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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Apple is not cool, or leading, or good or...

OK, I know Apple doesn't need any defending. I also know this post won't make any difference. But I do need to vent, and all the crap I've been reading lately gives me a very good opportunity to do so.

I'm seriously tired of reading articles stating Apple is no longer cool wit kids. That many imaginary "facts" are contributing to this. That Apple needs to do this or that to recover whatever it hasn't lost.

For instance, if you think a kid won't want a used phone and prefer a new one, you'd probably be right. If you think the same about a tablet, again you'd be right. Saying that a kid would prefer a new Galaxy to a used iPhone is a stretch. Saying that giving your old iPhone to your kid will kill Apple's image is DUMB. Same goes with iPad and Surfaces.

1st - you are dead wrong, kids DO prefer a used iPhone/iPad to any crappy new Android/Surface.

2nd - you are dead wrong, kids won't hate the old iPhone/iPad, they'll only crave for a new one even more.

Where are the studies that support these allegations? Who, when, where and how were they conducted, and by whom?

Next, Apple's results.

Not being as high as they were in the past, or as good as (some analysts think) they should be, does NOT mean they are "disappointing". If MS and Nokia and Samsung and Galaxys and whatnot are just "a bit short" or "not yet as good as" or "almost" when they fail, or "brilliant, leading" when they barely succeed then you're being biased. And firefox or ubuntu mobile are not options. BB10 and Jolla are.

I like and expect Win8 and them tablets to succeed. I want Jolla and BB10 to do so as well. Doesn't mean I want (I mean, think) Android and/or Apple to fail.

Android tablets still SUCK BALLS. But they are cheap and sell more than iPads? Good! More people can have tablets, even if they can't afford iPads.

Android phones are way more expensive than they should, trying to build some premium image around them, when Android is the new symbian. At most... Selling more, having more market share does not mean Apples devices are not more desirable, and that the company is not earning more money than ever.

You idiots are dissing the real options that are coming. Those that may do what Android has failed to in these recent years. Being a proper alternative.

You idiots are praising vaporware like ubunto and firefox and facebook phones as options to the leading Android, and Apple is dead? Get our f* heads out of your sponsored Notes and Chanel bags and get a grip.

Disclaimer:
I use a Nokia N9, BB Bold, iPad mini and Asus Transformer daily. I'm not a biased Apple fanboy, nor a sold out jurno/analyst.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Win8 RT rant...

So it’s finally here. I finally get to try out one of the devices I had relatively high expectations for. A Win8 tablet.


Asus VivoTab RT

Before we get in to it, I should stress that though I have my preferences, I am not pro or against MS, Apple or Google. I recognize quality and faults in all of their products and services and point them out. It’s called constructive criticism. If you’re going to read in the hope to see me praise/hate Win8, or the competition, then go ahead and just stop right here.

For those still there, thank you and let’s continue.

Disclaimer:

First, I’d like to say I there is a small advantage towards Win8 in my little experience. You see, I “try” (you’ll understand this choice of words later on) to use tablets to work all the time. And that means a keyboard. So the quality and functionality of said keyboard could influence my opinion. Added the fact that I’m a “savvy” daily Windows (and MAC) user, familiar keyboard shortcuts and keys placement could also tilt the scale a bit in favor of it. But, using both an iPad and Android with a keyboard to even things out a bit, I trust it did not.

But before we go into all that “work mode”, let me tell you what I saw as a tablet experience.


The platform:

Unlike Android, it’s fragmentation and piles of crap on Market Play (seriously?) Win8 is, at least for now, a cared, controlled and rather clean looking environment.

Still doesn’t look or is as high end and polished as Apple’s iOS and App Store (which also took a turn for worst in some aspects lately).

There’s a dire need of app in the Store, yes. But there are some serious good apps in there that allow you to play any type of game, and some (though surely not even close to all) of you favorites from other platforms. And what more do you need, when we’re talking about something that runs Windows? Social apps? Sure. There are some. But why not use the browser? Photo, blogging, writing… It’s basically a Windows computer. If there isn’t an app to do any or all of that, the use of the “standard” Windows environment compensates for it, while giving you so much more.

One important detail that will get to users in that very important first experience. No search option “in” the Store. Seriously, it really matters. The fact that you can search from the side bar is not clear or intuitive or told to the user. At first glance and for hours or even days, he’ll be cursing the store while browsing it to try and find a certain app he could (and can) just search for. First impressions matter and this is not a good one.

