Category Archives: eReader

Get an iPad Mini Now or Wait?

It’s about time for us teachers and students to start thinking about heading back to school.  I love this time of year:  shopping for back-to-school clothes, and supplies…and GADGETS!

I decided to sell my iPad 2 wifi and get an iPad Mini 3G, but I was faced with the ever present tech shoppers dilemma: Do I get the current generation or wait for the update?

I watched/read tons of reviews of the 1st gen iPad Mini to make sure it would meet my expectations. I investigated every rumor pertaining to the unveiling of the 2nd gen iPad Mini. I determined that the 1st gen iPad Mini exceeded the iPad 2 in performance – so it would be an upgrade for me. And, if the rumors are correct, the 2nd gen iPad Mini will be revealed sometime in the next 2-6 months – not very specific.

If a retina display is a high priority for you, and you can wait up to 6 months (according to rumors), and you don’t mind paying full retail price, then wait for the 2nd gen.

I’m not already spoiled by a retina iPad so even though the resolution of the current iPad Mini is the same as the iPad 2, its smaller display has a larger number of pixels per inch, giving it a sharper appearance. I decided to go with the 16GB iPad Mini 3G that retails  for $459. However, you can get the same model, only refurbished, directly from the Apple Online Store for only $389. Even if Apple announces an new iPad Mini in a couple months, it would probably be well after the 1st of the year before they started showing up in the refurbished store. I ordered the refurbished device. You can watch my unboxing below.


Gadget Fever and the Holidays

Don’t you hate it when you write a post on your mobile device, publish it, and it disappears forever!  Does this happen to anyone else?

I’m writing this post (for the second time) on my Toshiba z835 Ultrabook. I wrote this post the first time on my Nexus 7.


I was going to ask for the Nexus 7 for Christmas, but I got a severe case of gadget fever this summer and pre-ordered one from Google.  I use my Nexus 7 for a few hours every day, so I’m getting my money’s worth.  I watch videos on Netflix and YouTube, read the news, and browse gadgets on eBay.  I had hoped that I would be able to do some of my school work on the Nexus 7, but it turns out that productivity is much easier and more reliable on my ultrabook, or a real computer of any kind…(I’m still stewing about the lost post!)

I realize that no matter how well a device meets my wants and needs, I get bored with it and begin looking a new devices.  I think its a case of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”  My gadget fever really hits its peak about the middle of summer when I start thinking about going back to school, and this time of year, when the new has worn off my back to school gadget.

Well, this year, when I started feeling the twinges of holiday gadget fever, I started looking at old-school PDAs on eBay.  I ended up getting a Palm Tungsten E2 with a charger, leather like case, and a 64MB SD card for $20.


For the record, this is the best Palm device I have ever owned.  I had planned on using it as a journal / graphing calculator / alarm for school, but it seems my pockets are too full to accommodate anything else. I guess I could just leave it setting on my desk…I may give that a try next week, but I might be tempted to play Space Trader (my favorite Palm game) when I should be grading papers.

In the midst of me enjoying my new Palm, Microsoft released the Surface.


If I were in the market for a tablet right now, this would be the one – it’s got a full version of MS Office – everything I have been looking for in a tablet.  I’m ashamed to say I actually thought about selling my Toshiba z835 to get one on these.  If I didn’t already have a laptop, I would probably get a Surface and be happy, but I think ditching my laptop for a Surface would leave me constantly frustrated with all the things I couldn’t do.

I made it through the release of the Surface without succumbing to temptation, then Apple drops the iPad mini.


I had endured the months of rumors without the slightest hint of desire.  I have owned an iPad 2, and it is a wonderful device for media consumption. But my dream device has a productive side (maybe the Surface is my dream device).  Well, then I saw the iPad mini.  I can honestly say, I love the Surface for Its brain, but I love the iPad mini for its body.  I’m infatuated with the iPad mini’s design.

I considered selling the Nexus 7 on eBay and getting an iPad mini, but I really need to get my gadget spending under control.

I went to Best Buy yesterday and actually touched an iPad mini.  It was nice, but I resisted temptation.  Instead, I got a nice notebook from the Martha Stewart collection at Staples.


I’m excited about using it as a journal. I’ve gone through gadget phases and paper phases before.  For the sake of my bank account, I’m hoping this is the beginning of a long paper phase.

My Nexus 7 Has Arrived…FINALLY!

For the last 3 weeks I’ve felt like a 9 year old child waiting for Christmas.  But at long last my wait is over and the new Nexus 7 tablet has arrived at my door.

Lots of people have been complaining about a “shipping scandal” and the “lack of communication” from Google.  However, when I pre-ordered my 8GB Nexus 7 from the Google Play store, it was clearly stated that the tablet would ship in 2 to 3 weeks.  I received a confirmation via email shortly after I placed my order then another email notifying me when the tablet shipped and included a tracking number.  My tablet was delivered exactly 2 weeks after I ordered it.  I’m satisfied with that service.

The Kid and I did an unboxing that you can check out below.

Nexus 7 unboxing video

Nexus 7 Has Shipped!

