How to (Safely) Add Flash to Your Android Tablet

Adobe Flash Player is no longer available for download at the Google Play store, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it on your device. Some people will have a greater need for Flash than others. Those who enjoy games and media websites are affected the most. A lot of the big news sites, like CNN.com, are Flash video intensive.

Adobe Flash Player 11 can be installed on Android devices, but you have to side-load it onto your tablet or phone. Unfortunately, the powers that be have chosen to block direct download of this application, so getting Flash on your device involves you going into your Android settings menu and checking the little box that permits third-party app installations. A popup will appear warning you of the dangers of non-Google Play app usage, but side-loading .apk files and alternative markets from reputable sources will usually be okay. Here’s the problem: what is a reputable source for .apk files on the Internet? Android malware is supposedly becoming more prevalent, and I’m sure you don’t want your Amazon or Paypal passwords ending up in the database of a Ukrainian hacker.

Until today, all of the Flash installation tutorials I have seen on YouTube provided links to various file sharing sites where you can download the .apk file. I don’t exactly get a fuzzy feeling of security when I download apks from these sites. That’s why I was excited to see a video posted by PocketNow.com that informs viewers that we can download Adobe Flash Player 11 right from the Adobe.com website. Apparently they have like every version of Flash archived and available for free download. Nice.

Here is the link to the Adobe.com Flash archive, and the video above will give you a nice walk-through on how to get Flash onto your Nexus 7 or alternative Android device. Don’t forget, you will also need the Android version of FireFox in order to run it. Joe “the Android Guy” Levi does an excellent job of explaining the whole process in a humorous way. His videos are great. Here also is a link to the written article on PocketNow.com

I really wish I knew how to do more technical tricks, like installing Android CM7 onto the HP Touchpad, but I am just not at that level of expertise yet. Luckily, side-loading apps is a breeze, and it doesn’t void your warranty ;). Hopefully this will help you eliminate the annoying “plugin not found” message from your web browsing life.

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Google Nexus 10 Initial Review and Impressions

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Well, after a few weeks of general apathy towards the new Nexus 10, I finally broke down and placed an order. In previous posts I had mentioned that I was neither here nor there on my desire to own this tablet, but, after my slight disappointment with the Nook HD+, I decided to give it a try. My Nexus 7/Android Jelly Bean experience had been so positive over the summer that I knew I needed to return to stock Android.

I really loved using the Nexus 7, but I found the 7-inch screen size to be too small for PDF viewing and comfortable web browsing, something that is very important to my current reading habits. Don’t get me wrong, I like the 7-inch form factor, but my personal preference has always leaned towards larger display options. This is why I bought Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD+. The HD+ has a beautiful 9-inch display with a 1920 x 1200 screen resolution. It is very well designed, has a microSD slot, and is great with PDFs, but the stiff limitations of B&N’s modified Android software (and the even more constrained Nook ecosystem) were starting to bother me. I actually missed the stock Android experience, more than I have missed any other OS before. I wanted my suite of Google apps back, the Google Play Store, and convenient widgets (not carousels!). And let’s face it, I also just had to check out the Nexus 10’s incredible iPad-besting 2560 x 1600 (300 ppi) display. The games, movies, and productivity apps available from the mammoth Google Play store simply crush the limited selection found in B&N’s Nook Store.

Unfortunately, I found myself using the Nook HD+ less and less as time went on. It wasn’t becoming a part of my daily technology routine (laptop in the morning, tablet during the day, and eReader at night). When given the choice of using my computer or my Nook HD+ to complete simple tasks like checking my eBay account or catching up on emails, I opted for my computer five times to one. eBook reading on the HD+’s high-res laminated display was a delight, but I really need a more versatile tablet for other activities. The constant glitches and bugs I noticed when using the HD+ became distracting, and I got a little impatient waiting for N2A to release a stock Android boot card.

Now, keep in mind that my expectations for a tablet might be very different from yours. I enjoy the technical flexibility (and occasional complexities) of Android’s Jelly Bean operating system, while others would prefer a more straight forward, ready-made user interface. Options are few, but the basic stuff is taken care of for you. Hey, isn’t that simplified OS concept what the developers at Apple capitalize on? If you don’t feel the need to be able to customize, alter, or play with absolutely every aspect of your tablet experience, you won’t be bothered by the limitations found on B&N, Amazon, or Kobo’s OS skins. They are there to make your life easier anyway. Also, if you aren’t obsessed by screen resolution, pixel density, or how your display looks at fourteen different viewing angles, then you will be just fine with the completely adequate and beautiful resolutions found on the Kindle Fire HD, Nook HD, or Kobo Arc.

