Dell showcases a new 10-inch Windows 7 tablet

Just showcased today from Dell, their new prototype of a 10-inch Windows 7-based tablet, due out later this year. 

This from engadget today .

On a side note, there’s also this on Dell’s new Streak 7. Nice form factor.


Windows 7 Tablet PC, Kindle or iPad? The “why” behind the “buy”

The other day arrows,businessmen,choices,crossroads,decisions,directions,intersections,men,metaphors,Photographs,signs,silhouettesI mused about What to buy: an iPad or a Windows 7 Tablet PC? I offered a few suggestions, but wanted to provide more on the “why” behind the decisions.

I think that the challenge comes to whether or not you plan to just consume information and entertainment on a device and then those composing those ppt’s and documents for pdf’s – that’s where having a traditional keyboard whilst still having the access to the touch screen makes sense.

Lots of space has been dedicated to the debate, including this article over at PCWorld, Kindle vs. iPad, by Jon Brodkin of NetworkWorld.

Having used all three of these gadgets, I’ve come to the realization that, for me, two or three devices — not one — make sense when it comes to rich media. (Sad for my bank account, good for the device makers.) Increasingly the device I take everywhere is the phone. But this is about doing more than I do on my phone, and with enough screen real estate in front of me to make it more enjoyable and productive. (I hate doing mail for extended periods on the phone.) if I had to settle on one device, the choices isn’t obvious: it depends on what you intend to do with the device.

Here’s why:

For reading, the Kindle wins hands down. Use it and you’ll see after reading a few chapters that the Kindle’s electronic ink display is easy to read despite not having back lighting. Rarely to I read where light is a problem, and when I do, I have a book light or lamp in the area installed in the pre-Kindle days when I only read paper books. And my travel reading lights that I have from my airplane hopping days have come into their own once again. I like that the Kindle is easily configurable, has simple controls and accesses the Amazon Kindle store with ease: virtual airplane hanger of titles anywhere on the planet, wirelessly for free. Let me repeat that: Anywhere. For Free. No wireless fees for 3G, but free basic Internet access.

I don’t use the notes and mark up capabilities on the Kindle as much as I thought I would, but that may change as I have started reading more business documents and technical works that benefit from the virtual notes in the margin. I do wish that more of my trade and hobby magazines and local newspapers were available, but I think that will sort itself out. In those times when I want to ready the Times (Seattle, that is) I use the “experimental” web browser which works in a pinch.  

For portable work and play computing and browsing, my notebooks and Tablet PCs are the premiere choices. I like having access to my library of audio and video media that lives on my Windows 7 Media Center computers. I also like that I can access my all-you-can-eat buffet of music via my Zune Pass (and listen to a live stream, too), and video content via my Netflix subscription, YouTube and Hulu. With Windows 7 I can stream my media over the Internet to just about any another computer connected to the Internet. I get free Internet access at local hotspots via my wireless and broadband providers, and I find that I don’t miss not having always accessible Internet via 3G. (I admit that even purchased a 3G card for one of my notebooks when I absolutely have to have access via my mobile phone account.) I also have access to my Amazon Kindle books via the Windows reader from Amazon.

When I feel the need to email (often), blog (sometimes) or participate in some form of social media (more often than I should), the access to a keyboard on my Tablet PC is a welcome interface over a virtual on-screen keyboard. I also like that I can use all of the software that I use every day from productivity software like Microsoft Office to suites from Windows Live and other commercial software. I live in Outlook and OneNote, so having a touch interface combined with the efficiency of a keyboard is really powerful. So for me, this is the overall, versatile choice.

The interesting next step is the Apple iPad. I admit it: I have an iPhone, as well as several Windows Phones (lately using the HTC Fuze for productivity and the HTC Pure for day to day) and I use it. A lot. I used to get lots of grief at work for having all my Windows apps available via shortcut icons right on my desktop (which is usually a dark blue or black background). That approach doesn’t seem so silly now when you look at the UI found on today’s smartphones like the iPhone and Windows Phone, as well as the simple interface of Windows 7 Media Center PCs. If you’re just browsing the Web, playing games, reading mail and consuming the content in your iTunes library (I don’t use iTunes for media), then an iPad form factor is a good choice.

