After some delay it’s now official that the Android-based BlackBerry KEYone will be available by the end of May in both Canada and the U.S. So, while you’re waiting to get your hands on this fancy new smartphone why not pre-order a few accessories in the meantime? (more…)
So how exactly does one compete with other flagship mobile devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S8 or LG G6? Well, they invent the world’s first ever smartphone with squeezable grip sensing technology of course! (more…)
Holy giant Christmas tree, Batman! On Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI used a Sony Tablet S to illuminate what is billed as the world’s largest Christmas tree. With a tap of his finger, the Pope wirelessly brought the Mount Ingino Christmas Tree to life, all from the comfort of the Vatican. For the first time, the 84-year-old Benedict used a tablet computer to ignite the huge Christmas tree lighting display located just outside the Italian town of Gubbio.
The display, also called the Gubbio Christmas Tree is in fact a lighting display in the shape of a Christmas tree. Located in the province of Perugia (Umbria), the Mount Ingino Christmas Tree spans 350 m at its base. It is 650 m high and covers an area of 130,000 square meters (1.4 million square feet). That’s the equivalent to an area of just under 30 soccer fields. Towering above the city, the “tree” can be seen as far away as 50 kilometers. Installed annually, the display is comprised of 730 multi-colored lights, and uses over 8.5 kilometers of electrical cable. In 1991, the Guinness Book of Records named it the “The World’s Largest Christmas Tree”.
This tradition started in 1981, when the people of the town decided to celebrate Christmas in a different way. The idea of the “tree” was hatched, and since then, it has made its appearance annually. The display is lit on December 7th of each year thanks to the combined efforts of volunteers through the months leading to the event.
The lighting of the tree is not Pope’s first encounter with technology. In fact, he seems to be embracing new technology. Earlier in the year, he tweeted for the first time, and even launched the Vatican’s online news information portal by tapping on an iPad.
Today on Let’s Talk Tablets we’ll be reviewing the ViewSonic® ViewPad 10s Android tablet. Selling for around $300.00, the ViewPad 10s is a middle of the road tablet, which isn’t likely to blow anyone away. Nevertheless, it’s well equipped and comes with most of the features you’d expect in a tablet of this price. Considering that the recently released Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet comes with no cameras whatsoever, the ViewPad more than makes up for the $50.00 price difference by including a front mounted 1.3-megapixel still camera, which also doubles as a 1280 x 1024 resolution video camera. The price difference is also justified by the inclusion of Wi-Fi®-enabled video calling, an HDMI port and integrated Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, none of which are included on the Nook tablet.
The LED backlit, color LCD screen has a resolution of 1024 X 600. Although the multi-touch screen is reputed to have a “matte” finish, experience shows that it’s extremely prone to fingerprints and smudges. BTW, if fingerprints are the kind of thing that will send you over the edge, we highly recommend snagging your own custom-cut Zagg InvisibleSHIELD screen protector for the ViewSonic ViewPad 10s. The display screen has fairly limited viewing angles and is brightest when viewed slightly above perpendicular. While the display’s brightness is adjustable, even at it’s maximum setting, the screen fails to “pop”.
Overall, the construction of the ViewPad 10s is decent, although it doesn’t inspire confidence for rough treatment. The rear of the ViewPad 10s is made of a black polymer plastic. Unfortunately, the high-sheen finish of the material is also decidedly prone to smudges.
The ViewPad 10s has a solid selection of physical buttons as well as ports. Buttons include the following:
- Screen Rotation Lock
- Back/Menu Key
- Two volume buttons: One for Increasing Volume & one for Decreasing Volume
On the right hand side of the ViewPad 10s, there’s a somewhat fidgety access door, which provides access to the following handy features:
- A single USB 2.0 port
- A Micro SD memory card reader
- An HDMI port
By design, the attached access door cannot be lost, thanks to two integrated tethers. Above the access door you’ll find a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. Below the access door is a power connector port for charging the 10s. Finally, on the bottom of the ViewPad 10s, you’ll find a docking port which makes viewing the docked tablet much easier when sitting at a desk or table.
The ViewSonic ViewPad 10s is propelled by a NVIDIA Tegra 250 SMP dual Cortex – A9 processor running at 1GHz. It comes with 512MB of built-in memory, but can be bumped up to 32GB thanks to the built-in Micro SD Card Reader. The ViewPad 10s also comes with 512MB of DDR2 SDRAM. The operating system is based on Android 2.2 Froyo. Performance is more than acceptable thanks to the dual core processor. The ViewPad’s main functions include the following:
- Email Access
- Wi-Fi® enabled Internet Access
- Front Mounted Still and Video Camera
- A Dedicated Music Library Page
- An App Center
The ViewPad 10s also enables you to record sound via the built-in microphone. Audio is accessible via two built-in stereo speakers or the 3.5 mm headphone jack.
The ViewPad 10s comes bundled with a User Guide, making it easy to get started. Other features of note are the calculator, calendar, clock, iFileManager, photo gallery, search function and Task Manager.
