The Best Policy? The Tabtech M009s – An Honest Review

My partner is amazing. You might be sitting there thinking that your girlfriend/boyfriend is someone really special (and I’m sure they are) but mine is that extra 32 flavours of wonderful.

Their unfortunate choice of life partner, coupled with her unfortunate choice of life partner’s unfortunate choice of career (professional writer) ensures that there is always a lot of month left at the end of the money. As a result, she has been forced to make peace with the fact that their life is a bewildering succession of obscenely late nights and caffeine-fuelled odysseys into the dark side of the mind.  Still, they take it all in her stride. When times are tough, they lets me rant about the unfairness of the world, resolutely throw all my toys out of the pram and vow to quit writing and get a ‘proper’ job before sitting back and waiting patiently for me to calm down. When times are really tough (as they presently are) she suggests that we go out for a bit of a walk.

Tonight, we were walking around the rain soaked streets of Southampton, UK and discussing the state of our lives. As usual, I was complaining like it was a bodily function and she was taking it all with good (if slightly weary) humour. As we walked, we passed an old music venue that I had spent many a happy University night in. I looked into the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of the younger, thinner self I’d once been, all bandannas, leathers and obscure band T-shirts. Instead, a new group of studs and leathers congregated inside, looking out at me as if I was some sort of interloper. In truth, I was, I’d been to that venue so often in my Uni days that I was on first name terms with the guy who booked the bands, but that was years ago. Since graduating Uni I’ve barely been able to go out and I haven’t bought a new CD in a couple of years.

“Hm. I wonder who’s playing tonight” I said casually to my partner as we noted the steady influx of dreads, chains and tattoos heading for the door. A rakishly thin guy in a leather jacket answered my question by naming a band I’d never heard of (which upset me, as there was a time I’d heard of every band on Earth). I replied with, “oh, cool. Thanks” and shambled away.

The last couple of years have seen me grow fatter, grumpier and sell out my lofty principles on more occasions than I care to remember. A few years ago, I’d have been in the front row of that crowd, making more noise than Lemmy catching his fingers in the freezer door. Now I’m the sort of person I used to take the piss out of back in those days.

If this story has a moral, it is that ‘things move on’. If you ever wondered how your Dad went from looking like Huggy Bear’s stylist (and getting more ass than a toilet seat in the process) to the doughy, uptight guy you know and love, well, you’ll soon find out. But don’t be in too great a hurry, trust me – in this case, ignorance truly is bliss.

Yes, things move on and the tablet PC market is one such thing. Once upon a time, a tablet with an 800MHz processor and 256MB of RAM would have had a chance. The average CPU was 1.2GHz and the average RAM was 1GB, even on the top-level models. The Tabtech M009s (you were wondering when I’d be getting around to it, weren’t you?) was once a respectable ‘budget’ tablet. It still is, as a matter of fact. But for how much longer?

The M009s has strong customer support, a cool £60 price tag and a good reputation for being reliable. However, time is not on the M009s’ side. This tablet is about to find itself suffering much the same fate that I have. Its dim screen was once an acceptable sacrifice in the light of the low price, but in the face of the new iPad and its much vaunted Retina display, it just looks crap. The CPU was once a decent budget model, but now there are dual-core 1.5GHz badasses powering cheap tablets, which makes the M009s look worse than a Hollywood CV that includes ‘Prince Of Persia’.

For now, however, the Tabtech M009s does offer value for money, but that window is shrinking and shrinking rapidly, just like my knowledge of today’s underground rock bands. Pretty soon, it will be unable to support the next generation of apps, programs and uses and then it will become little more than an expensive paperweight.

The saving grace here, then, is that the M009s is still popular, still useable and, above all, still cheap, which makes it a pretty solid use of £60. Just don’t expect to still be using it this time next year.

As for my girlfriend, as usual, she put things into perspective, politely reminded me that at least I’m doing what I love (although I have a funny way of showing it) and that things will get better for us, although probably not anytime soon. She lied and said that I’m not getting old, fat, grumpy or boring before reminding me that she had no idea who the band where either. Then we went home, had cheese-and-jalapeno hot dogs for dinner and watched ‘Red Dwarf’ for a bit.

Lighting The Touchpaper…The Kindle Fire Spreads Like…Um, A Popular eBook Reader?

By now you will have noticed that there are a great many Kindle Fire reviews online. You will probably also have noticed that the vast majority of these Kindle Fire reviews are positive, although there are, (as always), one or two negative points raised. You’ll have walked past the billboards, accidentally clicked on the adverts, or else seen Amazon’s new baby featured on the telly. Perhaps you’re even thinking of buying one and want to know a little bit more? Well, in any case, I hope this piece will help.

