Can Lean Back Devices be used for Lean Forward Activities

…or can you really do that with a tablet??

6a0120a805e490970b01538e1c68a3970bI saw an interesting article by Preston Gralla the other day about how productivity boosting tablets were the gift worth giving this year. Preston sites three in his article – one Android (the Nexus 7) and two Windows Pro (Surface Pro 2 and the new Dell Venue 8 Pro). The bent of Preston’s article is that while there’s a great deal of convenience and multimedia capability built into these, they also contain a great deal of productivity power, providing the user with a well-rounded computing experience.

In his mind, this combination of lean back form factor and lean forward productivity is what makes these types of devices a sure winner. Preston has a point, but I’m not entirely convinced. I think it’s this mixing of features and form factor that are causing problems for these devices.

Tablets were originally (re)introduced as relaxation, or lean back, devices that provided basic, essential computing power in a highly portable, light weight, performance minded form factor. They were small enough to take and use nearly everywhere from the bathroom to the beach; and they got you on the internet, reading and answering email and posting to your favorite social networks without requiring a lot of bulky, computing hardware. They did just enough just about everywhere, and that’s what made them successful. Taking the lean back out of the tablet has changed the dynamic of the device.

BYOD or Bring Your Own Device was a movement that BYTE tried to address between July 2011 and April 2013 over at InformationWeek.com I wrote many BYOD focused articles there and you can still find many of the articles I wrote here. The entire house of cards starts to crumble the moment you try to bring your iPad to work. I know, I tried to do it for 3 or more years. Part of what I wanted to do on the iPad – hand written notes – really doesn’t work well, due to the type of digitizer and touch screen the tablet uses. To this day, handwritten notes aren’t easy, despite the advances in processor, memory, etc.

I have found that both iOS and Android, while capable of running productivity apps, are more suited to handling content consumption focused activities. In other words, while possible, both mobile OS’ are really better at running entertainment software – audio and video players, book reading software, game play, etc. again, even with the enhanced hardware they’ve received over the past few years.

When you put a more productivity based OS on a tablet as well as add a keyboard, you get devices like the Surface/ Surface 2 series type devices that have more in common with an ultrabook or notebook PC than they do a tablet. While this has a bit to do with hardware, its really more pointed at the OS. Windows 8 is more suited towards full-blown productivity apps than entertainment software, though they also do exist on the platform.

Portables_2_Rect

Interestingly enough, my son-in-law recently received a Toshiba Satellite Click 2-in-1 13.3″ Touch-Screen Laptop for his birthday from my daughter. The device comes with a detachable keyboard and Windows 8.1 Pro. He is using it as a productivity machine for school. I recently asked him how often he had used it as a tablet. He hasn’t. Not once.

He said while he can use the device in tablet mode, the device works better as a notebook. When I pressed him for an explanation, it was clear to him that Windows 8.1, despite its live tiles and ModernUI interface, is more of a familiar notebook OS than a tablet OS. Office works better while using the attached keyboard than the on-screen keyboard. Computing in general, worked better with the attached keyboard; touch pad and extended battery than simply with the tablet. So, he is clearly leaning forward rather than relaxing and leaning back with it. He also hasn’t used it as an entertainment device – i.e. to watch movies, listen to music or to read eBooks – though he can do all those things quite easily with the device.

I’m finding that is exactly the case with the Dell Latitude 10-ST2 Windows 8 Pro Tablet. Its all productivity and very impractical as an entertainment device.

You’re likely going to hear a great deal of advertising this Holiday Shopping Season on how Windows 8.x tablets are the perfect combination of lean back and lean forward – entertainment and productivity – devices. In most of the cases I’ve seen and in my personal experience, it just doesn’t work out that way.

The potential for having both in a single device is great. If it works out for you, you can obviously save a great deal of money. However, I’ve noticed that most people don’t actually take advantage of both in a single device. Their device gets “mentally tagged” with a single or main purpose, and using the device for something else violates that tag.

I’ve seen people do that with a number of things – cars, pens, clothing, AND computers. Its not that you can’t drive the sports car to the office, its that you’re saving it for the fun times. As a child, I had school clothes and play clothes. You didn’t mix the two; and I suspect that with many people, whether they do it intentionally or not, they aren’t going to be able to put a ton of movies and music on their work machines. Let’s forget about how most enterprise admins frown on stuff like that and just say that you probably aren’t going to want to give up all the space you might need for documents, spreadsheets and presentations to MP3’s and videos.