Battery life is average. The 3-cell, 3300mAH, lithium polymer battery lasts approximately 8-hours on a single charge. When not in use, the ViewPad 10s has an approximate 98-hour standby battery life. Once more, you can monitor the battery’s charge thanks to the battery life indicator.
Anyone who’s owned a higher end tablet is sure to be disappointed by this tablet. That being said, the ViewSonic® ViewPad 10s is a very good entry-level tablet. Starting with this unit will help the “unschooled” determine which features they like, and which features they lack, or would like to have. For the money, the ViewSonic ViewPad 10s comes with many more features than most comparably priced tablets. All in all, you get a lot of bang for the buck, but will likely be sacrificing durability and other features with this unit.
Let’s Talk Tablets ViewSonic ViewPad 10s Rating: 6-Stars
In poker, sometimes the best solution is to fold. Turns out, this logic may also hold true when it comes to protective covers for tablet computers. Introducing the Transformer Prime Smart Cover by ASUS. Likely taking it’s cue from Apple’s Smart Cover for the iPad, the ASUS version has more of an origami feel. Starting out flat, the ASUS Smart Cover uses strategic folds to provide the necessary structure to prop up the Transformer Prime in either landscape, or portrait orientations. The unusual design further allows the user to position the ASUS Transformer in two distinct landscape positions, one shallow, and the other steep. These two positions offer advantages depending on whether you’re viewing the Transformer, or using it to enter data.
Admittedly, never having laid our hands on one, we’re tempted to believe that the folds may eventually abrade the rear of the Transformer Prime. Nevertheless the ASUS smart cover will provide substantial protection for the face of the Transformer, as it’s bandied about throughout the day.
Originally Spotted on Amazon’s German site, the ASUS Smart Cover already appears to be sold out. Nevertheless, it sells for 39.00 € (Roughly 54.16 CAD), which is substantially cheaper than $149.00 for the optional docking keyboard. The German Amazon site also states that the ASUS Smart cover is available “in various trendy colors”, although green, gray, pink, and black are hardly what we’d consider trendy (more like standard).
In case you’ve been out of the loop, ASUS is expecting to launch the Eee Pad Transformer Prime in December of this year. Many technophiles, and tablet aficionados are anxiously awaiting the arrival of this high-end, high performance slate. The ASUS Transformer Prime is setting the bar for both tablet looks and performance. It will be the world’s first tablet to integrate the quad-core Tegra 3 processor. The groundbreaking processor is unprecedented in both speed, and performance. Furthermore, its integrated 12-core, GeForce GPU is certain to deliver impressive graphics performance.
The ASUS Prime will also be running the very latest Android operating system (4.0), or Ice Cream Sandwich. It will offer 1GB of RAM, and a choice of either 32GB, or 64GB of storage. Other features of note are the 10.1-inch, 1280×800 IPS panel, twin cameras (8MP and 1.2MP), a built-in gyroscope, GPS, 12 hours of battery life, and six more with the optional dock. Other goodies include MicroSD, and micro HDMI ports. The optional dock provides even more options, including a USB 2.0 port, and SD card slot.
Here we are at Part 4 of our 2011 Tablet PC Holiday Gift Guide. Every day the holidays draw closer. Every day there’s less, and less time to prepare for the holidays. Perhaps that’s why you’re here; you’re looking for the ideal gift for that “impossible-to-buy-for” loved one. Well, fear not. Everyday our Holiday Gift Guide grows, offering you increasing choice when it comes to tablet computers, eReaders, and related accessories. Today we’re covering eReaders; so let’s get right to it.
Barnes & Noble Nook Color
As time goes by, the line between eReaders and tablet computers grows increasingly fuzzy. Recently, we covered this phenomena in a series of articles entitled “Tablet Computer / eReader Comparison”. If you’re looking for an eReader with extended capabilities, then the Barnes & Noble Nook Color may be for you. Barnes & Noble dubs the Nook Color as the “World’s Best Reading Experience + Tablet Essentials”. At its heart is the Texas Instruments ARM Cortex-A8 processor, running at 800 MHz. RAM sits at 512 MB. The Barnes & Noble Nook Color has 8GB of built-in memory (up to 5,000 books), which is expandable to 32GB with a microSD memory card.
Barnes & Noble also refers to the Nook Color as having the world’s most advanced VividView™ 7″ touchscreen. VividView™ is a lamination process, in which anti-reflective film is applied to the surface of the LCD in order to reduce glare, and optimize brightness. The 7-inch, 1024 X 600, high-resolution, touchscreen accurately renders over 16 million colors, and features an in-plane switching (IPS) display. The integrated Adobe® Flash® Player enhances Web browsing, and soon you’ll be able to download TV Shows, and movies from Netflix and Hulu Plus™. Thanks to the Android 2.2 operating system, you’ll have access to a vast array of apps available on the Android Market place. Furthermore, you’ll also have access to over 2.5 million books, magazines, and interactive kids’ books. Connectivity is established via Wi-Fi® (802.11b/g/n), or a Micro USB port (2.0).
