Saturday, November 27, 2010

Archos 9 Full Review

Yes, I’m late to the party on getting one of these things, but when the deal came up on craigslist, I just couldn’t resist.


Archos is a French company that has been making PMPs for years. They have recently turned to Android to power their PMP line, which will soon head into a 3rd generation. Along the way, they built a 9” touchscreen slate based on the Atom platform and running Windows 7, and managed to get it to the market about a year before most other Windows net-slates. They had to compromise a few things to get there, mainly going with the slower Z515 processor, and that was an upgrade after reviewers and consumers complained about the slowness of the original Z510. There’s only 1GB of RAM, and it comes out of the box with Windows 7 starters. The resistive touchscreen might look like a compromise to some, but it’s actually much more pen friendly than the more popular (and expensive) capacitive screens. It may not be up to par with the HP slate that’s going to come out one of these days, but it’s a good collection of compromises that results in a decent writing and internet experience for times when you don’t want to haul a full size tablet.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Archos 9 in “netbook” mode



I’m hanging out at the office while some of the guys record stuff, and I brought the Archos 9.  I’ve been using it mostly as a portable notepad and couch surfing tablet, but thanks to the handy kickstand, a bluetooth keyboard and USB mouse (which could be the bluetooth one, but that’s currently paired with the big tablet), it’s standing up on the desk being a netbook while I turn the handwritten notes I’ve taken in OneNote into a typed review in Word.  Also, it made this blog post.  Yay for versatility. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The current state of tablets


Tablets are all the rage, and none of them are what the original Tablet PCs started out as.  I’ve been following several tabletPC related forums to get the most out of my HP TC1100, and my “new” HP 2730p tablet PCs.  Note the “PCs” part of it.  What makes a tablet PC?  The tablet part comes from the world of drawing tablet input devices.  Those are things like Wacom Intuos or Bamboo pads that attach as a peripheral to a PC for input.  These use active digitizers to sense where the pen is over the tablet.  The PC part comes from the fact that there’s a whole PC hiding behind the drawing tablet.  So a tablet PC is a full computer with an active digitizer. 

Lately, folks have been wandering into the forums “what tablet should I get” sections asking about cheap android “tablets” or other iPad alternatives.  What happens is general confusion, as the tabletPC crowd doesn’t really know anything about crappy android tablets, and the people asking don’t know anything about active digitizers or actual tablet PCs. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

SmartMusic needs some competition

To start though, let me just say that Smart Music is awesome.  It has become an invaluable tool in my studio, from providing accompaniments I can’t play, to reading exercises with clear feedback, to Harry Potter with full orchestral accompaniment.  My students love it. 

The problem is that it’s buggy, and bloated.  However, with no competition, there is little incentive to make it better.  Since it runs as subscription software, they don’t even have to worry about selling us the upgrade, they just make us renew the subscription, or we lose access to all the accompaniments.  There is nothing else out there that even comes close to providing what SmartMusic does, and I haven’t even come close to using half the features it provides.  I actually only use the Student edition, as I don’t need a gradebook, and Suzuki pieces don’t provide assessment anyway.  One of the main reasons behind upgrading my tablet was so SmartMusic would run more smoothly.  2011 already performed much better on my older tc1100, but I wanted really perfect playback and recording.  Which I got, except for….