So not sure if you missed it but at the Google I/O event we were shown just what to expect from gaming in the near future. Using a demo of “Rivalry”, which utilized Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 and an NVIDIA K1 Terga processor, the evidence was there for all to see.
“Through our close collaboration with NVIDIA, Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 ‘Rivalry’ project demonstrated at Google I/O shows what’s possible when PC-class gaming technologies and performance are brought to mobile devices” said Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic.
Speaking at the I/O event David Burke, director of engineering for Android advised “Quite literally this is PC gaming graphics in your pocket,” There is no doubt in the near future that PC gaming will be realised on a mobile device. It actually may be very close indeed as Tim Sweeney , went on to add that ” In less than three weeks we were able to port content built for high-end PC and the DirectX 11 graphics API to Android and Google’s AEP (Android Expansion Pack) extensions for ES 3.1. Developers can deliver incredible graphical complexity on a mobile chipset thanks to Tegra K1 and AEP”
The question remains when will we see an NVIDIA K1 processor in a mobile device?
It’s been a long time coming, in hindsight. For years Google have said that the next big thing for Google would be, whatever the next big thing in search is, because that what Google do and that is by and large, their main source of revenue.
All the while, Apple steadily became the most valuable company in the world, with more cash than the US Government. Don’t get me wrong, Google do well, but it must sting a little when one of your main rivals’ profits is bigger than your revenue.
Google had already soured the relationship with Apple by turning Android into the iOS competitor that it is now. What sticks in the throat of the Cupertino crew the most is the feeling that one of their own, Andy Rubin, defected to Google and took with him ideas that became the blueprint to what Android is now.
Now, again with more than an admiring glance at what Apple have, Google intend to get knee deep in hardware and home entertainment. The Motorola deal has pretty much been given the go ahead, and so now they have a whole bunch of patents along with a team of hardware specialists.
Many in the techsphere have already doomed Google to failure in this venture but I’m not so sure this will be consigned to the scrap heap along with Google Wave and Google Buzz. I say, let’s take a closer look at what Google have going for them.
Google have made large strides to improve YouTube, recently giving it a complete redesign to help promote the various types of video categories as well as highlight that YouTube is now a destination for Film, Shows, Live videos, Education and News. With all that covered, you may wonder why you need a TV licence at all. Indeed, Google will be hoping that’s exactly what you are thinking, as they have already stated that they want to increase the time spent on YouTube and have made the number one online video service more visible through Google+ and more accessible through the updated Google TV app and mobile app. With 4 billion video views per day already in the bag, how long before you’re sat round the big screen with your family, flicking through YouTube channels?
Google Music has got off to a bit of a stuttering start, this is very keenly felt over here in the UK as we have yet to receive it. Nonetheless, in the US where it is up and running, it’s a formidable service, were it not for its late start it may have proven to be a rival for iTunes. Having the ability to hold and stream 20,000 tracks in your library or download tracks directly to your phone is a great feature. There’s little needed to add this to a feature of a home stereo or some sort of music hub. We’ve seen Apple do something similar and the Sonos system works very well. This is a competitive space and will like become an even more fierce battle ground, but no doubt Google have planned this for a long time and recent revelations show that their employees are testing equipment in their own homes, dog-fooding as it is called. I’m optimistic, competition in this industry is great for the consumer, guys like you and me. And Google are pretty good and making their wares compatible most everything else, so if everything runs smoothly, you won’t have to throw out your existing goods, unless you really want to.
The biggest thing Google have going for them is, who they already are, by that I mean that they are one of few brands that have become a verb. When you search online, you Google, that means you’re always going to come into contact with Google, which gives them an opportunity to sell their services to you. And Google have shown that they have no hesitancy leveraging their existing properties to promote their new products. And while Google+ has yet to take off in a massive way, there is deep integration into everything that Google produces at the moment, with more tie-ins growing the partners may soon be on par with what Facebook have in their own network. Google already have a huge portfolio of non Home Entertainment products, but that won’t stop them from making sure that their products work together, making them distinct for a lot of what’s already out there in terms of audio and visual. We seen the iOS update to the Google+ app mean that you have instant uploads to an online album, why wouldn’t you be able to view those photos through your Google TV? Or what about when you have a video of your child’s performance in a school play and you want to be able to watch it with the sound playing through your home set-up, I mean, my nephew was awesome in the school performance of West Side story. How about all the high res images in your picasa album, wouldn’t that be nice to scroll through on a 30” screen at the end of the year?
