Tag Archives: Android

On The Google Pixel

First, for the record, I want one. But, since my current smart phone is a Nexus 6, I don’t need one yet. I’m fine for a while.

Google essentially invented Android, and the Nexus phones were pretty close to being Google phones, but they were not. They were simply very well designed and powerful smart phones that generally came with unadulterated Android, and likely to work best with Android because of Google’s involvement.

The new Google Pixel is an actual Google phone. So, this is a bit like the iPhone of the Android world, in the sense that there is excellent and carefully engineered hardware and software integration.

I’ve heard that you should avoid buying your Google Pixel from Verizon. Verizon is the only service provider that can also sell the Google phones as per the normal arrangement, and everybody seems to be assuring everybody else that this means nothing, that Verizon is not going to break the phone like some service providers do, with bloatware and such. Verizon will be including a few apps that are removable, Verizon claims they will push out Android updates the very moment Google puts them out, etc. etc. So may be it does not matter.

However, the Verizon sourced phone will, it appears, have the bootloader turned off by default. If you don’t know what the heck that is, then you probably don’t care.

If you buy the phone from pretty much anyone, you are getting an unlocked phone because that is how these phones roll, and you should be able to use it with Verizon or any other carrier (but check with the carrier first).

A few features of the Pixel:

The battery charges up for over 7 hours of use in about 15 minutes. The best camera ever put in a phone. Google provides unlimited storage for photos and 4K videos. Super gorilla glass 4 screen. Built in VR (so you get Google Glasses without the cardboard?) Super powerful processors and other guts. Finger print sensor. Pretty much everything any smart phone ever had.

The Phone has Google Assistant built into it.

The phone also has a normal 3.5 mm headphone jack! Which is the traditional headphone jack every electronic device made since 1754 has had, up until a few weeks ago when Apple forgot to include one in their new phone.

Thre are two kinds of phones, the Pixel with a 5″ display, and the Pixel XL with a 5.5 inch display. If you’re getting me one, I’ll take the larger one.

The phones come with either 32 or 128 gigabytes of storage.

Here’s the Google site for the phones. I looked on Amazon to see if there were cheaper prices there, but not yet (check back in a few weeks, maybe)?

An Affordable Android and Windows 2-in-1 Tablet

I’ve been testing out the Teclast Tbook 16 Pro 2 in 1 Tablet PC. I think the emerging term for this kind of device is “2 in 1” because if configured one way it is a small notebook computer, configured the other way, it is a standard tablet.

First, a bit of philosophy. When Apple and others invented the iPod Touch and various Smart Phones, it seemed obvious that a larger version of such a device might be helpful. So they went ahead and invented tablets. And tablets are cool. But, as often happens in technology, extreme coolness came to stand in for “the next big thing” in all applications. In fashion, you know that “orange is the new black” or “black is the new white” etc., as though there was only one color allowed at a time. In technology, “tablets are the new notebook” and “notebooks/laptops are the new desktops” is a similarly misguided concept. For some individuals, with a certain range of needs and abilities, such a transition is possible. For others, it is not. those who believe standard tablets like the iPad can replace all technology are few in numbers.

But there are enough of them that when Apple decided to replace all computer technology, or at least, all semi-mobile or fully mobile tech, with tablets, that worked great until that small number (but still in the millions) all got their tablets.

Then the market became saturated, and everyone else needed their keyboard, because that is how many interface with their technology. And it is a good way to interface. Years have gone by now since one did not technically need a keyboard, and we still need the keyboards.

So, the result is the 2-in-2 technology. Even as Apple does away with the longest living and consistent technology ever developed for normal human use, the headphone jack, I promise you that Apple will be shifting towards the 2-in-1 technology if they plan to keep up.

Anyway, the Teclast Tbook 16 Pro 2 in 1 Tablet PC is my attempt to test out this technology. (Short version, we are having a great time with this affordable and powerful tablet!)

I’ll provide some comparative data below, but here’s the gestalt. All microprocessors used today are fast and powerful, so all modern tablets have the computing power you need for, well, checking Facebook, handling email, and browsing around on line, which is most of what you do. All modern tablets have excellent high resolution screens. When it comes down to it, there isn’t a lot different between different tablets other than things like size, what kinds of do-dads you can plug into it, and the operating system.