Then there’s Windows. I can’t wait for the crop of new slates that will run Windows 7 and the new crop of Windows Embeded consumer devices. As Paul Thurrott covered in his blog post about Microsoft-powered tablets and slates “Microsoft will focus on Windows Embedded 7for mainstream tablets (which I take to mean “iPad-like” tablets) and Windows 7 for premium tablets (i.e. actual Tablet PCs).” Engadget covered the round of Windows Embedded Compact 7 (that’s a mouthfu) devices at Computex and wrote about Microsoft’s plans for Windows Embedded Compact 7at Computex. Devices like the ExoPC Slate featured here on shows the ExoPC Slate with Windows 7 with an 11.6-inch, high definition touch screen, 2GB of memory and a good sized slid state drive (SSD). Very nice. 

So, if you want the best digital reading experience, the Kindle is probably your best bet. But if you want only one device and enjoy multiple diversions – reading, Web browsing, movies and games – the iPad is the better fit.

  • Composition and main utility, productivity device: Tablet PC
  • Reading main device: Kindle.
  • Hanging around, consumer of media: still Tablet PC (given my library of media on my Windows 7 Media Centre PC and ZunePass content). If you can’t wait for a Windows slate and have a disc full of Apple iTunes content, then the iPad is a current choice. 


Tags: shopping, RSS, Microsoft, New PC, articles, blogs, Microsoft, Windows 7, Tablet PC, iPad.

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What to buy: an iPad or a Windows 7 Tablet PC? Here are a few suggestions

I saw this evening that my friend Beth (aka techmama) is considering a new tablet for general computing, like surfing the web, editing her blogs and (no doubt) tweeting.

I mentioned that she should consider getting an inexpensive Windows 7 convertible tablet PC vs. an iPad. There are lots of nice choices these days from many OEMs, including Asus, HP and Lenovo.

Given my recent post with updated tips on buying a new PC, I thought, why not provide some examples of the current crop of Tablet PCs on the market? I won’t spur on the debate around the slate (sans keyboard) vs. convertable Tablet PC (often a convertable these days that can be used as a traditional laptop or folded back akin to a slate).

Both designs are attractive and best suited for different applications. Of course, I’m biased: I use both form factors, and in my daily work the Tablet PC is the most versitile for me as I still type far faster on a real keyboard and find myself needing the connectivity and ports more often than not. Tablet PCs provide good portability, the latest with improved touch interfaces and the benefit of a keyboard when you need it (like now as I type away on my blog). The latest crop of these PCs have good battery life, many connectivity options and great specs in terms of peed, storage and expandability (with lots of USB ports, SD card slots, external monitor options and more). I’ve been a user of Tablet PCs since I first started with the Toshiba M200 that I ultimately (and successfully!) updated to Windows 7 and love the benefit of the new screens with integrated touch, and even more flexible when you can also use a stylus for more detailed applications. 

When looking at Windows 7 Tablet PCs in the same price range as the WiFi enabled iPad ($499 to $699), here are a few suggestions:

Be sure to research via your favourite sources (including the venerable PC Magazine and PC World) and via the Bing links above. And check out your favourite coupon and tech deal sites for more discounts and savings.


Tags: shopping, RSS, Microsoft, New PC, articles, blogs, Microsoft, Windows 7, Tablet PC, iPad.

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Updated tips on buying a new PC

IMGP1554-smWith a nod to my previous post with tips on buying a new PC, I thought that it’s time to update the advice (just in time for “grads & dads”).

As I posted on Twitter today, PC Magazine provides an update to their regular feature on How to buy a laptop by Cisco Cheng. This follows the helpful hints that Joel Santo Domingo over at PC Magazine published in his article last fall, How to Buy a Back-to-School PC, covering what you should consider when shopping for a new PC for back to school or for you home.

Back in April, Walt Mossberg offered his own take on the spring PC buyer’s guide, “a quick cheat sheet that tries to clarify some of the issues to make shopping easier.” (A little one-sided in favour of Apple machines, and not as comprehensive a guide as some people may want. So I thought that I should update a prior post, “What kind of a computer should I buy?”, which included suggestions from Tony Hoffman of PC Magazine:

“As per my previous Tweet, I recently updated my answer to a popular question around this time of year: “What kind of a computer should I buy?”  I noted that there is something for everyone, at all price points.  It seems that new PCs are high on many people’s holiday shopping lists, and the price:performance is better than ever before.

