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New iPad Pro vs Galaxy TabPro S vs Surface Pro 4

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After Apple’s latest “marketing dig” at PC users, we find out how the new iPad Pro really stacks-up against other Pro PC tablets.  Apple thinks PC users are ready to jump to the iPad Pro, for some odd reason.  Not to the original 13-inch iPad Pro, which everyone can agree is just too damn big and pricey.  But to the newly announced 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which the company expects Windows PC users will adopt in droves.

Obviously, a claim like that cannot go unchallenged.  To see how the new iPad really stacks up, I matched it against its two natural Windows-based competitors: Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and Samsung’s Galaxy TabPro S.

Price

I’m going to ignore the 32GB iPad Pro here (seriously, 32GB?), and focus on the 128GB model, for an apples-to-apples comparison.  I’m also throwing in the peripheral goodies, because a productivity tablet without the keyboard or pen isn’t actually productive.

  • The iPad Pro, with the goodies, is right at $997.
  • The Surface Pro 4, with optional keyboard (pen is included), is right at $1,029.
  • The Galaxy TabPro S comes in at $899.

The iPad Pro come in slightly cheaper than the Surface Pro 4 which comes with 128GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, and a Core i5 Skylake CPU.  With the Galaxy TabPro S you get 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a Core m3 CPU, and the keyboard, which comes stock.  The only unknown is the price of the as-yet-unavailable pen for the Galaxy TabPro S.  If it’s, say, $50, I’s day we have a three-way tie on the price.  Winner: Tie

Performance

I could expend 3,000 words on why the iPad isn’t really faster than a PC, or you can just read this story.  Because the new, smaller iPad Pro has the same CPU, I expect the performance to be the same or slightly worse.  So in this one category where I’m pretty comfortable making a ruling without ever touching the hardware.  First place goes to intel’s Skylake Core i5-6300U in the Surface Pro 4.  I don’t think anyone who is rational will doubt that.

It’s a hotter, more power-hungry chip than the others, so it’s no surprise that it’s also faster.  The real contest in this category is for second place.  What’s faster, the low-power Core m3 6Y-30 in the Galaxy TabPro S or the Apple A9X CPU in the iPad Pro? (As a bonus, I’ll throw in the “I’m a productive tablet, too” Google Pixel C.)

The benchmarks tell the story: For second place, it’s Intel again, with the Galaxy TabPro S’s Core m3.  In TabletMark V3, which uses each platform’s APIs to simulate various tasks such as word processing, email, and photo editing, the Skylake Core m3 beats both the A9X in the iPad Pro and the Tegra X1 in the Google Pixel C.

Moving to graphics performance, I ran Futhermark’s 3DMark on all four devices.  And noted the overall performance of each device in the “Ice Storm Unlimited” test.  The test factors in the CPU performance for games physics and employs real-world techniques that are used by game developers.

PC faithful should take note: ARM chips, once thought to be inferior to the mighty x86 in the PC (not including Atom, of course), are getting pretty damn close.  Winner: Surface Pro 4

Screen

Full details on the new iPad Pro’s screen aren’t known, but Apple has said it’s a photo-aligned IPS panel similar to the one used in the big iPad Pro.  Display experts have described the big iPad Pro’s panel as “Very Good to Excellent.”  So take that screen and decrease its reflectivity, then give it the ability to adjust its color temperature based on the environmental light, as Apple has done, and you’re probably going to get a top-notch panel.

That said, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 is no piker.  Display expert Ray Soneira called it “one of the very best and most accurate displays available on any mobile platform and OS.”  Soneira, who apparently tore down a Surface Pro 4’s screen to measure its power consumption said it uses less power than an iPad Air 2.

The wild card here is really Samsung’s Galaxy TabPro S, which uses an incredible 12-inch Super AMOLED panel.  The Surface Pro 4 and new iPad Pro both have IPS panels, which use traditional LED backlighting that can sometimes be uneven or blotchy (although Microsoft and Apple usually bring their best efforts to this game).

Super AMOLEDs are hard to beat when it comes to pixel persistence and black levels. The latter is a consequence of the way AMOLEDs work: When something’s black, there’s no light being produced, while traditional IPS panels have to mask or block the light, with varying degrees of success.

