Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cheap Windows

BuyFor most of us seniors there are better choices than Windows. However Windows has one benefit that deserves attention. Windows can run the desktop and tablet tiles modes at the same time and on the same device.

At the point where that device costs only $120 and serves as laptop, tablet, and desktop in place of a tower, it deserves a second look.

The 8" Winbook tw801 does just that. Not only does it do it but it does it very well. You have full Windows in a very portable package and also as a replacement for your tower, and indeed as a cell phone and GPS.

I found it to be the fastest Windows 8.1 computer I have ever used.

You can plug in your hard drives and DVD drives and printers.

With it comes a copy of Microsoft Office for one year, normally $69 for the tablet + 1 PC or Mac.

For Microsoft fanatics you can get the same device a bit smaller for just $60. I say fanatics because you need a degree of expertise to manage the more limited memory of the smaller device.

Essentially, for the cheaper device, you need to move everything possible to a second microSD 32g drive, such as all Windows desktop apps, Google Chrome, and OneDrive.

Click for some tips.

Click for some more tips to make better use of memory for Google Chrome.

Those are mainly for a tablet with only 1 gig of working ram.

Windows really needs two gigs of working ram and 32 gigs of drive storage space, 64g of additional storage may be added to this device, however. The $120 device does have 2 gigs of working ram in the version identified below.

Installing the Chrome browser adds a lot of functionality hand efficiency in using memory.

Once installed, entering chrome://apps gives you access to the world of chrome apps.

It goes even further. By adding the Chrome Store new Metro tab app, chrome apps will show up in a Windows Metro or Modern screen form. Now you have a combined Windows and Chrome tablet.

Click for the store.

To use as a cell phone you need either WiFi or hotspot, and for receiving calls, an app able to provide you a phone number number or connect with your email address.

So having one device able to do it all compensates for the shortfalls of Windows.

It will take some doing to find the apps or equivalents normally found on iPads and Android tablets, but this is doable.

One important feature is the ability to create a so-called image backup to restore Windows when actually it is needed.

Note that the model number is for version which has a needed 2 gigs of RAM and a full sized USB port.

Click for a guide to Windows tablets.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Memory Problems?

UVery often a search for a solution to a problem will take you to the wrong solution. It is essential to get to the simplest solution.

This applies especially to Windows memory problems. They are often misunderstood.

Whereas, in the past Windows required large spaces for applications and data, that is no longer necessary. Most everything can run with cloud internet storage.

If you get a low memory warning, it probably has nothing at all to do with hard drive space. More likely, it has to do with other problems.

New devices with very limited memory, and very low cost, work just fine with Windows. It is just a matter of configuration.

A quick solution might be nothing more than using the ReadyBoost option offered by Windows.

Tap here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Users Take Note

If you are a new user take note of the ancient Chinese Laundry adage:

No tickey---no laundry.

Which means that if you do not get your logins and passwords straight first off, then trouble.

Your logins and passwords are needed for many purposes. If you have lost them, then set them anew.

There will be passwords for your email account, your store, and so on. Without them, you will be blocked from much functioning right from the start.

Then take the time to read about the device even before you get it.

Find a good book or even better, if you are a YouTube user, watch instructional videos. Watch someone else use his device.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Windows Phone Apps Listed

For those just now starting with a smartphone, shifting from, or adding, another phone, the following Windows phone apps should cover most of the basic functions of other more widely selling phones.   If you install all of them, you will want to add SD memory and transfer a portion of them to that added memory.    The same or alternative apps should provide a similar library of functions specific to Windows tablets and laptops.

AirPlayer+, Alarms, Amazon App, Amazon Kindle, Apps for Google, AppSwitch, Audible, Audiobooks, Battery, Battery Saver, BBC News, Bloomberg, Bookvizer Reader, Brother iPrint&Scan, Calculator, Calendar, Camera, Casts, Cloud File Explorer, CNET, CNN News, Copilot GPS, Cortana Ctrl C,Dictate!, Dictation Station, eBay, Ebook Reader, ePub reader, Evernote, Facebook, FBReader, File Manager, Files, Flipboard, FM radio, Freda, GDocs, Gdrive, Gmail, Google Mail, Google Maps, Google Plus, Google Search Pro, gooroovster, GPS Voice Navigation, Internet Explorer, JW ePub Reader, Lancaster Online, Libby, Maps, Media Explorer, Messaging, Memo for Cortana, Metro File Manager, Metrotube, Music, Music Player, NBC News, News, News Reader for BBC, News Republic, Nextgen Reader, Office, Office Lens, Old Reader, OneDrive, oovoo Video Call, OverDrive, Pandora, PDF Reader, People, Photos, Podcast Lounge, Podcasts, Poki for Pocket, Pouch, QR Reader, Read Later, Reader4Books, Skype, Songza, SpeechTrans Dictation, Speedtest, Switch to Windows Phone, The Guardian, Top task List, TuneIn Radio, Twitter, TWIT View, Viber, video, VLC, Wallet, Weather, WAZE, WeatherBug, Weave News Reader, Wikipedia, Wunderlist, YouTube

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Microsoft Windows Apps

With the dominance of Apple iPad and Android devices and their phones, why would Microsoft apps be of any interest?

There are some important reasons.

The most important one is cost. It is far cheaper to buy a Windows phone or tablet or laptop than most offered by others. Windows phones and tablets are available under $100, and laptops well under $200.

But also, circumstances have changed. Availability of apps has increased. Windows 8.1 has been improved. Both the conventional desktop and the Modern desktop are available in the same tablets and laptop for broadened functionality from competing tablets and laptops

Microsoft also has reduced the licensing costs, and streamlined Windows to run from the cloud as much as possible. Basic hardware requirements have been reduced.

Especially, the availability of apps has increased. And many of us are now comfortable with the Modern desktop. Once comfortable with it, navigation of apps works very well.

So the challenge is to find apps that work as well or better than apps on other platforms such as iPad.

So how do we do that?

The basic source for apps is the Microsoft Store, which now has many more apps, especially for Windows RT devices, though more limited for smartphones.

In order to find apps which are equivalent to apps on iPad and Android devices, the best utility is called Appswitch. There is a good YouTube video on how to use it.

For windows phones, there is another app called Switch to Windows Phone which will find what you need.

Then, where Chrome is available, Chrome apps may be installed, along with Chrome extensions, such as for Hangouts.

If you have access to an Android device you can use an app called Chrome APK Packager to convert an Android program to a Chrome Extension.

Then again, where the old desktop is available apps may be downloaded which were formerly exclusively old desktop applications.

The Internet Explorer browser can create apps for Modern from websites.

Consequently, apps need not limit the capabilities of Windows anymore.

Gathering them just requires more work, but Windows has always required more support, and there are many who are not put off by it for the benefits indicated above.

The ability for one device to perform as a smartphone, a tablet, and a laptop, and even a desktop, at a very low price, is unique.

It goes even further. With a Microsoft TV Miracast dongle, Windows tablets and laptops can mirror both conventional desktop and also Modern tile desktop to TV to create a smart TV.

I was able to take such a device as the $60 7" inch WinBook and make it serve as smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop and Smart TV. (It did take some knowledge about how to use memory well for success.)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Apple vs Microsoft vs Google vs Android vs Kindle

Users are faced with a bewildering choice of different computers and devices.

So what are the basic differences between the different basic players in this business?

Apple's primary business is selling equipment. Apple is known for its outstanding help, training, and support. That is a big part of what you pay for. If you don't need these things, there are better alternatives. Their most appealing product is the iPad Air.

Google's primary business is advertising and it has provided the most widely used systems freely for other providers of phones, tablets and laptops. Google needs to get its message out there in the most effective possible way, whatever that takes. They have reduced the cost of equipment and made it better. The most appealing product is the Nexus 7 tablet, followed by a wide variety of Android phones which dominate the smartphone business

Microsoft's main business has been in the operating system itself and in software such as Windows Office. Long the standard, Windows runs consistently across a variety of devices. It is known for its configurability but also its requirement for support by the user.

This is changing as Microsoft tries to keep up with the competition. The user screens are now the best in the business with the Modern screen tiles.

With Microsoft switching to cloud based operation, and drastically reducing memory requirements, prices have fallen to as low as $60 for a fine WinBook 7 inch tablet which runs both the Modern tablet and the full Windows 8.1 operating system. The most appealing products are the latest under $100 and even under $200 phones, tablets, and laptops.

Amazon's main business is selling everything online, including media. Its devices are designed to serve that purpose. They do that job well. Their most desirable product is probably the $100 Kindle Fire 6" tablet which can be used as a phone with WiFi or a hotspot.

Both Microsoft, and especially Amazon, limit Google apps and important functionality, though.

These limitations can be overcome. "Sideloading" is a way doing that for Amazon. Using Favorites are Bookmarks provides another. These can be added to the home screen to work just like apps.

So how does this work out for users?

Those who need support should stay with the iPad. Those who do not need support can save the expense.

Many seniors also really need to carry a smartphone, if only the least cost such phone, with a cheap $10 a month plan.

A lightweight transportable device is desirable which is easier to read and home than a smartphone.

For Windows zealots, the Winbook can serve as one device which serves most of the functions of smart phone, tablet, and even laptop, at a ridiculously low price.

(It takes some doing to configure it with its rather limited memory, and the $100 HP Stream 7 inch tablet is an alternative)

The $100 Kindle Fire can bridge phone and tablet while also mirroring to large screen or TV.

At the point where these devices cost less than half a dozen books, more than one is desirable.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Traveling with a SmartPhone

For seniors smartphones offer safety and convenience but are also a challenge.

It is too easy to pick the wrong phone, the wrong plan, and the wrong service. A wrong choice can cost a lot and produced very bad results.

Even picking the wrong car charger, and the wrong cable, can also put you at a big disadvantage.

Having made most of the mistakes in the past, I am in a good position to explain how to avoid them.

The phone itself needs to be the right size. Too small and it is too hard  to use. Too large and it is too awkward to handle.

The phone needs to be a no contract phone. It needs to be 3G capable when you need that capability.

I have found 4G capability both unneeded and not available in too many places.

Unlimited talk needs to cost no more than $10 a month. Unlimited calling + 3G no more than $25 a month.

Ideally the phone plan should use Wifi for phoning wherever available.

In the car you need a charger capable of maintaining the charge. Not only that, but you need a cable able to deliver that charge.

With the above accomplished, the phone should be able to do almost anything your computer could do.

For me that includes voice recognition for all input to the phone. I need to be able to dictate wherever I am, whatever I am doing.

I also like having music available wherever I am even, and, even more important uptodate traffic reports from Waze.

Having tried a variety of services, I have found that Sprint service via Republic Phone gives me the ability for both services almost everywhere I am.

There are always a few places where there is no cell service. Therefore, it is useful, however, to have enough storage in the phone to hold your music and media library. Relatively few phones have enough additional storage capability using a micro SD card. Republic does have one and it costs just $100.

Note: I use a Scosche charger and a PortaPow cable, both capable of delivering full power to devices. Both put out 1 amp of current as opposed to .5. The charger services two devices.