the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Tag Archives: tablet

microsoft surface go 4/64

I have had a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 for quite a few years now. It’s a “hand-me-down” from work, that gives me access to Active Directory, etc. when I’m not in the office. Nice computer, but it’s showing its age, type pad is glitchy, front camera doesn’t work – but what do you expect for free?

I’ve been using that and what amounts to be a terrible tablet (Lenovo Tab 7) – painfully slow, always needs updates, poor battery life – in my man cave for running Roon controller, and that old Surface for running REW, Room EQ Wizard software. Here’s the thing. This room is my sanctuary. Once I’m at home, I leave my phone in the kitchen, not to be bothered. I want to sit in the sweet spot when I play digital music, and not get up; one must get up to play vinyl! So, the desktops won’t do. Plus, I need the portability of a notebook or laptop for room correction. So having a Windows computer that can do all that, and a few other things – having a working webcam – is a real bonus. Yes, the itjerk loves Windows, and that old Surface.

I looked on CDWG’s site and found the Microsoft Surface Go 10″ Pentium Gold 4415Y 4GB RAM 64GB EDU in stock for $390. Wow. In stock! Plus, as an EDU edition it comes with a license for Windows 10 Pro. So a couple days later, here I am settling in with my new Go. It’s very elegant hardware, with a screen that’s great on my eyes, though maybe a bit small. But the kickstand and touch screen are fantastic! I didn’t initially get the cover type pad, but will, eventually.

The Surface Go was only current to Windows build 1809, which meant a ton of updates. I know what I’m getting into with a Pentium with 4GB RAM. It’s just fine to run a few applications and surf the web; after all, I’m not planning on using Adobe Creative Cloud on it. But updating to the current 1909 build took a long time. The tablet has one USB-C port and one 3.5mm audio out – minimal to say the least. Thankfully it doesn’t use that USB-C for charging; speaking of which, that’s one universal ding the Surface Go gets – battery life. Another thing to look out for is disk space. 64GB is pretty paltry, especially considering I only had 14.5GB free after all those updates (though running Disk Cleanup freed 38GB, including 32GB from the Previous Windows version). TGFTC? (Thank God For The Cloud)!

All in all, it’s great solution because as a Windows notebook, I can do more than I could with an Android tablet, and as a tablet it’s much more convenient and less expensive than a notebook.

One the web:
Meet Surface Go – Portable Power – Microsoft Surface


nexus 7 tablet review

Tablet arrived yesterday. After getting it out of the box, (yes, no small feat), I started it up. First up was logging on to Wifi, and with that accomplished, the tablet knew who I was. I then entered my Gmail password and it was all ready to go. Easy, right.

Before I could poke around too much, I was notified that a System Update was available, Android 4.1.1. After rebooting, I immediately downloaded Amazon's Kindle and MP3 apps from the Google Play Store. It's significant: with these apps on board, why buy the Kindle Fire (which restricts what apps can be downloaded and doesn't offer Google's Play Store)?

The user experience is fantastic. It's sharp, it's fast, there's little to nothing to complain about. Asus did a bang up job and it only cost $199 plus tax and shipping, but with a $25 Play credit. Wifi is the limitation, but for a device that won't leave the house or office, there's no issue.

One thing I have to mention is that this tablet – any tablet for that matter – is it's kid glue. My daughters were chomping at the bit to get their hands on it, and within a few minutes of first possession, they had downloaded four games, along with some annoying shortcuts that appeared on the desktop. As a single user device, it needs to allow some protection from little meddling hands. Do I want my kids to access my Gmail? Spending with my Google Wallet? What prevents them from doing so?

A few oddities: There is no camera app, and I'm just not quite sure how the screen rotation works – I found it. In the notification drop-down at the top of the screen, there is a "lock" with two arrows. Simply "unlock". Also, arranging the icons on the desktop will always seems to be cumbersome to me.

Some cool apps:
Banshee Remote – control Banshee (linux music program) on local network
Squeezebox – app for controlling Logitech's Squeezebox
QuickDic – foreign language dictionairies

I'll update this as I use it….

google nexus 7 tablet

On order. I'd been contemplating one of the $100 Chinese tablets that run ICS, but considering the price of Google's own tablet, with the fact that it's got great hardware (Quad core TEGRA proc, 1280×800 graphics) and some seriously engineering on the firmware (Jelly Bean), AND despite its lack of i/o (no HDMI, no microSD), I sprang. Watch this space.