Here are a few other fun things you can do with the Nook Color:
- Check, and send email
- Load photos, and create personal wallpaper
- Listen to audio content via the built-in mono speaker, or the universal 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack
When using the Nook Color as an eReader, you can select from 8 text sizes, 6 font styles, change background colors, and even adjust line and margin spacing. Don’t recognize a word? Look it up via the built-in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. The rechargeable battery lasts for up to 8 hours, with wireless off. The Nook Color can be charged from a wall outlet using the in-box Power Adapter, and USB Cable. Charging time is approximately 3 hours from a wall outlet.
Price: $219.99 on Amazon
Amazon Kindle Keyboard
The Amazon Kindle Keyboard is all you could want in a true eBook reader. It comes with 4GB of built in memory, approximately 3GB of which are dedicated to user content. While the Kindle Keyboard does not accept digital storage media, it does support free cloud storage for all Amazon content. Connectivity is established through both Wi-Fi®, and/or the USB 2.0 micro-B connector, included with your purchase. The purpose of the connector is two-fold. First, it can be used as a bridge between the Kindle Keyboard and the U.S. power adapter. Secondly, the cable can be used to sync the Kindle Keyboard to your PC, or Macintosh computer.
The Kindle Keyboard also features Amazon’s 6-inch diagonal, electronic paper display. The E-Ink® Pearl display has a resolution of 600 x 800, at 167 PPI (pixels per inch). Text is adjustable. You can choose between eight font sizes, and three font styles. With the Kindle Keyboard, you can also listen to audio content thanks to the rear-mounted stereo speakers, and the integrated 3.5 mm stereo audio jack. This Kindle product supports the following audio formats: MP3, AA, and AAX. To support reading, the Kindle Keyboard also includes Whispersync technology. Whispersync notes where you’ve left off, and syncs your spot across devices, so you can pick up where you last stopped. The Kindle Keyboard has a built in dictionary, and enables you to search your Kindle library, the Kindle Store, Wikipedia, and/or the Web using Google search. With wireless turned off, you can expect up to two months of battery life, based upon a half-hour of daily reading time.
Price: $139.00 on Amazon
Kobo Touch eReader
Here’s a dandy little eReader. The Kobo Touch is an eReader in the truest sense of the word. With it, you’ll not find a lot of splashy features, just a bare bones eReader that does its job well. At its heart is a Freescale 508 processor. Internal memory sits at 2GB, however it can be bumped to 32GB thanks to the integrated MicroSD card slot. The Kobo Touch eReader establishes connectivity through (802.11b/g/n) Wi-Fi®, or via the included USB 2.0 cable, to either your PC or Macintosh computer.
The 6-inch E-Ink® Pearl screen has a resolution of 600 x 800, and is contrast adjustable, offering a total of 16-grayscale levels. Furthermore, the display accommodates reading in either portrait, or landscape modes. Text is also adjustable. The Kobo Touch offers an unparalleled 17 text sizes, and 7 font styles. Once more, you can highlight text or look up words via the built-in dictionary. Search text, take notes, and browse the Internet. The Kobo Touch does everything an eReader should do, plus more.
The Touch eReader also enables you to read across devices, and pick up where you left off, thanks to Kobo’s synched bookmark technology. It also supports a slew of file formats, including: EPUB, PNG, CBZ, PDF, JPEG, HTML, GIF, and CBR. The lithium-polymer battery provides power for up to one month and is rechargeable in approximately 4-hours via the AC/DC charger. The Kobo Touch is also USB chargeable in approximately 6-hours. The Touch is available in Lilac, Blue, Silver and Black. It weighs 6.5 ounces, and comes with a 1-year limited manufacturer’s warranty.
Price: Starting at $133.00 on Amazon
Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600B eBook reader
Finally, we come to the Sony Reader Touch Edition (PRS-600B). The Sony Touch Edition is another solid, bare bones eReader. It comes with 512MB of memory, 380MB of which are available for user content. 380MB is enough memory to hold roughly 350 of your favorite books. If necessary, memory can be expanded to 16GB via two separate memory expansion card slots, one for SD cards and one for Memory Stick PRO Duo™ cards. Because the Sony Reader Touch Edition is not Wi-Fi® enabled, connectivity is made available only via the included USB 2.0 cable. The PRS-600B is both PC and Mac® compatible.
The 6-inch E-Ink® Vizplex™ touchscreen display has 800 x 600 resolution, and offers 8-grayscale levels. In layman’s terms, Vizplex™ is an older form of e-Ink® display. The PRS-600B can be read in either portrait, or landscape mode. Reading is further enhanced through these supportive features, note taking, bookmarking, and text search. The Sony Reader Touch Edition also supports text highlighting, and allows for the adjustment of text, with 5 available sizes. The Sony Touch Edition also comes with a built-in dictionary, and supports a host of file formats, including ePub, BBeB Book, PDF, TXT, RTF, JPEG, PNG, GIF, and BMP. Audio content is made available through the headphone jack, as well as MP3, and AAC audio formats. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides power for up to two full weeks, and is USB chargeable.
Price: $177.85 on Amazon