Some Toy Upgrades

by Damian on August 14, 2012 · 12 comments

in News

Although things have been relatively quiet on the tech front at home, I just recently upgraded some of the toys I have lying around the house.  So of course, why not do a post about :D

Upgrade #1: Kindle Fire vs. Google Nexus 7

The first upgrade was switching from the Amazon Kindle Fire to the Google Nexus 7. I had purchased my wife the Kindle Fire for Christmas since the boys had commandeered the iPads and my wife was left to use her iPhone for internet surfing/e-reading. Since she had one of the original Kindles I figured the Kindle Fire would be a perfect fit. However, months after having received I still found my wife using her iPhone and not the Kindle Fire. The main issue was a combination of poor hardware and software. The internet browser was sluggish and all too often non responsive. The actual tablet was way too heavy for a 7 inch tablet, and the form factor wasn’t very comfortable to hold.

When Google/Asus announced the Nexus 7 I decided to give it a shot. After a few weeks of use I was extremely impressed, so much so that I put the Kindle Fire on eBay and gave my wife the Nexus 7. It appears she agreed with my sentiment as the Nexus 7 has been getting a lot of use without the complaints of the Kindle Fire!

A side by side comparison of the Kindle Fire (left) and the Nexus 7 (right). As you can see both tablets are nearly identical in size. The Kindle Fire is 190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm while the Nexus 7 is 198.5 mm x 120 mm x 10.45 mm.

Looking at the two tablets from the side this is where you start to see an important difference in the form factor. The Kindle Fire has a very blocky/rectangular shape to it. The Nexus 7 on the other hand has more of a tapered/rounded edge.

Here is a better view of the form factor. The blocky form of the Kindle Fire makes it rather uncomfortable to hold in one hand where the tapered form of the Nexus 7 contours better to your hand. When you take into account that the Kindle Fire weights considerably more then the Nexus 7 (14.6oz. versus 12oz) you can see clearly why the Nexus 7 has a superior form factor.

Considering that both the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 cost the same ($199 for the 8GB version) and unless you need something specific to the Amazon ecosystem, it is a no brainer which tablet to choose as you get more bang for your buck with the Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 has superior hardware (Quad Core Tegra 3 vs. OMPA 4430 dual-core ARM A9, 1280×800 display (216 ppi) vs. 1024×600 display (169 ppi), 1.2MP front-facing camera vs. no camera, Scratch-resistant Corning glass, better form factor, weighs less, etc…) and superior hardware (the Nexus 7 is running on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS where I believe the Kindle Fire is running on a modded version of  Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS). I was sad to hand over the Nexus 7 to my wife, but that sadness went away quick (as you will find out in my next toy upgrade :) ).

Upgrade #2: ASUS Transformer TF101 vs. ASUS Transformer TF700T

I have been a proud owner of the ASUS Transformer TF101 tablet (with keyboard) for over a year. The form factor is exactly what I look for in this type of hybrid tablet/netbook device. With the keyboard I get a fully functional netbook which is great for blogging/answering emails in bed plus the keyboard adds a sturdy stand for when using the tablet (comes in handy when watching movies in bed or on the road) along with adding 6+ hours of additional battery life. When it comes time to get my morning cardio in I simply detach the tablet from the keyboard and I have my own little portable movie jukebox, critical for getting through those boring minutes of cardio. The tablet had been performing great for me until a few months ago when I started having issues with the Audio Out headphone jack. At first I thought it was the headphones but soon after no matter what headphone I would use I would lose audio. I decided it was time to get an upgraded/replacement tablet, and choose the beauty that is the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T.

Although it may not be perfectly clear from the picture below (the TF101 to the left and the TF700T to the right), the display on the TF700T is excellent. Watching HD content these past few days I am amazed at how detailed and clear the picture is, and this is most likely due to the Full HD 1920 x 1200 Super IPS panel used (the TF101 uses a WSVGA (1280×800) IPS Capacitive LED Touchscreen).

One of my only complaints with the TF101 was its size, in particular its weight which comes in around 1.5 pounds. Also, similar to the Kindle Fire the form factor was rather “blocky”. The TF700T on the other hand comes in a much more slimmed down design, weighing in at 1.32 pounds and only 0.33 inches thin (the TF101 is 0.47 in thin).

