Category Archives: Tablets

Hands on With Windows 8 Release Preview on a Tablet

With the Windows 8 release looming for October 26th 2012 and Microsoft Surface pre-orders started I wanted to take some time and play with Windows 8 again and see if it made any more since to run. I had installed an older version of Windows 8 on my tablet a ASUS EP 121 that is running an Intel Core i5 with 4GB RAM and has both Touch and a Wacom pin. So this should be a good system for testing Windows 8 on.

After downloading the disk image of the OS I used the Windows 7 DVD/USB backup tool to put the installer on a 4GB flash drive after to install the files on my Tablet. The installer booted and offered to install Windows 8 I changed some settings and pushed the OS to upgrade Windows 7 and all it did was move all of Windows 7 and the apps installed to Windows.old folder.

When the system rebooted it asked me to connect to my Wi-Fi and then login to a Windows account and set the colors of my Start Screen. At this point you are dumped to the Tile interface that is the only real thing Microsoft is showing in all of the advertising of what Windows 8 is. So now on the Start Screen I was showing it to my Wife who is not a techie person and my Son who is 3 and we started looking through the Photos app because it was smart enough to look for photos that are on my main desktop and somehow it had access to them even though the Tablet had not connected to the HomeGroup or logged into my desktop, this may have to do with me being logged into a Microsoft account on my Windows 7 desktop and by logging in with the same user on the tablet that it lets me not have to use my desktops username and password to access files.

With photos showing up my Wife and Son took over and we’re having fun flipping through photos, at some points the app would crash and leave us back loading the app and then thumbnail images of the folders only showed up a gray boxes and would change to a thumbnail if you went into the folder for enough time that it would load every image. This is the first of many times the Tile apps would crash that night, and yes this is a “Preview” but if you are releasing it things shouldn’t be crashing when loading photos over a home network.

I wanted to try out some of my Windows 7 applications that are installed still under that Windows.old folder, after finding my copy of ArtRage Studio and long tapping to pin the program to Start, it opened up just fine and ran in the Desktop mode. This is when I started finding myself using the good old desktop mode more and more. Now that I see it works I install Google Chrome because I like using Chrome and how it works, so Internet Explorer took me to the desktop even though I used the link on the Start screen but whatever and I went about downloading chrome.

For ArtRage to work right I needed to put in my registration key that I had a screen shot of save in Google Drive so I installed the desktop application and went about opening the file in an Explorer window but it wanted to no preview it but open it in the Photos app, only problem is that takes over my screen and doesn’t let me have more than one window open so I can get the code, another fail for pushing me back to the Start tile interface. After long pressing and going to preview it went back to the Start menu and said that another program can open that file and I told it to use the desktop image preview application and got things done.

Chrome was nice enough to install both a Desktop application version and a different version that worked in the Start menu but they are different apps/applications, this is a restriction Microsoft put in making software makers build two different programs, this is another fail because you may have something open a link on the Start tile interface but then you need it on the Desktop and this can’t be done.

I also at this point found out that the driver for my Wacom pin was not working right from what was pre-installed and I had to find the Windows 7 drivers and after a restart the pin worked great.

So it’s getting more frustrating to use but I went ahead and loaded the Music app, but for this app it didn’t know to look on my desktop for music and couldn’t find anything I had, but sure did want to sell me music thanks for that, not really the preview was ok but not what I wanted. So I went ahead and though good time to setup the tablet on my HomeGroup because mentioned something about joining to show my music, cool so after going through to another interface and back and forth with the onscreen keyboard that you have to change views to get a number I was connected to my HomeGroup and could see my desktops music in the Desktop mode and if I was to load a specific file in the Music app it would play one song not a folder full. So thinking as I do I added my music library from the desktop system to the local music library and then things started showing up in the Music app.

The Music app does not do good with lots of files, I was able to crash it doing almost anything now, if I play all it will shuffle through my songs but crashes because the background to songs with no cover art is a bunch of other cover art so each time you skip songs it reloads this wall of images, and then crashes. Now if you want to look for an artist that will crash with my large collection of music it hangs on switching and doesn’t scroll and finally crash again.

