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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Kindle - Size Matters!

The new Kindle Oasis just released.  It is Amazon's high end e-ink reader, starting at $290.  It is a very nice product.  It comes with a leather case, a battery that lasts months, and amazing back lighting for night reading. There are now four versions of Kindles, all e-ink, starting with a budget $80 model, and moving all the way up the Oasis.  Even the different models have different variations. If you want the Oasis without ads, with 3G, and with a two year protection, you're talking more like $450.  I like that Amazon offers you a wide range of choices and price points so different consumers can get the level they want at the price they want.

You can, of course, simply download the free Kindle App onto your tablet or phone.  That gives the convenience of carrying around just one device. Kindle's e-ink technology, though, makes it much preferable to reading an e-book on your regular old tablet.  It is definitely much easier on the eyes.

Personally, I have tried the Kindle but never purchased one.  Although I like the e-ink technology, and love the idea of being able to have my entire library at my fingertips at all times, one simple thing continues to hold me back.

All four of the current Kindle models, as well as all past models, come with a six inch screen.  That is barely larger than my cell phone screen, and smaller than most mini tablets.  My eye sight is not the greatest.  I would love to see Kindle come out with a larger screen.

Kindle sells its screen size as being the size of a typical paperback book.  But books come in all sizes. If, for example, Kindle eventually wants to be used in schools, it needs to have a reader that can show text, images, graphs, all on a page that needs to be bigger.  Many books simply require a larger page to display the content as the author intended.

I get that the smaller screen makes the Kindle easier to carry around, keeps prices lower, conserves battery life, and makes screen refreshes faster and easier.  I would happily give up all that for a larger screen though.  With four different varieties of Kindles, is it wrong to ask that just one of them comes with a ten inch screen?  I have been waiting for the bigger screen for years, but Amazon keeps knocking out the six inch screens without any variation.

Come on Kindle! Give us a larger screen with an option of larger type on the page.  Millions of old people with thank you!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Samsung Galaxy S7 - A step in the right direction

I am pleased to see some of the changes Samsung has made with the new Galaxy S7.  The best fix was the return of the MicroSD port which was abandoned on the S6.  The S7 comes with an upgraded minimum 32 GB of space, but the MicroSD port allows for an extra 200 GB if you are so inclined.

Unfortunately, the S7 has not returned to the removable battery we enjoyed with the S5.  I like the idea of removing a battery just to be certain nothing is still running on my phone when I want it off completely.  I also like the idea of carrying around a spare battery in case I run out of power, as well as the ability to add higher capacity batteries for longer life.

The S7 did increase battery capacity from 2600 mAh to 3000 mAh.  You can also use a portable USB charger if you just have trouble getting through the day on a single charge.  Still, the lack of a removable battery is disappointing. Fewer high end phones have a removable battery.  I've been looking at the LG G5.  I'm not sure that the removable battery is enough for me to switch, as I do like a great deal of other things about the Galaxy S7.  It is a disappointment though that I cannot remove my battery.

The S7 has also greatly improved its camera.  Major carriers thankfully have ended the focus in increasing the number of megapixels in their photos and started to focus more on the lenses.  The S7 has a larger aperture (1.9) which means you get much better photos in low light situations.  That is where my current phone gives me the most trouble.  The S7 seems much improved in this area.  It also has image stabilization.

Samsung has also improved the water proofing in the S7.  Although I've never had the nerve to take a cell phone into the water, I guess it's nice to have that level of protection.

A new feature on the S7 is the "always on" screen.  When not using the phone, it still displays the time and a few other pieces of information on the screen.  To battery hoarders like me, this just seems like  a drain on battery life.  The "always on" feature supposedly uses about 1% of battery per hour, meaning you could lose nearly a quarter of battery life over the course of a day.  I also wonder what sort of screen burn in I will get from having a clock on the screen always.  Fortunately, it is possible to turn off this feature.  Even with it on, the S7 loses less power in standby mode than the S6.

Overall, the S7 is a very great improvement over the disappointing S6.  Whether Samsung can continue to maintain its dominance in the high end Android market remains a big question.  Many new manufacturers, including Google itself, are beginning to produce worthy competing product.  Samsung is in the difficult position of trying to distinguish itself, without veering too far from the standard Android path.