Android 3.1 Tested On The Asus Eee Pad Transformer

In our recent detailed coverage of Asus' ever-fab, Editor's Choice-winning Eee Pad Transformer tablet, we told you that even better things lie ahead as Google rolls out their 3.1 release of Android Honeycomb.  Little did we know that roll-out would be coming sooner than later. Today, a buzzy, fuzzy little Bumble Bee floated a new Transformer firmware update our way, packing Honeycomb 3.1 in all its golden sweetness.  Quick on the up-take, we dropped the payload on to a microSD card faster than a hornet zipping around your Memorial Day weekend fruit salad bowl. Volume rocker up, while holding the power button down, we toggled into ROM boot mode and selected the update for installation.  A mere few minutes later we were pinch/zoom and swiping around Android 3.1 on the Transformer.

So was it all that and a box of Fenway Crack Jack? Suffice it to say that 3.1 doesn't quite drive the RBIs like Youk and Gonzalez or jack-up home runs like Ortiz, but it's smooth on the base-path like only Jacoby can be and yeah, the ladies can get their Ellsbury on too.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Android 3.1 Firmware Installed

Resizable App Widgets and Better Multitasking Responsiveness

Android 3.1 is about the little things, as they say; some of those things are more apparent than others.  Resizable application widgets are really nice to play with; setting up your favorite home screen just the way you like it, so you can see as much or as little quick-take data as you want in your favorite apps and feeds.  However, what's likely more impressive to die-hard HH readers will be the performance enhancements brought on by 3.1, with its significantly more responsive multitasking capabilities and even a slightly more responsive touch interface.  Previously, there was a 5 second lag when going from the home screen back to the Books app, so the device could pull data on the eBook out of cache.  That lag is no longer and in general, switching between apps is more fluid and responsive.  Also web browsing has been goosed up a notch or two, with significantly more responsive pinch, zoom and scroll action.

Enhanced Honeycomb 3.1 Webkit Browser with Quick Controls

Android 3.1's webkit browser has also been buffed out a bit with features coined "Quick Controls."  Notice the vertical scroll button here in this screen shot.  Overall, the browsing experience feels much more accessible and desktop-like, in terms of user interface and functionality.

Asus' roots in motherboard updates is evident.
It's obvious they "get it", when it comes to firmware updates for end users.

The last major bullet point we'll toss out there is performance.  One of the subtle selling points of Android 3.1 is improved graphics performance.  In our testing with An3DBenchXL, we saw modest gains but we're continuing our performance testing with Android 3.1 and will keep you posted in the days ahead.

Update 5/29 - As it turns out, Javascript performance has taken a hit somewhat with Android 3.1. Asus and Google may have a bit more tweaking to do in some areas but in general the UI and capacitive touch response of the Transformer has definitely improved with Android 3.1  Things just feel a lot more fluid in spots.  Though SunSpider may not show it here, we'd offer that page load times while web browsing have been improved slightly as well.

Other small updates to the Eee Pad Transformer, that are available to end users now, are improved typing speeds, mouse tracking and USB compatibility.  This is courtesy of a firmware update for the Transformer's keyboard dock.  In short, if you're an early adopter and jumped on the Eee Pad Transformer when it first hit, your investment just served up a bunch more ROI and your experience just got better.  We're told this update will be available to the public in the "near future."  We're hearing Tuesday 5/31 at this point.  Bring it Asus.