PICKING UP A TABLET

We bought the newest iPad model because we couldn’t stand getting iPad or iPhone questions from readers without being able to try out the solutions ourselves.

We’re happy with the current model but a newer version is coming out sometime this year. The next iPad is rumored to have an anti-reflective coating on the surface. That’s what’s used in telescopes and microscopes. It improves the contrast of the image by eliminating stray light. A triple-rear camera is also expected, for extra wide photos and videos like the iPhone 11 Pro can take. But we’re happy with the current model. It sells for $249 at Amazon, down from $329 at Apple. 

What we like best about our iPad is the sound quality. Even at full volume, the iPad doesn’t grate on our ears the way the Amazon Fire HD 10 does. It also has a lot more apps compared to Amazon’s Fire. For instance, we can get the Economist Magazine app on our iPad, not on the Fire. The iPad also holds a charge much longer, up to ten hours, and charges faster. We’re tempted to get the $99 Pencil, a stylus for drawing and note-taking on the tablet.

We’ve had just one problem with the iPad so far: It kept stalling during our first video playback. Joy was watching Jane Austen’s “Sanditon” at PBS.org while walking on a treadmill. Fortunately, when she switched to the built-in Safari web browser, instead of using Google Chrome, the videos played without a hitch. 

But until we got the iPad, we were perfectly happy with our Fire. True enough, the Fire takes a long time to charge and needs charging much more often, but that’s not a problem if you only use it at home where it’s easy to plug in. The sound is a little tinny, but not noticeable until you increase the volume. To our eyes, the picture quality, even when playing videos, is the same as the iPad. Finally, our Fire costs $85 on Amazon, used, and the newest Fire is only $149. That’s $180 less than the current iPad.

Touch Zones

A reader told us he uses his touchscreen computer when he travels, because he hates to carry a mouse. Touch screens open up other possibilities.

If you have a Windows computer with a touchscreen, you can get a $5 program called “Touch Tasks” from Stardock.com.

The program gives you five zones on the edge of your screen. In their example, one was used to show the brightness control panel. Another showed the start menu. A third activated a hotkey, to launch an application quickly. A fourth activated the quick navigation panel, a feature from Windows XP that was later abandoned but some find handy. It shows you your most recently opened programs. A fifth activated the task switcher panel. It allows you to find open windows, instantly hide open windows or manage windows across multiple monitors and virtual desktops.

YouTube Downloads

The first time we wrote about a way to download YouTube videos and watch them offline, we heard directly from a Google exec. It isn’t legal he said, so don’t do it or recommend it to others. One of our readers chimed in too.

But what if you’re downloading a video for personal use, not to sell it? One of our readers suggested the free Firefox add-on, “Easy YouTube Downloader Express.” He uses it because he likes to stop a video at various points during playback, something he can do more precisely by using the free “VLC Media Player” on an offline video. Others might like the Downloader because they want to watch videos on a train, away from WiFi, or because their Internet connection is slow and the video stops and starts.

Easy YouTube Downloader Express is recommended by CNET.There are other downloaders out there but they’re often full of spyware or malware, so beware. To use Downloader Express, fire up the Firefox web browser. (If you don’t have Firefox, Google the phrase “get Firefox”). Then search on “Easy YouTube Downloader Express” and click to install it. Go to YouTube, find a video you like, and click the green “download as” button. Works great. This is the easiest one we’ve ever seen.

Internuts

  • MovieMistakes.com examines the hole in a movie plot, and other absurdities. We skipped to the end of a Nicole Kidman movie, “Before I Go to Sleep,” and was gratified to read on Movie Mistakes that they agreed with us on how stupid it was. 
  • Victorian times had fashion to die for, literally. Search on the phrase “7 Ways Victorian Fashion Could Kill You” to find out more.
  • Geek.com has “The Most Amazing LEGO Projects Ever.” For example, a 10-year old Icelandic boy with autism built a 26-foot long, five-foot high replica of the Titanic, made from 56,000 blocks. In the process, he went from being almost non-verbal to giving a TED talk and appearing on TV shows.

Atari Hotel

Atari, the retro game company, is starting its own hotels in eight U.S. cities, starting with Phoenix.

The hotels will be “Atari gaming playgrounds,” according to Engadget.com. Each will have a variety of games available for guests. The hotels will also have movie theaters, bakeries, restaurants and bars.

 

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