Why wait for Apple’s iOS fix? Here are ways to tackle your power problems
Apple’s concession Wednesday that an iOS 5 glitch is behind the battery problems experienced by some iOS devices is welcome news. Not only does it mean help is on the way—Apple promised it was working on a fix—but it also lets iOS device owners who’ve been experiencing battery drain know that they aren’t imagining things. As someone who’s had to troubleshoot a power-mad iPhone 4S, I’m happy to hear that I’m not crazy. Not about this, anyhow.
While the iPhone 4S has been the focus of many battery life complaints, it’s not the only device suffering from a loss of power. I’ve received anecdotal reports from Macworld staff members as well as from readers that these battery-sucking issues affect other devices running iOS 5. And that makes sense: With its iCloud integration, wireless syncing, and greater use of location services, iOS 5 is bound to pull more power from a device’s battery. The new mobile OS also makes it easier to push data (contacts, calendars, and email) from a variety of accounts (Gmail and Yahoo, for instance), and with push comes an increasingly taxed Dell vostro 1520 power laptop battery.
If you’ve been having battery-life problems with your iOS 5 devices, you could sit back and wait for Apple’s promised iOS update to fix the problem. But if you’re more inclined to take an active approach, there are some things you can do to track down—and maybe even tackle—the source of your power problems.
System Services: Go to Settings -> Location Services -> System Services. In the resulting screen you’ll see a series of entries (the number and kind you see depends on the device you’re using). By default, they’re all switched on. But regardless of whether any of these options are buggy or not, I see little use for many of them. For example, some people have suggested that the Setting Time Zone option can cause problems as the device constantly checks with a server to see if it’s changed time zones. Unless you’re the ultimate jet-setter, you don’t need to have this option enabled. If you don’t care about what’s on sale at the corner Chocklit Shoppe, switch off Location-Based iAds. If you don’t use Maps to check on traffic, turn off Traffic. And if you know north from south, switch off Compass Calibration. At the very least, switch on the Status Bar Icon option so you can see when your device is using some of these services.
Location Services: The ability for your iOS device to tell apps where you are is one of the greatest things about iOS 5, but if it’s killing your battery, it’s not nearly as helpful as it could be. You can switch location services off entirely by going to Settings -> Location Services and flicking the Location Services Switch to the Off position. But that’s an extreme action and one you can likely avoid. Instead, scan down the list of apps and take a gander at which of your apps are currently using those services (as denoted by a purple arrow). Do you really need those apps broadcasting your location? If not, switch them off.
With regard to locations, one app to keep a careful eye on is Reminders. You can have reminders appear when you’re near a particular location. This means that your device is routinely performing “Am I there yet?” operations, which affect your battery. It’s a very cool feature, but if your device can’t hold a charge, it’s a feature you may want to do without.
Siri: If you’ve got an iPhone 4S—remember, Siri is only available on that phone—go to Settings -> General -> Siri and disable the Raise to Speak option. This is a convenient feature that invokes Siri whenever you lift the phone to your face, but I’ve seen reports that this can cause an undue battery drain. With this option off, all you have to do to awaken Siri is press and hold the Home button.
I’d resist disabling Siri altogether. When you do, the information Siri has gleaned from you is wiped from Apple’s servers. When you switch it back on, Siri is not terribly responsive out of the gate, plus it then resyncs that data with the cloud, thus burning up power.
Disable Siri’s Raise to Speak option to save power
Push: It’s always been true that when you push data to your iOS device, you’ll put more strain on the battery. To preserve your Toshiba PA3534U-1BAS Extended Battery charge, turn push off by going to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendar -> Fetch New Data and flip the Push switch off. Your device will now fetch data with a setting of your choosing—every 15 minutes, every 30 minutes, every hour, or manually. Choosing Manually saves the most power as data will be delivered to your device only when you use an app that requests it—when you open Mail, for example.
You can also pick and choose which accounts push (if supported) and fetch. To do that, scroll to the bottom of the Fetch New Data screen and tap Advanced. You’ll find that you can adjust settings for each account you use—iCloud, Gmail, and Yahoo, for example.
Auto-Lock: A fellow Macworld editor discovered that when she updated her iPhone to iOS 5, her Auto-Lock settings changed. Before updating to iOS 5, she had the phone configured to auto-lock after one minute (thus turning off the display and saving power). After she upgraded, it was set to Never, which will burn up your battery in a hurry. The Auto-Lock setting is found here: Settings -> General.
iCloud offers a wealth of battery-draining options
iCloud: The ability to automatically move data between your iOS device and the cloud is fabulous, but it can also deplete your battery in short order. Go to Settings -> iCloud and take a stern look at the options you find there. If you don’t routinely create contacts, events, reminders, bookmarks, and notes on your device and you’re willing to forego automatically receiving updates to these items when they’re created on other devices, consider switching some or all of these options off. (You can choose to keep existing items on the device, and they’ll remain viewable.) Photo Stream is another option to carefully consider, because when it’s switched on every picture you take with your iOS device is uploaded to the cloud. (Images taken with other devices associated with your Apple ID are also downloaded to your device.) This is yet another drain on your battery. Likewise, if you have Documents & Data switched on, more data is sent to the cloud.
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Storage & Backup and iTunes Wi-Fi Sync shouldn’t concern you, as they’re designed to work only when the device is attached to a powered connection.