With the Music app crashing when looking for an Artist I looked for them using the Desktop mode and had it play the folder of music I wanted to play and test out, fail again I had to go back to the old way of doing things to get things working fast and easy.

Now I was going to install some apps from the Store, after finding some they seemed to work out just fine SketchBook Express and Wikipedia loaded just fine and I was able to use them, Wikipedia needs some work to use up more white space and make it easier to read because when you are reading most people are used to scrolling down not to the side but it was still usable. The WordPress app had some problems with logging into my site, it kept asking for me to update the Jetpack plugin but there is no update that I can get.

Back to stock apps, I went and tried the Mail app this required me to login to my email account and it had Google as an option, the only problem was it would not connect. So thinking what about updates they may have fixed some problems, well there was 9 updates and I let it update and restarted the Tablet and I was able to login to my Google account and my mail did show up but the Mail app is a little hard to use, like when you switch messages you have to select the text not just the area that is around it making it hard to use with your finger. Also by logging into my Google account my calendar showed up but only the main calendar content not all of my sub-calendars or others I have joined from other people. I hope Google makes some apps for their products that work as if I was on Android or I would have to just use the websites.

New day new problems, so I could get screen shots of things I installed an application called Greenshot and found myself installing VLC Media Player but Windows 8 doesn’t know the publisher so it wanted me to be protected from installing the program. So I tried to do it again by running the installer as Administrator but got the same message, this time I thought well let’s see what the learn more link does, at that point it said nothing other than it was an Unknown Publisher and I could run it any way. Too bad that made no sense or wasn’t obvious to let me install it.

Another thing that seems to be a problem with the Music app, while writing this it is long and taking time, ok so my tablet screen goes blank, that’s ok because its saving power and not burning out my screen, but the Music app is now not signed in and can’t get my music from my local network even though I am still connected to the Wi-Fi. The only way to get my music back was to switch to another app, use the hard and unobvious way of closing a Start tile app by dragging the left edge of the screen and pulling down to the bottom to close it and have it reopen. Only then did it start to find my music again even though I did try the resign-in button on the app. I would have not known that it was even possible to close an app if I didn’t spend some time reading though a list of posts around the Internet of other people as confused on how to close an app.

To close this out, I am trying this new Windows 8 Start tile interface in its intended way on a touch screen tablet and not an a desktop because I already know that it was just a big fail, and found the operating system to be improved for touch but still lacking a full tablet experience and all in all not even close to being ready for a release. Microsoft should have just built a Tablet OS based on Windows Phone and not mess with the Windows Desktop OS but now they have screwed up both experiences once again. I wanted to see Windows 8 work out good on my tablet because Windows 7 is so hard to use on it, but there are so many shortcomings with the Apps and I just had to go back to the old Desktop interface to get things to work or make things easy. People are going to try things and just not upgrade ever to Windows 8, they will look at Android and iPad as the way to have a tablet that works all the time. This is going to be another situation like Windows XP and desktop users will not upgrade. Microsoft is betting big on this new interface, and they are getting pressure from PC makers and PC part makers such as Intel to help drive sales but this will not help, it will further stagnate the market.

All in all I would say Windows 8 is going to be a failure and it’s too late to change things. I will keep Windows 7 on my desktop for a long time, and I will just put this tablet away and not use it for much other than drawing once in a while, and just use my Nexus 7 for everything that I want.

Microsoft Surface Pre-Order Available

With the upcoming release of the Windows 8 and Windows RT Microsoft has been developing what they think is the ideal tablet experience for Windows RT. They call their tablet Surface and will be coming out in both a Windows RT version and Windows 8 Pro version. The announcement of the Surface with Windows RT came out today and will start at $499, shipping on October 26 2012. There are three different packages to order, the lowest priced one is just a 32GB Surface with no cover and the highest is 64GB with a Cover. You can also order extra covers in different colors or buy a cover with a built-in keyboard that comes in 5 different colors.