In the end, it’s a metal paradigm that I think many people won’t accept. Its not because they can’t, but because for them, the whole idea just doesn’t fit well.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the discussion below.

Related Posts:

Keep your Windows PC safe with Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014

ashampoo_antivirus_2014_logoIf there’s one thing that I really like, its options. There are a lot of different kinds of malware out there, and finding and USING a malware scanner that works the best for you is important. This is one of the reasons why I like Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014. It’s a really cool virus scanner for Windows.

There’s a lot of malware out there. A lot of it effects Windows PC’s and that’s a problem, because a lot of people use Windows PC’s.  However, Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 makes computing a lot easier. The nice thing about it is that once the app is installed, you don’t have to configure it.  It blocks malware right out of the box.  If that’s not, “set it and forget it,” then I don’t know what is.

AAV-01

If malware is found, it can be removed with little interaction from the user. In many cases, you won’t even know you got a bug. Malware is removed and removed fast.  Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 doesn’t sacrifice speed over security.  Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 is fast and light weight.

The bad thing about bad guys is that they are constantly trying to come up with new ways to get to your data, financials and other valuable information.  Thankfully, Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 has daily AV signature updates.  That way, you stay ahead of the curve.

Unfortunately, getting malware on your PC appears to be a part of modern computing. However, with Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014, you can stay protected and malware free. With its daily signature updates and set it and forget it feature set, it protects your PC in the background with little or no intervention from you. Ashampoo makes some of the best software on the internet today, so trust Soft32 when we tell you this is one of the best apps in our catalog.

download Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014

Related Posts:

Get your Gmail data in your Outlook installation with Outlook4Gmail

outlook4gmail-32When I went Android between 2007 and 2012, I fully switched over to a custom Gmail/Google Apps account and moved everything – email, calendar and contacts – over to Google services.  However, I’m a big Outlook user, and getting all of that information to and from Outlook isn’t always easy. That’s where Outlook4Gmail can be a big help. It’s an Outlook for Windows add-in, and its kinda cool.

O4G-02

Outlook4Gmail is an Outlook add-in that provides easy synchronization between Outlook and your Gmail contacts and calendar.  It supports synching contacts with all of the details – name, company, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.  With it and these features, you’ll be able to get all of your Gmail contacts synched between Outlook and your Gmail account.  The free version doesn’t support synchronization of more than one account, however. It does, however support one or two way, simultaneous synchronization for your address book.

You can also sync calendars with the add-in.  You can import a calendar from Google into Outlook, export an Outlook calendar to Google, sync existing calendars, or create new calendars. Unfortunately, you will need the paid version to take advantage of this.

O4G-09

As with any Outlook add-in, there’s no real app start or exit. The add-in loads when Outlook starts and will create its own menu item and ribbon with buttons.  If you bump into problems with either the account or other issues, the add-in will auto disable and you can get control of Outlook after you kill the task in Task Manager.

The biggest problem I had with the add-in was with calendar sync. The free version allows you to configure it, but doesn’t actually sync the content.  It’s a bit confusing, because the functionality just doesn’t activate.  The license is only $20 USD, but it’s hard to test something like this when it just doesn’t work in the trial version.

Related Posts:

Corel Painter Essentials – Enhance Your Photos!

Screen-Shot-2011-07-08-at-9.13.09-PMEnhance Photos and create art with this professional graphics package.

I am a big photography nut. If there’s one thing that I like to do is take pictures. However, in many cases, after the picture is taken and the shot enhanced, or retouched, that’s often it. That is unless you have Corel Painter Essentials. It’s a really cool graphics app for Windows.

With Corel Painter Essentials – now called Painter X3 – you can do a great deal with your photos. You can create digital photo art. Painter X3 has power full cloning and painting features that allow you to transform your photos into something beyond a simple photo. With the right effects, the results can be stunning.

If photography isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Painter X3 has you covered there, too. You can of course create traditional art from a blank, digital canvas. The cool think here is that Painter X3 can actually mimic traditional media. With it oils look and behave like oils, water colors like water colors, pastels or chalk like pastels or chalk, etc. The effects are pretty cool to watch and work with; but you’ll need to see and experience that for yourself.

CPE-01

If you’re new to art as well, don’t worry. PX3 has you covered as well. It has tools that are easy to use and understand. It even has a training app called Painter Lite that can teach you to master the basics. You’ll be creating cool pictures in no time.

