The Web Browser

Google made some functional and performance enhancements to the web browser in Android 3.1. Adobe recommends that you have 3.1 installed if you want to run Flash 10.3, although both Android 3.0.1 and 3.1 will let you install the latest version of Flash. I ran several Flash benchmarks to see if there was any performance difference however I couldn't find any - both versions of Android seem to run Flash at the same speed.

Browser compatibility hasn't been significantly improved from what I can tell. Reddit's front page is still far too zoomed out by default and overall HTML5 compatibility hasn't changed:

Google did enable embedded HTML5 video on Android 3.1. In the past if you encountered an embedded HTML5 video it would only play full screen, but now you can play it in inline on a webpage.

The Android browser now supports saving web pages to webarchives. There's a contextual menu option that lets you save any webpage you'd like. The webarchive is stored as a .webarchivexml file in Android's Downloads directory. Chrome won't open the webarchive but you can view it on the device itself.

I didn't have time before boarding my flight to run through our 2011 page loading test, but subjective web browsing seems to be quicker on 3.1 than it was on 3.0.1. Javascript performance is a bit lower, although BrowserMark mostly no change:

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9.1

Rightware BrowserMark

The browser gains a scrolling widget on the right side for quickly moving up and down pages:

Scrolling performance seems improved, but it's at the cost of how aggressively the browser renders the web page as you scroll. Both Android and iOS only render to the frame buffer only a portion of what you see on a web page, when you scroll down old data is evicted from memory and what you're scrolling to gets rendered in real time. On iOS this can manifest as a checkerboard pattern if you quickly scroll down a web page. On Android 3.1 this appears as a lot of white blocks that quickly fill in with data. The animation is smooth but the effect feels unfinished as you can see from the video on the previous page.

I didn't notice a huge difference in performance while zooming but I'd say that the browsing experience overall is just faster than it was under 3.0.1.

Improved 3D Performance The Dock Experience
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  • sprockkets - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    Too bad they are in short supply.
  • fatso485 - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    the stable 1.6GHZ kernel is out

    it should be tested
  • ProDigit - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    It's 399Eur, or a good $550, not $399!
  • shabby - Saturday, May 28, 2011 - link

    You europeans are paying a 40% tax on it, its $399 over here.
  • risa2000 - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    In fact, even though there is VAT (~17-25) around Europe, I believe this is so called "Apple exchange rate". Introduced by Apple when they found out their stuff would be insanly cheap here, they set 1 EUR = 1 USD.

    It has been later adopted by Valve's Steam for no obvious reason except making more money.
  • jalexoid - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    Fortunately the tablet + dock combo is cheaper in UK than in US.
    UK price 429 GBP = 710 USD
    US price 730 USD
  • darkhawk1980 - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link


    I don't think you get it.

    I paid $503 for my 32gb transformer, and $155 for my dock.

    $658 total for the tablet and dock is still cheaper than your $710 USD in the UK. I don't know where you get your prices, but they're a bit wrong...
  • nagi603 - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    Hell, it's closer to $650 where I live... damn "exchange" rate.
  • dananski - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    Yeah, it's £370 ($609.50) in the UK and that's at the cheapest dodgy online store, it's at least another £10 from any reputable place. It's 'only' £399 for an ipad 2, but I thought this Asus was meant to be a much cheaper alternative rather than competition at the same price point.
  • robinthakur - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    It is a poor man's iPad but ironically costs far more...which is the poblem with all Honeycomb tablets thus far. I voted with my money and just bought an iPad2 having tried out the Xoom and the Transformer and don't regret my decision one bit. The difference in smoothness is in order of magnitudes.

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