While I don’t see mass adoption of Windows 8 or Windows RT it looks to be an acquit tablet interface but lacks in apps and functionality that most users will expect from a tablet such as an iPad or Android device. As for running Windows 8 on a laptop or desktop is a complete failure on the part of Microsoft, and they have only shown how the start menu takes over the system and that is all they expect you to do with your computer is have the start menu up all the time. This tablet seems like a response to the iPad but done with out thinking through the entire experience along with the experience of how Windows 8 will work as a desktop interface.

While the Surface looks to be a decent tablet it will also come with Microsoft Office 2013 RT installed, while it will be a pre-release of Office Home and Student it should get updated to the full release when it comes out. They also include Internet Explorer 10, Xbox Music store and other Xbox branded games. Check out the specs and gallery below for more about the details of the device.

Software Windows RT and Office Home and Student 2013 RT
Storage 32 and 64 GB
CPU / Memory NVIDIA T30 / 2 GB RAM
Display 10.6 inch 5-point multi-touch
Cameras Both front and back 720p HD
Wireless 2×2 MIMO WIFI, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports USB 2.0, mircoSDXC, HD Video Out
Sound 3.5mm headphone, 2 microphones, stereo speakers
Sensors Ambient Light, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass
Price $499-699 + $119-129 for covers + HD Adaptor

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, 11, Lynx, Twist

Lenovo announced the pre-order of four new Windows 8 mobile systems, the IdeaPad Yoga 13, Yoga 11, Lynx, and Twist. The Yoga is a convertible laptop tablet that hinges to fold the keyboard flat with the display going backward, this gives it the ability to be used as a tablet or stand up in interesting ways. This was first seen at CES 2012 and got lots of attention. It will come two sizes at 11.6 inch and 13.3 inches. The big difference between the two is the 13 has an Intel 3rd Generation i7 processor running Windows 8 Pro and it earns being a Ultrabook. Where the 11 runs on a NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor with Windows RT with less battery life and won’t run any old Windows applications because it runs the ARM processor. Full tech specs of the four systems below.

As for the Lynx, it is a low powered Dual Core Intel Atom powered 11.6 inch tablet that runs Windows 8 but has a keyboard that can be attached to transform it into a laptop type computer. They claim that with the 16 hours of batter you can use it all day and also use it for applications like the included Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

The Twist is the only one specifically built for business users, it has an Intel Core i7 processor and is also a Ultrabook running Windows 8 Pro with the option to have 3G data and more storage options. They also make note that it will have a normal ThinkPad keyboard that so many people like to type on if they have a laptop. The display is also a high-definition IPS with multi-touch that twists around so you can use it like a tablet. This would be a good power user laptop if you are looking to get a Windows 8 Pro device.

IdeaPad: Yoga 13 Yoga 11 Lynx Twist
Screen 13.3″ 11.6″ 11.6″ 12.5″
Processor Intel Core i7 NVIDIA Tegra 3 Intel Dual Core Atom Intel Core i7
OS Windows 8 Pro Windows 8 RT Windows 8 Windows 8 Pro
Battery 8 Hours 13 Hours 16 Hours w/ Dock 7 Hours
Storage 256GB SSD 64GB eMMC 64GB eMMC 500GB HDD / 128GB SSD
Ultra Book YES NO NO YES
Price MSRP Starts At $1,099 $799 $649 $849

These specs are if you max out things such as getting the fastest processor or largest SSD, and they only gave prices for the lowest of the spec base systems so the prices will be way different. You can pre-order the Yoga 13 at Best Buy October 12 2012.

Google Nexus 7 OTA 4.1.2

Lots of users over at XDA-Developers Forum have started to get an update for their Google Nexus 7 tablets, this updates brings Android 4.1.2 Jellybean to the device. This isn’t a big update from what people have seen, it seems to increase performance and stability of the tablet along with bug fixes. The only real visible change is the ability to rotate the home screen in landscape mode. Below is a post on the Android Building Group.