Notifications: Those visual and audio alerts require power. Go to Settings -> Notifications and switch off those you can do without.
Brightness: Your device was not designed, by default, to be a flashlight. If you increase the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad’s brightness setting, understand that you’re doing so at the cost of a shorter battery charge.
AirPlay: I can’t even begin to image how quickly you’d deplete a battery charge by streaming a Harry Potter flick from an iOS device to your Apple TV. If you don’t want to find out, plug your device into a power source when you’re using AirPlay. Similarly, if you stream content to your device in the form of movie trailers, Netflix content, or a music subscription service, you can expect your battery to go south in a hurry if your device isn’t externally powered.
Taking all the fun out of it
If you were to disable every option listed here you’d have an awfully dull device. And if you’d wanted that, you would have purchased something that lacked the Apple logo. The forthcoming iOS 5 update should take care of the worst battery abuses that can be attributed to bugs and runaway processes. But it’s also likely that the extra power and flexibility we’ve demanded from our iOS devices come at a price: a device that asks more of a battery. However, given that many people are having no battery issues, it’s entirely possible that with only slight tweaks here and there, the most power-frugal among us can have our cake and eat it too.
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If you’re looking for information on how to repair a hard drive, How to Clean PC, How to Design Website or any other questions, you’ll find it in my picks for the best how to sites on the Web. These are some of the best websites and laptop battery shop which will really help you alot.
1. CNET Online Courses – Free online how to classes and tutorials on everything from car technology to digital photography.
2. eHow – eHow is a treasure trove of how to information, anything from arts and entertainment to sports and fitness.
3. wikiHow – wikiHow is a giant how to manual, but since it’s a wiki, anyone can add or edit the information you find here.
4. Instructables – Share what you like to make and how others can do the same at Instructables, a community driven how to site.
5. HowStuffWorks – HowStuffWorks gives you great how to explanations and tutorials – you can find how to guides on a wide variety of subjects here.
6. Make – Make magazine is a fascinating site full of how to guides, many extremely eclectic.
7. Wired How To Wiki – The Wired How To Wiki is a site full of technology tutorials that help you figure out how to do it yourself.
8. How To Do Things.com – Find articles from experienced contributors on how to do just about anything.
9. WonderHowTo – A human-edited collection of video tutorials from more than 1700 websites.
10. MindBites – Watch how-to videos or create your own to earn money.
11. VideoJug – How to videos for just about everything in life.
12. The Java Tutorials – A collection of Java tutorials from Sun on using various components.
13. the How-To Geek – A collection of computer tutorials covering everything from protecting your children online to using different wallpapers on dual monitors.
14. How to Make Your Own Web Mashup – A short tutorial outlining the steps necessary to build a mashup.
15. How to Podcast – A complete, free tutorial that teaches you how to set up your own podcast.
16. Tutorialized – A collection of tutorials and how-to guides on a variety of tech-related topics.
17. How to design a website – A comprehensive tutorial on how to design using HTML and CSS.
18. Tutorial Blog – A blog filled with how-to guides and tutorials on design topics.
19. Blog Tutorials – A blog offering how-to advice for blogging.
20. How to Start with GTD – A basic 10-step guide to starting out with GTD.
21. How To Be More Productive – A very complete guide to becoming more productive, covering everything from technology to dietary changes.
22. How To Write A Resume.org – A complete resource for writing resumes and cover letters.
23. How To Meditate – A complete online guide to teach you how to meditate in the Buddhist tradition.
24. How to Draw Manga – Manga University has a great collection of how-to articles on drawing different elements of manga characters.
25. Sushi Eating HOW TO – A complete guide outlining how to eat sushi and sushi bar etiquette.
26. How to Go Green – A collection of guides to green your life on topics ranging from investing and hybrid cars to workouts and weddings.
27. How to Clean Stuff – Tutorials for cleaning everything from old photos to ballet flats.
28. How to Photograph… – A series of tutorials on photographing a variety of situations and subjects from weddings to urban landscapes to zoos.
29. Expert Village – A collection of more than 130,000 video tutorials.
30. How To Do Things.com – Find articles from experienced contributors on how to do just about anything.
31. Video-Tutes.com – Free video tutorials for a variety of software programs including Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and MS Word.
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Tablet computers have actually been on the market for some time. However, it wasn’t until the iPad came out that the tablet format really took off. With the marketing arm of Apple behind it, along with the raging success of the iPhone, the iPad was a shoe-in for a mass-market mobile computing device. Despite all of the fanfare, when we come back to reality, the tablet computer still has a long way to go before it can replace the laptop or netbook for most people and here are 5 reasons why.
1. To type or not to type
Typing on any touchscreen device can be a tricky thing to get used to. On a smartphone it’s probably easier than on a tablet, at least at first. This is because you’re already used to letting your thumbs do the typing from using keypad mobile phones. But when it comes to a tablet, it’s a whole new ballgame.
Some tablets (the 7″ size is a great example) can still be used in this manner by placing the tablet in the portrait position. The keyboard usually fills the bottom of the display screen, and is still easily accessible by the thumbs of an average person.
On larger tablets, such as the iPad, it’s a bit difficult to make your thumbs stretch across the width of the device, even in portrait mode. This is probably the motivation behind Apple’s new split keyboard feature, which will be implemented in iOS 5.
Any size of tablet can also be used in the landscape position, which also gives you a much bigger keyboard. But is it really big enough? A lot of people find it uncomfortable to type on a tablet keyboard, simply because the keys are spaced together very tightly. If you’re accustomed to the tactile input of a traditional keyboard when typing, you might have trouble keeping your fingers in position.
Any way you look at it, typing on a tablet is a far cry from typing on a desktop, laptop, or netbook. There are solutions out there on the market to solve these problems, like bluetooth keyboards, tablet keyboard docks, and even specialized cases with keyboards built in. But you will pay extra for all of these accessories. Out of the box, the tablet’s keyboard and typing still leave much to be desired.
2. App compatibility
There has been a noticeable shift in the way software is distributed in the tablet world. With a Mac or PC you can purchase software offline and install it yourself, or you can sometimes download software after purchasing it online. Software companies catered to the majority of computer users by usually offering their product in versions that were compatible with Microsoft Windows and Apple’s Mac OS.
With the creation of the tablet came the mobile app and app store. While Apple probably has the biggest selection, there is stiff competition from Google and RIM as well. The thing that is different about tablet software, with the notable exception of Android apps, is that you can only get it through your manufacturer’s marketplace. This can be synced through your PC software or done directly on the tablet via wifi or 3G, but the physical aspect of software is long gone.
While tablet software is priced dramatically lower than its PC counterparts, there is a catch. Tablets are so new and their operating systems are changing at such a rapid pace, that the software developers are struggling to keep up. Frequent OS updates mean frequent app updates, leaving some users in the lurch when their apps no longer work as expected.
Despite all the testing done by software developers and device manufacturers, many apps still have glitches on launch day. Perhaps they think it’s okay since apps don’t usually cost as much as traditional software. In reality, it’s just another problem created by a new platform and quickly changing operating systems. Sure, app updates are usually free (so far), but who wants to go through the hassle of waiting for a “fix” to an app you just purchased?
3. Printing is up in the air
With your desktop or laptop computer, you can quickly and easily set up a printer and print documents, whether it’s through a cable connected printer or over your home wifi system. Even with the latest tablet changes, this can still be a major challenge. Here’s why.
A tablet like the iPad isn’t connected to anything, unless you’re syncing or updating the OS. Of course, with the iOS 5 update on the way, you won’t even need to connect for that.
Apple made a step forward by including print support in one of its latest updates, but of course, without a USB port, only wifi-capable printers are supported, and only select models of those. If you’re printer is still attached to your computer via a USB cable, you won’t get any help from the Apple update. So despite being billed as something akin to a netbook or laptop, the tablet still is at a disadvantage when it comes to taking your hard work to the physical medium of paper.
4. Business not as usual
Why we use tablet computers may be easy to understand, but how we use them is another thing altogether. If it’s productivity you’re looking for, there is no tablet designed just for you. With the purchase of a few apps you may be able to wing it for a while and do some types of work from your tablet. Based on its size and weight, it should be a road warrior’s best friend, right?
Unfortunately, the apps that are available will only perform relatively basic tasks. Even Apple’s iWorks offerings on the iPad have limited functionality compared to their full version Mac counterparts. Any tablet available is going to leave the business person shorthanded if they want it to replace the full suite of productivity applications on their usual on-the-road workhorse laptop or netbook.
5. Limited multimedia
Well, at least you can surf the web and get your entertainment from a tablet, right? Not necessarily. The best selling tablet of them all, the iPad, doesn’t have support for Adobe Flash. Instead, Apple is placing its future bet on HTML5 to solve the problem of streaming video and multimedia content.
Android has taken a definitive step to support flash in the latest versions of the OS, the truth is that it’s far from the dependable experience that you’ve come to love from your Mac or PC system. Some websites may work, while others do not. Unfortunately, you’re at the mercy of the marketplace and Adobe for an official update to make the functionality better. With each device having its own tweaks to the Android OS, this also presents a challenge for flash developers to make their apps work on more than just one device.
As for Apple, Steve Jobs has made the statement in the past that he has no intention of supporting Flash at any time in the future for mobile devices. His argument stems from the fact that Adobe Flash apps and web features take up more processing power and reduce battery life. While this is true, other tablet makers are moving forward and finding ways to work around these limitations to the best of their ability. Why can’t Apple do the same? Â In the end, the only one who really suffers in this battle is you, the consumer.
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Solving Dell Laptop Battery Does Not Charge Problem
A laptop utilizes a battery for power when it is not plugged into an electrical outlet. Dell Inspiron laptops use rechargeable lithium ion batteries. The laptop battery has a life expectancy of 12 to 24 months, depending on several factors, such as care and battery usage tips. If the battery is not holding a charge, it may be damaged or dead and need to be replaced. Prior to replacing the battery, you should troubleshoot it, just to be sure.
Attempt to fully charge the battery. Plug the power adapter into the laptop and allow the battery to charge overnight.
Turn the Dell Insprion laptop off. Unplug the laptop from the laptop power adapter.
Flip the laptop upside down so the battery is visible. The HP 484170-001 battery is located on the underside of the laptop.
Slide the battery lock switch and hold it in place. Lift the battery upward for removal. Once removed, release the battery lock switch.
