Christmas Tablet Technology Guide

With every passing year, the electronic gizmos are finding themselves under the tree more often. This year, we figured we would help you with the many tablet options. The tablet field is rapidly becoming a crowded one and we now we have sizes from 7 to 12 inches. I also think it’s important to understand that a relationship with buying a tablet is likely a two to three year relationship. One consistent finding is that smaller units typically support 720p and the larger units tend to support the 1080p standard, but we were surprised by two exceptions here.  It also makes practical sense but bear in mind you can take the ‘HDMI out’ to a larger screen and there is no upgrading a device from 720p to 1080p. There’s also what might fit in your wife’s purse (hint hint).

Apple iPad Mini
At 8”, it might hit a sweet spot as most are either larger or smaller. It supports 720p video on the display, yet supports 1080p video recording.  It is available in either black or white and prices range from $329 for a 16GB version up to $529 for a 64GB version. Important to note here is that it does not have the same Retina display as the regular iPad.

iPad
Retails  at $499 for 16GB to $699 for the 64GB version and is also available in black or white and the display supports 1080p video. Additionally, it’s a few more dollars for the 4G option as well.

Windows Surface
Microsoft recently introduced the 10.6” Surface, a new player to the field that is called ‘live tiles’. It is found in Windows 8 and this particular variant, called Windows 8 RT. In short, live tiles means that those items on the main menu desktop change content based on variables. This also marks the first time in my memory that Microsoft is selling direct to the public via web site. Windows is including the SkyDrive, which is similar to Apple’s iCloud. At $499 for a 32GB model, it has double the RAM of the iPad 3 that retails for the same price. Windows also has a neat touch cover for an extra $100 that integrates a keyboard for faster everything and comes in five different colors!  There is also a 64GB version, which only comes with a touch cover for $699, which is the same price as the Apple IPad 3 with 64GB of memory.  The Surface falls short on the display as for its size- it should support full 1080p. Then again, as they state that Windows 8 comes to Surface in Early 2013 starting at $899, they have now lost me as a Windows 8RT Surface buyer as the Windows 8 RT does not appear to be upgradeable to Windows 8 Pro though it appears it’s the only way you’ll ever see 1080p on the Surface.

Samsung Series 7 Slate
At 11.6”, it starts at $1,099 and goes to a whopping $1,349. It weighs in about two pounds, but will run Windows 8 Pro and comes with an Intel  i5 processor. This reminds me of the day when someone said PCs would cost less than $1,000; but I would not have imagined that tablets are getting both heavier and more expensive. I will be interested to see how this plays in the market but in my opinion, it’s a pretty high price point, especially if you consider it only supports 720p.That’s right, $1,349 and no 1080p!

Kindle Fire HD
If the full-blown tablets seem a bit pricey, Amazon’s feature-rich Kindle Fire HD and Barnes and Noble’s Nook HD are superb options. The Kindle Fire is available in four versions but for the sake of HD, we’ll stick to three of them. A  7” HD version for $199 that supports 720p and a 9” version for $299 that does the full 1080p. If you want 4G connectivity, it bumps up considerably to $499.

Nook HD
A 7” tablet that comes in either white or smoke colors and starts at $199 for an 8GB versions and bumps to $229 for the 16GB version and support 720p HD.

Nook HD+
This is a 9” tablet and is priced at $269 for the 16GB version and $299 for the 32GB version and supports 1080p full HD.

To reward you for bearing with me, here’s something FUN AND FREE at Christmas for all. What you ask? The Amtrak Holiday Express Train

It’s 450 tons of fun !

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Windows 8 – Worth the Wait!

After finding great stability with Windows 7, I had some reflecting to do before forming an opinion on Windows 8. I had to be realistic as to the past experience and open to the future. After all, it is about the future and its possibilities. It always has been and it will continue to be.  And the new logo also speaks of a new era for Microsoft.

I am also a firm believer in not leaping to something simply because it’s new, but because it brings something to the table that has business value. Things like reducing operating costs, or gaining a strategic advantage over competition, or bringing something new that will benefit education, medicine and other disciplines that have a return, but it may be of a longer term and part of a future vision.

I had to really think back. You see, at fifty-something, I have pretty much seen it all from the start. The relevance comes into play when making comparisons of Microsoft desktop and server operating systems. You see, we may all remember Windows 3.1 as not being so great, but remember XP as being rock solid. That all may be true, but what you may have forgotten is that XP was not truly ‘loved’ until Service Pack 2. That’s right, it’s Windows XP SP2 that became the basis for stability comparisons even though it had a couple more service packs to come.

And who can forget Vista that was like that one uncle you didn’t quite understand then and still don’t to this day.  Being a Microsoft Gold Partner I had three major issues with Vista. First is that it was slower. Second, it was relatively unstable. The third question begged even more explanation. Why create this User Access Control (not so affectionately known as UAC) that incessantly needed my permission and other interfaces that slowed us down. The familiar ‘Select All’ was hidden under ‘Organize’. Not sure what the two have to with each other to this day.  And I digress.

So now we love Windows 7 as much as we probably can, and are fairly pleased with its ease and performance. Now, the wheel appears to have needed some reinventing. After all, if Apple comes out with a new animal-themed operating system annually, shouldn’t Microsoft as well to ‘keep up with the Joneses’? Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if you look at Apple’s Lion versus Mountain Lion, it’s really no more than a service pack-equivalent upgrade. It’s not all new, it’s just got some new features.


Windows 8 promises new features with the stability on Windows 7 and a new Graphical User Interface (GUI), that although will take some getting used to, appears to be worthwhile and will tie Microsoft desktops and mobile devices together nicely. In our first tests, we found it easy to install and use. We loaded a number of programs and all loaded quickly and easily.

To further simplify, there are only two PC versions, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro for businesses that require better security and domain integration. Once it’s released on October 26th, upgrades will be $40 until the end of January in an effort to get folks to get an affordable upgrade. Also, a third version, Windows 8 RT, will be available for the tablet market. From experience, I would think you would be able to order Windows 7 or opt for Windows 8 until at least summer and a Service Pack 1 gets it a bit more dialed in. After that, you will need to seriously consider this platform.

As with any business, testing with a couple computers for a spell before a large deployment also makes sense. Also, checking with key software vendors, like your ERP software vendor, is always good idea to ensure you remain on a supported platform.  A little due diligence goes a long way!