Tablet Computers – The Fun Factor

The Appeal Of Tablet Computers

ipadWhilst I much prefer reading on an e-reader, I am far from immune to the charms of tablet computers. Fortunately it’s not an “either – or” scenario, you can have a tablet and an e-reader – and a notebook, and a smartphone, and a desktop, and a spare tablet – technology is definitely part of our everyday life right now.

I use my e-reader for reading on and my tablet for fun – playing games, watching video etc. That’s a big part of the appeal of tablet computers; they are fun. Most tablet computer purchases are by individuals for their own personal use, and “personal use” is normally defined as having fun.

UK Mobile Technology Usage Times

As you can see, mobiles dominate early in the morning as people entertain themselves during the journey to work. During office hours PCs (both desktops and laptops) dominate as the corporate world puts its nose to the grindstone. Tablet computer usage dominates from the early evening onwards.

A fair bit of the tablet usage will also be of the multi-tasking type. A lot of people use their tablets when they are sitting on the sofa watching a movie or TV show. They can dip in and out of e-mail, social networks and games as they see fit.

Tablet Computers For Fun

Some people will point out that tablets aren’t, and can’t be, as productive as a good solid laptop or desktop – and they’re right. Whilst you may be able to use your tablet to perform a lot of, maybe even most of, the tasks that laptops and desktops can be used for, you’ll often find yourself jumping through hoops and using workarounds to get the job done.

ipad 4th genHowever, in addition to being absolutely correct, those who point out tablets’ shortcomings in the productivity arena are also completely missing the point. Tablets are not meant to be productive, they are meant to be entertaining, enjoyable and fun to use.

That forms a big part of their appeal. It’s like having your own mobile entertainment center, right there in your hand. And you can pop them in your bag and take them with you wherever you want. No need for an external mouse, laptop cooling pad, power cable etc. – tablets are truly mobile devices.

Another major factor in the appeal of tablet computers is the fact that they are very easy and intuitive to use. Many people who would not normally enjoy using a traditional computer with a QWERTY keyboard and mouse will quite happily pick up a tablet computer and start swiping, prodding, tapping and poking away.

I have personally seen lifelong technophobes pick up a tablet computer and be almost cooing with pleasure as they realize just how easy it suddenly is to perform all of those tasks that have eluded them up until their introduction to tablet computing. Suddenly e-mail is accessible and they can find stuff on Google at will!

Tablet Computers For Kids

I have also seen children as young as 3 using tablet computers and seniors, well into their eighties, swiping and tapping away at a tablet. Even without the previously mentioned “fun factor”, the wide ranging appeal of tablets would be enough to secure significant sales.

When it comes to tablets for children, parents basically have the choice of a specially designed “kid’s tablet”, something from LeapFrog or VTech perhaps, or an entry level standard tablet – possibly with the addition of a childproof (if there truly is such a thing) case.

Amazon even offers a “Kids Edition” of their Kindle Fire HD 6 and HD 7 tablets. It’s basically a Fire HD in a special case with easy to use parental controls and access to Amazon’s massive content system of kid’s apps, games, books and videos – plus (get this) a two year no-questions asked warranty against whatever damage your little darlings can inflict upon it!

If your kids break it, no problem – send it back and Amazon will give you a new one by return! When it comes to peace of mind, that really is about as good as it gets.

Tablet Computers For Seniors

At the other end of the scale, tablet computers for seniors are just as popular. Tablets can be a whole new window on the world for senior citizens. They can use them to keep in touch with friends and family via e-mail, social networks and VOIP. They can listen to music, keep up with current affairs and watch videos.

Another interesting fact is that more and more seniors are not just discovering tablets, but also the joy of computer games. These may not be exactly the same games that teenagers play – although if Grandfather enjoys playing GTA why not? – but there are plenty of enjoyable and diverting games available for seniors to enjoy.

There have even been some studies which suggest that this type of gaming activity helps keep the brain active and can even prevent, or delay, memory loss and other deterioration of mental faculties. It’s entertaining, good fun and good for your mind. Not too shabby all things considered.

As with children’s tablets, you can source tablet computers which are specifically designed for seniors – or you can opt for a standard tablet and install whatever apps you think are needed (you’ll have plenty of choices). Whichever way you go, a tablet computer can be absolutely great for an elderly relative.

Tablet Computers Are Fun

So hopefully that explains some of the appeal of tablet computers. They appeal to all ages, from the youngest to the oldest in society – and all points in between,

You can get all wrapped up in the technical specifications of all the various tablets available on the market right now if you want – but the real secret behind the success of tablet computers is the fact that they are fun, fun, FUN!

What Books Are Not Good For E-Readers?

Are There Books That Don’t Work Well With E-Readers?

raising steam by terry pratchettSince I got my e-reader, five or six years ago, I hardly read any books in printed format. There are a few types of books that won’t work so well on an e-reader of course, but these are getting fewer over time.

For example, I’ve always been a big fan of Terry Pratchett. If you’re not familiar with his work (seriously?) he writes (among other things) about a fantasy world called Disc World, which is populated with wizards, vampires, trolls, werewolves, dwarves etc. – pretty much the whole pantheon of fantasy creatures – but it’s a very humorous fantasy world.

When I first started reading on an e-reader (a Kindle 2.0), I found it a bit hard to enjoy Terry Pratchett’s books. The trouble is that he uses a lot of footnotes. He explains things about different characters and species in them – and it’s an integral part of the humour.

Unfortunately, reading footnotes on my Kindle 2.0 was a bit clunky to say the least. It was definitely possible, but it was a clunky, and occasionally frustrating, experience to say the least. I would lose my place in the book every now and again, usually after I had read the footnote and was trying to navigate back to the page I’d originally come from.

Things are a lot better these days. Touch screens, such as those featured on the entire Kindle range, mean that you can just tap on the footnote reference and a new window will open for you to read it. When you’re done with the footnote, just close it and you get back into your book wherever you left off.

It’s pretty seamless, and it’s a good demonstration of just how much e-readers have improved over the last few years. Terry Pratchett is definitely back on my Kindle reading list.

Apart from that minor, and now resolved, problem with footnotes, about the only types of books that I can think of that don’t work so well with e-readers would be books which have a lot of detailed colour illustrations. In fact, the last physical book that I bought for myself was a recipe book (for my newly acquired halogen oven – a cool gadget in its own right).

I did think about using a tablet computer, it would have been quite handy in the kitchen I think. In the end, I didn’t much fancy having to clean flour and olive oil of my touch screen tablet, which is almost certainly what would have happened. That’s why I went for the old fashioned dead tree book – and I think that when I buy my next recipe book (in about ten years or so) that I will probably stick with a paper version.

There aren’t too many other types that I would go for a print version. Possibly, were I the type to maintain my own car, I might get auto manuals in paper – for similar reasons to recipe books, but avoiding engine oil on the screen rather than olive oil.

Those two examples aside, I think that e-readers, or a tablet if there are lots of colourful illustrations, have pretty much got my needs covered.

Anyway, back to Terry Pratchett – here’s a short video where he explains his Disc World series:

I recommend the Disc World series – whichever medium you choose to read it in.

The Potential Future Of Wearable Technology

cicret braceletDespite what many reviewers would have you believe, e-readers and tablet computers are very different devices. They are intended for different purposes and aimed at different target markets. That’s why tablet computers will not spell the death of e-readers, any more than e-readers have made printed books redundant.

Without going into too much detail, one of the biggest differences between the two devices is the type of display which each one uses. E-readers use e-ink technology displays; great for reading, not so good for anything else. Tablet computers of course have lovely color touch screens; great for surfing the net, playing games and watching video, not so good for reading text (for long periods at a time).

