Tag Archives: tablet

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2: How big is too big?

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Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro ™ 12.2 (Wi-Fi), White 32GB
http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/galaxy-tab/SM-T9000ZWAXAR

Recently, I’ve had a hankering to do some inking. Using a stylus and tablet to write has a wonderfully organic feel that I’d enjoyed when using digital ink on Galaxy Note Phones and an early generation Note tablet 10.1. So, I downloaded some handwriting apps onto my iPad Mini and Kindle HDX 8.9, got out a stylus and got started. l quickly remembered why I’d always preferred Samsung Note devices and S pen — they make inking super easy… no skips or stutters.

So I visited my friendly neighborhood Best Buy. l considered the Note 10.1 2014 edition but quickly became most interested in the elusive and mystical 12.2″ Note Pro, which wasn’t on display. When I asked about it, I learned an employee had one of her own and she’d be working the following day. As promised, she was there the next day, Note Pro 12.2 in hand. She let me try it out and although I’d expected to be appalled and deterred by its size, I found it to be not only pleasant but fun to use.

What did I like?
– The screen is bright and sharp
– The ability to view up to 4 apps simultaneously is very handy
– The S pen makes the inking experience super smooth
– Samsung’s S pen handwriting recognition software works very well, even with my nearly illegible scrawl
– The Samsung Note Pro’s digital ink apps are fun and useful, and especially show off the S pens’s capabilities

Although I haven’t had it long, l’ve been surprised and delighted by the Note Pro 12.2. I got a free keyboard case with it (part of limited Samsung promotion) but haven’t used it because the S pen experience is so good.

Moral of the story? As newer, larger tablets are released, don’t knock ’em til you try’ em.

There once was a company named Palm… or how I came to buy an HP TouchPad

Touchpad

Like many geeks, er technophiles, I recently bought an HP TouchPad at fire sale pricing. I bought it partly because it was a great tech buy, and this article describes what I like about it, as well as webOS apps I’m enjoying.

But I also bought the TouchPad for a more nostalgic reason:

Palm ignited my love of mobile tech

Once upon a time, in a decade not so long ago (the 90s), I received a Palm Vx for Christmas.

Palm vx

Suddenly, I could have my calendar and contact list me wherever I went. I could sync my device with AvantGo content and read news articles while I waited to get my allergy shots. I loaded Peanut Press books onto my Palm Vx and caught up on my reading while waiting in line at the grocery store.

The Palm Vx was small. It was stylish. Palm Computing (division of 3Com) had made other PDAs but none so svelte and pocketable.

I’ve had many PDAs and smartphones over the years, but none evoke the delight I felt using the Palm Vx. I dutifully tucked it into its desktop dock to charge every evening, and never left the house without it. It became my first experience of ubiquitous computing, despite the fact that it didn’t directly connect to the Internet.

When HP bought Palm in 2010, it seemed promising. Finally, the Palm brand would be nurtured.

Alas, that was not to be. In August 2011, HP announced it would no longer manufacture webOS devices, including the TouchPad, Pre 3, and Veer.

And so, when HP announced its TouchPad fire sale pricing ($99 for 16GB, $149 for 32GB), I knew I had to get one.

After all these years, what did I think of the current version of Palm OS (now webOS)?

I love it:

  • Easy to use, intuitive
  • Elegant user interface
  • Scales well to tablet use
  • Easily optimized via Preware

And, like Palm OS of years past, there’s a vibrant and committed webOS community.

And the TouchPad? With its webOS underpinnings, it’s probably the best tablet I’ve used, and I’ve tried them all!

While heavier than the iPad 2, its softly rounded edges make it comfortable to hold and use. Docked in its Touchstone, it’s easily accessible and comfortable to use at one’s desk even while charging. It’s plenty speedy after applying Preware patches and a custom kernel (I’m currently running F4 Phantom).

And despite those naysayers intent on complaining webOS and TouchPad are light on apps, I haven’t had any trouble finding apps I’ve looked for. And I’ve stumbled across great TouchPad apps too.

My favorite HP TouchPad (webOS) apps, so far:

InterfaceLIFT: Gorgeous wallpapers

Angry Birds: ’nuff said

Glimpse: Cool app that enables user to select apps to use in a multi-pane view. See these instructions for downloading Glimpse (Developers’ Cut)

Spaz HD: Great twitter app despite the odd name!

AccuWeather: The same great weather data in an app designed for TouchPad.

box: 50GB free cloud storage just for creating your account from your TouchPad!

