Tag Archives: iPad

My new Kindle Paperwhite.

A couple of days ago now I went and bought A new Kindle Paperwhite which had recently been released.

It’s not the first Kindle I have had. Just under three years ago I went down to John Lewis and bought what was then a 3rd generation Kindle and I remember being there wondering what am I going to make of this.
I do like my books. I like the action of turning the page, the feel of it, the cover, the fact that as you repeatedly read it it ages in changes in character. You might get a slight rip on a page or finger marks or splash of coffee on it. That all goes to making up the on-going reading experience, so what was I going to make of doing it electronically?

By the end of the first day I knew I was going to love it to bits. No worry about when the novelty wears off it’ll end up on the shelf just collecting dust. I really do like this as a reading experience and far better than using my iPad. That’s a great device where graphics are involved and for colour magazines that sort of thing. As a reader it’s not that bad a reader, but if I’m using it for more that about 40 minutes I’ve kind of had enough and want a little break, where using my Kindle I can settle down for a good evening’s read and immediately feel myself involved with the book, where using my iPad I always know I’m looking at an electronic device.

About six weeks ago my old Kindle developed a fault with some corruption up in the top quarter of the screen. This basically made it unusable. There was no hesitation or second thoughts, I immediately knew I wanted a replacement device. A quick look on the internet showed that a new model was due out fairly soon so I decided to wait. The reviews of the new Paperwhite model were all favourable so when it came out I headed off down to my local Waterstones book shop and got one.

I really do like it and am so glad I’m back with a working device again, I think these Kindles are great examples of things that just do one thing only but they do it really well.

My new Kindle Paperwhite does not have a physical keyboard but is a touch screen device and so uses a virtual keyboard. This I prefer to my old Kindle’s physical keyboard which I found a bit irritating to use – the buttons were too small and fiddly for my liking. However there’s one thing I do prefer with the old model and that’s for page turning it actually has physical buttons down the side where this new one requires a touch of the screen to turn the page. I prefer the buttons, but that’s just my personal view on that.

With my old model I did pay extra to get it with 3G functionality, but in reality in the 3 years I’ve had it I don’t suppose I’ve used its 3G more than half a dozen times. Wi-Fi at home means that I can use that for downloading books, and for direct transfer use its USB connection. When out and about there’s plenty of locations with free Wi-Fi or I can set up my mobile phone as a local Wi-Fi hot-spot. So when I got this new model I didn’t bother paying the extra for the 3G version.

The other difference with the new model compared to my old is that this new one has a backlight. I tend not to have it on for normal usage however it is really useful when in poor lighting conditions. I can see this making life a lot easier where you bedtime partner wants the lights out but you want to keep on reading!

Another thing I really like about the Kindles which does give them an advantage over your paper book is that when you come across a word that you don’t understand it’s so easy to look it up (and without disturbing your reading routine in the way that having to put a paper book down, go and find your dictionary, look up the word, then get back to your original book and pick up reading again does). Just being able to touch the word and have a pop-up definition window appear is really nice.

The old model specifications talk about a month out of the battery for ordinary use and I found that was quite realistic. With this new model they’re talking about two months out of the battery so we’re able to go away for holidays and that sort of thing not having to worry about cables and chargers, though it will charge off any USB connection.

Would I upgrade to this new Paperwhite if I had a working older model? That depends on the importance to you of having the backlight. For me personally I was quite happy without it, however my upgrade was forced upon me with my old one’s screen fault, so going to this model was a natural choice. If you’ve got an existing one without a backlight then you’re going to have to make a decision here yourself, is it worth it or is it not. All I will say is old or new, I do love my Kindle. As I commented on earlier it’s one of those devices that just does one task and it does it really well.

So I’ll happily say thumbs up for my Kindle Paperwhite.

Windows 8, RT and Tablets

What’s going to happen when Microsoft brings out both Windows 8 and the Surface tablet (running Windows RT) together.

I can see quite a few problems with people assuming that their nice new Surface will be able to run their existing Windows programs. After all, it came out at the same time as Windows 8, it has the look of 8, the feel of 8, and it’s even called Windows (be it Windows RT). So why can’t it run my programs!

This version of the Surface is powered by an ARM processor, targeting the battery / low power consumption devices of the portable market. It makes it no different to that of the iPad; the iPad runs apps downloaded from the App Store while the Apple desktops and laptops run OSX and the programs related to that. This Surface runs applications downloaded from Microsoft’s own marketplace while Windows 8 runs programs for desktop computers.

However Microsoft seems very lax in highlighting the differences between the ARM powered Surface tablet and Windows 8 for the Intel powered machines. I’ve read a few reports and surveys indicating the Microsoft support staff don’t seem to know the differences either.

