links for 2010-11-05

links for 2010-11-05


Galaxy Tab review, now with more Flash

This week I finally received the Galaxy Tab tablet that I ordered for the office. After using it on and off for a few days, I’m seeing some good and bad points to the device. It does look to be a promising start however.

First impressions of it are that it is both thicker and lighter than expected. These can both be explained by the plastic body that Samsung used. It does not feel as solid as an iPad or either of the Motorola Droid phones, but if it were built to those levels, without using Apple’s unibody construction, it would be a tank, and nobody could hold the thing. So they sacrificed a more solid body in the name of saving weight. It is probably a good trade-off for usability, not so much for durability.

We have used it for a few demos in the short time we have had it, and it gets a lot of looks and questions. People either know what it is and want to get their hands on it, or didn’t know about it and want to play with it. It is an attention getter, and that is a good thing for Samsung.

Next, the size issue. Everybody’s favorite turtleneck-wearing CEO recently panned the idea of 7-inch tablets, and I can see the point. Having used an iPad for a while now, it feels a little cramped, although considering my (and most everybody else’s) experience with Android is in the 3 or 4 inch screen range, it gives the illusion of feeling larger. Where it does shine, however, is typing. If you have used an iPad, you know that typing on the go requires holding it in one hand and going with the old hunt-and-peck with the other hand. The Galaxy Tab, in landscape orientation, is the perfect width for holding and typing with both thumbs, which people have grown familiar with on mobile devices. Swype is a poor addition to the Tab though. I have grown to really like Swype on my Motorola Droid X. It works very well there. On the Tab, the screen is too wide to keep your finger or thumb on the screen across the entire keyboard, unless you go back to the one-handed typing. Swype works great for a phone with a smaller screen, not so great on a tablet.

The screen on the Tab is great. The postive reviews of Samsung’s Super AMOLED screens are everywhere, so no need for me to say the same thing as everyone else. The screen is 1024 x 600, so despite the extra real estate, the resolution is not any extra. That means everything is blown up to a larger size. Since this is the first major release of an Android tablet, most apps were not created in that fine of detail. This leads to many apps looking a little fuzzy or rough. Again, not the fault of the Tab, but it brings the user-experience down a little bit.

The Android build on the Tab is slightly customized, but mostly a standard FroYo build. Samsung added a few nice touches, such as adding the controls for Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, etc. to the notification drop-down for quick access from any screen. Little things like that make for a good user experience. Samsung’s past history in updating their smartphone software should make people a little wary that any bugs fixes or upgrades will come in a timely manner.

One small thing gives the Tab a bit of a thumbs down for users. Rather than use a micro-USB connector for charging and data connections, Samsung chose to use a proprietary 30-pin connector. All of the major mobile manufacturers agreed to make micro-USB the standard for phones going forward. Apparently Samsung doesn’t think that should apply to a tablet. Now you’ll need to add one more cord to the pile in your bag, and you better not lose it.

In general, this is a good start for Android tablets. Considering the OS wasn’t made for tablet use (yet), it is a relatively good user experience. If you are an Android fan, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on one to try it out at least. The price is a little high. Without a contract, the Galaxy Tab is $599 from T-Mobile (and most of the other carriers.) An iPad with 3G starts at $629, with a larger screen and an established app ecosystem. They are completely different devices, but that is the standard everyone will hold Samsung to. The Tab is a solid base hit, and it sets the standard for Android tablets. With a bit of improvement and the tablet-friendly (as rumored) Android 3.0, I have high hopes for the Galaxy Tab 2.

Edit added 11.30.2010

In my initial review, I forgot to mention one of the largest differences between the Galaxy Tab and the iPad…..Flash support. How could I have missed that? Well, two simple reasons. First, most major web sites have finally picked up Android devices in browser detection and direct you to a mobile version of the site. The other is that when you go to a site using Flash, or manually override to visit a full version of a site, Flash feels like, well, Flash. Sites load a bit slower due to the added content, and scrolling is not quite as smooth when there are a lot of Flash animations on a page, but otherwise, it works just fine. Videos play, animations move, and interactions interact. There are still all of the old caveats of Flash on a touchscreen device, but it works acceptably well. As more powerful Android devices show up on the market (dual-core processors, Tegra 2, etc.), Flash performance will work just fine. Oh, and it doesn’t appear to drain the battery any faster than anything else. Running graphics intensive apps drained the battery  just as much, if not more.

Galaxy Tab review

This week I finally received the Galaxy Tab table that I ordered for the office. After using it on and off for a few days, I’m seeing some good and bad points to the device. It does look to be a promising start however.

