How did Apple defy physics in the new 10.5″ iPad Pro?

Stuffing clowns into a car
Stuffing clowns into a car

  
Hardware:

Many people are scratching their heads about how Apple managed to cram an iPad Pro with a 10.5 inch screen into a case that is only 9.8 inches tall. This new model replaces the “old” (last year’s model) iPad Pro which featured a 9.7 inch screen stuffed into a 9.4 inch tall case.

The answer is simple: Apple pretty much took out the margins (bezels) on both sides of the screen and raised the top by only .4 inches. The margins are the areas that allowed us to rest our fingers or palms on the screen yet would not activate the screen. It seems that Apple has improved the hardware and software to a point where the screen does not register misplaced fingers and palms. Bottom line: the new screen, in pretty much the old case, gives us 20% more screen “real estate” to enjoy sharper (i.e. higher resolution) images, and 50% brighter than last year’s model.

The new iPad Pro 10.5 retains all the quality of the original with an ingenious four speaker stereo system and side edge connectors for accessories like the super slim Apple Smart Keyboard. Upgrades to the device include a more powerful set of cameras (front and rear), the main CPU goes from an Apple 9x chip to an Apple 10x chip which boosts basic processing, resulting in an increase over 250% faster than the previous model, and graphic processing is over 400% quicker than before. Apple claims that all this new hardware will not affect the strong 10-hour battery life.

Other improvements include the availability of a full-size Apple Smart Keyboard and new cases and covers to accommodate the slightly taller body. The new iPad Pro 10.5 also has the fingerprint scanner home button and supports the Apple Pencil. Internal storage RAM begins at 64GB (up from the previous 32GB), and then proceeds to 128GB and a first-ever capacity of 512GB. The iPad Pro 10.5 is reported to have 4GB of RAM.

The old 9.7″ iPad Pro with 32GB and WiFi was $599, the new 10.5″ iPad Pro with 64GB and WiFi is $649. The old 9.7″ iPad Pro with 256GB and WiFi was $899, the new 10.5″ iPad Pro with 256GB and WiFi is $749. The new 10.5″ WiFi iPad Pro with a whopping 512GB of storage is $949. The “sweet spot” appears to be the 256GB WiFi model which packs a larger screen, faster processor, and a whole lot more for about $150 less than last year’s model. If you need the WiFi + LTE cellular models, add $130 to the WiFi-only pricing.

Software:

The new device initially ships with IOS 10.3.2. The bigger deal is IOS 11, which ships in the Fall with enhancements available only to iPads. These enhancements will primarily be in multitasking, screen splits (allowing two apps to run side by side in adjacent windows), an application launch bar at the bottom of the screen (similar to a Mac), and a “file” app which allows for controlling where files go (local or cloud). Finally, the updated IOS 11 allows for “drag and drop” for web links, photos, text, and more — from one app to another.

The Bottom Line:

Apple is concerned about the decline in tablet device sales. Consumers do not seem to be in a hurry to purchase newer models, unlike smart phones. Apple has given us a new device with a solid update to both the hardware and software of the iPad Pro line (there is also a 12.9 inch screen series). Even the price seems to be sweeter for the 256GB model. Both hardware and software seem to be moving closer and closer to the tablet form,replacing traditional desktops and laptops. Certainly a case can be made that tablets (especially iPads) make more sense for seniors – the focus of this blog. As always, your comments are welcome.

To check out the new 10.5 inch iPad Pro Click/Tap Here!

Oh no! My wife’s Apple Watch fell apart.

My wife's Apple Watch fell apart
My wife’s Apple Watch fell apart

Yikes! Recently, I came down for breakfast and found my wife looking upset . The back cover (which contains the heart beat sensor) on her Apple Watch had popped off when she removed the watch from its magnetic charger.

With a hand-held magnifying glass I carefully checked out the thin band of glue that encircled the sensor. The incredibly thin, flat -ribbon cable was still attached to the sensor and the back of the watch. 

My next step was to search “sensor popped off Apple Watch” using Google and I immediately found that we were not alone with this problem. One of my search links led to the Apple Watch customer support site on the apple.com web site. Over 490 people had reported to Apple that they had had this problem.

Most of the support messages said that we ought to simply take the watch to an Apple Store, and a Genius Bar representative would make things right. Sure.

My wife’s Apple Watch was one of the first groups manufactured and is almost two years old. In other words, it’s definitely out of warranty. Even with an Apple Care warranty, it would be out of the coverage dates. The watch is a stainless steel model and retailed for around $500 when we purchased it. “This can’t be good” I fretted.