But, there are 2-in-1 tablets that cost a couple thousand dollars, most of the higher end ones are well over $500. But the Tbook without the keyboard is just over 200 (as it is now on sale, see this link for more info, or click through to the link given above). And, of great importance, the same source (Gearbest) has bundles with various tablets and their keyboards.

Usually I don’t recommend specific outlets for specific devices, but at the moment, this outlet in China is trying very hard to give you what is essentially a 600 or 700 dollar 2 in one tablet for just over $200. So, I thought you should know.

OK, details on the Teclast Tbook 16 Pro 2 in 1 Tablet PC. When you boot up, you can chose between running Windows (full version) or Android (a nearly stock current version). When you are in either of these systems, using a link that is very similar to logging out, you can change to the other operating system. The change is essentially (almost) a full reboot, so both changing and starting from off take the usual boot up time for any phone or computer (well, much faster compared to the average desktop Windows computer).

The screen is large, and cinema shaped, and the overall build seems solid. There is a micro USB receptacle which allows you to expand out as well as charge if plugged into a charger. There is also a regular charting receptacle for a DC connector. The cable for that is provided, and you plug that cable into a USB charger brick or slot. There is an HDMI output as well, and a standard headphone jack.

I’ve tested all the plugs and outputs. We’ve shown movies and otherwise mirrored the device via HDMI to a TV. We’ve switched back and forth between systems. I’ve heavily used the Android system, and less vigorously tested out the Windows system. All this works great. We also dropped the tablet from a height of about 4 feet and that had no effect. (That was not on purpose.)

The tablet hooks via magnetic interface (and various contact points) to a nice tablet-width keyboard. The keyboard has multiple USB outlets. This allows you to use this 2-in-1 as a fully functional Windows computer.

Some of you may wonder why I would want to do that. Normally, I would not as I don’t use Windows. However, the only other Windows computer in the house is Amanda’s work laptop, and that is managed by her school and we can’t really use it. So, having a single, small, yet powerful Windows computer in the house is not a bad thing for that occasional need. For example, I have a small electronic device that needs occasional adjustment to the bios. It is possible to do it from Linux, but (because of the software provided by the manufacturer) easy to do it in Windows. So having a Windows computer hiding inside an Android tablet, for occasional use, is nice. If you do that, though, I recommend running the Windows system every now and then so the infernal upgrade process can keep up with the outside world and not hobble you on your first use after a year of non-use. (Not a problem for Linux.)

I’m a little disappointed that a Chinese manufacturer does not have a Linux option. Linux is widely used in China, and I think it is the most popular system there. Also, at some point, I’ll try booting from a live USB with Linux. If that works, heck, I just might … well, we’ll see. And I’ll let you know. (This tablet comes with a severe warning to not mess with the OSs, but … well, we’ll see.)

The specs for the tablet:

<li>Android 5.1 Lollipop OS</li>
  • Microsoft Windows 10 64bit OS
  • Intel Cherry Trail Z8300 64bit Quad Core X86 Architecture 14nm Process 1.44GHz, up to 1.84GHz (Ultra-low-voltage platform and quad-core processing provide maximum high-efficiency power to go. Intel Turbo Boost Technology delivers dynamic extra power when you need it)
  • 11.6 inch IPS 10-Point Capacitive Touch Screen with 1920 x 1080 Resolution (wide viewing angles, very nice color)
  • 64GB eMMC ROM Storage
  • HDMI Output Expands Your Viewing Options
  • 2.0 MP Front Camera for Photos and Face-to-face Chat (no rear camera)
  • Micro SD Card Expansion up to 128GB
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • I haven’t played around enough with the keyboard to say anything smart about that mode of use, but I’ll post on that later. Also I’ll note that ordering from this company was easy and shipping costs are very reasonable.

    Now I want to put this in some context. Here is this 2-in-1 tablet in context of roughly comparable, in terms of overall size, etc. devices, listed from most expensive to least expensive. Notice the very steep gradient on price.

