Archive for the ‘gadget’ Category

Surface 3 is an excellent tablet

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Update 7/30/15 – The Surface 3 is an excellent tablet with Windows 8.1. The Surface 3 is even better with the Windows 10 upgrade.

Original Post Follows:

The Surface 3 is an overall excellent tablet, and a top notch media device. I did acquire a 4GB memory, 128 GB storage model along with the associated optional type keyboard.

The full HD screen is sharp, bright, and crisp with pleasing color rendition. Both media, and text are well rendered on the 10.8 inch, 3:2 aspect ratio screen. No over-saturation of colors with this screen. Netflix, Hulu etal rendered sharp, crisp pictures along with flawless performance. The sound quality / volume from the speakers allows enjoyable media watching without headphones. I did hear stereo separation with no noticeable distortion.

Since the new Cherry Trail Atom x7 processor is x86 based, I have installed some of my favorite x86 based programs; all have run without problems. The Cherry Trail Atom processor is peppy with no performance lag noticed so far. I do like the totally quiet environment with this fanless processor. Just remember, you are not driving a quad core i7 with 16GB memory, and you should be fine.

The Windows Store certainly does not have the depth of apps available with other platforms. Since the browser supports full Flash, some of the apps you utilize with other platforms are not necessary. I have experienced no problems performing my desired tasks using either Windows Store apps, legacy x86 programs, or the fully Flash enabled browser.

I enjoy using the optional keyboard for longer typing tasks. I also prefer using the arrow / page down keys on the keyboard for scrolling webpages. The touchscreen on the Surface 3 is excellent, but constant scrolling while reading gets old quickly on any platform. With the optional keyboard you have a much easier method (arrow / page down) with the added benefits of not clicking links inadvertently while scrolling. When using as a tablet, the optional keyboard folds around 180 degrees, and is shut off. I keep the keyboard attached 98% of the time.

The kickstand is a very handy feature that should be included with any tablet / phablet with a > 5″ screen. Kudos to Microsoft for including a kickstand with all Surface tablets.

The Surface 3 continues my pleasant experiences with my prior Surface models, the original Surface, and Surface 2. Those previous models were ARM based with no x86 support. I knew when I purchased the previous models that they did not support x86 apps, so not a problem. The Surface 3 has the same excellent build quality as the prior models with a faster (still fanless) processor, twice the memory, full Windows 8.1 (not RT), an optional pressure sensitive pen, and a nice screen ratio compromise for both media consumption, and web / document browsing.

If you are in the market for a top of the line tablet, add the Surface 3 to your short list.

Click here for Microsoft product page with pictures, specs, features etc

The Samsung Tab S 8.4 is a nice enhancement to the already excellent Tab Pro 8.4

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

If you read my post about the Samsung Tab Pro 8.4, you know I was impressed with the Tab Pro 8.4. The Tab S 8.4 improves on an already impressive tablet. As much as I liked the Pro’s screen, the change to a SuperAMOLED screen with the Tab S is a dazzling improvement.  The colors jump out at you, and text is super crisp.  I have always been a fan of SuperAMOLED screens.

The Tab Pro S is thin, light, fast, well built, and dare I say, elegant.  Watching videos, viewing picture albums, web surfing, eBook reading, and every other task I have tried is a joy on this device.  Even updating my HanDBase databases is an enhanced experience with the SuperAMOLED screen. Battery life has exceeded the range I need for daily activity.  I have not tested “the absolute drain to death” time since I charge all my devices nightly.

You see many reviews which criticize Samsung’s additions to the interface.  I respect their opinions, and do use a “pure Android” Nexus as well;  however, I like the TouchWiz enhancements.  I frequently use Multi-window.

If you are in the market for a premium tablet in the 8 inch screen size space, the Samsung Tab S 8.4  is an excellent choice.  I like the WiFi version so much, I may order the 4G version as well when it is released.

Samsung Tab Pro 8.4 is definitely one of the best available on any platform.

Monday, February 24th, 2014

The Samsung Tab Pro 8.4 is fantastic.  Phenomenal screen, light, very fast, no lag experienced, easy to hold, videos look super sharp.  This version does not have an S-Pen.  Even minus the S-Pen, the Tab Pro 8.4 is an elite, top tier tablet, definitely one of the best available on any platform. Add in an S-Pen along with LTE; this tablet would be unbeatable.

SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive is excellent for sharing files between PC’s, and Android devices.

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

If you regularly use a Flash Drive to transfer files between a PC, and a USB To Go enabled Android device, the SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive is an excellent accessory.  This Flash Drive incorporates both standard, and micro-USB connectors eliminating the need for the easily misplaced / broken USB To Go cable.  Using a 64GB Ultra Dual USB Drive with excellent results on both PC’s, and Android devices.

Again, Android the winner for playing Archos videos

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Used a Kingston Wi-Drive for this test. 

Android consistently streamed, and / or download the Archos files flawlessly from the Wi-Drive. 

iOS had problems again.  If the video format was one of the natively supported formats, iOS streamed / downloaded the videos fine using the Wi-Drive app.  However, the Archos videos are not natively supported on iOS.  When selecting an Archos video file from the Wi-Drive using the iOS Wi-Drive app, you do have the opportunity to select the player you desire to use for video playback.  Problem is the non-native video formats do not stream, the full video is downloaded before playback which takes on average 20 minutes, and frequently the connection drops even though the devices were about 2 feet apart during testing.  For me, this is unacceptable, need immediate streaming which Android has no problem initiating consistently with the same videos.