For our family the nearest Apple Store is located in East Lansing, Michigan – about an hour away from where we live. Upon arriving the Apple Genius looked at the watch and stated that this was a known problem and that Apple had a program to take care of it. 

It seems that using body lotion or sun tan lotion causes the seal to weaken. Within a few minutes he had collected all the important information from me and said that a replacement watch would arrive within 3-5 business days. Since the watch was out of warranty, the price for the replacement was $249 – half the price of the original watch. But wait! Glancing to the right side of the work order/invoice I read what the customer was expected to pay. Obviously I was expecting to pay $249, but the amount showing what the customer was to pay was $0.00: Fantastic.

Five days later we received the replacement watch via FedEx. It was a “Like new” factory re-manufactured watch that was scratch-free and contained a new battery. I simply “paired” the watch with my wife’s iPhone and restored her data from a previous backup. It took less than a half-hour and all went well.

This experience is yet another reason that I’m a solid Apple customer and shareholder. To use that overworked term, Apple “gets it”. They understand that so-called “early adapters” are important to the long- term success of a product and the company that made it and sold it.

Kudos Apple!

UPDATE: Product recall of a device we reviewed

B&N Nook 7 Tablet
B&N Nook 7 Tablet

Last month we reviewed (and recommended as a “good buy”) the new Barnes & Noble Nook 7 Tablet. We recently received an email from Barnes & Noble informing us of a product recall on the Power Adapter included with the device. It seems that the Power Adapter can break and expose metal parts that could lead to an electrical shock hazard when the device is plugged into the wall.

B&N Nook 7 Tablet Power Adapter
B&N Nook 7 Tablet Power Adapter

If you purchased this device on-line or at a Barnes & Noble store you need to return the Power Adapter using the on-line form at the following web site Nook 7 Tablet Recall Information. Upon receipt, Barnes & Noble will send you a replacement Power Adapter and a $5.00 gift card.

I’m fairly confident that at the original selling price of $49.99 B&N was not making any serious money on the Nook 7 Tablet. This is the only current Nook Tablet device (not counting e-readers) that is NOT manufactured and co-branded with Samsung. I’m also pretty confident that the cost for a replacement Power Adapter, two way shipping and handling, plus the value of the $5.00 gift card makes the recall cost total about $40.00 per return. According to published details the company has sold approximately 140,000 of the affected Nook 7 Tablets. If every person returns the defective Power Adapter the cost to Barnes & Noble would exceed $5,000,000 dollars.

Barnes & Noble can’t seem to catch a break on selling digital devices.  For several years B&N invested many millions of dollars on R&D, custom manufacturing, marketing, special store fixtures and dedicated sales, training and support personnel.  B&N competed during those years with Apple, Samsung, Amazon and others for both the consumer, business and education markets. During that period I personally worked for B&N and helped sell and support Nooks at two retail stores. In the last two-three years B&N has co-branded Nooks that are manufactured by Samsung – a better and more successful approach.

If you purchased the new Nook 7 Tablet for $49.99 during the period of November 2016 through January 2017 you can check your devices serial number against the recall list by clicking this link Nook 7 Tablet Recall Information.  We recommend that you do so – and especially if you purchased the device for a child or grand child. 

What happens when the computer nerd gets hacked?

Hackers are bad
Hackers are bad

I’m considered by most of my family and friends to be some sort of computer tech nerd. This means that I am supposed to know more than the average person about computer technology. So, imagine their surprise when I got hacked on Facebook a few days ago. Now imagine my surprise that I got hacked on Facebook a few days ago.

How I got hacked on Facebook

I have absolutely no idea how I got hacked. Obviously the bad guy(s) had to break through my – what I thought was strong – password. The password I’d used consisted of three joined words (comprised of both lowercase and uppercase letters), one random punctuation symbol, and four numerals. This adds up to a total of fourteen characters. Should have been safe, right? Unfortunately, no. 

It may have been easier for her/his computer hacking software (no hacker really just guesses your password) to decode my password because: 

1. I used a short phrase (e.g. “LongLiveTheQueen”). 

2. I used a popular punctuation symbol (e.g. “#”, “!”, “$”).

3. The numerical portion was a four digit combination (e.g. Such as a PIN number, or a year, like my birth year, wedding year, or birth year of a child).
 

So, what did I do about being hacked? 

Of course, the first thing I did was to change my Facebook password and apologize to all my Facebook friends for the appearance of strange Facebook Messenger texts, emails, and even phone calls from “me” asking that they become friends (strange, they already were friends)and then invest in some sort of financial scam. 

