Posts Tagged ‘tablets’

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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A friend of mine was having issues setting up his Christmas gift: a 32gb BlackBerry Playbook. So I offered to help out.

Having always been one to enjoy fiddling with new(ish) tech, I looked at it as an opportunity to explore the world of BlackBerry that I had left behind many, many years ago when I fell in love with what an iPhone could do and my BB Curve got tossed into our electronic junk drawer.

First off, if you are going to compare it to an iPad2 then forget it, it loses hands down.  But if you judge it for what it is then it has its merits and uses.

If you are a BB user (I know there are still some of you out there who swear by them and not just at them) then you will probably like the way it works.  It just feels BlackBerry-ish.  Be prepared for a large download as soon as you start the wi-fi setup process.  You can’t avoid it either, it has to be installed, but from what I understand its replacing the OS and it makes the PlayBook much better to use.  Be forewarned, it’s just over 360 mb and you need a good clean connection, so don’t think you’re going to set it up at the local coffee shop.  In fact it stopped a couple of times for me, but after kicking everything and everyone off the home wi-fi, it managed to chug on thru and finish.

its a fair sized download, be patient

tutorial gives you all the basics

Once you are done the setup, which can only be done using wi-fi which kinda sucks IMO, then the rest of the setup is dead easy.  The tutorials are short and sweet and show you the basics in just a few minutes.  The screen is clear and bright, and the sample video in HD that is pre-installed looks so realistic you’d almost think it was 3D, at least according to my youngest daughter.

The multitasking is impressive and try as I might, opening tons of apps all at once didn’t seem to cause any trouble.  Even the pre-installed racing game that uses the built-in gyroscope worked flawlessly when flipping between it and any of the other apps I had open.

smaller than most other tablets

good clean interface

The PlayBook has almost all the features you’d expect of a tablet, including access to a music store and an app store, its just that they are not iTunes – the unchallenged king of media.  I flipped thru the store quickly and it seemed to have a lot of current media with comparable prices to the iTunes store.  Speaking of price, the PlayBook itself is about half the price of an iPad, and if you are looking for a smaller form factor then it might be just the thing for small hands.  Kids for instance would appreciate that when it comes to holding and typing on it.

There are front and back cameras for stills and video, which according to the specs should be better than that of my iPhone4, or the iPad2 but in side by said comparison it just didn’t measure up.  The photos looked flat and needed much brighter lighting to capture a good image. No flash either.  Not the flash that Apple hates, the type that lights up your subject is what I am referring to.  This little tablet does support Adobe Flash when you are on the web, but doesn’t have one for photographs.  Why can’t we have both?

taken from "BlackBerry_PlayBook_Specs_ENv4.pdf"

One thing that does annoy me though, is the lack of an email app.  Without bridging your PlayBook to your BlackBerry smartphone there is no calendar, email, or contacts.  This may be something that is about to change if you read the PDF specs of the PlayBook.  One little word “will” makes me think there are newer versions on the not-so-distant horizon.  Who knows, maybe the $299 price tag is to try to clear out the older models and make way for the next one.

If this product had come out without needing an update right out of the box, or hadn’t tried to come off as an iPad alternative, then maybe it would have been received better.  Also with all the uncertainty about Research In Motion (RIM) many people who might have welcomed BlackBerry’s first foray into the tablet market have held off, and that trepidation seems to be keeping people’s wallets closed .  Even at the lower prices, they are not exactly flying off the shelves the way you’d expect.  Hopefully with the right publicity and advertising RIM can increase their user-base and get back some of the huge investment they put into development.

Bottom line, would I buy one?  Yes.  Heck I’d like to buy a couple of them as travel-sized media players.  They are perfect for that.  Is it a full-blown tablet?  No, at least not yet.  Maybe after the next OS update (version 2.0 is close to release and hopefully won’t require new hardware), because it seems like there are still too many features missing that I want in a tablet.   You are not going to replace your laptop with this, but it will make a welcome addition to your electronic family whether or not you are a BlackBerry smartphone user.

tcg

When you compare the specifications between the tablets out there, it seems like Apple’s latest offering the iPad2, while better than the first iPad, falls a little short.

