Tag Archives: tablet

This is a travel writer’s most important tool on the road

2017-06-13

When any professional, for instance, a digital nomad or a remote worker, who is working while traveling, packs for the next assignment or destination, there is always the question if something could be dropped from the travel kit. The number of electronic devices seems to be gradually growing in my travel bag, at least. Which tools are the essential ones to get the job done, if the assignment is to write on the road?
digital nomad working at a terrace near fruit farms of Murcia

Here is the set of key tools for a travel writer according to my experience.

Maps.

Both digital and paper maps are crucial for planning. For navigation on the road I use offline digital maps, but I have good printed map books as a backup.

Laptop.

Most writers type their manuscripts on laptops, and so do I. Nonetheless, it is quite amazing how little laptops have developed if you compare them to tablets and smartphones that have gone so far in such a short time. Where is the touch screen in laptops? Decent battery life? Protective cases for taking them on the road?

Smartphone.

The ultimate communication tool for keeping in touch with collaborators or calling tourist information offices of the world. The camera on the phone is also a very useful and important tool for a writer.

Tablet.

I use tablet a lot for planning (maps, distances between distances, routing) and researching background information on destinations. On the road, it is the in-car navigation device instead of the dashboard GPS. Tablet is probably the first tool that many other travelers drop from their toolset, but in the future, I may even choose tablet and keyboard instead of a laptop.

prepaid SIM cards for internet access
Local prepaid SIM card.

Some travelers rely on Wi-Fi hotspots to get online, but the best way to have Internet access when you need it is to buy a local prepaid SIM card with data plan. Insert the SIM card to your smartphone, 3G/4G Wi-Fi router, tablet or laptop.

Backup disk.

The next backup disk I am going to get is a portable, wireless SSD disk. In the office, I can continue using USB hard drives that can store terabytes worth of data.

Camera.

I write and take photos for books, but even if you wouldn’t take pictures to be published in an upcoming book, camera is a vital tool for a writer. Photographs have many functions: they show how a place looks like, they help a writer to remember details of a place, and they can document objects.

I just realized that paper and pen are not included in the list of key tools. It is very rare that I use the trusted and reliable note taking technology, but occasionally I do. Pen and paper are usually somewhere near to make notes, for instance, during a phone conversation, but they are not vital tools anymore. Another thing I realized is that occasionally I need help. Hubstaff Talent is a service for finding remote talent.

mirrorless SLR digital camera with zoom lens
If I had to choose only one tool from the list above, which one would be the most important for a travel writer? Camera.

Yes, a camera. I am slightly surprised by my choice, but if I had to select only one thing I can take along for the next trip, it would be a camera. By taking a photo, I can document details of things I would have to write down. Overview photos of landscapes and city streets help me remember how a place really was. I can quickly document information boards that highlight the key points of a sight or a protected park. Video clips of local markets, main squares and pedestrian districts remind me of the buzz and feel of the place. A camera is also a handy note taking aid: I can record a video clip with a note to myself. If it is my job to take the photos for a book or an article, those images have to be taken as well.

Naturally, when the time comes to start actually writing, a camera won’t help anymore. But the photos and videos will.

What is the difference between the Kindle ereader and Fire tablet if I want to read ebooks?

2017-05-18

The Amazon Kindle ereading device and the Fire tablet have been designed for different tasks. Nonetheless, there is one application in both products that lets users to do exactly the same thing: read ebooks. If reading ebooks is the most important task you are going to do on your device, here are a few tips for choosing the right product.
amazon fire hd 8, 3 tablet colors
In June 2017, Amazon starts deliveries of new improved versions of two popular tablets: the Fire 7 and the Fire HD 8. Since they are priced very competitively at $49 (7 inch model) and $79 (8 inch model), and both can be used for ereading, the question is: should I purchase the Fire or the Kindle for reading books?
Amazon KIndle Oasis
Lets forget about the price for a moment and study the three key differences between the Fire tablets and Kindle ereaders.

1. Display.
The display on an ereader is designed to resemble paper and ink. It is black and white only and can’t display moving images. The amazing thing is that the E ink display commonly used in ereaders is actually better than paper and ink. For instance, in sunlight, it is difficult to read a book printed on white paper, but ereader screen is fine even in direct sunlight. You can change the text size on an ereader, but not on paper. A typical display size on an ereader is 6 inches. A tablet display has colors and it can show videos, but in sunlight there is not much hope. Common display sizes in tablets are 7, 8 or 10 inches.

