We hope you enjoyed Gear Diary’s coverage of CES 2011! All of the editors of the site worked with various devices, but they all had one thing in common: Google. Yes, Gear Diary at CES was brought to you by various Google OSes and services. What were our favorite Google-y gadgets? Read on to find out!
My day job is fairly restricted, and so I don’t have access to anything behind the scenes at Gear Diary on my work PC. Thankfully, I have the CR-48 Chrome OS computer, and that made my life very easy all week while Dan, Larry and Judie were in Las Vegas. Thanks to Chrome OS’s super fast wake/sleep it was easy to grab the computer, edit the posts coming out of CES, and keep things moving nice and smooth. I also had the chance to test Verizon’s built-in 3G, and it was AWESOME. Everything was nice and fast, and it lets me track my per-MB use so I could adjust and buy more internet as needed.
And when I wasn’t near Chromey (as I affectionately call my CR-48), my Droid came in very handy. It was a bit eye-strain inducing, but I was able to zoom in and edit posts on the fly and keep the CES news flowing! Plus the WordPress app on Android made it much easier to quickly post press releases and other quickie posts.
Since Dan and I were taking part in a ScotteVest No Baggage Challenge for charity I could only afford to bring one “large” mobile device. The choices were my netbook, iPad or the Galaxy Tab. The Tab was an easy pick because of its features. The Galaxy Tab has a built-in camera. That meant I could use it to easily snap a photo from the show floor for insertion into a Gear Diary article. Oh yeah, about those articles. The Tab works perfectly with WordPress, which is what we use at Gear Diary to write. It also has 3G built-in which means I was literally able to meet a company, hear about their products, snap a photo or two and then sit down and craft an article about them and upload it directly to the site not five minutes later. Did I mention the Tab is small so it easily fit inside my jacket and I carried it wherever I went?
WiFi in our hotel was very good and free to boot but one night it stopped working. I wanted to upload a video to my YouTube channel and in order to upload HD content from the iPhone (which is what I was using to shoot all my video this week) WiFi is required. So I used the hotspot feature of my EVO 4G to do so. And since there is now 4G service in Las Vegas the video uploaded in a record time.
Like Carly, my work is very restrictive in terms of external access, and I often have to travel between the research, engineering, and various local manufacturing sites in the area. Because of this, the Droid is my constant companion. This has definitely helped me out doing stuff for Gear Diary – this past week was crazy, and being away from my laptop meant working on my Droid, but with the excellent Gmail app and particularly the WordPress app, I was able to keep up with the flow!
I went to a number of meetings with Judie and Kevin. In those sessions Judie was the main discussant grabbing the key important facts, Kevin took pictures and I took the running notes. It worked great. Better than expected in fact. Before we would start, Judie took a single picture of something relevant and began a post in the WordPress app. Having the camera on board was fantastic since it allowed the relevant media for a quick post to be capture in real-time. I took the notes using the Evernote for Android app and then, after cleaning up the notes a bit emailed it to Judie who cleaned it up and put up the initial post.
The first time we tried this system I was using the Vlingo keyboard and typing the way I would normally type. It worked well enough, but halfway through my fingers were completely cramped. That night Nuance released their new T9 Android keyboard. It includes access to their Dragon Dictation for voice-to-text writing (YEAH!!!), but also has the ability for “continuous input”. (Think Swype but much better predictive text). It saved my hands from cramping and let me get more notes on the fly. It worked quite well.
Throughout the week I kept joking about how much I missed my iPad. I did, but the more I used the Tab the more it grew on me. The flexibility it offers is awesome. I did find that it locked up on me far more than I have ever experienced with the iPad but, then again, the ability to truly multi-task made a huge difference.
On Saturday I commented to Judie that I was selling the tab when I got home. She told me she wasn’t, and that I might want to consider her rationale. It has to do with getting back to the initial roots of the site and why it is named “Gear Diary” but I’ll let her explain that in a later post. In the meantime let’s just say her argument was convincing and, as a result, this iOS Guy is keeping the Tab… at least until Motorola releases their new tablet and phone. 🙂
I stopped using my iPad the day the Samsung Tab arrived, and I can’t say that I’ve yet truly missed it. The Tab is smaller, lighter, has a built-in camera, and it perfectly integrates with all of my cloud data, which makes sense since much of it is stored on Google. As Larry and Dan mentioned, we were able to use our Tabs at CES for posting on the fly, something we have never been able to properly do with our iPads or other mobile devices.
Whether Dan wants to admit it or not, I think his Tab turning point came at Showstoppers. I was at another dinner when I got a text from Kevin saying that he could get me a Samsung Tab case if he gave up his last business card at the Unifi booth. Since I didn’t yet have one I liked, I told him to go for it, and we’d figure something out about cards after the fact. When I got there and took a look at the branded freebie case, I was so impressed that I turned in a business card and got a second one. After seeing my Tab in the case, Dan traded in his Unifi iPad case for one, and because he also wanted one, later I gave Larry my spare. You see, sometimes the accessories really do make the product more usable. We are going to have to try to figure out who the OEM for that case was, because it is one that we would love to share with you all, but without a way to purchase it, there is no point.
The fact of the matter is, I enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) using the Tab so much that once the Zinio app finally makes it to the US Android Marketplace, there will be nothing preventing me from completely making the switch, at least until the iPad2 comes along and presumably, offers a compelling reason to switch back … if it can.
One of the things I liked so much about using the Tab at CES was the ability to snap pictures and make quick posts — some as short as the ones I usually make on Twitter, which made me realize that I miss doing little quickie posts on Gear Diary. Somewhere along the way, Twitter started to suck up my short posts, as it was so much easier to snap a picture and write a sentence or two about new gear or whatever when I was on the go — or at lest away from my computer. Suddenly doing little quickie posts is a whole lot more attractive when using the Tab, and for that reason, I’ve created the “GD Quickie” Category and that’s what will go there — quick posts about whatever. Sounds fun to me, and I hope that you will agree.