Sunday, November 25, 2012

How to Choose a Tablet

Christmas is coming and I am being asked which tablet to buy.   Of course, it depends on what you will do with it, including what you may not have thought of until later when you know more about what you can do with it.

Here quickly are some factors to consider, a checklist to evaluate alternatives:

(Since no tablet will fulfill all your needs, number the following in order of importance or priority, then check out how well different tablets best meet your requirements.)

will it have the apps you want or need?  (check Apple, Amazon, Google)
how good is your vision? (larger print and tablet size needed)
how much do you travel (and need storage away from Wi-Fi)
is it to be for reading? music? movies?  (amount of storage – stream or store)
where you will use it? near Wi-Fi?  (with Wi-Fi storage is on the cloud)
or will you need storage away from Wi-Fi (traveling away from built-up areas)
your pocketbook and cost? ($200+ for a fast enough device)
need GPS? (travel a lot)
need wires or wireless speaker or phones? (music and movies)
need wireless keyboard or jack for keyboard?
use with TV or computer monitor HDMI jack? (such as for creating documents)
do you want it for photography? (the iPad is a must for serious photographers)
will you need Skype? (maybe a front camera (facing you)
a back camera,(facing away) scanning, QR codes, Barcodes, Pix and video
will you need extra help? (best: Apple, next Nook)
will you be creating documents? (size, good speech recognition, display)
will it help otherwise  to have voice recognition? (I like the Nexus 7 for this)
need to remote control a TV? (best with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7)
need 3g 4g? (variable by location, and usually slow)
will I need Wi-Fi in my place (yes, for streaming apps)
do I want the latest versions of software (Nexus and iPad)
whose music and/or storage – Amazon, Apple, Google

I will expand this list.

Generally, I like the Nexus best for its speed and portability, the Kindle Fire HD for use with media and an external display, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7 for its use as TV remote via the Peel app, and tentatively the iPad Mini.      My big iPad is a slick machine but much too heavy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

How Does a Senior “Newbie” Work This Little XMAS Wonder?

Yep, this is about the baby tablet Amazon Kindle Fire, or Google Asus Nexus 7, or Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7?   Or iPad Mini.    I am being swamped with questions, often from “newbies”!     Sometimes an offspring drops one off to a senior parent.  We can expect an avalanche more at Christmas. 

Welcome.   These are the absolute best of computers.  Once you get accustomed to them, you won’t want anything else.

The are like a housecat, always with you and your alarm clock, radio, and friend.  It will be a great help to read a book an any given tablet.   

You tap on the screen.  How do you tap?  You tab deliberately---don’t jab as if the screen were electrified.   That jab is too quick.   Then, a long-looong tap wiill do something else than a short tap.  There are two types of taps, and there are swipes.

But where do you tap?

Look for::
. the menu(s) – three parallel lines or dots
.search. – a magnifying glass
.back – left or down arrow, also top left arrow
.home again – house
.3-d row of rectangles – go back where you have been before
That will get you around.

There will be another screen showing date, time, battery, and current activity.  Slide down or up for it.   Slide left or right for other screens.

Often there will be waste basket.   Careful.
WHAT?  You can’t read the print?   Here is how:

There are at least four ways to zoom print, depending on the app.  I can’t help it---in this country we do not believe in standard ways of doling things---that means regulations:   You will need to use the one that works for any given app.   

Number one: on any block of text tap twice

Number two: look for AAA and tap on the right size. – sometimes there is a slider

Number Three: go to settings and select the default font

Number Four – spread two fingers

Like the rain in England, you will get used to it.

It will take a while to get accustomed to the device.    Only this morning I was in the exercise room and decided to go up to my computer to write this posting.   I then stopped, picked up the Nexus, dictated it, and Emailed it to my home computer, using my email address.

You can set the screen to rotate or not to rotate. Different on different tablets.  If rotating gives you a fit, install the Rotation app.  Then, just start it---no need to configure it.

If looking for how to add a contact, use the Peoples app on Nexus, BUT other devices may use an app called Contacts or even Phone!!!