    $1,200: Lenovo Yoga 900 13 Powerful processor, more ram, Windows only.

    $700 – $1200: Various Microsoft Surface Pro 4, includes only Windows (usually with a higher end processor)

    $750: Samsung Galaxy TabPro S 12″ Tablet. Somewhat more powerful processor, some more disk space, Windows only.

    $550: HP Elite x2 1011 G1 Ultrabook/Tablet – 11.6″ Windows only

    $250 (approximate) original price ca $700 Teclast Tbook 16 Pro 2 in 1 Tablet PC. Currently on sale with keyboard for $209. Very good graphics, communications, etc, enough storage, expandable storage, high connectivity, powerful enough processor, etc. Windows and Android.

    This tablet is a great and affordable way to ender the 2-in-1 technology in a way that has a significant advantage: The Android OS ready to go along side that other OS.

    What Are The Best Android Tablets?

    Which Android Tablet Is Best?

    You will have to decide which tablet is best for you based on your specific needs, and no general review is going to give you that information in a useful way. But, among the many tablets there is a handful that rise to the top and should be looked at either to consider purchasing or to use as a benchmark against which to measure others.

    Here is some guidance to help you decide which Android tablet are in that category, and that you should consider. Note that I look briefly at a very inexpensive option here (not included in the list below).

    Nexus 9
    Nexus 9
    Most of these are higher end tablets for general use, but there are some notable exceptions. Because of the timing of when new technology comes out, many of these tablets are older models that have not been replaced yet with the newer models, and prices might be starting to drop for them.

    First, the Nexus 9 is essentially being replaced by the Pixel, but the Nexus 9 is still an excellent tablet. So, look here for special deals.

    Second, have a look at the Lenovo tablet which combines a projector and a tablet. This could be exactly what is needed for certain folks.

    Third, note that some of the tablets either come with keyboards or have keyboards as an accessory.

    Fourth, do look at the giant tablets (the last two, below). These are a little strange, but may be exactly what you are looking for.

    Finally, if the main thing you are going to use your tablet for is reading Kindle books and watching films (mainly from Amazon) do look at the Amazon tablets. I’ve put two examples here, but you will also find a link below comparing them.

    Some of the key specifications for these tablets are in a table at the bottom, but click through to get more information.

    Google Nexus 9

    Approximate price: $350 and up, look for deals.

    Classic top of the line, not really replaced yet by Google Pixel, but it will be. Will be supported for the near future. Probably a good value right now because it is a great tablet with a dropping price. Sock Android OS. Generally, a Google Nexus product is going to run Android better than anyone else. Easy to hold because of material used to make the back.

    Google Nexus 9 Tablet (8.9-Inch, 32GB, Black, Wi-Fi)

    See also: Google Nexus 10 (Wi-Fi only, 32 GB)

    From the makers: “The magnetically attached, fully-responsive keyboard allows you to type at different angles. Sold separately, it helps you get stuff done at home, at the office, and on the go.”

    Google Pixel C

    Google Pixel C
    Google Pixel C
    Approximate price: $560 and up

    Best pure android tablet. This is the new Google tablet, has great features. Probably overepriced because it is so new, but may be the best tablet in terms of technology.

    Google Pixel C 10.2-in HD Touchscreen Tablet

    From the makers: “Meet the first Android tablet designed and built from start to finish by Google with a full keyboard, USB Type-C charger and multi-angle display functionality.”

    Sony Xperia Z4

    Approximate price: $680.

    Sony Xperia Z4
    Sony Xperia Z4
    Don’t confuse this with the Z4 smart phone. One of the thinnest and lighest, somewhat waterproof, modified Android OS. Has a keyboard, but the keyboard gets mixed reviewes. Great battery life.

    Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet 10.1" 32 GB – Wifi Only – Black (U.S. Warranty) with Bluetooth Keyboard

    From the makers: “This 10.1” Android tablet stretches the limits of display technology. The highest resolution, the brightest screen and the most vivid colours make Xperia Z4 Tablet the best viewing experience you will hold in your hand.”

    Nvidia Shield Tablet K1

    Nvidia_Shield_Tablet_K1Approximate price: $200–250 and up, depending on options.