Admittedly I’m not the most creative guy, I’m just squashing together stuff that I’m aware already exists but there’s a lot of potential. The Android@home music system will no doubt be the first of many Android@home products, after all with a name like ‘Project Tungsten’ it’ll be underwhelming if it produced any less than a myriad of products. Google isn’t particularly good at hardware but it is good at a lot of other things, and the Motorola acquisition will go some way to address those weaknesses. This should make for interesting times for all us technophiles, if your appetite isn’t whetted by this, then what on Earth will?
For the sake of absolute transparency, I’ll openly admit that I want this tablet, so yes my opinion is biased. Nonetheless, I will try my hardest to present everything that follows as objectively as I can, to ensure you are fairly informed.
By all accounts, the Asus Transformer Prime will be the all conquering champion that Android has been waiting for in it’s battle against the iPad. Well, that at least is the account you’ll get when you read articles of those from the Google Android camp, of course, Apple advocates will more than likely tell you a different story. I think it’s fair to say, that those who have an interest in the tablet format but are neutral towards a manufacturer or operating system, are a little bit excited by the prospect of what the Asus Transformer Prime has to offer. So let’s get straight into the good stuff.
Design - Sleek elegance
The basic tablet format, for the most part, is fixed. The main variations are in the dimensions, casing and docking/port options. The Asus Prime will have a 10.1″ Super IPS+ display with the tech screen of choice, the Corning Gorilla Glass. You’ll see mention of the Super IPS+ display, which is an acronym for In-Plane Switching, a technique developed to improve viewing angles by allowing the crystal of a display to move parallel to the panel plane instead of perpendicular to it. This difference allows a reduced amount of light scattering and in turn gives wide viewing angles and good colour reproduction. The ‘+’ is Asus’s indication that there has been improvements over the previous variant that was present in the predecessor. The back casing would appear to be a lightweight, brushed metal alloy. All this is a strong statement of intent and encouragement that the user experience will be of a high quality.
Hardware - Power and grunt
Perhaps the standout feature of the hardware of the Transformer Prime, is the Tegra 3 quad core processor. Upon release, it will be the first tablet to sport this new configuration which also has a dedicated ultra low voltage fifth-core for handling non-CPU intensive tasks. The biggest benefit of this is the improvement in battery life which is an approximate total of 12-hours, which is boosted to 18 hours when docked. Other features include what Asus are calling SonicMaster Technology, which in everyday terms translates as great speaker. Sound quality is perhaps not the biggest consideration for most guys purchasing a new tablet, but if you’re at home or in a public place and want to watch a video clip, you’ll really appreciate the different in audio quality. The final hardware point I’ll highlight, is the improvements made to the touch responsiveness, with Asus claim to have halved the normal response time form when the device detects your finger movement and follows along. It’s an issue that most would generally consider to be a matter of software but this attention to detail, will ensure that Asus as a manufacturer will be held in high regard and compete closely with the likes of Samsung and Motorola.
Software - Android Ice Cream dessert
Currently, what the guys over at Asus have running on the Prime is Android’s Honeycomb OS, not a bad OS but not the latest. What has already been stated, is that it won’t be long before the Prime will be running Ice Cream Sandwich, the unification OS that will be on both Android tablets and mobile phones. Clearly, much like the approach taken by Apple with their iOS operating system, having one OS that runs one both mobile phone and tablet is great for app developers and should further help the proliferation of app production and the overall standard of apps available to your Android device. There has been a lot already said about Ice Cream Sandwich, and perhaps it isn’t the huge leap that everyone wanted to see from Android but even this reiteration of the Android system comes with much welcomed improvements and is the most polished version of Android yet.
So there a brief run through of some of the highlights of the Asus Transformer Prime, there is in fact a bunch of stuff that I haven’t mentioned, such as the hydro-oleophobic coating on the screen or the 8MP camera with an auto-focusing f/2.4 lens and a back-illuminated CMOS sensor capturing 1080p video. But, I think I covered enough to intrigue you enough to do a bit more digging of your own, and really, that’s where you’re really going to find out what’s interesting to you. When you find that interesting point, whether it be positive or negative, please share in the comments below.
Below is an early video of the Asus Transformer Prime running the hardware intensive game, Glowball, to demonstrate its capabilities.