Observations on the ASUS Transformer's Video (Part 1)

I like Kevin Purcell's title, ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Restored My Faith in Honeycomb Tablets, over at GottaBeMobile.com. You have to be a believer with a maturing OS, because you are usually roadblocked from doing what you think should be simple.

My acquisition of the original Droid a few years ago coincided with the death of my beloved Casio Exelim EX-Z 1000 pocket camera. While the Casio had traveled the country with me and taken some great shots for four years, it was an island in its own way with no direct wi-fi access. Transferring photos and video files required a custom cable/dock. The easier alternative was swapping SD cards, letting me dump the full card onto the PC while shooting with a new one. I could record a 4-hour conference with virtually no breaks in recording, and audio from the tiny built-in mic was generally usable for playback.

The Droid picked up adequately. It's shutter lag, lower video quality, particularly in low light, poorer mic, and lack of optical zoom were offset by 1) always being in my my pocket, 2) combining camera and phone into one tool, and 3) giving me constant access to the Internet. Uploading photos and videos to Picasa, my websites and blogs was pretty simple, improving on the experience with convenience and time saving.

So I have anxiously awaited the Transformer. My video goals are "simple":

1. IN-PERSON DISCUSSION: To sit down for a discussion, interview or meeting, open the clam-shell, start the video and record and/or stream it.

2. ONLINE DISCUSSION: Hold online video conversations with between two and 6 people, optionally streaming and/or recording them. And I have to be able to show my screen or see the other person's screen, in order to provide client training or support, explain a concept or project, display a file or show a site.

Tests with the Transformer show we're in the right ballpark. But some serious drawbacks remain.


1. I can record with the front-facing camera or the rear-facing one, but I can't switch while recording. The ideal would be to let both cameras show side-by-side on the screen, so the person I am interviewing and I can both be recorded - doesn't happen. The alternative would be to manually change cameras during the discussion - not allowed. I have to interrupt the conversation, stop recording, alternate cameras, start recording for the next person's comment, then later stitch all of the resuting video files into one - definitely not fun.

Google has solved this issue when participants are all online with the release of Hangouts within Google+. ... Except Hangouts is ONLY available on my PC, not on my Android tablet. This is a big one, since my online conference options with Honeycomb 3.1 machines remain serious compromised. Hopefully soon.

2. Audio recording quality beyond 2-3 feet is very poor, and distorts much more easily than the Casio. This should be simple to resolve - Just insert an external mike. Buuuuut .... (tomorrow ASUS Transformer Audio)

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