Examine the laptop computer battery. Look for signs of damage to the battery. If you notice any damage, the battery must be replaced.
Clean the battery contacts. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and clean the battery contacts and the contacts inside the battery bay to remove dust.
Check the battery charge. Press the “Status” button on the back side of the battery. It has five lights that will display how charged the Dell inspiron 1520 battery is. Five lit lights indicates a full charge, one lit light indicates a low charge and no lit lights indicates the battery has no charge. If the Dell vostro 1520 battery has no charge, it is dead and needs to be replaced. If the battery does indicate it is partially or fully charged, continue troubleshooting.
Recalibrate the battery. Place the battery back in the laptop. It will just pop into place. Turn the computer on and allow the computer to run on battery power until the battery dies. Once the battery dies, plug the power adapter into the computer and allow the battery to fully charge again. Remove the battery and check the battery charge. If it still has not fully charged, you need a new replacement laptop battery.
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Jelly has long been used to describe many things, including Santa’s belly around the holidays. But it has never been associated with batteries…at least until now. A new battery news posted in Physics touts findings that jelly could become a solution to make less expensive, but equally effective, batteries for small electronics.
European scientists have invented a new type of polymer gel that can be utilized to manufacture less expensive lithium batteries without compromising performance for laptops, digital cameras, phones, and more. The jelly-like polymer could potentially replace the liquid electrolytes used in rechargeable battery cells. It looks like a solid film, but is actually about 70 percent liquid, and is made using the same principles as making jelly. Essentially you add a lot of hot water to a gelatin, which in this instance is a polymer and electrolyte mix, and as it cools it sets to form a solid yet flexible shape.
Since it is flexible, it can be molded into various shapes and sizes to suit the device it is intended for, according to head researcher Professor Ian Ward.
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The battery technology has been licensed to American company Polystor Energy Corp., which is now conducting trials to determine the true potential for the future. Benefits initially cited include the new technology being safer, cheaper, and lighter. And since the jelly-cells are “sealed” through the manufacturing process, there is no excess flammable solvent or liquid electrolyte, which could eliminate any flammable concerns.
Don’t be looking for gelatin Toshiba pa3672u-1brs battery anytime soon, but the technology does seem likely for the future. In the meantime, you may not ever look at the jelly for your toast in quite the same way!
For your immediate battery needs, be sure to check out our prices and produces at laptop batteries company.
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While laptop battery life diminishes over time from excessive use, there are others factors that can expend the Acer aspire 6935g battery. Loading software, watching videos, listening to music, interacting with media-rich websites, and dealing with viruses can slow down any computer. The performance of all of these processes can lead to the shortened lifespan of a laptop regardless of its Acer as07a72 battery’s freshness. In addition to performing regular maintenance on a laptop with virus scans and removing unused programs, there is another task often overlooked by the average PC user: disk defragmentation. Degragmenting the hard disk can improve the performance of a laptop as well as a desktop PC.
With laptops, it is very important that defragmentation is done regularly to lengthen the life of the system, to make programs run at optimum speed, and to save power while on the go. Going without disk defragmentation for long periods of time can decrease the computer’s efficiency and, therefore, the battery lifetime as well.By design, disk defragmentation rearranges frequently used files. This allows the computer to find the files more easily. Many of these files are used by the system to run programs. The more programs are executed, the longer it takes for the program or file to run. People who regularly use desktop PCs may be familiar with defragmentation. Users who prefer to use a laptop for their PC needs and have not used disk defragmentation before can run the tool on a Windows-based system.
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Windows includes this tool with their operating system, but there are third-party options available as well. Disk Defragmentation in Windows 7The tool can be accessed by going to the Control Panel’s Administrative Tools menu and selecting Defragment Hard Drive. To see if a defragmentation is needed, click Analyze Disk to run a quick scan on the drive. If so, click Defragment Disk to execute. Depending on the size of the drive, the number of files, and the overall performance of the laptop, it can take from 45 minutes to 2 hours to complete.After the operation is complete, programs should load and operate significantly faster than before.
This increase in efficiency means the computer consumes less power, and, thus, spares the Acer as07a32 battery. To perform regular defragmentation on a drive, select the scheduling tool and run it at a specific time as often as needed.Defragmentation in Vista and Windows XP. In Windows Vista, the defragmenter can be located in Laptop Accessories under System Tools. In Windows XP, the tool can be found by visiting the My Computer folder and right-clicking the hard drive. The scheduling tool is only available in Vista and Windows 7, and not in Windows XP.Using the defragmenter regularly lets the user get more done and extends the life of the laptop battery. For heavy PC users that deal with a lot of files, the tool should be run once every week; casual users should run it every month, or according to their usage.
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Lithium Titanate Batteries Face Testing
A Portland-based battery developer is rolling out a new battery technology and letting power customers kick the tires. EnerSol Energy Systems Solutions’ push to find early adapters to put lithium titanate batteries to the test is part of an increased focus on grid storage and electric vehicles.
The three-man company focuses on consulting and product development in batteries and energy systems for electric vehicles, grid storage, and portable devices. It posts annual revenues of less than $500,000 and has partnerships among battery suppliers and manufacturers worldwide.
