Tablet Decisions

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Tablet Decisions

Postby Ron_Kushnier » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:28 pm

Tablet Decisions

I was seriously considering purchasing an Apple iPad. Walking through one of the "Big Box" stores, I couldn't help enjoy the irony of seeing the many connectors, cables, adapters, and audio accessories, all designed for the Apple iPod and iPad line. Seems like just a few years ago, "if it wasn't Microsoft", you were out of luck.

Of course there was the double irony, when you consider that now, after the introduction of Apple's new "Lightning" connector, all those millions of items sitting on the shelves today will be reduced to the Clearance bin as being incompatible. Yes, I know there are adapters out there, but in many cases, these would give a very “klugy” appearance.

Still, the iPad held my interest. My old 2g iPod Touch continues to serve me well, although I seem to be running into more and more applications which required the newer Apple OS. I also appreciate the security generated in working within iTunes and the Apple applications environment.

However, after Apple announced their newest and greatest iPad just six months after the release of their previous generation iPad, and seeing CNET's Bill Ditwiler's , “Cracking open of the iPad Mini”, http://cnettv.cnet.com/cracking-open-apple-ipad-mini/9742-1_53-50134722.html I started to reconsider.

Call me old-fashioned, but shelling out a “half a grand” on an unrepairable iPad, which has a very short lifeline, just doesn't “sit right” with me. I wouldn't expect to go hunting around in the unit, popping out potentially bad surface mounted chips, but if such a marvelous device can be shut down by an inaccessible, expendable battery, then that's pretty sad. Taking a heat gun to the iPad glass to melt the securing adhesive, just seems cruel!

When I bought my iPod Touch several years back, there was nothing like it on the market. Today, there are lots of tablet choices. Making the right choice is the tough part.

There are a whole bunch of “no-name”, cheaply made tablets available through several venues including the local drugs stores like CVS, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens. Also, you can find close-out tablets at places like “Big Lots”. These tables are priced at $100 or less. Reading Internet reviews on such items, leads to a consensus that the buyer will probably be dissatisfied with the quality and features of these low end machines. Screens are dim, battery life short, speed is extremely slow, storage capacity limited, and Web browsing is hit-or-miss. Some do not use capacitive touch, but rather pressure sensitive screens. The user must physically press the screen with a stylus to initiate contact. Also, the choice of applications that actually work on these tablets can be extremely small.

There are much broader and better choices for tablets priced closer to the $200 range. First consider the physical format. There are tablets with either a 10 inch screen, or a 7/8 inch screen. The ten inch tablets are generally more expensive. They may be a bit more cumbersome to handle, but provide more content on any particular screen. If you watch movies, read technical journals, or play games, there may be advantage to the larger tablet. The seven inch table is lighter, can be more easily operated with one hand, and may provide a better typing experience. Also, it may be easier to carry around.

It is a good idea to look at the tablet's functions and capabilities which you plan to utilize the most. If you see yourself using the tablet as an e-reader, then perhaps the Kindle or the Nook is a good choice for you. If the tablet is to be used as a laptop replacement for simple email and web browsing, then a Nexus 7 or Samsung Galaxy Tab may be a more to your liking.

I had considered the Nexus 7, which had great reviews at CNET http://cnettv.cnet.com/nexus-7-tablet/9742-1_53-50127293.html However, it didn't have several features which I considered important, like expandable memory, http://cnettv.cnet.com/reasons-buy-nexus-7/9742-1_53-50128542.html and there were a number of Internet reports about reliability problems and bad customer support.

I chose the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. http://cnettv.cnet.com/samsung-galaxy-tab-2-7-0-full-android/9742-1_53-50123132.html I saw myself using my tablet in the family/TV room. Aside from the many standard features this tablet offers, it also includes an IR transmitter that makes it into a smart TV remote. It uses the Peel APP to do this. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.peel.app&hl=en

I was hoping that I could also use the Verizon Mobile Remote APP with my tablet, but apparently Verizon is currently having a problem with the Android version of this application.

The Magic Machine
For some reason, the price point of $199 seems justified as an expendable device. Considering what my tablet can do, it really seems like magic! Some of the “Easter egg” applications I've come across so far are:

An Augmented Reality Compass that uses the rear camera to display the scene superimposed with a real time compass.
GPS with turn-by-turn navigation with spoken Street names.
And, although not having all the magic of SIRI, I can speak into Google and get the answers I need.

Pretty amazing stuff!

Security Considerations
Used to be that when you purchased a program application from a developer, it was pretty much an anonymous transaction. Programs were packaged in boxes and shrink wrapped, being made available at the computer store, or through the mail. Offers of “FREE” apps used to consist of time-limited “trials” or programs with reduced functional capabilities. Times have certainly changed. Today, unfortunately, many of the free apps AND the paid apps, are “connected” through the user's machine to the Internet. Data and information mining by the developers for potential sale to third parties has become rampant. Although Apple, Google, and now Microsoft are trying to tightly control their Application Marketplace to make sure their apps are virus-free and come from reputable sources, the programs can still gather information from the user. When I install an Android app, I am presented with a list of “Permissions” which I must grant to the developer in order to use the program. Some are necessary for program operation, while others, seem to be just for data mining. It is a scary situation, and a matter of, “Who Do You Trust”.

Ron K
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Re: Tablet Decisions

Postby Ron_Kushnier » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:42 pm

A good site for additional Tablet Security Information can be found at: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/app-permissions-work-care-android/

I'm wondering if I were to move all my contact information out of the Contacts Folder and put it into another generic folder, if that would protect the contents of my address book. This though, would make things more inconvenient for me.

Ron K
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Re: Tablet Decisions

Postby Ron_Kushnier » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:39 pm

Oh! NEATO!

I just received my USB Host OTG (On-The-Go) Adapter Cable for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. I bought this adapter from eBay for $1.88 with free shipping from China. I plugged one end into the tablet and the other end into the wireless USB receiver from my Logitech MK320 keyboard and mouse. IT WORKED!! A mouse cursor showed up on the tablet screen, and I was able to type on my full-size keyboard! Amazing!

Ron K
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Re: Tablet Decisions

Postby Ron_Kushnier » Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:02 pm

I continue to be amazed at the capabilities of my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 tablet.
See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iChBWUGJEfA

I've just discovered that the “Lock Screen” can be opened with either its built-in “face recognition” firmware using its front facing camera, or by swiping a programmable pattern on the screen. How neat is that?

Another Internet security feature (http://www.samsungdive.com) allows the tablet's owner to locate his tablet if it is turned on, track its location, ring the device, lock, or wipe out its contents, if it has been stolen.

Those who drool for a intelligent personal assistant like Apple's SIRI can have somewhat of an equivalent, with a number of compatible Android APPS.

See: http://lifehacker.com/5883560/the-best-virtual-assistant-for-android

I chose “Speakofit Assistant” at: http://www.speaktoit.com/

It may not have all the bells and whistles of some of the others, but it is really fun! And since my tablet is WiFi only, some of the required permissions, which may be a privacy issue in a smart phone, do not apply.

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Re: Tablet Decisions

Postby Ron_Kushnier » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:25 am

Well, after viewing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l30jHH2lcB8 which compared a number of personal voice assistants, I switched to "Robin". It is truly amazing!

"Robin" features a "Hand Waving" gesture, that would be very useful, especially when driving, but an email to the developer revealed that my tablet did not have the needed proximity sensor to make this work. I found that these sensors are used in some smart phones, but not all. For instance, my lg800 tracfone does not, and relies on a timed screen lockout to keep the touch screen from falsely activating commands and dialing numbers. This can become very annoying especially when going through a long list of voice mail options from the dialpad ...but that's another story.

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Re: Tablet Decisions

Postby Ron_Kushnier » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:39 am

Hey! What happened! Where did everything go?

I received a message on my tablet that said an Android update was available. I pressed “OK”. When the device finished the update and reboot, I found that my carefully constructed APP and Widget screens were gone. Some features and button placement were improved, while others, like “Screen Copy” were completely gone.

I had always been a supporter of developer updates, and appreciated company efforts to keep their products up-to-date and safe. But since my Western Digital debacle (see: http://pacsnet.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=157 ) I have become very wary.

Imagine if one day, Microsoft sent a standard “Windows 7 Update” message, and the next time you turned on your computer, they had substituted Windows 8 for your old operating system... with no way to retrieve your old Windows 7. Not that they've ever done anything like that, but that was the impact of this new Android update on my tablet. I now have Android 4.1.1 installed. Several other folks on the Samsung Community Forums have also reacted with similar frustration.http://www.droid-life.com/2013/01/11/android-4-1-1-now-available-for-u-s-samsung-galaxy-tab-2-10-1-and-7-0-owners/

I'm all for new stuff, but give us an announcement of what is coming, the impact on the system, and a choice to accept or not.

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Re: Tablet Decisions

Postby Ron_Kushnier » Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:43 pm

Scanner Radio


It used to be that if you wanted to hear local police and fire radio calls, you would go out and buy a scanner for a few hundred bucks, erect an antenna, and maybe be lucky enough to hear local broadcasts.

Today, “there's an APP for that”... and more. With “Scanner Radio”, by Gordon Edwards, the user can listen to live audio from over 3,600 police and fire scanners, weather radios, and amateur radio repeaters from around the world (primarily in the United States and Australia).

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.scannerradio&hl=en

The user can choose from Favorites, Top 50, New additions, see those transmitters near his location, as well as browse by category, or do a general SEARCH by mileage from the user.

If your Android tablet or phone is multitasking, you can continue to listen to broadcasts, while performing other functions on the machine.

Calling All Cars...

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Re: Tablet Decisions

Postby Ron_Kushnier » Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:01 pm

Trippin' Out on My Samsung Tablet.

I was planning a major driving trip this summer. The question I asked myself was, “What type of computer should I take?” The choices were a full-blown Laptop, a netbook, or my seven inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 tablet. After seeing a CNETTV video from Donald Bell on the subject, http://cnettv.cnet.com/top-5-vacation-g ... 48871.html I decided against the big klunky laptop.

Now, the Acer Netbook was a running candidate. It is Windows 7, and has most of what I needed to be happy traveling around. But, then I thought about my new tablet, with it's built-in GPS, talking personal assistants, and small form factor. I decided that my tablet was the best choice, and threw it into the suitcase.

Well... It turns out I wasn't too happy with the tablet. The hotel WiFi was really slow, and although that wasn't the tablet's fault, it made searching maps a real pain. And frankly, the small form-factor of the tablet's screen became a frustrating experience. The on-screen keyboard takes up too much real estate in these small tablets, especially when doing a map search. Perhaps it would have been more accurate if I had had a stylus, but it seemed difficult to finger-type what I wanted. I think an iPod Touch is even better that this, for typing. I started using Dragon and Google's Personal Assistants as my input for email and more.

Tablets are great for some things, but I wish I had taken my netbook on this trip, instead.

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