Although I don’t see tablets displacing e-readers, I have wondered if the two devices would eventually merge. The main requirement for this would probably be the development of a color e-ink display with a high refresh rate.

However, the video below makes me wonder if this type of projection technology might not work just as well.

At the moment, this is a project that’s in its early development stages. You can read more over at The company is currently crowdsourcing funding for this bracelet, as well as one other project.

It might never become commercially available of course, but it’s certainly a very appealing prospect. No more lugging around notebooks, tablets, e-readers – and no more chargers either.


Kindle Voyage E-Reader

The Kindle Voyage

kindle voyage ereaderThe Kindle Voyage is the best Kindle to date, which is another way of saying that it’s the best ereader available on the market right now.

It has an amazing, sharp display, complete with an auto-adjusting light, flush bezel and “re-imagined” page turns.

It’s not cheap; the Wi-Fi only model with Special Offers will set you back a cool $199 – and if you want the Wi-Fi plus 3G model, without Special Offers, you’re looking at an eye watering $289. Nevertheless, if reading is your thing and you get through a lot of books, you might just think that the Voyage is worth every penny.

Kindle Voyage Features

Kindle Voyage Features

The Voyage is just jam packed with features, but as with any e-reader, it’s the display that really matters. You will really enjoy reading on the 1440 x 1080 pixel screen.

That equates to 300 ppi, and it means that you get laser sharp, super crisp text.

The Voyage also has its own built in light, which shines onto the text rather than a back-light which shines from behind it (and right into your eyes).

What’s more, the light will automatically adjust to the level of illumination in your surroundings. It will also make allowance for the fact that your eyes gradually adjust to the lighting level; for example, it will dim the light a little after you’ve been reading in a darkened room for a while.

Of course, you can override the automated light settings manually if you wish and you can fine tune the light’s settings to suit your own personal preferences.

Another new feature is the physical page turn system, which features haptic technology. You can still turn pages by tapping or swiping the screen if you like, but I do think that the large majority of people will prefer tapping the side of the reader to page forward and back (I know that I do).

kindle voyage dimensionsThe bezel of the voyage is fully flush, just like a tablet computer. The back of the case is magnesium and the display uses specially reinforced glass.

It’s very small and light. It feels extremely comfortable in your hand and is super easy to use and control.

Dimensions are 6.4″ x 4.5″ x 0.3″. The Wi-Fi version weighs in at just 6.3 ounces and the Wi-Fi plus 3G version still stays in the featherweight class at just 6.6 ounces.

Battery life is estimated at 6 weeks, based on half an hour’s reading each day, with Wi-Fi turned off and with the light setting at 10. Your mileage may vary according to how you use it of course. And when it is time to charge it up, it will take a full charge in just 3 hours from a computer usb port. Get yourself an adapter and charge from a wall socket and the charging time should be even lower.

The Kindle has 4GB of memory, which is enough to store thousands of books. You also get free cloud storage for all of your Amazon content.

Is The Kindle Voyage Worth It?

kindle voyage origami coverAll things considered, the Voyage is a fantastic reader. Combined with Amazon’s low e-book prices and the huge selection of books available, it’s definitely something that’s going to appeal to anyone who enjoys reading.

Even so, it’s a fair old price these days, especially if you consider that you can pick up a very decent entry level tablet computer (from Amazon if you like) for just under the $100 mark. On the other hand, when the Kindle first hit the market, way back in November of 2007, it sold for $399.

At the end of the day, the choice is yours. The Voyage is the best e-reader, bar none, on the market today – but if the price is too high for you, you can always go for the entry level Kindle (touch screen functionality, no lighted screen) starting at just $79 or the Kindle Paperwhite (touch screen plus light) starting at $119 (but quite often discounted to $99).

For anyone who reads a lot, say a book a week or so, I think that the Voyage is almost the natural choice.

Here’s a short video review to help you make up your mind: