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Technology Untangled: Samsung 7-inch tablet fills a portable niche

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technology-bourI was intrigued by one of the latest tablet offerings from Samsung, so I bought one to try it out. Today we will review the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. The first two things that caught my attention were the low $250 price and the small 7-inch size.

The gold standard in tablets is, of course, the iPad, but its 10-inch size has never appealed to me. I prefer the 7- to 8-inch size because of the ease of holding it in one hand and the ability to slip it into some pockets. The 7-inch Galaxy is likelier to be with me when I need it due to its portability.

The market for smaller tablets exploded last year with the introduction of the similarly sized Kindle Fire. The Kindle’s low $200 price was a huge factor in its success, and I think Samsung took notice. Samsung has offered Galaxy tablets in the 7-inch size for several years, but at prices closer to the $350 to $400 mark. In a move counter to the normal logic of each new model being “bigger, better and faster,” Samsung released the Galaxy Tab 2 with a slightly dialed-back set of specifications in order to meet a price point that could compete with the Kindle. It doesn’t have the fastest processor, the most memory or the biggest cameras, but it does present a very capable and functional package at a competitive price.

While the size and the 1024 x 600 screen resolutions are the same for the Galaxy and the Kindle, several features make the Samsung product a better value. The Galaxy Tab includes a front- and rear-facing camera, as well as a microSD memory card slot for expansion. The Galaxy also includes backlighting, convenient for reading e-books at night.

But there is one feature that is decidedly top-of-the-line on the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. It includes the newest and slickest Android operating system – the highly anticipated Android version 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. This version was designed to function very smoothly on tablets and smartphones. The Galaxy Tab 2 is a full-fledged Android device, unlike the Kindle, which has a more restrictive Android functionality and an inability to access the full universe of Android apps in the Android Market.

The Android Market was recently renamed the Google Play Store and I think this name change gives a clue as to the target market for Android devices. I will be interested to see if there is much development of Android tablets into more serious work tools or if their niche will remain as more of an entertainment device.

For simplicity, I wanted a tablet that operated in a similar manner to my Motorola Android smartphone, but there were enough differences to make the learning curve steeper than expected. Part of this was due to the newer 4.0 operating system and partly to the interface features that Samsung layers on top of that. It probably would have been just as easy to learn the iPad operating system instead.

The Galaxy has taken over some of the tasks that I had been using my smartphone to carry out. Web browsing works well on this device and it is definitely easier to view the tablet screen instead of the phone’s tiny screen. But since it is a WiFi-only device, it doesn’t connect from everywhere like the phone. Tablet browsing is also more convenient and accessible than sitting down in front of the computer, but there is one drawback. There is no easy way to print a Web page. Thus, it seems that for serious Internet research for work, the laptop is still best. The Galaxy Tab does however have a feature that allows you to snap, save and share a screen capture so you can eventually print it.

For email use, the larger screen is also better than the smartphone, but the lack of a real, tactile keyboard is a drawback. The one nice feature about the tablet’s virtual keyboard is an included “.com” key that saves typing time.

As an e-book reader, I really like the Galaxy. The previously mentioned backlight is an important feature for me. For magazines however, I have to admit that a 10-inch iPad-size screen would be better. But while a larger screen would be easier on my eyes, the size tradeoff and the reduced portability are not worth it to me.

In my limited testing thus far, the closest I’ve come to a legitimate work application was in using the Galaxy Tablet for facilitating a face-to-face meeting via Skype. The connection was surprisingly stable, even while moving around, and the picture quality even with the minimal camera was quite acceptable.

The strong points of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 are as an entertainment and app downloading device. It has a solid set of features and a great price. While it has filled a niche by taking over some of the tasks previously covered by the smartphone and the laptop, it is the least important work-related device of the three. iPad lovers take note that there are rumors that Apple is developing a low-cost 7-inch iPad to also compete in this market segment.•

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Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

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  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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