Tablet Computers Archive

Smartphone cameras and compact digital cameras–how I see them

Article

Smartphone Cameras v Point And Shoot Digital Cameras | Photography

My Comments

Often we think of the cameras that are integrated in the typical smartphones as competing with the traditional compact digital cameras. Typically the smartphone and tablet cameras win out on integration in to the device we carry around frequently and immediate access to the online world for sharing what we have taken, whereas the compact cameras, especially those modelled on the 35mm compact camera, win out on the body shape, optics, sensor and electronics being tuned for the act of photography.

Taking images further

The main obstacle was taking the images that you took with the camera further using mobile-computing apps and Web sites. This is to do things like “throw” a copy of that image you took to the subject for them to take further or simply to share that image with your friends via Flickr, Picasa or Facebook.

Some newer trends have occurred where the cameras have been equipped with Wi-Fi wireless, Bluetooth or integrated wireless broadband in order to facilitate sharing of images held on the camera. The connection is augmented with front-end apps for image-sharing, cloud-storage and social-network services installed on the camera. There are even a few cases of digital cameras which have the Android mobile operating system as their operating system, with access to the same Google Play app store as you would have on an Android smartphone. This setup allows one to use the apps that exist for the Android platform such as the Dropbox and Facebook mobile front-ends with these cameras.

It is to mitigate the common situation where images have to be downloaded to a computer before they can be shared, whether through the camera being “tethered” to that computer or one removing the “film” i.e. the memory card from the camera and inserting it in the computer.

On the other hand, those of us who have newer Android smartphones and tablets could use a USB “On The Go” cable and either the camera’s USB cable or a card reader to “get at” the images we took with our cameras. Similarly Apple sells an iPad accessory kit which offers this similar function for the iOS devices.

Similarly, cameras that work with the “Eye-Fi” cards can allow you to share the images to your smartphone or tablet so you can take them further with the apps on these devices. They could utilise mobile NAS units of the likes of the Seagate GoFlex Satellite or the Kingston Wi-Drive as extra storage for the images and footage.

How I see this

I see the compact digital cameras existing as a way for those of us who value good-quality images to take these images on the go, including working as an auxiliary camera for big-time photographers.

Whereas the smartphone cameras would work more like the entry-level “quick-snap” cameras of the ilk of the Kodak Instamatics, the Polaroid instant-film cameras and the fixed-focus entry-level 35mm cameras where the goal is simply to grab a quick snapshot of the moment. They would also serve as a tool to create images they can refer to when doing tasks such as dismantling an item or grabbing reference numbers.

Send to Kindle

HP x2 detachable-tablet design to become like an established car-model lineup

Article

HP announces the HP Split x2 | Windows Experience Blog (Microsoft)

HP intros the Split x2 Windows hybrid and Android-based SlateBook x2 (hands-on) | Engadget

HP SlateBook x2: An Android Notebook With Sweet Tegra 4 Guts | Gizmodo

Previous Coverage of the range

Product Review – HP Envy x2 Hybrid Tablet

HP Envy X2 Detachable-Keyboard Hybrid Tablet

HP Envy X2 detachable-keyboard hybrid tablet computer – now part of a larger family

My Comments

Those of you who have followed this site regularly have come across my review of the HP Envy x2 which is HP’s first Windows 8 detachable-keyboard “hybrid” tablet computer. This 11” tablet computer was based on the Intel Atom processor and excelled more as a portable Windows 8 tablet.

Now the x2 detachable-keyboard hybrid-tablet from HP has become like a model series that represents a class of car released by a car manufacturer where the series features different body types, powertrain specifications and trim levels. Here, this has become computers with different screen sizes, operating systems and microprocessor technology where different models exist for different needs.

Here, HP have released the Split x2 detachable-keyboard tablet with similar credentials to a recent-issue 13” ultraportable computer. Here, the computer could come with an Intel Core i3 or i5 mainstream microprocessor and a variant could come with the ability to have a second 500Gb hard disk in the keyboard module. Similarly, they have released the SlateBook x2 which snaps at the heels of the ASUS EeePad Transformer Prime by being a Tegra-driven 10” Android detachable-keyboard tablet.

Oh yeah, some of us would consider this as being useless due to a 13” screen size for a tablet compared to the typical 10-11” screen size for this class of computer. But this size may appeal more for group viewing or, when used with the keyboard, for creating a lot of content. The Split x2 would have either a Core i3 or Core i5 processor while the SlateBook would have the NVIDIA Tegra 4 that pleases a lot of performance Android enthusiasts.

