13

This is the one: tablet edition (review) #2

After the SO purchased the Nextbook 10.1″, and I managed to break my Note 8, I purchased the Proline A933L a month ago. After spending some time with it, this is my full review.

Hardware

CPU: Intel Bay Trail Atom Z3735F Quad Core
RAM: 2GB DDR3 SODIMM
Screen: 8.9″ WUXGA LED (Multi-Touch) 1920 x 1200
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics HD Audio
Storage: 32GB Hard drive, Micro SD up to 64GB
Webcam: Front (2MP) / Rear (5MP)
Ports: Micro SD, Micro HDMI, Micro SIM Card
Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wifi, Bluetooth, 3G/HSPA

Keyboard Included
Output: 5V/2A
Dimension & Weight :
220.5(W) X 157.2(D) X 9.2(H)mm, ~ 480G

First off: This is not an iPad. Don’t compare it to an iPad. Stop comparing all tablets with an iPad. The same way a car salesman would (hopefully) not offer a soccer mom minivan to a student looking to upgrade his scooter, do not compare this tablet to an iPad. It is made with a different purpose (for getting actual work done – buuuuuurn), and is aimed at a different segment of the market (people who don’t want to be ripped off, and actually get value for their money – another sick burn).

Enough jokes. For my R2899, I got that hardware as mentioned. The 2GB RAM always helps, screen size is nice – allows for easy holding in one hand for reading mode. The tablet slots into the keyboard via magnets, and can be collapsed onto it (not securely though). Only one viewing angle when docked, but it turns out that it’s at the best angle for typing.

I’m not concerned with the cameras, and wifi connectivity seems stable. I haven’t put a sim card in to test that, as I have wifi wherever I am, but I’m sure it’s fine. The ports are covered with a plastic strip which seems a bit flimsy, so I would recommend inserting the memory card and sim card once, and don’t open the slot again.

The onboard storage space is enough for me for now – I currently have 6gb available of the available 32, and that’s after installing Office, some modern apps, and about 4 other desktop apps. Build quality overall is good – it has a nice brushed aluminium type backing. The keyboard is plasticky and a bit small, so typing on it has taken some getting used to.

Software
The tablet comes packaged with Windows 8.1 with Bing. This is the full Windows 8.1 install which is free for OEMs to install on tablets less than 9″ (which explains that funky 8.9″ size). It also includes a year subscription to Office 365 Personal, which allows Office to be installed on 1 device, with 1TB of OneDrive storage.

Why I chose this tablet
As I’ve mentioned on here several times, this was the dream. When I first considered buying a tablet in 2012, it was a Windows tablet I envisioned for myself, nothing else. The debacle that was Windows RT informed me that I would need to wait to fulfil that dream. The Surface Pro 3 is still my ideal tablet of course; but that would become my actual computer.

I chose it because I liked the size of it (similar to my Note) and for the other features I managed to research as mentioned above. I’m also using Windows Live Writer on it for blogging, which was another function my Note was supposed to be used for, one which I never actually did use it for.

Niggles
Sometimes at the login screen, the onscreen keyboard does not appear so that you can type your password. The only workaround I’ve found for that is to restart. Considering it takes about 10s to start up, it’s a minor issue, and fixes the problem. Since I rely heavily on Pushbullet, I did not realise that the Windows app does not support native Modern sharing, and they don’t intend to implement that.
Pushbullet no win 8 share
That means I can no longer push links from the Flipboard app. Again a minor issue, and something which will require some workaround on my part. Also, not the tablet’s fault.

Surprises
Miracast! I’ve spoken about my attempted adventure with Miracast before, but after discovering the tablet had the project to wireless display option, I’ll be purchasing a Miracast dongle soon. No messing around with HDMI adapter cables for me, thank you.

Another surprise: Precision touchpad. I found out by accident when I swiped from the left edge of the touchpad, and it switched tasks as if I had swiped in from the left edge of the screen. Interestingly, by looking under the settings that Microsoft says, the tablet does not indicate that it has a precision touchpad. Oh well. I’ve found it especially useful for bringing up the stupid charms bar, scrolling and zooming while typing.

Another delight is the handwriting support in OneNote. I know that the Modern app has had it for a while, and the desktop app as well, and my handwriting is atrocious, but it’s a NTH. Again, not really a feature of the tablet but something to note nonetheless.

