Writer-tech: Asus Transformer and Samsung Galaxy Note II

I’ve always been a bit of a technophile.  I think it comes from the fact that Phil is computer-dude supreme, a genius even, or, as one of our friends once called him, an ass in jeans 🙂  I like to joke that I learn things from him through osmosis.  I’m fairly certain that if it weren’t for Phil, that I’d still be tech-clueless and likely in a lot sorrier shape than I am now.

I’m still tentative about some things though, and learning something new in the technical realm that I’m not particularly motivated to learn can still stress me out.

Once upon a time …

In another life (that’s how long ago it was), I had an interest in creating Web pages, and with Phil’s help, I learned how to do basic HTML scripting, you know, the kind that you had to type out in Wordpad, tags and all?  I’d do my own graphics too, real basic stuff, that I’d put together in a freeware imaging editor that I no longer remember the name of.  I use The Gimp now 🙂

I did a few Web pages for some of my employers at the time: Huntington University, The Art Gallery of Sudbury, and ACCUTE (the association of Canadian college and university teachers of English).  Eventually, I graduated to Microsoft FrontPage, but I couldn’t compete with the new Web page design companies that were plentiful even in a place like Sudbury.

I maintained listservs too, and brought at least one employer into the world of Yahoo! Groups, then the only game in town, so to speak.

Enough of my techie history though.  I just wanted to give you some perspective, and to set the stage for my next revelation.

Let’s do the Time Warp!

Fast forward a few years and here I am happily writing away with a desktop, laptop, and USB keys to affect file transfers.  I was a confirmed bibliophile too, lived the smell and the feel of books, and didn’t want to enter the world of ereaders even after Phil bought one (a Kobo, by the way).  As Rupert Giles said to Jenny, knowledge should be … smelly.

I’d started my blog, been hacked, restarted my blog and was on a dedicated mission to build my platform.  I didn’t even understand what that was to begin with; I just know that I should have one.

My phone was what I affectionately called a “dumb” phone.  It was the dumbest I could find when my contract came up.  Called the Doro phone, it was marketed at seniors 😛 with a big number pad and no camera on board.  I had a digital camera.  I didn’t think I’d ever have need for anything else.  I just wanted to be able to make a phone call, and to receive one, maybe text a friend every once in a while.

Then things changed

I got tired of the dumb phone and its limitations, of paying more than half of what my friends were for their I-phones and Blackberries.  As my shelves were quickly filled with paper books, I began to see the benefits of an ereader.

Phil had given his Kobo to his mom and purchased an ASUS Transformer.  He began to use it every night, reading books off Project Gutenberg, comics, and even watching Netflix in bed.  I began to see the attraction.

So, I bought my own ASUS Transformer, and I love it!Transformer1

First, it was super easy to set up and learn how to use.  I was downloading apps from the first day.  There’s more than enough space on the dear little thing to keep me happy for a long time.

Second, it has a suppementary keyboard attachment which extends the battery life, memory, and data ports, as well as helping to protect your investment.

I have access to internet, email, all of my social media, WordPress, and just about anything else I’d want.  The only down side is that it’s not so easy taking my writing on the road.  Polaris Office doesn’t do a bad job, but there are some features that I’ve just gotten used to in Microsoft Word that Polaris doesn’t understand or offer.

Dropbox has the potential to replace my USB though 🙂

transformer2I also have, with the tablet, not only Kobo’s, but Amazon’s app too, so now I can read whatever I want wherever I want 🙂  I also have news, comics, and other readers, so I’m pretty much loaded for bear.

Plus, it has a camera/video recorder with voice recording too!  Can my dreams of podcasting and vlogging be far off?

The Transformer’s all but made my laptop (and my camera) obsolete.  Who knew that an upgrade could actually lead to an overall reduction in the amount of tech I own/use?

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

(The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

Around my birthday last year, I had done a lot of word-of-mouth research, asking friends and coworkers about the kinds of smart phones they had, about their service providers, and contracts.  How much were they paying a month and what were they getting for the price?

I’d had my eye on the Galaxy Note since Guy Kawasaki reviewed his purchase of one.  I looked up every review and the worst anyone had to say about it was that it was a little big.  Big whoop, I thought, I’ve got decent-sized hands.

As serendipity would have it, my service provider sent an upgrade offer to my email.

Phil, who used to have his own cell phone, then tired of it, had been forced back into a contract by his employer.  Then, as a cost-saving measure, his employer introduced a cost-sharing program, whereby Phil could get his own phone again, and his employer refund him for part of the monthly cost by way of compensation for using the service for work purposes.

So when I mentioned the upgrade offer, and that I was seriously considering the Galaxy Note II, it was perfect-tech-storm time 🙂

Galaxy1We went out and got ourselves a couple of Galaxy Note II’s that weekend.

Phil now uses his note to read/watch movies in bed 🙂  It’s lighter than the Transformer, even without the keyboard.  We have a wireless network at home and Phil has one at work, so we’re going to downgrade his data plan.  He almost never has to use LTE at all.

I’ve found it a boon because I can keep track of my email and SoMe notifications at work and better manage the time I spend online in the evenings.  I haven’t yet graduated to using it to create blog posts at lunch or anything, but I can see that happening in the future.

It’s essentially a tablet with a phone and text capability.  Because it’s an Android, like my tablet, I can have all the apps I have on my tablet on my phone too.  Many of them will even sync up.

I love the stylus feature though.  Included in the Galaxy Note II’s applications is a note suite galaxy2which has everything from basic notes, to meeting minutes, mind-mapping tools, financial planning notes, greeting card creation notes, drawing apps, etc.  I haven’t explored these thoroughly yet, but I have used it for shopping lists, to do lists, and reminders.

galaxy3You can simply write on your note, or use the text conversion feature to change your handwriting to text.  It works great for me.  It’s only messed up once, when I was demonstrating the feature to a friend.  I can definitely see this replacing my journal some day, but I still have about 10 or so paper journals to write through first.

I’m not an early adopter

For some things, I’m the first person to take an interest and conquer the new tech.  This happens most often in my day-job.  In general, I’m not the first person to pick up the latest technology.  I like to wait until the manufacturer has worked out the bugs and someone else has tested the product first, often Phil.

I haven’t been very quick on the uptake with respect to all the writerly apps I can make use of on my tablet and phone either.  I’ve barely scratched the surface, so I’ll leave you with a few sites I found that were very helpful to me in selecting the best apps for my droid.

I hope this post will be useful to those of you considering a tablet or smart phone.

Tomorrow, there will be a brief pupdate.  Come on back now, ya hear 😉

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