1. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The Hardware Discussion Thread

    Discussion in 'Software' started by Iain Aschendale, Jul 23, 2019.

    Like clickety keyboards? Know of a particularly good (or bad) laptop for writing on? Somebody make a monitor that's easy on the eyes? Well, post away here...

    But.

    No advertising. User reviews are fine, but no links to specific vendors, sales, discounts or whatever. Feel free to list MSRP and "street prices," but any attempt to steer anyone to a specific shop or site will be deleted and may result in disciplinary action. If the members can't find it with a make, model number, and Google search, it probably doesn't deserve to be found.
     
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  2. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    Eizo does.

    If you can't afford Eizo, then some of the new Acer's are almost decent - and cheap compared to similar size and pixelcount Eizo's.

    If money is not a problem, then Eizo Color Edge series. But even Flex Scan's are ok.
     
  3. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I honestly haven't had a problem with monitors since I stopped using a CRT. Those things were terrible.
     
  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I just write on any old screen - ive not really had an issue (currently its a ten year old fujitsu lifebook)
     
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  5. Glen Barrington

    Glen Barrington Active Member

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    Same here, at least with my writer's hat on, all I need is an operating system that is capable of rendering text in a reasonably sharp manner, both in Black on White, or vice-versa). The following comments have been simplified for the benefit of non-techies, and for the benefit of me, who doesn't want to explain EVERYTHING all over again, when there are detailed and accurate, explanations available for free on any browser search engine.

    As a photographer, I still prefer a large IPS screen capable of displaying color accurately, and of good dynamic range. (DR is the ability to display a wide variety of shades of gray, and displaying how lighting changes shades of the same color).

    If I were primarily a videographer, I'd probably desire a good 4k screen, or even higher, nowadays.

    Color accuracy is often still sacrificed for the other attributes since only photographers and art directors care about THAT. And to be fair, base-level accuracy seems good enough for most consumers. However, consumers do seem to want good DR even if they might not know the proper phrase to use.
    4K is nice to have on a VERY large screen, but frankly, on any screen smaller than. . . say, maybe 14 inches, the added value is unlikely to be seen by anyone who isn't superman.
     
  6. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I used to have a colour corrected monitor (though it was only 1080), but eventually got rid of it. Neither Windows nor Linux like playing nice with it, and I'd have to calibrate it regularly, not only for the OS, but also for the specific programs I was using. Whereas doing a rough calibration by eye (sacrement!) of my monitor to my printer seemed to be a far more efficient use of my time. The only time it was ever kind of an issue was if I sent files out to be printed.
     
  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    back when i was doing wedding photography i used to use a spider to calibrate my then computers monitor - increasingly though clients wanted the images electronically instead of prints and that meant there was little point as their monitors would be all over the place on colour balance
     
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  8. Glen Barrington

    Glen Barrington Active Member

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    Color corrected monitors of that sort, thankfully, died out 10-15 years ago. Modern color corrected monitors rarely need that sort of detailed calibration. Though most of us obsessives run the tests every 6 months or so just to play it safe. And even then I'm looking more at how the DR is affected than I am the color accuracy.

    The base-level color accuracy and its calibrated stability are good enough that low-level color accuracy just isn't an issue for anyone but the 'pickiest' of users.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
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  9. Glen Barrington

    Glen Barrington Active Member

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    Yep! all you can do is your best! Plus, another dirty little secret of the color accuracy (is it an industry or a cabal?) is that the Spyders (and other similar tools) lose THEIR accuracy after about 5 years of use. , or 5 years of idle time, it's pretty much 5 years regardless. Besides, for all but the most obsessive of us, the base level accuracy is likely good enough.
     
  10. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Contributor

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    Laptop to tablet conversion computers are lightweight and easy to adapt to any environment you decided to write in. They can be a bit pricey, and their processing power of course isn't stellar, but for writing your not really going to need that anyways. They are my preferred method. I usually put on the blue light filters as well so my eyes are dying.
     
  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    The keyboards generally suck though
     
  12. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I like full sized keyboards. Portable ones are okay as long as the keys are normal size. I don't understand people who type regularly on laptop or tiny ass, scrunched little keyboards. They drive me insane. The only thing worse are touch screen keyboards.
     
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  13. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's one of the things I loved about my old Samsung NC-10 netbook, may it rest in peace. They managed to fit a 93% normal sized keyboard in a laptop with a ten inch screen. At around 1 kilo, that was a good little machine for the day.

    [​IMG]

    As for you folks going on about your monitors' color accuracy, well that one is lost on me. The apples on the left seem perhaps a bit darker than the ones on the right, but that's the only opinion my broken DNA will allow me to express.

    [​IMG]

    And yes, I can see the difference in traffic lights, before you even bother asking. The engineers who designed them chose the colors carefully to account for everything except total colorblindness (black and white vision), and those are compensated for by position, with red either on top or at the side of the oncoming traffic, depending on which side of the road your country drives on. This can still pose a problem at night, but in looking this up, I discovered that the Canadians (at least) are adding shapes to make it easier for the colorblind to drive safely.

