Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rethinking How I Want My Tablet

Recently I have been advising people to think it all out before obtaining a tablet.
What do they want in a tablet? What do they want to do?
But what do / want to do? I need to rethink it all, too

A Challenge!!!

That's actually hard. So much is changing so fast that every day you get a different view. Not only that, but you learn more what you can do which you did not know about before.
So any time is a good time to rethink it all.

Wants and Needs

I wanted especially to access my medical records, referrals, prescriptions, messages and so on. Lancaster General Hospital has come out with a superb way to do so in the My Chart app. No more phone calls.

The most important thing I want to do in general is to accomplish my tasks in as little time as possible. I don't want to spend time staring at a computer screen from an uncomfortable chair.  It is hard on the back.

I don't want the computer to take my time. I want the computer just save my time. Life is too short for anything else.

If I am doing very much interactively on the computer I need the fastest tablet. If I need to read a book I need a larger tablet. If it's music then I need a tablet with good speakers or bluetooth speakers nearby.

I do not need a monthly fee for anything, but I do want access everywhere. I don't mind paying a small fee for a so-called hot box which gives me that capability cheaply. I use Freedompop at under $20 a month

Oh, I need to be able to take pictures and scan barcodes. I need to know where I am and how to get there from here.

That pretty well dictates the choice of devices. For blazing speed the Nexus 7 FHD second version blew me away with its high speed and also its display. I have never seen anything else nearly as good.

So I sold my old Nexus 7 for better than half cost and replaced it with the new version. Additionally I bought a large Nook tablet with a nine inch screen for $150. I sold my older Samsung tablet for $130.

I already have a cell phone which runs on wifi and keeps my monthly costs low

I was about to replace it, too, but decided that maybe it would work better if I learned a little more about how to use it well.    Looking around, I found bigger phones but not better or faster.

I learned I needed to clear out phone memory with a couple of utilities every day to keep it running fast. I also deleted all my apps and reordered them for quicker access. Finally, I got a case which allows me to pull it out quickly and use it. To supplement battery life I now use a portable charger

Now, what about apps? Apps are the key to accomplishing what I want to do. So what else do I want to do ?


Well, I need Gmail which set up on one and works on all  my tablets and computers and provides extensive other capabilities such as word processing, my calendar and my agenda, my task list, reminders of upcoming events, and so on. The Google speech recognition keyboard now works on almost all other devices and I need it


I want to keep up to date. I need the latest news. Even better, I need readers which cull through sources of my special interests and summarize them up-to-date.

The last has been changing very quickly. The Google Reader app, which does a wonderful job, I should say 'did' a wonderful job , was discontinued. Now, where could I go to read in a few minutes what formerly took me hours?

Google took everybody by surprise. In a panic, a number of app providers jumped in to take over the readership. The most prominent is called Feedly. Not knowing which to choose, I installed all of them

These include Newsblur, Redtreereader, Inoreader, and others. A good one, Skimr, dropped out of the race. The Old Reader is still hanging on. The last looks very much like the original discontinued reader. Ino came in late
I had already been using Flipboard which also serves now as a reader. Flipboard puts everything into a nice 'easy to read' magazine like format but is less targeted. I had been using Trapit also, which indeed traps items of special interest for me.  Trapit sends me emails to keep me up to date on items of special interest. In contrast, an app called Currents is even less targeted then Flipboard.


More general news apps which are only very generally targeted are: BBC, Pulse and Taptu, along with Google News. I have them all on my cell phone and my Nexus 7 2nd generation. The BBC app is one of the best crafted apps I have ever seen.

That covers the essential latest news gathering. I also use the Kindle, Nook, and Google Play Books apps. I need them all.


I want books at my disposal wherever I am. I want to read when I have a few moments of time with only a smart phone in my pocket. Yet I also want to read in a comfortable chair with a larger device

Recently I listed out F Scott Fitzgerald's list of favorites and downloaded them all from Amazon. They were almost all free

I wanted them in categories for or shelves. Since the Kindle app does not organize things very well, or at all, I use the Calibre app to find them. I then send them to the Kindle library and from there send them to the smartphone and also the Nexus 7. I downloaded them all to tablet so I should be able to read away from WiFi.

Calibre finds the books automatically after I have obtained them from Amazon. Kindle library change them where  they need to go

.Now that covers reading for the most part

Creating Document
I have wanted to create documents away from Windows. I had been doing it with the  Write app, a very simple word processor with the ability to share documents in every imaginable way

However, working with another resident who also uses dictation, I found that both the Polaris and Kingsoft office apps work also with dictation and give most of the capabilities of Microsoft Office

Especially, these apps work with the smartphone and can be edited with a larger tablet hooked up with a normal keyboard. Works like a laptop

I also need to keep "notebook" in an indexed file where I can look up a particular note up quickly through a search. For that I have been using Evernote. I now need to start using speech recognition with it

Internet to TV

Now to something else, streaming.

I have wanted to be able to send videos wirelessly to a large screen TV, especially to watch recorded PBS telecasts and do video phoning with Skype and other video phone apps. I also would like to be able to use the large TV as my tablet display for browsing and apps

(Note that selected tablets can plug in directly to the HDMI port on his TV. As mentioned, with a large screen and separate keyboard a small tablet can perform like a laptop.)

All current Apple devices provide the wireless capability using the Apple TV box. Other boxes include the Roku which offers numerous video channels. I have them both. After watching a TV show I can continue watching supplementary material from internet.

The new $35 Chromecast box does much of this and is likely to improve. Whereas the older technologies mirrored the tablet to the screen, the Chromecast box uses the tablet has a remote control to route Media directly to the TV. That has a future because it is faster.  No hiccups


And now to music.I have always wanted my music available instantly.  Dragging out LPS and CDs has always been a nuisance. There was never a time for it. Years ago I digitized most of them and I completed the job recently

I also wanted access to the enormous library of the major recording companies and to services which find music I would like. Pandora, covers the latter. Spotify covers the former. Then, Amazon Cloud Player and Google Play Music serve as repositories for my collections

To fill out this capability I recently added from Amazon a huge library classical music at pennies: Beethoven a 50 best and so on. The artists are the familiar older ones I knew in my younger years

This then allows me also to put my music locally on a tablet for use away from WiFi
What I have learned to do is to import music to iTunes and thence to tablets.  On the tablet I have found it necessary to use an app called Winamp to handle all digital formats, such as iTunes mp4

My bargain 9 inch Nook tablet is now set up for music and books. The Nexus 7 could also handle the duties but the bigger Nook is easier on the eyes

I send the sound either to ear buds or headphones or to my TV speakers or a digital radio I picked up cheap on sale here (5$). However the stereo sound straight from  the Nook is fine away from these


And now to printing. I want to be able to print from anywhere to anywhere. I have been doing that with Cloud Print for more than a year. Cloud Print normally sends the job via the PC. If you want to get the PC out of the loop, some of the new “cloud ready” printers actually print without a PC in the chain.

(Ultimately I want a remote keyboard to be my keyboard, the tablet to be my computer, and the display to be my combo display and TV.I finally found the perfect keyboard with the touchpad which can be used especially comfortably when I am streaming app/web to TV.)

Pros and Cons

The Apple iPad works beautifully with so called AirPrint printers. It is also possible to email print jobs via Email with eprint printers

I finally broke down and bought a Consumer Reports recommended top rated Canon wireless printer at $52. It does AirPrint and also wireless printing via WiFi and my router

We will see how well it works with my Android tablets. There is rapid development and we will see broader capabilities soon

Whereas for now the Apple iPad has the best TV mirroring and printing capabilities, Android has the best speed, screen, and ability to organize apps conveniently on screen. That clearly will change for the better.
Apple has the best networking technology in its elegant 'bonjour'. Fortunately this technology is used with Android and Windows, but Google is innovating in this area too, rapidly.

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