Asus Transformer TF 101 upgrade
I have an ASUS Transformer TF101 10 inch Android tablet which I rooted a year or so ago and installed the Cyanogenmod version of Android Ice Cream Sandwich on. It’s a nice tablet, with an optional keyboard dock which has usb ports, a full SD card slot and an additional battery fitted. However the tablet has been getting slower and slower over the last few months, and although I have the add on keyboard dock, the battery life was also becoming shorter and shorter. I got to the point of researching a new tablet, but thought it worth while trying to upgrade to Jelly Bean first to see it that improved matters.
I had used the Rom Manager application from the Play Store to install the Cyanogenmod version of android and I expected to be able to also use it to change to Jelly Bean. Unfortunately I couldn’t get Rom Manager to do the install. I tried booting into the Clockwork Mod recovery which I installed when I rooted the device and running install from there, but the external micro sd card wouldn’t mount and if I tried installing from the Rom Manager GUI itself the app just locked up and stopped responding.
In the end I installed a different recovery system – the TWRP or Team Win Recovery Project. I installed this from the Goo Manager app, simply choosing Install OpenRecoveryScript from the menu and following the menu prompts to install TWRP. I then just needed to download the JellyBean zip archive and the archive of google apps to go with it.
The distribution I chose was the KatKiss ROM which has android 4.3 because there doesn’t seem to have been an update to cyanogenmod for the transformer for over a year. Once I had these files downloaded and copied to an external micro sd card the install was very simple. I rebooted to recovery and carried out a backup so I could get back to my original state if I wanted to. Once this was completed, because I wanted to clear out a load of apps which were installed in an attempt to speed the tablet up, I made sure I got back to a clean state by wiping the tablet and also chose factory reset from the menu.
At this point I chose install from the TWRP menu and selected the katkiss ROM and the gapps packeage to install and hit the go button ! After about 5 minutes the tablet install was complete and I rebooted into my nice new tablet. I had to go through the tablet setup to get back to my google account, and because I didn’t want all the old apps installed I chose the option not to install all my apps from the play store. Instead I installed only the apps I use all the time to see if it improved performance.
The upgrade / tablet wipe has certainly worked in terms of performance – it’s back to it’s as new condition, and I think the battery life also is somewhat back to it’s original time scales. I know a software change won’t affect the battery life so I think it was probably that I had a lot of unneeded services running which were keeping the battery drain up when the tablet was supposedly in standby.
I’m quite impressed with JellyBean which has added user profiles so I can set the tablet up for my son to use without him messing with my settings and there seems to have been some real performance improvements as well. All in all it has been a worth while upgrade.
Just after I wrote this post I discovered that KatKiss had released an updated version with android 4.3.1 which features the ability to run two applications side by side on a split screen so I decided to update again. Because I was moving from 4.3 to 4.3.1 I decided that I would probably only need to wipe the caches and system partition and do the update. I rebooted to the TWRP recovery and did just that – wiped the cache and system partitions and re-flashed to KatKiss 4.3.1 and re-installed the gapps package.
This all seemed to work well – I rebooted the tablet and sure enough the split screen options were available and all seemed to be working fine. However, once the tablet went to sleep the problems began – I couldn’t wake the tablet up again. Each time the tablet went to sleep I had to do a hard reset to get it to wake.
A bit of research suggests this is a problem known as the Sleep of Death (SoD). In order to cure that I needed to reboot to recovery, wipe all the caches and system and also perform a factory reset. Then I re-flashed the tablet to 4.3.1 and re-installed the gapps package. Once this was complete and the tablet rebooted I had to go through the tablet set up again and re-enter all my account passwords etc. but since then the Sleep of Death issues seem fixed.
Following this episode I decided that a good backup strategy was in order so I purchased Helium backup pro from the google play store and backed up all my application data to my dropbox account. This will make any subsequent factory reset much quicker because I’ll be able to restore my account details from the backup.