If all else goes wrong, usually reset by holding in the start button for half a minute. These systems are growing up, so that, if you have a mouse, the mouse motions are similar to the touch motions

Once you find the Amazon Kindle or Google Books icons, You can try reading a book by searching Amazon for “public domain” or “free kindle books” or by typing “free” into the Google Play Store search window.

Where you find an icon consisting of a grid of squares, tapping will get you to your archive of apps, which may be dragged to the main screen, or any other of the main screens right and left

It helps to organize your main apps.    You can drag them to the main screen on top of each other so that all “Reading” apps are in one icon folder, etc.   Do the same for Media, Communicating, Buying, and so on.

Other hurdles.   If you want to transfer your DVDs for access to the Nexus, first load them into itTunes (download it for PC or Max), then iTunes will load and transfer them to memory as loaded and Amazon Cloud Player or Google Music will find them and put them on the cloud where accessible.     ITunes needs to be told to use MP3.  Get help to do this.

While I work this up further as I work with seniors, try these links:

Tap or Click for a Howto App
Tap or Click for a Guide


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Music for Senior Tastes

While being set in my ways, I do know what I like, and technology helps me get it.when it comes to music. 
First of all, let me explain myself.
I don’t like most TV music.    I have my own tastes.  For example, I like the piano when played right, that is out of love for the music.   No pyrotechnics.  No smashing down the keys.   No tinkliness.   And it better be a good piano.
I view the piano as a big bell with tones that need to radiate out.  Tinklytapping on it or banging on it just destroys it.  I also like to hear the whole piano not just the middle keys.  OK, well.  Enough.  Onward.    We seniors want what we want when we want it.
Often I enjoy Jerry here from our WV Maintenance when he plays here what he loves at noontime on one of our fine grands.    And Meg and Anna, residents, when they give a concert.
I happen to like ragtime, which nobody plays for the money.  But I missed the big ragtime festival in Sacramento this year.  You probably have your own tastes, and it is probably NOT ragtime. 
I also like to sit comfortably with my tablet and read mail, dictate notes, check the news, AND read a book.     All of this while listening to---you guessed it—ragtime.  I like to sit in a nice place in a nice chair.   But I don't like earbuds all the time.   
I set it up my tablet to play through a big wireless speaker.    These are usually $200-300, but I found a nice wireless stereo plugin one at under $50. though with limited volume.    Just as well.
I can get all my old 78s and CDs, almost anything I ever heard, on Spotify, and stuff I have never heard but my preferences suggests I might like, on Pandora.   (My own music is all on the “cloud” so I can get to it anywhere.) 
The icing on the cake came last week with new tech.    YouTube got reworked.     The trouble with YouTube is that, on TV or tablet, had been that it was a pain to type to search for something. 
Now Google makes it easy to play on TV via tablet.  The tablet must support output to TV, of course, and most do not.   The Kindle HD does, but it is too limited in apps for my tastes.   Remember, I am set in my ways. 
Well, turns out that the Matrix One will do the job, a $60 tablet, with keyboard adding $10.   Wow!  (I did need good wireless for it.  Too far away it could otherwise cut out.  I don’t like internet dropouts, so I have chosen a good wireless router.)  
Now I can sit in my favorite chair at the balcony overlooking our courtyard, watch TV, or swivel to view the garden, and especially watch the new HD TV music recorded at Sacramento, using my time to do multiple things at once. .You can also “pair” a tablet with your internet connected device, such as compatible TV or TIVO. 
If your newer TV runs internet, you won’t even need the tablet, except to access comfortably from your chair, though the tablet makes it easier. 
Now I can hear what people love to play and watch them, too, even selecting the piano.  I like Sue Keller playing the  Steingraber.   Also, check out Valentina Lisitsa playing any piano.  
  Choose the latest new performances made with the latest though now cheap equipment.   Now anyone can record astounding sound and superb HDMI high quality video with a tiny inexpensive camera and put it on YouTube.  Artists can make a living, or part of it, at least, on YouTube.     
And I can do all this without Windows and its bevy of complexity and annoyances.  When a tablet comes out with HDMI AND speech recognition I won't even need to type.    Actually the Nexus will do that with TIVO.