Ok… I was suitably impressed. There’s a reason why this is one of my favorite apps and has been for many years.

There’s a lot more that you can do with Corel Painter Essentials than I’ve listed here. Its one of the most interesting graphics apps that I’ve ever seen; but I’ve known that for quite a while. In fact, its always been one of my favorites. The only bad thing about it is that is somewhat expensive. However, if you want to do more with your pictures than simple enhancements, this is the app for you.

download Corel Painter Essentials

Related Posts:

Lessons Learned from a Would-Be Cord Cutter – Part 2: It ain’t that easy…

Getting a free TV is easy. Making it work without subscription services isn’t.

cordcuttingA few weeks ago, I published an article on what I was doing to get broadcast video content without subscribing to any kind of cable or satellite service. I’ve heard from some people that it’s easy. I’ve heard from others that it can be challenging at best.

In short, I’ve learned a few interesting lessons and I thought I would pass them on. If you’re thinking about cutting the cord – cancelling your cable or satellite subscriptions, or simply going without them – there are some burps you’ll need to get around if you want to have the best experience. Here’s what I found out.

You’re GONNA Need an Antenna – The Leaf Ultimate (and Placement is Everything)

Large_antenna

Many local TV station affiliates – NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, etc. – broadcast their content over the air. Besides the majors, there’s also a few other public access or personal interest stations that you might find available as well depending on your geographic location. In order to pull these stations in, you’re going to need a digital antenna.

Thankfully, you will NOT need one of those big, motorized metal monsters that you’ve seen strapped to the side of older homes or older homes with chimneys. However you will need an indoor antenna. The best one that I’ve seen – and the one that I ordered – was the Leaf Ultimate. It comes with an amplifier and is small enough that you can put it just about anywhere near the TV, though it is highly recommended that you locate it near a window.

The antenna is flat and looks like a laminated or plastic coated piece of paper. It connects to your TV’s coax connection and setup is easy. Provided you have the right kind of tuner (see below), all you’ll need to do is connect the antenna to the amplifier, connect the antenna to the TV and set the appropriate video mode for the coax input you attached it to. After searching for channels, you should be good to go.

Placement of the antenna is very important. Depending on what you’re trying to watch, you may need to move the antenna slightly now and again in order to pick up specific channels you want to watch or when the signal is pixilated due to inclement weather or weak signal reception. You can then put it back in the spot where you have it permanently mounted. The antenna is inconspicuous enough that it can either be mounted to a wall or bookcase with either included Velcro pads or pins. I’ve not experienced any reception issues with it, and it’s been functioning well. The Leaf Ultimate Indoor antenna lists for $89.99, but can be purchased for about $70.

Digital Signal Requires a Digital Receiver

image2993

Back in 2009 when the US converted OTA TV broadcasts from analog to digital signals, there was a big push to get everyone a digital tuner. Most cable or satellite service users were not affected by this, as the cable or satellite box handled any required conversion. That made it easy for those folks to ignore the requirement and just watch TV.

Since being a cord cutter means staying away from either or both cable or satellite, using a TV manufactured prior to the digital tuner requirements put in place around 2007 and enacted in 2009, makes watching OTA TV impossible. In other words, you need a digital converter box.

I was able to obtain a decent Sony 720p/1080i TV for free. All I had to do was pick it up. The only issue I had in watching OTA digital broadcasts was that the TV was in 2002, and therefore had an analog tuner. I had to go to BestBuy and purchase a digital converter box. That cost me about $60 bucks.

The converter box is actually a digital tuner that bypassed my analog tuner and pushed the signal into the AUX port on the TV via coax, instead of the TV antenna port. The TV now displays all three local, major network affiliates plus other public broadcast and access channels. In all, I get about 20 channels.

I’m finding that I usually stick to the majors – NBC, ABC and CBS. The other channels, like ME-TV, The CW, etc., are nice, but I’m not finding a lot that interests me there. I like waking up to the news on weekdays. I now drive to work and finding out what weather, traffic and road conditions to expect always make the commute much easier to get through.

Next Page

Related Posts:

One Windows OS (to Rule them All)

App windowsConfirmed – Windows RT to be cut from the Windows catalog.

I love my friends who cover Windows, namely Preston Gralla, Mary Jo Foley and Ed Bott.  They really know their stuff; and they have a number of contacts on the inside, where it counts, that provide them with some awesome insight. Today, I learned something “new.”

Windows RT is going to die.

Well, nearly EVERYONE knew that already; but today we were made aware of a couple interesting statements from Microsoft that all but confirmed it.

The Verge reported that Julie Larson-Green stated at the UBS Global Technology Conference that, “we have Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and full Windows.  We’re not going to have all three.”  Further, Terry Myerson, now heading up the Windows Group at Microsoft stated, “we should have one set of developer APIs on all of our devices…all of the apps we bring to end users should be available on all of our devices.”

Since Windows RT can’t run Windows desktop apps, and won’t, this indicates that the vision here is to have one Windows OS that will run on all devices, including phones, tablets and PC’s.  Since Dell has proven that a Windows Pro device can be just as miserly on battery life as a Windows RT device with its Venue 8 Pro, running Windows 8.1, it’s clear that MS is speaking directly about Windows RT.

Further, since Microsoft took a $900M charge against unsold Surface RT devices and forced Ballmer out, logic dictates that the shelf life of Windows RT and Surface 2 (not Surface Pro 2) are limited.  Consumers have repeatedly indicated that they don’t like the ARM based OS that doesn’t run standard Windows desktop apps.  This was just a matter of time on Microsoft’s part.

If I recall correctly, MJF indicated during a Windows Weekly podcast last month that this was going to happen, but the details have changed slightly. It’s easier to simply kill RT and then move Windows Phone and Windows to a single platform that it would have been to combine all three into a newer or single platform. The whole idea behind RT was to create a tablet platform, but Microsoft missed the boat when it created a separate platform instead of merging Windows Phone and RT together.

Since RT is going to die, and they’ll be merging Phone into Desktop Windows, it’s going to be a LOT easier for developers to create apps and games that can run on either platform. It’s going to make developing and selling apps a lot easier as well.

What do you think? Is this the right move for Microsoft? Why not join in the discussion below, and let us know what you think?

Related Posts:

Apple Still Wins Despite the Retrial

Samsung is decrying the verdict it lost to Apple in the recent Patent Retrial

Barring a huge smoking gun that never appeared, Samsung was all but assured a loss in the recent Apple v. Samsung patent retrial.  Well, that’s at least my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

In total, Samsung had been ordered to pay Apple $1.05B in damages.  However, Judge Lucy Koh reduced that amount by over $400M.  Samsung was still on the hook for approximately $600M.  A retrial was ordered on the damages, with Judge Koh asking Apple to reassess what they felt they were entitled to.  Apple asked for $380M.

They were recently awarded an addition $290M, or just over 76% of their requested amount.  That brings Samsung’s total liability – barring any appeals, which I’m certain you can count on – to $890M.

When asked for a comment on the recent verdict, Apple had the following to say,
“For Apple, this case has always been about more than patents and money,” Apple said in a statement following the verdict. “It has been about innovation and the hard work that goes into inventing products that people love. While it’s impossible to put a price tag on those values, we are grateful to the jury for showing Samsung that copying has a cost.”

Apple v Samsung Devices

Samsung has been trying to get the entire case thrown out of court and had filed two demands for mistrial.  One was for an alleged anti-Asian statement by Apple counsel, Bill Lee.  Mr. Lee is him self, an Asian-American.  So, uh… yeah, no.

Samsung also tried to have the case dismissed via mistrial due to a statement from the USPTO demanding that Apple defend its patent claims against invalidity.

Both requests were denied.

I’ve owned a number of Samsung devices.  There’s no doubt in my mind, based on the visual evidence alone, that Samsung copied Apple designs. It is, in my opinion, blatant.  I mean… just look at the device comparison graphic from the trial of Samsung devices before and after the introduction of the iPhone.  If that’s not blatant copying, I don’t know what is.

However, that’s my opinion. I’d love to hear what you have to say.  Why don’t you join me in the discussion below and give me your opinion.

Related Posts:

Upgrade Fever – Smartphones and Tablets and Laptops

Oh my..?   Yeah, I’ve noticed you only catch it if you want it…

Ever since the release of the first iPhone in 2007, there seems to be an annual hullaballoo that’s expected to take the world by storm. Every August or September, we’re expected to sit in front of our computers, drooling on our F5 keys as we wait for the guy at the other end of the keynote to update his live blog so we can see the latest version of Widgets on Parade.

Apple does it every year, and it’s become the gateway into the Holiday buying season.   Every major electronics manufacturer from Apple to Samsung has some sort of great product whose-whats-it that’s designed to create upgrade fever with that manufacturer’s fans. They also hope to win over nearly everyone else, too.

