Now With Honeycomb 3.1
No 3.1? Not A Major Problem
We already dug deep into the Honeycomb UI in our Xoom coverage. If you're not familiar with Honeycomb, consider starting there. Everything from navigation, app installation, syncing, and screenshots are covered. In a nutshell, Honeycomb refers to Android version 3.0, which is a newer version of the software than what you'd find on an Android-based phone employing version 2.3 (Gingerbread).
Perhaps you're already aware that several Android-based tablets have Honeycomb 3.1 upgrades available. Last week, a few A500 owners reported that they were receiving an over-the-air (OTA) update for the A500, but we weren't able to confirm availability on our A500. As of today, though, Acer is providing Honeycomb 3.1 to all A500 owners.
Overall, the changes in 3.1 are relatively tame. Widgets are now resizable, though this only applies to the Gmail, calendar, and bookmark widgets. In addition, the multitasking switcher now holds the last 18 apps (up from five).
Honeycomb 3.1 adds broader USB support. This is an important selling point for the A500 because of its full-sized USB port. However, USB was functioning well in Honeycomb 3.0, so the 3.1 update really only contributes USB mouse support.
It's great fun, has a great battery life compared to my laptops and I just enjoy it.
I take it to college (I do I.T Cert IV, Diploma next year) and it's very handy for drafting documentation when working with the computers and taking notes.
If I'm to pay a significant fee for a niche product, it had better be really good at a specific purpose. Better at it, in fact, than other, cheaper products. I got my kindle despite the fact that you can read ebooks on computers, smart phones, ipods, etc, because it damn well did a great job of being a book. It did it better than these other devices. The form factor combined with the great battery life and easy on the eyes screen made it worth it. Plus, you can read it in sunlight.
What then, is the purpose of buying a tablet over, say, a netbook? The tablet is geared at media consumption, but it doesn't do a significantly better job of that than the netbook. In fact, it does a worse job of it, allowing me fewer media options, while simultaneously costing more and having less storage, with an OS that won't run proper, useful software.
Maybe they'll get better, but right now, they're overpriced toys.
I bought the A500 under the assumption Skype, Netflix, HBO2Go, and Xfinity were standard apps across the Android offering. Turns out Netflix and Skype will run on newer phones with earlier versions of Android, but not this one.
Xfinity and HBO2Go are yet to be created for Android.
I worked with the network admin at my job to get this running on the network there (we are currently evaluating handhelds in the workplace) and we found it doesn't work on all PEAP/Wep Wifi network combos. It won't even connect out of the box. I read up on 'Advanced Network tools' for Android and found that people on earlier versions of Android were able to connect to this type of network using these tools. By golly they didn't work on this version.
Additionally, those on screen keypads are frustrating. The lag is apparent if you have any typing ability beyond the 40wpm mark. If you type too quickly, it won't even pick up your laters as I think it recognizes them as "mistake touches".
I've owned my A500 for around 2 months now. I've picked it up to use it around 10 times since I've gotten it primarily only because someone else was on my favorite laptop and I wanted to browse the web. I keep waiting for the update to let me do all the things I still can't and it hasn't come.
The finger swipe games are fun for people who are into that. I'm not. There are plenty available.
Again, I can't stand Apple, but out of the box we got the iPad on our corporate network and it plays Netflix, HBO2go, Xfinity and does Skype. While the hardware seems extremely advanced with these Android tablets, it seems the newer OSs are taking steps back in time.
As a result, I've found this device to be an over-sized mediocre gaming device (like a DS) with OK web browsing capabilities since not everything works in the browsers on Android. It has plenty of potential since the hardware is great, but these things aren't ready for prime time. Look for mine on Ebay come late November if they don't pick up on real software support for these things or if I still can't connect to my corporate network.
I sum it up as such:
Unrealized potential means nothing!
"Oh he was always so smart, but he just didn't apply himself" - kind of like that.
Out of every tablet I have played with so far(sorry havent seen a Galaxy yet) the Asus is a homerun and there is absolutely no chance I would buy the Iconia or any other Android tablet besides the Asus.