Archive for July, 2012

Why I Chose a Windows 7 Based Tablet

A couple months ago I finally made the plunge into the world of tablet computers.  It was a long journey as I bounced from iPads to Android based  machines and finally to Windows based machines.  Throughout my journey I wavered between these three basic choices several times.  Many, in fact most, of my piano teacher friends were choosing the iPad.  There seemed to be an almost limitless number of useful apps written for the iPad.  I was strongly considering the iPad and researching all the ways I could utilize the iPad at my studio.

My son in law is a computer professional and I sought his advise.  His advise was to wait.  This type of computer device wasn’t really ready for prime time.  He said to wait for a couple generations until this device was sufficiently designed for end users.  My research led me find that Bill Gates had come to the same conclusion.  Bill Gates main complaint was that, even with the iPad, this device needed better input capabilities.  He mentioned that in the research labs there were some fine advances in the making but they were not quite ready.  Another legitimate complaint with both iPads and Android devices was the limited amount of expansion capabilities.  With this rather disheartening information I dropped the whole idea for several months.

After the iPad 3 came on the market my interest was again kindled but the main complaints of my son in law was not addressed with with the iPad 3.  The iPad 3 didn’t address the limitations of expansion and limited input devices.

Then I noticed that Windows was coming out with Windows 8. Windows 8 was to be designed with the touch capabilities on par with the iPad and other Android devices.  Touch is a big selling feature of the iPad and Android based devices.  Before this time I didn’t do any research into anything Windows based.  This information caused me to research out this avenue.  Having a tablet computer that would run programs as Microsoft Office seemed to be a necessity for business and educational applications.

YouTube was a great source for research.  Many people devote themselves to reviewing high tech equipment.  I found there were several Windows based tablet PC’s that were on the market.  Some were rather expensive but others were very comparable in price to the iPad and Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy.  Many of the reviews addressed the same limitations of the iPad that I was already familiar.

Basically, analysts divided the tablet market into two major groups; the business community and the non-business community.  Both markets have different customers they are trying to satisfy.  Of course, this helped me see why Bill Gates/Microsoft and Steve Jobs/Apple would have different perspectives.  The different visions of each man led them to create very different products.

The HP Slate 500

Eventually I came across a Windows 7 based device manufactured by HP (Hewlett Packard) called the Slate 500.  This device made very clear the difference between the visions of the creators of the Apple and Microsoft.   The creators of the Slate 500 designed this machine not only for business professionals BUT FOR PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS.  This really captured my attention.

The limitations of input devices was eliminated because the Slate 500 has included a digitizer pen that has an excellent program that can read ones handwriting with remarkable accuracy.  And not only that, commercial ARTISTS were pleased with using the Slate 500 for doing preliminary sketching.   So, the problem of input into the Slate 500 was addressed successfully.

Second the problem of expansion was almost completely solved.  The iPad’s memory capabilities are fixed.  The Slate 500 comes with 64 GB storage AND with the SD card slot one can purchase all the extra storage one may need.  I bought an extra 32 GB of extra storage for well under $20.

The rear view of the HP Slate 500 docking station

Another great feature of the Slate 500 is that it comes equipped with a docking station to charge the internal batteries or to use the machine when using an outside power source.  But this docking station is so much more.  The docking station also contains connections for HDMI.  It also contains 2 USB ports and that’s in addition to the one on the tablet itself.  There is also an audio port for connecting to external audio speakers.  One isn’t limited at all in any desire for expanding the Slate 500.

The HDMI is very useful because I can connect the Slate 500 to a 24 inch HDMI monitor.  This is a very useful feature for my studio work.  I can use the HDMI monitor as a projector in conjunction with Windows Paint for little presentations I can make for my students.

The USB ports were very useful because I purchased a bluetooth keyboard and mouse from Logitech for under $30.  When I need to use the Slate for more comprehensive work that requires more intense input I’m ready to work.  In fact, because my PC wasn’t available to be used this afternoon I used my Slate to write this blog.  Though for most work I do on the Slate the digitizer pen is completely sufficient.

Finally, the audio port included on the dock was easily connected to two Bose Speakers ($99) that gives my Slate exceptional sound quality when I want to play musical videos for my students.

To conclude, the reasons for my buying the Windows based Slate 500 are …..

1) It’s Windows based and runs Microsoft Office.

2) Its memory storage capabilities are not limited.

3)  Using it with additional input devices (keyboards – mice – digitizer pens) is no problem

4) It capacity for expansion; including 3 USB ports, SD cards, and HDMI

5) It is capable to the touch features expected of other tablet devices and smartphones.

6) It was designed with educators in mind.

7) DIDN’T MENTION IT but this can run Kindle as a portable eReader, too.

8) It’s fully capable of browsing the web

9) Microsoft has always caught up to Apple in the past and the nifty apps now available with the iPad will shortly find application with Windows devices as they gain in popularity.

My next blog will be on how I use the Slate 500 in my Music Studio.  Stay tuned.


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