Now reaching out to energy companies, utilities, hospitals, cellular phone companies, IT server rooms and fire stations, EnerSol is looking for partners interested in developing and testing lithium titanate batteries as a back-up power supply for use in large scale energy storage applications or for use in semi trucks and other larger, commercial scale vehicles that can accommodate its size.
The company has a particular interest in testing the technology as a backup to renewable energy generators like wind and solar farms. Batteries can store excess power while generation is high and demand low. They can also help mitigate the stress of mass consumer power use during peak hours and give operators greater flexibility in power sales.
EnerSol’s product comes forward as observers predict the market for grid storage is poised to balloon. The market was pegged at $5.6 billion in 2010 in a report from GTM Research, and the company speculated the market would grow to $9.6 billion by 2015.
Positioning for market-share in grid storage is a key objective for EnerSol and other battery makers.
Batteries are just one of the technologies being eyed for large-scale grid storage, along with fly wheels, compressed air, hydrogen, pumped water, thermal and superconducting magnetic energy systems.
In a game where costs and lifespan limit solutions, the objective is on to find affordable technologies that will last. Among battery makers, there is stiff competition to prove out the best technology.
EnerSol president Doug Morris said the company’s recent demonstration project is designed to show customers what lithium titanate can do.
A modified lithium-ion laptop battery — lithium ion batteries are used in cell phones, laptops and most consumer and portable electronic products — the battery uses an electrochemical version of lithium ion, lithium titanate, instead of carbon, making for fast recharging and high currents.
The battery itself is supplied by suppliers Toshiba and PHET and developed for grid and vehicle uses by EnerSol.
Morris said the result is a battery that charges 5 to 10 times faster than lithium-ion batteries and lasts beyond 25,000 charging cycles, or about 10 to 20 times longer than lithium iron phosphate batteries (used in power tools and cars).
Though lithium ion batteries are cheapest to build, at 60 cents or less per watt-hour, their short life cycle means they would need constant replacement if assembled for grid storage. That makes lithium titanate competitive at $1.15 per watt-hour, Morris said, given its long life span.
Spying opportunity, EnerSol has developed three table-top, 20 amp-hour, 12 volt demonstration batteries valued at $30,000 to lure beta trials.
“What we’re really hoping for is to get enough interest in the demo so that people can test the technology,” said Morris. “It’s great to tell people about a new technology, but when you can actually give them one to test and try they say, ‘Oh, I get it,’ and can talk about what they want to do with it.”
The demo is a piece of where the EnerSol vision could lead. The batteries can be built small, like the tabletop unit, or assembled in packs that fill multiple trailers, storing multiple kilowatts per trailer. They are controlled by a simple, menu-driven software and control module developed by Denmark-based vehicle-battery developer Lithium Balance, for which Morris is involved in developing a U.S.-based headquarters. The package is a slimmed-down version of Lithium Balance’s robust system that’s used in its electric vehicle batteries to balance the charge and temperatures across cells in a battery pack through a system that interfaces with a PC computer.
Morris, whose career stretches 30 years in the battery world, much of it developing technology for Motorola, said battery development was previously focused elsewhere, fine-tuning different chemistries for particular functions. Lithium ion batteries, for example, were established as a best fit for portable devices like cell phones and computers for their long-lasting charge, he said. And lithium phosphate batteries were deemed most suitable for electric vehicles for their safety performance.
“Now, with storage… people are trying to figure out what the best chemistry is,” Morris said.
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What’s the best Android tablet for 2011?
If you’re looking for a tablet and don’t fancy an iPad, then Android is the way to go.
There are other options out there; Windows 7 tablets are available, the BlackBerry PlayBook is on sale now and the HP TouchPad has come and gone in a flurry of £99 panic-buying. But Android 3.0 is currently the main OS rival to the iPad, and the products are creeping onto the shelves one by one.
We’ve gone from zero Android tablets to stacks of the things in a very short space of time, and inevitably some are better than others.
Some have ten-inch screens, others seven, and there are big differences in battery life, processing power and on-board RAM. So while we wait for the likes of the Asus Eee Pad Slider, Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Amazon Kindle Fire, let’s see what the current best tablets are…
1. Asus Eee Pad Transformer
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We love the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. It’s been around for a while now, but in our opinion, it’s still the most compelling Android tablet available. Not only is it powerful and well featured, it’s designed to work with a keyboard dock which turns it into a fully-fledged Android-powered netbook. The fact is that Android as an OS is still lagging behind iOS in terms of tablet usability, so products need a USP.And on that score, this is the tablet that changed the game. Look out also for the Asus Eee Pad Slider which comes packing a slide-out keyboard – it’s coming soon and promises great things!
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Best Android tablet for: the out-and-out tablet experience
While the Transformer offers something a little different at an unbeatable price, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 offers a direct alternative to Apple‘s iPad 2. Sporting the Tegra 2 dual-core CPU, it’s both marginally thinner and lighter than the iPad 2. This is some achievement, especially when you consider the fuss Apple made about how thin and light the iPad 2 was on launch. If you want an iPad-like tablet that’s not an iPad, this is the one. The prices are the same as the iPad 2, so it’s a straight shoot-out on features…
3. Sony Tablet S
Best Android tablet for: PlayStation gaming
As a veritable mega-giant in the consumer tech universe, Sony’s landing on Planet Tablet was always going to be interesting. Blasting off alongside the fold-in-half Tablet P, the Tablet S has a unique wedge-shaped design and top-end specs. It’s a very decent and refined tablet, and has the unique feature of having access to original PlayStation games. The only issue is that it’s not as tidy as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and not as versatile as the Transformer. Apart from that, it’s one of the best Android tablets out there.
