ipad

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Bill Loguidice's picture

Living with the Surface Pro 2 - Part One

As I recounted previously, I decided to replace my Asus touchscreen Ultrabook (4/128 SSD, 13" screen, Windows 8.1) and Apple iPad 2 (64GB) with a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (8/256 SSD) and Type Cover 2. My thinking was that the Surface Pro 2 would effectively replace both devices in my man bag. Yes, there would be some concessions here and there, like a smaller screen (~10") than the Asus (which my youngest daughter now uses) and a weak app selection in comparison to the iPad 2 (which now sits on a dock on my nightstand), but ultimately, the increase in portability (a lighter bag!) and convenience of a single device outweighed the negatives.

While I used my iPad 2 for many things, my favorite function was as an e-reader. Since the iPad 2 does not have a retina display, it sometimes required me to zoom in a bit for certain types of reading material not optimized to the screen size (I'm looking at you, UK's Retro Gamer Magazine). Overall, though, it was a great reading experience for me and I've spent countless enjoyable hours in the Kindle app. It was also great to read at the gym when I was doing cardio (which I find dreadfully boring) after weight training (which I adore).

Naturally, the Surface Pro 2 would need to replicate the functionality of the iPad 2 for reading purposes, with the added bonus of its 1080p widescreen allowing for sharper text, which would hopefully translate into no longer needing to zoom in on very small details. Overall, the Surface Pro 2 performed well for me in this regard, though there were some quirks. For one, the iPad 2's screen is a 4:3, square-ish ratio, while the Surface Pro 2's is a 16:9, rectangular ratio. That basically means that the iPad 2 is more enjoyable in portrait mode (like a normal book), while the Surface Pro 2 feels a bit awkward (overly tall) in portrait mode (like all large, 16:9 tablets, really), making the Surface Pro 2's ideal reading mode landscape. Now, this was something I resisted on the iPad 2 because of the lower resolution and screen ratio, but it turns out that landscape (multiple columns) is actually a quite enjoyable way to read when you're doing it on the right device. Of course, I still sometimes read in portrait mode on the Surface Pro 2 - like at the gym - because that's what fits best on the various cardio machine holders with the Type Cover 2 attached (I'd rather not detach it and leave it on the gym floor) - and it's just fine like that, but, oddly enough, I think I now prefer reading in landscape. We'll see how that evolves going forward.

Mark Vergeer's picture

Vectrex Regeneration (iOS) - a non-scripted first look

Freshly released Vectrex Emulator running on iOS available in the app store. The app itself is free but actual games are available in a pack and that is about 5-6 Euros. The app is available world wide. Sadly no word of an Android version of the app which should be very possible as the Android and iPad hardware really aren't that different and Android tablets should be able to manage something like this well. Read more below...

Bill Loguidice's picture

Why I canceled my PlayStation Vita pre-order

Well, I did it, I canceled my $359.96 pre-order of the Sony PlayStation Vita - WiFi, ModNation Racers: Road trip, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and Hot Shots Golf on Amazon. It's not because it was too much money - it was - but I planned for it. It's not that I don't want it either - I do - but it simply doesn't make sense at this time. I have long gone on record - much to the chagrin of the Nintendo faithful - that I believe this is the last generational hurrah for dedicated gaming handhelds. In short, I believe they will still sell well this generation, just not anywhere near the heights of the last generation when the DS and PSP ruled the roost. I've given many reasons for this line of thinking, but I primarily chalk it up to smartphones and tablets being good enough as game machines and the inclination for most people to carry as few electronic devices as possible. In other words, would you rather have a device that does everything multimedia and Internet effortlessly (and, as a smartphone, makes phone calls and texts), and has inexpensive apps (and a great camera for stills and video, etc.), as well as plays good games, or would you rather have a device that plays really good games (thanks mostly to onboard physical controls), but is mediocre (or incapable) at everything else and has expensive apps? Some of us will have both, but many of us will only choose the most logical of the two. If you look at the issue without the emotion of a dedicated gamer, there really is no good argument for having anything other than a smartphone and maybe a tablet in your portable arsenal, particularly since the former has an excuse to be with you 100% of the time.

Mark Vergeer's picture

Mark builds his Mame Arcade Cabinet (sort of)

I finally built my long awaited Mame Cabinet - sort of

I got an iCade because I was able to download iMame from iTunes when it was up there momentarily just before it was pulled from the service. It is possible to add more games to it and it allows your iPhone, iPod or iPad to function as a Mame tablet. Combine it with the iCade and you can turn it into a cheap Mame Cabinet. I am thinking about doing a proper sit down mame cab sometime in the future though but this will suffice for now.

Now I own the white rimmed iPad2 - they were fresh out of black ones when I went to go get one and I think the black rimmed iPad2 would look even better in this iCade cab. :P

If you have jailbroken your device it is possible to download the Mame4All package and run that instead. Mind you the iPad 2 still is not possible to be jailbroken. I have an iPad2 and an iPhone4 and both work great with this iCade cabinet. It is also possible to use this blue tooth arcade stick with Android tablets running a version of Mame compatible with this too :P
so it is not iOS only!
http://code.google.com/p/imame4all/

Soundtrack leader by ZombieAndy1979 aka Synthmonkey
http://www.youtube.com/user/ZombieAndy1979

Bill Loguidice's picture

The Amazon of iPads?

Amazon Fire tabletAmazon Fire tabletWell, the announcement that many of us have been waiting for has finally happened: Amazon is now into tablets. Besides updating their Kindle e-reader (e-ink) line with much-needed $79 (6" standard wi-fi, with ads) and $99 (6" touchscreen and wi-fi, with ads) models, placing them ever closer to "disposable", a la the paperbacks of the tablet hardcovers analogy, they also announced a 7" color tablet, the Kindle Fire, with reasonable specs for just $199.

While many were expecting downright gimped hardware, outside of the limited 8GB storage (this is mostly a cloud device), the dual core processor and reasonable resolution (1024x600@16mm colors) and battery life (~8 hours) say otherwise. The best part is the price and they'll seemingly have some flexibility with that as well going forward. As the TouchPad fiasco has shown, with the throngs clamoring for the $99 - $149 clear-outs, if you're going to go toe-to-toe with the iPad, you better come in with a fantastic price rather than comparable or even better specs. Now Amazon has positioned themselves ideally as a real iPad alternative, with a different form factor and the compelling narrative of Amazon services, which is about as close of a match as you'll get for the iTunes experience outside of, well, iTunes. I assume this will be a big success and will pave the way for a 10", premium tablet, which will in fact attempt to muscle in on the iPad's dominance. Even as an enthusiastic iPad 2 owner, I welcome the competition, and look forward to how this plays out. Frankly, while this won't have a major impact on the iPad's sales (at least for the foreseeable future), if I were a manufacturer of any other tablet, I'd be very scared right now. While the Kindle Fire is very much the embodiment of tablet-as-consumption device versus the productivity possibilities you have with the iPad or similarly powered Android tablets, it offers a truly viable option for those who don't need the latter, or simply want a device in-between their existing smartphone and 10" tablet. I have a feeling this will also impact the dedicated e-reader market, because the prices are really less than $100 apart if you consider the ad-free option from Amazon, but certainly the low end $79 model has room to drop even further. Once that hits $49, all bets are truly off, and there really would be little reason not to own one as your "tablet-lite" experience (with a focus on reading and outdoor usage) that you don't mind bringing to the beach. Good stuff!

Bill Loguidice's picture

E3 2011 Viewpoints: Apple iOS and Macintosh at WDC

OK, it's actually the Worldwide Developers Conference (WDC), rather than E3, but the timing is the same and I like to keep the headers consistent, so kindly deal with it. After starting off with Microsoft and Sony, it's now Apple's turn (leaving only the elephant in the room to cover, Nintendo). Here goes:

  • I'm honestly not that interested in Mac stuff, but of the many updates via the upcoming OS X Lion, I most appreciate the fact that apps will finally be able to go full-screen. I always found the lack of that feature bizarre. The updates still won't get me off of the Windows standard, but at least Apple can still sometimes admit when they're wrong with interfaces.

Now, for the big iOS stuff (On a side note, I think all but one of the AA staff has iPhones at this point, and at least three of us have iPads, so, while Apple's mojo hasn't worked on us from the MacOS side of things, it sure has on the iOS side.):

Matt Barton's picture

Matt's Queue: Your iPad is a Cat Toy

Here we are again with another round of web links. I know you'd prefer high-protein sausage links, but these have slightly fewer preservatives.

Yes, a Cat-Food Brand Really Has Created Three iPad Games For Cats. "The game-play has been researched and tested for maximum feline fun," and unlike game testing for humans, actually seems to work. Unfortunately for Friskies, the cats aren't purchasing the DLC.

Chris Kennedy's picture

Episode 10: Xybots, BBC Micro, Reality is Broken, 3DS, iPad 2

XybotsXybotsFight for your future! We're back with Episode 10! If you have feedback about the episode, please leave it HERE. Also - Don't forget to review the show on iTunes. We really appreciate it.

Click here to download the show.




Segments and approximate times below:

  • Mark Vasier on the BBC Micro (3:37)
  • Chris Kennedy and Aaron Wegner discuss Xybots (20:18)
  • Matt Barton dissects Reality is Broken (55:11)
  • Bill Loguidice discusses new projects, the Atrix 4G, Nintendo 3DS, and the Apple iPad 2 (1:27:13)

As always, we'd really appreciate any feedback you have to offer on the episode. You can leave comments here, email us, or review the show on iTunes. You can also subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Matt Barton's picture

Review of Shadow Ranch (Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries)

Everybody here knows how much I love Her Interactive's Nancy Drew series. These are great adventure games with fun characters and charming atmosphere. Her Interactive has recently expanded its offerings to Apple's mobile line, starting with a game called Shadow Ranch, currently $2 for iPhone/iPod and $5 for iPad, which is in HD (holy cow, I'm jealous). I recently completed the game on my iPhone 4, and am pleased to say it's a fun game that's quite distinctive from its desktop predecessor. I don't think Her Interactive (HI) has really tapped the full potential of the platform, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

Matt Barton's picture

Matt Chat 94: Cordes on adventure games, horror, game narratives, the Ipad, and more

This week, Cordes is back with several fascinating insights into the world of adventure games and horror. We talk about the difference between horror films and horror games, storytelling, why adventure games should be sorted by their plot and not as a gameplay genre, and much more. There's quite a bit of meat here for anyone interested in designing an adventure game or wondering how they work. Download the audio here.

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