Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CHEAP USB Extension cable for the ASUS Transformer

The usb cable supplied with the ASUS Transformer is very short . Ive found that in order to use an extension cable you need to have a USB 3 spec cable.

Easily found on Amazon I got this one(2M USB 3.0 Extension Cable, Blue) for £3.39 delivered and it works a treat. One end in the power pack and one end connected to the ASUS USB cable and..... Bob's yer uncle and Fanny's yer Aunt.

EUREKA......A spare cable and power pack for the ASUS Transformer.

Great news , Asus are finally stocking spare connector and power pack for the ASUS Transformer. Price is £25.99 if you use the code SUMMERSALE which gives £5 off. Thanks to the guys on the MoDaCo forums for posting this info.

Its a real relief to have the connector as it means that a possible point of failure , the breaking or loss of the cable could
have bricked the tablet , has gone away.

The spares can be found at this link to  the ASUS site

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We are going to Greece on holiday at the weekend , so not wanting to risk my Asus Transformer to the flight , the suncream , lager and sand I fired up the Samsung Netbook NC10 to load it with movies .

You know I really like the netbook, no compromises or dicking about with apps and video codecs , just load it up and it works

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Video players

The stock video player is a bit choosey over which formats it will play. It doesn't like DIVX it doesn't like MKV. The video player is hidden inside the gallery and  only shows thumbnails for the video format which it supports, in my case a disappointingly small number.  I had visions of having to re-code all of my videos.

But not at all I installed MOBOPLAYER and QQPLAYER from the Android market and thankfully they work well DIVX and MKV work faultlessly.

A slight problem is that neither Moboplayer nor QQPlayer allow the user to select the MicroSD card as the media folder. They wont browse to the microsd card.


The work around is to use a File explorer (I use ASTRO file manager) to set up some short cuts and to navigate to the files.

Then tap the file, a drop down menu appears choose from the list of players and launch the file.

Using the HDMI

To attach the ASUS Transformer to a TV you will need a miniHDMI cable. I got mine from EBAY and it works well. I'm of the opinion that digital cables are much of a muchness .As it’s a digital signal you don’t need a big fat pure copper cable that the HIFI zealots insist on for good analogue reproduction. The advert on EBAY said that the cable was 1.3 HDMI specification and as its on the internet I believe that its true.

I actually ended up buying two cables as the first one was 1.5m which is ok to play movies onto the Plasma screen with the tablet sitting next to the TV ,but not so good to play Angry Birds on the big screen whilst still holding the device, you are just too close. Do yourself a favour get a longer cable (3m )  , turn the volume up sit back from the screen so that you don’t pop your retinas ,and see Angry Birds on a 42 inch screen.

I love EBAY the cables cost £1.99 for the  1.5m and £8.95 for the  3m. (search for mini hdmi cable)

Plug one end into the socket on the left had side of the tablet and the other into a spare HDMI socket in the TV , the tablet automatically dims its screen and sends sound and picture to the TV. It works really well with movies playing as smooth as a Fishes chin. 

You have to try Angry Birds on a big screen , wait until Mum or the wife is out and crank up the volume

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Headset connector :Connect Microphone and Headset to Android Tablet

The ASUS Transformer has a 3.5mm  socket to allow a headset to be connected. Your bog standard headphones connects as usual . However the socket  is the same hole that you would use to connect a microphone. So to connect both headphones and microphone, such as the two 3.5mm jacks found on some Skype headsets , you need an adaptor.

It took me a while to find one at reasonable price there are a couple a white connectors and one called the Headset buddy which are around £10 to £14(no buddy of mine)  Be careful most of the adaptors available are designed to split the headphone output into two, and so allow two headphones to listen to the same music, this wont allow mike and headphone to work together.

I found this one on amazon costs around £5 delivered, called the Sandberg Headset convertor and does the job.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

SKYPE new version NO VIDEO what a bummer.

I have waited with interest for the new version of SKYPE to be released. The existing version supports audio calls and although the format of the screens do not make full use of the tablet screen resolution , the audio calls do work.

So today I downloaded the update from the Android market and I am absolutely gutted and disappointed to discover that it doesnt support video calls on the ASUS Transformer. The ASUS transformer has a forward facing camera and a large screen but no apps available support video calls .

The tablet is designed to be an ideal mobile conferencing platform  and the fragmentation of the market and the immature development of applications is choking the format.

My windows netbook runs Skype with video it cost me £200. My HTC phone runs Skype with audio why do I want to use a bigger device to do just the same.

Another example of an own goal by Android

What a crock of Eartha Kitt .

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cheer up you miserable blogger.

I have just reread my last posts and I am a little concerned that I may be coming over as a bit of a wingeing negative gimmer.

To redress the balance a bit what do I like about the ASUS Transformer?