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, color rant over.
     
  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    How did that work in the marines...

    F18: "ah yes delta echo we've grape, green and red smoke, which one is yours, over"
    Corporal Aschendale : "Fucked if I know mate"
     
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  15. Glen Barrington

    Glen Barrington Active Member

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    The Samsung Tab A 10.1 (2019) review, and related gear as a writing platform.

    I recently spent more money than I intended on replacing my elderly and much loved Lenovo A7600F 10 inch Android tablet, and the matching (literally) Bluetooth keyboard, both of which showed signs of a seriously deteriorating battery. For the record, I'm a sucker for matching keyboards and will pay more for one that looks like the Tablet and KB are all one piece. I know it's stupid, but I'm old and will die soon and I have the money saved up due to many profitable years as a gigolo and escort for wealthy women. What can I say, they like men who can dance and look good in a fireman's uniform

    After a couple of false starts and RMA requests, I have settled on the Samsung Tab A 10.1 (2019) tablet ($229 US) and the "Designed For Samsung" by ITFIT matching BlueTooth keyboard (list's for $99.99 US, but I didn't pay that much). To complete my super portable writing platform, I added a VicTsing BT mouse from Amazon (about $12 US)

    I also bought some software to write with, as well and will give some mini-reviews of their effectiveness, since they are a part of the writing platform as well.

    TABLET

    I really like this tablet. It has 2 GB RAM, 32 GB of internal memory, can use micro-SD cards, up to 256 GB in size, as external memory. Operation is smooth and reasonably fast. I have had as many as 3 BTdevices connected at the same time with no problem (keyboard, mouse, and headphones). I've also had as many as 10 tabs open in Chrome, and around 8 apps asleep in memory. So I think memory management is probably fairly decent in this tablet. I have yet to encounter any productivity apps that tax the tablet in terms of speed and responsiveness.

    Battery life gives me around 8-10 hours of light-duty use, and around 6 when I'm writing, and slightly less than 5 when I'm viewing videos. It uses the new "C" type USB. It doesn't claim to be a rapid charge device, but it works without complaint with both my 18-watt Pixel Rapid Charger and my Motorola 14-watt Turbo Charger. Naturally, I prefer to use the slower native Samsung Charger as much as possible, but I have used the rapid chargers when I was in a desperate situation. The tablet doesn't get hot using them, and I hover over the tablet when charging with them like you wouldn't believe.

    Please bear in mind I am NOT saying this works with no cumulative problems to the tablet long term. But it does work in a pinch. Use rapid charging at your own risk.

    The biggest negative for me was the stingy lack of a bezel around the screen. I like Big Bezels, and I cannot lie. It is much too easy for my thumb to scoot over and register a 'touch' without meaning to when I am holding it like a tablet.

    The sound is reasonably 'mellow' with good medium tones and OK to good high-frequency tones, and adequate low-frequency tones. The biggest problem is the tiny speakers are on the short side of the tablet and very close to the type C USB port. There isn't really any stereo separation in the sound from the speakers, though the sound quality via headphones is fairly good across the board.

    Those minor complaints ares more than offset by the native Samsung File manager that comes with the tablet. It doesn't JUST manage the files stored locally on the tablet, it will also manage files residing on my Google Drive, my Microsoft OneDrive, and Samsung's online service called Samsung Drive (Clever name, isn't it?) That feature of the file manager has really improved my ability to use the tablet as an additional productivity device.

    KEYBOARD

    The keyboard sales literature "implies" this is a Samsung product fully supported by Samsung, but it is not. And while it is an excellent Bluetooth keyboard, designed to work specifically for the Tab A10.1 (2019), I don't feel I can give it the sort of praise its performance has earned beause it is just too dog-gone expensive. Now I paid half price ($49.95 US) on some sort of introductory offer in combination with the tablet. And for that kind of money, it's fantastic. But at the 'normal price' of $99.95, I think you can do just as well for less money. It costs a bit more than the Logitech folio/keyboard devices and a LOT more than the inexpensive generic folio/keyboard combinations you can get on Amazon.

    To be fair, it is well built, easy to connect to the Samsung Tablet and comfortable and relatively easy to type on with my gorilla-like, yet delicate fingers. If you can get a good price on it, I'd say buy it, but otherwise, pass on it.

    It is a hard-shelled plastic folio that makes the combination tablet and keyboard look like a tiny black laptop. The Tablet fits snugly in a tray and since I've dropped it once with the tablet in it, I'd say it's reasonably protective of the tablet. No ports, buttons, or other access mechanisms are covered up. it is rechargable and seems to last about as long as the tablet does.

    The keyboard itself is eay to remove from the tablet tray, which is a good thing since the folio can't fold back 360 degrees. If you want to hold the tablet like a tablet, you need to separate it from the keyboard.

    It's a good folio/keyboard combination, and I'd buy it again if I can get it for what I paid for it this first time.

