Sunday, 12 June 2011

Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000

Since starting my new job, I have been confined to work, and the woods. I have no TV, and more importantly, no internet. Since I am also away from my family from Monday to Friday, I have very little social contact as work is very professional. I debated getting a laptop and dongle but that also meant I had to get a data plan which ran into a significant cost. I researched and came across the Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000 "smart phone".

For some strange reason, the USA didn't have the 3G variant as widely available as Europe. This feature makes the phone a useful substitute where a laptop would be too big. It enables you to to conect to the mobile network and access the internet, which was just the feature I wanted. I also liked the fact I could expand the memory using Micro SD cards. This meant that instead of being limited to the 16 gig on board memory, I could expand it to 48 gig by using a 32 gig Micro SD card. The European version also had bluetooth enabled whcih the wifi version found in the USA didn't.

Initial Impression
I am impressed with the Galaxy Tab. I heard complaints about the size but to me it isn't an issue. here it is in my hands so you have an idea of scale.

The Galaxy Tab is not a PC. It does have many PC like functions but expecting PC performance from it is asking a little much from such a small package. What it does offer is flexability. You have the following:
  • portability
  • expandable memory
  • 3G and WiFi (at least with the European version)
  • Bluetooth (again with the European version)
  • Access to Android programs and apps
The access to Android programs cannot be understated here. I view loads of pdf, excel, powerpoint and word documents at work. I am chuffed that for a small cost (I think I paid about $20 USD total), I can view and modify all these documents. To add, there are also other programs worth getting like:
  • speed test
  • skype
  • msn mercury
  • scientific calculator
  • measurement converter
  • Opera web browser (which runs much better than the standard browser that is pre-installed)
Now I am no computer buff. I simply went to the marketplace on the phone, and purchased these programs. Many were free which was a bonus. Having WiFi helps as it makes the download much faster.

If you have used an i-anything, you can handle the Galaxy Tab. It is intuitive and there is a great deal of info online about how to optimize it's performance and battery life. Like any smart phone, it's an energy hog. The screen gobbles power at high brightness setting so I have mine turned down low. I also have programs that constantly need updating turned off and also don't engage WiFi unless I am using it. This helps conserve the battery and most times I get 2 - 3 days before thinking to charge the Tab.

Like the ipad, the screen also orientates itself using a gyro which is handy. This feature can be locked as sometimes you want the orientation to remain fixed. The speed at which the screen orientates itself is not the fastest (about .3 - .5 of a second by my estimates), however it's sufficient.

Buttons are located on the side where the sim and memory slots are found
At the top of the Tab, you will find the headphone / handsfree jack. Here is a tip:

You need to push the jack into the port HARD. If you don't, it will not engage and you will think you have a faulty headset as you will have no sound.

When it comes to sound, the Tab does a decent job. I watch films on mine every day as I have no TV. The little stereo speakers at the bottom do a good job and have respectable audio clarity considering the constraints. The picture quality is good and games / films alike look good on the screen

The screen resolution is 1024 x 600 which is sufficient given the size of the screen. This makes viewing documents easy on the tab.

Must Have Accesories
I am not much of an accessory fan, but there are some things I consider a must. These are:
  1. screen protector
  2. case
  3. extra memory cards
  4. bluetooth earpiece
These accesories mean your Tab is protected, and you can carry out your tasks with convenience. Since the Tab is bigger than a phone, a bluetooth headset means the awkwarness of using the Tab as a phone is avoided. I don't really have this issue as I have quiet rooms at work, however in some cases it is a convenience. Since the Tab is so flexable, you will find storing films and music will be inevitable. I like my work stuff on 1 card, and my private to be on the other. Eventually I will get a bluetooth mouse and keyboard so a review of those will be coming later.

I bought a Roocase for my Tab. they had gotten good reviews and were significantly cheaper than the over priced Samsung variant. They are made of decent quality leather and look smart while protecting your Tab.

From the photos you should be able to tell that the case is good quality. It is backed by a lifetime warranty which is a positive. The only thing is that electronics usually get outdated after a year so there is no way this will be worn out by then. So how does the Galaxy Tab fit? Quite well. It does not slide around and seems well protected and snug. My only gripe is that the cut out for the screen is a little off and the Tab does not sit centrally. Having worked with leather though, I know this is extremely difficult to acheive so I am slowly letting my OCD dendencies subside.

In Conclusion
The Samsung Galaxy Tab keeps me connected. I have been very impressed with it and after a month using it, I am still happy with it. I bought it late in the release stage and because of this, I beat the early rush premium price. I am not a nerd nor am I technophobe so this fits the bill for me. With the addition of a bluetooth keyboard, the Tab does everything I would normally do on a PC. I don't care much about Apple vs Samsung and am not a fan boy of any particular company. I simply try to buy what is reliable, practical and economic. The Galaxy Tab was all these things when I needed them and so far I have not been disappointed.

Casio Protrek PRG - 130T - 7V Review

Since starting my new job, I have needed to be particularly pedantic about my timekeeping. I have to run meetings as often as 6 times a day and require the audience of talented, educated people. So far, my Casio G-shock 2210 has performed admirably. This watch has been on my wrist through all of my call-outs as a firefighter, including house fires and survived being bashed against walls and collisions involved with being a gym teacher. It has been scarred and is looking tired and as such needed to be replaced now that I have a white collar job.

As usual, I do a great deal of research before I buy anything. I hate buying poor quality but don't like paying for a name either. This was the list of requirements I had for the watch that would take my G-shock's place:
  1. Must be robust
  2. Solar powered
  3. Perpetual calendar
  4. Wide viewing angle
  5. Non alergenic (sounds strange but I get reactions to resin bands)
  6. Not too flashy
  7. Not too heavy
Initially I was eying the Citizen Eco-zilla, however the lack of a perpetual calendar was a deal breaker as a watch is only as tough as it's weakest part. The way I see it, having to adjust the calendar wears the seals and therefore effects the water resistance over time. I loved the look of the watch, but I couldn't pull the trigger because of that.

Casio Protrek PRG 130T 7V
Convinced with Casio's reliability and robustness, I decided I would either get a G-shock or a Protrek as they seemed to have the features I was looking for. I don't care much for resin / plastic watches so I wanted something metal, which I thought the 130T was. Here are the specs as they are found on Casio's website:

PRG 130T - 7V specs

I assumed that since the band was titanium, the watch would be too. Heck they even looked the same colour. This was not the case. I didn't know this and ordered it.

The watch was very well packed. I have bought watches that cost more that were not as well packaged. It was delivered in a cardboard box which contained a box made of MDF which was very sturdy.
The instruction book was used as filler material so packaging was minimal. I liked this as it shows attention to detail. Upon opening the MDF box, I was greeted with this:
There was a card describing the main features of the watch, and an ID tag for the watch.

Fit and Finish
As you can see, the watch is very well finished. Everything mates as it should and nothing is damaged or out of place.

All buttons are large and easy to access. The 3 buttons used to access the main functions of the watch (compass, barometer / thermometer, altimeter) are well finished. They are larged and have very good grip due to a cross hatched pattern.
The sensor and mode button are located on the other side.
The back of the watch is also well finished and contains the important data; model no. country of manufacture etc..
The Band
I guess the band deserves special mention. The T on 130T denotes a titanium band, nothing else. Slightly misleading I guess however looking at the durability of my resin G-shock, I can't forsee this being a problem. It does make the watch light, as mine measured 102 grams. The band is high quality and everything snaps together with a satisfying "click"
As you can see, the clasp has a secondary safety clasp. I like this design as it stops the watch from being accidently unfastened.
Instruction Book
The instructions deserve special mention. Many times when the feature count increases, so too does the complexity of the instructions. I didn't have any difficulty understanding the instructions. They were logically written and very easy to follow with sufficient pictures. I managed to set the time, date and also enable the auto light within 2 minutes of picking up the book. This should not scare anyone away as I believe that Casio have done a good job at assembling the instructions.

Most Useful Features
In my opinion, the most useful features of any watch are those that aid in reliability, maintenance reduction and useability in various environments. The PRG 130T - 7V fits this bill. It features:
  • perpetual calendar
  • 200 meter water resistance
  • electro luminescent light
  • 5 independant alarms
  • pre-set world times
  • auto daylight savings
  • solar power
Although initially disappointed that the case was not titanium, I am content with this watch. Casio are watches that just work. They may not look too fancy but they are bomb proof and give reliable service. This watch should be no exception. I purchased this watch for $270 USD which was the cheapest I could find anywhere. For that price, I am happy with the mix of materials and functionality of the PRG 130T - 7V

*Note, if buying this watch online, be prepared to adjust the band. You will need to take some links out. Unless skilled in general mechanical things, take it to a jewler to avoid any damage.