On the web:
Goolge Nexus 7

archos child pad

"ARCHOS Announces the Availability of the Child Pad, a 7" ICS "Alvin and the Chipmunks 3" Themed Tablet for Kids. The colorful chipmunk themed Child Pad provides kid's with a safe and fun tablet experience only for $129.99"

More an more tablets are breaking the iPad price barrier and getting below the $200 mark. Archos, well-known electronic-maker, adds this Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich "Child Pad" (probably a rebranded Archos 70) to the mix. It's a real (little) tablet and the specs are the specs (see below). More apps (and hopefully a new theme) can be had from the AppsLib, which I know nothing about!

Do I spring for one? There's no Kindle app, and similar spec'd tablets can be found for under $100 (why pay for chipmunk licensing???), so probably not.

Tech Specs 
Capacity • Flash memory: 4 GB* • Expandable via micro SDHC Slot 
Operating system • ANDROID 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich 
Processor • ARM Cortex A8 @ 1 GHz 
RAM • 1 GB 
Display • 7 inch - Resistive screen, TFT LCD, 16 million colors • 800 x 480 screen resolution 
Video Playback • H.264 up to 1080p resolution  30 fps • .avi .mp4 ,mkv, .mov, and .flv 
Audio Playback1 • MP3, WAV, APE, OGG, FLAC 
Photo viewer3 • JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG 
Interfaces  Micro USB slave 2.0: Mass Storage Class (MSC) • Micro SD slot (SDHC compatible) Up to 32 GB 
Communication protocols • WiFi (802.11 b/g/n) 
Miscellaneous • Front camera • Built-in speaker • Microphone • G-sensor 
Power source • Internal: Lithium Polymer battery • USB Power Adapter 
Dimensions & weight • 223 mm x 142 mm x 12.2 mm - 380 g 
Compatibility • Microsoft® Windows® 7, Vista, XP, or higher, Mac OS or Linux in mass storage mode 
Computer Interface • USB 2.0 interface 
Package includes • ARNOVA ChildPad, USB cable, USB Power adapter, Quick Start Guide (QSG)

On the web:
Child Pad

ainovo paladin 7.0 ics tablet

Here it is, the Ainovo (thank god for the name change), MIPS-based tablet that features Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich. It's a sub-$100 tablet.

On the web:

kindle apps, developer notes

This just in from Engadget:
"For instance, Amazon says it will review every app in its Appstore for Fire compatibility, as part of an automated process. Rejected apps, Amazon informs us, will include those that rely on a gyroscope, camera, WAN module, Bluetooth, microphone, GPS, or micro SD. Apps are also forbidden from using Google's Mobile Services (and in-app billing), which, if included, will have to be "gracefully" removed. In terms of actual content, Amazon has outlawed all apps that change the tablet's UI in any way (including theme- or wallpaper-based tools), as well as any that demand root access (it remains to be seen how the company will treat the root-dependent apps already in its store)."

Um, doesn't really sound like an Android device, does it?

On the web:
Amazon Appstore Developer Portal

amazon kindle fire

From the kindle, comes the fire. As the tech world so accurately predicted, Jeff Bezos introduced Amazon's newest addition to the Kindle family today. And as predicted, it was a 7" color Android tablet for less than $300. The Kindle Fire is very much an Amazon tablet however as it has no access to the Google Apps. Not surprising, as the tablet is certainly meant to connect to Amazon for all its services: Amazon Prime for video, Amazon MP3 store and Cloud Drive for music, Kindle Store for books, Amazon Apps for Angrybirds, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and all the Android apps that Amazon approves of. It's web browser is one Amazon Silk, and reportedly uses the power of Amazon's massive EC2 Cloud to boost browsing speeds. The price, at $199, is amazing low, in fact, lower than predicted.

Here's the specs:
OS: Android 2.3, heavily modified
Display: 7" multi-touch display 1024 x 600 IPS panel, Gorilla Glass coating
Processor: 1GHz TI OMAP dual-core CPU with 512MB RAM
Size: 7.5" x 4.7" x 0.45" (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm).
Weight: 14.6 ounces (413 grams).
System Requirements: None, because it's wireless and doesn't require a computer.
On-device Storage: 8GB internal.
Cloud Storage: Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
Battery Life: Up to 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback, with wireless off.
Charge Time: Fully charges in approximately 4 hours via power adapter. Also supports USB.
Wi-Fi Connectivity: 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n
USB Port: USB 2.0 (micro-B connector)
Audio: 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, top-mounted stereo speakers.
Content Formats Supported: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8.

