Wednesday
Feb192014

Quick Review of the Asus VivoTab Note 8

I purchased this on Saturday Feb. 15, on making a visit to the Microsoft Store at the Mall of America in Bloomington. Almost a week earlier I learned that Microsoft had put this Windows 8.1 tablet on sale online, and I soon watched it become sold out, at $329.99; I however purchased this guy for $299 in the store.

After 5 days with the device I have to say I really like it. It’s great to use both as a note taking device with the bundled Microsoft Office Home suite included (Microsoft bundles Office Home with all 8 inch Windows 8.1 Tablets) , or as a media player device watching streaming videos on YouTube or Blip. Because it’s a full x86 Processor I also don’t have a problem with non-native video codecs. I can run VLC on it, or even ITunes.

Battery life is hard to test in 5 days, but I am able to go a day or two on casual use. Asus claims 8 hours, which is on par with other Bay Trail Atom Tablets.  One of the huge benefits of the Bay Trail Atom tablet is that they can recharge off just about any Micro USB charger; chances are you have a few of those lying around. Unlike the Surface Pro, who’s charger is around $60 to $80.  

I’ll admit I was stunned by the overall performance of this tablet, while it wasn’t screaming like the Surface Pro; it wasn’t a slouch either. This is not the Atom of the Netbook generation or even the Atom in the early Windows 8 tablets that came out last year like the Samsung ATIV 500 or Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2.

I mentioned the ATIV and Tablet 2 for a specific reason. Those devices and the VivoTab Note 8 share a feature that was my main attraction to this device, The Wacom digitizer! I have been a fan of Wacom digitizer pens since I was first introduced to them on my old ThinkPad X41 Tablet, whose pen works on Asus VivoTab note 8!

Now why would I do such a thing you ask? What could be the benefit?  Well Asus did disappoint in their included pen digitizer by not giving it an eraser head, like that on ThinkPad Tablets of yester year, or even the Surface Pro (whose digitizer also works on the Asus Vivotab Note 8).  The included pen can be stored in a silo at the bottom of the tablet, something it does have over the surface pro, who’s magnetically attached pen falls off more often in my bag than I care for.

Honestly, that lack of an eraser head is my only complaint for the Vivotab Note 8 though. It’s priced well at $299 for the 32GB model. It’s a little pricier than the competition of the 32GB Dell Venue 8 Pro, which does have an optional Synaptics digitizer (though I hear the driver/firmware is still a little buggy), which is available at Microcenter for $199 on sale, or the 64GB ThinkPad Tablet 8 at $399 which does feature a 1920x1200 display but lacks a digitizer option (Damn you Lenovo! Damn you). This is a device I’m carrying back and forth to work and I am recommending to anyone.

 

SPECS: (Taken from Asus Site)

  • Windows 8.1
  • 8-inch HD (1280 x 800) IPS display
  • Intel Atom Z3740 processor
  • Integrated Professional Wacom Digitizer Stylus with EMR Technology
  • 2GB LPDDR3 memory
  • 5MP rear camera and HD front-facing camera
  • 802.11 ABGN, Bluetooth 4.0+HS, Miracast
  • Up to 64GB internal storage, up to 64GB microSD card slot and bundled unlimited ASUS WebStorage (1 year)
  • Micro USB
  • 15.5Whr battery
  • 220.9 x 133.8 x 10.95mm
  • 380g

 

Pros:

Wacom Digitizer

Priced Right.

Bundled Office Suite

Light weight

Mirco USB Charging.

 

Cons:

Included Pen/Digitizer doesn’t have eraser (though the device does recognize pens that do)

Bit of a stretch but the Vivotab Note 8 didn’t include a Micro USB to full USB adapter (other tablets do)

 

Buy, Try, Don’t Buy:

BUY!

 

Video Review

 


Saturday
Sep212013

Really Good Deal on a DSLR, that makes a great HD Camcorder.

 

 BestBuy is offering a really good deal on the Nikon D5100. Just $489.99, that's about $210 off. I have seen this camera occasionally go for $600, but never sub $500. I talked my brother, Linkara into picking one up as an HD Camcorder.  Why? Well I first got turned on to this camera when Nash bought one and posted this video.

 

I bought one for my employer at the time and did the mentioned firmware hack to remove the video capture limitation.