Nexus 7

I pre-ordered Google’s Nexus 7 on July 3, and I received an email bright and early this morning (July 14) that my order has shipped.

I ordered the 8GB model of the 7″ tablet from the Google Play store for $199.  After sales tax and shipping were included, the total cost was $225.

The 8GB model is currently only available at Google Play, but the 16GB model is being sold at Google Play as well as retailers like Staples, Game Stop, and Office Depotfor $249.  I’ve heard that many of the retailers are sold out and may not be getting another shipment until mid August.

Nexus 7 covers – rumored to have the auto sleep/wake function.

If the rock bottom price hasn’t enticed you to purchase one of these shiny new tablets, Google Play is offering a $25 credit with

the purchase of a Nexus 7.  With this credit you can purchase apps, music, movies, books, and it just occured to me that you may be able to purchase the Nexus 7 cover, which is listed in Google Play as coming soon for $19.99.

Can a Tablet Replace a Textbook?

We’ve had a number of junior high and high school students using tablets for a full school year now, and I have lots of questions for those involved.  I would like to know how teachers and students feel about replacing textbooks with tablets.  I know that some schools use tablets in conjunction with textbooks, but I’m pretty sure that in order for tablets to be an economic possibility at my school, we would have to eliminate future textbook purchases.

Take a second to share how you feel.

Feel free to leave a comment if you need to elaborate.

What should my next tech purchase be?…

I like tech and I like school. My hobby is finding ways to incorporate tech in my classroom.  At the moment, I’m not using my tech to its potential.  I’m using a Toshiba Z835 ultrabook primarily for word processing and web browsing, and my Galaxy Note smartphone is basically just a PDA/camera.

My tech timing stinks.  After weeks of research and debating between a Windows PC and a Macbook, I bought a Windows PC (the Toshiba I mentioned earlier)…and within a few days, Apple announced iBooks Author.  iBooks Author is a free download from the Mac App Store and is only compatible with OS X 10.7.3 and higher.  I spent my entire spring break trying to run iBooks Author in a virtual machine.  After several unsuccessful attempts and a little research, I discovered that it’s impossible to run many Apple apps (iBooks Author, iWork, X Code) on a virtual machine like VMware and Parallels because they do not support Apple Quartz Extreme/Core Image (QE/CI) graphics acceleration technology.

I considered selling my laptop and getting an 11″ Macbook Air.  I want to be able to create my own interactive books and apps, but I decided that it’s just not practical at this point.  My school doesn’t have tablets for students yet, but I know it’s just a matter of time.

Rumors have resurfaced that Microsoft is working on an Office app for the iPad.  I used an iPad 2 for a while last year, but had to sell it when I couldn’t find a suitable app to us instead of MS Office.  These rumors piqued my interest, so I started doing a little research.  Even if the native MS Office app doesn’t pan out, I found a couple of interesting possibilities.

1) CloudOn

The Good – Gives you access to full featured Word, Excel, and Power Point.  The basic service is free and includes a couple of gig of storage on the CloudOn server.

The Bad – You must have 3G or Wifi access because the office suite is running on a remote server.  In order to have integrated Dropbox, you have to pay a monthly fee.

2)  Splashtop

The Good – Gives you remote access you your computer.  I have MS Office, Dropbox, SMART Notebook, and Exam View Test Generator that I use for school.

The Bad – I would only have access to my computer as long as I had internet access, but on a good note, since I would have access to Dropbox, I could view, edit, and even create docs with iWork on the rare occasions that I don’t have internet access.

One thing is for sure, I’m not making any major purchases until after Apple’s WWDC June 11-15.  I’m hoping to get info on the next iOS update and (cross fingers) a native MS Office app for iOS.

One Week with the Galaxy Note

Note:  I wrote this post on my Galaxy Note a few weeks ago and saved it as a draft, then forgot to publish it until now.

I’ve been using my new AT&T Galaxy Note for just over a week, and in this post I’ll highlight my likes and dislikes.


If you’ve read many reviews, you’ve probably noticed that people either love or hate the Galaxy Note.  I fall into the LOVE crowd.  The first time I saw the huge, beautiful screen combined with the stylus I knew instantly that I wanted one.  However, I can understand why some people would not be as infatuated with this phone as I am.

First of all, this phone is huge, yet I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did fit into the front pocket of some of my pants.  Now I only wear a fraction of my wardrobe…and it is so worth it!  I’ll just have to make sure that when I’m trying on new clothes, I also have to make sure that the phone fits – no problem.

Data Entry
Typing in portrait mode is uncomfortable for me, but landscape mode is perfect.  I’m typing this post on the Galaxy Note.  The handwriting recognition is nice, but takes practice.  The voice recognition is awesome, but if you have an Android phone, you already knew that.

S Memo
I’ve used this app for short notes in brief meetings and classes, but tomorrow I have a 4 hour meeting.  I’m looking foreward to puting S Memo – especially the voice recorder – to the test.

I never found a calendar app on my iPhone that I liked.  I want lots of information visible in the month view and Samsung nailed it. Good job!

Bottom Line
If you’re not sure if you would like this phone, you probably won’t.
If you can’t sleep at night because you’re up reading reviews, then get one, you’ll love it.