My Tech

This week I bit the bullet and ordered an android tablet PC. I’d been lusting after one for ages, as my friends on twitter will know (I am @ambrouk ). I got the Samsung Galaxy S Tab 10.1” wif (honeycomb 3.1).

So now I have

Personal: blackberry bold smartphone, Samsung tablet PC
Work: nokia standard phone, Toshiba notebook 300.
Never mind the home PC, wii, gamecube and second hand PS2. Oh and the spare laptop we bought for £25 from my husband’s work.

Getting used to my android tab

I like the touchy touchy, but my fingers seem fat. The bottom right hand corner notifications is beyond my physical intelligence. Am i tapping it too hard or too fatly? I can’t seem to make it work. I haven’t tried out the bigger/smaller thing minority report fingers thing yet. I spent a long time digging around to find the settings menus behind the elegent sparse interface, but I think I’m getting there.

Why do all devices these days seem to be set to default to making sounds on every key stroke? Is it so that we can laugh and tut at the people on the train who haven’t worked out how to switch it off yet? Or maybe they like it?

I am rubbish at typing on the on screen keyboard, but I know i’ll get used to it. I went from being a superfast predictive text one thumber on mobile phones to a  two thumbed typer on blackberry, so I’m sure I can adjust. But for now, I avoid typing long things on it, and use it more for visual tasks.

It doesn’t have a usb port, but you can buy one for £25. That would enable me to plug in a mouse or a usb keyboard or extra memory. There is a dock you can buy to handle both but I haven’t worked out the costs of that set up to compare.

The main thing that differentiates it from my other devices is how fast it is: its so switch on and offable! I can’t get my head round not having to close the apps, I just stop using it and switch to the next one. My windows upbringing leaves me astonished at how fast it does all that. And its nice that the screen goes blank but I can still get a notification sound when something new comes in, its not distracting.

The android market place is easy to use, very visual, and the downloads are straightforward, only one stalled install so far.I’ve downloaded lots of free apps, I haven’t paid for anything yet. I haven't even started on e-books and games yet!

Skype was a must and the IM layout is nice, but I can’t see how to make a video call. Voice calls work well, there’s a built in mic and it doesn’t seem to give feedback in 1:1 IM calls even when I don’t used the headphones, but I suspect group calls will be more likely to create noise.

My leather case/stand and keyboard protectors haven’t arrived yet so I am having to clean the screen a lot,and its balanced up against books to keep the screen at an angle I can read. But the screen resolution is lovely and crisp.


This is a wifi tab but not 3G, and I don’t yet have an android phone to tether it to. On the train to London I don’t get a steady signal, so I’d be offline for 60% of the time. Plus I’m taking it camping soon so it depends on whether my husband’s android phone can get a signal. That’s ok because there’s nothing essential on it. And we'll be camping, for goodness sake. But the commuting might be a problem.

Apps on multiple devices

Ok, so this is supposed to make me a productivity queen. But now I have twitter on my phone, pad and laptop. Which one do I stop? Maybe the laptop. Maybe the pad should be my social media device and the laptop my document storage and work email. That would have the advantage of keeping a work/personal distinction.

I should mention that I never set up work email to go to my blackberry and will think very hard before doing it habitually on the tablet. It’s not work email that’s addictive for me: it’s definitely twitter.

Passwords, omg. Because I have passwords stored in firefox on my laptop, I have forgotten them all. So I have gone through the loop a tragic number of times: finding that out on the pad, requesting a reminder to my email account, resetting password on the tablet, then having to log back in on the laptop. Do i now commit to google as my password manager? I’m not sure. For now I confess to having written down most of my passwords. Somewhere secret, obviously. And in code. But in ink nevertheless, tsk tsk.  Not my bank details. I am resigned to weeping every time I need to do my online banking or pay online, swearing at the screen and resetting my password. Nearly every time. I hate it.

So, more positively: I want to work more openly and be able to share my files/content at will. But the big barrier to committing to the google cloud way of life is that I will often be offline. I would love to use wikis, dropbox and google docs as a main way of organising myself but I would too often find myself digitally stranded without a connection. So its got to me a mixed economy: apps that sync. So I’m going to try to commit to evernote, and I’ll pay for the offline syncing functionality if I need to.

Back to the reason I wanted a tablet in the first place: drawing. I'm not a photos person but I do think spatially. I want to find the best diagram tools, mind maps and drawing tools I can. Instead of gesturing structures in the air so that I can flatten them into words, I want to see if I can cut out the middleman sometimes and find a visual language for myself. I think that would be the step change in my productivity and get closer to representing myself digitally.

So, yeah, android tab, me like, but me need to work out how to integrate it into my lifeflow.



postscript: finish blog post on laptop, shorten link with bitly on laptop, switch on tablet, open tweetdeck, type bitly address in, send … (tech make our lives richer but they certainly don't make them simpler :-/ )


4 thoughts on “My Tech

  1. I also have the fat finger problem. In addition, it seems that my hands are usually insufficiently clammy for them to register as “touch”. I’ve considered buying a stylus, but I’d rather not have something else to carry around or lose. On the iPad, it is notable that touch sensitivity varies between different apps, so this property is not all down to the hardware.

  2. As you know, I bought several Samsung Galaxy Tabs (the original 7″ ones). I’ve sold 2, which means there’s still 5 sitting staring at me in my study…
    As a bit of an Open Education-espousing guilty Apple fanboy I’ve learned to use my devices for different things. This is how I (usually) roll:
    iPhone: quick checking of info, looking at (but not replying to) email, social networking, HotUKDeals (yes, I’m addicted)
    iPad: reading academic articles (PDF), personal research (like holiday destinations)
    Kindle: longer reading (books, stuff from Instapaper)
    MacBook Pro: pretty much everything else (like commenting on people’s blogs, email)
    Separating tasks onto different devices has worked really well for me. Seth Godin is a bit of a hero of mine and has written a couple of posts that really resonated with me on this type of stuff:
    – Are you making something? (
    – One way to look at the internet, mobile, web and tablets (

  3. hi amber – been watching the new arrival with interest as I am waiting for one too. same model but 32G as I have lots of photos and can be working with large files. This was really useful. Please do an update as you discover new things. I’m interested in the visual tools angle for my son.. Just doing the waiting for the post thing myself now…. we are supposed to be sharing it so will have to see how that goes…

  4. I recently bought an Advent Vega (having made a bit of a comparison incl. ipad and galaxy here ). Not ended up using it as much as i’d thought, although i’m planning on having a play around with it in class, easier to lend out a tablet than laptop to a student!
    one thing that i noticed is that having an android phone made using the tablet far more intuitive, i wonder if there is a limit to the number of OS that we can switch between easily? Looks like you’re trying to manage 4!

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