Google's Nexus 7 Tablet Has Defeated My iPad

For the last few weeks, I've been using the Google Nexus 7 tablet as my main tablet experience, instead of my iPad. For $200, you get the best bang for your buck compared to the $500 new iPad (or $400 iPad 2)

Just to be clear, tablets are not laptop replacements - they are somewhat "fun" accessories to your main computer. It's great for taking things on the go. And Google has hit the nail on the head in terms of size, power, and battery life.

The Nexus is a 7 inch tablet that offers great portability without significantly sacrificing visual detail. It feels like a book in your hands, which makes it easier to pull out while on a subway or late night reading in the bed. It makes the 10 inch iPad feel unwieldly in comparison.

Being smaller helps. The 7 inch form factor also offers a better gaming experience. Many games that I tend to like - such as side scrolling platformers like Sonic the Hedgehog or first person shooters like Modern Combat - have touch screen versions of control pads and buttons, and it's more comfortable to wrap your hands around a 7 inch device than a 10 inch one.

I enjoy being able to download any file from the internet, even if I can't open it on the Nexus. I can hook it up to a omputer and drag and drop files from the tablet to the computer and vice versa, instead of having to go through iTunes. I can install a video game emulator and play old Nintendo games with a Nintendo Wii controller, something not possible on an iPad. It really feels like connecting a huge flash drive to your computer.

The biggest issue I have with the Nexus 7 is preventing your tablet from slowing to a crawl because too many applications are open. You have to either visit the "Apps" section in settings which is like Task Manager in Windows, or you need to download a third party Task killer application. I went with the latter, and tasks restart after being killed. I found my tablet getting slower and slower, something that was easier to remedy on the iPad.

So the verdict? Power users with some money may still prefer the iPad, but the vast majority of folks should go Nexus 7. It's half the price and close enough in terms of power and available apps to make it the best deal. Just make sure to read up on how to properly close programs so your tablet doesn't slow to a crawl and you'll be good to go!

Tech Education: Take a Look, It's In a Book


Earlier this year, Kunta Kinte aka Geordi La Forge aka Levar Burton secured the @ReadingRainbow twitter account. He promised that a "disruptive reading initiative" would be arriving soon. It's arrived as an iPad app. And ... it's pretty good.

The app serves as a library of interactive books.  The app itself is free, as well as one book download and introductory videos to the service. For additional content, users can subscribe for $10 every month or $30 every 6 months.  I originally balked at the price, but the content is intuitively suited for a device such as an iPad - lots of sounds, videos, interative games, and much more beyond just a scanned PDF. It's basically like an enhanced version of Highlights for Children. The high level of quality makes it worth the price.

One big negative is the file size. It weighs in at just over 100MB, and can feel a little sluggish during operation.  Since it's geared towards younger children, I don't see this being much of a problem. But for techies like myself, I'd prefer something a bit more slimmed down and speedier.

One improvement that I hope is in the works is interaction with physical libraries.  Imagine if I could "check in" at the my local library with a service similar to Foursquare that's integrated into the Reading Rainbow app, and that results in extra awards or stickers.  Even better: what if I could scan the bar codes of books that I read for other awards in the app? The possibilities are endless.

If you have an iPad, check it out by downloading here!

A Week With The New iPad - 4G Or Bust


If you're thinking about the new iPad, ask yourself - do you need internet connectivity outside of WiFi? Cause otherwise ... pass on it.

There are three main advantages to the new iPad:

Faster cellular signal: I'm on a train for two hours round trip during my work commute, so the updated 4G signal is a godsend. It feels like I'm surfing on wifi, and it's helped me to spend less time waiting for things to load and more time reading, tweeting, and all of that good stuff.

Better screen: The screen has been updated, and it is unbelievable. However, the screens of the iPad 1 and 2 are pretty damned good. And pretty damned good is enough for the majority of people.

Upgraded memory: The extra memory is noticeable when using intense applications like games and streaming applications like NBA Courtside. Again, nothing dramatic unless you are really on the bleeding edge.

Does that get you excited? Are you someone that runs intensive applications and requires internet outside of wifi coverage? If so, then you've probably already upgraded.

If you're not excited, then please note that the iPad 2 is on sale new for $100 cheaper, and you can save even more money if you look used.

Most of You Shouldn't Worry About the New iPad

I've advised several people not to upgrade to the new iPad. Meanwhile, I'm anticipating my preorder to come in tomorrow.  How do I reconcile this? It's pretty simple - you shouldn't upgrade unless you are a hardcore early adopter.  Same goes for almost any Apple product.

My iPad 2 is a great device. I can do everything that I need with it. There is nothing in the new iPad that gives me any brand new functionality that changes the game. But I still put my iPad 2 up for sale, and I am eagerly anticipating tomorrow.

So what's so different about the new iPad that I've decided to upgrade? Things are better. Better display. Better network connectivity. Better voice input. Those three things alone appeal to me, a person that pushes the edge when it comes to technology. I do way more intensive gaming on the iPad than the average person (I can't see casual games benefiting from a retina display), and I have an hour long train ride to work where a 4G signal would be magic. I know I'm an outlier.

I'll shoot a short review video when I get my hands on it and put it through its paces. See y'all tomorrow!

How I Got Over

There's always the hope that if you sit and watch for long enough, the beachball will vanish and the thing it interrupted will return."

Steve Jobs passed away yesterday. He's had an undeniable impact not only on technology, but on the culture.  An entire generation (after mine) has been reared thinking that Apple has always been a highly successful, innovative company.

I'm a PC guy.  Ever since I got my first computer in college, I've enjoyed tinkering around with components and dealing with Windows BSODs.  I was never drawn to the Mac because it was VERY expensive.  Also, it was relatively closed off and difficult to upgrade.  This holds true today - you pay a premium for good quality. I didn't think I'd ever get over this anti-Apple bias.

True to form, when the iPod first came out during my senior year of college in 2011,  I completely clowned it.  Here was another amazingly expensive ($400) product that you could only use with a similarly expensive Apple computer.  Also, the idea of carrying a spinning hard drive in my pocket seemed disastrous (I had a number of hard drive crashes in the previous year). My roommate, who was and is a huge Apple fan, thought it was funny to put a page of the first iPod ad on my door, with my name written on it.  I wish I had kept it.

However, I got over this once the 3rd gen iPod came out in 2003. That was when iTunes finally dropped for Windows, and there was a harmonious mix between the iPod's price and my new fancy job.  I dropped in and haven't looked back.  Hell, I have completely digitized and sold my extensive CD collection partly due to the convenience that the iPod has provided. This convenience has extended to the iPhone and iPad, both of which I own and love.

I bought into Apple has a consumer electronics company, not as a computer company.  I've still never owned an Apple desktop or laptop (except for an ancient iBook that I was attempting to fix for a local nonprofit).

That's how I got over.