Still, without a visual confirmation of the iPad Pro’s screen qualities, there’s no way to determine a winner, so I’ll leave this category TBD for now. But I can tell you that Galaxy TabPro S’s display is to die for, and will be a tough one to beat.  Winner: To be determined

Battery life

Comparing the battery life of different devices is no less difficult than trying to compare the gas mileage of different cars – particularly when you take usage into account.  For example, it’s unlikely even a Prius would get great gas mileage if it were being driven by NASCAR star Danica Patrick.

Still, we can look at the specs and make a few guesses.  The Surface Pro 4 packs a 38-watt-hour cell and features one of the most power-efficient IPS panels around.  The small iPad Pro packs a 27.5-watt-hour cell, which is about 25 percent smaller than the big iPad Pro’s 38.5-watt-hour battery.  The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S’s gas tank is 39.5 watt-hours.

From my experience, the battery life on the Surface Pro 4 is good.  You get about 6.5 hours of 4K UltraHD video playback on the Core i5 model.

On the small iPad Pro, I’d expect battery life to easily exceed the Surface Pro 4’s time, given its power-sipping A9X CPU.  Apple rates the device at 10 hours of video playback. Of course, it doesn’t specify the video resolution or the brightness setting, but iPads have always been known for great battery life so it’s probably pretty respectable.

Again, the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is a wild card.  With its Core m3 CPU and Super AMOLED panel, it’ll give you just shy of nine hours of run time with 4K Ultra HD video. That’s pretty phenomenal considering the battery size.

Under most circumstances, I’d call this category for the iPad, but judging by Apple’s own numbers, there’s a good chance the Galaxy TabPro S could force a tie.

Winner: TBD, but a tie between the iPad Pro and Galaxy TabPro S seems likely.

Read Article (Gordon Mah Ung | pcworld.com | 03/22/2016)

Even though no tablet will ever replace a laptop, it’s just marketing talk anyway, I’d love to have a Galaxy TabPro S.  I’m just saying.

Devices that connect to the Internet & Internet access is undoubtedly important, but so is the ability and knowhow to fully use these devices to one’s advantage.  Please support our efforts to assist them in learning to use these products.

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Apple’s iPad Pro: Portable Powerful & Puzzling

Portable-Powerful-Puzzling

I had the privilege of spending some time with Apple’s new 9.7-inch iPad Pro Monday at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.  And I must admit, there isn’t too much that’s new to say.

If you’ve used the larger, 12.9-inch iPad Pro, then you’re in for pretty much the same software experience here – at least, based on the brief time I got to spend with the new 9.7-inch Pro.  It can run two main apps at once and supports the company’s Apple Pencil stylus and smart keyboard.

The stylus worked the same way as on the larger tablet.  The new smaller iPad Pro responded quickly and reacted to the pressure from it.  I also got to snap a quick picture with the new model’s 12MP camera – a perk not offered on the larger model – but didn’t get enough time with that or the tablet’s new “true tone” display to note a real difference from the first iPad Pro.

In terms of the device itself, it has the same size and feel as a standard iPad with the addition of a docking port for the company’s smart keyboard.  The tablet was lighter than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which is to be expected, but it is about the same weight as a normal iPad (which is also to be expected).  In other words, as with the iPhone SE, on the surface, there wasn’t much to say about the latest iPad pro that hasn’t already been said about other Apple products.

Still, while Apple may not be shifting the ground beneath our feet with this latest offering, there is an argument to be made in favor of this latest iPad Pro.  At least on paper, this smaller model delivers on the potential Apple tapped into all those years ago when it first introduced the iPad.

The company has always framed the tablet as being a device for creation that sits somewhere between the Mac and the iPhone.  But it’s somewhat limited function made it more likely to become a portable television.  With the convenient size of a normal iPad and the function of the larger iPad Pro, the new model arguably has the potential to realize that old tablet promise.

But I’ll need more testing to see how well it actually stacks up.  As a market-watcher and Apple observer, this makes sense to me.  As a consumer, I still need some convincing.

The larger iPad Pro, after all, also had – arguably still has – a lot of potential.  But even though I may have liked that device as a bridge between my phone and my desktop while testing it, I still ultimately needed my laptop for everyday work.

For me, a true laptop replacement needs to be able to run more than two full apps at a time.  And that’s not an option with my iPad, even this very advanced model.  I liked the original Pro for basic tasks and would recommend it for anyone who draws or thinks more visually for his or her job.  But I still found myself thinking wistfully of my laptop more often than I’d expected.

That said, there are a lot of people who like the size of the 9.7-inch iPad and want it to get a power boost.  Time may have to tell on this one – at least, more time than you have standing at a hands-on station in a crowd.

One thing is for sure: Those looking for new iPads will have a lot of decisions to make if they want a full-size tablet.  If you go to the top of the line, to the larger iPad Pro, you get a lot of screen real-estate and support for the Pencil and keyboard but not the 12MP camera on the smaller iPad Pro.  The iPad Air is physically almost identical to the new smaller iPad Pro, but it is cheaper and lacks support for the keyboard and pencil.

Your preferences will have to determine what’s right for you, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Apple seems to be going for more niche audiences overall – a development we’ve seen more under the tenure of chief executive Tim Cook.  That gives you more options but requires you to do more research.  And right now, the new iPad Pro is just another addition to a family tree that’s getting pretty complicated.

It will be priced at $599, compared with the $799 tag of the 12.9-inch model.

Read Article (Hayley Tsukayama | washingtonpost.com | 03/22/2016)

If something intends to replace a laptop or even compete, it must be able to do what a laptop does, at a minimum.  If that’s not possible then there’s no point in said intent.  But one thing I am sure of: people that actually believe a mobile device will replace a laptop and write articles in support of this view, do so NOT on the mobile device.

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New Smartphone Innovation is Getting Scarce

Smartphone-Innovation

You’re probably still fairly satisfied with your current smartphone, especially if you got it in the last year or so.  The screen and picture quality is good and it’s still relatively fast.  The camera takes really nice images and you have some video’s you’re quite proud of.  But then, there’s some features you wish you had, and that d*** battery doesn’t last very long anymore.

But none of these things are enough to push you to upgrade – and definitely not for just that one killer feature they offer on a new device.

Reaching folks like you is a tall order for the companies exhibiting here last week at the Mobile World Congress.  From a market leader like Samsung, which unveiled its latest flagship Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge devices, to any number of handset makers who don’t have near the resources or clout of the South Korean tech giant.  And its apparently becoming more of a challenge for Apple, too.

To be sure, smartphones almost always get better with each new model introduction, and have beefier specs.  Still, it’s worth asking: is better, better enough?  “The challenge is how do you make money in an environment where everyone can source components that are good enough?” asks Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis.

Indeed, smartphone innovation appears to have run smack into a great big wall, with most tech breakthroughs hitting other corners of tech, such as autonomous cars, fitness gear and virtual reality.  According to Gartner, global sales of smartphones grew by just 9.7% (to 103 million units) in the fourth quarter of 2015, the slowest rate of growth since 2008.

“Is there anything different?”

“I was just in the care with our head of engineering reading out specs of one of the launched phones here and it was like, ‘Is there anything that’s different?’  It’s really hard to tell,” says Rick Osterloh, president and chief operating officer of Motorola, now owned by the Chinese tech company Lenovo.

Motorola didn’t launch any major new devices at the MWC event.  Another Chinese company, Huawei, now the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, also didn’t announce major new smartphone hardware.

LG’s removable battery

The one company that actually revealed something different at the show was LG.   It’s new G5 is built around a “modular” design, in which you can remove a bottom piece of the phone, slide out the battery and slide in accessories.  For starters, a camera module (with extra batter), and a module featuring high-res audio.  This is an interesting approach which bears watching, but the idea of bolting on accessories, however it is done, isn’t entirely novel.

Although, HP did launch its Elite X3 Windows 10 phone at the event, it isn’t entirely a new concept either.  But the pitch behind this Windows 10 phablet, which is due out this summer and aimed at enterprise customers, is that the Windows 10 tech is known as Continuum and with optional accessories, a single device can serve as your phone, notebook and desktop computer.

Phone designs inevitably change over time, sometimes more than others.  But do phones with flexible displays have a future?  Or do phones that exploit multiple displays?

Read Article (Edward C Baig | usatoday.com | 02/28/2016)

It seems that the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, basically turned into a mass discussion about 5G type networks, that won’t arrive until, maybe, 2020.  This all tells me that we should see a major smartphone price drop in the near future.

And guess what?  I don’t need a new phone right now, anyway.

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New York City Coming Out of the Digital Dark

Out-of-the-Digital-Dark

We are now able to read almost anything online, anytime, and to connect with almost anyone with common interests. Those who research can follow a lead or find any image, novelists can pursue any thread, and students separated by miles can collaborate on the latest information.

Think about the enormous volume of creativity unleased by no longer having to wait to find a book, searching through archives, or traveling to see some collection. The Gutenberg revolution, spreading information through the printed word, looks rather puny by comparison.

But alas, even though technology has made all this possible it is not yet the world we live in. today, students in New York are sitting on stoops outside of libraries after hours, trying to connect with a weak wi-fi signal leaking out of the branches so they can finish their homework. There’s about 2.5 million New Yorkers and almost 90 million Americans that cannot afford home broadband Internet access.

In the wake of new technology leaving millions behind, now amid a revolution of information technology, we risk leaving so many more behind. Those who can’t afford the Internet now have less access online than they did when we all relied on physical library materials and are left to collect information crumbs on the stoop.

In the 21st century everyone should have a way to connect online and find anything they need. There are signs of progress and free Internet at school or the library can help. New York City libraries are experimenting: they are now lending free wi-fi hotspots to 10,000 households that don’t have Internet –to see how this works in rural environments, they are partnering with libraries in Kansas and Maine. Initial studies show increased use for education and research.

Of course, beyond wi-fi access, there are many challenges to providing those in the poorest neighborhoods with full access to information, from computer training and coding classes, to delivering book sets directly to teachers. But the biggest challenge remains to provide all of the world’s content online and to help people find what they need.

This is the ultimate opportunity of the information age –a difficult but worthy task, and an essential one for those otherwise left in the digital dark.

Read Article (Tony Marx | huffingtonpost.com | 01/13/2015)

One would think that our modern socially sensitive civilization could handle a technology transition in society, in a more civil, conscientious manner. But so far, it appears the technology era has thrown many members of society under the bus and left them behind.

With your support, hopefully, we can begin to assist those in need.

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Technology Too Distracting, Creating Lazy Society

Creating-a-Lazy-Society

Technology is evolving fast, but it slowly seeps into our everyday lives, and as it does so tends to rub some Americans the wrong way.  It’s not surprising to find that many adults remain divided on how technology impacts the way we live. On one hand, a strong segment of society believes technology has improved the overall quality of their lives (71%) and encourages people to be more creative (68%).  But at the same time, an equally strong contingent believes technology is creating a lazy society (73%), has become too distracting (73%), is corrupting interpersonal communications (69%), and is having a negative impact on literacy (59%).

This data results from The Harris Poll June 17-22 2015, which revealed one shocking statistic: “More Americans say they can live without sex than say they can live without the internet or their computer.” (This stat does not include me)

On an encouraging note, a majority say technology has had a positive effect on their ability to learn new skills (63%).  Over 4 in 10 also say it has a positive effect on: Relationships with friends (46%), ability to live life the way they want (45%), happiness (43%), and social life (42%).

Generational gaps. –It’s well known that different generations hold differing opinions about any aspect of technology. Since Millennials are traditionally the most attuned to their tech devices, it’s no surprise that this group is more likely to say that tech has had a positive effect on nearly all aspects tested.

However, Millennials are also more likely to say technology has had a negative effect on their productivity both at home and at work.

Gender divides. –Men and Women offer differing opinions on how technology effects their lives as well.

  • Women are more likely to have negative opinions that tech has become too distracting (76% vs. 70% of men).
  • Women are more likely to believe it has a negative effect on their productivity at home (30% vs. 17%).
  • But Women are also more likely to say they use it as an escape from their busy lives (50% vs. 43%).
  • Men are more likely to believe it to have a positive effect on their ability to learn new skills (67% vs. 60%).
  • Men are also more likely to believe it to have a positive impact on their safety and security (45% vs. 34%).

Read Article (Laurie Orlov | ageinplacetech.com | 11/04/2015)

This makes it very obvious, we hooked and would have a hard time unplugging from technology, now or anytime in the future.  So everyone must become at least a little tech-savvy for their own wellbeing and that of their loved ones.

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