Wednesday, February 22, 2012

This Little Tablet Went To.....

When the end of the year tablet debates were swirling around, I was quietly gaining some of my own experience in this area. I really didn't have an opinion, and to be honest, it's still a work in progress. This is an entirely new technology concept for me, but since I love technology and new gadgets to help me get things done, I knew I needed to explore this further. After initiating this new toy, uh, I mean tool, at RootsTech, I thought I would fill you in on my progress so far.

Once upon a time.....
I was searching for a tablet to call my own, yet EXTREMELY hesitant to fork out $600-$800 on one of the most popular brands. I was a veteran iPhone user, having had one for about 3 years, which naturally meant  my leaning towards and iPad. The price was my main beef. Once that obstacle was in my way, I was very ready to begin looking at other options.

I knew the size of an iPad, and had seen it in use among my colleagues. Even my preacher looks pretty swanky up there using his instead of a paper notepad - but then, he looks cool all the time! The size was a concern for me. I knew it was large, and I wondered how I would carry it around despite it's thin and light-weight nature. I also knew it had some limitations, such as not being able to read Flash sites or not easily handling documents. But, you can't argue with the streamline nature of iPad: it's video, music, visual and app strength. We both know Apple and Android fight over the app market, but there really isn't any contest - Apple won that one long ago. (I will talk a bit more on that in a minute)

Since my budget was just not going to give on the price, and since I wasn't willing to settle for a version that was tied to wireless only, I started shopping all of the options. My debate was between 7 or 10 inch, and anything in between - and I was busy doing my homework on the subject. As long as the tablet was Android at least, I figured I could get by. But, that is when it happened....I found a SALE!!

 Since I am a tethered ATT&T customer, and since I knew I could get the data plan from them, I thought I would take a look at their offerings beyond the iPad. I was not convinced I had to go with them, but I needed to see what their plans looked like, etc. This was about a week and a half before Thanksgiving, and just prior to the release of the Kindle Fire, which I had on my radar as an opti
on. I stumbled upon a "deal" they had online at the time - a refurbished Samsung Galaxy Tab for $70! You read that right - SEVENTY DOLLARS! Yes, I know, refurbished is not the same, but I am a sale sucker and most of my pcs have been refurbished - with no adverse effects. Refurbished did not bother me in the least, and the only string attached was the commitment to start a 2 year contract for the data plan at $35 dollars a month. Since I was already prepared to begin a new data plan, I was happy with the whole arrangement, and figured this was a great way for me try out the tablet experience for a couple of years to see what I think, and to decide whether the size I am getting is too small for my needs. I purchased the 7 inch that they were offering and my tablet adventures began.

When I got the new toy/tool, I was a little disappointed in the size, but it sure was pretty! We played together a while as I learned this new Android system, but we weren't exactly bonding as I had hoped. I did like that it was small enough to fit in my purse very easily - and cute enough to be seen its new leather case that resembles a book! I found the Android system to be clunky and not as intuitive as the Apple platform I was used to. The hidden or pop-up menus are still proving to be an adjustment. I was also disappointed in the app availability with the Android. Some of my iPhone favs were not there, and even the rest of the offerings seemed sparse. I expect, as time goes by, to see Android and Apple become more even in the app department, but as of now, there is still a great divide, in my opinion. I did LOVE the reading apps. I have both the Kindle and Nook loaded, and have enjoyed buying some e-books for the flight to SLC - this part worked beautifully!

Beyond using it to surf or read before bed, I found I was not using it as much as I had hoped. I took it to work one evening, and found it to be a great tool for helping patrons at the reference desk in the Library! If we were looking for something in particular, I could take the tablet along to the stacks and search for the next item without having to go back to a pc for another search. This was VERY helpful. I also appreciated its ability to read Flash sites. I was not so convinced that I could use this for blogging very easily, but I was willing to give that a try.
In preparation for RootsTech, I was going to try using the tablet only while traveling. After hauling around my laptop last year, I was ready to fly with only a tablet. In anticipation of this new plan, I purchased a Samsung dock keyboard to aid in my blogging (about $50). The semi-full-sized keyboard is the bomb! I love this ability which really extends the usefullness of this tool! However, despite this additional gem that allowed me to blog on the fly without a laptop, there was no USB port to allow me to upload pics from my camera.  There is a micro SD card slot in the Tab, but this means I would have to buy a special micro converter for my camera, advice, try to get a Tab with a USB port! With this latest complication, I was forced to bring along the laptop anyway (besides, I had other work duties I needed to perform while away which involved the full Office Suite, and which is way beyond a Tablet's ability). 
During the conference, I chose to bring along only the tablet and left the laptop in the room. While my colleagues were getting out their laptops to type notes, I was forcing myself to use the Tablet, usually without the keyboard. At first, this was clunky, and I found myself wanting to reach for the dock, or lusting over small netbooks that could type easily, but so lightweight they didn't weigh you down as a laptop would. But then it happened.....she and I found our groove!