First impressions of it are that it is both thicker and lighter than expected. These can both be explained by the plastic body that Samsung used. It does not feel as solid as an iPad or either of the Motorola Droid phones, but if it were built to those levels, without using Apple’s unibody construction, it would be a tank, and nobody could hold the thing. So they sacrificed a more solid body in the name of saving weight. It is probably a good trade-off for usability, not so much for durability.

We have used it for a few demos in the short time we have had it, and it gets a lot of looks and questions. People either know what it is and want to get their hands on it, or didn’t know about it and want to play with it. It is an attention getter, and that is a good thing for Samsung.

Next, the size issue. Everybody’s favorite turtleneck-wearing CEO recently panned the idea of 7-inch tablets, and I can see the point. Having used an iPad for a while now, it feels a little cramped, although considering my (and most everybody else’s) experience with Android is in the 3 or 4 inch screen range, it gives the illusion of feeling larger. Where it does shine, however, is typing. If you have used an iPad, you know that typing on the go requires holding it in one hand and going with the old hunt-and-peck with the other hand. The Galaxy Tab, in landscape orientation, is the perfect width for holding and typing with both thumbs, which people have grown familiar with on mobile devices. Swype is a poor addition to the Tab though. I have grown to really like Swype on my Motorola Droid X. It works very well there. On the Tab, the screen is too wide to keep your finger or thumb on the screen across the entire keyboard, unless you go back to the one-handed typing. Swype works great for a phone with a smaller screen, not so great on a tablet.

The screen on the Tab is great. The postive reviews of Samsung’s Super AMOLED screens are everywhere, so no need for me to say the same thing as everyone else. The screen is 1024 x 600, so despite the extra real estate, the resolution is not any extra. That means everything is blown up to a larger size. Since this is the first major release of an Android tablet, most apps were not created in that fine of detail. This leads to many apps looking a little fuzzy or rough. Again, not the fault of the Tab, but it brings the user-experience down a little bit.

The Android build on the Tab is slightly customized, but mostly a standard FroYo build. Samsung added a few nice touches, such as adding the controls for Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, etc. to the notification drop-down for quick access from any screen. Little things like that make for a good user experience. Samsung’s past history in updating their smartphone software should make people a little wary that any bugs fixes or upgrades will come in a timely manner.

One small thing gives the Tab a bit of a thumbs down for users. Rather than use a micro-USB connector for charging and data connections, Samsung chose to use a proprietary 30-pin connector. All of the major mobile manufacturers agreed to make micro-USB the standard for phones going forward. Apparently Samsung doesn’t thing that should apply to a tablet. Now you’ll need to add one more cord to the pile in your bag, and you better not lose it.

In general, this is a good start for Android tablets. Considering the OS wasn’t made for tablet use (yet), it is a relatively good user experience. If you are an Android fan, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on one to try it out at least. The price is a little high. Without a contract, the Galaxy Tab is $599 from T-Mobile (and most of the other carriers.) An iPad with 3G starts at $629, with a larger screen and an established app ecosystem. They are completely different devices, but that is the standard everyone will hold Samsung to. The Tab is a solid base hit, and it sets the standard for Android tablets. With a bit of improvement and the tablet-friendly (as rumored) Android 3.0, I have high hopes for the Galaxy Tab 2.

Building Mobile Learning with your Existing eLearning Toolkit – Adobe CS5

Building Mobile Learning with your Existing eLearning Toolkit – Adobe CS5

Chad Udell Presents at Max 2010

As promised in the session at Max, here is the content… My slides are available on Slideshare and embedded below:

Here is the video and audio recording of the session from Max as well. I would appreciate you visit the page at Adobe TV and rate the presentation if you have time!

I have also shared all of the code from the presentation as well. You can down;load starter projects complete with basic packager scripts for iOS and AIR here. Please note that you WILL need to generate certificates to run these examples out. To create the iOS apps, you also need to be a member of the Apple iOS developer program. The packager scripts were created based on some help from Christian Cantrell’s posts. I also added a folder of bookmarks in the Zip that may help you along the path of creating mobile learning using Captivate and the rest of the eLearning Suite tools.

Thanks so much for coming to my session. Please, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. And, of course as mentioned in my session… If you want mobile tools added to the eLearning suite, you NEED to let Adobe know. Contact the evangelists, let the product teams know. There REALLY isn’t a clear way to get to mobile from the eLearning suite. You can do it, but it’s pretty convoluted. Let’s get that fixed for the next product cycle.

P.S. Thanks for the opportunity come and speak Adobe, and thanks Kevin Hoyt for managing the process for me. IT was a blast!


Max 2010 – Year of the Devices

Max 2010 – Year of the Devices

Just got back from LA. And yet another very successful Adobe MAX conference completed.

This year had a distinct theme – devices. From the free devices handed out to attendees, to the devices in the keynote, to the devices shown on the floor of the community pavilion, it’s clear that Adobe is very intent on getting their content production tools’ output on as many formats and platforms as possible.

