Monday, December 3, 2012

by Jerry Hale
December 3, 2012

First, let me say that I am NOT an expert. My experience has been with the Nook Color and a little with the Kindle. I've only read about the others. For my money the Apples are not a consideration. Although they are very popular everything Apple does is especially proprietary and expensive. Except for the Apples the whole world is using the Android system so there are plenty of free apps (applications) and third party accessories for the Android devices, you don't have to go to the Apple Store to get them.  Android is the most popular operating system (OS), it is being used in everything from eReaders to autos. Ford announced it was putting the Android OS into it's new cars.

When people see me using my tablet computer they often want to know more about the choices they have when considering acquiring one.

It depends upon what you want to do with the device, use it as an eReader only or use it as a full blown tablet computer?

Do you want to pay the extra money to get one of the top of the line tablets, Apple or Samsung Galaxy, with a camera (or even two) or can you buy an eReader (Nook or Kindle) and convert it to a tablet computer as I have?

Other considerations are memory size, battery life, whether or not the battery is replaceable? On the Nook Color the battery is not made to be replaced by the user but many who are technically oriented have opened it up and replaced the battery themselves. I haven't heard whether Barnes and Noble will replace the battery if you send it back. One thing I know about the Nook is that the power cable is fragile. I've broken two of them even while being careful. Fortunately Barnes and Noble seems to be aware that they have a problem and have sent replacement cables for no charge. One disadvantage of hacking a Nook is that there is no camera on it.

Battery life varies quite a bit, the iPad claims "up to 10 hours", hmmm the problem is that 4 hours qualifies in that statement. Manufacturers of notebook computers are notorious for claiming longer battery life that they ever produce. The other ads do not specify battery life.

From the web site Squidoo

"The battery life of e-readers is significantly better than that of tablet computers. e-Readers can typically go for a month or more of regular use without having to be charged. Tablets run out of battery life within a few hours or so. This is mostly due to the screen type (discussed above) and the fact that they do a lot more internal processing."

I maximize the battery life between recharges by turning off the screen of my Nook and my Droid X smart phone whenever I'm not using them.

Purusing the ads in this Sunday's newspaper I find that there are 17 choices. The Samsung "Transformer" is the most expensive at $750. Transformer means it has a keyboard that the tablet fits into and it then becomes a notebook computer.

On the other end of the spectrum, at $70 is the Kindle eReader (black and white) only for reading electronic books. See the lists at the end of this article.

Other considerations are screen size, memory and operating system. Except for the iPads the operating system is some version of the Android. Android (Google) gives their operating systems colorfull names to distinguish them apart. Version 3.2 was called "Gingerbread," version 4.0 is called Ice Cream Sandwich (or ICS) and version 4.2 is called "Jelly Bean".

The Nook and the Kindle use a proprietary version of the Android operating system but can be "hacked" and turned into a full tablet computer. The SD memory card is replaceable, I use a 16gb card but have a 32gb card I can use if 16gb ever proves to be inadequate.

I "liberated" my Nook Color and it is now running a hacked version of Android called "Cyanogen 7". Hacking or "jail breaking" the Nook is very easy, I have no experience with the Kindle. A step by step procedure can be found on the www with video tutorials on YouTube to help you through the job. I missed something the first and second time I tried and turned my Nook into a "glass brick." After I realized I wasn't going to have a heart attack I went back to the www and Googled "Nook glass brick" and learned how to rescue the device. The third time worked as advertised and I've been very pleased with the result. I bought the Color Nook reconditioned, from Barnes & Noble, for $150. I'm sure it doesn't work as well as an iPad or a Galaxy but it is adequate to my needs for now. I will help anyone who wants to go that route, it is easy once you know how ;-)

The nurse at my podiatrist's office said she had the iPad with a 10" screen and found it too large and too heavy to hold comfortably. It was especially difficult if she tried to read in bed. She was going to buy a 7" model instead.

The best part of these new devices is the world of books it opens up. I have purchased one book but have downloaded a couple of hundred from the free sites like The Gutenburg Project. At present I'm reading "The History of the Inquisition" in three volumes. It is more interesting than any modern book I've read. My next assignment is "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire". All free.

Screen sizes vary, here are the sizes:

5" [Intuos5],

7" [Kindle, Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, Nook Color HD, ASUS Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, & Polaroid],

7.9/8" [Apple iPad Mini & Coby],

9" [Nook Color HD, Galaxy S III, Leap Pad 2 Explorer, Nabi 2 Kid's Tablet & Lenovo Idea tab]

9.7" iPad ith Retina display

10/10.1" Samsung Galaxy 2, ASUS TF700 Infinity and TF300T Transformer

11.6" Samsung Series 5 Slate (transformer)

Here's how the choices line up by price:

$ 70 Kindle B&W ??GB ??" (Kindle modified Android)
$100 LeapPad 2 ??GB??" ??OS
$100 Polaroid Tablet 4GB 7" (Android ICS)
$120 COBY 4GB 8" (Android ICS)
$160 Kindle Fire 16GB 7" (Kindle modified Android)
$200 Nook HD 8GB 7" (Barnes & Noble modified Android)
$200 Kindle Fire HD16 GB 7" (Kindle modified Android)
$200 Galaxy Tab 2 8GB 7" (Android ICS)
$200 nabi Kids Tablet (Android ___)
$230 Lenovo Idea Tab 16GB 9" (Android ICS)
$230 Intuos5 Small ??GB ??OS
$250 ASUS Nexus 32GB 7"(Android Jelly Bean)
$270 Nook HD+ 16 GB 9" (Barnes & Noble modified Android)
$330 iPad mini 16GB 7.9"
$350 Galaxy Tab 2 16 GB 10.1" (Android ICS)
$430 iPad mini 32GB 7.9"
$450 Galaxy Tablet 16GB 10.1" (Android ICS)
$500 iPad Retina16GB 9.7"
$500 ASUS Transformer 32GB10.1" (Android ICS)
$600 iPad Retina 32GB 9.7"
$750 Samsung Series 5 Slate 64GB SSD & dock (Android ___)

Here are this Sunday's ads:

Here are some web sites that will help you decide or confuse you further.

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