I am a session hopper when it comes to conferences. Especially at RootsTech when there are so many concurrent sessions for each time slot. When I go into a session, I sit or stand at the back, ready to leave if the session is not quite what I was expecting - of after half of it, I dash out to catch a snippet from another going on down the hall. As I walk around, I suddenly realized that I could easily stand or walk and have the tablet open, typing very fast with both thumbs like speed texting on my iPhone - yet much easier! As a side note, I was using EverNote for my note taking which meant everything was already waiting for me back home or on my laptop as soon as I hit the sync button - glorious! By the end of the conference, I was no longer jealous of the laptops around me and smugly got out my new best friend for note taking when we were in a lab session where laptops could not fit!
After I purchased my Tab, I loaded genealogy apps on there - the free ones only - but they are very inadequate so far. They will read Gedcoms - which was helpful when researching at the Family History Library in SLC - but you cannot alter them or add to them in any way. I attended Jill Ball's presentation on her experience with the Galaxy Tab and genealogy, but she had not reviewed the paid genealogy apps either, so maybe after they all work their bugs out, we can purchase these apps with confidence. I have heard RootsMagic has one coming soon, but I am waiting for Legacy to get one going - hurry up please!
To wrap things up for now, she and I are good buddies. I still don't use her as often as I should, but she has earned her keep! I can't wait to partner up with her again for NGS in Cincy or to take her on a real vacation - not only for her reading abilities - but for the blogging function I love with the additional keyboard. There is another option for an outside keyboard - a bluetooth keyboard instead of a dock - but they are thinner and smaller, and roughly the size of the tablet since they are designed to fit in the same cover. I have also heard that the other carrier companies block the bluetooth feature with the Galaxy Tabs, but ATT&T allows this function. 

We will give an update if our relationship develops further, but for now, we are still learning about each other. BTW, the week after I purchased my Galaxy, the Kindle Fire was released for $199. That same day, ATT&T raised the price of the refurbished Galaxy Tab to match at $199. I was a little surprised, but then, not really. I have not checked to see if they lowered them again - but keep your eye out for special deals! Mine functions exactly as a new one would - so I am very happy with the reduced price!
Toodles for now!
C and the GT


Carol said...

RootsMagic does NOT have an Android app yet, I wish! They are sooooooo behind on this, a huge fail in my mind.

Legacy does have one, forcing me to learn new software (I have never used Legacy). I am not sure I am willing to stay with Legacy, yet. SIGH I have NOT yet downloaded the app.

GedStartPro is supposed to work very well with Legacy. I did manage to get a RM file on there, but, I could not take my entire data base of less than 17,000. I am not happy with the small size of any photos or multimedia attached either.

So far getting a family history app that appeals to me has been a frustrating tour.

Input to both RM and Legacy at the same time is not a lot of fun either, but, as I cannot decide which program to stay with I am forced to do both.

Cheri Daniels said...

Thanks for the RootsMagic update! I changed my wording to "coming soon". The reason I had mentioned it was a rumor I heard before RootsTech saying there was one coming, but you are right, I never found one existing yet when I was searching for apps to take along pre-conference.

About Legacy's app.....I saw that, but it is made by a third party, called Telgen limited, that also makes one for With it not being made by Legacy's parent company, plus costing $14.99, I chose not to download yet. I have had Legacy for years and find it to be a great product, although I purchased it based on its similarity to the old Generations software and have not tried some of the newer ones out there like RootsMagic. If RootsMagic would come out with a full app, or semi-full app model I would consider a change.

Ironically, Legacy's web site advertises their mobile versions which are for pocketpc and Palm Ios!! How ancient!! These two companies need to step it yesterday!

I did download GedStar Pro before RootsTech and tried uploading both a Legacy file and gedcom, but it wasn't quite working well...I know I was in a hurry, so this is not a bad reflection on their part....I will probably give them another try soon. At the same time, I downloaded ezGED Viewer which was free and just took my Gedcom with was functional and let me see everything, but each time I get in....I have to re-find my gedcom on the tablet, and kind of "re-parse" the content.....very inconvenient! Hopefully the companies will rush to make good quality apps instead of these clunky rushes to be first!

Carol said...

Cheri, let's not hold our breath on Legacy coming out with their own app, I get the feeling they are reasonably pleased with Families by Telgen.

Friends of mine that are using Families on their Androids and on iPads are VERY happy with it, but, be cautious of uploading back to Legacy from Families, one of the gals had some spacing issues in her note fields. HUGE issues.

At some point I guess I just need to pay the $$ and download that Families app and try it out. Time has been an issue lately, so, I keep putting it off. :-)

Kathy Reed said...

Happy to see that you are coming to NGS in Cincinnati. Hopefully, we'll be able to meet up.

Cheri Daniels said...

Kathy - we'll have to compare schedules and make some time! I'll be speaking on Friday afternoon, attending some of the paid lunches, and spending some time in two different booths....but I can't wait - and definitely want to meet up!


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