The big question however is what kind of tablet computer is the Kindle Fire. It's certainly no iPad killer, but that probably wasn't the point. Obviously, the device is the perfect gateway for Amazon selling content to you; why, it's probably even subsidized by the fact that Amazon's banking on the user buy content from them. It is reasonably priced, comfortably portable, and from the looks of it, extremely functional. But is it worth buying if you're not interested in any of Amazon's content? Is the Kindle Fire a real Android tablet? Or is it an Amazon slot machine?

On the web:
Kindle Fire from Amazon

hp touchpad

You'd have to be quite the Luddite to not know about HP's decision to kill their Touchpad tablet computer and its WebOS (purchased from Palm) operating system. Sales were incredibly slow, reviews mediocre, and third-party products non-existent. Add in the considerable (insurmountable?) lead that Apple's iOS and Google's Android boast, plus the muscle ($$$) of Windows Mobile (or whatever its called), and it's no wonder that HP pulled the plug. Last Friday (8/19), the first rumblings of fire-sale of the remaining inventory appeared on the web – $99 for the 16GB version, $149 for 32GB.

Well of course I want one! Sunday, I drove to a local Best Buy which happened to open at 11am. The first seven (7) people in line got one – unfortunately I was number eight (8). Checked some other places, like Radio Shack, OfficeMax, Microcenter, but all were out. Then, this morning, I happened upon a link to Viola! Barnes & Noble had them for sale, and I placed an order immediately. I bought the 16GB version for $101 plus shipping and sales tax, a total of $115. Cross-fingers, let's see if the order is actually filled; it's slated for shipping on the 24th.

UPDATE: "Due to unexpected customer demand for this item, our inventory was depleted prior to your order being processed so we are unable to fulfill this item as requested. Consequently, we have canceled your order and you will not be billed for this amount."

UPDATE: The following day, I received an email from B&N hawking their Nook Color. Suspect? Of course.

UPDATE: Ordered 8/23 from for $129 + 5.95 shipping.

UPDATE: 8/25 "We understand that you have questions regarding the availability of the Touchpad. Unfortunately, we are completely sold out of this unit at this point. Because we cannot guarantee delivery for this product within a reasonable amount of time, we have canceled your order."

Guess I'll be waiting on Amazon's tablet!

BTW, SlickDeals has a great thread on the fire-sale:

first impressions of the nokia 770

Not sure how I missed the introduction of this product, but upon learning of its debian-based os I couldn't resist. It's more than a pda and less than a laptop. It's beautiful display supports WVGA (800×480), while its linux core allows all sorts of things an itjerk would love. Couple that with a price of $350, I was off to buy the Nokia 770 "Internet Tablet". As I live in Chicago, I was also fortunate to purchase it from America's first Nokia store, where I could give it a test drive, just to lay aside any lingering doubts. The Associates most certainly weren't geeks; no one even knew what "terminal" or "ssh" meant, but they did offer to flash the OS to IT2006 (Maemo 2.0). Of course, I wanted to do that! But it passed all tests (including WAF), and I was one satisfied customer.

To call the device bleeding edge would be an understatement. Physically, the internet tablet is an odd size, and after holding it for about a half hour my hands were tingling. The hard case is awkward to handle, and when you slide it under the bottom of the unit, it's hard to get the stylus out or plug headphones in. I still have no idea what the buttons on the left side of the unit are for, and have no clue whatsoever on how to cut and paste text. The single worst aspect of the 770 is the handwriting recognition. Why couldn't it be the same as Palm OS? That works like a charm. But if all I wanted to do was complain about the 770s shortcomings, whats the point of buying it in the first place? It's the ulitmate 2006 geek toy!

The unit shipped with Internet Tablet 2005 Edition. From all accounts, the upgrade to 2006, released just this month, was a must. On my Windows PC, I had to download an update to MS .Net framework first before I could flash the device. It's a simple process, even for the most technically incompetent. Later I read that there are Mac and Linux based flashers available from The appeal here is that the device can be r&d mode enabled (which gives your root access), and you don't have to have Windows.

I got the mac address for the unit from a sticker on the soft case, configured my wireless firewall, and in no time was using it as Nokia intended – surfing the web with the Opera Browser. But that didn't last for long…

Here's the important links: