Saturday, September 10, 2011

MTV is the lava lamp of the 1980's

MTV is the lava lamp of the 1980's.
           -- Doug Ferrari

If so, I guess the iPad is the lavalamp of the 'teens. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

iPad screen vs MacBook Air

I noticed again how much more crisp the Macbook Air's screen is compared to the iPad's despite the latter not being considered at all bad, and despite those two having about the same pixel pitch (pixel density).
I wonder why. Might be connected to the touch-screen overlay.
Makes me look forward to improvements of the iPad screen in the future.

iPad on the left:


Macbook Air:

On the photo it looks like a little bit of camera blur on the iPad photo, or light pollution lowering the contrast over the black text, but in real life it simply looks slightly fuzzy compared to the Macbook. And it's the same on all the photos I took, so it's not a photo characteristic.

Daddy's book

The Kindle Chronicles interviewed a journalist, and they talked about how many distinguish sharply between tablets and ereaders, the latter are seen more like a book than a gadget (and so survives well despite the iPad). The Journalist Brad Stone mentioned how his less-than two years old daughter, who likes to bring her parents stuff, found his Kindle 2, brought it to him and put it in his lap and said "Daddy's book".

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Are Tablets a Good Investment for Students?

What a treat for you today, a professional writer for once! This is an article by guest writer Dee Mason. 

Are Tablets a Good Investment for Students?
by Dee Mason
Tablets seem to have come pretty much out of nowhere over the course of the year, expanding what was once a rather modest range into something rather epic. Ever since Apple launched their first generation of the iPad last year, the world has been somewhat split down the middle between those in the midst of a tablet love affair and those who frankly do not see the point. Of course, there are some that will always inherently need their gadgets for their daily commitments and students are no different, therefore it is currently being called into question whether or not a tablet is a good investment for a student. 

Well, as with all such matters there are pros and cons but if looked at entirely impartially, there would definitely seem to be more reason to think the investment a wise one than otherwise. A number of academies across England and Northern Ireland, the US, and other countries, are to begin offering the iPad 2 to students throughout their education, in return for a modest donation for the long term rental. Needless to say, if the educational institutions themselves are starting to lean toward the tablet end of the market, it would be pretty safe to say that such an investment cannot be anything other than a wise one. 

Furthermore, regardless of a plethora of new devices on the horizon, such is the demand for high quality second hand models that resale values are huge. As such, assuming the student in question can be trusted not to completely trash theirs or lose them down the backs of their sofa sets, there may be very little to lose money-wise.

Add into the mix the potential for unsurpassed entertainment alongside standard educational use and the result is a pretty conclusive answer of yes, leaving the only matter yet to address being which exactly to choose. As usual, all options have their pros and cons and the matter will ultimately come down to personal preference, though the following introduction to a few key examples may come in handy:

Apple iPad / iPad 2
The iPad came along last year to basically bridge the gap between the iPod Touch and the standard laptop – and did a pretty good job of it to say the least. This was the world’s first successful tablet and set the standard for all others to be measured by. On the subject of measurements, the iPad 2 measures in at just 8.8 millimetres deep and weighs 1.35 pounds – which is truly astonishing given the performance. Users can expect something of a cross between the exceptional MacBook range and the iPhone, with prices starting from around £350 ($500) for the 16GB model.

BlackBerry PlayBook
The PlayBook from RIM was initially touted as the world’s first tablet  to be designed and built with the business and educational markets in minds, which would have indeed made it the ideal choice for students across the board. The PlayBook certainly has one clear difference to the iPad immediately noticeable, which is the size and weight – therefore wins the battle for portability. The user interface is smooth and the power excellent, along with the abundant selection of apps available for pretty much anything imaginable. The only downside to the PlayBook, as picked up on by reviewers from day one, is the lack of onboard email and calendar functions, which instead require the unit to be linked to a BlackBerry Smartphone. Prices start from around £330 ($450) for the 16GB Wi-Fi model.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Seen as the ultimate tablet for social and entertainment purposes, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 also doubles up as a true educational powerhouse. Running the ever revered Android Gingerbread OS, the Tab 10.1 offers stunning multimedia performance, HD screen, dual surround sound speakers and more apps than the proverbial stick can be shaken at. Prices begin around the £450 mark ($700) for the 16GB version.

HP TouchPad
Unlikely to ever be seen again after being cancelled and then reduced from $499 to $99 to clear the inventory – so bad luck to all those who missed out!  

Needless to say, it all boils down to an individual's budgets and needs. However, despite what Apple would have us believe, there is enough competition in the marketplace to cater to these varying demands. Although it's conjecture at this point, we wouldn't be surprised to see tablets becoming an almost essential investment for 90% of students - a massive demographic, and one which may end up being a loyal customer base to whichever manufacturer wins them over best.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Windows 8 (touch)

With upcoming Windows 8, it seems MS is split between going towards simplicity and complexity. They want the same system running on Touch devices and traditional computers, and the Touch interface is very different indeed from the traditional parts. Well, you judge.
It's very interesting how you can run one app on part of the screen and another on the rest. The one-app-is-all-you-see is a big part of the strength of the iOS, but it's also a limitation.

Samsung Galaxy Note, First look by Cali Lewis

Re the Samsung Galaxy Note, Cali Lewis really loves it. I feel like Cali. But I guess I can't have her.

Like I said, with the high-rez screen, this may be the perfect commuter ereader and video device.
I'd have preferred iOS though. I actually think Apple is throwing away a big opportunity by not having (or seemingly wanting) a middle option between the iPhone and the iPad.

Kindle Chronicles on history of reading and screens

The always interesting Kindle Chronicles, Len Edgerly's podcast, has an interview in episode 161 with author Jane Brox, about how text and reading changed in history. It's much more interesting than it probably sounds to most. Did you know that there didn't used to be spaces between words? Or that people used to read aloud always, even to themselves? (I tried it, it actually changes the reading experience in interesting ways.)

I'm proud to say that Len Edgerly also in this episode took up a couple of questions about ereaders and screens that he and I have been corresponding about. He might work some of it into the book he is writing, along with the weird and hard to grasp question: 'why is ereading so *much* more compelling to some of us than paper reading?' It goes way beyond what "convenience" can explain.

Apple forces Samsung to remove the Galaxy Tab 7.7 from IFA show floor

Apple forces Samsung to remove the Galaxy Tab 7.7 from IFA show floor, article.

I'm sorry, but this is just lame. It makes Apple look like a bully. Apple doesn't even have a 7-inch tablet. Just because you have become the 800-pound gorilla in the bus* is no reason to start acting like one.

Steve Jobs always said: "for us it's not about market share, it's about making amazing products". And I do believe him, seriously, it is clearly what he's interested in. So I guess this unflattering behaviour on Apple's part is one of the signs that his diminished influence at Apple is real. This new Apple seems to be set on world domination with whatever means. Sigh, so sad.

*Famous joke: Where does a 800-pound gorilla sit in the bus? answer: wherever it likes.