A long time ago.

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Light sabers

In a galaxy far, far away.

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DO or DO NOT. There is no TRY.

Darth Vader

No, I'm your father.


You don't know the power of the dark side.

The Force Awakens


X-Wing Fighter

Long live the Rebel Alliance.

June 6, 2014

Hooked to technology, hooked to the T100

I will be honest. I LOVE technology. I wish I could spell the last sentence out in some beautiful font like Lucida Calligraphy, with some zany color effects, maybe add some glitter to the text, throw in some razzmatazz, just to  emphasize that point. Gadgets don't replace women, but they come pretty close. If gadgets were babes, I would probably remain a bachelor throughout eternity.

No, seriously, I would.

My fascination with technology could be traced back to the point in history when I dismantled my dad's favorite watch with unimaginable proficiency and somehow never managed to put it back. I did the next best thing which any innocent-looking-mischievous-as-hell-5-year old would do. I just put together the casing of the watch- hands, face everything where it should be, blissfully threw away all the inside parts and left it where I found it. My dad had no clue. Parents seldom do. All he knew was that one fine day his watch had stopped working and HMT workmanship was solely to blame for it.  

Yes, HMT watches. They don't make them anymore.Sigh!

What transpired between the watch repairman and my dad is another story I don't want to go too deep into. You see, I didn't just stop at putting the casing back. To make the hollow watch feel the right weight, I filled the inside with chewing gum. The watch repairman lacked the intellectual finesse needed to appreciate my originality. I hear he chucked the watch straight at my dad's face with the annoyance of a constipated patient who has reached a record 5-day long dry spell at the loo. The rest of the story was concluded between my dad's hands and my cheeks. Redness, soreness, a throbbing pain in the jaw, tears...all those occupied the rolling credits at the end of that comedy-of-errors of an episode.

But all of us have had such proud, glowing moments in our past, haven't we? The real question is- did I learn my lesson that day? Did that day mark the end of my glorious days of pulling apart stuff never to put them back together again? Was my spirit of scientific inquiry forever dashed, destroyed and crushed, nipped in the bud before it could blossom into its true potential?

You wish! You see- I think all of us get born with an itch. The itch might be to travel, play music, party hard, drink harder, do drugs, earn a freaking load of money, collect stamps, collect coins, collect antiques, go shopping, have a string of flings with the opposite gender- whatever it may be- but there is always an itch. Some deep dissatisfaction, some deep drive. With some people, the itch goes a little too deep. My itch is to splurge on gadgets. I will admit it. I don't need half of them. Hell, maybe I don't need any of them. Tell me, what purpose do two android phones, one desktop, one 18'' laptop, one netbook, two android tablets, a wireless mouse and keyboard set, a wired mouse and keyboard set, two PC cameras, half a dozen headphones and microphones serve? Didn't catch all the gadgets I just mentioned? Wait, I will go slow. So yes, over a period of time, I have used and thrown away-
  • TWO android phones
  • TWO android tablets
  • ONE fully assembled desktop
  • ONE 10'' netbook
  • TWO PC cameras
  • HALF A DOZEN headphones and microphones
  • TWO speaker sets
And that's not the end of it. Those were just end-user devices. My cupboard used to be a filled-to-the-brim-store-house of internal PC and laptop components. RAM modules, graphics cards, PCI cards, get the picture.

I don't invest in technology because I need it. It's just that technology excites me. I don't buy stuff to show off. I hate showing off. But what does happen is that I quickly grow tired of things. Once I've seen the limits to which I can push my device, my curiosity in it starts diminishing. The device just can't crank up enough juice to fire the novelty-craving hotspots of my brain. Nothing new takes place when I push the same old buttons anymore.The pace at which I lose interest in my technological possessions is at par with the pace at which Arnab Goswami interrupts his talk-show participants. Coincidentally, it is the same pace at which newer, fresher and more innovative products are arriving at the market. So what is a guy to do if he has this deep-rooted desire to get a taste of all kinds of hardware and software platforms he can lay his hands on? With a plethora of online buying options- Flipkart, eBay, Olx, Quickr- first hand, second hand, n-th hand, it doesn't matter, it's so easy to lay one's hands on gadgets and gizmos these days, without always burning a golf-course sized hole in your pocket.