 And wow. It's a pretty cool camera. I really like that it has a Microphone in. And the included lense isn't that bad either. Linkara will be pairing the camera with the RODE VideoMic shotgun Microphone I recommened to him after reading/watching this review at PCper.com

Tuesday
Sep102013

Dear Microsoft… Here’s 5 things you need to do with Surface 2 (RT)

1) Keep the $350 Price Point.

Want to keep smacking the iPad in your ads? Then keep the price down. Going head to head with the ipad at $500, was what killed the original Surface on arrival. Windows RT is still new, and very untested, and you don’t have the apps to compete with Android and iOS yet. So if you can’t compete in apps, compete with price.

2) Speaking of Apps. Office is a must.

I love the addition of Outlook in Windows RT 8.1. Keep up adding office in Windows RT this is a great feature of Windows RT,  Add even more features to make is really feel like true Office (Voice recording in OneNote RT for example).

3) Offer something for Free!

Sure Tablets are a great gateway into spending on apps and content, but get in the door with something for free. My Best recommendation on this would be partner with Netflix to offer 3 months free, like the Google chrome cast did.  Or include a Store credit, or some free games like Halo.

4) Speed!

My biggest complaint of Suface RT is how sluggish it can be, get a Tegra 4 in there, and add some RAM.

5) Capacity!

A big embarrassment of the Original Surface was the comparisons made about what “32GB” Surface vs. “32 GB” Ipad had in free space. I love that the Surface has MicroSD slot, but more free space for media/apps would be great. Either shrink the OS, or just put a bigger drive in there.

Saturday
Jun012013

Inside My X1 Carbon

Had kind of a bummer week that followed my Exchange Server blow up last week.

 

On Wednesday, I turned on my X1 Carbon to discover the screen backlight had gone out. And as much fun as it is to use a flash light (an external illumination device as my friend Bob put it) or an external monitor, I called Lenovo and voiced my upset. I do have a 3 year, accidental damage warranty, so not a problem to get a screen swapped out. So I created a trouble ticket over the phone and was told I would see a Technician the next day (Thursday) Well, it gets be early afternoon and I hadn’t heard from a Tech, so I called their dispatch… Turns out they took down my phone number incorrectly, so the Tech closed the trouble ticket when he couldn’t reach me. Ugh. So I had to create another ticket, and wouldn’t see a tech till Friday.

So Friday morning rolls around, the Tech calls, and tells me he’s pretty busy, and asks if I can wait till Monday…. I of course, said  “No, and I’ve already waited two days…” So he showed up and was very friendly, turns out Lenovo contracts out to IBM Technicians to do ThinkPad repairs.. We joked how most customers really wish IBM would buy back the ThinkPad brand from Lenovo. He replaced my screen and went on his mary way to next calls.

I did snap a couple of pictures of the inside of the X1 Carbon since he had it open.

 

X1 Carbon with it's keyboard+Bezel removed to get access to the main board. Love how half the bottom section is the battery... If think about it... 25% of the total Laptop is Battery, 25% Motherboard and chasis, and 50% Screen. 

 

 

Closer Look at the component cards on the Mainboard. I had completly forgotten I had the Sierra 3G Data Card in there... One of these day I'll have to get a SIM card to try it out. Also Discovered the 256GB SSD is a Sandisk SSD.

 

And now for a shameless plug, check out of my video review of the X1 Carbon here:

 

Thursday
May232013

2 Really Stupid things to come out of Microsoft this week.

First This AD for "Windows 8" Tablets...

 

 

1) It's advertising a Windows RT Tablet , Not Windows 8... Oops...

2) iOS will smoke Windows RT when it comes to apps, games, and content.

3) Comparing 64GBs? Really? How much free space is available to the user on both of these?

 

Don't get me wrong, you could talk about the MicroSD slot as an advantage. But Dissing Siri? Really? Siri offers voice Control, where is voice control/dictation in Windows RT?

This is probably the balliest AD ever done my MS, and kudos. It's gotten a lot of free replays in the News Media.  Worst thing Apple could do is respond... While funny, acknowleging MS, makes it seem like their argument is valid...

 

Now for the really stupid....

Taken from here: http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft-adds-a-windows-key-to-its-newest-mice-7000015825/

A Mouse with a Windows Key....  WTF!?!?!? No Microsoft, we don't want a Windows Key in the Mouse... We want it in Windows 8 on the taskbar. Get over it. I'll be curious to see how the driver works with this thing.