4. Motorola Xoom
Best Android tablet for: sleek good looks and solid performance
The Motorola Xoom was the first Honeycomb tablet to hit the shelves. Current prices are starting at about £330, which is great value for a 10-inch tablet of this calibre and it’s thus worthy of your attention. Solid build quality, decent HP 484170-001 laptop battery life, good performance.
5. Toshiba AT100 / Thrive
Best Android tablet for: anyone who wants a full-size HDMI port
There’s a predicament with the Toshiba AT100: it has a certain appeal for advanced users who’ll appreciate the slick performance, but the bulky size is a major problem. One brilliant move was to make the USB and HDMI ports full size. You can just unplug your Xbox and snap in the Toshiba AT100 when you want to watch on an HD TV. The tablet enables you to plug in a regular keyboard and mouse – this ease of adding peripherals is a win. Toshiba pa3399u-2bas battery life is another bonus. Yet, the hefty size and weight (plus the passable screen quality) is the main reason we prefer other recent tablets.
6. LG Optimus Pad
Best Android tablet for: Playing around with 3D
The consumer electronics giants are throwing everything at 3D, and LG has decided that its first Android tablet should play a role in its ‘3D is the best’ hearts and minds mission. The tablet has dual-5MP cameras which work together to shoot 3D images and record 3D footage. Cool, huh? The problem is that there’s no 3D screen, so if you want to watch your 3D movies you’ll need to either plug the tablet into a 3D TV or watch in anaglyph 3D on the tablet’s screen. If you’re crazy about 3D, this is your next Android tablet.
7. Acer Iconia Tab A500
Best Android tablet for: fans of brushed aluminium bodywork
Acer’s Android tablet is good looking and offers similar performance to the other Android 3.0 tablets on show here. We like it, but it’s missing a bit of sparkle and there’s not much on show here that we can cling on to. It’s not as stylish as the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and doesn’t offer anything different like the Transformer does with its keyboard.
8. Acer Iconia Tab A100
Best Android tablet for: budget 7-inch tablet performance
It’s hard to recommend the Acer Iconia Tab A100 in light of the 10-inch alternatives. Yet, for such as ebook fans and those who like smaller tabs, this is the best of the 7-inch lot. In some ways, the BlackBerry PlayBook is better in a technical sense – at least it does real multitasking – but it has too few apps. We like the A100 for an express purpose: greater mobility and book reading. For most tasks, a 10-inch tablet is a wiser bet. But for well under £300, this is not a bad product.
9. HTC Flyer
Best Android tablet for: Portability and fans of Sense UI
HTC has decided to release the tablet running on Android Gingerbread, which will upset some purists that believe these tablets should run on Honeycomb. However, the HTC Sense overlay deals with that, offering a new range of widgets and content to mask the fact it’s running older versions of the OS (although a Honeycomb update is imminent). The new tablet has a 7-inch LCD screen, and comes with an aluminium unibody shell that feels very nice in the hand. However, with a price of nearly £600, can this tablet compete?
10. Samsung Galaxy Tab
The original iPad rival – does the Galaxy Tab still have something to offer?
Samsung’s original 7-inch Galaxy Tab is looking a bit old and tired now, and we weren’t big fans of it when it was brand new anyway. However, with heavy discounts, this tablet is now available for under £300 and there are plenty of attractive 3G package deals available. There’s no Android 3.0 here though, which makes this Tab little more than a smartphone on steroids.
11. Viewsonic Viewpad 7
A decent Android 2.2 tablet but it’s already out of date
The Viewsonic Viewpad 7 is exactly the same, albeit slightly more expensive than the Linx Commtiva N700 – and confusingly, Viewsonic is marketing it as a smartphone. It’s a terrible smartphone but it’s a fairly competent 7-inch Android tablet: its 600MHz processor isn’t really fast enough for Flash though, not to mention recent Android releases. There’s no Android 3.0 on board here though, so this should only be considered if you can get it for a cut-down price.
12. Hannspree Hannspad
Another Android tablet bereft of the Android Market
This tablet has more in common with Samsung’s current tablet offering, the seven-inch Galaxy Tab, than the new boys when it comes to software. However, it’s a match for them when it comes to hardware grunt. The problem is that it’s let down by the absence of Android 3.0 and the Android Market, an unresponsive touchscreen, poor viewing angles and some shoddy optimisations.
And our pick of the hottest up-and-coming tablets is….
Amazon Kindle Fire
After months of speculation, the Amazon Kindle Fire has been officially announced at an event in New York, marking the first time the company has entered the tablet market proper. The successor to the Amazon Kindle is a 7-inch device that comes with Android, albeit a version that has been heavily altered by Amazon to make the best use of the company’s e-shopping spine. The screen is an IPS display that’s made from Gorilla Glass, it houses dual-core processor, and weighs in at 14.6 ounces. There is a tablet-optimised shopping app on board – this is said to comprise simplified and streamlined pages, so it is easier to buy stuff on than the actual Amazon website.
Come back for our full Amazon Kindle Fire review very soon!
