bluetooth
Full Audio (no microphone or line out)
No HotKeys

We will continue to plow on and work to get this operational before the time runs out on the developer preview. Check tomorrow night for our experiences with Day 2 – Installing productivity applications and hopefully a resolution to the hardware issues we are having.

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Published in Mobile Computing
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