Interestingly, each of my gadget purchases has a story surrounding it. I was working in Pune when I purchased by first netbook, the HP Mini. I had applied for a transfer to my hometown, but it got rejected. Heartbroken, I ended up buying the netbook to keep myself distracted. It was a cute piece of hardware. I don't have it now with me anymore but I do remember how everyone (especially the chicks)  never failed to mention how cute and pretty it looked. I used to cringe at the adjectives 'cute' and 'pretty'. A guy doesn't want his hardware to be called 'cute'. He wants 'sleek', 'stylish', 'powerful'. Macho adjectives for a masculine machine. But, well, I guess I can laugh about all that now. I miss that cute piece of machinery these days. It's Intel Atom processor was not a powerhouse like my current AMD A10, but hey, you can't forget the first piece of machinery you buy out of your own pocket. Ever!

My first tablet, I bought when I didn't win an IndiBlogger contest. I had really put my heart and soul into that post, and badly wanted to win. The entry was very much appreciated but it didn't make it to the winning slot. After losing that time, for a long while, I thought I could never win a blogging contest, or any creative writing contest for that matter. It was then that I purchased an i-Ball tablet as a consolation prize for myself. Of course, later I won short-story contests elsewhere, I got published, got my friends to read my books, basked in my five-minutes of fame. But losing that IndiBlogger contest was a low-point of my life. The topic and the post were really close to my heart. Maybe that's why, I still haven't discarded the i-Ball tablet, even though it has stopped working. Angry Birds, Angry Birds Rio, Hero of Sparta, Temple Run, Assassin's Creed- those were the games I and my brother played endlessly on that device. In retrospect, that's what I think ruined the tablet. But hey, who can resist playing touch-based, G-Sensor games like the ones I mentioned, till he/she has cracked every level (and by extension, the touch screen response)?

There is a story behind every gadget I own or owned at a point of time. Those can run into dozens of blog posts. For the moment, let's go back to where we started on this one. I mentioned the spirit of scientific inquiry, right? The curiosity to look under the hood. The irrational desire to pull things apart just to have a peek at what lies inside. Nope. It never left me. Whenever any of my devices malfunctioned, software-wise, hardware-wise, the Do-It-Yourself engine kick-started within me and prodded me to fix it on my own. Sometimes I feel that there is an obsessive, compulsive need in me to see my devices falter and create problems. For then I know that I have an excuse for getting my tool set out, pry open the screws, and see what's going inside the case of the gizmo. And so, I pulled apart two of my tablets, my netbook, my laptop, my desktop, pretty much every device I own. I even pulled apart the DVD drives, hard drives, optical mouse, keyboards- you name it, I've probably disassembled it and stared at with a sense of wonder, a wave of gizmogasm washing over me. Once my graphics card went bust. On closer examination I noticed the capacitors had exploded. I ordered new capacitors online and soldered them on to my graphics card. And voila! It worked. (sheepishly) I was pretty sure it wouldn't. I had even purchased a spare graphics card, just in case. But as it turns out, soldering can fix almost any of your hardware problems. Another time, I took out the rare earth magnet of my busted hard drive and have been using that magnet to stick notes on my steel cupboard ever since. What all these years of tinkering with electronics have taught me- with the right set of tools, and the internet (bold, italics, underline the word 'internet'), you can fix virtually anything. Of course, you also need to be a geek, follow The Big Bang Theory religiously, be a comics lover, discuss superhero movies as if the characters existed right next-door, go to watch Iron Man/Captain America: The Winter Soldier for the plot's sake and not Robert Downey Jr./Scarlett Johannson, etcetra etcetra. But don't worry, being a geek is not rocket-science.

The Big Bang Theory brought geekdom into fashion.

When I learned of a contest which IndiBlogger is hosting in association with Asus, I hope you understand now why I thought I should give it a shot. The topic held an inevitable appeal to the geek inside me.
What keeps you hooked on to technology even
when you're on the move?
Is it playing your favourite games,
talking to friends, catching up on some work you love doing?
Write a blog post on the things that you think
will keep you hooked to a
"Transformed" T100 when you're on the move.

There is an engaging story behind Asus. Four computer engineers from Acer, T.H.Tung, Ted Hsu, Wayne Hsieh and M.T. Liao, established that company in 1989 in Taipei. T.H.Tung was just 29 when he founded AsusTek Computer Inc. with his friends. He grew up in the countryside, where daily survival was in continuous friction with lack of material necessities. The valley his family lived in didn't receive television signals and so whenever Taiwan sports teams made it to any world series, his family would drive up the mountain, firecrackers in hand, to the home of a farmer, whose TV was in working condition. The little joys were celebrated with as much fanfare as their meager resources allowed. I started this post with my history of a watch, and interestingly, Tung's father was a watchmaker. It was his father who sparked his interest in books and literature. The young Tung would save the meager earnings from his selling ices after school or firecrackers and use them to rent and buy books and comics.