There are a lot of solid tablets on the market today, and each one offers its own unique set of pros and cons. Your own circumstances or preferences should influence what you buy, and there are plenty of reviews out there to help. The-eBook-reader.com is my favorite site for detailed reviews of all the major tablet and eReader releases.

With all these things considered, if you are looking for a more open, more customizable tablet experience, then the Nexus 10 is your tablet. Here is a review of my experience thus far.

Google and Samsung’s Nexus 10 tablet

Pros:

  • Incredible high-definition display
  • Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1, the best OS I have ever used
  • Google Play
  • Access to six different Android reading apps (aside from Kindle, Nook, Kobo)
  • Comfortable to hold and use in both landscape and portrait (unique for a 10″ tablet)
  • Gorilla Glass II is incredibly smooth to the touch
  • Powerful front-facing speakers
  • Doesn’t heat up like other high-definition tablets
  • HDMI port
  • $399 for the 16 GB model

Cons:

  • Mediocre battery life (6 to 8 hours, plus long charge time)
  • No microSD slot
  • Few accessories available at this point (cases, docks, ect.)
  • Not many tablet-specific apps; most are enlarged smartphone versions

Look and Feel

The Nexus 10 isn’t as ugly as I originally thought it would be. The rounded edges and soft-touch rubber coating on the back make it a joy to hold. I am worried that the sticky rubber will attract smudges and dust, but this shouldn’t be a major issue and hasn’t been so far. It definitely doesn’t have the metallic feel of the ASUS Transformer Infinity or the iPad, but I like how the edges don’t cut into my hands. Plastic on a tablet is usually frowned upon, but Google argues that it lowers the overall weight of the device and makes it more comfortable to hold. I am inclined to agree.

The two front-facing speakers are almost invisible on the sides, and the bordered edge that sometimes appears grey in pictures is actually black in normal lighting conditions. Most of the sound seems to emanate from the tops of the speaker grills, so even if you are covering the left and right edges of the tablet with your thumbs in landscape, any volume reduction is basically unnoticeable. The volume and power buttons are composed of plastic, but they feel nice with just the right amount of resistance.

This is the first 10-inch tablet I have used that actually feels comfortable to hold in both landscape and portrait mode. Gmail, eBay, and many websites just look better in portrait mode, but 10-inch tablets are known to feel awkward when held in this orientation. Suprisingly, I find holding the Nexus 10 in any orientation to be quite natural. Portrait mode is especially important for reading PDFs as they display much better this way.

The Nexus 10 weighs right around 1.33 pounds. The screen glass is composed of Corning Gorilla Glass II, making it extra durable, but I still wouldn’t throw it in a bag with your car keys. This tablet has a 5 megapixel rear shooter, a 1.9 megapixel front-facing shooter, and rear LED flash. It is powered by a Dual core, 1700 MHz ARM Cortex-A15 processor with 2 GB of RAM. There is a full compliment of sensors including: microphone, accelerometer, compass, ambient light, gyroscope, barometer, and GPS. Other specifics can be found here.

The Display

The Nexus 10’s astonishingly brilliant retina display is obviously the highlight of its hardware features. With a screen resolution of 2560 x 1600 (300 ppi), it is hard to imagine how it could be improved upon. Despite some initial reports that the Nexus 10’s display doesn’t look quite as good as the iPad 4’s, I can discern almost no visual difference between the two. Sometimes, the iPad looks like it renders text a little more crisply, and images on the Nexus 10 tend to look just slightly more vibrant than on the iPad. The differences between the two are really negligible, and you only might notice them when you have the tablets side-by-side.

One big complaint that circulated around the ‘new iPad’ release was how incredibly hot the back got after prolonged use or gaming. Similar complaints have been made against ASUS, Acer, and other tablets with super high-resolution displays. All of those pixels have equated to a hot battery. The Nexus 10 has absolutely no problems with this. The only time you feel a little warmth is when you are charging it. At one point, according to my ES Task Manager, I had 20 apps open and had been playing games with the display at full brightness for over four hours. Despite this, the back of the device felt like I had just turned the tablet on.

