Archive for March, 2011

Motorola Xoom – First impressions

So I’ve had some opportunities to play around with a Motorola Xoom tablet in the past few weeks, and I thought I’d share my impressions.

Where to start?

I guess I’ll start with the things I like about it.

First off, the graphics are really nice.  The graphic system is definitely lives up to all the hype.  If you have a Xoom and you haven’t messed with Google Body, or played a FPS on it yet…you are SOOO missing out. It’s really nice.  Great frame rate and nice resolution.

The overall speed of the device seems solid. I haven’t been blown away as I was expecting to be, but then I haven’t been disappointed either.  So I’ll consider that a plus.

Next, it’s tough.

While at CES this year I got to hold and mess with a lot of the new Android tables, and to tell the truth, most felt flimsy.  I kept expecting to find a great big “Fragile” sticker on them.  Heck even a Fisher Price sticker would be an improvement.  At least that stuff is designed to take punishment.

The Xoom is sturdy.  It feels solid in your hands, and doesn’t feel like it will break if you use it one too many times.  I like that.

I love the cameras!

Let me say it again.  I Love the cameras!  Great resolution and performance that beats the heck out of my new iPad 2.  Very nice feature.

Basically, all the device and physical stuff is really nice.

I’m not sure about the size.  The jury is still out on that.

The “not so good” stuff (mostly) has to do with Android 3.0.

Honeycomb was ballyhooed as being the “great iOS” killer in so many forums I got tired of having my monkeys shake sticks at them.  (really, they have better things to do)

To be honest…I don’t see it.

Yet.

To me, Android 3.0 is very, very much still a work in progress.  It’s a bit clunky and not as smooth as I’d expect.

Screen transitions are a bit jerky, apps can lag a bit and it’s just not as intuitive as I’d thought it would be.

Also, there are things it just doesn’t do yet.  For example our organization uses WPA2 Enterprise level encryption on wireless.  It wasn’t supported out of the box.  Our resident Linux god had to find a way to get it to work.  Fine, but not great.

Finally, it’s heavy.  

I know the specs aren’t that much out of line with other tablets, but compared to my iPad 2…wow.  There is a noticeable difference.  To really be useful, a tablet needs to be portable, and that meas light.  I don’t want to get worn out just holding a device.

In the end, I really think the Xoom, as a hardward platform, has great potential.  Especially if Motorola gets the weight down some.  

Android 3.0 is getting there.  

Google is well known for Agile development, so I’m sure they’ll address all my petty little concerns.  It will come in time.  By 3.5 I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune.

So in the end, is Android 3.x the iOS killer?

Well, that’s for another post.

Comments…

We haz them now.  

Just look for the “notes and comments” link at the top-right corner of every post.

Wahoo

If Norman Rockwell had an iPad…

A couple things happened to me over the weekend that really made me step back and take a long look at how I interact with technology and the role it plays in my life and the life of my family.

The first thing was a normal meal at home with my family.

Now keep in mind, there is very little about my family that can be considered “normal”, however much we like to think of ourselves as such.

We had just finished dinner and were still sitting around the table.  My wife was reading a book on her iPhone Kindle app.  My youngest son was playing “Brain Age” on his Nintendo DS.  My oldest son was playing “Math Ninja” on my “old” iPad.  What was I doing?  You guessed it, reading on my “new” iPad.

Whoa! 

Dinnertime, and what were we all doing?  We were completely engaged in our little electronic gadgets.

As I thought about this, I was really conflicted.  Is this the new version of “family time” in our society? 

I mean really.  The youngest was playing a “brain” game that really is just that.  It’s a great mental workout.  He’s brilliant and loves puzzles and challenges.  So nothing wrong there, right?  The oldest; he was honing his math skills.  He’s smart also, but needs a little help in the math area.  Again, a good thing right?  So how about my wife? Reading a book, and nothing frivolous.  She’s a writer and reads for research.  Check.  Productive use of time.  Me?  I was…well, I’ll admit, I was checking out the SI Swimsuit thread on Flipbook.  Hey, at least I wasn’t playing Angry Birds!

So what’s the harm in this?  Right?  I’ll get to that in a minute.

The second thing is that I realized that my wife and I carry our cell phones (yes iPhones) around with us AT HOME!!  I get home from work, change clothes and shove my iPhone into my back pocket.  My wife does the same thing.

Beyond carrying them, we text each other in the house with our phones.

Several years ago, we were mocked by our friends for texting in our house via Yahoo IM on our computers.  “Hey!!” we would respond,  “I’m in the basement, and she’s on the third floor of the house.  It’s easier. “ Right?  Right! So back off!