2. Multipurpose product vs. single-use product.
You can only read on an ereader – and listen to music or audiobooks, but the whole purpose of an ereader is to give the best possible reading experience, nothing else. A tablet is a multipurpose computer that can be used for almost the same tasks as a laptop. If you will be using your device only at home, think of the way you are going to use it, and choose accordingly. If you will take the device along for your travels, which one is more useful for you: single-use or multipurpose product?

3. Battery life.
Typically, battery life of an ereader is weeks rather than days. A tablet has consumed the energy stored in its battery in a couple of days. Both times of course heavily depend on the way the devices are used. Both can be recharged via USB from a laptop, wall socket, or from a portable power bank.

Now, let’s consider the price. At the moment, Amazon has priced the products as follows.

The Kindle ereaders start from $79 and up to $300. All models have 6-inch black and white screen designed for reading.
The Fire tablets start from $49 and go up to around $100 depending on the configuration. You may choose between a 7-inch and 8-inch color display. If you are interested in differences between the Fire tablet models, here is a page that lays out all the details.

Don’t forget that the Kindle is not the only ereader in the market. For instance, Kobo ereaders are used across the world by book lovers who shop in other stores than Amazon, and read EPUB-formatted ebooks.

In addition, if you already have a tablet or smartphone, you can try how reading ebooks feels on it by downloading the Kindle reading app on your device. Simply search for the Kindle app from the application store.

Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet, 2017 model

Key features and technical information for the Fire HD 8 tablet

– 8-inch touch screen, 1280 x 800 resolution at 189 ppi.
– HD video playback.
– CPU & RAM Quad-Core: 1.3 GHz , with 1.5 GB of RAM
– 16 GB (11.1 GB available to user) or 32 GB (25.3 GB available to user) of internal storage.
– Battery life up to 12 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching video, and listening to music.
– Battery charge time under 6 hours using the micro-USB power adapter included in the box.
– Wi-Fi Connectivity.
– USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) to connect to a computer, or to charge your device with the included power adapter.
– microSD slot for additional storage space.
– Compatible with content formats: Kindle (AZW), KF8, TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible Enhanced format (AAX), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), non-DRM AAC, and many video formats.
– 640×480 pixels front-facing camera. 2.0 megapixel rear-facing camera
– Location-based services via Wi-Fi
– Colors: Black, Marine Blue, Punch Red, Canary Yellow
– External volume controls.
– Bluetooth, A2DP compatible for stereo headphones.
– Speakers
– Microphone.
– Size: 8.4″ x 5.0″ x 0.4″ (214 mm x 128 mm x 9.7 mm)
– Weight : 13.0 ounces (369 grams)

Travel photography application shows where to take that perfect tourist postcard picture

2017-01-11

Accidental travel photographers tend to take photos at the same places where everyone else is taking pictures. If you want your travel pictures to look better than 99% of all photos taken in that same spot, you may want a little help from an expert. The travel photography expert is called Snapfindr, an app that runs on your smartphone or tablet.
snapfindr app screen shot
Snapfindr is a free application that shows you the exact locations of major sights in the most popular travel destinations where to take that perfect postcard image. At the moment, the application covers the top sights of Barcelona, London, New York, Paris, Prague, and Sydney.

Let’s say you are exploring Paris. You find the famous Notre Dame cathedral, and want to take a memorable photograph of the place. Snapfindr shows you exactly where to stand and which direction to point your camera. If you have a camera where you can adjust the settings, the application gives you tips on them as well. Notre Dame is only one of the locations in Paris the app covers. You can navigate from destination to destination using an online map or embedded sample images.

All right, that is what Snapfindr can do. Then, there is only a question of how and for what you use it for. Maybe you don’t want to take the same images as everyone else is taking during sightseeing tours. Perhaps there are even better ways to use Snapfindr?

One of the best use cases for this application is learning travel photography. The persons who have taken the images included in the app and written the notes for camera settings and related remarks are very skilled photographers. Anyone who wants to learn the first steps in classic travel photography can get many valuable lessons in Snapfindr:

– How to position yourself and your camera.
– How to frame the subject.
– Timing: what is the time of the day when you get the most spectacular images.
– Camera settings for that perfect picture.