    Inexpensive, good for gaming, has GeForce. Many versions of this tablet exist depending on what you specify. This is a specialty tablet mainly for gaming, not necessarily the best choice for general use. Long battery life. Not a large amount of onboard storage. (The stylus from earlier models is gone.) Maybe one of the best values given quality and price if you are looking for this type of tablet.

    NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet (WiFi)

    From the makers: “The new NVIDIA SHIELD tablet K1 is a high-performance Android tablet that transforms into an amazing gaming machine with the SHIELD controller and GeForce NOW™ game-streaming service.”

    Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

    Approximate price: $600.

    Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro,  caught in the act of projecting.
    Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro, caught in the act of projecting.
    Powerful processor, great display, good cameras, bulky design, a bit of bloatware. Built in projector, which might make this an excellent choice if you give a lot of presentations in places where there may not be a projector. Ver unique design, with a hinge-stand to help the projector work. This is probably the perfect tablet for some people.

    Lenovo (LENZ9) Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro 10 – ZA0F0050US 10.1" WQHD 2-in–1 Laptop/Tablet (Intel Atom Z8500 1.4GHz Processor, 2 GB SDRAM, 32 GB SDD, Android 5.1 Lollipop)

    From the makers: “The YOGA Tab 3 Pro boasts a revolutionary integrated projector that turns any room into your very own theater. Experience a new way to enjoy videos and movies. Use the rotatable hinge and super bright 50 lumen output to project an image of up to 70” (178cm) on any wall or ceiling.”

    Dell Venue 10 7000

    Dell Venue 10 7000
    Dell Venue 10 7000
    Approximate price: $270 – 400 depending on storage specs.

    Comes with a keyboard. Standard Android OS. Heavy, but sturdy. Wraparound front speakers. See also Dell Venu 8. This is a very good tablet, out does earlier Dell models. Probably has a great battery life.

    Dell Venue 10 7040 v7040–6980BLK 10.5-Inch 32 GB Tablet

    From the makers: “With a sleek design, 10.5-inch OLED touch screen and optional magnetically attachable keyboard, the Venue 10 7000 Series is designed to impress.”

    Amazon Fire

    Approximate price: $50.

    Really cheap, highly modified Android OS, slower and lower quality screen than other tablets, and smallish, but well designed for Amazon kindle reading. I like mine.

    Fire Tablet, 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black

    See this review.

    Amazon Fire HDX 8.9

    Amazon Fire HDX 8.9
    Amazon Fire HDX 8.9
    Approximate price: $400.

    Dolby Atmos audio-enhancing technology. Highly modified OS, including parental controls. The Amazon App store is not as good as the Google Play store. Mainly a media tablet, and of coruse, great for reading Kindle books.

    Fire HDX 8.9 Tablet, 8.9" HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 64 GB – Includes Special Offers

    If one of the main things you do with your tablet is reading and watching movies, an Amazon tablet may be an excellent choice for you, but there is a huge range of technologies and prices.

    There is a table here at Amazon allowing you to compare them

    Two Giant Tablets

    Fuhu Nabi Big Tab HD 20

    Approximate price: $550.

    Fuhu Nabi Big Tablet
    Fuhu Nabi Big Tablet
    Huge: 24 inches. There are other sizes as well, and the 24 inch version may be hard to get, leaving you with the smaller 20 inch version. Said to have a pretty good screen. Very kid-friendly, parental controlls, stock Android OS, will not fit in your pocket. Probably best for specialized uses such as in schools.

    nabi Big Tab HD 20"

    “Made especially for children and their parents, the nabi Big Tab HD™ line features a massive 20” and 24” HD display, built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, 16 GB of on board storage, Android 4.4 Kit Kat, integrated parental controls and over 400 kid-focused, parent-approved features through nabi’s Blue Morpho OS. Unlike other tablets that are designed to be personal devices, the Big Tab is made for sharing and collaboration in learning, playing, creating and communicating. It features family fun experiences including Two Play (classic 2-player board games), Game Room (arcade games like air hockey), Showtime (popular movies and TV shows), Story Time (interactive bedtime stories), Big Canvas (drawing and editing videos) and more.”

    Samsung Galaxy View

    Samsung Galaxy View
    Samsung Galaxy View
    Samsung Galaxy View 18.4" 32 GB Tablet (Wi-Fi), Black

    Approximate price $500:

    Another giant tablet (older model) to check out in case you are looking for one of those.

    This is essentially a TV. From the manufacturer: “Knowing how you watch TV, we designed the biggest ever Android-powered full HD screen that’s large enough to double as a beautiful TV and light enough to be portable.”

    This tablet is so big it has a handle.


    Tablet Screen Size Screen Resolution Processor Ram (GB) Storage (GB) SD slot
    Google Nexus 9 8.9 2048 X 1536 2.3 GHz Tegra (2 processors) 2 32 No
    Google Pixel C 10.2 2560 X 1800 NVIDIA Tegra X1 with Maxwell GPU 3 32 No
    Sony Xperia Z4 10.1 2560 X 1600 Quad Cxore Snapdragon 2 GHz 3 32 Yes
    Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 8 1920 X 1200 2.2 GHz Tegra K1 2 16 Yes
    Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro 10.1 2560 X 1440 1.4 GHz Atom Z8500 2 32 No
    Dell Venue 10 7000 10.5 2560 X 1600 2.33 GHz Atom Z3580 2 32 Yes
    Amazon Fire 7 1024 X 1600 1.3 GHz quad core 1 8 or 16 Yes
    Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 8.9 2560 X 1600 2.5 GHz quad core 2 16 – 64 No
    Fuhu Nabi Big Tab HD 20 19.5+ 1600 X 900 1.6 GHz Tegra 4.0 2 16 No
    Samsung Galaxy View 18.4 1920 X 1080 1.6 GHz 8032 2 32 Yes

    A very promising inexpensive Android tablet

    I’m just passing this information on, I’ve not handled this device. But the price and performance seem like such a sweet spot that I am compelled to tell you about it. Let me know in the comments if you have experience with this item.

    The Dragon Touch M8 2016 Edition 8 inch Quad Core Tablet is a competitively priced high quality tablet, with excellent reviews. It costs 80 bucks. A while back, I asked if you should buy a $50 Kindle Fire Tablet. I concluded that maybe you should, because it is cheap and if the main thing you are doing with your tablet is grazing your Amazon Kindle booklist, it is actually idea. The Dragon Touch M8 (2016) is larger (8 inch display), and runs basic Android (different from the fire) and while a bit more expensive, it is also cheap.

    Click through to see the specs. . It is a quad core with 1gb of ram, has a memory card slot for an extra 32 gigs of storage above the built in 16 gigs, GPS (that requires, I think, wireless), blue tooth, an HDMI plug, which might make it ideal for carrying around to give presentations (though you might need a ).

    Scanning the reviews on Amazon, it seems that the bad reviews are about individual tablets that are broken in some way. The good reviews are pretty glowing. There are some complaints about the forward facing camera, but this may arise from the fact that at least in some tablets, this camera has a separate protective film on it that some may not have removed.

    This tablet is not going to be as good as an iPad or a Google Nexus 9. It may be noticeably slower, especially with high demand apps like some games. But, if you simply can’t afford a tablet this may be a good choice, or if you want a second device for specific purposes that are not that demanding, you can probably skip some mid-priced pleasure (like going out to eat or something) and totally justify the purchase.

    Samsung Galaxy S4 Review

    Samsung Galaxy S4

    Looking at just the specs, the Samsung Galaxy S4 looks like a good phone. That’s why we got one!

    But there are a few things you need to know that may impact your decision. These problems lead me to not recommend this phone.

    First, the Android Lollipop version that Samsung produces is a much modified version of the basic Android operating system. Nothing useful or interesting is provided, but the “miscellaneous” storage, which for most normal Android Lollipop phone takes up about 300 – 400 megabytes of space, takes up several gigabytes of space, in order to have these features. So when you compare the storage capacity across different phones, subtract several gigabytes from the Samsung Galaxy S4’s specifications, because you can’t use that storage space and there is no way to fix that.

    The features you get are elusive. The rather cool right swipe to the google page is not available to you as per normal. The list of applications installed will have two parts, each alphabetical, so you have to look in two places to find installed apps. I can’t see any useful features that have been added.

    Second, the phone might be broken. Obviously this may vary from user to user. The first phone we got was broken. Verizon, the carrier we were using, had a new Samsung Galaxy S4 sent to us. Except it was actually a reconditioned used phone. It was broken. So Verizon sent another new one. This one was also a used, reconditioned phone. And it was broken.

    Asking Verizon to allow us to switch to a different phone cost us about 10 hours of time dealing with technical support and led us nowhere, since Verizon does not actually back up their retail arrangements. Samsung was very unhelpful, and even rude, with their technical support. This resulted in us being stuck with a model phone with less than specified storage space, and what may end up being a string of broken used reconditioned phones that will work for a few days and then break, unless we get lucky and get one that is not borked out of the box.

    The Samsung Galaxy S4 allows you to buy an SD storage card and install that. This is not a good solution to the lack of storage problem, as many apps can’t really make use of the SD card. Many apps will allow you to move data to the card, but in some cases, this causes the app to not work properly, and the data moved to the SD card is minimal. The only real use of the SD card is to have your camera app(s) put their pictures there. Also, you may be able to convince your phone to move the download folder there.

    Of course, if you select the Samsung Galaxy S4 and have the same problems we’ve had with the brokenness of it all, then you will have to reconfigure all this stuff to use the SD card every time you get a new iteration of Broken Phone.

    The technical problems with the phones have included a sim card holder that does not work (so the sim card is not recognized), a wireless/bluetooth antenna that does not work (if you check around on the Internet you’ll find this to be a very common problem with the Samsung Galaxy S4), or the 4g not working (for unknown reasons).

    So, in short, you can buy the Samsung Galaxy S4 for several hundred dollars. Or you can hold a sharpened metal rod over a flame until it becomes white hot and drive it into your eyeball. Same effect, the second option is cheaper.

    I don’t recommend the Samsung Galaxy S4.

    Many people have had great experiences with other Samsung smart phones. And some of those phones look great. However, you need to know that if something does go wrong with one of those phones, and you have to deal with Samsung technical support, they will treat you like dirt. That would keep me away from Samsung products in general. Having said that, maybe some of the other companies are just as bad. Feel free to relate your own experiences along these lines in the comments section below.

    Which Verizon Smartphones Have Android Lollipop?

    Android Lollipop is the new Android OS, and it is a good one. If you want to get a new Android phone, you will probably be happier choosing a one with Lollipop already installed.

    This is not to say that phones with the older Android OS, KitKat, won’t or can’t be upgraded to Lollipop. Nor do I suggest they will be. It is a bit of a mystery. At some point, I assume, some older models will not be upgraded. One might assume that if you get a new model phone that still runs KitKat that you’ll be upgraded eventually, but that is not 100% certain.

    We are looking into a new phone, we use Verizon, and I just spent several minutes looking through all the Verizon phones to see which ones have Lollipop already on them. The number of Verizon phones with Lollipop has gone up quickly over the last few weeks, and I assume that will continue. But as of now, early June 2015, this is the list:

    Google Nexus 6™
    HTC One® M9
    LG G3
    LG G4™
    Motorola Moto X™ (2nd Gen.)
    Motorola Moto X™ (2nd Gen.) – Designed by You
    Samsung Galaxy Note® Edge??????? Maybe not
    Samsung Galaxy S®6
    Samsung Galaxy S®6 edge

    This is based on what Verizon specifies on their web site in the US. I don’t know if this will apply to what you find in stores (many Verizon stores have only a subset of the total number of available phones, though I assume you can order these phones either at a store or on line). Again, the situation is changing rapidly, but this is what I found today, and having gone through the trouble, I thought I’d save you the time!

    If you know of any additions or corrections, or information from other services, please feel free to indicate this in the comments below.

    Also of interest:

  • Does Cell Phone Use Cause Cancer? No.
  • <li><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2014/06/14/does-keeping-a-cell-phone-in-your-pocket-reduce-male-infertility/">Does keeping a cell phone in your pocket reduce male fertility?</a></li>