Conclusion
A strong, portable device, perfect to carry into meetings or while travelling when you don’t want to take your laptop with you, but still want the full power of Windows + Office. Just don’t expect to run things like Photoshop, ArcGIS or AutoCAD on it – get real. My suggestion is to only install the Office apps, plus your media player and pdf reader of choice. Pop an SD card in to make your critical OneDrive files available offline, as well for storing your current favourite music + videos.

Astro

Really poor quality picture of Astro, And yes, that is the Microsoft Ninja Cat riding the Flame breathing Unicorn.

Overall, I’m very happy with my decision, and Astro is a wonderful addition to my network.

2

This is the one: fitness tracker edition #2 (review)

I’ve now lived with the Garmin Vivofit for just over 3 weeks, so I feel like I can say what I need to say about it now.

It is, quite possibly, 1 000 times better than the Zip.

vivofit  Greater thanZip

I’m not going to start moaning about the Zip again, but I do have to point out that these two devices are not in the same category. The Zip is an entry level device; the Vivofit is at the mid-high end. Comparing the two directly would be like comparing a budget Windows tablet hybrid to a current-gen iPad Air. Not that that has stopped anyone.

So, I will refrain from making the comparison, and focus purely on the features of the Vivofit. Again, I could never hope to cover the kind of detail that dcrainmaker does, so I will just detail how I have been using the device on my long fitness journey.

The Vivofit came with two bands, one for lady wrists, and one for dude wrists. I use the lady wrist one as my main band, switching to the dude wrist one when I’m boxing so that it sits on my forearm above my glove. It’s nice to be able to have a use for both bands, so it doesn’t feel like I’m wasting.

I leave the time screen on, so the band sits on my left wrist in place of my watch. I’ll cycle to the steps screen if need be, but I actually don’t get too torn up about number of steps any more. I glance over distance covered and calories burned with mild interest; those 2 figures never impacted me much anyway.

Which brings me to the main reason I bought this baby: heart rate monitoring. In conjunction with my Premium HRM monitor strap, I can now track my heart rate in real time. This became important to me because I need to know if my fat burning efforts were having any effect (they are).

When I box, I check the HRM screen to ensure that my heart rate stays within my fat-burning zone. My heart rate was maxing out at 189 bpm during a normal boxing session – signs of being unfit, and also far too high.

I do know that the fat-burning zone is somewhat a misleading term, but for someone like me, who has never had an exercise schedule and always detested any sort of sports, I need to have workouts which don’t destroy me completely. This is why I don’t do Tabatas for my entire workout.

Another reason I love the Vivofit is the fact that is is waterproof. When I swim, I make sure my ladders end at the shallow side, so I can get above the water so the heart rate signal can transmit.

When I sync the band using the USB dongle, I can view the data on graphs at Garmin Connect. Here, various reports can be configured using the web interface. The main reports I check are the average heart rate, and sleep tracker. What I have found useful is if I forget to switch the Vivofit into sleep mode (which has been happening a lot over the last 2 weeks), I can indicate my sleep time and the graph will recalculate the data. Brilliant.

Syncing with MFP helps also, and since it’s a two-way flow of communication, what I do on Garmin affects my calories on MFP and vice versa. The red inactivity bar also reminds me to get up from my desk at work, go downstairs and grab a glass of fruit-infused water. Overall, if I had a rating system, I would give the Vivofit 25 stars.

5

Life’s a bit zippier now

My Fitbit Zip has changed my life. Just putting that out there. Who knew that all I need to kickstart my fitness was seeing a bunch of stats about it? I’ve lost 10kg since June, have dropped a dress size and (anecdotally) am feeling fitter. I had my Zip synced with Vitality to get points as well.

So it is with a heavy heart that I start moaning about it. I’ve been suspecting that Fitbit has been lying about the expected battery life of the Zip – I only had mine for 3 months before my battery started flashing, and it died shortly thereafter. 2 months later, this week it switched off twice due to “empty battery” (both times while I was boxing), and just looking at this SparkPeople thread confirms that there is an issue.

It would appear that the Zip wants a battery change every 3 months, not 6. This is half the time that Fitbit says, and at R25 a battery each time, the cost saved initially by choosing the Zip over the Flex will quickly be negated by buying these batteries. I was thoroughly impressed by the whole Fitbit concept, but I’m not so keen anymore. I have been waiting for the Microsoft band anyway, or the PULS.

I had been hoping to really to buy into Fitbit fully, was planning on getting the SO one of the new bigger bands, and passing my Zip onto my sister once I had upgraded. The silicon on the Zip also started tearing after 3 months, purely from taking it on and off each day. Methinks once I’ve found my ultimate smartband, the Zip will go into the back of a drawer.