Snapfindr even features sample images taken on the spot for you to compare your snapshot with the teacher’s mastershot.

For more travel photography, take a look at our writers’ galleries.

Snapfindr screen shots:
screen capture of snapfindr application

screen capture of snapfindr application

screen capture of snapfindr application

Amazon Kindle Oasis reassures ebook lovers that ereaders are here to stay

2016-04-16

Many people don’t remember (or don’t want to remember) how much the original Kindle ereader cost when it was introduced in 2007. It was priced at $400 (and strangely, it had a keypad). Nonetheless, it was popular because Amazon had created a perfect system for shopping and downloading ebooks to the Kindle. Since then, ereader prices have fallen, and a fine Kindle ereader costs less than $100 today. Amazon’s 2016 ereader model Kindle Oasis is priced at $290, and we have to ask why? What is the point?
amazon kindle oasis ereader with cover
Everyone who reads ebooks knows that tablets and ereaders are the best devices for reading. Many people prefer tablets, because they have color screens and let you do many other things, like email and web browsing as well. Others prefer grey-scale ereaders exactly for the opposite reasons: you can’t do anything else but read and you focus on the text because lack of colors don’t make images shine on the screen.

We have always argued that heavy readers – people who really read a lot, several books a month – are the most likely users of dedicated ereader devices. Occasional readers, and people who read a book or two in a month favor tablets (and perhaps increasingly, large screen smartphones).

Even if you are an avid reader, why would you read your ebooks on the Kindle Oasis instead of, say, Kindle Paperwhite that costs significantly less and has more or less the same features and provides the same reading experience than the Oasis? What is the key difference between the Oasis and the previous Kindle models? Is there a compelling reason to buy the Oasis instead of the Paperwhite?
amazon kindle oasis, side view
The Oasis is somewhat thinner and it has longer battery life than the previous Kindle devices. The Oasis also comes with a stylish cover that charges the ereader battery. That’s about it.

Because new hardware, software or service features don’t explain the price difference between the Oasis and the older models, it comes down to the strategy. Amazon has created a product range called Kindle. It has multiple products. Each product must be positioned as low end, high end or something in between. A product range should always have a flagship product even if it doesn’t sell well. Customers can choose the flagship product or a lower priced product, but they always get the brand name they wanted.

The Ebook Reader blog has created a nice comparison video of the Kindle Oasis and Paperwhite version 3 ereaders. Take a look:

Key features and technical specifications of the Kindle Oasis ereader

– 6-inch Paperwhite display (E Ink Carta). Touch screen, backlight, 300 ppi pixel density, 16-level grayscale.
– Wi-Fi connectivity: 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard with WEP, WPA and WPA2 security.
– Optional 3G mobile network connectivity.
– Storage space for ebooks 4 GB, and free cloud storage for all Amazon content.
– Dedicated buttons for turning pages.
– Charges in less than 3 hours from a computer via USB cable.
– Content formats: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG.
– Size: 5.6 x 4.8 x 0.13-0.33 inches / 143 x 122 x 3.4-8.5 mm.
– Cover size: 5.7 x 4.9 x 0.07-0.18 inches / 144 x 125 x 1.9-4.6 mm.
– Weight: 4.7 oz (133 g); Cover: 3.8 oz (107 g).

The differences between Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch and iPad Air tablet are in computing power and camera

2016-03-22

When Apple introduced the iPad Pro 12.9-inch tablet, many thought it was taking away something from the MacBook laptop computers. Maybe, maybe not, but Apple definitely sees tablets gaining more laptop features, and tablets as a future computing platform. The new iPad Pro 9.7-inch tablet is almost the same as the iPad Air, but there are two key differences: the Pro has more computing power and better camera.
apple ipad pro 9.7 smart keyboard
The ordinary 9.7-inch iPad and iPad Air have been around for awhile, and everyone knows the key features: 9.7-inch screen in 2048 x 1536 resolution, slick processor, so-so camera, huge selection of applications in the App Store, and very robust build quality.

