Asus, We Need to Have a Talk…

Folks, I'm going to do something I've never done before. I'm retracting every positive recommendation and every nice I've written about Asus and their tablets. I'm now putting Asus' tablets firmly into the "never buy" category, and I've made that decision for one simple reason.

I'm tired of Asus screwing up the firmware updates.

I'm sure you've heard that when you get a device, you're supposed to make your buying decision based on what it can do now. You're not supposed to listen to the hype about promised updates because there's no guarantee that they'll ever happen.

As a general rule, this is a good idea. And it is also a rule that Asus turns on its head.

I can absolutely guarantee that the performance you get when you first turn on an Asus tablet will be the absolute best that you will ever get from that device. I can make that promise because I know that Asus will force you to install updates that will degrade the performance. That is what I've seen happen to my Transformer.

I bought this tablet in July of last year. I bought it because it was on sale and because I kept hearing the surprisingly large number of  owners say nice things, and after I got it I realized that they were right. It really was the best Android tablet on the market - until Asus screwed it up.

Over the past several months I have watched as my Transformer tablet got worse and worse. Apps tended to crash more, they took longer to open, and generally this tablet has become less and less fun to use.

Netflix stopped working some months back; I can't tell you exactly when but it's been more than a couple months. I'm not much on watching videos on tablets, so it's not a big deal. But today something happened that made me decide I don't want this tablet anymore.

I cannot play Angry Birds Space  anymore. Just in case you missed the significance, let me say it again:

I cannot play Angry Birds Space on my $400, dual core CPU tablet. The app now tends to freeze in the middle of a level, a problem it shares with other games including Plants vs Zombies and Dead Trigger.

This is the final straw, Asus. You have now made this $400 tablet less capable than the $100 budget tablets that come off some random assembly line in China. None of the ones I've reviewed have had any trouble playing AB:S.

I feel like I've been robbed. No, wait - I was robbed. Each time I got an update Asus took away my Android tablet and replaced it with an inferior model.

And that is it. At this point I'm sure you're expecting me to issue an ultimatum to Asus, demanding that they replace my tablet or fix this one. I would, but I'm not sure they'd buy me an iPad.

If I had any faith in Asus I would consider getting another of their tablets. But as I've watched my Transformer get worse and worse over the past few months, I've come to wonder if this is part of Asus' regular update cycle. I'm afraid they're going to screw up all their tablets just like they did with my Transformer, and I don't want to waste several hundred dollars to find out I'm right.

P.S. Can someone recommend a replacement?

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

29 Comments

  1. Scott Nicholson29 July, 2012

    Thanks, I was considering an ASUS (laptop, not tablet) but now I think i will pass.

    Reply
    1. Miztrniceguy29 July, 2012

      Scott, Asus laptops are among the top rated laptops for extreme users. (gamers)

      Reply
  2. Miztrniceguy29 July, 2012

    It is my opinion that your anger is misplaced in regards to Angry Birds Space. I believe the issue to be with either Rovio or Android in general. It could be the some conflict between Asus hardware/firmware and the game.

    My reasoning: I was experiencing freezing in AB:S too. I also had occasional sudden reboots. I did a factory reset, wiping everything, and then reinstalled AB:S, and still had the problem. I sent the Transformer to Asus, thinking it might be a hardware issue and wanted it serviced before warranty ran out, as I had bought mine July last year. Asus tested it, then did what they said was a more complete wipe, including Androids version of bios, or whatever they called it. They sent it back, finding no errors. I reinstalled AB:S and still the same problem.

    I am not convinced Asus is the problem. Since I don’t play it on other devices, I cannot speak to that. My wife has it on her iPad and there are no issues. Obviously that is different, as completely different OS and hardware.

    Reply
  3. fjtorres29 July, 2012

    MS Surface. 😉

    Reply
    1. fjtorres29 July, 2012

      More seriously:
      How do ASUS upgrades work? Do the install on top of the apps or do they wipe it clean and require a re-install?
      On my PB701 some updates were one type, some the other.

      Reply
  4. DebbyS29 July, 2012

    I don’t understand. You can’t simply reset it back to factory settings? Are the updates absolutely forced on you? Can’t you just not accept them or uninstall them? I don’t use wi-fi and don’ t have any Asus products, so maybe you are stuck. I got my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7″ with ICS because I don’t need to have a wi-fi or any other similar connection to use it. For me, with the SGT, so far so good, but I’m not a power user.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder29 July, 2012

      You can ignore the updates a number of times but you’re not given the option to skip them.

      A factory reset would restore the tablet to a state which included the latest update, so that doesn’t actually help me any. And I don’t see that as a reasonable action. It would cost me a lot just to try to fix Asus’ mistake, and if I have to start from scratch I might as well get another tablet that doesn’t have this poor performance.

      Reply
      1. DebbyS29 July, 2012

        I see, thanks! Seems the only option for someone who fears updates might be to not go near wi-fi or however the device might get an update, that function can’t be turned off — unless the device refuses to work if it can’t call home now and then. Dependency on B&N or Amazon is why I didn’t get a Nook Color or Kindle.

        It is crummy to pay good money for something that, in effect, grows old and dies of a kind of electronic Alzheimer’s way before its time.

        Reply
  5. Miztrniceguy29 July, 2012

    Scott, I highly recommend an Asus laptop. I bought wone for my wife a few months ago and it is awesome. We also have an Asus netbook that we have had 5 years and had bough used. It has been great, too. I used it for a long time as my upstairs computer, hooked to an external monitor, with wireless keyboard and mouse. Absolutely awesome, keeping in mind that the Atom processor is slow. I also have an Asus router that I bought a few months ago after I couldn’t get Amazon streaming video to work on my Sony Blu-ray player. That problem was solved immediately, and also gives me 15-20 Mbps connection on a plethora of wireless devices in the house (2 laptops, netbook, desktop, ipad, transformer tablet and 2 phones, most connected all the time.

    I am still not convinced the problem is solely Asus. The only way to be sure is to take a brand new transformer, still on Gingerbread, and install AB:S before anything else. Still would not be totally convinced it wouldn’t be a software problem.

    Reply
  6. Lynne Connolly29 July, 2012

    I’m a big Asus fan. I bought the new Zenbook and it is without doubt the best travelling laptop I’ve ever owned.
    When I bought it and set it up the way I like it, I took an image of the system (Windows Image works well). That means I can go back to that image any time I like. I have an Android tablet, and I’ve done the same there, using different software, but I can also turn it back to factory settings. Did you eliminate that?
    I also have an old (I mean old) Asus netbook. It will not die. I have lent it to my kids, who are hardly careful with hardware, I’ve taken it all over the world and it still boots up every time, works like a dream.
    Asus support isn’t too good, but I’ve known worse. Far worse. Call centres where all they know how to do is recite the script. I’m looking at you, Acer.

    Reply
  7. Mike Cane29 July, 2012

    Man, that’s incredible. Did you also contact the app developer? Something just doesn’t seem right here. I just Googled and this seems to be a widespread problem, with some people having to switch out kernels(!) in order to get it to work. Granted I searched for problems with Asus, so I don’t know if other Android tablets also have this problem. Lucky for me I don’t give a damn about bird, angry or otherwise.

    Reply
    1. Miztrniceguy29 July, 2012

      Yes, Mike…you don’t like birds, what with your ten cats! ::smirk:: lol

      Reply
    2. cookie29 July, 2012

      I played the first Angry Birds game a bunch, but that was enough.

      Reply
  8. Miztrniceguy29 July, 2012

    I am an admitted Asus fanboy (man). Add a brand new Asus monitor that was delivered yesterday (for MIL) and Asus gaming headphones,(I don’t actually use, and I won them) and an Asus Pundit barebines desktop that I bought and used for awhile. The pundit I had bought with the idea of making it into a Hackintosh, but that failed due to specs not being up to snuff for what I required for it. Ended up using my primary desktop for that, tho will look into the option with an external HDD that my wife can use with her new Asus laptop.

    Reply
  9. Fw29 July, 2012

    Get a nexus 7.. Haha sorry

    Reply
  10. Mark29 July, 2012

    I was a big ASUS fan after having a great (initial) experience with my own TF101 Transformer. However, things went downhill fast when I spent months trying to find a decent TF201 Transformer Prime–there were simply too many design and manufacturing issues with the device and while ASUS ultimately provided me a direct refund, I think they kept the TF201 on the market for far too long.

    Flash forward to the Nexus 7, and I’m feeling a bit of the same pain. I’ll be receiving my second replacement unit (third device total) this week, with a manufacturing issue (screen separation) that’s frighteningly common (I’d say, all Nexus 7 units sold to date likely have it, whether the owner has noticed it or not). I’m only going through this process because the Nexus is… well… a Nexus, meaning it’s the only tablet sold that will receive timely updates directly from Google.

