Friday, September 7

Falling in love, one app at a time

Some readers may recall that I purchased a Samsung Galaxy Tabet 10.1 this time last year.  Since then I've had something of love-hate relationshipp with this purchase.  At times I've regretted not folllowing the flock and simply buying an Apple iPad. I found itd user inface rather clunky and missed useful apps only available on the iPhone/iPad platform.

However, in recent months I've slowly begun to warm to my purchase.  I've started to using the Tab for more and more activities and enjoying the experience..  What had begun to feel like an expensive white elephant is slowing becoming an increasingly handy asset. Several recent events have driven my change of heart.

The first watershed moment happened as I began gearing up for life after Text 100, my former employer. With more time on my hands I began experimenting with my tablet and soon realised it was the perfect device for reading down loaded e-copies of my favourite British publications. Suddenly I have access to the world's greatest journalism days before titles were available in Australia, and in some cases, access to titles not sold here.

I now read the Economist and the Times of London on my tab.  The Times app is partially user friendly. I doubt I'd ever go back to reading the hard copy version. Likewise, hard copies of the Economist now lie around the house still sealed in their plastic postage bag. I wish the magazine would follow the lead of the Times and offer a digital-only subscription.

The next few watershed moments came as Garry and I went on vacation in the USA last month. I decided to try using the tablet as my primary computing device while on the road. This seemed like a relatively low-risk experiment as Garry was still travelling with his laptop. The Tab was fantastic. It weighed nothing and I was able to do most online (and offline) activities with ease. For example, I downloaded detailed roadmaps before leaving home and successfully used them to navigate our 2,300 mile journey.

Granted some of the local landmark data wasn't available offline making difficult to locate restuarants and other local amenities. However I did find a partial solution that once downloaded gave us limited access to searchable landmark data. This came in handy a few days later when our low fuel light came on outside Portland. Within seconds I located three service stations within a 10km radius.

While we were on the road Samsung also released its copy of the new "Icecream Sandwich" upgrade to Andriod, the operating system that powers my Galaxy Tab. This "open source" derived operating system is currently the most popular platform for smartphones, outselling Apple almost two to one. I downloaded the upgrade and immediately feel in love with it. The clunky interface was gone, replaced by a slicker, more appealing alternative. The upgrade now supported several handy features that I'd sorely missed such as nested folders for archiving email.

Finally, I've dusted off the Zagg wireless keyboard I'd bought last year with my Galaxy Tab.  Until now I'd not been convinced it was an effective alternative to a regular laptop.  However, I've given it a go and found that it works brilliantly. It's a definite improvement on the frustratingly slow finger tapping soft keyboard I've persisted with until now.  It makes intensive data entry for emails and blog posts far less painful. In fact, this post is being created using the very keyboard I'm praising.

The final hurdle I've yet to overcome is the transfer of photos from my digital camera to the tablet. Currently the cables I have don't include connectors that work with a Galaxy Tab. To date I've been taking photos on the road using my iPhone and then posting these to the blog via a mobile app. At a later date, whenever I have access to a laptop and wireless network, I go back and update my blog posts with higher quality images from my digital camera. Capturing images of the same scene with two devices and two generations of blog posting is hardly ideal. If I can overcome this final limitation, with the right cable or an SD card reader, I may never take my laptop on the road again.

In short, over a period of a few brief months, I've genuinely warmed to my Galaxy Tab. It's fast becoming integrated into my daily routine leaving my laptop and paper magazines languishing idle on the kitchen table. Viva the revolution!

UPDATE:  5.20pm
I've just completed a shopping expedition and now have a shiny new connection kit for my Galaxy Pad.  It enables me to download photos using an SD card reader or the USB cable I use with my digital camera.  Both connections work brilliantly.  I think I've just committed myself to life on vacation without a bulky laptop.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I'm still poised to buy my first new tablet in many years. The iPad screen is too small for me (I want A4) and it's just not practical for storing the GB of photos I take on a multi-week roadtrip.

Till then I'm still lugging around a laptop.