I've spent about a week with the Nexus 7 tablet now so I thought I'd do a quick video to capture my impressions:
If you'd rather read than watch, here are the highlights:
To summarize: great device which is absolutely worth the $199/$249 price.
The picture above is one of my home workstations where I think I've finally gotten the right keyboard/pointer configuration. Here's what you're looking at:
I have two other workstations: one for Windows, and one at the office. They're both different just to mix things up a bit, so maybe I'll get pictures of them at some point, as well.
Update (2/11/2013): Added a review of the Realforce 87U with Topre switches.
Update (1/14/2013): Added a review of the Filco Majestouch-2 with Cherry MX Red switches.
Update (2/1/2012): Filcos (my favorite mechanical keyboards at this point) are now available on Amazon!
Update (1/27/2012): Added a review of the Leopold Tactile Touch.
After sensing something profoundly lacking from the modern typing experience, I decided to delve into the world of mechanical keyboards. As is the case with most fetishes, I discovered that there are entire online communities, cultures, and movements surrounding the magic of the mechanical keyswitch. I could have easily spent many months and several thousands of dollars acquiring, experimenting with, and reviewing all of the mechanical options out there, but with both time and money in short supply, I decided to focus on five specific models: the Das Keyboard Model S Professional, Filco Majestouch-2, DSI Modular, Matias Tactile Pro 3, and the Unicomp SpaceSaver M.
There is a lot of personal preference involved in picking a mechanical keyboard. Factors like key travel, clickiness, tactile feedback, weight, force, build quality and more all contribute to the typing experience, and all of these things mean different things to different people. Keep in mind that the reviews below represent my own opinions, and I tried to differentiate between things that personally appeal to me (clickiness, for example), and more objective characteristics (like build quality). The upshot is that there is no clear winner, and you will probably just need to try a few of these out to see which ones inspire you to get out of bed in the mornings and begin your day of typing.
If you know you want a mechanical keyboard and you're just here to see and hear about some different models, skip on down to the video reviews. But if you're wondering why in the world someone would buy a relative expensive mechanical keyboard when you can get a membrane or scissor-switch keyboard for far less (and sometimes for free), read on.
I was a big fan of Amazon's Lighted Leather Kindle Cover, but whenever I took my Kindle out of the case, I was always amazed by how light the device is, and how much weight the lighted case adds to it. One of the advantages of reading on a Kindle (as opposed to a tablet) is that the Kindle is far lighter than either my Xoom or my iPad. So I finally decided to ditch the cover and go with a sleeve, instead.
I've had dozens of neoprene gadget cases in the past, so I decided to try the BUILT Neoprene Kindle Sleeve. It's extremely lightweight, very well cushioned, and shaped perfectly. Now my Kindle is well protected when I'm not using it (I've already dropped it while in the case on a hardwood floor, and it was perfectly fine), but I can pull it out and enjoy the lightness and form-factor of the Kindle the way it is was designed to be enjoyed.
The only problem is that the case is a little pricey. At $29.99, I was hesitant, but although I would have liked a cheaper alternative, I've been very happy with it.
Now that I've put a lot of hours into using the Galaxy Tab, here's what I think: Samsung is very much on to something with this form factor and the build quality of the Tab, but they need to work out the bugs and get the price down by at least a couple hundred dollars. If the Galaxy Tab were, say, $300, I would recommend it without hesitation to almost everyone I know. At $600, however, I would still recommend it to gadget lovers, but to the proverbial mom, I would say wait for the next generation which should be more polished, and hopefully significantly cheaper.
But just to be clear: I really love this device, and have found myself completely attached to it. Although it doesn't have the fit and finish (from a software perspective) of an iPad, it's definitely much closer to what I've been looking for in a tablet: very portable, great battery life, and a data plan that I can mostly live with.
The overall feeling I get from the Samsung Galaxy Tab is that it's a really good indication of things to come. It feels very much like the original iPhone to me: a breath of fresh air, but destined to be quickly replaced with more refined models at much more realistic prices. Although I'm very attached to the Galaxy Tab, something tells me that in 6 to 12 months -- and certainly no more than 18 -- I'll look back on the Tab as nothing more than a gateway into real 7" Android tablets. Until then, however, I'm going to enjoy it.
Conclusion: It's not ready.
Having gotten rid of my Verizon FiOS television service some time ago, I've been eager to try out the new TV solutions from Apple and Google. I reviewed the new Apple TV about a month ago, and really liked it. Last night, I spent the evening with the Logitech Revue with Google TV, and all I can say is that it's really not ready yet.