“This week, Tony Hoffman from PC Magazine has posted a timely article on How to Buy a Bargain Laptop.

“Everyone likes a good bargain—the trick is distinguishing what’s truly a worthwhile deal from something you may regret after you’ve used it a while. We define bargain laptops as ones costing $1,000 or less, though you can find great deals at any price. These days, with retailers going the extra mile in an attempt to boost flagging sales, laptops that might otherwise be out of reach for the frugal shopper have been descending into the affordable zone. Here we’ll look at what you should be able to get for $1,000 or less.”

Notebook PCs under $1,000

For under $1,000, you can get a very nice 15″ laptop with Core 2 Duo, 4GB, 320GB & DVD Burner (after current discounts).  Or even better if you’re looking for a desktop replacement with a bigger screen, I found a 17″ (1440 x 900 resolution) notebook with an Intel Core 2 Duo T5800, 3GB memory, 320GB SATA Hard Drive, Intel 4500MHD Graphics, 802.11g wireless, 8X Slot Load CD / Dual Layer DVD+/-R Drive, 2.0M webcam, 9 cell battery, all running on Windows Vista Home Premium Edition SP1.  (Dec 17, 2008)

“Very nice when you consider a year ago the same amount got you a 17″ widescreen with a Core Duo Processor (T2350), 2 GB of memory, 120GB hard drive and DVD SuperMulti drive. Ouch.”

Double ouch: today that same $1K (actually, under $700) will get you a slim notebook like the HP Pavilion dv6t with an Intel Core i3-350M Dual Core (2.26GHz, 3MB L2 Cache) or AMD Turion II Dual-Core Mobile P520 (2.3GHz, 2MB L2 Cache), 4GB SDRAM, a wide screen 15.6″ WLED LCD, 500GB Hard Drive, DVD+/-RW optical drive, Wireless-N, Bluetooth Module and an on-board camera. Again, nearly twice the notebook PC from last fall, and I didn’t look very hard for any big discounts, but I’m sure that you’ll see plenty as people look for graduation gifts and PCs to take on vacation.

For just a little more (under $1,500 SRP before discounts), consider the HP Envy, complete with a new processor, 4GB of memory and even solid state drives in a very sleek package, or the slim beauties from Dell, the Adamo XPS, and Sony’s VAIO Z.

Below are a few of the choices from PC Magazine’s recent How to buy a laptop article…

  • Asus UL50VF-A1: a nice 15″ laptop with two Nvidia GPUs, great battery life in a sleek and light package.
  • Lenovo IdeaPad Y460: a nice 14″ all around multimedia laptop with nice design and hardware specs to match
  • Also consider models from Dell, including the value priced Dell Inspiron 14 and the Dell Studio 15.
  • Sony VAIO VPC-Z116GXS: this slick machine comes complete with the latest Intel Core i5 processor, and solid state drives that make it one of the most powerful ultraportables you can find today.

Notebook and Netbook PCs under $500

As I noted, you can get a great computer these days for far less than $1,000 depending upon your use.  As I said in my previous post…

“For under $500 at one of the big box office stores (on sale or after rebates), you can find a name-brand notebook with a 15.4-inch screen with (as I concur with many of my associates) a decent 1280×800 resolution, Intel Pentium Dual Core T3200, 120GB HDD, 2GB of memory, six cell battery, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100, 802.11b/g wireless and a CD/DVD Burner running Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic (splurge and get Windows Vista Home Premium for a few dollars). 

“For many general computer applications (surfing the ‘net, writing term papers, listening to music and watching DVDs, streaming video from Netflix) this would fit the bill. And more.

“This tops the 1.73GHz Dual-Core processor (T2080), half GB of memory, an 80GB drive and a double layer DVD Burner with Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic I noted last year for the same amount.”  (Dec 17, 2008)

$500? I’m dating myself.

