Posts Tagged ‘android’

I’m an Apple fan, that should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or this blog, but what may surprise you is that i’m enjoying using a New Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1″ tablet that I won from attending a product show recently.  I know I was surprised when I got the call, and if I didn’t know the sales rep well, I would have been skeptical about winning it, almost as skeptical I was that I’d enjoy using an Android based tablet.

But, in all honesty it’s not bad.

It is no New iPad, but it is a good challenger for the previous Apple tablet the iPad 2, with maybe a few pluses to cancel out the negatives on the old balance sheet.

The connector, although it looks like the Apple 30-pin connector, is not the same.  Look closely at the photo below, it is as if someone took the innards of the connector and flipped it over and slid it back it.

Why not make it the same as Apple? Probably copyright issues, and we all know how well that went for Samsung vs. Apple recently.  Although as they say the show ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and when lawyers gets involved, that fat lady can be waiting in the wings a long long time.

unpacking, no wasted space

the USB charge sync cable

the connector, it’s not like apple’s

But I digress, again, as so often happens.  Back to my new toy.

Gotta say, the keyboard leaves a little to be desired.  The tablet is too narrow to type well in landscape mode, and when in portrait mode I find it still just a little wide to thumb-type, even with my long thumbs.  (insert shaved ape joke here) Without spending any real time with many tablets, this may be true of all, except for the split keyboard in the iPad which moves the keys off to the sides.  Something Samsung should steal from Apple.  Might as well, what are they gonna do? Sue them?

The predictive text drove me nuts too.  I like autocorrect, but personally can’t stand suggested words popping up across the screen as soon as I start stringing two letters together.  Very distracting, but that’s just me, some I’m told like that feature.  It took a little digging but I found how to turn it off which made my typing less stressful.  It’s buried in the keyboard settings.

um, what? it is plugged in.

makes connecting to a Mac easy

your files, all pretty like.

You’ll want to download a little 6.5 meg file called”Android File Transfer” to make it easy to connect your Tab 2 to your Mac.  But remember to check a few settings to eliminate your frustration.  Once you plug in the tablet, in the bottom right corner you will see a USB symbol showing you have a USB device connected, it will tell you it is connected as a media device, click it and it will take you into Storage Settings / USB PC connection.  Change from Media device (MTP) to Camera (PTP) and it should mount the Tablet and then open the Android File Transfer App.  It may give you an error the first time after changing the setting.  Just reconnect it.  The setting seems hidden, because if you go into the regular Settings button, there is no way of getting to this function.  You need the tablet plugged into a Mac for it to show up and enable you to change it.  Goofy.

Apparently if you are running windows, you don’t need any add-ons, but my house is pretty much all Macs with a growing number of Samsung products so the App is a necessity on my MBA.

AutoCad on a tablet.

One thing I’ll be trying out and stress testing this tablet with is AutoCad WS. It’s a great way to share your drawing files (.dwg) with anyone and any device you log into your account with. I’ve used it previously on my iPhone but found the screen too small to actually be very useful for anything other than quickly checking a drawing on site by zooming in to a specific area in question. With it running on a tablet, it actually becomes a useful program.

books and magazines, pretty & functional

data usage, easy to understand

There are many good things about the Android OS, besides the cute names, this tablet came with Ice Cream Sandwich for instance, and is a pretty reliable operating system so far, similar to Apple’s they make it easy for you to send reports in to developers when problems occur. For instance the Weather Channel app crashed every time i opened it on the first attempt, but then the second time worked fine.
Updating of apps can be either manual or automatic, I’ve got about half set to each side of that fence just to see how it works and if it slows down the tablet at all with autoupdating.
As expected, the Galaxy Tab 2 works great at playing media, and using the Android File transfer makes it easy to copy files from your computer to it for easy viewing. My daughter likes to watch it in bed for instance, so I loaded up a few TV shows she missed.

SD card & internal memory

playing media.  dead easy

This tablet has something that the iPad is sorely missing, a Micro SD card slot. With an internal memory of only 16gig, this is a great way to store large amounts of data (up to an additional 32 gig), and copying files off the SD card is an easy way to transfer data too. I had an old micro SD card lying around so i tried it out. Worked like a charm, and as it turned out it was filled with old photos and music from the Blackberry it used to live in.

If you have a Samsung Smart TV like we do, the ability to watch media on the big screen is so easy using the “AllShare” feature of the tablet.  AllShare works with any DNLA devices, and also lets me see the media on my MacBook Air when i have it set up as a server.  (See my previous blog about Twonky for that) And if you want to get real Star Treky with it, you can use the included Peel Smart Remote app to control your TV and associated set-top boxes, DVR’s, etc.  (i had to update it out of the box to make it work with our Bell satellite box, probably due to the age of our particular model.)  If nothing else, its fun to freak out the kids by turning it on from across the room nowhere near the actual remote.

copying files from SD card

wifi speeds

With this model being WiFi only (a 2G/3G model is available is you want to spend the extra money) I wanted to see how fast the connection speeds were to my router, and even when the internet was being used by others in the house, the tablet got a good connection everywhere around the house with impressive download/upload speeds when tested.

reading, kindle app

This is where a tablet shines over a phone, even the newer larger iPhone5, having a screen the size of a real paperback book makes reading so enjoyable, and the Kindle app for Android is as much of a pleasure to use as it is on every device I’ve tried it on. Clean, clear and easy on the eyes.
Speaking of eyes, the screen is clear and crisp and uses Gorilla glass so I’m hoping it is as strong and durable as I’ve heard.  especially since as with any touch screen device, it gets messy and needs cleaning often.  The cameras are decent although nothing you want to try to use as a handheld camera. It’s only VGA on the front camera (meant for video conferencing) and 3MP on the rear facing camera. Pretty low specs in that regards, which is unfortunate since the rest of the specs are quite impressive.

All in all, even if I hadn’t gotten this one free and had actually paid for the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1″ I would say it is worth the money.  Especially if you like to find a tablet that costs a little less than an iPad.

If the Android market could get organized, and by that i mean standardize a little more on screen sizes, resolutions, hardware and become more “iPad-like” they could be a real contender in the market.  Maybe not enough to topple Apple’s commanding lead in the market, but definitely a more windows like alternative.

tcg

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When my daughter first mentioned she wanted a Motorola Atrixsuper phone” to replace her current iPhone 3G I have to admit I was a little disappointed.  As much as I try to be unbiased, I am a Machead.

Don’t get me wrong, I will praise the good in any OS, software, hardware, or device, but there is a certain soft-spot for Apple products in my heart, which for the most part, is well deserved.  But enough extolling of Apple’s virtues, this post is about something NEW being brought into the fold at home and how it is fitting in so far.

First impressions:  well its no iPhone but it’s not a bad imitation.

The camera in a side by side comparison with my iPhone 4 falls a bit short.  On paper both look good, but the resulting captured images are much sharper with better contrast on the iP4.  Not only that but the ease at which you can focus on the subject and keep the same exposure as you re-frame the image is much better on the iP4.  A simple side by side comparison of a sunset photo proved that.

Getting media onto the Atrix, couldn’t be much easier.  Or I should say, couldn’t be much easier if you read the manual.  Jumping in and trying to figure this thing out without any foreknowledge is not the way to do it.  The intuitiveness is not quite on par with Apple’s products, but that could be my bias and past experiences tainting my opinion.  Before you struggle with trying to find a suitable app in the Marketplace, connect your Atrix to a computer and install the Motorola Media Link software onto it.  You’ll be glad you did, it’ll make your experience that much better.

sit back and wait, it could be a while...

still going... videos being copied off phone

you even get notifications about available updates to your device

...and a report of exactly what was done

As the screengrabs show, after the install of the software is complete you are presented with the option to connect to your iTunes account on the computer and sync the music to your phone.

One of the best things, and one that Apple should take note of and steal, is the “Sync Results” at the end of the process.

It’s nice to see exactly what was done as far as which info was moved from where to where between the phone and the backup on the computer.

Without getting to actually use the Atrix much, it is my teenage daughter’s after all – and I’m reminded of a Charlton Heston quote about “prying it from my cold dead hands” –  I’d have to say from my limited use so far, it is as I stated earlier a good alternative to the current iPhone4 with some specs being slightly better, and others maybe not quite hitting the mark completely.  The screen for instance – as nice as it is it’s no Retina Display such as the iP4 has.

Maybe if I sneak in while she is sleeping – which she does a lot of being the aforementioned teenager – I can borrow it and play more.  The big fun will be when she gets her “dock” for the Atrix, i’m sure then i’ll get to use the device if only to help her set it up.

As for how it is fairing in our Apple house? I’d have to say i’m pleasantly surprised by how similar to iTunes and easy to use the Motorola media link software is to use on the only Windows PC in the house, an HP Netbook.  I’m hesitant to try hooking up the Atrix to one of the Macs for fear it self-destructs, but maybe i’ll try it on my wife’s MacBook just to see.

Also, it’ll be interesting to see how this relatively new Moto phone stacks up against the iPhone5 when it comes out shortly, since its not really fair to compare speed and features of a relatively new phone with that of an iPhone that has been out for over a year.  Admit it, you knew I couldn’t end this post without qualifying my statements.  I am after all a machead thru and thru.

tcg

 

Some things are free.  Some things are good.   Rarely do you get both combined in one.  Evernote is one exception to this rule, and now its even better.

If you don’t know about Evernote you may want to wander over here and take a look at what it is and what it does.  To sum it up, its a great place to store info and notes that remain accessible across your devices for easy access.

I use the program on my Mac almost daily – many times just as a temporary way to keep info on hand while I write blog posts or research things, but what really makes this app so helpful is the way it shares info with my iPhone.  It’s not limited to just the iPhone and Mac OS X though.  This program works on Windows PCs, Blackberries, Windows phone, Android phones, Palms, etc.   ( In fact the Blackberry app was just updated about 2 weeks ago)  All you need is an account, which is free to set up, and then you use that account on whatever devices you want to keep all your info synced and accessible anywhere.

old home screen

new version

The iPhone app was good before, but the latest changes (version 4.0 is the current one at time of writing) have tweaked the interface and its now much easier to see what it is you have stored as well as create new items or organize the ones you have in different ways to make it easier for you to find what it is you are looking for.

The way it creates new notes and allows many types of attachments to be added to them so you can keep all the associated info in one note is extremely helpful.

You can even add audio recordings and location tags to your notes right alongside your photos and text notes.  Perfect for when you are in a meeting or at an event and want to keep all the pertinent stuff in one place.

old notes listing

new notes w/ snippets

The new snippet view is stunning and shows so much more info about the notes you have stored that it will undoubtedly save you time when looking for a particular note, or you can use the improved search function and get lightning fast results.

I’ve been a fan of this program for a while, and even more so now since everything about the user interface just screams polished and refined and improved.

This is one of those apps that makes you wonder what you ever did before you had it in your arsenal.  Did I mention its Free?

Useful and free.  Two words that you don’t hear together often enough, but describe Evernote very very well.

tcg