Microsoft’s Surface Pro made it’s world wide debut this past Saturday, and the launch was rather disappointing. The problem wasn’t so much the product, but more with the way the launch was executed, shipments were slow to arrive and Microsoft didn’t allow for pre-orders on their website; in contrast with their Surface RT launch back in November. Needless to say, my hopes of getting in over the weekend were dashed, with retailers like Best Buy and Staples not having much stock. My wife was lucky enough to get a pre-order in on Friday at Best Buy, but that didn’t materialize until yesterday afternoon.
I was on my way home from work when my wife sent me a text message saying I could drive down to Best Buy to pick up my Surface Pro, and immediately changed course to do so. The pick up was uneventful, and once home I was able to film my unboxing video, and did a quick physical comparison to my Surface RT.
I’ve been using computers for a long time, since the early 80’s and I was an early adopter of the cell phone, when both phones and computers were in their own separate realms. When I made the move to smartphones, I always had a keyboard handy, and I never got the hang on texting using only the number pad – actually I loathed the idea. When the iPhones made their appearance I was skeptical of the on-screen keyboard, having experienced the horrible excuses for on-screen keyboards of the Palm Pilots and Windows CE devices. Apples’s execution was far better, but typing on a virtual keyboard was a tough transition for me. These days, I’ve gained a level of proficiency in tap typing, but if it wasn’t for the autocorrect I’d sound like an absolute imbecile. Sometimes though, I long for a nice physical keyboard to use on my iPhone4, and something that wasn’t a separate accessory that I had to pack and unpack. Lucky for me, I discovered Boxwave’s Keyboard Buddy Case.
There are things in life that one can become accustomed to, and for some, tap typing on the screen of an iPad can become one of them. For me, not so much. I can type with some speed, but my accuracy can be poor, and then there are the special characters, which require odd keyboard cycling to find them. Probably the biggest problem is the loss of screen space, since the onscreen keyboard takes up a large portion of the display. For serious work, I need a real keyboard with cursor keys! The trend over the last few years has been to move away from physical keyboards, which I can understand from a pure mobile portability standpoint, but it’s this missing aspect that makes it hard to abandon a real laptop.
Anyone who knows me or has followed some of my blog posts know that I’ve always felt the biggest lacking in the Apple IOS lineup is a good stylus or pen. Fortunately for Apple, there are ingenious companies like BoxWave and Wacom that have created styluses to offer the best pen-like experience to be had on an IOS or Android device. Today, I have in my possession BoxWave‘s latest offering, the BoxWave EverTouch Capacitive Stylus!
OK, I know in my last post I said that I’d take a pass at the New iPad after I found out what all the hoopla was about… well, I guess I lied… I went out to Best Buy today and got one… Which, in itself is a little bit of a surprise, since usual Apple product launches results in chaos. Best Buy was sold out of some model variations, but it was sort of good to see that supplies were plentiful, and no one died trying to get one.
The Amazon Kindle Fire was officially released to the world today. Amazon however decided to screw me on my preorder and ship it late next week, since they clearly decided not to send pre-orders out early to make it arrive on release day… Irritation aside, I decided to buy one from Best Buy and deal with the late arrival later. So, what do I think so far? Well, It’s a big box, and there’s very little in it. You get the tablet and a power cable, and a little card telling you how turn it on. The build quality of the device is pretty good, it feels solid, but aesthetically it’s pretty plain. The face of the device has no buttons, and on the bottom of the device is a lone power button, next to a micro-usb slot and headphone jack. The power button is the only physical button on the device. On the opposite end of the device are two slots for speakers.
Upon boot up the Kindle Fire goes through the usual setup steps, Time Zone, Wireless Network and Amazon account. Once done, you’re taken to the Kindle’s main UI, which is a carousel of items. The UI is very simple and streamlined for service the content that’s in your Amazon account. Immediately, I was able to see all the books I own in my Kindle library, however, the books were not available right away, since they’ve not been downloaded to the device. Clicking on a book though will prompt for download, which occurs pretty quick. Once downloaded, you’re ready to read.
In comparison to the HTC Flyer, another 7″ Android Tablet, the Kindle Fire is roughly the same size and weight. Physical size is almost the same, but the Flyer is rounded, so it appears slightly thinner than the Fire. I won’t go into a detailed review, since there are some nice reviews already out there, but feel free to look at my video below for my initial impressions. I’ll definitely have more to talk about once I get a little more cozy with the device. So, far I’m going to say that this IS NOT an iPAD killer, nor does it aim to be. So, I think it’s silly to compare the two devices. Also, I think it’s premature to compare this to other Android Tablets, since this isn’t designed as a general purpose tablet. It is designed to aid in the consumption of Amazon services. Ok, rant over. Enjoy the video, and please leave a comment.
This week I picked up an HP TouchSmart 310 PC for my elderly parents. I need to configure and install the software on the system for them, so I took this opportunity to create my first YouTube video of its unboxing and initial startup. I have my son at the end playing Bejeweled on it. Overall, I’m pretty impressed with this computer. I’ll follow up later with a more in-depth review. Enjoy.