    I think ASUS has great ideas, but their implementation leaves a lot to be desired. In summary, I think they got in way over their heads here, and rather than stepping back and building up the necessary infrastructure to produce and support these devices, they continue to move full steam ahead. With all of the returns they’re experiencing, I’m betting that Google regrets choosing ASUS as their manufacturing partner for the Nexus 7, and I’m regretting it as well.

    Reply
  11. Sturmund Drang29 July, 2012

    I think it’s because I’m old and I’m out of touch with your brave new world. But I am old and I think it’s because I am and that I remember how my generation fought the Microsoft juggernaut that I can see something you don’t. The PC Era is over. We’re in the post PC world. I know you’ve read it a thousand times and probably written it yourself. But it’s a paradigm shift. It’s disruptive. The PC Era is over. Now we still have computers, what we don’t have is personal computers. It’s not yours any more. It’s theirs. Your generation doesn’t seem to care that you have no privacy, no control, no ownership. And that’s okay if that’s what you’ve all chosen. But, recognize that this of which you complain is a logical conclusion. The device is not yours. It’s no longer a P C.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder29 July, 2012

      I am well aware of that fact, but I still object to the repeated worsening of a product.

      Reply
      1. Sturmund Drang29 July, 2012

        I am aware….you are aware….I’m just…crotchety.

        Have you considered Titanium Backup? It’s purported to be able to stop the auto updating.

        Reply
  12. cookie29 July, 2012

    Is there not a custom ROM you can try……..

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder29 July, 2012

      Probably. I didn’t think to check.

      It’s an interesting option, but I don’t see how that’s relevant to my rant about Asus. Getting a custom ROM is as bad as getting a new tablet. Most all my current games and apps will be lost.

      Reply
      1. cookie29 July, 2012

        Yeah, it wouldnt be my first choice. I have a HP Touchpad so they are installed by necessity. Nonetheless, I have definitely gotten 150 dollars worth of use, and it is still going strong.

        Reply
  13. Mike Green30 July, 2012

    Get used to it.

    PCs have had this problem for years, my two ipads have it, and so do our family’s 3 iphones. I’ve come to to accept the need for a “spring cleaning” every 12-18 months in order to keep things running smoothly. Fortunately with our PCs, an imaging tool (Norton Ghost) makes it easy; iDevices i’m still figuring out.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder30 July, 2012

      I don’t reset my computers like that. Never have.

      Reply
  14. nimko2 August, 2012

    Asus laptops and PC components are excellent.I’m buying an Asus zenbook prime and I already own an Asus motherboard and graphics card on my watercooled desktop.I’ve been using such parts for years.I don’t know what happens with their android tablets but on the desktop hardware pieces they produce they’re from the best manufacturers.
    Personally I find android ridiculous for a tablet.It’s good for my smartphone but when it comes to a tablet, I’ll probably buy an MS Surface .

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder2 August, 2012

      It took me a couple years but I’ve reached that same conclusion.

      Reply
  15. Mizzbee5 August, 2012

    Not to rain in anyone’s KoolAid, but Mr. Nate wrote about his experience with his Asus Transformer. He paid for a tablet that purported to do certain things. That is why he bought it. Without the updates he was happy with the tablet, his experience with each update has degraded his pleasure in using the tablet. Why? With each update the tablet has not performed a task correctly or has not performed a task at all. If you buy a product that is marketed to do something, that is what you paid for. Writing about Asus’ laptops, desktops or whatever is not responding to his problems with HIS Asus Transformer. I’ll bet my Marine Corps retirement check that others have the same problems with this tablet. Oh! Mr. Nate I own an Acer 10 in. 16 Gb ..It does what I paid for..Love it.

    Reply
  16. Wesley7 January, 2013

    i have a asus ee pad tf101 and it is working great for me i love it. it run well for me

    Reply
  17. Becki15 January, 2013

    Just curious if anyone has had this problem with their ASUS TF300 tablet? I saw this post from Nate before buying mine in Oct. or Nov., and checked with my brother to find out if he had this problem with his 300 (he hadn’t). As Nate’s comments were obviously not about the 300, I went ahead and bought one anyway because of the docking keyboard and some other features I liked. After my tablet got the update to the latest version of Android, I didn’t notice any change in its functionality, including Angry Birds (although I don’t play the Space version). Has this issue now been resolved, or was this primarily an issue with the older Transformers? Thanks!

    Reply

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