Here's a summary of my experience so far:
That's about when it occurred to me that the Google TV was creating what was probably the worst TV watching experience I'd ever had. So I turned it off and picked up my laptop.
To be fair, I should point out two very important things:
In summary, the Logitech Revue with Google TV feels like an early prototype to me. The hardware is way too slow and the partnerships and business models aren't in place to make it even remotely useful yet (for me, anyway). Until one or both of these things change, I recommend the following:
Update: Richard's comment has inspired me to make a quick update. First, just because Google TV isn't working out for me, it is working well for others. If you're thinking of getting one, analyze your particular TV watching needs and habits, and you might find that it works great for you. Second, I actually have very high hopes for Google TV in the future. I believe in what Google is trying to do -- I just don't think the hardware, software, and the partnerships are there yet. As the various pieces fall into place, I will continue to experiment with Google TV, and I will work it into my TV-watching routine as its features and functionality permit.
I recently got rid of my Verizon FiOS television service (a topic for another post), so when Apple announced the new Apple TV, I ordered one straightaway. At $99, I felt like I had nothing to lose.
I've only been using it for a few days, but so far, I'm very happy with it. We've used it almost exclusively for Netflix streaming, and to confirm what Steve Jobs said during Apple's press event, the Apple TV is probably the best Netflix steaming client. As far an I'm concerned, if I only use it for Netflix and for browsing my Flickr stream, it was well worth the $99.
We haven't "rented" anything yet, and I'm not sure I'll get into the habit of paying 99¢ for a single viewing of a television show, but I'm not ready to discount the business model yet. Although it still doesn't feel quite right, I think it might actually make sense. I only watch a handful of television shows, so even if I pay 99¢ for every one of them, I'll still be way ahead of where I was with FiOS. And most importantly, I'd only be paying for the content I watch rather than the thousands of hours of programming that I don't watch which, in my opinion, is the biggest problem with the traditional television subscription model.
I will probably pay a movie now and then, however as Netflix streaming becomes more comprehensive (which I assume it will), there will less of a need to pay per film. That said, I do think $3.99 is a reasonable price for low-end HD content, so I'm not opposed to the occasional movie rental.
I don't know how successful the Apple TV will be, but I do know that I want to support new business models around media. I'm perfectly willing to buy content, and in fact, I think it's important to back business models you believe in by buying into them, but the models simply have to make sense, and they have to represent good values. Apple TV certainly isn't 100% there yet, but in my opinion, it's definitely a step in the right direction.
Things I really like about the Apple TV:
Some issues to watch out for:
I've been a big fan of the Amazon Kindle since its initial release, and I've faithfully upgraded with every new generation. The Kindle 2 was a huge improvement over the first model, and the newest third generation Kindle appears to be a worthy and worthwhile successor, as well.
The biggest differences between the Kindle 2 and the Kindle 3 are:
The three features that mean the most to me are the higher contrast screen, smaller size, and faster page turns. These are the things that you will notice right away, and that you will appreciate throughout the entire life of the product. The new lower prices are nice, as well. The cheaper the Kindle gets, the more places and situations you're willing to expose it to, and hence, the more useful it becomes. I still don't think we've hit that magical price point where purchasing a Kindle and keeping it with you at all times is a no-brainer, but we're definitely one step closer.
I've been pretty critical of Apple's mice over the years, primarily due to Apple's refusal to embrace the right mouse button. Technically, this changed with the Mighty Mouse in 2005, though I never found the right-click to work particularly well on all four (two wired, two Bluetooth) that I had over the years. Hence my skepticism when Apple announced yet another attempt at the device that they themselves were responsible for introducing to the computing mainstream with the Apple Macintosh all the way back in 1984.
What intrigued me about the Magic Mouse initially was the gesture support. I've been doing a lot of work with gestures in Adobe AIR 2 and I'd started using my MacBook's multi-touch trackpad full-time in order to really try to incorporate gestures into my workflow. The Magic Mouse seemed like a good way to keep using (some) gestures while having the advantages of an external pointing device.
Enough background. On to the facts:
What's good about the Magic Mouse:
What's not good about the Magic Mouse:
I can't really recommend or advise against the Magic Mouse. I'll keep using mine on one computer, but I don't think I'm going to make a special effort to replace all my mice with Magic Mice. Now if Apple came out with an ergonomic USB version, I would happily retire all my Logitech mice to the plastic hardware bin in the basement, but that time has not yet come. I actually think it's more likely that Logitech will incorporate gesture support and deliver the options that many of us want.
microkosmic is a webcomic done entirely with photographed toys.