Thursday, November 11, 2010

New tablets: all sizes including extra large!

Many companies are coming out with devices to compete with Apple's iPad and most of them are small with 5-7 inch screens. The iPad is 9.7 inches. Since these are diagonal measurements a 7 inch screen is a little less than half the size of the iPad. One company, however, has gone to the opposite extreme and will be releasing a 14.1 inch dual screen whopper. It will open like a book and is intended for the education market. The company, Kno, has partnered with a number of content providers to deliver textbooks for the device, including McGraw Hill, Pearson, Random House and Macmillan.

iPad comparisons are inevitable and this one has a much larger screen, a higher price and it's heavier. A single screen version will be available. The dual screen model will weigh 5.5 pounds and sell for $899 and the single screen version will weigh half as much and sell for $599. They will have touch screens but also feature pen/stylus input for making notes and marking up text. Weight would seem to be the biggest drawback since the dual screen model will be heavier than many laptops. Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sign of the times: US News and World Report dropping print subscriptions

US News and World Report has been one of the three major news magazines for years. Once a weekly publication, they switched to bi-weekly in 2008 and six months later became a monthly publication. Now in another major change they are dropping subscription based printed copies and will go mostly online. They will still offer newsstand printed copies but it remains to be seen how long that will last. This is another step in the gradual but inevitable conversion to the all digital news world.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What's not to like about the iPad?

Generally speaking I'm very impressed with the iPad. Given that it is a brand new category of device, Apple got a whole lot of things right on Version 1.0. This is the reason dozens of other companies are struggling so hard to create an "iPad Killer". Just do a Google search on "iPad killer" and you'll see what I mean. The size, weight and basic design are excellent. Apple has always been "minimalist" in terms of hardware features. They have preferred to let software handle most task and have gone from a one button mouse (that I have always disliked) to a one button iPad which I love.

Apple set the functionality bar high and the price low;  most people thought it would be nearly $1,000 and there was a noticeable gasp at the announcement when the base price was quoted at $499. So it's really hard to come up with something that's "better" in some important way or lower priced.

What don't I like in the current model?

  • Arranging icons on the ten home screens is tedious since they are displayed in simple rows and columns and must be dragged from place to place in a clumsy and sometimes frustrating process. Apple went a long ways toward fixing this problem on the iPhone when they came out with their new operating system - iOS4.1. This version includes folders which contain multiple apps and greatly simplify app organization. It will be available as iOS4.2 on the iPad in November.
  • The iTunes store has evolved from a simple music download service to a powerful but overly complex infrastructure for all manner of activities. These include app downloads as well as syncing and backups for iPhones and iPads. An overhaul of this service is overdue.
  • A camera would be nice and rumors are that the next iPad will have a front facing camera for video conferencing.
  • The iWork productivity applications are weak on the iPad. I use the Keynote app for all my presentations and it is very limited compared to the iMac version. It appears Apple wanted to demonstrate that the iPad was a business tool and rushed these apps out to make the point. I'm definitely looking forward to an upgrade of these apps.
  • Printing capabilities are very limited. Again, the iOS4.2 upgrade will include wireless printing capabilities and it will be important that they get that right.
  • There is currently no USB connection which makes it impossible to connect directly to a printer.
  • There is no memory card interface. Internal memory up to 64GB should be more than adequate for most people at the present. Other devices that offer memory card capability often provide significantly less internal memory. And since more and more of our information and media will be stored on the Internet (the Cloud), internal memory should become less and less important.