Bottom line – Android is definitely the quickest, easiest, and most reliable platform for me to use for my viewing of the Archos videos while on-the-go.  iOS does not stream the mp4 wrapped in a AVI container videos, and downloading takes too long before playback.

Android again the winner for playing Archos 7 video files from WiFi Flash Drive

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

You know from prior posts that Android is the easiest, and quickest platform for me to watch TV shows I record on my trusty Archos 7 device while out the next day. Due to iOS’s lack of USB To Go support, I experimented with using a WiFi enabled Flash Drive, a SanDisk 32 GB model.  The results were the same, Android the clear winner.

With Android, when I select one of the mp4 AVI files, I am immediately prompted to select the player to view the video.  Both streaming, and download worked flawlessly on Android.

On iOS, streaming worked fine for video formats natively supported by iOS, but I received a “video not supported message” for my AVI files with no opportunity to choose a player that supports the format.  I tried force downloading the AVI  video files, but again I never received an opportunity to select one of the players I have installed that can play the files properly, just the same old “video not supported” message.  I tried accessing the WiFi Flash Drive via Safari browser.  If Safari could complete the download, I was asked which player to use.  Problem is Safari / iOS were not able to complete a large file download without loosing the connection, and trying again resulted in another lost connection the majority of the time.  My Android devices were able to consistently download the same large video file from the same WiFi Flash Drive without any glitches.

I tried downloading to a Windows 8 Bay Trail based tablet, and the files also downloaded without a glitch consistently.

I did not try the WiFi Flash Drive with Windows Phone since I have not yet located a video player that can play the Archos video files without conversion.

Android definitely the easiest, quickest, and most flexible solution for playing my Archos 7 recorded TV programs

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Reference my earlier post regarding using an Archos 7 for recording my favorite shows while I am not at home.

Since iOS does not support USB To Go, a computer is needed as an intermediary between the Archos 7, and iOS device, definitely a PIA. Some 3rd party apps offer Wifi, and Dropbox uploads, but the large file sizes makes those options unrealistic. VLC was playing the MPEG4 wrapped in an AVI container videos fine. After I completed the 7.0.4 system update, and VLC app update, VLC could no longer play the files. I am now using playable PRO which seems to play the videos fine.

Android is definitely the easiest, quickest, and most flexible solution for mobile viewing of my Archos videos. No computer is needed as an intermediary between the devices, and I can also save the files from the Archos to a flash drive. Since my Android devices support USB To Go, or Nexus Media Importer, I can stream, or copy the videos to my Android device of choice. VPlayer does a fine job playing the Archos videos without any conversions.

Windows Phone, like IOS, also does not support USB To Go, an intermediary computer is needed for that platform as well. I have not yet found a video player on Windows Phone Store that can play the Archos videos natively, and the included Windows Phone video player cannot play the files.

Still use trusty old Archos 7 to record my favorite TV shows while out

Friday, January 31st, 2014

I am out most evenings, and use an Archos 7 with DVR accessory to record my favorite programs for watching the next day while out. I also record the shows on TiVo for watching while home; however, the TiVo files won’t play natively, and I do not want a time consuming conversion. Fortunately, the Archos 7 supports USB host, and client.

Since most of my Android devices support USB To Go, transferring files from the Archos 7 to the Android device is quick, and easy. A third party video player supports both the video, and audio formats from the Archos so the files play perfectly on the Android devices without any time consuming conversions.

Unfortunately, Windows Phone does not support USB To Go so a computer is needed as an intermediary between the Archos, and Windows Phone. Even after that hassle, Windows Phone video player will not play the MPEG4 wrapped in AVI format video from the Archos. Time consuming video conversions would be necessary. No Way.

I have not tried iOS devices for awhile. When I last tried the Archos videos on iOS, I encountered the same restrictions as I did on Windows Phone. I will have to check for new video players on iOS that support the Archos video, and audio codecs.

Nokia 1520 Windows Phone is excellent, but cannot be my daily driver

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

The Nokia 1520 6″ Windows Phone / phablet is excellent yet too restrictive to be my daily driver. I have found the Windows Phone interface to be silky smooth, even a bit smoother than iOS, or the latest Android versions.

The Nokia 1520 has an excellent, bright screen, top build quality, and like all WP, the silky smooth UI. Videos, and the web look fantastic on that nice screen. Even with its 6″ screen, I have found the 1520 easy to handle, and not bulky although I do carry it in a belt case.

If you like the 1520 so much, why can it not be your daily driver? Flash support, user accessible file system, USB To Go native support, and a HanDBase database client are essential for my daily driver. Unfortunately, the 1520, like all Windows Phones, does not support these essential (for me) features. If these essential features were available in the Nokia 1520, it would be my daily driver for sure.

Like Windows 8 Atom based tablets, but disappointed with video playback performance

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Windows 8 Atom based tablets have the potential to be one of the best tablet platforms.  Nice screen, full x86 compatability, full Flash support, full user file access, and very good battery life.  Unfortunately, video playback does not seem as smooth as the playback on laptops, Surface 2, or Android tablets.  In addition, the video pauses too frequently for a second or so for no apparent reason.  The same videos on Android, laptops, and Surface 2 play flawlessly over the same network.

Overall, I enjoy Windows 8 based Atom powered tablets, but am very disappointed with the video playback issue.  If Microsoft, and manufacturers can solve the video problems, Windows 8 Atom tablets would be a top tier tablet, maybe even the best.