I guess there is the added complication that in a few month’s time there should be the Surface Pro model which will be Intel powered and run full Windows 8.

I’ve never known people to be confused over the differences between the iPhone / iPad and the MacBooks and iMacs, Apple have kept them quite distinct (even if they are starting to give a common look and feel to their operating systems), but the way Microsoft has handled the release of their new systems has not been well thought out.

Coming in confusing their potential customers with almost identical but operationally very different systems as a way of trying to break into an established tablet market is not really the best way to do things.

But then this is Microsoft, not known for doing things the easy way!

7 Inch Tablets.

I can’t make up my mind about these new 7 inch tablets.

I like the larger screen sized phones – easier to see web pages, maps are nicer to use, more room for a virtual keyboard etc . I also like my iPad – a ‘full size screen’ device which can do much of what a lap-top can do but a lot lighter, more portable and longer battery life.
So what about those that fall between the two, the new 7 inch devices which are becoming more and more common. Too large to fit in my pocket or in a pouch on my belt so they’ve lost that portability factor. A lot smaller than an iPad so they’ve lost a lot of functionality that comes with a physically larger screen. The worst of both worlds.
Or is it a case that thought they’re not pocket size they are small enough to fit into almost any sort of bag or carrier without taking up any significant amount of space, yet big enough to provide a really useful size of screen. Also powerful enough with dual and quad core processors to do whatever’s demanded from them.

There’s one thing that must be in favour for at least for some of these devices and that’s their price. The Nexus 7 or the 7 inch Galaxy Tab2 may be smaller than the iPad but they still have a similar level of functionality, however they come in at around half the cost. This for parents thinking of providing their children with a tablet type device for school must make it much more tempting. Also for those uncertain about the whole tablet thing a price at the £160 to £180 range is far less of a risk than the £400 or £500 for an iPad. We’ve also got the much rumoured iPad mini which should be appearing soon.

If I was to be upgrading my phone now I could be tempted with a Galaxy Note 2 with its 5.5 inch screen, a device still small enough (just) for me to carry around on a belt holder. As for these 7 inch tablets, at the moment I’m not too sure.

A case of wait and see.

Apple thoughts

Apple Thoughts post iPhone 4S.

It’s now a few days since the new iPhone 4S was announces by Apple, so a few ‘Apple thoughts’. A variety of improvements compared to the iPhone 4 but in the same case, and I assume, because they have retained the case, calling it the 4S rather than 5.
However lots of unhappiness at no iPhone 5, but how much of this unhappiness is hidden vanity. I want to show off that I’m rich (I have more money than sense), that I’ve got the latest new toy and you haven’t, that I’m cool and you aren’t. However by retaining the old case there’s no easy way of differentiating between the old and the new. Those who go for the new phone because of say the better camera and / or longer battery life will be getting a great new device (functionality over form). Those who wanted something new to pose with will be disappointed.
On the other hand Apple is not just a company producing new and exciting electronics, but a company of innovating design, a company whose products turn heads and grab attention. Have they missed something here by putting new wine into old skins. I suspect not.
Those who want the new features will get it, the Apple ‘must have’ fanboi crowd will, of course, go for it, the vanity crowd will have to wait (though of course they can always pretend their old 4 is actually a 4S).
What it does do is give Apple a huge amount of free publicity as speculation continues about an iPhone 5. Will there be one at the turn of the year, or not till the spring conference; will it have the features that were predicted for the 4S but not included, or will it be something totally new. By not drawing a line under all this speculation they have ensured countless more column-inches in the press that would have cost them a fortune had they had to pay for that amount of publicity.

On the subject of Apple hardware, I do use it but I’ve never been impressed with the early /first versions. My first Apple device was a G3 iBook to replace a Sony lap-top, however the Sony outlived it’s replacement and this experience put me off Apple for some time. It was only when I came across a ‘mature’ MacBook that I started seriously using Macs again. I really did not like the original iPad, but am very happy with my iPad 2. The first iPhone totally underwhelmed me, but when the 3GS came out I soon got (still use) one. The first MacBook Air I thought was a joke. Maybe thin but far too large, underpowered, and lacking in ports. The current ones with their i5 / i7 processors are awesome machines.

I guess there is one thing with all this Apple stuff, you can never really predict what they are going to do next, and when things do come out, quite how people will react to them.

Kindle Thoughts

Some Kindle Thoughts.

I got my Kindle as a late Christmas present for myself (Jan 2011) so I’ve had it for a few months now and am very impressed with it. As for why did I get it – my local Borders bookshop closed and I hand’t realised how much I had got used to sitting in the Starbucks inside the book store reading, and I was missing that experience.