We’re releasing Android 4.1.2 to AOSP today, which is a minor update on top of 4.1.1.

As a note to maintainers of community builds running on Nexus 7: please update to 4.1.2 at the first opportunity. Future variants of the grouper hardware will have a minor change in one of the components (the power management chip) that will not be compatible with 4.1.1.

The build number is JZO54K, and the tag is android-4.1.2_r1.

Enjoy,
Conley and JBQ


Jean-Baptiste M. “JBQ” Queru
Technical Lead, Android Open Source Project, Google.

I have been setting my Nexus 7 to look for an update but none yet for me, but thanks to user PTzero of XDA you can download the update from Google’s servers and flash the update yourself if you want. If you are like me you may just do this, and is reported to keep ROOT on your tablet if you have done that like I have. Otherwise wait a day or so and it should update your device.

Images from: EE Times

FreedomPop Free 4G Data

FreedomPop is a company using Sprint WiMax 4G service to give users 500MB of free data usage a month. They also plan on updating the service later on to use Sprints 4G LTE network for wider coverage. While you get 500MB of data free they also offer reasonable rates for extra data, such as the “Casual 2GB Data Plan” is $17.99 a month. To get the service you also have to put down a security deposit for the MiFi or USB Stick, and depending on the one you get the price.

After looking at their coverage map it shows that the WiMax is the real problem, it’s only in major cities. For me the closest cities are Salt Lake or Denver that have coverage. If this worked on Sprint’s entire network I would be down for spending the $20.98 for the 2GB and the “Speed Plus” that is said to give a 50% boost in speeds whatever that means. The change to LTE is expected to happen sometime in 2013.

They also have an iPhone and iPod sleeve being made that works like a MiFi but also adds 6 hours of battery life to the iPhone case. With one of these you could turn an iPod into a real mobile device without an expansive contract. Both sleeves are only pre-order right now and will cost $99.

Check out the charts below for more details.

Device Deposit
Freedom Sleeve for iPod Touch $99
Freedom Sleeve for iPhone 4/4S $99
Freedom Spot – Photon $89
Freedom Stick – Bolt $49

The iPhone and iPod sleeves are said to come in a few weeks if you pre-order them.

Name Data per Month Price per Month
Free 500MB 500MB + $0.02 per 1MB after Free
Casual 2GB 2GB + $0.01 per 1MB after $17.99
Premiere 4GB 4GB + $0.01 per 1MB after $28.99

All plans can add FreedomPop Speed Plus for $2.99 per month for “50% faster speeds”.

For now if you have service in your area this could be a nice way to add data to a Tablet, Laptop, or other device if you want some free data that you would use from time to time, but otherwise hold off for a while until they change over to LTE. But it is good to see companies taking some risks in the mobile data field trying to come up with new ways to get people data service, also Sprint should be thought of as they seem to be the one network that is open to other companies trying new things using their equipment.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7” and 8.9” 4G LTE

The new updated version of the Amazon Kindle Fire was announced today; this includes an update to last year’s Kindle Fire, the Kindle Fire HD in a 7″ and 8.9″ that is in a WIFI and 4G LTE version. They also updated the software to add things like X-Ray IMDB people look up when watching movies, Wikipedia and YouTube videos when looking at words in text.

They spent some time in the announcement talking about how fast the OMAP4 processer with built in graphics engine. The display on the 8.9″ is an HD 254 ppi 1920×1200 pixel resolution, and on the 7″ has a resolution of 1280×800 pixels. Amazon also talked about how good the WIFI is that includes both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz radio systems with MIMO technology to use two antennas to boost reception depending on what antenna is getting the best signal. As for battery life they claim 11 hours on the 7″ Kindle Fire HD.