The second thing I did was to use a feature of my password manager (the software that keeps a list of my passwords) that can generate passwords that are truly random and secure. Something such as “8aE@6QQ$17+5&d”.  

This is not an advertisement for 1Password, but it could be

I’ve tried many different password managers over the years (since 1978). My favorite is 1Password. Here’s why:

1. It works on virtually every popular computer platform – Windows PC’s, Apple Mac’s, IOS (iPhones, iPads, etc.), and Android. 

2. It allows you to access all of your passwords from all of your devices with just one “master” password.

3. It synchronizes all of your passwords and user information to all of your devices.

4. Email support is extremely fast and exceedingly friendly if you have a question or problem.

5. It provides 1GB of on-line storage to securely store your documents.

6. It works with most modern web browsers.

7. It works when you are offline.

8. It has an easy to use “app” on Windows, Macs, and mobile devices (such as Apple or Android).

9. It keeps a 365-day history that allows you to restore deleted items and passwords.

10. It’s reasonably priced, at $2.99 per month for individuals and $4.99 per month for families (up to five people).

1Password keeps track of passwords, Social Security numbers, software licenses, driver’s licenses, passports, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and many other things. Their method of security is essentially bullet proof. Agile Bits, which owns and develops 1Password, scrambles your information on their servers so no prying eyes (theirs or the bad guys’) can get to it.  Check out 1Password at the Agile Bits web site: 1password.com

My family uses it so that we’re able to have access to all of our confidential information on any of our devices by simply having to remember a single password. 

Here’s my plan to remain immune from hackers 

Beginning today, I will go through all of our on-line passwords and change each to be truly unique using the random password generator of 1Password. No more using simple, easy-to-remember passwords. 

I’m starting with the important ones first (bank and credit cards, Social Security, passports, etc.), and then on to department stores, social media sites, and the rest. 

In this digital age, $4.99 per month for security is pretty reasonable, considering that most of us spend substantial amounts on computers, smart phones, and tablets. 

A final note

Secure unique passwords are only part of the not-getting-hacked story. Strong hardware and/or software firewalls and up-to-date anti-spam and anti-virus software are also part of securing your computer and mobile devices. 

“Say Hello to a Good Buy!” Barnes & Noble’s new Nook 7 tablet, just $49.99, Simply AMAZING!

B&N Nook 7 Tablet
B&N Nook 7 Tablet

The new Barnes & Noble Nook 7 Tablet is a great device at an astonishingly low price.

Is it the best tablet? No. Is it a good value? Yes!

Here are 21 reasons why it makes a great stocking stuffer this holiday season:

1. The Nook 7 is perfect for kids under 10 (before they get brand envy) and budget-conscious seniors who want to read books, play Solitaire, receive email, and read about their families and friends on Facebook.

2. Why buy the Nook 7 over an Amazon Fire at the same price with similar features? Two answers: (1) You get Barnes & Noble in-store setup, training, and service help, if needed. (2) The Nook 7 uses the Google Play Store for app purchases; the Amazon Fire does not without modification.

3. The Nook 7 has 8GB of storage memory and can be expanded up to 128GB if you use a type UHS-1 MicroSD card (Class 10) and format it for internal use.

4. The spoken voice feature “OK Google” works great for searching and as an everyday assistant.

5. Video: live, streaming, and downloaded videos run smoothly.

6. The device runs a modern version of Android, 6.0 Marshmallow OS. It’s similar to using an Apple IOS device in look and feel.

7. The Nook 7’s screen is a 7″ IPS display and is very sharp and crisp. It is easy to read books, play games, and watch videos.

8. The Quad-core processor is reasonably fast for day-to-day use and may be the secret behind running videos that don’t stutter.

9. 1GB of RAM is not bad for a $50 device and helps in the overall zippy experience.

10. Wi-Fi 802.1 b/g/n dual-bands are quite good, with easy setup, quick connect, and reasonable range.

11. Up-to-date Bluetooth 4.0 hardware allows you to connect wireless headphones, printers, keyboards, and more.

12. It has a standard 3.5mm audio port for wired headphones and speakers.

13. A built-in microphone for use with applications such as “OK Google” searches. With additional apps you could record notes or use wireless phone services such as Skype.

14. Reset button for screen freezes, reboots, et cetera.

15. A Lithium-Ion battery powers the device for about 7 hours. It can be fully recharged in about 4 hours.

16. B&N thoughtfully included a wall power adapter and micro USB cable in the box.

17. You can project videos to your flat panel TV if you own a Google ChromeCast media streaming stick.

18. The B&N Nook reading software is mature, solid, and full of features. You can change fonts, type sizes, highlighting, notes, bookmarks, and dozens of other features.

19. Use the B&N Nook store for on-line book and magazine ordering and downloads.

20. The Nook 7 comes with a one-year warranty. For an additional $9.99 you can purchase an extended one-year (total of two years) warranty that covers accidental damage against drops, spills and other damage with no deductibles – perfect for the kids and grandkids.

21. Even with a 7” screen the Nook 7 tablet will fit in most classic-cut pant pockets, backpacks, and purses.

Here are a couple of things that are disappointing about the Nook 7:

1. Sound: the volume is way too soft out of the rear mono speaker. Although, music and video sounds great out of a Bluetooth or wired set of headphones.

2. Cameras: the device has front and rear cameras, yet they are too soft-focused and lack the contrast needed for crisp pictures and videos.

Overall, the Barnes & Noble Nook 7 is a triumph for consumers. It’s a wonderful pocket-computing device for just under fifty dollars. It may be the world’s first disposable computer; it would certainly cost more than fifty-dollars to have it repaired.

Inside the box you will find an easy-to-use Quick Start Guide booklet to help with the initial setup and configuration. Besides in-store support, you can find on-line email and chat support at nook.com, and by phone at 1-800-The-Book.

A final note: A few years ago there was a movement to bring the price of a personal computer down to $100 so that young students in third world countries could benefit from computer technology (obviously you would still need electricity to recharge the device and Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet). Now we can answer that call with a $50 B&N Nook 7 tablet. This kind of reminds me of the “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” TV commercial from the early 1970’s. (Click here:) YouTube: I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke tv spot

Happy holidays from Tom Gordon, the iTechGeezer

    Apple’s IOS 10 Operating System: Mature and smooth – and it only took ten attempts.

    IOS 10 Artwork
    IOS 10 Artwork

    Well, after ten versions Apple apparently has gotten it right with the IOS 10 operating system. An operating system (OS) – regardless if it’s Apple, Google, Microsoft, or others – is never really finished. It is always a work in progress; features are added, bugs are squashed, compatibility with third party applications (apps) is improved – the list goes on and on.

    If the operating system developer had only one hardware device to write OS software for it might be easier to get it right. Writing OS code that works reliably on an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, and Apple TV for current devices, as well as for older devices, is quite a trick. There are thousands of permutations. Getting it right is very difficult, time consuming, and R&D expensive.

    Apple is just about the only hardware manufacturer that also writes its own OS software. Samsung, Lenovo, Sharp, HTC, and dozens of others hardware manufacturers depend on OS software written by companies like Google (who makes Android OS software) and Microsoft (who makes Windows OS software) to develop their operating system software. Yes, I’m aware that Google also manufacturers the Google phone and the Chromebook, and that Microsoft manufacturers the Surface laptop. But these are “one-off” machines.

    A few quick examples of improvements in IOS 10:

    1. A completely redesigned Maps app that is simpler, bolder looking, and easier to use. A major improvement in day-to-day use. Location accuracy is also much better.

    2. You can now read voicemail messages as well as listen to them. The voice transcription is pretty accurate and predictable.

    3. The Photos app now includes the ability to organize by faces and map locations. Now you can easily find all the photos of your children and your friends. The map locations allows you to see all the photos you took in a specific location (as determined by GPS).

    4. Siri is now open to developers so that you can directly tie into services such as Uber.

    5. The music app tied to Apple Music is greatly improved in look and feel (see an expanded description below).

    6. The Messages app has gone crazy! It has its own App Store. Add stickers, GIF’s, emojis and more.

    7. iPhones now support a “raise to wake” feature that lets you see notifications without having to push a button.

    8. The ability to remove Apple default (stock) apps like Stock, Weather, and most others. They can be reloaded later if you wish.

    One detailed example:

    When Apple introduced the “Music” app two years ago it was a mess. Missing options (like sorting lists), difficult navigation going from one area to another, inconsistency of menus are just a few examples. For a company that had just introduced its new 30-million-track service, like Spotify, it was a lame first attempt.

    Last year’s IOS 9 update was somewhat better – but still not truly Apple in look or feel.

    This year’s IOS 10 update is much better; a simpler, more stark appearing interface is easier to understand and use, with black and white graphics and text, while color is employed sparingly for emphasis. Sorting by artist, album, release date, and more, is available throughout the application. Song lyrics are also available for most tracks. The star rating system has returned to the joy of many long time iTunes users.

    On a different subject – creativity:

    Apple has been criticized for a lack of creativity since the death of one of its founders – Steve Jobs. I’m not sure that criticism is deserved. Here are three examples of recent product innovations.

    1. The Apple Watch (second edition), has met with success from the media, retail, and the user communities. It’s now water-resistant, has a faster processor, improved operating system (3rd generation), longer battery life, and a less expensive starting price.

    2. The Apple “W1” Bluetooth audio chip was just released. It is used on the new Apple AirPod wireless headphones, and several of the new Beats (owned by Apple) brand of wireless headphones. The W1 chips offers:

    • a. Extreme battery life – 40 hours of playtime vs 2-4 hours of most other wireless headphones.
    • b. Extreme range (distance) – up to 300 feet vs 33 feet of most other Bluetooth devices.
    • c. Simple pairing (connecting) interface – works with any Apple IOS 10 device by simply connecting to your first device, and then the rest of your devices are auto connected (if you use the same Apple ID on all of your devices).

    3. The recently introduced MacBook Pro laptops with a new OLED color touch-bar located above the keyboard that dynamically changes depending on the software app being used.

    My bottom line:

    Apple is not perfect; not even close. But in many ways, they have innovative design, solid manufacturing, and great (read: loyal) customer support. I admit to being an Apple “fan boy”. 2017 will see the tenth anniversary of the iPhone. It will be interesting to see what improvements and new features will be added to IOS 11. Stay tuned!

    What’s Best for Seniors: Electronic or Paper Magazines?

    Electronic Magazines - Great for Seniors?
    Electronic Magazines – Great for Seniors?

    I’ve always loved to read magazines; more than TV, more than radio, even more than books. As a kid I preferred Boy’s Life, Popular Science (or Popular anything: Mechanics, Photography, et. cetera), National Geographic, Mad Magazine, Car & Driver – and many others. It was how I learned about stuff, and it showed me how that stuff worked.

    Reading on Mac’s and Windows PC’s:

    I’ve tried to read magazines electronically for many years; first on Mac’s and Windows PC’s by using services like Zinio. But this approach was often cumbersome – resulting in slow downloads, big downloads, tedious scrolling, and hard to read type-faces and -sizes. Overall, not a great experience. I thought that there had to be a better way.

    Reading on Smartphones and Tablets:

    In January of 2007 Apple introduced the iPhone, and it was now possible (but not enjoyable) to read magazines on a high resolution, yet very small (3.5”), screen. In January of 2010 Apple introduced the iPad, allowing us to now be able to read a magazine on an ultra-high resolution, and almost perfectly sized, screen (9.75”). This approach is much better than reading a magazine on traditional desktops and laptops. Magazines designed for mobile devices download faster, have smaller file sizes, are easier to navigate using your fingertips, and have adjustable type sizes. A much better experience. This is the better way.

    Is this really a better way than paper to read magazines?

    Maybe. Some people prefer paper. It’s easy to carry around. Some like the “look and feel” of paper (similar to how some prefer paper books over digital books). Some people even like the smell of paper and ink. The flip side of the coin is that electronic (digital) magazines may be better for the environment (no trees die in this process). They are also easier to store as collections, have far easier search-capabilities, have additional features like hyperlinks, embedded audio and video, and some even have interactive features built into the magazines, which is not possible on paper.

    Are seniors better off with electronic magazines?

    I believe so. Most seniors have diminishing vision over time. Improvements in eye glasses and eye surgery have helped. Digital magazine reading software (provided by the magazine publishers as part of the magazine itself) allows seniors to adjust the size of the typeface. With most mobile devices you can pinch and un-pinch your device screen to increase or decrease the size of the magazine article. Some newer magazine software, like the magazine service Magzter, offers a feature called “EZread” where the magazine article is automatically re-sized and re-paginated for easy reading.

    Where do I get electronic magazines?

    Almost all traditional paper magazines offer electronic versions; some charge for the digital edition, some offer it for free with a paid paper subscription. Check the magazine’s website for more details. You might consider an electronic magazine service like Magzter which offers unlimited access to over 4,000 magazines for $7.99 per month if you use Apple iTunes. If you pay the annual price of $49.99 directly to Magzter, it works out to just $4.17 per month – less than the price of 1 paper magazine. Magzter has a thirty-day free trial – a good way to see if electronic magazines are right for you. Go to: http://www.magzter.com and check it out. Further details about the annual pricing are available on their website. Magzter also lets you share your subscription with up to four family members at no additional charge.

    Happy reading!

    Mobile Technology for Today's Savvy Geezer!

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