  • The screen is beautiful , colours are bright , the high resolution makes photographs and videos beautiful. (make sure you install Moboplayer and QQplayer, both free from the android market, and you have support for many codecs such as DIVX and MKV).
  • Software is nippy.
  • Battery life with the tablet on its own is great, when you attach the keyboard , which has another battery built into it, the battery lasts for 12 hours plus. This is where the tablet scores over a laptop and my netbook.
  • Buy the keyboard dock, it adds 2 full sized USBs , the extra battery , a good fullsized keyboard and it acts as a stand for the tablet. When closed it protects the screen.
  • When mounted on the keyboard the device recognises a wireless mouse , I plugged in my Logitech Mouse,( it has the mini universal transmitter that plugs into the USB), and the mouse worked straight away without installation of any extra drivers. It also recognises full sized wired keyboard and a wired mouse each plugged into a different USB.
  • The keyboard makes the unit into a good netbook replacement for email, word processing and excel . The ASUS Transformer ships with Polaris Office which is a Microsoft Office compatible suit of programs.
  • It supports a wii remote control to play N64 Emulators.
  • Browsing with the tablet on your knee is great .
  • Media streaming from other PCs works smoothly.
So smile you cheerless blogger.
The Problem Connector : The curse of the ASUS Transformer.

The picture shows the proprietary connector used to charge the tablet and the keyboard. The tablet and the keyboard each have a socket to receive the connector and so can be charged individually or as a unit. News flash 24th August 2011 Asus are stocking the power pack and spare cable I received one today see post below
UNDERSTAND THIS matey, it is not possible to charge the tablet using USB slots contained on the keyboard dock . The only way to charge the tablet or the keyboard is to use this special cable. Let me put a simple way if you lose, or if you break, that cable you are well and truly STUFFED.

I cannot find a source for a replacement cable.

This worries me I have a £429 device which relies on the cable which should cost £10. By making this unique connector ASUS have introduced a failure point which gives people a good reason not to buy the device.

This is where the iPad wins, because the android market for devices is not standardised individual manufacturers are free to include their own skins for the android software and their own connectors and accessories. The sales figures for Android device may have overtaken iPads but  the sales figures of individual devices have not. We have a series of mini markets within the maxi market of android devices. The Ipad is a single device, same interfaces, same ports ,same connectors and therefore a flourishing market for third-party accessories. ( another article bemoaning the fragmentation of the android market is here)
It doesn't help that the Asus transformer has had initial supply problems and so the number of units sold are really relatively low-level.  I  really hope that our friends in China believe that the volume of Transformers in the market is large enough for them to manufacture third-party replacement connector  for the for the ASUS transformer . Until then guard this piddly little connector with your life.

Oh and by the way the charging device is also special as it puts out 15 V, you need to source a USB 3 charger ,as the normal wall chargers don't work( Forum link)


What do you get in the box?

This is what you get in the box, the keyboard dock, the tablet , the connector, and the mains charger. (Oh and a small instruction book) All components , with the exception of the connector (more on that later) feel solid and well made. The tablet clicks into the keyboard dock with the minimum of fuss and together they feel like a solid , if a little top heavy , netbook.

The tablet has a mini hdmi socket and a Microsd slot which will take upto 32GB . The keyboard dock has two full sized USB slots and an SD Card slot , which will take even more memory , Ive got 16GB in there without a problem.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

MINDSHIFT time:  it’s NOT a phone

An obvious one this one but took me a while to grasp a quite a subtle shift for the Android phone user. The Android tablet is not a phone and you don’t have to use it like a phone, let me explain…..

I've had an android phone for around a year, an HTC Desire and I love it. It has taken over from my itouch as my media player of choice , I synch podcasts each week and play them through my radio on the way to work, it  handles social networks , calendars and emails, it even takes photos of technology equipment reviews in WHSmiths so I can avoid buying magazines! (cheap)

Because screen size is so small, phone users rely on apps to deliver content and perform processes; Apps are dedicated to a single use and are configured to the small screen size. To use the browsers on the Desire is doable but a pain in the backside, text visibility is difficult without Panning and scanning across the website.  Apps are great, but apps are only as great as the developer and there are quite a few p*ss poor apps about.

When I got my Asus Transformer I initially treated it like a phone I downloaded a shed full of apps and my home screens look like I've thrown a handful of apps across the room and they have installed where they have stuck.

The Android Marketplace has only a limited number of apps which are optimised for the large screen size (although most work in some form or another) The number of Honeycomb apps are increasing all the time but why rely on apps anymore? We now have a lovely big screen that the browser can now be used alongside of apps.While apps are being scaled up to match the honeycomb screen resolution, the HTML world is scaled up and ready be used  ... For example  if you are looking for a news aggregator there are many sites that can do this is one such site.

A big positive for the ASUS Transformer and Android tablets in general is the support for Flash, most websites just work.

All this may seem obvious to some but a little MINDSHIFT opens the potential of the tablet.

A thumbs up for the Transformer
Welcome to the blog. Ive recently taken delivery of the ASUS Transformer Android tablet along with the optional keyboard dock. I would like to share with you my experiences. Im not convinced that I have made the right decision so I keep this account hopefully to help others.

Instead of pimping articles and reviews of other people I will try to make sure that I quote references and give credit where it's due then include a link to article. If I miss giving due credit please let me know and I will sort it out.

I have had an Android phone, the HTC Desire , for the last year and I love it, I also have a netbook, the Samsung NC10 and the love doth flow in that direction as well. Im going to use these devices as the comparators , why did I buy a tablet, and what can and cant I do with my new toy ?