Thursday, 24 July 2014


Above: NVIDIA Shield gaming tablet.
Good evening, Synapse Circuit Readers. I hope you have had a good day and if your day is still unravelling there is still time!

What’s happening in the tablet world? Let’s have a look....

#Tablet #NVIDIASHIELD #iPad #GalaxyTabS
Though iPad sales have fallen two quarters in a row, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said on Tuesday he isn't concerned, and teased that his company is working on new innovations that, along with the newly announced IBM partnership, could help reinvigorate growth.

How is it that iPad sales have been declining while Android tablets continue to grow? Okay, I will answer that question...

Apple is blessed with the OS X operating system and such wonderful toys as the Macbook Air and therefore Apple fans have worked out that they are better off with a serious computing device that has a considerable amount of longevity to it than to feel obligated into purchasing a new iPad every year or so! Apple would be better off squeezing a Macbook Air into the body of an iPad – BookPad Air! Yes? Why not? An iPad is more of a luxury these days! Besides, when Apple releases the much rumoured 5.5” inch version of the iPhone it will be bye-bye iPad!

Android doesn’t have the burden of a computer system – yet – and therefore it is easier for Google and associated manufacturers to create a tablet for just about any niche market: Pro; children; games; entertainment and so on. Manufacturers are able to develop tablets at considerable price point and yesteryear’s tablet going very cheaply at the moment! One can pick up a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7” for £140 and possibly cheaper! True, the Galaxy Tab 3 7” is Wi-Fi only but it is not a big deal to share your smartphone’s data connection whilst on the move. But at home it is just fine for browsing, entertainment, social networking and so on! The children ought to be satisfied playing on it and thus frees up your smartphone and / or PC / laptop! It would have been something if Samsung had put in a 3G compatible chip in it!
7” is the new phablet size!

It seems like years away when I picked up the Dell Streak and thought it was ginormous! Then when the Galaxy Note made its appearance and upon reviewing it I felt that I had to have one! Fast forward to the first Nexus 7; when I picked it up it was so remarkably comfortable to hold in one hand! Gosh! So, when those 6” phablets came out they seemed – at least to me – like the standard smartphone. My Galaxy S2 really feels like the dainty iPhone these days compared to my Galaxy Note II! I love the fact that I can easily fit the Note II in a trouser or jacket pocket! I am so used to watching video content and surfing the web on a big screen! It is delightful! I can no longer see myself ever going back to a screen smaller than 5”! I have a couple contracts to be renewed next year and I do not think I will be getting a handset but whopping phablets instead! One of my Motorola RAZRi has gone caput already! Never again!

In one of my articles I asked manufacturers to just add 3 or 4G and have done with it! It is so inexpensive to add network capability to a tablet and I feel that Apple exploits this for far too much money – no wonder iPad sales are in decline! People want to feel liberated! Not everyone can share the data connection of their mobiles; some networks do not allow it unless the consumer takes out a rental phone for over £38! Many network providers in the UK want to exploit yet another SIM for rental to hold the consumer in yet another cage! Set them free! In the age of financial uncertainty give the consumer something to be happy about! Okay, okay... I am off the soapbox now! Ha ha!

It is good to see that there are a number of tablets with a built-in data connection. And it is foolish to read tech journalists feeling self-conscious to make / receive a call on such a tablet! It is ridiculous! I don’t care who is watching me take a call on a tablet / new phablet! It was not so long ago that these journalists were saying that they felt self-conscious using the Galaxy Note to make and accept calls; I bet they feel stupid now! Besides, there is also the Bluetooth earpiece! Oddly enough, even Bluetooth users are being made to feel foolish as this comes up regularly with comedians looking to make a cheap laugh! Okay, I am really off the soapbox now! Hee hee....

The original Samsung Galaxy Tab had 3G on it but for some reason it couldn’t make calls; I tried to take a call on it once and all I got was a bunch of white noise! It almost deafened me! It is good to see that some manufacturers have taken the initiative to add a data connection on their tablets such as the Asus Fonepad, £149! It looks pretty good and I may get one to replace my dead RAZRi but there again it has an Intel processor in it – the Fonepad! Hmmmmm... Not too keen on Intel processors just yet.

There’s also the Archos 70 Xenon 7" for a mere £79.99 that features a 3G connection; sure it is not the most powerful tablet in the world what with MediaTek MT8312 processor (1.2 GHz, dual-core) and 512 MB of RAM onboard but it could really work!

This trend continues with the Huawei MediaPad M1 that retails at £219 but with a 4G connection and it is very tempting! It features a quad-core 1.6 GHz, an 8” 800 x 1280 pixel resolution (~189 ppi pixel density) and 1GB RAM! It is pretty good for a 4G device even though the screen is of a low resolution. Then how about...

Huh? Huh? I am liking this one in particular! The NVIDIA Shield is pretty juicy for an 8” 4G tablet! Look at the spec:-

Tegra K1 (192 core Kepler) GPU, 2.2GHz Quad Core CPU, 2GB of RAM and an 8” 1920x1200 multi-touch Full HD display! YES!!! It comes in two flavours:-

16GB Wi-Fi £239.99

32GB Wi-Fi & 4G £299.99

What’s not to like? Incidentally, the Shield design looks quite similar to the HTC One M8 and the aforementioned Huawei MediaPad M1which is not a bad thing. The NVIDIA Shield could very well be my first tablet as the specs make it ideal for the purpose of making music on the fly!

It is funny how things work out, huh? It wasn’t so long ago when Tim Cook was laughing at Microsoft’s effort, the Surface! But it turns out that Microsoft have the best idea; instead of creating yet another operating system in the sea of OpSys’ Microsoft are doing its best to pack what is essentially a laptop into a tablet form; Surface Pro 2. It is pretty expensive for the top of the range powerhouse of a tablet... £1,279.00 gets you:-

Intel® Core™ i5-4200U Processor (1.6 GHz, 2.6 GHz with TurboBoost, 3 MB cache)
512 GB storage
10.6" screen, 1920 x 1080 (207 ppi)
MicroSD card reader
5MP camera
3.5MP webcam
Battery lasts up to 15 days

Now that’s what I call a tablet but at that price it is too much to swallow! Oh, you do get the full version of Windows 8.1! The cheapest Surface tablet with the full version of Windows 8.1 is £649! The latest Surface Pro 3, as far as I can see, isn’t yet available in the UK! Goodness knows how much that will cost! I have seen a comparison between the Surface Pro 3 with i5 processor compared to the Macbook Air and that indicates how powerful it is. But I would imagine that the serious Windows user would invest in a top of the range multimedia / gaming rig for best value! I’ve said it once and a thousand times, “The Surface Pro must come in at a lower price point...” Who would feel comfortable taking such an expensive tablet on the road? If you’re not given to clumsiness there are thieves to consider and they are bold! The top of the range Surface Pro ought to come with a taser or some “smart-weapon” that temporarily incapacitates as opposed to being lethal! Ha ha!

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella reckons that the Windows operating system will be the same for all devices! This I have to see! I wonder how long that will take... ...we see that Android “L” is going be compatible with 64-bits and will be able to run on numerous CPU architectures. It could very well be that Android will be able to run on a PC! Fancy that?! Android on a PC could be very interesting.

However, I would imagine that most PC users would rather go for and Android tablet instead of forking out what is an arm and a leg for a Windows tablet! I know that’s my thinking! I mean just look at the Microsoft Office compatible alternatives available for Android! Do I really need a Windows tablet? Hmmmm... I don’t think so somehow!

Oh, here’s a question: When Android eventually becomes 64-bit does that mean music making apps will be able to utilize VST instruments and effects? Is this feasible? In any event I am sure that someone will come up with some great instruments to take up the lead where Single Cell Software Caustic left off! I have to say that because of music apps such as Caustic I want a tablet more than ever!

Hey, soon I will be able to bring you a review of Archos GamePad 2! It looks pretty darn good! Watch this space!

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