jkOnTheRun’s Weekly Observations

image James Kendrick of jkOnTheRun likely will never be our diplomat to the United Nations. That’s a compliment. James just tells it like he sees it. If a manufacturer or vendor doesn’t like what he has to say, tough. While I might disagree with James on subjective matters, I can always count on him to give his honest opinion, untainted by any need to stay in the good graces of a manufacturer or vendor.

James calls his home Mobile Tech Manor (pictured). He has a weekly series called This Week in Mobile Tech Manor. This week’s is #66. As usual, he has some interesting observations, this time on touchscreen notebooks, the Motorola Droid, and eReaders. I’d like to discuss them with you, my readers.


Touchscreen Notebooks

There’s a growing trend for notebooks – such as the Lenovo ThinkPad T400s – to have a touchscreen. We’re not talking about Tablet PCs. Instead, traditional notebooks, whose screen, unlike one on a convertible Tablet PC, won’t swivel into slate mode. James’ comment:

“The T400s proved something to me that I’ve long believed, that using a multitouch screen on a standard laptop is uncomfortable and doesn’t provide much benefit. Reaching to touch the screen on a laptop is unnatural. While Windows 7 has nice touch features incorporated into the OS, and I really like them, I didn’t like using them on a standard notebook…I do find that Windows 7’s multitouch features are outstanding on a convertible notebook, but only when the notebook is in slate mode.”

My take: I agree, at least for larger screens, such as the T400s’ 14”. For a smaller screen – say 5” or 7” – a touchscreen may be useful even if the screen won’t swivel into slate mode.

Motorola Droid

We’ve talked a lot about this phone. James had a chance to try it out (lucky dog). Here’s his thoughts:

“Today the Motorola Droid goes back to Verizon, and I will definitely miss it. It’s not without its quirks, but it’s a good smartphone with a lot going for it…While using the Droid I found myself depending quite heavily on Google Maps Navigation, it became my primary navigation tool. The ability to have the satellite view overlaid on the map was a powerful aid to turn-by-turn navigation.”

My take: I agree that the Motorola Droid is a promising phone and Google Maps Navigation is a big plus. Nevertheless, as you know from reading this blog, I’m still going to wait to see how the HTC Dragon/Passion pans out.

EReaders

Unless you’ve been camping out with the Taliban, you couldn’t have missed that new eReaders seem to be announced almost weekly. James’ thoughts:

“I’m not a big fan of e-Ink screens, I have the original Kindle but I rarely use it. I don’t like the grayness of the page background, and the slow, flickering page turns detract from the joy of reading books. I find standard LCD screens give me a more pleasurable reading experience, as I can control the brightness, color of the page background and the font. I do a lot of reading in low lighting conditions, and LCDs do a better job.”

My take: I agree. Of course, LCD screens do come at a price of lesser battery life. But it’s a much better reading experience. And you don’t have to clip on a light as with the Kindle.

I’ve been experimenting with different types of devices as eReaders. One device type is phones. James says:

“I have used a couple of phones with their small screens: the Droid and the iPhone 3G. I used eReader Pro on both phones and found both of them to work as expected. I preferred the iPhone with eReader, mainly because the Android version on the Droid doesn’t display pages with full justification. I found uneven lines to be a bit distracting on the Droid.”

My take: eReader software is more mature on the iPhone than for the Android OS, so this may change.

I’ve also been experimenting with MIDs as eReaders. James’ observation:

“I also tried reading with several UMPCs, and even a larger Tablet PC. The Viliv S5 was a good reader due to the 5-inch screen, and it was small and light enough to be comfortable to hold for extended periods. I tried two 7-inch devices, the Viliv X70 and the S7. These two UMPCs are the same size, although one has a keyboard and the other none. The 7-inch screen was just about the perfect size to duplicate the reading experience I would get from a paperback book. I was a bit surprised to find that overall, I preferred the S7 over the X70. The X70 is a pure slate device, so I thought it would be more comfortable to hold for longer periods. What I found was that the S7 in slate mode, even though it is a full convertible UMPC, was more comfortable to hold. The plastic case of the S7 was lighter than that of the X70, and the edges smoother on the S7. The S7 became my favorite device to serve as an e-book reader.”

My take: I agree 7” seems optimal. I find the X70 easy to hold and not too heavy. Maybe the S7 is even better. I don’t know because I haven’t handled one.

I’ve also tried Tablet PC’s, like my 12” Dell Latitude XT2. James has made a similar attempt:

“I also tried the ThinkPad x200 Tablet PC in slate mode, and while the 12-inch screen approximated the page size of a hardcover book, I found it too heavy to use for long sessions. I did like the big screen and the touch controls, but not for those long reading periods.”

My take: I agree. It’s a great reading experience. But not for too long. My arms get tired. I guess I need to pump more iron.

Until next week.

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