Well, now…not so much of an excuse.

What I’m getting at here is that tech is invading our lives and changing it drastically.

Duh!  Nothing new there.

But it’s changing how families interact.  Gone are the days when the family gathered around the fireplace and the radio.  Everyone listening, mom knitting and dad reading the paper.  You know, the whole Normal Rockwell thing.

Now we all “network” around our own houses.  Literally.

Good or bad?  No idea.  I’m not smart enough to really figure that one out.  We do interact.  And radio is pretty much dead.  So have the devices just changed?

Want one more example of the sort of thing happening?

Two years ago, we bought our oldest a Nintendo DS for his birthday.  He loved it.  But as time went on the youngest wanted one.  He proved responsible, so last year we got him one also.

Now I don’t know if you know this, but with certain games you can play against other players via peer-to-peer WiFi built into those little devices. 

So picture this.

One night not so long ago, I go down stairs about an hour or so after putting our boys to bed.  You know, to check on them.  They have a habit of goofing around when they are supposed to be sleeping.

I peer into the youngest boy’s room and he has the covers pulled over his head and I hear a distinct clicking sound.  I creep up to the bed (me = sneaky) and pull the covers off in dramatic fashion expecting to bust him. 

Which I do.

Playing his Nintendo DS.

The look on his face is priceless.  Sort of that “deer-caught-in-a-headlight” look. I give him my best stern face, tell him I’m disappointed in him and take the game away from him.  I close the cover as I do, thus turning off the game.

From the other boy’s room I hear, “Hey!!  What happened to the game!”

Oh yeah.  Isn’t technology wonderful? 

Cool Gadget

Cool Gadget
Have to say I’d love one of these in my kitchen.  I love to cook and I love music when I cook.  To have this on the island in my kitchen, playing music, with my favorit cooking app running…wow!  

I sense the first item on my birthday wish list.

Epic boredom

There’s really nothing like sitting in a meeting listening to a long talk about upgrades to an electronic medical record system.

It seems a bit counterintuitive that the meeting is to set direction but as a doc just pointed out, we take what the vendor gives us. They can listen or not.

Also. I don’t think that there is anythig more ugly (from a UI) standpoint than an emr system.

Woes of distributing a popular product

/Rant on

So I do have to admit, I’m a bit of an Apple Fan Boy.  I try not to be, but the iPad has really changed the way I work (yes for the better) and I have a tendency to really respect a product that makes my work life better.  

So, when the iPad 2 came out, I was pretty excited.  Wasn’t 100% what I was hoping for, but there’s enough there, that I figured I’d get one personally, and we’d get a few for my work organization.

Here’s the problem/situation. 

I work for a University.  A big one.  

Apple is notorious for restricting sales into the Education vertical.  You have to follow certain channels.  

Fine.  I respect that.  Totally cool with that.

However, there’s a problem shaping up.

It seems the that on-campus store here is getting the shaft on new iPads.

It’s been a couple of weeks since the debut of the product, and by my count, the local retail store has received at least 5 or 6 shipments of the devices.  All of which have sold out faster than Charlie Sheen can say, “Duh, winning!”.

How many has the campus store received?  You guessed it.  Zero.

That’s disturbing on a variety of levels.

Apple has long enjoyed the support of the education market.  It portrays itself as strongly committed to the market, maybe more so than just about any other company. However, when it comes to the shinny new iPad,  it seems not so much.

I understand the need to milk a product (and a popular one) for all it’s worth.  Really, I do.  

However, to prevent large resellers (CDW for example) from selling into the ed vertical, and then openly ignoring on-campus stores in favor of the retail stores…Wow. 

That seems wrong.

Yes, you bet people at the university can go to the retail store and stand in line for a device.  However, I work for a medical organization.  I’ve got working physicians who are really excited about the iPad. They can’t go stand in line for hours on end in the hopes they’ll get a device.  Just isn’t going to happen.

Sure, I can send my staff to stand in line.  No problem.  They are happy to do that.  

Whoops.  Limit of two devices per person.  

So here’s my request.

Apple, please don’t continue to ignore the on-campus stores.  We are paying basically the same amount as the public in the retail stores.  Your products will still sell out.  But please think about the educational organizations that are looking for your products.  Don’t openly ignore the campus stores as the retail stores get shipment after shipment.  

It leaves a bad taste in the mouths of all the ed people that have supported your products for so long.

/rant off

Everyone Sue Everyone…and only the laywers win

Things seem to be getting a wee bit silly out in techno land.

Apple sues Amazon over App Store trademark, Microsoft sues B&N over Android | TiPb