HP has taken this formula that was established by the Envy x2 and extended it further for computers that are about exploiting the detachable-keyboard tablet, and this could be a way of allowing the concept to mature while allowing one to choose a computer in this class that suits their needs. Personally, I would like to see HP build out the x2 series with the “Envy” name representing one or two models that represent luxury or performance or a run of business-focused models with the business security needs while keeping the Split and SlateBook lineup.

Send to Kindle

The computer in the tablet-driven world

 

Toshiba Thrive AT1S0 7" tablet

Toshiba AT1S0 7″ Android tablet

At the moment, the tablet computer is being seen as a device to replace regular laptop and notebook computers as the commonly-used portable computing device. But I see the tablet and laptop being able to work complimentary to each other.

For example, I would see the laptop or notebook as being used for long-term intense work such as content creation whereas the tablet can be used for “at-a-glance” reading and browsing. The devices that are able to assume both functions, whether as a detachable-keyboard “hybrid” or a convertible with a “swivel-screen” or “slide-out screen” can provide a bridge between these functions.

Windows 8 Modern UI start screen

Windows 8 “Modern UI” start screen – optimised for touchscreens

This has been augmented by Windows 8 being able to facilitate the “best of both worlds” for content creation when used with a convertible or touch-enabled computer. Here, the “Modern” user-interface can become a dashboard and some of the applications optimised for this interface set themselves up to allow you to read or browse. Whereas you may be able to run a Desktop application which adjusts itself for content creation with the regular keyboard and mouse as the control tools.

The tablets that are run using Android, iOS and Windows RT perform their complementary tasks very well and work the part for ad-hoc viewing.

What kind of tablet?

For example, the 7” units like the Apple iPad Mini, the Google Nexus 7 and the Toshiba AT1S0 are good for bring-it-out-at-the-moment applications where you keep the unit in your handbag or coat pocket. Here you could provide a link to Websites that you need to show others or keep reference material like PDF-printed manuals or online Bibles on these devices.

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet with stylus

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet – fit for business

Conversely, the 10” units like the Apple iPad, the Acer Iconia A500 Series or the ASUS Transformer Prime are good for reading, viewing and surfing in the couch although the small Windows 8 convertible and hybrids could satisfy the same game. You could even view photos and video material comfortable and personally on these devices. In some cases, most of these tablets have a way of showing the pictures held on our camera’s or camcorder’s SD card either through an integrated card slot, a third-party “On The Go” cable and SD card reader or, in the case of an Apple iPad, an SD card adaptor.

If you are thinking of one device, I would place the convertibles as being suitable for this purpose. A detachable-keyboard “hybrid” computer can work well when you want the benefits of a lightweight tablet but want to be able to have a keyboard that you don’t have to bring along with you. On the other hand, it is worth looking at the “convertibles” which have the screen able to be arranged as if a tablet yet they become a regular laptop computer.

It would be hard to think of a screen of 12” or lager as being suitable for touch-based computing on a tablet computer but the convertibles and detachable-keyboard hybrids of this size would also come in to their own when you use the keyboard. Conversely, the 10”-11” computers may be awkward with content creation when you use the keyboard yet the are a natural for touch-based “browsing”.

Here, you would have to place weight on what you are wanting to use this computer for and choose the size of screen you want. As well, it is worth getting as much RAM and secondary-storage capacity as you can afford when you buy these computers so you can multitask easily and have room for the programs and data you take along with you.

Send to Kindle

Google Maps has now come back to the iPhone

Article

Google Maps is now available for iPhone | Official Google Blog

App Store location

Google Maps

My Comments

Previously, people who used the iPhone or iPad had the Google Maps provided as an integrated mapping solution for their devices. Then, when iOS 6 was launched, Apple decided to pull the Google Maps from the operating system and substitute it with a poor-quality mapping solution.

This has led to situations like people ending up in the wrong location and nearly dying, and the Victoria Police advising against using Apple Maps because of this poor-quality mapping.

There was so much criticism of this mapping solution that Apple had to bow to public demand and create an app group for third-party mapping apps for their iOS devices. Now, the Google Maps mapping solution has been made available to iOS 6 users through a downloadable app. This has the advantages of the Google Maps such as vector-driven maps, 3D views, turn-by-turn navigation and Street View but ported to the iOS platform.

For those of you who are still working with that trusty old iPhone 3GS, this app can work with that phone. Infact, any of you who are updating an iPhone or iPad to iOS 6 should infact factor in deploying Google Maps along with YouTube on the device as part of the update plans in order to gain the full benefit of these popular services on that iDevice. Similarly, when you buy that new iPhone or iPad, it may be a good idea to make these apps your first downloads from the App Store as part of commissioning that new device.

Send to Kindle

Microsoft now to enter the 7-inch gaming tablet market

Article

Xbox Surface gaming tablet reportedly in the works | Microsoft – CNET News

My Comments

What I see of Microsoft’s XBox Surface tablet is Microsoft entering a very competitive portable gaming marketplace with a coat-pocket-sized tablet tuned for games.

The portable-games market is competing in different ways with 3”-5” options in the form of the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS gaming handhelds as well as the iOS and Android app stores becoming full of games that can be downloaded to an iPhone or Android phone. Even Microsoft is competing against this device through the availability of games in its Windows Phone app store that are ready to download to one’s Windows Phone. There are even some handheld devices like the Apple iPod Touch and a few Android-driven MP3 players that can work well as handheld games consoles. But they don’t have wireless broadband or mobile-phone capabilities in them.

But the 7” coat-pocket-size tablet is showing up to be a capable portable gaming form factor. This was initially “owned” by the Android operating system with devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7, the Toshiba AT150 and the Google Nexus 7 having access to the gaming catalogue in the Google Play app store. Some of these devices are driven by the NVIDIA Tegra chipsets which are rated as having very good game prowess. As well, Sony had built a subset of the PlayStation gaming franchise for the Android platform by having certain high-performance Android smartphones, mostly their Xperia phones, “certified” for the name and establishing an app store for that franchise. Lately, Apple brought the iOS mobile platform in to the foray with the arrival of the iPad Mini, thus introducing another mobile platform in to this form factor.

No doubt, Microsoft doesn’t want to miss out on the party where you can quickly bring out of that coat pocket a small tablet computer and begin to play one of many games ranging from Angry Birds through the “games of a misspent youth” (pool, pinball or arcade games) to an intense action-adventure title. This could yield in a highly-competitive gaming environment for this form factor.

As far as the multi-player multi-machine gaming could go for this platform, it will primarily be an “online-driven” environment with little effort on local or venue-driven gaming.

Send to Kindle

Why purchase as much storage capacity as you can afford when you buy a computing device

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop

Very often, I notice people who are buying a computer, tablet or similar device purchase the device based on the price without thinking of the issue of the unit’s secondary-storage capacity.

But in most situations, the cheaper variants of these devices have lesser storage capacity. This may not be an issue if the device is serving as a secondary computing device and you are likely to either use a auxiliary storage devices like external hard disks, removable SD cards or cloud-hosted / network-hosted storage with the device regularly. What can happen as you use that iPad or laptop is that the main storage capacity fills up and it feels as though there is a noose around your neck as there is less storage capacity on your device for you to store programs or data. In some situations, the device doesn’t perform as well as it should.

You also think of having to frequently purge your system of data that may be “put away” but is to be on hand for use at a later time. In some cases, this activity may cause you to dump data that you may later regret dumping.

Toshiba AT300 10" Android tablet computer

Toshiba AT300 10″ Android tablet computer

But you can avoid this with new computing devices especially those you expect to use as your main computing devices if you buy or specify as much storage capacity as you can afford. For example, I encouraged someone who was in the market for an iPad to think of the higher-capacity models because people tend to have them full of photos, music, email and apps very quickly.

In most cases, your device’s storage capacity can be a key bargaining point when choosing that device. For example, you may have something of AUD$100-200 between one storage class and another more capacious storage class for a tablet or a laptop. Some dealers may also try to offer the variant with more capacity for the same price as the model that you are after and have budgeted on.

There is also a reality that as time passes on, the cost of data storage does reduce for a particular capacity due to Moore’s Law.

So if I buy or specify a computing device for someone, especially if the device is expected to be a main or sole computing device, I would make sure that there is as much hard disk, SSD or other storage space as you can afford.

Send to Kindle

A coat-pocket slate that runs iOS at last

Articles

Apple iPad Mini — it’s real, and it has a new design | Apple – CNET News

iPad Mini: $329, 7.9-inch screen (hands-on) | CNet

My Comments

There has been the rumours occurring on the IT blogs about Apple coming up with a small “iPad Mini” device. This is although nearly every company who manufactures Android tablets is running at least one 7” model that can you can stuff in to your overcoat pocket as part of the range.

Now Apple has answered the competitors with a 7” iOS-based device in the form of the iPad Mini. Of course there will still be the price premium associated with Apple devices and these will have storage starting from 16Gb and also having LTE connectivity as a product option. The iPad Mini will also be running iOS 6 as its operating platform.