From such humble beginnings, T.H. Tung and his three friends managed to establish the world's biggest motherboard company. Asus's rise to prominence happened in a dramatic fashion. In the beginning, Intel supplied its processors to Taiwanese companies at least six months after it had supplied the same to IBM, virtually demolishing any competition from Taiwan manufacturers. So, Tung's company was forced to create a motherboard for an Intel 486 processor, without actually having access to the processor. When they approached Intel for a processor for testing their motherboard, Intel themselves were in a fix over their homegrown motherboard. Asus successfully troubleshooted the problem. Not only that, Intel discovered that Asus's motherboard worked smooth as butter with the 486. That was the turning point in Asus's history. From then on, Intel supplied its prototypes to Asus ahead of any competitor.

Speaking of staying ahead of its competition, Asus actually pioneered the 'netbook' revolution with its Eee product family much ahead of its rivals HP and Dell. It was only when Asus netbooks were selling like hot-cakes did HP and Dell take notice and joined the fray of producing Intel Atom based 10" low cost laptops. Asus was sensitive to the fact that kids and moms needed a spare laptop in the family to check mails, surf the web and do other light tasks but were understandably reluctant to invest in a full-fledged, costly model with features they didn't need. The netbook concept created that sweet-spot in the personal computing market which could cater to the above need and therein was its brilliance.

Eee stands for: "Easy to learn, Easy to work, Easy to play." 

From a company with such an illustrious history, it is quite natural to have high expectations from its latest offering, the Transformer T100. It's a laptop-tablet hybrid which runs on Windows 8.1. It's a 2-in-1 device which can function as a tablet as well as a full-fledged laptop when you attach the keyboard to the slate. I haven't got my hands dirty with the product yet. But from what I read and heard so far, a few highlights of the machine immediately tickled the geek-bone in me.

  • 11 hours battery life -(Phew!)
Asus obviously built the T100 with flexibility and portability in mind. T100 is packed with features which makes this machine a conqueror in the mobility arena. 11 hours of battery life is a mind-blowing performance perk! A few reports I've read even suggest that the battery lasted up to 13 hours on light usage (meaning watching movies or listening to music with Wi-fi off). Compare this to an iPad Mini which gives 10 hours. Dell's Miix is a rival to T100 and it can squeeze out just 8 hours. Asus simply blows the competition out of the water in this area. And this is not the only killer stroke in T100's mobility arsenal. Wait for the next....

  • Mini-USB charger -(Bye bye, cumbersome adapters!)
The T100 uses a mini-USB port for charging. This means you can use your phone charger to juice up the T100 battery. For someone on the move, this is a god-send. He doesn't have to bother about a separate adapter anymore. One charger would suffice for both his phone and tablet. Plus, the mini-USB port is an industry standard. This means you're not tied down to an Asus-specific adapter for charging your device. I am totally sold on this idea.

  • Full-sized USB 3.0 port
A full-sized USB port, that too a 3.0 one, is an icing-on-the-cake feature as far as tablets are concerned. Very few tablets put this kind of a dish on the table. I can name only a few like the Toshiba Thrive, Acer Iconia and Microsoft Surface. The tablets which I've used come with a mini-USB port and you need a rather uncomfortable USB cable to connect a USB device to the tablet. A USB cable mars the tablet experience in a big way. Imagine your pen drive or internet dongle hanging via a cable from your tablet as you're trying to surf the web or read something on it. Trust me, you're bound to notice the weight of your flash drive or dongle as it does its floppy web-slinging from your tablet. It's very, very distracting. Unwieldy, awkward, clumsy - you'll die to label the experience with all these adjectives. For a person who intends to use his tablet often on his travels, a full-sized USB 3.0 port is kind of a deal-sealer because there is a high chance he will be accessing the net through a dongle while on the move. For the T100, this is another ace in the hole.
  • Hinge attachment to the keyboard
 The T100 is a hybrid tablet-laptop. It's also called a 'convertible' in some circles. Tablets, on their own, are not really meant for any full-blown work. They handle web surfing, movies, music, light games pretty well, but when you need to edit a document or spreadsheet on the move, a tablet simply won't cut it. Typing for long on a touchscreen keypad (no matter how responsive) is a pain. (I find even chatting on a tablet a pain.) Hybrids like the T100 come with a keyboard dock so that you can fuse the slate with a keyboard and 'mouse-click' and 'key-type' away at your heart's content. The Asus device comes with a metal hinge dock which securely fastens the keyboard to the slate. You see there is a reason why metal hinges are more secure than magnetic clasps which a lot of other hybrids employ. Magnetic clasps don't have the required strength to make you feel safe when you have the laptop open on your lap and you're traveling in a bus or car. Any bump can easily dislodge the slate from the keyboard. A lot of tablets provide the Bluetooth keyboard option with which you don't actually even have to have a physical connection between the tablet and the keyboard. But even this kind of design fails the situation test I described above. He can keep the keyboard on his lap but he has nothing to rest the tablet against. Asus very clearly points out that the T100 is targeted to the traveling worker, and in this respect, a metal hinge locking system is indeed a far superior option to a magnetic or wireless one. 
If you're hooked to technology even while on the move, there is a pretty solid reason you'd want your keyboard to be hooked to your tablet the Asus T100 style.