Today you can get a very good computer under $500 – sometimes under $400 – that includes just about twice as much computer as you  were able to get less than a year ago. I found one name brand OEM model with Windows 7 Home Premium, an Intel dual core T4400 (2.2 GHz, 800MHz FSB), 4GB of Memory, 320GB  SATA Hard Drive, 15.6″ WLED screen, 8X DVD+/-RW optical drive, Wireless-G Networking, on-board camera and more…  That’s twice the RAM, twice the hard drive, and a more powerful processor than the computer I saw similarly priced late last fall.  And if you shop around using one of the price comparison, daily deal or coupon sites, you can find PCs with similar specs for even less.

Even consider the current crop of excellent mini laptops, like the HP Mini 311 or crop of new mini notebooks that arrived with Windows 7. That’s what we did: we found a great deal on netbooks from HP and Toshiba, and the mid-range and very light HP DM3 notebook PC (with incredible battery life). There are great netbook choices from almost every manufacturer, including ASUS, Acer, Dell, Lenovo, MSI, HP, Samsung, Toshiba and Sony to name a few. Check out the netbook reviews on sites such as PC Magazine and PC World.

Home Desktop PCs

When you have a home office or homework area dedicated to a computer, LCD screen and a printer, I prefer a dedicated machine. For the most part, given our more mobile lifestyles (even just moving from room to room in your home), you may consider a notebook form factor for your next home PC purchase. But incredible deals can be found on home desktop PCs: last year we added a new desktop PC at home with amazing specs for just about $600 that a year ago cost more than $1,200. 

Today a PC with similar (if not better!) features and functionality can be found for under $400. You can also find great deals on mainstream desktop PCs for the home for under $300, especially inexpensive if you have an existing monitor.I also like the small, compact form factor desktop PCs from Dell (like the very sleek Dell Zinio HD – great for a home media center with Windows 7), HP, Lenovo, Acer and ASUS. For media playback in the family room, I like the new ASUS Eee Box PCs which has on-board HDMI and a small form factor that attaches to the back of your HDTV VESA mount. 

Personally, I prefer all-in-one designs like HP’s Touchsmart (on my desk at home), Lenovo IdeaCenters, MSI and others. If you’re kids use Macs at school, consider an Apple iMac. With so many models to choose from, you’ll likely find a great PC that meets your needs and price point.

And through July 30, be sure to use Bing Cashback to save even more money.

Additional articles:

A note on extended warranties and insurance: As you’ll find, many new computers come with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty; some models from Asus come with standard two-year warranties, also found on purchases at big-box retailers like Costco (which offers the Costco Concierge Warranty on many home electronics). As I noted on Twitter, thanks to American Express’ Extended Warranty (which they call “buyer’s assurance”) one of our notebook PCs was completely covered long after the initial one year warranty expired.

And accidents do happen: in order to ensure that your new toy is fully covered, also consider comprehensive insurance from a provider like Safeware Insurance: they’ve been around for a long time and offer affordable, comprehensive insurance covering your device from theft, and accidental damage.

More info: Upgrade or buy a new one? Suggestions from the Seattle Times

Tags: shopping, RSS, Microsoft, New PC, articles, blogs, Microsoft, Windows 7.

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Heading down to SXSW this year? Consider taking a travel power pack

Heading down to SXSW this year? Long flights? Worried about not finding a power outlet when your devices are running on low?

imageI have to recommend the Energizer XP8000 Rechargeable Power Pack. (And no, I’m just an energizer customer, not shilling for Energizer. But in the interest of full disclosure, Microsoft and Energizer have been close, as with Microsoft managing some of the company’s IT operations as noted here.)

On a recent trip, the compact unit – about the size of a deck of cards provided many extra hours of use of our phones, PDAs and small electronics as well as one netbooks. It has several power outputs and comes with a bundle of extra connector tips for popular mobile phones and mini netbook PCs.

I was able to lave several power bricks behind at home on our last trip and travel much lighter (important when you’re also arranging a vacation’s worth of family electronics). I used the USB charger/sync cables for our mobile phones and game units in place of the wall warts that we have for them, and left the power supply for our HP netbook. image

I found the Energizer XP8000 available at Amazon if you can’t find it locally: on sale, you can find this available for in the $70 range.

For smaller uses, there’s also a mini Energizer XP4001 that runs about half as much on sale (many if the office supply stores carry it – I found it locally on sale for under $40). 


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