The iPad Pro 9.7 has exactly the same shell casing as the iPad Air, and the Pro looks exactly the same as the Air, but there are dome differences between these two tablets. The major differences are:

1. The iPad Pro has more powerful processor: A9X third-generation chip with 64-bit architecture. It is the same processor as the iPad Pro 12.9 has inside it. The iPad Air comes with previous generation A8X processor.
2. The camera on the iPad Pro can capture 12 megapixel photos, whereas the iPad Air has 8 megapixel image sensor. The big improvement and novelty on the iPad Pro 9.7 is that it can record 4K video. It means video image resolution of 3840 by 2160 (and really large video files). The iPad Air can capture 1080p video.
3. Minor differences, like TrueTone color adjustment and number of speakers on the iPad Pro are featured as well, but they hardly make anyone run to an Apple store.
4. Optional keyboard and pencil for the iPad Pro (that are priced surprisingly high, even though they are Apple accessories).
5. Price: the starting price for the iPad Pro 9.7 is $599, whereas the iPad Air is $399.

apple ipad pro 9.7 apple pencil
If you want more computing power for your iPad, a better camera than the one on your old iPad, or need the Apple keyboard or Pencil, you should consider the iPad Pro. If you read ebooks and other documents, surf the web, follow the news, and watch videos on your iPad, the ordinary iPad is still an excellent choice. The good news for iBooks lovers is that the new release of iOS comes with night shift mode to adjust eyes to night reading.

If you are a writer, you can use a Bluetooth keyboard with any iPad for writing. Very good Bluetooth keyboards can be purchased for $30 from any electronics store.

Hands-on video of the iPad Pro 9.7:

Key features and technical specifications for the iPad Pro 9.7 inch

– 9.7 –inch multitouch display. LED backlight.
– 2048-by-1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi) density.
– A9X chip with 64‑bit architecture, M9 coprocessor.
– Storate capacity: 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB.
– 12-megapixel camera: Panorama images (up to 63 megapixels), Auto HDR, Exposure control, Burst mode, Timer mode, ƒ/2.2 aperture, Auto image stabilization, Photo geotagging
– Video recording: 4K video (3840 by 2160) at 30 fps, 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps. Slo-mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps and 720p at 240 fps. Time-lapse video with stabilization. Video geotagging.
– Front camera: 5-megapixel photos, 720p HD video recording.
– Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac).
– Bluetooth 4.2.
– Configurations with cellular functionality: LTE Advanced, UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+, GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900 MHz), for Data only with Embedded Apple SIM.
– Apple Pay.
– Siri voice recognition.
– Stereo speakers.
– 3.5 mm headphone jack.
– Lightning Connector and Smart Connector.
– Sensors: Touch ID, Three‐axis gyro, Accelerometer, Barometer, Ambient light sensor.
– Dimensions: 9.4 inches (240 mm) x 6.6 inches (169.5 mm) x 0.24 inches (6.1 mm)
– Weight 0.96 pound (437 grams) without 3G/4G.
– 27.5‐watt‐hour rechargeable lithium‐polymer battery.

Word processor for writers who love typewriters, but want modern features

2016-02-24

There is something romantic in old mechanical typewriters that make a loud noise when a writer types a book or an article with one. Computers and word processing applications make writing a manuscript faster and more convenient, but a computer offers distractions that may attract some authors away from their actual work. What if these authors could get a single-purpose machine like a mechanical typewriter, but it was equipped with modern conveniences? That’s exactly what the Freewrite provides.
freewrite typewriter, word processor, woman
The Freewrite is a remarkable hybrid of the old and the new: a merger of a mechanical typewriter and a cloud-connected writing app. The key features of the Freewrite are:

– E Ink screen. Black and white screen that is commonly used in ereaders. It is sharp and very battery-friendly solution. The Freewrite has added front light to the screen, allowing typing in poor lighting conditions.
– Full-size mechanical keyboard.
– Wireless connection (Wi-Fi) for backups.
– Documents can be saved on a cloud service: Google Drive, Evernote, or Dropbox.
– More than one million pages can be saved in the device storage space.
– Aluminum body and stowable handle. Writers who travel or like to go out to write want ruggedness.
– Multiple languages supported.
– 4-week battery life.
– Instant start.

freewrite typwriter, cloud connected via  wifi
The Freewrite costs $449 (plus taxes and shipping). You can order it here.

It is easy to find a decent Windows laptop for the same price that has more than enough processing power for writing, photo editing, communications, following the news and web surfing. Research carefully, and you may find a laptop with a full workday battery life as well.

An alternative – which we have been trying out on our recent trips – is a good 9- or 10-inch tablet and a wireless keyboard. We have been using a $30 Bluetooth keyboard that we have connected to the Apple iPad or Android tablet, and we have absolutely liked the typing experience. It is instantly on, and we can save our work on the device and copy it to the cloud for backup. Tablets have a long battery life when used for typing.

Ideas Box is a modern library that can be set up anywhere in minutes

2015-10-02

Ideas Box is a practical educational solution for people who have had to leave everything behind and settle in refugee camps, or village schools with insufficient resources. The Ideas Box is a set of industrial strength large boxes that contain books, ereaders, tablets, a projector for movie presentations and a even a generator for producing electricity for the gadgets. The product that is already being used in Syria crisis and Africa is designed by Philip Starck
ideas box, set up at a camp
Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (Libraries Without Borders) was the organization that started the program. Others have joined in to help finance the production of boxes and transporting them to places where they are needed.

The Ideas Box consists of six strong boxes that contain:
– Books, ereaders, tablets.
– Information technology.
– Movie presentation facility.
– Management component.
– Tables and chairs.
– Room for a generator.
ideas box components

View a video where some of the gear included in the Ideas Box is shown in action, starting at 2:25 minute mark:

Amazon Fire tablet for the price of two hardcover books

2015-09-18

Even though the Apple iPad and devices running on Android software are the most popular tablet brands, Amazon has built a successful product range of Fire tablets. The key factors that have made the Fire tablets attractive are their low price and easy access to digital products in the Amazon Kindle Store. The new line of Fire tablets continue on this successful path: the starting price for a new Fire tablet is only $49.
amazon fire, family photo
Altogether, Amazon introduced four tablets in September 2015:
– Fire, a 7-inch tablet for 49$.
– Fire Kids, a robust 7-inch tablet for $99.
– Fire HD 8, a 8-inch tablet for $149.
– Fire HD 10, a 10-inch tablet for $229.

Each one of these products is priced very competitively. In addition, Amazon has bundled six Fire tablets into a package that costs only $250. So, you get six Amazon tablets for less than one iPad mini.
amazon fire, 49 dollar tablet
The 7-inch Fire tablet that is priced at $49 must have something missing since it is so cheap, right? No, that is not the case. We have seen many no-name Chinese tablets in the price range of $50-$100. Typically, they have a low resolution display, too little RAM, or something else missing that has allowed the manufacturer to lower the price. The Amazon Fire, however, has all the key minimum specifications in place.

It is, however, worth noting a few things about the Fire tablet:
– Internal storage space of 8GB will allow only a limited number of apps installed. Sooner or later, a SD memory card has to be acquired in order to extend the storage space.
– Don’t expect too much from the camera.
– You have to download apps and digital content from Amazon. Technically savvy tablet owners have ways to use other sources, too, but for the rest of us, Amazon is the place to go with a Fire tablet.

That said, the Fire is fine for reading ebooks, surfing the web and hanging out on social media. We travel a lot, and it makes sense to carry a low cost tablet along wherever we go. If the tablet is broken or lost, the purchased books are safe in the Amazon cloud. From there, they can be downloaded onto a new tablet.

The Fire Kids tablet is built from the same hardware as the Fire. The Kids edition has some padding around it to allow carefree handling by children. Additional software is also preinstalled.
amazon fire kids
The Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 are also attractively priced for the features and specifications they include. In today’s standards, the display resolution of the Fire HD 10 is somewhat low (1280 x 800 149 ppi), but those who have the original Apple iPad, have lower resolution than the Fire HD 10 on their tablet.

The Fire tablets come with speed reading feature titled Word Runner (also the $49 Fire). Take a look at a video that the Kindle Chronicles captured on the new feature and the Fire tablet.

Key features and technical specifications for the Amazon Fire 7-inch tablet

– 7-inch screen.
– Display resolution 1024 x 600 pixels at 171 ppi.
– Quad-Core 1.3 GHz CPU with 1 GB of RAM.
– Internet connection via Wi-Fi.
– 2 megapixel rear-facing camera, 0.3 megapixel front-facing camera.
– USB 2.0 (micro-B connector).
– Bluetooth.
– 3.5 mm stereo jack and integrated speaker
– 8 GB of internal storage (5 GB available to user).
– microSD card slot for up to 128 GB of additional storage.
– Dimensions 7.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.4″ (191 x 115 x 10.6 mm). Weight 11.0 ounces (313 grams).
– Battery Life: up to 7 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching video, and listening to music.

Let a robot take a sightseeing tour in a tourist destination for you

2015-09-15

So little time, so many places, and so limited travel budget. It is impossible to visit every interesting destination on earth personally. What if there was a robot that could visit some of the destinations for you, would you pay for the service? Teletrip is trying to do exactly that: the company is building a network of remote controlled devices that are located in popular tourist spots.

teletrip remote controlled device in new york

Here is how Teletrip works. Teletrip sets up tablets on wheels in popular tourist destinations. The tablets come with special software, and they are connected to the Internet. If you want to see how Avenue des Champs Élysées in Paris really looks like, and a Teletrip device is available on the spot, you can hire it. Teletrip charges you by minute. You logon to the Teletrip site, and control the device that is actually on Champs Élysées. You can move it (it has wheels), rotate and tilt it. The tablet camera shows you the surroundings.

Teletrip is a startup at its early stages, but the concept and a couple of remote controlled devices are ready. The company is asking people around the world to become hosts for Teletrip devices in their neighborhoods. Plans for drones and underwater devices are being sketched as well.

We have traveled a lot, and we will travel a lot. A remote controlled device like Teletrip could help us with planning and researching a trip, but it can’t replace the experience. Google has great tools, like Earth and Street View Maps, making basic research from our own couch convenient. Of course Teletrip gives you a bit more because you can tell it to peek around the corner that Google Street View has missed, but still we are not convinced. Teletrip may have created a technology that works, but it may have better applications than travel.

Introduction video by Teletrip:

Via tnooz.

Apple iPad Pro is both an ebook reader and a computer for some serious work

2015-09-10

Tablets became an instant hit product category in 2010, when the original Apple iPad was introduced. Five years, and several iPad models later, Apple has decided to make the iPad bigger. The iPad Pro has a 12.9- inch display which promotes the tablet into the same size category where laptops such as the MacBook and Macbook Air already are.
apple ipad pro, man on a beach
The starting price for the iPad Pro is $799 (models with higher specs are $949 and $1079), making it a bit cheaper than the MacBook or Macbook Air. As the name implies, the iPad Pro is targeted to professional use: enterprises, entrepreneurs and artists.

If you want to use the iPad Pro as an ereader, you can load your EPUB and PDF ebooks to the included iBooks app. The large screen is well suited for reading PDF-books and documents. Also fixed layout multimedia books created in iBooks Author shine on the large high-resolution display.

Because of its price, using the iPad Pro solely for reading and web surfing, however, may not justify the investment.

If you want to use the iPad Pro also as a computer where you write your next bestseller, you probably want to buy a detachable keyboard from Apple or from a accessory manufacturer, like Logitech. Apple’s keyboard for the iPad Pro is a protective case that can be folded and used as a stand and as a keyboard. The Apple keyboard for the iPad costs $169.
apple ipad pro, pencil drawing
Authors, artists and graphic designers may find a stylus that Apple has developed specifically for the iPad useful. It is called the Pencil, and its price is $99. A reason for the high price of the Apple stylus is that it comes with embedded electronics. The Pencil can sense the angle how it is held in the hand and the pressure it is pushed against the screen, and the tablet app behaves accordingly.

iBooks Author is not on the list of applications that are available for the iPad Pro. iBooks Author is an application that runs on Mac computers (OS X). It is used for creating fixed layout multimedia ebooks, such as books about movies or travel guides.

A similar product with Apple’s large tablet is Microsoft Surface Pro. It has a 12-inch display, and a stylus is included in the product package. Incidentally, the Surface Pro prices start at $799. Microsoft introduced a soft case that doubles as a decent keyboard for the tablet already two years ago.

Other large screen ereaders and tablets are, for instance, Sony DPT-S1 ereader with 13.3 inch black-and-white E ink screen and Samsung Galaxy Pro Android tablet with 12.2-inch screen.

View a hands-on video of the iPad Pro where you can see the keyboard case and pencil as well:

Apple iPad Pro key features and technical specifications

– iOS 9 operating system software with multitasking.
– iBooks ebook reading app pre-installed.
– 12.9-inch LED-backlit display.
– Resolution 2732 x 2048 at 264 pixels per inch (ppi).
– Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic, antireflective coating.
– 8 megapixel camera.
– Camera features: autofocus, ƒ/2.4 aperture, face detection, exposure control, panorama images (up to 43 megapixels), timer, geotagging.
– Video mode: 1080p HD video recording (30 fps), slow motion (120 fps), time-lapse video, image stabilization, geotagging.
– Front camera: 1.2 megapixel photos, 720p video recording.
– Two microphones for video calls and recording.
– Wi‑Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac).
– Bluetooth 4.2.
– Models with mobile network: 3G and LTE.
– GPS in models with mobile network.
– 64‑bit processor A9X. M9 motion coprocessor.
– Apple Pay.
– Siri.
– Battery life: up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi, watching video, or listening to music.

Analyzed: the best travel apps for smartphones

2015-08-24

Travel related activities are dramatically changing thanks to innovations in digital technology. GPS-assisted maps on a smartphone or travel guidebooks on a tablet are essential tools for all travelers today. A new wave of travel applications has disrupted established industries, like lodging and car rental. Probably because of the phase of change at the moment, however, only few travel apps are truly useful and easy to use.
booking.com screen shot
Applause, an enterprise that tests and evaluates mobile apps, analyzed travel apps that had been rated more than 150 times on Apple App Store or on Google Play Store. Only 8 of those apps earned high quality scores according to Applause’s own rating system. 8 high quality travel apps were:

Booking.com – hotel reservations and reviews.
Alaska Airlines – flights.
Kayak – hotels, flights, car rentals.
TripAdvisor – hotels, vacation rentals, flights, restaurant reviews.
TripIt – travel organizer.
Hotels.com – hotel booking.
Zipcar – car sharing.
Orbitz – hotels, flights, cars.

All these applications have been developed by established organizations. A large number of startup businesses that have entered travel business recently may need more time and effort to finetune their great ideas and vision into truly usable apps.

One thing we hope travel app developers should really take seriously is offline use. Recently, we made a tour in a remote area where mobile network connectivity was patchy at best, sometimes we couldn’t connect to a network at all for most of the day. None of the apps from big brands, like Here, Google Sheets or Google Docs, that had offline functionality actually worked in offline mode. We used them on a smartphone and on a tablet. Naturally, an app that makes hotel room reservations requires it is connected to a network, but many other apps should work when the mobile device is offline.

Ereaders, Tablets and Smartphones Are Adopting Solar Power

2015-03-05

Ereader devices that come with greyscale E ink displays are so energy-efficient that they can go without recharge for weeks. If you are trekking in wilderness or staying in a remote village without electricity, you can still read ebooks on an ereader. Tablets and smartphones, however, need a recharge after a couple of days of moderate use. Solar energy would be the obvious solution for charging our mobile devices even in remote areas, but affordable solutions have been missing until now.

worldreader solar panels, charging station
Two new solar energy solutions have been introduced recently: Bboxx solar panel and Wysips Crystal display technology for mobile devices.

Bboxx solar panel is a product package that includes two panels and a USB hub. The solar panels can stand on the ground where they catch sun rays. The USB hub is connected to the panels, and mobile devices can charge their batteries simply by plugging in to the hub.

Worldreader organization that provides ebooks and reading devices to regions with low literacy rate has adopted Bboxx system as their solar power solution for ereaders.
bboxx bb17 solar power product package
Wysips Crystal display technology that can be used in ereaders, tablets and smartphones has been developed by SunPartner. In this solution, the solar charging capability is built in to the display. The technology adds a transparent layer into a display that catches solar rays, and converts them into electricity that charges the device battery.
bookeen muse ereader
Ereader manufacturer Bookeen and electronics company Kyocera have announced that they are going to use Wysips Crystal displays in their future products. Bookeen will create an ereader that can charge itself via its own display (in 2016) and Kyocera has demonstrated a smartphone that can charge itself from light.

Here is a video where Kyocera’s solar-powered smartphone is demonstrated.