keyboard

I don’t normally think much of clones, but the Remix Ultra from Jide is intriguing.

Let’s get it out of the way: it’s basically a rip-off of the Surface, right down to the aesthetics, adjustable kickstand, thin detachable keyboard cover, location of SD card and ports, etc. Even the software looks the same.

Fortunately, there are two key differences that can validate the Remix Ultra’s existence. The first is that the tablet is based on Android and with a custom launcher that’s designed for productivity. The second is price.

I’m in the middle of testing a Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 Tablet and, there’s no sugar coating it, Android is terrible for tablets right now and especially for productivity use cases.

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One of the best things about the Surface Pro 3 is its pen. It’s changed the way I take notes, brainstorm and review PDFs. As useful as the pen is, however, I can’t help but think its implementation in Windows is a half-measure.

Currently, the pen’s behavior is different depending on where you use it. In the operating system parts of Windows and in programs like Word, the pen is a mouse replacement. Then in certain apps like OneNote, it acts like a pen that you can draw with. You can mark up PDF files, but not JPG or DOC files.

This specificity is fine for knowledgeable users, but for casual users it’s confusing to remember what the pen can be used for where. If there’s no clear sense how a tool will be used, chances are it won’t be.

For the pen to ever have mainstream adoption, it should be used consistently no matter where you are, like the mouse or keyboard. Ideally, you should be able to write, draw and mark-up with the pen everywhere. The pen doesn’t ever need to be a mouse replacement.

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I’ve long maintained that the real competition for Chromebooks aren’t Windows PCs, they’re tablets. Here’s what I wrote:

[The Chromebook] is a device people with low computing needs might deem good enough. It’s capable for mail, web browsing and light office work; and for most people, that’s all they ever need…You know what else is excellent for low computing needs? Tablets, which have already been eating into the PC market for years for precisely that reason. If Chromebooks didn’t exist today, I suspect more tablets would have been sold in its place instead of Ultrabooks.

Chromebooks so far have found most success in the education market, where the device has gone head to head with — you guessed it — the iPad. I also wrote how ridiculous it is for schools to choose iPads over Chromebooks:

Education for children of that age is also relatively basic — it’s about teaching them where and how to research information (browser), how to type (keyboard) and how to write reports (Google docs) — and for that Chromebooks are perfectly adequate. You don’t need anything more advanced (Office) until later, where a similarly priced Windows machine might make more sense.

What doesn’t make any sense are iPads. iPads are consumption devices — what would you need to teach about consumption to kids? Here’s a videogame you should play? Here’s how you watch videos? Here’s how you use Facebook?

Why would you teach a child how to type with an onscreen keyboard instead of a real one?

Add to it the fact that iPads cost nearly twice as Chromebooks, and it just boggles the mind that iPads are doing well in schools at all.

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As expected, according to IDC, iPad sales declined 13% year-over-year while the tablet market grew 7%. That’s bad for Apple. Part of it is the longer replacement cycle; another is that iPads are not competitive with “good enough” Android tablets that cost substantially less. But this is a story we’ve explored before on the Cornerplay.

What’s more interesting is Windows 2-in-1 hybrid devices, which IDC reports at 4% of the market while pure Windows tablets are just 0.6%. That means 2-in-1s are 87% of all Windows tablets.

While those are tiny numbers, Windows tablets grew 67% in an environment where iPads actually declined. IDC expects this forward momentum to continue, and for Windows to achieve 11% market share by 2018.

What do we think? Predicting technology is like trying to thread a needle on top of a speeding train, but we’re up for the challenge.

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The Internet is in a tizzy now that editing documents in Office for iOS and Android is free for non-businesses. Remember when Microsoft finally made Windows Phone free for OEMs? We all thought, it’s about time, by which of course means it’s too late. The fact that people are surprised by this particular move means it’s not too late.

It’s actually not that crazy of a move. 90% of Office’s revenue comes from businesses (if memory serves me correctly), so there’s not much cannibalization at risk. Further, Microsoft was never been able to monetize Office on the web or on mobile.

People don’t get Office 365 just so they can edit documents on their iPads; they get Office 365 for the PC and iPad compatibility is just a bonus. Creating and editing Office documents on mobile remains a niche activity; and arguably one that average consumers aren’t currently willing to pay for.

Think of Office on mobile devices as an extension of Office on the web — something free for light users but not a replacement for heavy users, who still prefer PCs with large screens and keyboards to do work.

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Along with the Nexus Player, which disappointed, Google’s Nexus 9 was also recently released and reviewed. It’s been described as having an OK display; good but not jaw dropping performance; above average speakers; nice feel but with small, noticeable flaws; and generally not something that beats the iPad given its $400 price. Lollipop is awesome as expected.

That’s all well and good, but there are two things about the Nexus 9 I was particularly interested in from an industry point of view:

  1. The Nexus 9’s size and weight
  2. Its dedicated keyboard cover

Is the 9-inch display the best of two worlds, or the worst? Is the Nexus 9 an appreciably good productivity device?

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Salon posted an article last week that seemed to escape the notice of most in the tech world, but it’s a fascinating read for those interested in the business of gadgets and education.

The story in a nutshell: the LA school district, despite needing money to spend on basic things like repairing its infrastructure, bought US$1 billion of iPads from Apple with little to no discount. Which turned out to be a terrible decision because iPads don’t have keyboards and make poor learning devices for students.

Read it here and then come back. Done?

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