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iPad 2 on Sale Today (US)

by Mick 0 Comments

The 2nd Generation Apple tablet computer is on sale from today in the US.

It should be available in a number of other countries including the UK on March 25th.

Slimmer than the original  at 9.5in x 7.31in x 0.34in (241.2mm x 185.7mm x 8.8mm)  and lighter too at around 1.33 pounds (600g) that's 33% thinner and 15% lighter.

Powered by a custom designed 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 processor, with a 9.7 inch (diagonal) LED backlit multi-touch display providing a graphics resolution of 1024×768 pixels. The battery will allow up to 10 hours of use from a full charge.

New features include 2 cameras - a front facing camera providing VGA quality at up to 30 frames a second with audio, to support Apples' FaceTime video calling facility and a back facing camera that allows recording HD images/video. The still back-facing camera provides 5x digital zoom. A 3-axis gyro, Accelerometer Ambient Light Sensor and Digital Compass are incorporated.

Available with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage in either Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi + 3G versions. Prices start from $499.

Notable accessories available (at extra cost) include:

The iPad 2 Smart Cover provides additional protection and can fold in just the right places to create a stand for holding the iPad.

https://www.apple.com/ipad/smart-cover/

Use the 30-pin to HDMI wow AV adapter to plug the iPad 2 into your HDTV, projector and display your iPad 2 screen so that everyone else can watch too

https://www.apple.com/ipad/features/mirroring.html

Samsung Galaxy Tab

by Mick 0 Comments

The Samsung Galaxy Tab was launched at the recent consumer electronics show IFA 2010 held in Berlin and Samsung have now released an official video to show off this new device in more detail.

The Galaxy Tab is a smart media device and is destined to compete with the iPad.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Overall the dimensions are 19 x 12 x 1.2 cm (so it comes in at approximately half the size of the current Apple iPad) and it weighs 380g. The display is a 7inch TFT touchscreen with a resolution of 1024 x 600 at 169ppi.

Its powered by a 1GHz processor together with a PowerVR SGX540 mobile GPU, and runs Android 2.2

Included is a forward facing (1.3 megapixel) camera for making video calls and a rear mounted camera (3.0 megapixel) with the ability to record HD video.

Wi-Fi enabled for wireless tethering and internet access

Other features include A-GPS, a micro SD card slot to increase the available storage and the ability to share multimedia content with your DNLA compliant TV, PC or laptop

and of course, it can be used to make calls too .

Full the details are available at

https://galaxytab.samsungmobile.com/

Scheduled for release in November, Amazon are currently advertising availability on 1st November at a price of £599.99 for a 16Gb version.

RearType - Text Entry for Mobile Devices

by Mick 0 Comments

RearType is a project from Microsoft and others, that explores a text entry system for mobile devices using normal keyboard keys that are placed on the back of the device. This approach helps to resolve the problem where a users fingers and hands occlude the touch point(s).

https://research.microsoft.com/apps/pubs/default.aspx?id=135609

Earlier work in this area includes Lucid Touch, by Patrick Baudisch https://www.kf12.com/blogs/techno/lucid-touch/, and the Grippity Keyboard https://www.kf12.com/blogs/techno/grippity-keyboard/ and https://www.grippity.com/

In RearType, a standard keyboard layout is split and rotated so that hands gripping the device have the usual keys under the fingers. This allows for 10-finger, tactile, touch-typing which may be better and quicker than using an on-screen keyboard for touch devices.

The paper 'RearType: Text Entry Using Keys on the Back of a Device' will be presented at Mobile HCI 2010 ( https://mobilehci2010.di.fc.ul.pt/ )

James Scott and Shahram Izadi from Microsoft Research

Leila Sadat Rezai RWTH Aachen, Germany

Dominika Ruszkowski, Xiaojun Bi and Ravin Balakrishnan from the Dept. of Computer Science,
University of Toronto, Canada

An annual showcase 'Research in Action' describes Research work from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. This project was described during the last event held in November 2009.

https://web.cs.toronto.edu/research/ria.htm

The iPad is here

by Mick 0 Comments

Finally, the iPad has been released and is available in the UK.

On release day, I called into PCWorld on the way to work and lo and behold there it was 10 minutes later I had one in my grasp together with some 'extras' a case and screen protector. I obtained the 32GB wi-fi version  - as I will mainly be using it in the office and from home I declined the opportunity to obtain a 3G version. Time will tell whether a 3G version would be better.

Not a great deal in the box just the iPad, charger and USB cable.

The charger is a 10W unit and various notes on the web discuss problems charging from a USB port. The official word from Apple states that to charge the battery you can connect to a high-power USb  2.0 port or connect to a power outlet using the power adapter, and comments that some USB ports do not provide enough power to charge the iPad and will display 'Not Charging'.

https://support.apple.com/kb/HT4060

None of my (desktop or laptop) machines, apparently, will charge the iPad howeverit does appear to charge in spite of what is displayed although very slooooowly.

Read additional notes on battery life at the Apple web-site

https://www.apple.com/batteries/ipad.html

Switch on, connect to iTunes, using the USB cable perform an initial sync and you're good to go.

Initial comments and feedback from people who've managed to get their hands on it include

'it's just a big iPhone/iPod touch'

In some respects that's exactly what it is, however the increased size provides a similar but different user experience. It is more comfortable to read and use and the increased screen estate allows for different layouts for the basic applications which are installed by default. Certainly, if you've ever used an iPhone or iPod Touch you'll know how to use one of these.

'its just like your laptop without the keyboard'

Pretty much the case. The keyboard is on-screen when required and when in landscape orientation can consume half the screen - however, this does enable something closer to a full-size keyboard that you can touch type with. You can also buy a docking keyboard as an optional extra if you prefer.

'the weight is noticeable'

After holding it for a while you may start to notice how heavy it is. The wi-fi model comes in at 1.5 pounds (0.68kg) and the wi-fi + 3G model is 1.6 pounds (0.73kg) Also it takes a while to find the position which you find most comfortable.

'its difficult to find the most comfortable reading angle'

If you want to read a book  how would you hold it ? You try and hold it like a physical book but after a while you probably leave it resting on you lap although tilted at a slight angle. The tilt angle is probably an important factor here and it certainly does seem more comfortable at an angle rather than when laid flat on your lap or a work surface. It is possible to buy a case as an optional extra from Apple that enables you to use it as a stand at an angle of approximately 30 degrees although there are mixed reports about the case.

'its great for viewing Photos and videos and playing games'

Certainly true - graphics quality seems excellent and I couldn't fault the ease for viewing graphics. I like the glossy screen too although its not to everybody's taste .

'the cost is too prohibitive'

The 32GB wi-fi model is £499 which pus it out of the reach of a lot of users. Would it be more cost effective to go for a netbook/laptop ? - almost certainly just as you get more value for money if you buy a desktop machine rather than a laptop. The jury is out on whether the iPad is really worth it.

Feel free to add your own comments

Novatel MiFi

The MiFi device from Novatel converts any 3G signal into WiFi so that you can create your own Mobile Hotspot.

Simply insert a 3G Sim and you can connect up to 5 wifi enabled devices simultaneously within a range of 10m.

It includes a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that provide up to 4 hours continuous use, is GPS enabled and has a built-in microSDHC slot to provide storage capacity up to 16GB.

Watch the video to see what you can do with it when the Eye-Fi (https://www.eye.fi/) meets the MiFi

The MiFi 2352 (MiFi 2352 Datasheet) is designed for use in Europe and costs around £200, the MiFi 2372 model is availabe for use in North America

Full details are available at

https://www.novatelwireless.com/

or see other sites such as

https://www.mifieurope.com/

Dell Streak - Android Device

by Mick 0 Comments

Dell are now talking in more detail about their 5-inch Android Tablet device.

At 5 inches it's slightly bigger than an iPhone, but does that make it a tablet?

Features include:

  • 5-inch capacitive multi-touch display
  • Fast 1GHz Snapdragon ARM-based mobile processor from Qualcomm
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash
  • VGA front-facing camera
  • A user-removable (and replaceable) battery
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Integrated 3G + Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) + Bluetooth 2.1
  • UMTS / GPRS / EDGE class 12 GSM radio with link speeds of HSDPA 7.2 Mbps / HSUPA
  • User-accessible Micro SD slot expandable up to 32GB

The Streak will launch initially in the UK in early June (at O2 and the Carphone Warehouse stores and the Dell Uk Website) followed later in the summer in the US at prices yet to be announced.

Read more at

https://content.dell.com/uk/en/corp/d/press-releases/2010-05-25-dell-streak.aspx