                       

Since the series’ initial release in 2007, Amazon’s Kindle has been at the epicentre of a minor revolution. Originally launched as an eBook reader (a device that acts like an iPod for books), the original Kindle proved so popular that the post-iPad tablet PC market made it almost mandatory for any tablet to also function as an eReader. This meant that tablets could access the Internet and do an array of other wondrous things in addition to displaying downloaded literature.

 

Unfortunately, this made the original Kindle look somewhat dated.

 

So, when Amazon upgraded its pioneering product, of course it turned out to be a tablet PC. What better way to improve a product that was threatened with redundancy by Tablet PCs, than by taking the industry on at its own game? It was a move that succeeded rather well, as the Kindle Fire’s winning mixture of high specs, cutting edge design and low price appealed to those put off by the iPad’s gargantuan ‘sell your family into a lifetime of slavery just to stand near the display model’ price tag.

 

Eventually, the Kindle Fire proved so successful that Amazon created an upgrade, the Kindle Fire HD. Launched earlier this year, the HD version of the Fire is the ultimate realization of the Kindle’s early promise, with a special Dolby-designed surround sound, a dual antenna Internet system and an HD screen that is crystal clear and second only to the iPad’s.

 

The Kindle Fire HD has the look and feel of a device that’s been microcosmically designed with a near obsessive-compulsive attention to detail. It contains arguably the best eReader on Earth, but also lightning fast Internet and movie playback to die for. Like the Fire before it, the Fire HD is a good little ‘all rounder’ a tablet that is not especially well suited to any one specific task, but handles everything equally well.

 

Best of all, Amazon haven’t succumbed to the current trend of announcing new products at cheap prices and then raising those prices to exorbitant levels (like some developers I could name but won’t…Oh, what the heck? It’s Microsoft. I’m talking about Microsoft, OK?). Starting at around £150, the Kindle Fire HD represents incredible value for money and a device that’s pretty close to being state of the art.

 

The Kindle Fire HD is smart, affordable, high spec and very, very cool. Not bad for a product that began life as a beefed-up bookshelf…

A Mouse’s Tale- What Wireless is Best?

Lets face it; nobody really likes a mouse for the wires, do they? If they did, the best wireless mouse would surely be lauded as the best…y’know, mouse.

 

If you’re using a desktop PC to read this, then the chances are that the mouse is attached, via a long tangle of grey cable, into the PC itself that is somewhere under your desk. How you cringe when something falls down there or you need to gain access to that speaker wire that just keeps coming loose.

 

If you’re using a really old PC, even attaching a USB stick can be a Herculean labour as you have to move the computer, gently but firmly, in order to get to the desired area, all the while being showered by layers of dust and literally hundreds of ‘blank’ CDs (that have something on them, you just aren’t sure what).

 

I’ve mentioned this in other articles before, but a favourite schoolboy prank of mine was to unplug the mouse from the computer itself while my mates got up to collect their work from the communal printer. It was especially funny if you took the grey rubber ball out as well, then they’d get doubly irate after re-attaching the cable only to find that the mouse still wouldn’t work. Ah, those were the days.

 

…Or not.

 

As computers get smaller and more integrated, these memories and others like them, will soon be amusing stories that you tell to bored Grandchildren who really don’t care and want to get back to (virtual) reality. Many users now attach a laptop to a keyboard and monitor and save space, others still (such as yours truly) use fully integrated Mac equivalents instead, saving space and providing easy access to disc drives, USB ports and any other required input source.

 

However, most people are still using a wired mouse. There are a few reasons for this, which I will now gloss over in no particular order:

 

1)      People can’t be arsed to buy batteries. – Admit it, it’s a pain. Batteries weigh down your shopping bags, add to the overall cost of a shop and seem to disappear right when you need them. Worse still, they never seem to be available in groups of two either. Every pack comes with an even number of batteries, but by the time you sort through the cupboard looking for the little buggers, there’s usually only one left behind (and then it doesn’t work).

2)       Wired mice are faster. – That’s just the way it is. If you aren’t a gamer and ‘cod’ is something you order at the local chippie, then you really won’t notice the difference, however, when discussing the needs of those for whom ‘game’ qualifies as a verb, nanoseconds count.

3)      Some wireless mice require charging. This is a massive pain as well, because you know you’ll forget to do it. Still, most of them are usable whilst charging, so it’s really not that big of a deal.

4)      There is always the risk that you’ll put the mouse in your pocket and take it to work with you. Oh, the humiliation.

 

So keep this little lot in mind when searching for the best wireless mouse online. You have a choice of long, awkward cables that you’ll be half tempted to hang yourself with (especially if, like me, you ever spill dry ‘Rice Crispies’ down the back of your desk – Arrrgh!) or actually having buy batteries. As Graham from ‘Blind Date’ (who now seems to be making a living as the head of Jeremy Kyle’s ‘after care’ team) used to say “the choice is yours”.

 

…Or was that Captain Planet?

 

Hmm.