Tag: tablets

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Letting Pixel C, and also Chromebook Pixel, Languish is Foolhardy

To celebrate the launch of Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, I ordered Pixel C, which arrived three days ago. Worst case, the tablet can be returned for refund during the buyer’s remorse period; there ain’t any regrets so far—just the opposite. To my pleasant surprise, the tab is much more enjoyable than I remember, because Nougat is so pretty, efficient, and buttery smooth than was Marshmallow on the device. The screen scorches any available iPad, Pro or otherwise, and the performance is shockingly nimble. My Pixel C shipped with Android 7.1.1 and quickly updated to 7.1.2. I will soon install Android O; Google released Developer Preview 3 yesterday.

There’s a certain insanity to the purchase. I reviewed Google’s Android slate 15 months ago; that makes the thang ancient as measured in computing years. But Big G still sells the tab, and there must be a reason, right? I got another because a college student took possession of my first Pixel C in early 2016. With keyboard cover, the tablet makes a helluva handy carry-along on campus. 

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9.7-inch iPad Pro First Take

The more I use Apple’s smaller Pro tablet, the less likely I am to reach for the larger one. I have tested the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch tabs side-by-side since March 31st—and the bigger one is my primary PC (most days). Unquestionably, the behemoth is capable of replacing a laptop, as Apple CEO Tim Cook asserts. The smaller-size model is a fine notebook companion, and certainly can substitute sometimes. But more than two weeks using this surprisingly satisfying kit, I can’t yet (and may never) recommend it as your next PC.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which screen measures like all its forebears, falls into a category I griped about in September 2015: Apple products without purpose—or none that’s easily obvious to majority of shoppers. Don’t misunderstand. The technology under the hood is quite innovative, and I really, really, really  enjoy using this tablet. But I’m not most people, and looking at the broader consumer marketplace, I see the device as being more for the few than appealing to the many; that is until the next release cycle, when current prices decrease. Now, putting aside these caveats, 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the device I most often grab first. Many of the benefits have purpose that is subtle. The question: Are they good enough for you? 

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Sizing Up 12.9-inch iPad Pro

April 3, 2016 marks the first day that I truly could use Apple’s over-sized tablet to replace my laptop.  But I had to spend another $84, before California tax, to do it. Gadget reviewers who say that iPad Pro cannot be your computer are wrong. The apps, performance, and utility are there, Anyone creating content should consider this device as compliment to, or replacement for, an existing PC. The problem with 12.9-inch iPad Pro isn’t what it can do but how much it costs to assemble what you need. This kit is far from budget-friendly, which also can be said of Microsoft’s competing Surface Pro 4.

I started my iPad Pro sojourn on Groundhog Day, planning to use the device as my primary PC for 30 days. The objective: Apple CEO Tim Cook says the big-ass tablet can replace a personal computer, I want to see if he is right. The experiment isn’t my first journey like this. I tried something similar during summer 2011 with one of the first Chromebooks. The path was a dead end. But Spring 2012, when new commercial models released, I started down the path again and never looked back. Google’s Chromebook Pixel LS was my main computer before adopting the iPad lifestyle. 

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Too Many iPads is Good for Apple, Bad for Competitors

Something surely seems missing from this week’s Apple Event. A year ago this month, Apple introduced the svelte, 12-inch MacBook. That makes the little laptop ripe for refresh, but it is MIA. During a media hoopla where the figurative fireworks failed to light, everyone should ask: What is Apple doing? The new 4-inch iPhone is little more than the 5 model introduced in 2012 with fresh internals. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro fits into a crowded category where Apple is mob in the room. Where’s the innovation?

After watching the live stream, carefully reviewing what Apple executives said, and looking over device sales trends, I must say this: Either Tim Cook is stupidest tech CEO on the planet, or one of the smartest. The event’s big takeaway is this: Apple is trying to corner a faltering computing category on the presumption it’s the next big thing. Cook takes great risk in search of greater rewards. If he’s right, Apple may come to dominate the next personal computing platform—even as Android armies spread across the planet. Everything hinges on these: Will tablets replace PCs and can Apple become the overwhelming market share leader, regaining dominance held six years ago? 

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Google Pixel C Review

If you’re thinking about buying Pixel C, Google gives two good reasons to do so now: Android N beta program and developer discount on the hardware. The tablet normally sells for $499 (32GB) or $599 (64GB) but you could instead pay $375 or $449, respectively. Keyboard is another $149. The discount and beta OS are meant for developers, but anyone can get them.

Pixel C is the best Android tablet I have ever tested, but that’s acknowledging prejudice against Samsung tabs, which are worthy contenders, but I dislike TouchWiz UI. Sammy’s hardware hums, particularly the stunning screens. But only Google serves up a Marshmallow feast in Android 6.0, and the hardware design and construction are preemo to the max. For less than $400, Pixel C might as well be free, there is so much value here. 

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iPad Pro, Let’s ‘Begin Again’

My previous post in this series begins: “I cannot presently recommend Apple’s big-ass tablet as a laptop replacement—using the official-issue Smart Keyboard”. The statement is retracted.

Apple PR contacted me after the story published, asserting that the short battery life I experienced was abnormal behavior. Seeing as it was the last day to return iPad Pro under T-Mobile’s buyer’s remorse policy, I took the assertion at face value and returned the rig. The exchange interrupted my plans to use the tablet as my primary PC for a month. From today, the clock resets to zero, and I start over. 

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iPad Pro’s Shouldn’t-be Battery Problem

Editor’s Note: Apple contacted me on February 16th, suggesting the short battery life is abnormal. We discussed tech support option but I chose instead to replace the whole kit—iPad Pro and keyboard—to see if the short battery life with Smart Keyboard is a one-off hardware problem. Look for an update in the sixth post. The hardware exchange will take a day or so to sort out, before the series can resume.

The follow-up post, on February 24th, countermands the negative conclusions stated in this review. Battery life from the second kit is hugely satisfying and plenty long enough for the typical workday. The user experiences aren’t comparable. I debated about deleting the original story but that feels like hiding something. Hopefully this addendum sufficiently retracts the original conclusion.

I cannot presently recommend Apple’s big-ass tablet as a laptop replacement—using the official-issue Smart Keyboard. The reason may surprise you. The foible isn’t the utility of iOS, available apps, or overall hardware performance but the battery and charging system. Inadequate combination is an understatement.

Two weeks ago, I purchased iPad Pro through T-Mobile’s Jump On Demand program. My 13th day using the tablet as my primary PC progresses with acceptance that an ongoing problem is a deal breaker. When I use iPad Pro like a laptop, even primarily working only with mail and two browsers (Chrome and Safari), battery burns down too rapidly and subsequent topping off takes too long. Oddly, battery-life is exceptionally good for tablet use. 

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The Ways Apple iPad Pro Delights Me

Day 10, and it’s difficult to wonder where nearly two weeks went. Yet here I am with iPad Pro, and more settled than last weekend, when griping about how the tablet frustrates me.

I want to start by discussing Apple’s Smart Keyboard, which is a $169 accessory that I recommend for everyone who doesn’t plan on using fingers and Pencil as primary, ah, utensils. Typing is amazingly smooth and accurate. The keys present terrific travel, without requiring too much force while still giving plenty of tactile response. Shocked best describes my reaction to the experience. Sometimes what’s missing brings something more: Ommission of the trackpad, which either is brilliant conception or Apple chief designer Jony Ive and team getting goddamn lucky. 

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iPad Pro is Bigger Than You Think

“Look up, waaaaaay up” is a phrase familiar to Canadians of a certain age, who watched “The Friendly Giant“. The kids program aired from 1958 to 1985 on CBC, which our TV antenna grabbed from the local affiliate across the border in New Brunswick (I’m from Northern Maine). There’s something about iPad Pro’s enormity that makes it feel more like something the Giant would use.

My question this fine Friday: Is iPad Pro too big? For the majority of potential buyers, my answer is unequivocally yes. I don’t see a product made for the majority. Whatever Apple’s post-PC ambitions, iPad Pro is more a proof-of-concept for future laptop replacement. However, for the few—creators looking for larger digital canvas—iPad Pro offers much. For the many, the first version will work out the kinks, such as getting the app platform placed, for mass-market successors. Warning: Embracing the expansive tablet may make switching to something smaller nearly impossible. Size matters, and sometimes larger is better. 

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Meeting Apple’s Big-ass Tablet

The first thing you notice about iPad Pro is the size. The tablet is ginormous. It’s 12.9-inch screen lays before you like a chalk slate—a blank canvas demanding typed text or drawings made with Apple Pencil. Yet something also feels wrong about the thing. During the so-called Steve Jobs era, refined designs were smaller—like iPod nano. Apple is no stranger to larger; 27-inch iMac today or 17-inch MacBook Pro of yesteryear are examples. Perhaps. But there’s big, and BIG.

The giant tablet arrived around 2:50 p.m. PST on Groundhog Day 2016, marking a bold computing adventure for February: Using iPad Pro as my primary PC, and hopefully only one. Perhaps you read my recent obituary to Apple love lost and might wonder why buy anything Apple? I like to experiment and am paid to try out new things (so you won’t have to). By sheer size, PC replacement, not companion, is the only sensible design objective for iPad Pro. Can it meet the demands? I want to find out. 

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Pixel C Out-of-the-Box Impressions

Google’s first tablet arrived yesterday, and my review is forthcoming. I expected to have a wow reaction, but felt more meh. Some of that comes from my satisfaction using the smaller Nexus 9, which also runs Android 6 Marshmallow. Interestingly, my emotional quotient is considerably higher 24 hours later. This tablet could easily be a frequent companion. (Note: I typically rattle off thoughts about new devices here before posting full-on reviews to my work tech news site).

The search-and-information giant unexpectedly unveiled the Pixel C on September 29th. Sales started December 8th. Specs: 10.2-inch LTPS LCD touchscreen, 2560 x 1800 resolution, 308 pixels per inch, 500-nit brightness; nVidia Tegra X1 processor with Maxwell graphics; 3GB RAM; 32GB ($449) or 64GB ($599) storage; 8-megapixel rear and 2MP front cameras; four microphones; two speakers (sideways of screen in portrait mode on the bezel); USB Type-C port; WiFi AC; Bluetooth 4.1; accelerometer; compass; gyroscope; ambient-light, half-effect, and proximity sensors; Android 6. Enclosure is anodized aluminum that measures 242 x 179 x 7 mm and weighs 517 grams. 

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Pixel C ships in time for Christmas

The rumor is fact. Today, Google started selling its first homegrown tablet, Pixel C. You can buy one directly from the company—until they sell out! Google typically struggles stocking new devices, like Nexus smartphones and the Chromebook Pixel. On November 30th, I asked: “Where is Pixel C?“, which was promised to arrive before the holidays. Now we know.

I hope to have the 10.2-inch tablet in possession within a few days and will subsequently post first-impression and full reviews. If you can’t wait for that, and shouldn’t, larger tech news sites already have their takes online. Search for the name, and you will find them. Don’t wait on me, if you’re thinking about one for Christmas!