I bought an Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8″ HD Display, 16 GB, Black – with Special Offers(that’s the full name!) on Prime Day for $50. I was curious to see what a $50 tablet could do and how intrusive (or not) the Special Offers (advertisements) are. It’s unfair to compare it to a $300 or $400 iPad mini so I won’t. Performance is good. It hasn’t shown the kind of overall slowness I noticed in the various Google Android tablets I’ve owned and used over the years. The display is fine although its contrast is low if you use it in a shaded area outdoors during the day. With the exception of Google apps and most Microsoft apps (except for Outlook), many popular Android apps appear to be available from Amazon’s app store.
The only issue I have with the device is its feature of downloading things without asking. It started with a game download. I first thought I may have accidentally tapped an ad to install it. It didn’t show up as an Amazon purchase. So, I deleted it and didn’t think much about it. However, a day or two later, I noticed the Fire HD 8 was downloading movies. In fact, it downloaded three movies: Baywatch, Star Trek Beyond, and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The three downloads take up 1.5GB on a tablet that only has 16GB total and, I would guess, about 8 to 10GB available for use. Even worse, I have no interest in any watching any of these three movies. If have a metered broadband service (I do not), it would mean the feature will eat up your bandwidth without asking. Its documentation also indicates it automatically refreshes these on deck movies without asking permission. You can manually delete any or all of the videos. But, I don’t see a way to turn off the On Deck feature itself.
Todd Ogasawara and his old friend and special guest, Jon Westfall, talk about their move from Windows Mobile/Phone to other mobile platforms, Microsoft Project Siena for Windows 8.1, and credit card security (COIN, Loop).
It took over a year 7 months but Android Jelly Bean (the 4.1.1 version, not the 4.2 new flavor) finally appeared for my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 tablet.
4.1 includes Google Now but does not include 4.2’s Multi-user, Daydream, or Photo Sphere. And, while the 4.1 update does not include 4.2’s Gesture Typing, Samsung added a gesture typing feature to its proprietary Samsung keyboard. This feature is turned off by default.
Samsung retired its handy screenshot applet in favor of the less handy but standard screenshot (press Power + Reduce Volume buttons simultaneously) function introduced in Jelly Bean.
Jelly Bean (4.1) feels fast and smooth on the Tab 2 7.0 so far. And, it is good to finally have a stable Google Play apps update function. Google play frequently stalled and froze in Ice Cream Sandwich and required forced Android restarts to get a series of apps updates completed.
I’ve spent a full two months using the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT (check out my review of it on BYTE linked below). The tablet is still something I carry and use daily. However, while the Touch Cover I bought with it is “usable,” it is not optimal. After two months I still make a lot of typos that don’t occur when using a “real” keyboard. So, I bit the bullet and spent another $130 to buy the Type Cover for the Surface. It arrived this afternoon (Christmas Eve 2012). It is far too early to pass a judgement. However, I can say it feels better than the Touch Cover and the number of typos is much less using the Type Cover.