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The very sturdy Dell Latitude XT3 is an enterprise-class laptop that comes with a twist: You can quickly fold it into a tablet PC by rotating its screen on its single central hinge. Such so-called convertible PCs often land in large organizations, including those in the health care, education, and law enforcement fields. This kind of machine needs to perform well both as a laptop and as a tablet, hold up well in hectic environments, and deliver good battery life. For the most part, Dell’s third-generation Latitude XT fits the bill nicely.
The hefty but attractive midlevel model I tested sells for an equally hefty $3003 (as of April 12, 2012). The moment I picked up the XT3, I knew that it was made to take some knocks. The case is constructed of thick, stiff plastic with magnesium-alloy reinforced corners. I found almost no flex in the PC case or the display panel. Dell claims that it made the XT3 spill-resistant; I didn’t test that, but the thin rubber gaskets that line the keyboard, the screen bezel, and the perimeter of the computer’s top panel are reassuring.
My main rap on the XT3: It weighs too much. With the internal nine-cell internal battery pack, this convertible laptop weighs 5.2 pounds–not something you’ll want to hold in the crook of your arm for long. Its accessories bump the total travel weight to 6.7 pounds, making this portable a tough sell to road warriors. On the upside, the batteries just won’t quit. The internal pack lasted for 8 hours, 23 minutes in lab tests, 3 hours longer than the average all-purpose laptop. When we popped on the optional nine-cell slice ($199), it pumped battery life up to a marathon 19 hours, 46 minutes. However, that extra pack raises the total weight to 8.1 pounds. I’d hate to have to hoist the XT3 up into overhead baggage compartments on a regular basis, but I could easily shuttle it around the office between cubicles and meeting rooms.
The XT3 is very smooth to use, with few snags. The 13.3-inch multitouch capacitive screen is a pleasure to view and tap on. Even though it’s smaller than many all-purpose laptop screens, it offers a decent 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, and I could read text on it even in bright light. The keyboard comes with the usual Chiclet-style keys, but they’re very crisp and comfortable to type on. As for pointing devices, you get both an eraserhead pointer nested in the middle of the keyboard and a touchpad. I have two nitpicks: It’s too easy to hit the Page Up and Page Down keys accidentally, and the hypersensitive eraserhead pointer sends the cursor dashing off in all directions. I stick with the touchpad, which works fine.
In tablet mode, the screen responds nimbly to finger touches. Brushing to scroll documents, pinching and unpinching documents to shrink and expand them…it all works quickly and effortlessly. The stylus works very well, but not perfectly. I had no trouble tapping menu items with it, but I started wishing for a little more screen stickiness during my inking test – the stylus glides a tad too easily. If you need to navigate the screen while wearing gloves, Dell offers a resistive touchscreen option.
One notable issue: When I rotate and lay the screen down on the keyboard, whether I’m closing the laptop or folding it into a tablet, the panel doesn’t easily lock into place. I often have to fiddle with the panel to get it to latch, and I don’t hear that reassuring click.
You pay a big premium for the XT3’s toughness and its dual laptop-tablet nature. On our WorldBench 7 test suite, this PC posted a score of 108, in line with its mostly midrange silicon (an Intel Core i5-2520M dual-core processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory, and a 128GB solid-state drive). You can buy as much oomph on some ultraportables costing under $1000. Our test results confirm that the XT3 is geared more for work than play: Although the XT3 cranked through image editing and video and audio encoding, gamers need not apply. This PC uses Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 chipset, handling games well only at low detail and resolutions. You can upgrade to a Core i7 dual-core processor and 8GB of memory for another $295.
The audio from the internal stereo speakers sounds exceptionally clean and vibrant. Bass is weak – typical for small speakers – but they don’t sound tinny. The webcam, embedded in the screen’s top panel between the array microphones, records remarkably sharp video at its maximum 1280-by-720-pixel resolution, and you get lots of controls to adjust the recording levels, including gamma. The array mics clearly recorded my voice even when I stood 6 feet away. The XT3 makes an excellent station for conducting VoIP calls, such as over Skype.
Typical of enterprise PCs, the XT3 comes loaded with slots and ports, offering extra security options (such as SmartCard access and an optional fingerprint reader) and ensuring broad compatibility with different site installations. The XT3 comes with three dedicated USB ports plus a combo USB/eSATA port. My main beef: The USB ports max out at 2.0. For video, you get VGA and HDMI ports, but no DisplayPort. Other slots and ports include those for a 34mm ExpressCard, SD Card or MultiMediaCard, FireWire, and a headset.
Now that the new iPad has been revealed, everyone’s chiming in on whether it’s a disappointing incremental upgrade or a fantastic breakthrough. None of that matters to its success, of course. If every single previous iPhone and iPad product launch is any indication, Apple is going to sell truckloads of these things no matter what any expert, hater or fanboy says.
However, there’s one thing that makes this iPad release different from ealier ones: The new iPad will be the Apple device that goes head-to-head with Windows 8 tablets when they arrive later this year. Microsoft‘s new OS will spawn an entirely different species of tablet than the Android devices that have so far been Apple’s main competition. And if Microsoft plays its cards right, it could be the one that finally gives the iPad a serious challenge in the market.