What I see of this is that if you are buying a tablet computer, you have the ability to choose either an Android tablet or an Apple iPad. But you also have the choice of either a large 10” slate that you can rest on your knee while lounging on the couch or rest on the table; or a small 7” variety that you can comfortably stuff in to your handbag or coat pocket and bring out whenever you are out and about.

I am not writing this as an Apple fanboi would by suggesting that you go and buy the iPad Mini as the preferred 7” slate but am seeing this more as Apple at last offering this device size for their iOS products.

Send to Kindle

Product Review–Toshiba AT300 10” Android tablet computer

Introduction

I am reviewing the Toshiba AT300 which is their current-model 10” Android consumer tablet computer. Compared to most other tablet computers, it is available in only one configuration which is a 16Gb unit which works only from Wi-Fi wireless networks.

Toshiba AT300 10" Android tablet computer

Price
– reviewed configuration
RRP AUD$539
Processor NVIDIA Tegra 3
RAM 1Gb
Screen 10” widescreen (1280×800) LED-backlit LCD
User Memory 16Gb SDXC reader
Operating environment Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
USB 1 x MicroUSB 2.0,
USB 2.0 via proprietary docking plug
Audio 3.5mm audio input-output (headset) jack, audio output via proprietary docking plug, digital audio via HDMI
Video microHDMI, HDMI via proprietary docking plug.
Performance Index Quadrant 3985 (below ASUS Transformer Prime TF201)

The unit itself

Aesthetics and build quality

The Toshiba AT300 was well built for a good-quality tablet and had a metal-mesh backing. It was also well finished even though the glossy touchscreen was able to get the fingerprints too easily.

As for temperature control, this unit was able to keep its cool thanks to he mesh backing. This may be important if we see Android apps that work the Tegra 3 ARM processor very hard.

Display

The Toshiba AT300 tablet’s display was very responsive to the touchscreen input, showing the results very quickly and rendering the animations that Android Ice Cream Sandwich put up very quickly. Still pictures come through very crisply with this tablet, making it suitable to use as a photo viewer or digital photo frame for home or business.

For video playback, the display subsystem even shone with the smoothness even when fed the video via an on-demand video service. As I have said before, the glossy display is still prone to be too reflective in broad daylight.

Audio

The Toshiba AT300 played some music files from my networl-attached storage device as well as Internet hosted audio like Internet radio and this worked very smoothy. The sound quality was very good when I used the device with  lot of slim devices, audio quality doesn’t make it with the integrated speakers

The Toshiba Media Player app that comes with this tablet is no crapware – it works properly with DLNA media servers as well as content hosted locally on the tablet. I tried this out with music and photos held on a WD NAS that uses the TwonkyMedia Server software as its DLNA media server.

Connectivity and Expandability

Toshiba AT300 10" Android tablet docking connector

The docking connector that the tablet uses for charging and data transfer

The Toshiba AT300 used a MicroUSB data port but also used a proprietary docking connector for its power supply. This is to primarily work with a tablet dock that Toshiba supplies as an optional extra, where it has an audio output, standard USB connectors and standard HDMI connector.

But the MicroUSB connector could be a data / power port so you can use the standard MicroUSB cable with a charger rather than worrying whether you have the Toshiba cable or not. There is also a microHDMI connector that you can use with a suitable cable to connect to HDMI-equipped external displays.

Toshiba AT300 10" Android tablet side connections - SD card, microUSB, microHDMI and headphone jack

Side connections – SD card slot, microUSB port, microHDMI port and headphone/microphone jack

Like most Android tablets, the Toshiba has an integrated SD card reader which you can use to effectively expand your tablet’s memory. This is also handy if you want to use the tablet to review and edit your images that you just took with your digital camera.

Performance

The Toshiba AT300 10” Android tablet performed as expected for a good-quality Android tablet using the NVIDIA Tegra chipset.

The network performance was very smooth for most activities including video streaming. The unit was also very sensitive for the Wi-Fi reception.

I ran the Quadrant Android performance test and found that this unit comes in at a benchmark of 3985 which works just under the ASUS Transformer Prime TF201 hybrid tablet. This shows that it can come up properly with its peers as far as computing and graphics performance go.

As far as the battery life was concerned, the battery yielded 80% left after I watched one hour of on-demand video via the home network. It was also very frugal with the battery for most other activities.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

If Toshiba were to create a tablet that is a viable iPad alternative, they could supply a variant with an integrated wireless broadband modem. On the other hand, this tablet could just be used with the home Wi-Fi network, a public-access Wi-Fi network, a “Mi-Fi” router or an Android phone that supports Wi-Fi tethering.

Toshiba AT300 10" Android tabletAs well, I would like to see this tablet put in the queue for the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update in order to satisfy newer expectations that would be required of this platform.

Conclusion

This may be a hard decision to call but I would recommend the Toshiba AT300 as a 10” consumer-grade highly-capable alternative to the Apple iPad. This is more so if you value the tablet to he just about up to date on the operating environment and expect it to be used for multimedia, games, email-reading and Web-surfing while in bed or on the couch. Business users could value it for use as part of digital visual merchandising efforts, as a large-screen reference book or quick-view information terminal.

Send to Kindle

A pressure-sensitive Bluetooth 4.0 Stylus to turn the iPad in to a digitizer

Article

Pressure-Sensitive Bluetooth 4.0 Stylus Coming to iPad#xtor=RSS-181#xtor=RSS-181#xtor=RSS-181#xtor=RSS-181

My Comments

The Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready ability that the Apple iPad has now is being considered of use. Here, Ten One Design have introduced a pressure-sensitive stylus that works with this touchscreen tablet and turns it in to a digitizer. This has the ability to increase the thickness and darkness of a line as you add pressure to the stylus in a similar vein to the real pen or pencil

Six of the iOS drawing apps provide inherent support for this stylus with more on the way. Here, the developers would have to integrate the functionality for this device in their software to have it work. As well, it would require you to work with the files being held on your iPad.

But, with appropriate bridging apps for the iOS platform and the MacOS X and Windows regular computing platforms, this could make it feasible for an iPad that is tethered to a regular computer to become an improved version of one of those “digitizers” or “graphics tablets”. These devices had a tablet surface and a stylus so you could trace hand-drawn graphics or do freehand drawing in to a graphics program. In some cases, these tablets also were a command surface for some CAD programs where you entered drawing commands by “picking” them using the stylus.

Here, the combination of an always-updatable touchscreen display could allow for a variety of options for this class of work. For example, it could permit the direct edit of work on the iPad while using the main screen as an overview display. This could include freehand digitizing and drawing with the iPad providing a natural “paper” feedback and the work appearing on the graphics program.

Similarly, a CAD / CAM program could benefit from turning the iPad in to a “tabbed” command tablet with the stylus being used to “pick” the commands.

Here, the idea of a Bluetooth stylus or, in some cases, a “puck” could make the iOS or Android tablet earn its keep in the CAD or graphics-design office rather than just as a tool for media consumption.

Send to Kindle

Two-screen TV viewing a strong trend

Article

The Future Of TV Is Two Screens, One Held Firmly In Your Hands | Fast Company

My Comments

There is something that is becoming a reality with TV. It is where our TV-viewing sessions are involving two screens – one large screen carrying the main video and one smaller screen that we are holding in our hands.

This has been brought about by the popularity of the tablet, laptop and smartphone which are serving the second-screen role.

Some of us may think it is just for checking email or the activities of our Facebook Friends or Twitter followers. But a fair bit of this activity is to do with the content itself.

For example, one could be using GetGlue, Fango or other TV-related social networks to find out who is watching this show and what others have to say about it. Similarly, one could be checking the show’s Website and looking at other information and commentary that exists there. These are activities that may not work well on the big screen.

Similarly, most big-screen applications cannot support multiple concurrent logins for social-network or similar uses; and they are typically require “pick’n’choose” or “SMS-style” text entry.

In the case of news, a good quote for this is that “the revolution doesn’t have to be televised”. Here, one could be checking other news resources to verify the veracity of a news story, which can be very difficult during election time. This is augmented through comment feeds and Tweet feeds that are set up during news events like the one I participated in during the UK parliamentary inquire in to the News Corporation phone hacking scandal where I was dropping Tweets in to the feed from a Fujitsu laptop that I was reviewing. Similarly the scoreboard apps that I have mentioned about previously could simply work as an always-live scoreboard display during a sporting event and some sports like cricket or racing may benefit from these apps further by displaying supplementary scores like track position or bowling scores.

Of course, the commercials as we know them will be hamstrung by the two-screen viewing experience. This is more so as the traditional goal of eyeballs at the screen during ad breaks is reduced more. Here one could be following up information on the second screen while the ads play on; as well as visiting the kitchen or bathroom or stoking up the log fire. But the information that one could be following up on can relate to what was in the TV program; or it could be to follow up on something that was advertised during that ad break or a previous ad break.

As I have noticed and observed, this concept of two-screen TV is hard to adjust to for some people, especially the older generation who are more interested in focusing directly on the screen. It may be us simply glancing down at that smartphone or tablet so we can know further what is going on with some events.

I see this as becoming an interesting chain of events as we integrate in to an online and highly-interactive media-consumption life.

Send to Kindle