There’s one thing that I’ve noticed over the past few years, especially with Apple and the iPad.   It’s important to note too – especially right now – just 8 or so calendar days from Black  Friday  (or the day where most retailers sell enough stuff to take them and their balance sheets into the black for the year) because it may really dictate where you put your dollars:

You don’t have to catch upgrade fever.

I’ll say it again – You don’t have to upgrade your iPhone if you don’t want to. There are a few reasons why.   Most of them are common sense, but they may get lost in all of the excitement surrounding the new hardware release.   Let’s take a quick look, though.

The hardware is less than a year old

I think it’s actually amazing. I really do. Apple is a great example here, because they’ve been able to not only do this successfully, but do it consistently as well, to the point where their stock price will fluctuate if the iDevice announcement is delayed or doesn’t happen when the press expects it to.

But let’s take a quick look at not only the iPad Air, but the iPhone 5S/5C.   The iPad 4 and the iPhone 5 are just now out of factory warranty, if you got one on or near launch/release day 2012. I got my iPhone 5 on 2012-10-22. That means that as of this writing, my iPhone 5 is not quite 13 months old…and there’s not a bloody thing wrong with it.

Let’s leave aside the fact that I treat my gadgets very well and all of them are in pristine condition.   I’m likely the exception, there. However, unless you’re drop kicking your phone or tablet across the room at any and every opportunity, there’s very little chance that you’ve worn out the hardware. While this isn’t 1950 blah-blah-blah, things don’t wear out THAT quickly. Unless your very hard on your device, then it likely hasn’t gotten enough wear on it to justify the purchase of a new device to replace it based on use.

In fact, a whole new industry based on certified used devices or device resale has been created based on Apple’s annual product cycle.   Businesses like Gazelle, Amazon’s Used Device Purchase Service came about because of Apple’s rapid hardware update cycle.   Even Apple and the wireless carriers got into the game.   However, you need to understand that you’re going to take a bit of a hit on is resale value. The “depreciation” after only a year is a lot more with these companies than you might experience if you sold the device privately.

However, simply based on your device’s age and its condition, it’s still very usable. Getting rid of it just because the new version is now available isn’t always the smartest financial decision either.   Which brings me to my next point…

Only the guy on the uninsured motorcycle is actually made of money

Let’s face it – iDevices are expensive. The high-end cellular iPad costs nearly as much as an entry level MacBook Air.   An entry level iPad costs as much as a mid-range notebook or desktop. These things aren’t cheap.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford a new iPad every year. I’m not even certain I would want to buy a new one that often. Given the (potential) high cost of entry, keeping up with an annual, hardware refresh cycle isn’t realistic…unless of course you’re “financially independent.”   At the end of the day, I know I’m not that uninsured guy riding a motor cycle, littering the highway with $20’s.   Whether I wanted to or not, the point is moot. Buying a new iPad every year isn’t in the cards for me; or most people, for that matter.

Your Use Case probably hasn’t changed

When I bought my iPad, I bought it for a few specific reasons – I want to watch movies. I want to watch TV shows and I want to read eBooks.   These are “lean back” activities that I will likely do for quite some time with that device. In short, my needs haven’t changed and likely won’t for quite some time.

As the needs haven’t changed, I haven’t found the need or justification to upgrade my device.

Conclusion

I purchased an iPad 1 in December of 2010, and it’s been working very well since I put it into service. That device is perfect for what I want to do with it, and I likely won’t need to replace it unless and until it breaks or my use case changes.   The iPad 2 is still available for purchase at $399 USD.   It’s got almost twice the processing power as the original iPad, and is also thinner and lighter. If you have a similar use case in mind and want to buy “new,” an iPad 2 is likely your best iDevice of choice. If you’re going to do more with it – perhaps light computing or image editing – then an iPad Air or iPad 4 might be a better choice.

However, just because its older, doesn’t mean that it can’t do exactly what you need it to do.   This is true for nearly any and every electronic device available for purchase in any market today. Figure out what you want to do, and then find the best device to meet that need.   If your needs are like mine, then you may not have to have the newest device out there. In many cases, the original one you purchased can still meet the needs.

Related Posts:

Stay in touch with Soft32

Soft32.com is a software free download website that provides:

121.218 programs and games that were downloaded 237.780.356 times by 402.775 members in our Soft32.com Community!

Get the latest software updates directly to your inbox

Find us on Facebook