No idea why someone would buy any tablet other than an iPad

On Tuesday, August 23, 2011 2 comments

I am having trouble understanding why a regular, everyday consumer would purchase any tablet other than an iPad2 at this time. There is no question that a lot of companies are pursuing this new computing segment but at this point it is unclear what you are getting over the iPad. I guess I understand if an alternative tablet costs considerably less or a business purpose for some commercial application.

Now to be clear this is not a comparison of iOS vs Android vs the DOA WebOS (Was anyone surprised by this? More about that later). This is a discussion purely around the physical products available in the market. I am also not talking about smartphones. That is a completely different discussion where I can see viable alternatives to Apple's iPhones.
iPad2 w/Smart Covers
Side note: Unless you are super gentle with your devices,
I am not a fan of these covers as they leave the back exposed.
In full disclosure I preordered the original iPad as soon as it was orderable on I am a happy user of the device. I have extensively used several Android tablets for work as well. I primarily use my iPad to browse the web, review work documents, download an app every day or so as a diversion, read magazines and some light note-taking. I did not upgrade to the iPad2, while it has more horsepower and a camera...I just couldn't justify purchasing the new one. The fact of the matter is for the most part developers are going to develop to the lowest common denominator and thus typically that means supporting the last generation or two of a device. Sure you might get some finer detail in a 3D application but it was "just not worth it" for me.

I WOULD have purchased an iPad2 if they offered greater storage for video, music, apps and documents as I am at the limit on my current 64 gigabyte iPad but that is the maximum capacity available on the iPad2 as well. But most people should be fine with 64gb of storage even 32gb...I'm just pushing mine to the limit. My navigation program alone is more than a gigabyte in size. I also probably have too many large game apps...but I never know what game I will be up for until the moment I sit down to play. I'm personally hoping for 96 or 128gb in the iPad3 or while I am at it "how about an SD card slot?" Wishful thinking but Apple are you listening? ;-)

I do understand the theory of wanting or needing alternatives in the tablet marketplace. I also get the fact that Apple unchallenged by competitors will do what is right for Apple and not for the end-user. Without competition, innovation would starve...even from Apple.

The Samsung Tab 10.1 is a beautiful device
But the current crop of tablets provide no reasonable justification to get them over an iPad2. Sure SOME of the tablets have Adobe Flash "beta level" compatibility but after using several of them for some time the Flash aspects prove to be slow and unreliable. Most interactive site need the greater accuracy of a mouse/pointer to be functional. Websites also have no standards about implementing their Flash animations and you get random results on tablets...even on PC's or Mac to be honest. What is shocking is the number of competitors introducing tablets that have less battery life, thicker/chunkier dimensions, supposed differentiated features like SD card storage capabilities though most have not enabled this feature yet and some don't even provide Adobe Flash of the big limitations of the iPad!

The number one reason for steering toward an iPad2 has to be the sheer number of available Native iPad apps available. Well over a 100,000 at this time. There is no published numbers for Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) native tablet apps but estimates generated by David Pogue of the New York Times a little over a month ago had the number around 232. I'm sure one of the challenges is all the disparate form-factors of all the Android tablets. Must make it hard to make an app that works on a 3" phone screen, an 8" screen or 10.1 tablet screen"?

DOA - HP TouchPad @ Bestb
What got me thinking about this topic in general is the recent speculation around the iPad3, the acquisition of the Motorola Mobility division by Google, the crazy deals cropping up (buy a TV get a Samsung 10.1 Tab for free, a Viewsonic's Android 10" tablet on sale for $269, etc.) and Samsung's recent decision to stop disclosing their sell-through numbers, other than to say that initial sell-through is not up to their expectations.

And lets not forget the much publicized discontinuance of the HP TouchPad WebOS platform after being launched into the market just 6 weeks ago! But if you are interested, you can pick up a 16gb TouchPad for $99.99 and 32gb version for $149.99 but you better move quick...they actually are selling through rather rapidly. But forget future app support as I'm sure any developers left will quickly move to greener pastures.

When you sit down to use these tablet options, the iPad2 is really the only "mass market" device in the bunch from a user interface experience. I enjoy the Samsung 10.1 and Xoom which are both good executions if not perfect competitors but these devices are more for the tech savvy of the bunch.

But at the end of the day when someone asks me for a recommendation...for the time being it is "Get an iPad2" or wait for the iPad3 if you already have an iPad. The new iPad should be in available by the spring of 2012 if not earlier. You will be very happy. No questions about it.

And if you haven't experienced tablet computing in these latest incarnations, I highly recommend you taking one for a spin. They are extremely liberating with regards to access to information. Anything that gets me out from behind my desk at home or work is welcome. And they are NOT just big smartphones, the added screen real-estate radically transforms the experience when working with applications designed for tablets. Be sure to check out an iPad2 at your local electronics store.

PS: Have you been on an airplane lately? It sometimes feels like you are in a flying Apple store nowadays! They just have to work on the clear walls for airplanes I guess?

Cameras, cameras, cameras and a solid compact zoom camera

On Sunday, August 21, 2011 3 comments

I will never claim to be a photog but do enjoy taking pictures. I find that it is a creative vent for me that both helps to satiate my desire to create something original with the simple click of a button...all the way to the complex of getting up early to take all my gear out for some beautiful landscapes in the morning light.

That said, I have my trusty Canon 5D Mark II with all its lens/accessories and my ever present Canon S95 which is arguably the finest "pocketable" camera in existence today. These two get me through pretty much any photographic situation. I do have a third recent addition but I have not fully vetted it and it makes a lot of compromises to accomplish one task...the Panasonic TS3 is a rugged, waterproof camera that allows us to take it to the pool, beach and on watercraft. We love taking underwater photos while playing in the pool.

Shot taken with Canon 5D Mark II
w/EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens
If you want to get inside my thought process for choosing cameras lets address why I have the Canon 5D Mark II and am eagerly awaiting a Mark III? And keep in mind I was a Nikon user for many years going back to film (pre-digital). The Canon offered two great features for me to jump the chasm and leave all my Nikon lens and gear behind. Initially it was the first digital SLR (single lens reflex: the ability to look through the viewfinder and see exactly what will be captures on the photo) to offer 1920x1080 high-definition video capture at 24 and 30 frames-per-second, cinematography caliber when combined with its high-end camera controls for depth of field and assortment of lens options. And the 21 mega-pixel full-frame sensor (the chip that captures the image) inside the camera is equivalent in size to an old 35mm film negative thus being large enough to provide amazing clarity. Most digital cameras have a fraction of a full-frame (35mm size) chip. So when you hear a camera is 14 mega-pixels, it doesn't mean it is better if the sensor is really, really small. So it's important to know what you are getting and not just look at the number of pixels. But what I noticed most about the Canon versus the Nikon equivalent was the colors. I love the vibrance, almost surreal palette it creates within a photo.

Shot this with the Canon S95
during a drive-by near Versailles
Why the Canon S95? In my opinion, this is the smallest, most pocketable, high-quality images camera on the market. The best photo can only be taken if and when you have a camera. So size matters...small size...something portable. It is important for me to have a camera available most of the time. I have terabytes of photo libraries with images from the 5D and the S95 in the same set and I would be hard pressed to tell which photo came from which camera. The S95 is a marvel of size and features from simple point-and-shoot to the ability to manually tweak camera parameters like aperture and shutter speed. The lens on the camera is amazing. With an F2 aperture setting at its widest opening, the camera can let in so much light that in most settings you don't need a flash! It's almost magical. The only challenge with the S95 is it zoom. It is only a 3.8x zoom. Good but not great. So many times when I am traveling, I really want to zoom in on a distant object or scene.

So I have a quandary. There are times when I don't want to haul the big gun 5D around but would love to have a strong travel zoom camera. I'm talking AMZAP (As Much Zoom As Possible) caliber BUT it still needs to be "pocketable" or as close to pocketable as possible, otherwise I'd bring the 5D with me.

My father has the predecessor to the Panasonic ZS10 but this latest version seems to have gone backwards on image quality, so it is out of the running.

I won't talk much about the Nikon S9100 which is getting poor reviews from end users though its specs seem to fit the bill. The Fujifilm F550EXR which seems to be suffering the same fate of the Panasonic ZS10 where its image quality has gone backwards from the previous models.

The Sony HX9V has some great, unique features and seems to be up there as one of the better overall compact travel zooms but for some reason I've just not been a Sony camera fan. I owned a few Sony cameras in the early digital camera age and was never satisfied with their image quality. Sony actually makes the sensors for many camera companies today so in theory they probably should be worth another look. Some day I am going to try a Sony camera again.

As it stands right now if I had to pull the trigger on a compact travel zoom camera, I am leaning toward the Canon SX230HS. It will fit in a pocket, offers 12 megapixel resolution and a 14x zoom (equivalent to nearly a 400mm lens) with optical image stabilization. It shoots 1080p high-def video and has a built-in flash. From my experimentation with the camera at the local camera store and the reviews online, this camera seems to balace the size, zoom and image qualities the best with image quality being key.

Lastly, a solid video feature like the SX230HS has is becoming crucial for me in any camera as I am finding that I take most of my videos with cameras nowadays and don't use my camcorder much anymore. The only thing the camcorder had was a great zoom which a sold zoom camera would address for me.

Below is a YouTude video demonstrating the zoom and video capture aspects of the SX230HS.

Let's start big!

On Friday, August 19, 2011 0 comments

Without a doubt the number one product “fascination” in the world for me is the Ferrari F458 Italia. This is a masterpiece. Beautiful, powerful…just plain stunning. While it is clearly extremely impractical, it would be a joy to go for long drives in and potentially get on the track.
This is design at its highest form. The car looks beautiful from every angle. But the beauty is not just skin deep. This car represents control, grace and power all in one package. The overall design and aerodynamics are key to keeping the car firmly planted to the ground as air flows across the bodies undulating shapes producing a downforce of 140 kg at 124 miles per hour.
The engine produces 562 horsepower. But what is truly amazing is that the front winglets in the grill deform at speed and introduce more air into the engine. This results in the engine generating 570hp at high speeds!
Now it is true that 10 cars caught on fire or crashed in the first 3 months of release…but that was traced to an adhesive in the engine heat shield that has been addressed in current production cars. So if you are thinking of getting me one of these…we should be fine. :-)

If you’d like to see some more details about this fine automobile (potentially the finest) click here.

And on a side note, if you want to see one Ferrari smashed under a Ford F-150 pickup click here

Or another one smashed into a tree.

Welcome to Wouldn’t Mind

On 0 comments

With my imminent birthday, someone mentioned to me that I was impossible to buy a present for. While the best gifts are definitely friendship, family-time and thoughtful gestures…it did get my head spinning on things “I like or am interested in but haven’t gotten.” When looking for a great gift idea for someone I typically look for something that I believe the person would like but hasn’t gotten for themselves.
I regularly see things I would like but the rational side of my brain (which must be a rather small section of my brain) will just tell me to walk away. If I go back later…then I really wanted it.
And lets not forget about the economy…all of us are affected and uncertain about the world around us. It is a good time to take stock in enjoying those near and dear and not fret about the “latest gadget”. Did I just say that? ;-)
A bit about myself: I love researching products. I look at their overall design, functionality, hardware/software, logical use, how they are manufactured, materials used, etc. You get the idea. Example: Many years ago, I took my then 8+ month pregnant wife shopping for a stroller. I must have gone to 10 websites about strollers. We then visited the local BabiesRUs, Target as well as some local baby gear boutiques. We went back and forth for two weekends straight. How were they at transporting a newborn, infant, toddler? How were they at transferring the baby from stroller to car? How easy to fold up and get in the trunk? Storage? Did it have cup-holders? You get the idea again. And don’t get me started on the quest for a car seat!
So I decided to setup a place to link/post what I consider “great items”. Not necessarily gifts but just products I encounter in my everyday life. Things I see that I “wouldn’t mind” getting if I had the need/want and the money. This is more or less my watch list for me to keep track of this stuff I see and appreciate.
That’s it…now onto the list.
BTW: Since I mentioned strollers I thought I’d pass along some cool ones I’ve seen lately. Now to be clear, I am not shopping for a stroller! Just have a couple friends who had kids recently and checked out theirs.

Obviously some talk about the pricey Bugaboos but I seem to like the smaller, more portable ones and enjoyed our Maclaren. But I did see these UPPAbaby which are suppose to be the lightest ones out there but they are rather pricey as well. And I am not mentioning all those “run-along” strollers because I don’t run. :-)