Another big improvement was in the keyboard. The TF101 keyboard took on similar characteristics to the TF101, meaning it was a bit blocky and heavy (1.1 inches thin and 1.4 pounds). The TF700T keyboard brings the thickness down to 0.33 inches and 1.2 pounds. The only sacrifice appears to be battery life, as the TF101 keyboard was rated for up to 6.5 hours whereas the TF700T keyboard is rated for up to 4.5 hours.

When you combine the tablet and keyboard, you can see an even more dramatic difference. The TF101 comes in at a combined 1.57 inch thick and 2.9lbs, whereas  the TF700T comes in at a combined 0.66 inch thick and 2.52lbs.

Probably one of my favorites features of the TF700T is the NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-core CPU. With the TF101 which uses the NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual Core Mobile Processor, I was unable to play back higher bitrate content without severe stuttering (a bit of an inconvenience since I would have to reencode some video files or use transcoding software for streaming playback). With the TF700T I have had zero issues with playback, testing 1080p mkvs up to 8500 Kbps. This makes it easy for me to simply copy files over to watch, or to stream wireless via my network while in LAN mode.

Now I just wait patiently for a Windows 8 tablet in the same form factor as the TF700T :D

Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for you can find me over at my blog at or follow me on twitter


Alex Kuretz August 14, 2012 at 9:10 am

Those sound like some great upgrades. I really like the usability of the Transformer, I could ditch my netbook with that setup. We got the Kindle Fire for testing at work, I’ll have to bug the boss to get us a Nexus 7 too. :)

Damian August 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

The Nexus 7 blows the Kindle Fire out of the water (I have the 16GB Nexus version and my Kindle Fire is set to sell in less then an hour on eBay :D ).

I really do like the Transformer setup. With the keyboard you can also attach a USB mouse to use. The tablet itself has a slot for a micro SD and the keyboard has an SD slot, so you could easily up your storage by 64GB +. Also using the micro HDMI port I can easily play back kids movies. shows, etc… on the TV when at hotels.

Joe August 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm

No real specs yet, but google Iconia W510. I’m hoping they’ll have a dual boot option if released

Damian August 16, 2012 at 10:53 am

Dual boot would definitely be an interesting feature

Comp1962 August 15, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Damian nice write up. I am a big fan of a keyboard because typing on the screen although convient on the fly but I find it to be frustrating at times. I am also waiting for the Microsoft Tablets to come out later this year.

Damian August 16, 2012 at 10:55 am

I honestly can’t imagine going back to having just a tablet without the keyboard.

As far as MS, the only thing I am waiting for will be to see what exactly the difference (i.e. limitations) will be with W8 RT vs W8. RT has the potential to be in a more slimmed down form factor similar to the ASUS, but I would gladly take a slightly beefier W8 tablet if it means less restrictions

Brajesh August 16, 2012 at 10:52 am

Nice write-up Damian. Just wish the Nexus 7 had a mini HDMI output, otherwise it looks great. May still get it as I find my Kindle Fire sluggish.

Damian August 16, 2012 at 10:57 am

I didn’t think of that at the time, but that is a disappointment. I guess leaving that out is a way to keep costs down. I actually brought my Transformer into work today and hooked up to the TV via the mini HDMI to show a few tv shows to the guys.

Helrazr August 20, 2012 at 7:01 am

Tested many many tablets, the wife has a 64GB 3G iPad, and a Kobo reader both of which she really digs but I’ve never really made it past my elitebooks with the exception of a Fujitsu U820 which I still use. Nice write up tho. One of my techs got a Nexus 7 and absolutely loves it too.

Damian August 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm

My wife seems to be very happy with the Nexus 7, so at a minimum it was definitely a worthy upgrade from the Kindle Fire (which I sold for nearly the same price as the Nexus 7 so not a bad deal). It will be interesting to see with the Nexus 7 as I believe Amazon is set to come up with upgraded Fires and of course the rumored 7in iPad

Gus September 28, 2012 at 6:58 am

I’m in the market for 2 tablets, but I am not sure what to get. I was set for the Ipad’s, but the wife saw the price tag and said to look else where. Then I thought about the Nexus 7, but 16gb of storage doesn’t seem to be enough. Now, there is a Kindle Fire HD and a Nook HD as well. I’m going to have to do more reading and research and see what we end up getting…I’m still leaning towards the Ipads due to more apps and support.

Damian September 28, 2012 at 7:00 am

We have iPads and Android tablets. My Asus Transformer tablet I currently have 128gb of storage :)

The Nexus 7 @ 16gb is more then enough storage for my wife, but agreed it isn’t a lot if you plan on storing a lot of media on the tablet itself.

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