    • Specs (stuff which makes T100 a decent laptop besides a fantastic tablet)
    1. 10.1 inch screen
    2. A sharp 1920 x 1200-pixel display
    3. IPS display which means wide viewing angle. Laptops generally don't boast of this feature
    4. Gorilla Glass screen
    5. 2GB of RAM
    6.  Bay Trail 1.3 GHz Quad Core Intel Atom processor - Some folks say this gives equivalent performance to last generation i3 processors. Of all the reports I've heard or read, no one said that the T100 feels slow. It packs a solid performance and is rock-steady when you need it to be.
    7. Stereo sound
    8. Windows 8.1 - This is the full-version we're talking about. Not the stripped down RT version which peers of T100 like Microsoft Surface 2 and Lenovo Yoga 11 ship with. With Windows 8.1, you get full access to the Windows 8 apps ecosystem. The RT version severely limits you in this area. And speaking of Surface 2 and Yoga 11, they both cost a bomb in comparison to the T100. Surface 2 doesn't even come with a keyboard. You've to purchase that as an extra.
    9. Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 
    Points 6 and 7 alone cause a value addition of about 10K INR to the device.  Remember that, the T100 was designed for people who need to work while on the go. The Office and Student suite go a long way in furthering that aim.
    • Light on your hand
    Hardly 1 Kg. One of the lightest laptops out there. It's form factor is similar to an iPad, although maybe just slightly thicker. This means you won't have any problem in tucking away this piece of machinery anywhere.
    • Light on your pocket
    The 32 GB version costs around 28.5K INR as of the date of this post. I talked about comparable models earlier, right? Like the Lenovo Yoga 11? That costs 32.7K INR. Surface 2 costs even 10K more. Asus strongly focuses on building products which meet one's budget and T100 is no exception. Reviews everywhere peg this product as excellent value-for-money. And trust me, I've been through the alternatives. 

    The Transformer T100 packs the choicest pick of features in the most affordable pricing. I know 'choicest pick of features' may be a personal taste issue, but I am not that liberal at attaching the 'value for money' tag to electronic products. However, this time the T100 doesn't leave me with much to fuss about. Maybe when I get a raise or a promotion or a new job, I would seriously consider gifting myself this piece of wizardry.



    1. I too love technology but not like you. HMT watches bring nostalgia. Good luck!

      1. Ahh yes...I am obsessed...:-)

      2. congrats for the win Rahul :)
        Saru you have won a UX mice..congrats :)

    2. Rahul, I still have and use both my HMT watches. One is from the first batch of electronic watches they made and the other is a big dial roman numeral piece. :D

      I love your love for technology. Can't live without it these days, eh?

      Thanks for visiting my blog! All the best for the contest!

      1. You still have HMT, huh? :) Salute!!!
        And thanks for stopping by my blog too..

    3. That was funny the way you described that watch incident :P

      1. Ha ha...yeah...I guess we can all laugh about that now..

    4. :D :D :D a techie eh...:) Loved the watch incident, still seems funny imagining your red face (not shy but coz of slapping) ...:D

      1. Hi Monica,
        How are you? So glad you stopped by and enjoyed the watch incident.
        How did your exams go?

    5. At first I wondered how one can gift a consolation prize for their written stuff but on reading your valuable post I too felt that you should have been awarded at least the 2nd or 3rd prize. You have rightly gifted yourself a tablet for that post and I think that the judges for that contest might have spotted out the common errors like not giving a space after the full stop and comma.

      Coming back to this post, I must say that you have been able to keep me hooked to read it till the end and like you, I have also soldered the capacitors on my PC's motherboard you can read it here:

      Also I liked the watch incident and your love towards gadgets. :-)

      Wish you all the best and I think, this time you will not have to gift yourself a consolation prize for the above post. Because according to me, this post will surely bag good prize.

    6. Congrats man! Enjoy a new gadget to the collection! :D

    7. Wow! Congratulations!!!! Rahul this time you have bagged the first prize and I am very happy that my prediction was right. But really you have written it perfectly.

      Congrats again.

      Have a nice day.

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