Don’t get me wrong, its a great device, but is it worthy of all the praise and the pedestal that it seems to be getting put upon?  Look at its specs compared with other tablets on the market and you quickly see there is must be something else making it the device to beat more than just the technical components, since the tablets being offered by Rim, Motorola and HP all have more ram, better cameras and screen resolutions as good as or better than the iPad2.  Honestly I was expecting more from Apple on this latest update to its ground-breaking tablet.  Screen resolution in my opinion should have been at least as good or better than the latest iPhone.  Ram, although increased from the first iPad is still a little low as far as i’m concerned.  They are touting this as a multimedia device for creating on but seem to be knee-capping it slightly by not upgrading the items that could make it stand out from the quickly gathering crowd.  And don’t get me started on the specs of the cameras.  What the heck made them think using the camera from an iPod was the way to go when they should have at least gone with the same cameras that are in the iPhone?  (If you want a good comparison of the specifications of the various tablets out there, the May 2011 edition of MacLife has a pretty good comparison chart of the key players as they call them).

Getting back to the question at hand though, will Apple reign supreme in a market that is about to explode with competition?

Was it just being first was enough to get it entrenched in our minds as the goto tablet, or is it the fact that Apple has had so much success with its other mobile devices that they can have a technically inferior device on paper but still hold the title of the device to beat?  Maybe its the sheer number of apps available for the iPad2 that make it the product to beat.

This war is just heating up, so it is tough to know what will happen over the next year, but if the past is any indication when it comes to delivering what people want (or making them want what they are delivering) then Apple could be the undisputed king of the hill when it comes to tablets unless the other manufacturer’s can get a stronghold soon.  I think the next year is do or die time for the others, and they better bring the big guns with them from a hardware and software standpoint, or they might as well stay home.

What are your thoughts?

What makes the iPad2 the tablet to beat? or is it?online surveys

Thanks in advance for your comments,
tcg

don’t ring the laptop’s death knell yet

The news was all aflutter with a quote from Rupert Murdoch (the founder, chairman and CEO of News Corporation in case you are not sure who he is) about Steve Jobs.

Its a great quote and everyone and their mother jumped on it, (the adjacent image is taken from Gizmodo’s reporting of the statement in fact) but it is a bit premature in my opinion.

The great laptop killer, the iPad, is a wonderful device and an excellent addition to your tech arsenal but its more of a viewer and minor creator allowing you to stay connected than a full blown production machine like a laptop.

You may be able to do many things on a tablet or iPad, but when it comes to some of the things laptops are best at – you need a physical keyboard.  Trying to type at a decent pace on a touchscreen is akin to typing with gloves on.  Its possible but no where near as fast or as accurate as with an actual keyboard. Editing is another thing.  As soon as you steal part of the screen for a virtual keyboard, you are left with very little usable space for creating.

Sure, when it comes to viewing information the iPad, much like any tablet or smartphone, is such a great, convenient, and simple way, but trying to fit everything you normally do on two surfaces onto one instead is not easy and definitely not as user-friendly.   For some, the iPad may be all they need, but thats mostly for people who didn’t want or use a laptop already, it doesn’t mean its a replacement for it or a desktop, just a device to use along with one or both of those.  Until tablets can be as fast and have as much storage as most people need, they won’t destroy the personal computer.  We still need places to keep our ridiculous amounts of personal information and memories in the form of videos, photos and music, not to mention electronic copies of everything we’ve ever written.  I for one find the 250 gb hard drive in my MBP small at times and am always shuffling things off and purging.  I can’t imagine trying to limit myself to a 64 gb drive on a tablet.  In that respect the iPad is a conduit to larger storage.

And I know what some of you are thinking you could use an iPad with the keyboard dock but you still need somewhere to put it down, or some place to stand it up, and you don’t have the built in laptop stand called your lap like you do with a laptop.  With an iPad you can’t use both hands and type because you are holding it with one arm and typing with the other.  And if you do put it down, it is laying flat.  Not exactly ergonomic in its design that way, which restricts what you can do a bit, unlike a laptop that you can put down to type or use the trackpad.  Also, the limitations of what you can do on it or with it.  Put in a USB port or two, add a microphone and a WebCam and maybe then you are getting closer to having some way of connecting peripherals and using it more like a laptop, but as it is right now the iPad is not doing it.

Thats not to say its not going to happen, but we are not there yet.  The world of interconnectedness as seen in Blade Runner or Star Trek, where everything is served up to you from huge central computers that store everything ever known and can be accessed from anywhere, is still a ways off.  Once that happens, the usability of the iPad will increase 10 fold and I for one will be right there using it, but for now, a laptop beats a tablet hands down when it come to what can be done on each.  Not to pooh-pooh on Steve Jobs accomplishments in any way though.  He may have been instrumental in the creation of a device that will be looked upon as the beginning of a wave of change, even though right now its more like a ripple gaining momentum, but it is the start of something big.  Again.

As the saying goes “If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies“.

To end with another quote from Rupert Murdoch that I do believe wholeheartedly  “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”

tcg