Few extra things they included was an HD front camera, HDMI out, Bluetooth, updated email and calendar applications, Wispersync for games to keep location in the game and scores. The Dolby dual stereo speakers are supposed give great audio sound to make watching videos better.

The 4G service is kind of cool but kind of limited; it costs $49.99 a year, and includes 250MB of data a month. It also includes 20GB of Cloud Drive storage and a $10 Amazon Appstore credit.

Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Fire HD 8.9″ Fire HD Fire
32GB $499 16GB $299 16GB $199 8GB $159
64GB $599 32GB $369 32GB $249
Ships November 20 2012 Ships November 20 2012 Ships September 14 2012 Ships September 14 2012

Google Play Store Smart Updates

If you use an Android Phone you most likely get your apps from Google Play Store, but updates can take lots of time and data if you have lots of apps. But earlier at Google I/O, Google talked about the new update system that would only download the parts of your apps that changed along with encrypting them so paid apps couldn’t be ripped off.

Reports now show that system has been started and will work even on older phones (2.3, 4.0 …) and can save you lots of data when updating apps. When you update an app it will download the part you need then start installing it if that’s all you need before the full download is done. This update should happen the next time you load the Google Play store on your device and happen without you having to do anything because the Play Store updates its self all the time.

Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1

If you are looking for an Android Tablet with a stylus you may want to check out the Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1 that includes what they call the S Pen that is like a WACOM pen and not the nub that most touch screen devices get. It uses an active digitizer so if you the creative type this can make drawing or writing on the screen easy and accurate. Many people who had the 5″ Samsun GALAXY Note phone liked how good the pen was and how big the screen was.

As for specs it has a 1.4 GHz quad-core processer, Android 4.0 ICS, HSPA+ Quad Band, 5 Megapixel and 1.9 Megapixel cameras, S Pen, and loaded with a bunch of S Pen friendly apps.

  • 1.4 GHz quad-core processor
  • Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • HSPA 21-Mbps (HSDPA 21Mbps / HSUPA 5.76Mbps) Quad Band 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
  • Main(Rear): 5 Megapixel Auto Focus Camera with LED Flash Sub(Front): 1.9 Megapixel VT Camera
  • 16/32/64GB User memory 2GB (RAM) microSD (up to 64GB)
  • Standard battery, Li-ion 7,000mAh
  • Bluetooth v4, WiFi, mHL, IR LED, USB 2.0 Host, 3.5mm Ear Jack

Below is a video put out by Samsung showing off what you can do with the S Pen and some of the extra apps built into the tablet.

YouTube App for PS3

If you’re a PS3 user and you like YouTube good news, you can now download the YouTube app from the PS3 store today that lets you watch videos from your PS3. It was designed for big screens making it easy to use from your couch. The other great feature was the fact that you can use your mobile phone or most likely your tablet to search, control, and load up more videos easier while other videos are playing.

  • Search: Finding the videos you want is easier than ever, with search suggestions and instant video results while you type.
  • Your subscribed channels: Sign in to find the latest videos from your YouTube subscriptions, which now also includes official music videos.
  • Your phone as a remote: With a quick pairing process, you can control YouTube on PS3 with a smartphone. Find a video on your phone and with a button it’ll play on the big screen. While the video is playing you can control it from the phone, or keep browsing YouTube for the next one.

You can get the new YouTube app sometime today in PS3 Store under My Channels.

Nook Color & Nook Tablet Price Cut

Barns & Noble just posted new lower prices for their Nook Color and Nook Tablet. These 7-inch tablets are built using Android OS and have a good amount of power for reading books, watching streaming video and playing music. This lower price is most likely a response to slowing sales of the now lower powered tablet and the introduction of new tablets such as the Google Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. This also follows reports of Amazon Kindle Fire sales dropping off.

If you’re looking for a cheaper reading tablet the prices are now $159 for the Nook Color, $199 for the 16GB and $179 for the 8GB version of the Nook Color. But I would say you may just want to spend the extra or the same amount on a Nexus 7 and get more power and the full and new Android 4.1.

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