Disclosure: Some posts on this blog are sponsored, meaning that I received goods, services, or monetary payment for my writing. My opinions however, are not 'purchased' and are always 100% my own. Posts contain affiliate links that I earn a commission on. This disclosure is done in accordance with the FTC 10 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Today's Technology - The Utility Of The Tablet

To say that technology has come a long way is an understatement. Some of the first computing machines built were the size of a large room. They either had the purpose of doing  minor calculations or decoding messages for the military. Today, we have computers that are thousands of times more powerful than the ones I just mentioned and we wear them on our wrists, we hold them in our hands, and we carry them in our pockets, purses, and backpacks. It's pretty wild and amazing when you take a step back and look at it, isn't it?

I recently purchased Google's (Asus) Nexus 7 (2013) 32GB for my wife. I saw it as a way for her to keep up on her blog and social media without having to stare into a tiny 4-inch screen on-the-go. But as with all things, I have to have my hands on new 'toys' to tinker and play with. It didn't take me very long before I realized something... this tablet has so many forms. It can be a family computer, a portable desktop computer, an ultra-portable laptop, or a multi-functional entertainment system and all you'll need are a few apps and hardware add-ons.

For this article, I will be referring to Google's (Asus) Nexus 7 (2013), however there are other tablets on the market that also support these possible 'forms' such as Microsoft's Surface Pro.

Form #1 - Family Computer
For this, you need nothing but the tablet itself. The Nexus 7 allows for one master account and multiple user accounts for the device, each can be programmed with their own individual password and setup. For instance, if User A has the Facebook app installed, User B will not have it installed unless he or she wants it installed. User B could have five or six games installed, but User A won't. While any app or program installed on the device can be seen on the master list of downloaded apps, each user gets their own custom interface, making it ideal for multi-users who share one device. And for the parents out there who might worry that their kid will set a password so you can't get into it, you can set parameters and a master password, as well as simply deleting any user via the master account.

Form #2 - Portable Desktop Computer
When you think portable desktop, you automatically think of a laptop. But with laptops, they are usually much more expensive, far less powerful, and less satisfying than their desktop counterparts. However, with a decent Wi-Fi connection and a useful little app called 'Splashtop Remote Desktop', you can have your desktop computer on your tablet. Some of you may have already heard about remote desktop, or, being able to control your home computer from a phone or tablet. And in many cases, such apps are slow and lag, meaning the movement you make in real-time takes seconds to show up on the remote device being controlled.

Splashtop is the exception. Aside from a minor issue with its right-click with video games, it is one of the BEST remote desktop apps I've ever tried. By downloading the app to my tablet and downloading the Splashtop Streamer program to my computer, I can access my desktop computer in its fullest. Music, video games, and files are available to me at the simple click of a button in REAL TIME - again, granted - only if I have a decent Wi-Fi connection. I will say however, that I do not recommend doing this with an older, less-powerful tablet. A quad-core tablet with at least a Tegra 3 graphics or equivalent and decent RAM is recommended.

(This is showing how with a fast Wi-Fi connection, a video of Fox's Family Guy is playing in real-time in correlation to the tablet via Splashtop Remote Desktop) 

(Note: The tablet does not need to be next to the desktop computer for this app to work.)

Form #2.5 - Ultra-Portable Laptop
I codenamed this form #2.5 because it greatly helps the idea of form #2. You might be asking yourself, "Okay, I have my desktop computer controllable on my tablet screen, but it's still just a touch screen tablet. Where is the mouse and keyboard?" Luckily, I have an answer for you. I purchased a tablet case cover that comes with a Bluetooth keyboard attached to it . More specifically, I purchased a Bear Motion Premium Folio Case with detachable Bluetooth Keyboard. Along with that, I purchased a USB to Micro USB adapter and Logitech's M125 Retractable Corded Mouse. With these products, I did the following:
- Place the tablet inside the cover
- Connect the wireless Bluetooth Keyboard to the tablet
- Physically connect the male-end of the USB to Micro USB adapter to the tablet
- Connect Logitech M125 mouse to the female-end of the adapter

It was simple plug and play from there. So what makes it portable? I leave the adapter plugged into the keyboard, where it inconspicuously hides itself inside the case when closed. Then I just carry the small mouse in my pocket with the cord retracted and hidden beneath the base of it. This is a phenomenal option for college students who don't want to carry around a heavy or large laptop. As a side note, the keyboard despite being small, is surprisingly easy to type on and get the hang of.

Form #3 - Multi-Functional Entertainment System
You can do this with one or both of these hardware add-ons. One is Google's Chromecast and the other is a HDMI to Micro USB adapter. With Google's Chromecast, you can plug it into any HDMI port on a TV and with a Wi-Fi or internet connection, use it to connect to your phone or tablet to play content from apps such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Prime straight to your TV without any wires. Not bad for a flat $30 cost, not counting the Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Prime service cost.

The second option as I mentioned, is a HDMI to Micro USB adapter. This option requires you to hook your phone charger up into your  adapter, plug your TV's HDMI cable into the adapter as well, and then finally connect your adapter to your phone or tablet. It may be a bit more of a mess than Google's Chromecast, however there is neither Wi-Fi nor internet connection needed. Not only can it display your Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Prime content on your TV, but it displays ANY content on your phone to your TV. This way allows you to use your TV screen as a much larger cell phone or tablet display. Great for when you go on vacation, you can use the hotel room TV to play games or watch your shows.

At this point you might wonder how much all of these gadgets and apps cost. So I'll give you the breakdown.

Google's (Asus) Nexus 7 (2013) 32GB = $220
Bear Motion Premium Folio Case = $24
Logitech M125 mouse = $19
USB to Micro USB Adapter = $2
HDMI to Micro USB Adapter = $9
Google Chromecast = $30

Total = $304

For around $300, that is a LOT of utility to have. All of these functions may not be useful for everyone, but it's nice to have the ability when it's needed. For any questions regarding anything in this article or any instructions, feel free to contact me at Andrew_Figueroa@masterofmom.com.

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post, and as always, my opinions are 100% my own.