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March 14, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 - Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android TabletLet me preface this blog post with declaring the fact that I'm a Mac user. I've been certified as an instructor for Apple since OS X 10.4, and I've been a huge supporter of using mobile tablets as laptop replacements because of iOS. With this in mind, let me give you my review of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from Samsung.

First, the feel was very light, much lighter than my iPad. This is most likely because the case is plastic instead of aluminum. I'm not going to say it feels "cheaper", but it makes me more nervous to have my kids use it, as they are pretty rough with tablets (a couple have been dropped down the stairs, and took it like troopers!). Aluminum feels more robust.

The OS originally was older, most likely Froyo (though it could have been Ice Cream Sandwich or Gingerbread). The tablet registered as a phone, much to my annoyance. 30 minutes later, after running the update, I was on Jelly Bean, and the look was much more like a tablet. That being said, I wasn't able to install Lync 2010 for Android, because it wasn't available for my device. Not sure why, but that was annoying. Other than that, most of the other apps I use regularly I was able to install without a problem.

In comparing this tablet with my experience with the Motorolla Zoom, I think this tablet wins out. The Zoom was obviously older hardware, as apps would crash regularly. I didn't have that problem on the Galaxy Tab, even with the prior OS installed. The apps were quick, responsive, and worked as I would have expected a tablet to work.

So what did I like?

  • Weight: The weight was the first thing that struck me. It had to be half the weight of the first iPad, and that made it a pleasure to hold. It's slightly lighter in feel to the iPad last generation, and much heavier than the Motorolla Xoom.
  • Performance: The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 had some great performance overall. Everything snapped well, worked well, came up quickly. Large documents, 3D games, and various other general tests I ran went well. Once configured, this little baby was a great tablet.

What I didn't like:

  • Keyboard: The keyboard in Google Drive and other apps was, essentially, a large phone keyboard. It was difficult to type (and I'm used to typing on a tablet screen), making it a pain. I'm sure with some more practice it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but having less space between the "keys" wouldn't have killed them, would it?
  • Configuration: Configuring everything from email to wireless to social networking was more complicated in my opinion than it should have to be. Of course I'm used to the preconfigured settings available to the iPad, so I'm spoiled for time, but I shouldn't have to take 5 to 10 minutes to set up my email when I want to get some work done now. Of course, if you have special settings, complicated setups, or just plain want to have a lot of control, then it's not that big a deal (and actually preferable). Personally, I like things to just work so I can, instead of working at getting things to work.
  • Front-facing Camera: I was testing Skype using my iPad and the Samsung Galaxy tab. The display from the iPad front-facing camera was stellar, looking great in the call. The display from the Galaxy was, well, badly pixellated. They were both on the same network, so I'm going to assign this to the cameras. Still, not everyone uses their tablet for video conferencing, right?
  • USB Port: Okay, I don't have one on the iPad so this shouldn't bother me, right? But the Galaxy Tab doesn't have a USB, micro or otherwise, on it as does the Motorolla Xoom. You don't even have a mini or microSD port. Just a 30-pin adapter, much like the old iPads. Not exactly the same, I might add, they are not interchangeable, but still very, very similar.
  • Default Apps and Home Screen: The setup was confusing, nothing worked until you had everything configured, and even then some of the apps didn't work. Most of the apps in question were Samsung specific, which I quickly removed from the Home screen.

All in all, the Galaxy Tab was a great tablet, it gave me an experience that was closer to my iPad than the Motorolla Zoom, it did the job over all, and my kids chose to use it if an iPad wasn't available (they often overlooked the Xoom). It was missing some of the features that I've come to expect from my iPad, such as controls on my earbuds, but that's something that you can only expect from a company like Apple that wants to integrate and release the entire experience at once. If you are looking for an Android tablet, Samsung makes a great one.

But I'm still glad I have my iPad.

So, any opinions from anyone out there? What do you think?

December 17, 2012

How the Grinch Stole Christmas: a Review

Article first published as How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Review on Technorati.

The Grinch looking over the building of the Old Globe Theater at Balboa Park.Today we experienced a beloved tradition in San Diego, the performance at the Old Globe Theater of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This year is their 15th anniversary of the performance, and this afternoon was a special performance. It was the autism friendly matinee performance.

Going into the play, I was a little concerned about the performance. I've seen the holiday special which is 30 minutes (or 23 minutes), and I've seen the movie (which I did not like). I was concerned it would be too much like the movie. But, as it was live theater, I really wanted to like it. And I didn't. I loved it.

The Old Globe theater is small, and very cozy. It's smaller than my high school stage, making it a more intimate experience with the performance. Different in this production compared to their normal productions would be the lower sound volume and house lights up slightly. Also, there were more seats available for people to move about during the performance if necessary, separated sensory areas for those who need it, and free toys for the kids.

When we walked into the theater, the certain was decorated as the inside jacket of the hardcover book. The kids settled in fairly well, though our youngest was a little squirmy. It was exciting for our oldest to hear the orchestra tune up, as I pointed out the clarinet, he giggled. Before the performance, the San Diego Autism Society presented the Old Globe a plaque to thank them for their dedication and contribution to the autism community.

Then it started. The Old Max came onto the stage, and opened the performance. Then the Who's came on, singing about how much they loved Christmas. We then meet Young Max, and finally the Grinch. Our eldest loved him. He did an amazing performance, both he and Max. The whole cast was fabulous, making the performance amazing!

The story, at least to my mind, was the basis for the Movie, and not the other way around. And the musical was much better (in my opinion). I did miss some of the performance because my youngest couldn't sit still for a full hour and a half (though he did make it through a full hour). During those breaks the volunteer staff was very helpful, and we even got to meet Max while he was "back stage" (in the lobby between showings). It was amazing.

Near the end of the performance I had my oldest son on my back, standing against the wall, clapping while he watched the rest of the performance from behind my left ear. At the end of the performance, as we left, they gave each of our boys their own hardcopy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And, as we walked out to the parking lot, the bell tower at Balboa Park started to play, "Welcome Christmas (Fah Who Doraze)".

It's now three hours since the performance, and I'm still taken by it. It was fantastic, and something the actors at the Old Globe should be proud.

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