So far, no product has been able to do that. The first “real” Android tablets, like the Motorola Xoom, were largely ignored by consumers. The newer tablets and latest Android upgrades are certainly better, but they’re still hampered by an amorphous ecosystem. Those examples of up-scaled phone apps on Android that Tim Cook cued up in his keynote were pretty damning, and he also said there were 200,000 iPad apps in the App Store. Google doesn’t give an official count of tablet-specific Android apps in Google Play, but estimates are in the thousands.
Non-Android tablets look even worse. RIM fumbled the launch of the BlackBerry PlayBook so badly that the tablet — and possibly RIM’s whole credibility in the space — will never recover. HP killed its consumer tablet offering, the TouchPad, mere weeks after launch upon realizing the iPad was an opponent it couldn’t hope to defeat.
Certainly, the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook are success stories, but they kind of cheated. Both have only managed to carve out a niche market among tablets by selling their devices at a rock-bottom prices (the Kindle Fire’s is so low that Amazon may be selling it at a loss). They can only do this by using the device itself as an outlet to sell specialized content. These products aren’t going toe-to-toe with the iPad — they’re fighting over the scraps of the market it’s left behind.
So far no device has been able to seriously challenge the iPad experience in its entirety. Basically, the tablet market has yet to see its Motorola Droid, the phone that finally showed, along with Android 2.0 software, that the iPhone wasn’t the end-all-be-all of smartphones. Android’s success skyrocketed after its release.
Windows 8 to the Rescue?
Could the tablet market’s dark horse be a Windows 8 device? It’s possible, but it hinges entirely on how consumers respond to the new user interface, Metro.
The thrust of Windows 8 — and why it’s such a big gamble my Microsoft — is that it brings the same UI to tablets and traditional PCs (desktops and laptops). Metro is ideally suited for touchscreens, but it works with a mouse and keyboard, too.
There’s a reason Microsoft has done this, and it’s not really the spirit of bringing tablet features to your laptop. Quite the opposite, in fact. In order to have any hope of succeeding in tablets, Microsoft has to convince its army of Windows developers to make software for those tablets. But no one’s going to develop software for an unproven OS where the company has seen little commercial success (no current Windows tablet has significant market share).
However, if your entire OS, including traditional PCs, is running the same software, then developers almost have no choice but to design apps for tablets. Windows 8 essentially turns all Windows developers into tablet developers, potentially giving the Windows 8 tablet platform the fuel it needs to expand rapidly and finally give the iPad a real opponent.
The Catch: Metro
Again, almost. There’s one thing that could hold it back: consumers rejecting Metro. You see, Windows 8 lets any user turn off Metro and just use the traditional desktop. If enough of them do, many developers may simply choose not to create Metro apps. After all, if most of your customers are just switching to the old Windows environment anyway, why bother?
That would let the air out of the expanding Windows 8 tablet balloon pretty quickly, and that’s even before we consider the wild cards of potential device fragmentation, how Windows will work on ARM devices and whether or not consumers will even accept a tablet as their main computing device.
Microsoft needs to get Metro 100% right if Windows 8 tablets are going to have any hope. If users like Metro, then the developers will follow, and a real ecosystem will emerge. If not, the iPad will probably be the only tablet worth talking about for a long, long time.
BONUS: A Tour of Windows 8 and Metro
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Here’s what greets you every time you log into your Windows 8 machine. Yes, the tiles are customizable, though it’s a little unwieldy in practice.
Sharing in Metro
Sharing is arguably Metro’s most powerful feature. Although the sharing option is only populated with Mail right now, once Windows 8 apps get going, you’ll see options here like Facebook, Twitter and all the rest — in every app.
Finance Metro App
Many apps, like the native Finance app, look beautiful in Metro.
You can still get back to the familiar desktop anytime you want in Windows 8. Note the absence of a Start button, which you get to by mousing into the lower-left corner.
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Bing Maps, like all Metro apps, makes use of the entire screen. Right-clicking brings up options.
You can see which apps are running by pointing your mouse to one of the left corners and then moving it alongside. Right-clicking an app lets you stop it.
The side action menu slides out via the side and is the same no matter what app you’re in.
The consumer preview of Windows 8 still has lots of bugs in it, as evidenced by this screen shot of the email app.
Internet Explorer Tabs
Since the entire screen in Internet Explorer is dedicated to showing you the web page, right-clicking twice shows you the tabs that are open.
Messaging ties with your People app, bringing in contacts on Windows Messenger or Facebook.
The Windows 8 Photo app has built-in integration with Flickr, but it wasn’t working on our device.
Your 25GB of free SkyDrive space is easily accessible via a live tile, and it integrates with the Photos app, letting you avoid sending large email attachments by uploading pics to SkyDrive.
The Weather app also looks beautiful in Metro.
Through settings, you can make changes to your Windows profile, which will show up — apps and all — on any Windows 8 machine you log into.
Flash Player Download
Yep, you still need to download Flash to get your browsers to play many videos, like those on YouTube.
to Start Menu
You can customize your Start menu with specific apps, even if they’re desktop-only apps like the browsers seen here.
The video hub doesn’t just show video files — it also promotes content as well. Whether that’s a plus or a minus is up to you.
Solitaire was available on our Consumer Preview device via Xbox Live, though Microsoft said it couldn’t guarantee it would be in the general release.
Windows 8 With a Mouse and Keyboard