Friday, September 28, 2012

Where are We are Going---from Where We’ve Been?


We are on the edge of a major change in computers not fully apprehended yet by most of us.

As I started to write this posting I realized that I was about to do it the old way.

Then I backed away from my Windows computer and picked up my new tablet to dictate the posting.

So why is the tablet such a revolution?  We can understand better if we look at where computers have been.   Development actually started long before Windows and Apple came on the scene.

Development started in 1947 with the invention of the transistor by Bell Labs.

Bell Labs had a mission of one day connecting all of us together electronically.
It was a distant vision and it was fraught with major problems.

Thousands of researchers were put to work to develop fiber optics, microwave transmission, lasers, and cell phone technology.

The big breakthrough was the development and invention of the transistor.  Today the tablet has billions of transistors.

That many transistors have the capability of indeed connecting us all together.

The objective is to share and use our collective knowledge.

The Google Nexus tablet is directly derived from the original Bell Labs Unix computer operating system developed long before Apple and Windows.  It was given to the public domain and is secure, safe, and free.

(Windows was designed as single user system, with none of the safeties which were provided for the telephone network.)

The major players in providing media, whether books or audios or videos, realize now that they cannot keep their customers without bringing the tablet to everyone.

They are furiously developing better and cheaper tablets just in order to survive. The development will continue until we are all connected with all the capabilities of tablets.

So far no single tablet includes all the capabilities, such as GPS, camera, storage, and even the ability to replace your tower and laptop with a large screen and keyboard.

Yes all these capabilities are available in one or another specific tablet already.

One otherwise basic recent tablet already works with screen and keyboard and costs $70 dollars.   

By the end of the year it is rumored that more capable all-round tablets will be available for $100 from Google as the major players struggle to be in first place.

The tablet will in time take the place of your computer your laptop, your radio, your books, your telephone, drive your TV, and most of the rest of our older tools to connect us together.

The tablet will finally achieve the goal set by Bell Labs in 1947 for one device, the phone.

Oh, yes.   Christmas is coming!

(For more on Bell Labs read Jon Gertner’s book The Idea Factory.)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The New Kindles

A year ago Amazon introduced a ground-breaking tablet, the Kindle Fire.
In the meantime others have been introduced, such as the more advanced $200 basic Nexus 7, and now Amazon has a set of new tablets and eReaders.
The original basic Fire, with some improvements, has been reduced from $200 to $160.    A more advanced $250 Fire is faster and can stream to your TV or monitor if your internet service has enough speed/bandwidth to handle it.
If you don’t mind being limited to Amazon’s offerings and/or watch a lot of movies and video, either of the new Fires can be a good choice.
However, if you want a less proprietary device,which has easy access to more apps and capabilities, the Nexus 7 is the tablet of choice.     Apple is also expected to introduce a 7-9” tablet, and there will be others.
In a separate posting I have outlined how to get the most out the Fires.   If you want to save $40, or if you have an original Fire, some of the limitations of the Fires can be overcome.
My posting also is of use in setting up the Nexus, and I will soon have a posting on organizing your tablet for easy use.
Amazon also has reduced the price of its basic eReader to $69, a bargain for a still appealing device.   While the Fires offer much more access to media, the basic Fire screen is easier on the eyes for long reading sessions, and the device reads books out loud.
A newer eReader has backlighting and long battery life, but no reading out loud.   It costs $119.  These devices are also very lightweight.
Right now I recommend the Nexus 7 and the basic Kindle eReader.
Anything you buy now will be superseded, but don’t let that stop you from using a marvelous easy-to-use device.