Flickr Mundo HD: Great Flickr app, and gorgeous in Exhibition mode.

FlashCards HD: Great study aid. Easy to import cards you find online — I’m using it to study for a professional exam.

Audubon Birds: Beautiful photos and lots of great info for aviary fans

NPR Reader: For NPR fans

Kindle: To read your Kindle books. Be forewarned the Kindle icon you see on your newly purchased TouchPad is just a link to the HP Store — you still need to download it!

Quell HD: One of my favorite Android games, beautiful and relaxing

Honorable mention (aka, apps for which I couldn’t find links!):

The WSJ Reader

The Washington Post Reader

Chicago Tribune Reader

L.A. Times Reader

News Republic

USA Today

Guardian News Hub

Guardian zeitgeist

iheartradio

atPeace: Relaxing scenes and music

PodCatcher Deluxe: Nice podcast streamer

If you’re a new TouchPad owner (and even if you’ve had your TouchPad for a while), I can’t recommend highly enough James Kendrick’s TouchPad optimization article on ZDNet. He’s posted several TouchPad articles, all well worth your time.

All in all, the TouchPad is a very good tablet made even better by webOS. If you’re fortunate enough to find one, I say go for it!

Samsung Galaxy Tab: Some favorite apps & resources

After picking up my Sprint Samsung Galaxy Tab last weekend (see my initial impressions post), I’ve had a chancesamsung-galaxy-tab to play and get some interesting apps loaded. Since I’ll primarily be using the Tab at home, you won’t see driving or navigation apps listed below. Also most apps are not specifically designed for tablet unless noted.

The first thing I did to customize my Tab was to install a new font (since Samsung’s TouchWiz UI allows font customization): Humana Sans ITC FlipFont ($0.99)

Then, I got busy installing apps…

News:

  • The Wall Street Journal: This app is specifically designed for Android tablet use. I’ve long had an online subscription to WSJ to keep up with business and financial news. I like the UI and how the app refreshes each morning at 4:30, so I can read news updates when I get up. Note that a $3.99 weekly subscription will apply after the trial period. (free during trial period)
  • Bloomberg: My favorite app for following stock prices & corresponding news. (free)
  • NY Times: A favorite news source made even better by making an Android tablet version available. To download, visit http://nytimes.com/androidtab from your Galaxy Tab. (free)
  • Financial Times: An excellent (and highly recommended) source for business and financial news. (free)
  • Mediafly for tablets: An interesting and varied source for news audio & video. I haven’t used this app much yet but so far find it interesting. (free)

Media (audio / video / ebook readers):

  • Radio 104.1 WMRQ: One of my favorite alternative rock radio stations. (free)
  • TuneIn Radio: A full-featured, free radio app that provides access to hundreds of radio stations. (free)
  • KCRW Radio: Probably my favorite NPR station – love their music and feature programming. (free)
  • Pandora Radio: I love Pandora’s “Spa Radio” enough to ante up the $36 annually. (free)
  • TV Flash: A work in progress app that provides ability to stream (over WIFI) a variety of TV stations  (U.S. & non-U.S.). (free)
  • Kindle: The Tab form factor makes it an excellent ebook reader, and I find the Kindle app pleasant to use. Another benefit of the Kindle app? Ability to download free ebooks from Amazon – some are basic fiction, but sometimes there are some nonfiction gems – list available here: Limited-Time Offer ebooks.
  • Aldiko Book Reader: If you’d prefer not to use the Kindle app or Amazon store, the Aldiko reader is well done. (free, paid version available)

Games:

  • Angry Birds: This fun and incredibly addictive game works well on the Tab. (free)
  • DroidWords: Looking for a Scrabble clone that doesn’t require other players? DroidWords is what you’re seeking. Get the  paid version to avoid the annoying ads inserted into the free version. ($2.99)
  • Sheep Run Beta: Another fun and addictive game. Not sure though if it’s still available in the market since, sadly, my search this morning didn’t find it. (free)
  • Droid Odyssey BETA: A fun side-scroller, the developer warns it’s has problems on the Galaxy Tablet. However, I’ve been able to play it on the Tab. (free)
  • Shortyz Crosswords: Perfect for folks who like to do crosswords and prefer free (vs. subscription) content. (free)

Other:

  • Palmary Weather Pro: In my opinion, the best weather app for Android. Widgets available, too. ($2.99)
  • Springpad: A great place to save stuff you want to remember – I like it better than Evernote. (free)
  • Touiteur Premium: My favorite mobile twitter client. I prefer the Premium version although a free version is available. (free. paid version: ~$2.73)
  • Beautiful Widgets: These are beautiful on the Tab, too. (paid: ~$2.04)
  • Dolphin HD Browser: Of all the browsers available on Android, this is the one I always return to based on ease of use and speed. (free)
  • Bookmarks to SD: After installing Dolphin HD, I use this add-on app to import my desktop bookmarks to my mobile device. (free)
  • WolframAlpha: A great reference tool. (free)
  • Dropbox: A great file archive tool. I frequently save nonmarket apps to Dropbox to put them onto my device for install. If you haven’t tried dropbox yet, here’s a referral link: https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTIxOTYzMDA5?src=global (free app)
  • Google Chrome to Phone: If you use Chrome as your desktop browser, this app is a no brainer… allows you to push urls from your desktop browser  to your Android device. (free)

Galaxy Tab enthusiast web sites & forums:

So, there you have it… my favorite Android apps & online resources for Tab to date. If you’ve found some good apps / references, please leave a comment to let me know!

Samsung Galaxy Tab: Initial impressions & comparison shopping

samsung-galaxy-tabIf asked a week ago, I’d have said the Samsung Galaxy Tab was the product I was least likely to buy. Although it looked interesting, I couldn’t understand why someone would buy a 7” tablet. Really, why?

Still, I’d been reading positive articles about the Galaxy Tab by James Kendrick and was intrigued. To learn more, I went to try the Galaxy Tab hands on. It’s a solid, well-built device with a beautiful, responsive touchscreen. I watched a YouTube video and surfed the web. Easy to handle. Text displayed clearly & crisply. I liked it, but wasn’t too sure about buying it @ $399 with 3G contract.

So, I visited some nearby stores to check out products that could be considered similar:

Huawei Ideos S7 7” tablet: Interesting feature set on paper (including Android 2.1), but I found the resistive touchscreen to be frustrating and not worth $299. Screen wasn’t responsive enough, and I didn’t like pressing so hard to activate a function.

Velocity Cruz 7” tablet: Another 7” tablet, but this time running Android 2.0. Build quality seemed cheap. Not compelling enough to spend ~$300.

Archos 7 Home Tablet: Cheaper than other 7” tablets at $199, and apparently running Android 2.1. However, read reports of poor WIFI connectivity. Why is it named the “Home Tablet”? Based on some reviews, apparently due to poor battery life.

I got to thinking, if my main use case would be as eReader, why not consider Kindle, nook, etc.? So I wandered over to see those. Both the Nook and Kindle are well-built quality devices (I owned the Kindle 2, and had used it day in and day out). The free 3G connectivity is enticing. However, while my main use was to read ebooks, I didn’t want a device limited to just one usage scenario. I also find E Ink’s reverse display during page turns distracting. (Note: There are rumors the $249 nookcolor will be hacked to enable broader use as an Android device. Stay tuned.)

Despite finding the Kindle and nook too limited, I realized I loved the device dimensions as a comfortable fit for an eReader. The roots of a Galaxy Tab were planted…

Before buying a Tab, I revisited the iPad as ebook reader. I love the iPad for bringing tablets to the masses, but find it uncomfortable to curl up with like a book. As an eReader, it is simply too big despite its other qualities.

Aside from the quality of the device itself, what finally compelled me to buy the tab-homeTab? RadioShack’s Sprint Galaxy Tab $350 sale (11/21 – 11/24/2010). I went with the 2GB $29.99 data package since I’ll generally use the Tab at home.

Now that I’ve had the Tab a few days, I’m finding I enjoy it even more than expected. I’m reading Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life, on the Kindle for Android app. I’m keeping up with news via the WSJ, NY Times, and Financial Times Android tablet apps. I’m reading PriusChat and AndroidCentral forum posts on the Tapatalk Pro app. I’m reading Twitter posts via the Toiuteur Premium app. I added the Clockr Evolution text clock widget. I’ve played chess on the SparkChess HD Lite android tablet app (requires Adobe Air) and honed my Angry Birds gameplay skills. I’ve taken screenshots by pressing the Back and power buttons simultaneously.

I love the apps that are configured for tablet display but haven’t had seen any display issues for apps not specifically intended for Android tablets.

For my usage scenarios (ebook reading and couch surfing), the Tab is perfect. Comfortable to hold with a crisp, easy to read screen. If your use scenarios are similar to mine, definitely recommend the Tab as an option.