Fortunately, when you find it, it works.

Win8 Store


The interface and operating system:

It’s nice to have gestures, swipes. I’m a big fan of that. Enough with touch and pinch or double tap to zoom. Or the “ape” gestures from iOS. Have you not seen the Nokia N9 and the Playbook? Win8 finally gives you a few more “moves”. Add real multitasking with alt+tab or Win+tab and the raw power to keep tasks running without slowing the operating system and the user experience one bit, and it’s brilliant. Job well done.

Do I like the look of the Metro Modern UI and its basic squared single-colored tiles? Nope. Still don’t. Are they interesting and useful in their resizeability and with “live” content? Hell yes. The more it evolves, the better it will get with more content and immediate functionality.

Having a good search option always available (yes, like Mac OS and iOS has since “foreva”) is an excellent thing. One that works properly without appearing to grind your system to a halt (yes Google, Android general search is not your strong point, ironically) and that can be/is application specific is a very strong point in favor.

Finally, when the Modern touch UI is not enough, you can always rely on the “old” windows desktop environment to do virtually anything resorting to Windows or, very important, Office applications.

Last (but not lest for me) is the connected or networked experience. Besides the “cloud” experience, which is not perfect but scores good points with Skydrive, Facebook and Flickr integration with the Photos app, there’s the possibility to access you contents on other networked computers.

You need not install third party apps to access anything on your network. Open Windows explorer, type your computer name or IP, login and you’re there. You need no stinkin’ app or service that may not may not work like airplay, iTunes or any kind of server running on your computer.

On an Android you have to use 3rd party apps. And it lags a bit, connections drop on occasion etc. On iOS you must use airplay and iTunes (the whole world knows by now how I hate it) or a 3rd party app and a server. All this brings limitations, encapsulations, overhead, clutter and generally a at most “meh” experience.

On Win8, if you “map” your (insert your or your family members device name here) local folders to the Win8 tablet Photo, Video or Music applications, your stuff will be just there. And will open/play quite quickly (as far and as long as your wireless allows it) after quickly indexed. No syncing, no streaming, no BS.
But basically you just need to open "Network" and it just runs/opens/plays over your wi-fi. Period.

Yes, there are some things to improve, clearly. But being the new comer I’m more likely to cut it some slack, than the iPad or any Android.


The internet experience:

It failed for me. No alternative browser allowed, flash supported but disabled (mostly) unless your site’s in a “white list”… Really went out of their way to fail here. No worse (or better) than not supporting pages or the browser crashing while trying to run everything.

Oddly enough, where a Windows device should have a serious advantage rendering pages and providing an internet experience close to that of a PC, it fails to do so and in doing so killed my expectations.
Yes there is a work around. But that's kind of like cheating to save you champions' face, and I'm not here for that.

The less expected “winner” here is strangely the iPad. Both because there are serious and decent alternatives to Mobile Safari, and because sites have been slowly but steadily adapting to the fact that they HAVE to be tablet friendly. And for a site, percentage wise, and as my 5 year old daughter said once “a tablet, is the iPad”.

Android. Browser is slow and unresponsive and still crashing. Even if just occasionally, it’s still too much. Alternative browsers can improve some aspects, but generally they are even slower.


Finally, the working experience:

There’s really no competition here. Forget anything else if you want to do any serious work on a tablet. Especially if, like it or not, you’re part of that majority of users that work on Microsoft environments. Be that the operating system, office suite, corporate network (shares, sharepoint) or all of the above. File management and sharing in a work environment is like breathing in Win8.

E-Mail. It’s just as good as it gets. You can open (almost) anything you get thrown at, manage all your personal accounts and your work exchange accounts (individual or support mailboxes). It can only get better if you get the full “Outlook” from the full Office suite (RT sports only the Office preview edition with Word, Excel, Power Point and One Note). And in this device you can actually get it. It’s not vaporware as its iOS rumored version, or the crap-ware 3rd party sold in the competition Stores which won’t work half as good as the native e-Mail app on this.

Then, if you add a keyboard and a mouse… Well then it is truly game over. It does become a small laptop. Not a netbook mind you. The Asus Transformer TF 700 or an iPad with a keyboard kind of do just that. But you’re constantly reminded by their limitations that you’re not on full computer. The Win8 tablet with a keyboard is as good as a MacBook Air as a laptop, and then some. Right click, context menu, proper scroll, double click, triple click, drag to select, proper drag and drop, and all those keyboard shortcuts, it feels like “home”.


“Other” stuff:

Battery performance, free space, price, features.

On a short time experience, battery didn’t seem bad. Not sure how it’ll do against an iPad on stand-by. But I generally don’t care since it’s of no use that it can go for weeks on stand-by. If you’re not using it… who cares? This is not a DSLR or a video camera. It’s a daily use device. I’m fearful of the 3G/HSPA connected experience as this usually drains the battery, but can’t be much worst then the competition (more on that later if it proves to be remarkable or otherwise worth mentioning).

Free space is in-line with most of the competition. Note I didn’t state “capacity”. Because with 32 “marketing” GB you get around 16 usable “marketing” GB (which amounts to 25/13 IRL GB). Selling the 32 GB as a plus to justify the premium price is as bad and dumb a dissing Win8 cause it takes half the available space. You have to see the free space you get for your stuff in the basic model, and for what price. And seriously, how could you expect anything different from a full computer operating system, plus a full touch UI system?

These all have wireless (Wi-Fi and 3G/HSPA/LTE options). Having LTE on a device when you’re not doing heavy download/upload makes it expendable. Still, it could/should be present in all 3 below.

So for around 16GB of (free) space, plus a keyboard, you can get:

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity LTE - €579,9 + Keyboard (Eee Docking €99.90) = € 679.80
iPad 4 16Gb HSPA (LTE not working in EU) - €627 + Keyboard (Logitech +/- €70) = €697
Asus Vivo Tab RT HSPA, with Keyboard included - €759,9
(all Vodafone PT prices for direct comparison)
Other features, like NFC, Bluetooth or other 3rd nuts... Don't care. Will look in to it as I use it more. Not sure I'll find anything worth mentioning.

Finally, the Win8 is the only one without a full HD display. Does it matter/show? Yes. It's no retina. But you can play 720p. And 20cm away on a 10' screen it's enough. But just.

So is this Win8RT, or are its premium competitors worth it?

In short, if you’re looking for something just to waste your spare time, gaming, socializing, surfing, then maybe neither is the wise choice. There are cheaper devices around and from the same source, Androids like the Vodafone Smart Tabs by Lenovo, the Samsung Galaxy Tab/Notes that will get the job done. Or even better, stick with the 7 format and price range. Be that a Smart Tab, a Nexus 7 or an iPad mini. Because any of the above mentioned tablets+keyboard are way too expensive just for kicks and laughs.

But if you want to go serious (and work) on the tablet front, then price is a relative matter as it must be weighed in perspective. You have to consider how much time (and sanity) it’ll save you, and since time is money, how much is it worth for you.

By allowing you to work fast and effectively on the move, a tablet like this can replace your laptop and more, doing the job of 2 or 3 devices. The Androids are useless slow behemoths at this. The iPad can do some work, but it´s not its main game. The Win8 tablet will clearly have your back on any “serious” or work related situation, while still providing you some R&R.

If I were to go in the neighborhood of €700 for such a device, I surely wouldn’t choose the cheapest and least capable one. Not when the best work horse is “only” 10% more expensive.

That said, you can always wait for the full Win8 Pro devices (and also their prices) to get it and go one better…





Tuesday, January 8, 2013

TopGear - new season is coming

Everyone loves top gear. If not Clarckson, May or Hammond. If not the cars, the stunts, or at least the humor. Hopefully, all of the above.

Unfortunately if you're not in the UK you'll have to tape it, or if not a resident, you'll only get to see it delayed. Like with a several month or even year delay in some countries.

At most, you illegally download some divx rip over P2P.

Well, I watch it live. And Fifth Gear too. I use FILMON to stream it live. Works on MAC, PC, Win8, iOS and Android. And a simple web browser can do it too. Until it gets blocked from external access.

New season premiers on BBC Two at 8pm on January 27. Thought I'd share...

iTunes link:
https://itunes.apple.com/pt/app/filmon-live-tv-free/id576167616?l=en&mt=8

Google play:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.filmon.live

Site:
www.filmon.com

Friday, January 4, 2013

The "Annalists say iPad mini is canibalizing the wrong guy" rant

The iPad mini is great.

The iPad mini fits my winter raincoat pocket.

The iPad mini is not replacing my (retina) iPad at home.

The iPad mini has made my iPhone a redundant iDevice, and just another mobile phone. I've always hated it as a phone...

Hello Nokia N9. Did you miss me? I sure missed you... Please, forgive me?



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