    VicTsing MOUSE

    Aside from the decoration, and the ability to use both a 'wireless' dongle AND Bluetooth, AND it uses only one AAA battery instead of two, this mouse looks and feels identical to my Logictech m705 mouse which I've been using for years. If the m705 ever dies on me, I will likely replace it with this VicTsing mouse. No complaints.

    SOFTWARE

    The Android hardware is more than competent to act as a writing platform for an author. What is holding it back is the abysmal software that is avaialable for it. No Scrivener, no Ulysses, no SmartEdit Writer (Atomic Scribbler). None of the good stuff. I'm not going to talk about the really awful stuff even though I've used most of it. I'm going to talk about the stuff with some inherent merit, regardless of whether or not I like or dislike that app personally.
    • yWriter - this $5 US title can read and write yWriter 6 files, and that is unique (UNIQUE) to Android. It shouldn't be. but it is. It is clearly designed to enhance the workflow of an existing yWriter user, not replace the workflow onto a new platform. As a result, it's a bit pared down to the most basic of tools. I'd say it's well worth the modest $5 price to an existing yWriter user, less so to the Scrivener or SmarEdit Writer user.
    • Wavemaker Novel Writing Software - This is actually a Progressive Web App which really means it looks like a stand alone app but it uses the Chrome browser as the main part of it's infrastructure. It stores everything in Google Drive. It's a card based app in that the basic unit of information is a 'card' of information, I've found it difficult to make that mental transition to that card mind set. But for those who can make that transition, it offers a LOT. Mind mapping, novel templates, timelines. Worth a look, I think just for the cross platform capabilities.
    • Novelist - This tries to compete with Scrivener in a fairly 'traditional' manner, but it is pretty complicated. And there is almost no useful infomation on how to use it. At first, I thought I liked it, but in the end, it beat me, bad.
    What I've settled on:

    At this point I've given up on trying to organize and manage my writing from an Android tablet. I will continue do the lion's share of that sort of work from my PC. So, any sort of standard word processor will be my main writing tool on Andorid. As a Windows guy, I would think MS Office Word would be a logical choice, and it is, sorta. But Google Docs is still a bit better and more convenient to use in the Android infrastructure, so I find myself using it more and more.

    The problem for me is that I STILL want enough computing and organizational power to be able to follow my 'muse' wherever it takes me even if I'm away from my PC. I have discovered two software titles that I've actually paid for and I've found useful.

    The first is Halna Outliner, a tree based note taking app similar to CherryTree or Zim. Lots of Card based note taking apps like Google Note (EDIT: Google KEEP! I really do know better!) but very little for those of us that like the hierarchy of a tree based outliner/note taking app {cough, cough} {Scrivener users} {cough, cough}. There's a free version but the paid for version has more 'stuff' and only costs 3 or 4 dollars (US).

    The other is Halna Mind, a mind mapping tool that integrates tightly with Halna Outliner. Most Android based mind mapping programs aren't vry good, and this one is really only fairly usable. But it's tight integration with Halna Outliner really improves its usefulness. I only wish Scapple could integrate with Scrivener the way Halna Mind integrates with Halna Outliner.

    EDIT: I find myself using good old MS OneNote about as much as Halna Outliner, maybe a bit more than I expected. The importance of being able to get stuff to and from my PC, which will remain the major hub for my writing is pretty important. OneNote is FAR from perfect, but you can use it on everything a consumer is likely to have. And FREE is mighty hard to beat.

    At this point, I think my Samsung tablet and associated hardware and software makes a great subsidiary writing platform for me. But it is nowhere close to being the ONLY writing platform I need.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  16. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    My main screen is 32" 4K.

    It means that while writing I can keep active file in the middle and I still have room for natural size files in the right and left. And - just and just - I can have 2-3 files stacked so that if I touch some of them with a cursor, it would pop to the top.

    That means I can have 3 natural size files in a roomy way, 5 files (2 stacked on the left, one in the middle and 2 stacked on the right) not so roomy or 8 files (3 on left, 2 in the middle, 3 on the right) on one "table" of the monitor. And a small monitor on the right side.

    Usually six tables on the main monitor and 2 on the small one. 1-3 of them use to be empty.

    I write a lot of raw or supportive material. I do internet search. I study things all the time.... I need to have room for all that.

    I'm seriously thinking should I get bigger main monitor and put this to another room so that I can work with this small monitor there when my wife is sleeping.

    (My wife + kids use my old 27" Eizo. It's ok monitor but so bloody small that it's like having a post stamp as your desk.)


    P.S.

    If you want to enjoy calibrated monitor, you should have calibrated light.

    I have one 6500K + one 5000 - 5500K lamp as my working lights. Both are made for shooting videos in studio environment.

    It's good enough for writing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  17. Martin Beerbom

    Martin Beerbom Active Member

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    Does "Hardware" include analog tools? AKA pen (-cils) and paper? Coz I've (re-)discovered my love for graphite recently...
     
  18. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    no - this thread/forum is for computers and related- if you want to talk about your favorite analog writing implements feel free to start a thread in either GW or the lounge
     

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