AIR for Android, AIR on TV, Google TV, Flash Player on Mobile… Wow. The digital Publishing Platform alone is a huge step forward for publications looking to expand their reach to devices where they previously hadn’t been able to target. Pretty amazing overall, really. While some of the technology is probably still a ways off, such as the Mobile jQuery extensions for Dreamweaver (which John Resig helped to announce), there are other things like Flex Hero, with support for Mobile Development, are basically here (though in a Beta form). It’s exciting indeed.

Check out my photos from the event (shot on my spiffy new Canon S90)

The keynotes got mixed reviews from a lot of the attendees, and most all the people I track on Twitter that weren’t at the event were handily panning the skits and overall presentations given. Honestly, while yes there some dry spots (the Omniture skit spoofing Jim Kramer was terrible) and there were a couple minor technology issues (Epix’s video demo failed), I enjoyed them. I really though that Martha Stewart’s appearance, the BlackBerry Playbook demo and the mind blowing High Performance Flash player demos of 4k video and StageVideo, and MoleHill were just awesome.

One thing I noticed… The show’s opening with Joa and Natzke jamming some sick visualizations to a live AudioTool performance showed just how tough of a audience Adobe has to please… Here, I thought it was awesome and so did a lot of designers that I follow on Twitter. On the flipside… There were a ton of really smart and well known developers totally slamming it. WTF? It just highlights the heterogeneous nature of the Adobe customer base. You have creatives used to making beautiful or fun stuff with CS products and then you have these computer scientist developer types using Flex, LiveCycle and Coldfusion that just don’t care about that side of Adobe at all. One has to think that maybe Adobe needs to think a bit harder about what they want to be when they grow up… Or at least get the kids on each side of the fence to get along better. I stride the line between the two camps, so I love the creative mind blowing visuals and the whiz bang tech demos. Not everyone agrees.

Beyond the keynote announcements, there was some awesome labs sessions and concurrent presentations (my own presentation on Mobile Learning included. ;-) ). I really enjoyed Nate Beck’s multiplayer gaming session and the other labs I attended on both P2P and RTMFP and the other on the OSMF platform were both really enlightening. I attended a session on the Adobe InMarket service… and while it looks like it could be good eventually, it looks like it is a ways off for being flexible or powerful enough to warrant the effort. A lack of a public roadmap for the project could be a major turn-off for most app developers. How can you pin a business plan on a beta product?

The sneak peeks were great as always. Again Flash player improvements abounded as well as some super cool Flash player performance testing tools and output paths to HTML5 definitely caught my attention. The Coldfusion sneeks were pretty snoozeworthy to me, but I’m not much into that tech in general as it is. The real star of the sneak session was William Shatner though. Obviously oblivious to the bulk of the tech shown in the demos, he absolutely kept everyone entertained with a pile of jokes and incredulous responses to the advanced stuff on the screen behind him. Tons of fun.

The MAX bash was a great affair, with good food, entertainment (including some crazy dancing scantily clad snake lady, living statues, celeb look-alikes and a chain saw juggler), and the headliner “The Bravery”. A nice addition to the party, The Bravery put a good show on!

My session went well. I had about 60 attendees and ended up with a decent, though not superb rating. My topic, “Creating Mobile Learning with Your eLearning Toolkit” is an interesting one, mainly because it’s pretty much totally new to the Adobe crowd. The recently released eLearning Suite 2 doesn’t actually ship with a way to target mobile right out of the box, so it’s a little bit of a stretch for a lot of rapid eLearning tool users like people that use Captivate daily to entertain firing up a command line tool to package up the materials for AIR for Android or the iOS packager. I hope to release the deck and the demos files here soon, so please come back to get those here.

After all is said and done, though, the best thing was seeing so many friends from the community. Chatting with awesome people like Jesse Freeman, Elad Elrom, Michael Labriola, Aaron Pederson, Leif Weils, Stacey Mulcahy, Scott Janousek, Zach Stepek, Chris Girffith, Ben Stucki, Brian Rinaldi, Andy Mathews and so many more really made the time a lot of fun. I finally met a lot of people in the community that I follow on Twitter like James Ward, Rob Huddleston and Russ Ferguson and was reunited with a former classmate of mine from Bradley, the humble Flash platform genius, Dave Knape. Honestly, talking and connecting with so many smart, fun, and engaging people in a cool setting with so much going on is really the reason to go to these conferences. I get so much out of hearing their stories and experiences and sharing mine, too. These interactions are far more educational than any labs, really. Can’t wait to seem ‘em all again.

So what’s next for Adobe? Hopefully some great success for this year across devices and more OSes… For now, I’m recuperating and then starting to plan out what to build on my new Droid 2 and Google TV. Maybe some mashups or apps are in order… Choices, choices, choices.