5

The Chosen One

The SO received a significant bursary for the Masters of Science degree, so I was able to offload my Sweetiepie a few months ago and get some of that sweet cash while still essentially keeping it in the family. Since I received a company laptop, she was just being used to play series occasionally, and that was not what I envisioned for her when I built her. A quad core AMD chip, 8GB RAM, Windows 8 running on a SSD – she was going to run all my GIS processing.

This got me thinking about what my ideal setup would be. Needs are always evolving, and since my Note 8 has been a huge disappointment, I have been thinking long and hard about what I want. This led to the realisation that the tablet I want does not exist yet is the Surface Pro 3. I wrote this post a few months ago, so when the SP3 was announced in June, I knew The One had arrived.

3

Now this is how you purchase a tablet

*Edit* This should have been posted in December 2013. Time just got away from me I guess.

Recently I made a large (large for me) purchase of a consumer device which will no doubt be obsolete as soon as I finish typing this sentence. OK shame it’s not that bad. I am of course referring to the Samsung Note 8. After watching the prices for about three months – at one point it was available for between R5245 and R7500 at 5 different vendors, hooray for SA retail – I purchased it from Takealot on “Black Friday”. Or this country’s cheap version of Black Friday, which is to say not cheap at all, with few discounts of 10% (if we’re lucky) on limited items.

However, they took R1500 off the price of the N5110, which is the wifi only model. Seeing as I have wifi at home and do not consume data at all while at work, I decided to take the plunge. Of course, the decision was helped along by a few factors

1. Got my first bonus ever PTL, so it won’t affect my festive season budget
2. Pay cash – no debt
3. Use the cheque card to pay online – higher Ebucks rate than credit card + 1.5% boost for festive season
4. Get Ebucks from Takealot
5. Black Friday discount

Did I just quintuple-coupon something?

4

The time has come

A war has been brewing inside of me for a few weeks now. I had made a decision, very reluctantly, to get the Note 8. My mind reasoned with my heart and won. Then, they announce local availability of the Lumia 925. Boom, heart is back in the game, fighting for all it’s worth.

So everyday for the last week I have sat and thought about it, pros and cons of each device, what am I going to use it for, what do I actually want from a phone and a tablet, back and forth all the time. Now I’m tired, and unfortunately for my heart, my mind has won. Practically speaking, the Note 8 makes more sense for me when I consider my 12 month forecast. I waited this long for the perfect replacement for my N8, and while I do understand that the Lumia 925 is exactly that, I can’t let my feelings get in the way. I will be paying for it after all.

Besides, my N8 still works perfectly, it still has that kickass camera I can carry around with me, so in the meantime, I can use the Note 8. This way, I take care of my new phone and tablet requirement in one, and in a year, the 925 will be cheaper , I will be able to afford to pay for both devices, and my Note 8 will become my tablet only.

Still hurts though.

5

This is the one – smartphone edition (decision)

Yesterday I sat down for my first livestream ever (I know…) – the Nokia Zoom event in New York. I had to work through an entire day since we’re 6 hours ahead, but at 5pm I was ready. And man, it was worth the wait.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is amazeballs. It’s awesome sauce. It’s the bees knees. The last phone I felt this way about was my own N8. It is truly the phone that I have been waiting for, a worthy successor to the N8 and the 808 Pureview.

Aaaaaaaaand then Stephen Douchebag Elop put his foot in it when a South African journalist (with the most South African accent I have ever heard) asked him about how the 1020 will be marketed in traditional Nokia strongholds like Africa. D-bag waffled on a bit, but when he said something along the lines of “elements of features in the flagship phone will filter down to lower priced phones in emerging markets”, my vision changed from yellow-tinted to raging red.

Really, Nokia? Seriously? You so desperate to get America back, like they the only ones that matter? When you have a strong fanbase in Africa, parts of Asia and the Middle East who refuse to give up on you? We don’t deserve the best cameraphone in the world because we’re Africans? Is that it?

No, I don’t blame Nokia. I’m blaming Elop. By doing this, he has indicated that he does not care about the business his company receives from Africa. I have waited and waited and waited for this phone, held onto my N8 even though Symbian is sucking the life from me everyday, because I can’t go back to a normal smartphone, I need to have an awesome camera in it. To be told now that SA is probably not going to get the phone, or if we do, definitely not now and probably in some watered down form? It’s enough to drive me to Android.

Haha not really. I’ll probably get the Lumia 925 now, because at least it has a metal body like my N8 and the PureView enabled camera. BUT STILL.

Update: