Tablet Talent Show

ASUS Transformer Book T100 Review

ASUS Transformer Book T100 ReviewI'll spend a little time on a desktop running Ubuntu and a tablet running Android, but otherwise it's always my work-issued MacBook Pro or my LG G2 phone. It's been a while since I played with Windows on a laptop and I've never used Windows on a tablet.

That's why I was intrigued by the ASUS Transformer tablet. It's a 10" tablet that comes with a keyboard dock, so you can convert it into a laptop. It also runs Windows 8.1 and includes Microsoft Office.

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I feel sorry for folks using Windows 8.1 without a touchscreen. It really seems designed for touch and counterintuitive if you're just using a keyboard and mouse. But if you want Windows because it's what you know and / or need, the ASUS Transformer Book might just be the tablet for you. And it is a touchscreen, making Windows 8.1 actually bearable.

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Pros: Switching from tablet to laptop is super easy, and the battery life seems pretty good. It's light and has a USB and HDMI port, which you rarely see with tablets.

Cons: Coming from a MacBook Pro, it feels awfully plastic, but then again it is a great deal less expensive. And the Windows apps suck, especially if you're used to Android or iOS, but you can run full Windows programs to adequately compensate.

I can't wait to start playing with my new ASUS Transformer Book

In terms of value, I recommend this device, especially if you're a fan of Windows. For a 10" inch tablet / laptop hybrid, the price is right.

This ASUS Transformer Book T100 was provided by Intel Canada as part of the #IntelCanada Insiders Experience program.

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Installing Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) on My HP TouchPad

Installing Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) on My HP TouchPadIn July of 2011, the nice people at HP gave me a TouchPad Tablet PC. Here's something I wrote about it then. It was is a nice piece of hardware with great sound running webOS, but by August of 2011, HP had discontinued the TouchPad. Early sales results indicated it wasn't the iPad killer they hoped it would be.

That meant the only tablet I own runs an OS without many apps. If you think BB10 is missing some key apps (and it is), you should peruse the app selection for the TouchPad. As a fan of the Android OS, I wanted to run Android on my HP TouchPad so I could enjoy the same system and apps I enjoy on my Samsung Galaxy phone.

The answer was CyanogenMod 10, which has brilliantly enabled me to run Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) on my TouchPad. Fantastic installation instructions are here should you own a TouchPad and want to give this a shot. It's pretty easy as my girlfriend and I had it up and running in one afternoon.

TouchPad running Android

I'm very pleased with my new Android tablet. Jelly Bean is great.

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The Microsoft Surface Tablet is Coming

The Microsoft Surface TabletI've tried a few different tablets over the past few years. In fact, there's one next to my bed right now. I rarely touch it.

It seems I like using a laptop. I've got a laptop next to the bed and I just grab it and do my surfing or writing or viewing or whatever. I never reach for the tablet, always preferring the laptop.

When I just want to read something quick, I'll grab my Samsung Galaxy S II phone. That's my "tablet" of choice.

Microsoft is ready to enter the tablet game, having unveiled their Surface tablet. It's a nice looking piece of hardware with a couple of nifty features the iPad doesn't have. I think the Touch and Type covers are pretty cool.

Hopefully Microsoft has learned a lot from their disastrous Zune experience. I doubt the folks at Apple are shaking in their boots, but the Surface is interesting enough that you can't immediately dismiss it. I mean, it even has a built-in kickstand!

I'll stick with my laptop and Android phone, but if you're looking for an iPad that runs Windows, you'll definitely want to check out the Surface.

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Motorola XOOM Review

xoomI've been enjoying Motorola's Xoom tablet running Android 3.1 Honeycomb since August. I'm trying to play with as many iPad challengers as possible in my little Tablet Talent Show. So far I've reviewed a Touchpad from HP, a Playbook from RIM and now a XOOM from Motorola.

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First things first... where's the power button? Here it is, by the rear camera. Not the ideal place, but better than where RIM stuck it on the PlayBook.

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Because size matters in the tablet world, it's important to note that the XOOM is 9.8 inches wide by 6.6 inches tall. It looked great in landscape, lousy in portrait and felt a little big after playing with the PlayBook for a while. That damn PlayBook got me digging the 7-inch tablets, but that damn PlayBook didn't run Android.

Android looked and felt great on this device. The browser snapped open in a flash (no pun intended) and felt awfully Chrome-ish. Aw heck, that pun was intended. It's great visiting Google Analytics and other sites that display Flash and actually seeing the content.

On this Android device, my Google login acted as a passport of sorts, automatically customizing everything for me. My calendar was populated by Google Calendar, my Gmail was there, looking great, and Talk and YouTube were ready to go. And yes, I quickly found and installed a Google+ app to complete the collection.

Comparing the XOOM to the PlayBook might be as simple as comparing your link to Google to your link to your Blackberry. If your Blackberry acts as the heartbeat of your virtual world, the PlayBook is your tablet. If you're a Google bigot, an Android device is the way to go, and I'm told there's no better Android tablet on the market than the XOOM.

Although it's sold separately, Motorola sent along a great docking station for video chats and great audio. My daughter loved blasting Adele on this Speaker HD Dock.

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When I close an application on an iPad, it disappears from whence it came until I call it once more. On the XOOM, my active apps are lined up and ready for recall - as they are on the TouchPad and PlayBook. I don't understand why the iPad doesn't do something similar as I find it very convenient.

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There were plenty of amazing apps for Android, both free and paid, and installing them was simple.

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I don't really have any major criticisms of the XOOM. It felt a bit big when compared to the PlayBook, but it felt sleek when compared to the almighty iPad. Its Google integration is awesome, its ability to play Flash in the browser is convenient and the audio and video was great. I had this thing since August and not once did the battery run down to a point where I was warned to charge it. I wish I could say the same thing about the TouchPad.

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Right now at Best Buy Canada I see the Motorola 32GB XOOM with Wi-Fi Tablet is going for $499.99. A 32GB iPad 2 will cost you $619.99. When you factor in the fact the XOOM has a microSD Card Slot, runs Honeycomb and has a kick-ass battery, I'd go with the XOOM.

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PlayBook Review: Toronto Mike vs. RIM

tabletWhen HP sent me a Touchpad in July, I dove into the tablet market for the first time. The Touchpad didn't make it, but it got me wondering if there's a viable iPad alternative out there. No doubt Apple's iPad is a dominating #1, but what's #2?

I've been playing with RIM's Blackberry Playbook since August. What better day to publish a review of the PlayBook than the day after RIM's financial results told us how little demand there is for this device. The numbers tell us there really isn't a tablet market... there's an iPad market.

RIM's Playbook arrived with a very cool soft cover that made transporting it a breeze. I don't know why all tablets don't come with such a shield. This thing does the job perfectly, and I never felt a need to use any other case.

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As much as I liked the case it comes with, I hated the power button. Of all the tablets I've tried this summer, none of them had a more frustrating power button. It's simply too small and in a very awkward place.

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Those of you with iPads will notice how much smaller the PlayBook is by comparison. It's 7 inches vs. 10 inches, but you can't appreciate the size difference until you've held a PlayBook in your hand. It's this 7-inch size that had me loving the PlayBook. If I were Apple, I'd launch a 7-inch iPad. In my experience, 7-inches is the sweet spot (insert joke here).

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In addition to the size, my favourite part of the PlayBook very well could be your least favourite part. You see, my smart phone is a Blackberry, and Blackberry smart phones sync wonderfully with the Blackberry PlayBook. You use an app called BlackBerry Bridge to get your messages, calendar and BBM on your PlayBook. You can also tether via Bluetooth to smart phones, if you're not near a wifi hotspot.

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Now, if I didn't own a Blackberry, the Blackberry Bridge would be useless to me, and the value would be completely lost. At least the tethering doesn't depend on a Blackberry smartphone.

When I first wrote about the TouchPad, I complained about the lack of apps. I didn't have that problem with the PlayBook. I found a good one for Facebook, Twitter and the usual suspects.

If you're already using a Blackberry phone, I think you'd find great value in owning a PlayBook. The Blackberry Bridge works great, and the 7-inch tablet is the perfect size and ideal to do just about anything you'd want to do on a tablet.

RIM is trying to make headway in a market completely dominated by one company. Here's hoping they don't end up where HP ended up, because they've got a pretty good device here. Terrible power button notwithstanding.

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The Original Tablet Circa 1958

port-a-punchToday I learned about the Port-A-Punch from IBM.

IBM's Supplies Division introduced the Port-A-Punch in 1958 as a fast, accurate means of manually punching holes in specially scored IBM punched cards. Designed to fit in the pocket, Port-A-Punch made it possible to create punched card documents anywhere. The product was intended for "on-the-spot" recording operations -- such as physical inventories, job tickets and statistical surveys -- because it eliminated the need for preliminary writing or typing of source documents.

The Port-A-Punch reminds me of those Scantron multiple choice tests we took back in high school.

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1958... decades before the Tablet Talent Show!

By the way, here are the four tablets I'm playing with this week. The PlayBook is the smallest one, and the TouchPad and iPad 2 are tied as the biggest. The Xoom, as you can see in this pic, is somewhere in the middle.

Tablets

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Motorola Xoom Arrives - Early Thoughts on the Xoom

xoomI'm trying to play with as many iPad challengers as possible in my little Tablet Talent Show. So far I've got a Touchpad from HP, a Playbook from RIM and now a Xoom from Motorola. The Xoom just arrived yesterday.

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The Xoom arrived running Android 3.2 Honeycomb, which makes it the first Android device I've ever had the opportunity to test drive. Right away, it wanted my Google account info so it could fully integrate with the Google services I already use.

Because I'm a Google bigot, who swears by Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, etc, I welcomed this. We were off and flying in seconds flat, and my Google Account even gave me access to the impressive Market of Apps available for an Android. I quickly installed apps for Google+, Twitter, Facebook, IMDB and other staples of my web life.

Both the Playbook and Xoom reigned supreme over the now unsupported Touchpad when it came to apps, and all three seem to handle multiple concurrent activities better than the iPad.

I'm happy to try other iPad competitors during this Tablet Talent Show, so drop me a line if you can hook me up with a Transformer, Galaxy or whatever else is out there. There's room for more.

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Tablet Talent Show: RIM's Playbook Arrives!

tabletWhen HP sent me a Touchpad in July, I dove into the tablet market for the first time. The Touchpad didn't make it, but it got me wondering if there's a viable iPad alternative out there. No doubt Apple's iPad is a dominating #1, but what's #2?

In my quest to experience more than the iPad and Touchpad, I decided I'd like to spend some time with RIM's Playbook, Motorola's Xoom, Samsung's Galaxy and Asus's Transformer.

RIM's Playbook arrived earlier today and I'm right now installing Blackberry Bridge to connect it to my Blackberry.

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Motorola is installing the Android 3.1 update and then shipping me a Xoom. I'm hoping to have that by the end of the week. I still need a connection at Samsung and Asus, so if anyone can help with that, I'd appreciate it.

This tablet talent show should be fun. I'll rank 'em all and list the pros and cons here.

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I Couldn't Save the HP TouchPad

wirelessJust a few weeks ago, HP gave me a TouchPad. Alas, I was unable to save the tablet. Earlier today, less than two months after it was launched, HP announced that it is discontinuing the TouchPad.

It's a fun product, and I enjoy using it, despite the lack of apps, but being a fun product in this space isn't nearly enough. It has to give consumers a reason to choose it over the iPad. When I was given my TouchPad, it was $549 at Costco. Why spend $549 for a TouchPad when you can spend that money and get an iPad 2?

Since the prices were similar, the TouchPad had to be revolutionary. Instead, it was just an iPad wannabe. Expensive iPad wannabes are going to be in tough against... well... against the iPad.

I'm sorry I couldn't save the HP TouchPad. If Motorola is reading this, I'm quite interested in trying your Xoom. I promise to do better this time.

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My HP TouchPad Tablet (So Far)

hp touchpadThe good folks at HP were nice enough to give me a TouchPad Tablet PC, and I'm finally getting around to seeing what she's made of.

I didn't already own a tablet PC. I alternate between a desktop running Ubuntu Linux and my work issued laptop which still runs Windows XP. Already, I find the tablet more accessible. It's like an always current issue of your favourite magazine just sitting on the table waiting for you to pick it up and absorb.

This HP TouchPad runs on webOS, which is new to me. It looks good, is easy to multi-task and seems pretty quick. I've spent some time with an iPad, and I own an iPod Touch, so I understand the importance of apps to a device like this. The TouchPad is still missing a number of apps you'd get with an iPad, but I did find an app called Spaz for Twitter.

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Here's a shot of how the muliti-tasking works. A flick of the finger and I can toggle open activities.

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And yes, this tablet plays Flash. Here I am listening to some new Kanye and Jay-Z.

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On the app front, I've found a good one for Twitter and Facebook. I'm still using Google Reader and Google+ in the browser. The email app works fine, but I'd like a good Gmail app for that.

I have noticed that the tablet is great for reading, listening and watching, but when it comes to writing, I'm still reaching for my laptop. I could have written this entry on the TouchPad, but I didn't. My typing speed on a keyboard is still way faster, so I'm only using the TouchPad for single sentence email replies and tweets.

I'll touch base (no pun intended) later to let you all know how it's going. I still need more time with this thing, but so far so good. We just need more apps.

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