Friday, November 26, 2010

Tab and keyboards

Many people have problems connecting bluetooth keyboards to Samsung Galaxy Tabs.
I hear that Google says that Android is not yet really meant for tablets. I think that's a bit slow, the tablets have been coming for a long while now. But on the other hand, what marvels we'll surely see when it becomes so!! (That was only half sarcastic.)

Anyway, while I could not get the GT to work with the Apple Wireless keyboard, I did get it to work with the super-compact Think Outside foldable keyboard. Zippidy. The stealth writer lounges once more.

I got rubber grips (updated August 2011)

[Update 2015: Further on, I've found that often even better for a good grip is a simple strap, easy to make yourself.]

I've been, uhm, griping about grip surfaces (or the lack of good ones) on tablets and readers for months, and for almost as long, I have been searching for a good material to make my own. I have lost count of how many different solutions and materials I have bought and tried, but suffice it to say that none of them were all that good. (For example, electrician's tape made little difference. And plasti-dip paint is messy, and while it does make a bit of difference, it was not a lot. The latest was a roll of non-slip tape for floors, about $35! Perhaps robbery but sadly  not rubbery.)

But it seems I found just the thing finally. These self-adhesive rubber pads. (Called "Non-Slip Rubber Pad", sold by National Artcraft. I think they are not normally sold to the public, you get them 36 at a time, hand-packed in a plastic bag without print or labels. They were out of stock for a while, so git 'em now if you want them.)

As often happens, I had to import them from the US, and go via a re-shipper, because as also often happens, they won't or can't ship outside the USA. Good grief, a long trek just for some durn rubber pads. (They do ship the Waxman product overseas though.)

I just got them and did the job today, so it's too early to tell if they will stay on after much use (I think they will though), but one thing is for sure: it totally changed the experience of using and reading on my Samsung Galaxy Tab (see review below). My grip is now really secure with no effort at all. It feels great.

(Update: they don't stay well on the glass front, but stay nicely on the plastic back.)

It also protects the device to a degree, you can lay it down on any flat surface without any worries. 

Unlike most "rubber" materials, these pads actually are rubber. You can smell it. Your fingers may even smell a little bit of it after using the device. (Update: the effect lessens over time.)

Obviously you have to cut them to size. I did it just by eye, I'm sure one can achieve a more professional looking result by careful measuring and cutting. I recommend "washing" the device first with a damp cloth, damp from warm water with a tiny bit of dish liquid in it, and drying it with a soft, dry cloth.

I used six pads, and they are only $14 for thirty-six of them, so it's hardly an expensive solution neither. The Galaxy Tab is just the size of the Kindle 3.
The iPad has room for six, sitting neatly along each other. This makes for some little gaps, hardly a problem.

Update: It works just as well just putting a couple in strategic places. Also, I've found it aids the grip further if you fold up the middle of a pad to make a little ridge across it, the fingers rest well on that.

Warning: after sitting a couple of months, these pads are hard to take off, and leave a thick layer of glue which is labor-intensive to take off (even using lighter fluid). And some precisely-designed iPad  cases (like the gorgeous Grove case) won't take the iPad even with these slim pads on (exactly two milimeters thick), so I guess one should think twice, they are clearly designed to be pretty permanent.
[Note: re stickers removal etc, I've been recommended Goo Gone, from reviews it sounds great.]

Unusually, they seem to have a thin layer of glue, then a very thin layer of plastic, then a thick layer of glue, and then the rubber itself. Trying to remove them the thing is to get hold of the thin plastic layer, not easy. Sticking a knife under would help, but it would scratch the iPad. I found the best way is to peel off the rubber, and then roll in the edge of the thin plastic disc with your fingers until you get an edge you can grab hold off to peel it off.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We need rubber grips

A little tidbit of advice to makers of readers/tablets: these things are difficult to hold because one is always likely to trigger some button or other. A good thing would be to make the buttons more distinct, harder to trigger by accident. Another good thing would be to make rubberized grip areas on the sides and the back. This would give you areas where you know you can hold without hitting buttons, and also it would give a much more secure grip. It would heighten the user-experience considerably.

Galaxy Tab, early review

Well, I got the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and I must say, it's very close to being what I had wished for: a Kindle 3 with a high-contrast screen. In fact it's almost exactly the size of the Kindle three, only a couple millimeters longer and thicker.
(Apparently those millimeters didn't suffice for the product to be able to support regular thumbnail-sized SD cards, you have to get Micro-SD cards.  Astounding.)

I'm still investigating the other things this small tablet can do (quite a lot, being a full Android machine), but I can say this: it's pretty close to being a perfect portable ereader. (I hope we will get two kinds of ereaders as the years go: this size for portable, and big ones 10-12-inch screens) for home reading and serious study, for art books, for complex pages, etc.)

But what were they thinking with the price?? $600? It's definitely not $100 more worthy than the iPad. In fact, the iPad's screen size is a definite plus (though not essential like Jobs claim). I'd say maybe $100 less than the iPad. Which would give us $400, more reasonable. And sell it for $300 in half a year, you have something.

The screen is great for reading.
I only wish the various reading apps gave us finer steps in regulating text size. For me it's pretty important to find the exact size which is the optimum compromise between readability and how often I have to change the page. But other than that, for instance Amazon's Kindle app  is mighty fine.

Another small wish is a bit more shaved off the weight. The Galaxy Tab is 400 grams. The Kindle 3 is 250 grams, which is wonderful.

I'm missing a good app for reading Instapaper articles (Instapaper saves web articles in readable format, to read later on a portable device), those I've found so far are not optimized for the big screen, only for phones. But it's not bad for web browsing at all. And it's excellent for RSS (web page feed) with Greader for example. In other words, one of the best compact ereading devices we have so far, methinks. If you can afford to pay Rolls-Royce prices for a Mercedes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

iPad OS 4.2, finally

Finally! Half a year after these features appeared on the iPhone 4, the iPad will now get sort-of-multitasking, folders for apps, and so on. 'Cuz iOS 4.02 has just been released.