Having that Borders there, with the ability to browse the shelves and then sample a chapter or two of the book over a cup of coffee had resulted in me buying far more books than I ever used to. On-line stores may have cheaper headline prices, but for me the advantage of having the book in front of me where I could see it’s condition, not worry about hidden postage costs, no having to wait in for any delivery service or have the problem of wrong item sent, all that sort of stuff meant that I was a frequent Borders visitor. (Also met some amazing people while there.)

Anyway, back to the Kindle. It’s only designed to do one job and it does that job very well. It is light weight, including the fancy cover I’ve got for it it’s no bigger than a paperback, and the claimed one month battery life I’ve found realistic. As for the ‘reading experience’, it’s excellent. When reading off my iPad or computer I’m always aware I’m reading from a computer screen, but when using the Kindle then I’m just ‘reading’ and can happily get fully immersed in the book. It may not have the same feel (or smell) of a paper based book, but if something like this can encourage more people, especially children, to read more, then great.

Whether the older generation like it or not, the younger generation is a technology aware generation, so if you want them to read then accept the fact that electronic rather than paper reading will be the preferred route for many of them. Better Kindle reading than no reading!

As for available material, almost everything written before the 1930s now out of copyright which means there’s a vast amount of free material available. For the first time ever I’ve found myself reading Dickens. We all know the films such as Oliver Twist, but how many have actually read the books. I’m currently part the way through Darwin and On the Origin of Species and also Knowles and The Legends of King Arthur. I’ll shortly download some more Jules Verne.

So I’ll definitely give my Kindle a big thumbs up. I got my device from a local shop and headed straight down to my favourite Starbucks to investigate it. I was disappointed to find there was no pre-installed reading material so you couldn’t just take it out of the box and start reading, also the ‘getting started’ instructions I found feeble. However those problems were soon sorted and I am now a very happy Kindle user.

iPad thoughts.

Just a few iPad thoughts.

When the original iPad first came out I was not too impressed with it. No flash support, no USB, a screen with a ratio 4:3 rather than 16:9… and so on. Then after a while I thought about it and wondered if I wasn’t expecting too much from the device (it’s only a tablet after all) and swung around in favour of it.

This was to change again after I spent time playing with them in my local Apple Store. I found the square edges made holding it for any length of time uncomfortable, missed having a ‘real’ keyboard, it was over priced. My iPhone did most things I wanted a portable device to do, and I have a small net book if I want portable computing.

Then the iPad 2 came out and that gave me second thoughts. It was lighter and the relatively sharp square edges has been rounded off. An improved graphics processor and dual core main processor were there and they had not bumped up the price for the new model. They had also added rear and front facing cameras. (I am a great believer in that if you want to take a decent picture then use a proper camera, however a basic camera is still better than no camera, and using the iPad version of iMovie you can do okay video editing on the device.)

Now, I tend to be someone who will be happy enough to spend time thinking about things, nothing like a good bit of procrastination when you’re not quite sure of something. Maybe this or maybe that, but on the other hand….why not pour yourself another cup of tea. However once the decision has actually been made then I like to carry out that decision immediately. No hesitation, no delay, but *right now*.

So there I was in a local coffee shop with a friend and it was going to be a busy day so I had not brought my lap top with me. However he got out his (original model) iPad and was immediately being ‘computer productive’. That was it, that was the final action that made me go from ‘I’d like one but…’ to ‘It’s genuinely useful, I want one’. Five minutes later we were heading up towards the local Apple Store, and ten minutes later I was the proud owner of a base model iPad 2.

I like it. Where before I thought it too big compared to a phone, too small compared to a ‘proper’ computer, now I see it as nicely filling that gap. A screen big enough to be genuinely useful size, (great BBC iPlayer device) but not so large as to dent its portability. It can be carried around in almost any sort of case or ruck sack and has a decent battery life (so no need to be constantly carrying its charger). It can do about 80% of what I’d want from a full computer, but then on that odd occasion when I *really need* that bit of extra use I can always take my lap top with me. In numeric terms its screen resolution may now be bettered by other devices, but it is still a very nice screen to use. Its virtual keyboard I found unexpectedly pleasant (either one or two handed) and have made less errors using this virtual one than I usually do when using a physical one.

I do miss not having a USB port for for file and data back-up, and I wish a USB port was there for battery charging. The other thing I find a bit irritating is that the screen is too reflective, so I must look out for a screen protector for it to cut this down a bit.

So overall I’ll give it a definite Thumbs Up. A device I see not competing against, but complimenting one’s other computing devices.