Thursday, 12 April 2012

Lucy takes the tablet

This post will explain my three-day silence (something unheard-of nowadays!). I've updated my mobile computing kit. Yesterday, after much deliberation and resarch, and some demos from a friend, I bought these items:

As you can see (if you click on the shots to enlarge them) I bought a Sony Tablet S - the 32GB version - with a matching bluetooth keyboard. Plus a micro USB cable and a high-speed SD card. I have a cradle and a leather case on order. The keyboard is for writing lengthy pieces - such as a blog post, or a long email - with ease. If I decide to switch my documents and spreadsheets to the tablet, then it will make text and data entry very fast. The SD card is for mass transfer or mass backup.

Now, why?

Well, all my computer equipment was ageing, or had a mobility issue.

My widescreen laptop dated from 2006, and ran on Windows XP (a nice OS, I thought), and was presently working hard at just one task and nothing else: photo processing and backup. I'd relieved it of all other duties, but it was hardly winding-down to a well-earned retirement. I'd been thinking for some time about getting some kind of replacement, because after six years of heavy use - and some 75,000 photographs processed in that time - it was not surprisingly getting a little fatigued. I thought it would soldier on for some while to come, but it needed an apprentice or understudy who could step in if hard drive failure occurred, or the keyboard or touchpad suddenly gave up. It was by no means a heavy device, but I wouldn't like to carry it about all day, as I had to during my two-month trip to New Zealand in 2007. It wasn't really an ideal travelling companion.

The PC dated from 2007, and ran on Windows Vista (always irritatingly slow at start-up), but it did have impressive storage - 640GB, with plenty of space still left - and the main peripherals (the printer and scanner) were superior beasts. It was widescreen too, and great for viewing photos and web pages, and for handling my many spreadsheets. It got heavy use for many things. But I wanted to take some of the burden off, to extend its life. It was a good machine, but of course fixed in my study at home. I couldn't take it caravanning, or bring it into the lounge and watch TV at the same time.

The PDA (they were all called 'organisers' around the year 2000) - my iPAQ - dated from 2008 and was still going strong. It was intensively used most hours of my waking day, and for bedtime gaming (well, solitaire!). It was clearly very robust. It had some marvellously effective software on it, and carried synchronised copies of all the currently-used documents and notes on the PC, some of them encrypted of course. It was my calendar, my list of tasks to get through, my record of money transactions, my diary, my notepad. It was comprehensively backed up. It was light enough to carry it around all the time. It was indispensible. But it wouldn't last forever, and like the PC it needed its load lightened to keep it going for longer. I also felt that things like games, and map viewing, could be better handled on a larger-screened device.

The mobile phone - my Nokia E71 smartphone - dated from 2009, and was in its prime, although superficially outmoded by the iPhone and its Android imitators. It remained a very attractive possession, though: small, slim, in polished stainless steel and high-grade white plastic, with every feature a top-end device could have had in 2008, when it was launched. It was brilliant for voice calls, texting and emailing, which were the main uses it was designed for. It also had a very good music player. That said, the Nokia was a small-screen device. Half its length was taken up by a physical QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard was good (if you had, like me, small fingers), but the small screen made viewing the internet, and writing blog posts when away, hard on the eyes. I felt I could justify having a much bigger screen for such things. And PC-like access to the internet, with a proper browser, not a cut-down version. Otherwise, such things as online banking were difficult when out and about.

So you can see that I had a latent wish for something mobile, smaller and lighter than a laptop, but with a screen larger than I had on my PDA and phone. Over last weekend the wish jelled into an identified need that could be researched on the internet and investigated on friends' tablets. I spent hours on this - hence no blogging time!

Why not the obvious, an iPad 3? Apart from the facts that (a) I owned nothing Apple, so it would have compatabiity problems, and (b) I didn't want to get sucked into the Apple club, never to return, the iPad did not have an SD card slot. So I couldn't transfer anything into it, or take anything out, except through iTunes or whatever. This was a bad defect. The Sony did have this additional way of connecting to outside devices and storage. It was a clincher.

I think that's quite enough on what I've bought and why! I am pleased with what I've got. Sony make nice gear. And the need to abandon the old modem and cables, and acquire a wireless router for home, means that I have also changed my internet service provider and will save money on the new deal. Can't be bad. And it offsets the cost of this new stuff somewhat.


  1. Mmmm...I can see a lot of self-justification going on here Lucy. I suppose you need to justify spending the cash on new hardware? Absolutely not! Hey, it's your life so enjoy it in the way you want. I have to say though I am glad I'm not interested in having too much gadgetry else I'd be out shopping too! From what you are saying about the things you've bought they should suit your needs perfectly. I hope they give you hours of pleasure using them.

    Shirley Anne xxx

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