In my opinion, the Nexus 10 is the best high-definition tablet on the market right now. Text looks amazingly sharp and clear on this display, and it far surpasses the rendering I have seen on the new 1920 x 1200 tablets (Kindle Fire HD 8.9, Nook HD+).

Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean OS

Project Butter continues to surpass my expectations. If you thought that the Nexus 7 was running well, just wait until you get a chance to use the Nexus 10. I have never seen operations perform so smoothly on an Android tablet. For the past couple of years, the glitchyness and lag found on Android tablets has separated them from Apple’s iPad by a large margin. The Android team has worked long and hard to surmount this very prominent drawback, starting with Android 4.0 and then moving on to Jelly Bean and Project Butter.

With Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1, I really feel like I have a tablet that can perform just as well as the competition. Swiping between panels, opening apps, and browsing the web has never been more snappy. I have only observed the slightest amount of lag once in the sixteen hours I have been using this device, and it was quickly remedied. The amount of depth and control you have over your user experience, coupled with this latest iteration of Jelly Bean, makes Android 4.2.1 my favorite tablet operating system to date.

Performance

One negative issue that I have spotted in my time with the Nexus 10 has been its rather mediocre battery life. I have averaged about 7.5 hours per charge, using it mainly to read eBooks, surf the Web, and play the game Dead Trigger. This isn’t horrible, but many reviewers are noting that the Nexus 10 just doesn’t get the quality battery life that their ASUS Transformer or iPad tablets do.

When charging the Nexus 10, be prepared to leave it plugged in for 5 to 6 hours, especially if you intend to use it while it is plugged in. Today, I turned the tablet off completely and started charging it at 9:00 AM. It is now 1:00 PM and the battery is only 75% full. I did power on and use it for about an hour to game at one point. Regardless, you would think that if your battery took all morning and afternoon to charge, you would at least get 10 hours of life out of it. This isn’t the case, sadly. Here are some tips I found that will help you get the most out of your Android device’s battery.

Another thing I noticed was that when the battery had almost run dry was that the screen started to drop frames and lag. This is to be expected though and is mostly due to juice needed to power that high-resolution display. I will continue to test this issue under different usage conditions and follow up with you.

Accessories

Currently, there are few accessories available for the Nexus 10. This is to be expected as it is still a recently released device. Until a really nice leather case comes out, I have decided to buy the 10-inch version of a neoprene sleeve which I found very effective on my Nexus 7. The rooCASE Neoprene Sleeve is only $9.50 on Amazon.com. This makes it an excellent alternative to expensive, poorly-fitting generic hard cases. They aren’t the best for protecting your tablet from a fall or from being crushed in extreme circumstances, but if you are just keeping your tablet around the house or taking it with you in a bag, it should be sufficient.

This sleeve is a perfect fit for the Nexus 10 at the sides, and there is about an inch or two of space at the top below the zipper. The build quality is good, the zippers are no-scratch, and there is an extra zipper pocket on the front for your charging cable.

Everyone always complains about the smell of new neoprene (a rubbery, chemical note), but just unzip your sleeve and leave it open overnight for a couple of days and this will dissipate.

The only thing I don’t like about the rooCASE Neoprene Sleeve is the cheap plastic SD card pocket on the inside. Its corners are very sharp and it could easily scuff up your screen or the rubbery back of your device. It is just stitched in, so it was easy to remove. I took it out with a pair of sharp scissors in about five minutes.

Nexus10case

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I will add another section or two to this review after I get some more time to use the device. As far as 10″ tablets go, I can already tell that this will be a favorite. Please post any questions or requests in the comments section.

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Video of the Week: The Future of Android

The Verge interviews Google’s Android team about the new line of Nexus gadgets and the future of Android devices. Highlighted in this video are the Nexus 4 smartphone and the Samsung/Google Nexus 10 tablet. They go over a few features of both devices, but the Android team also provides some crucial insight as to their expectations for future OEM partners.

Google seems to be making it clear that it is up to hardware developers to improve the specifications of their devices in order to continue Android’s market expansion. Everyone knows that this has been an issue for Google in the past; they have a competitive OS ready to be distributed, but there are only a few tablet makers creating equally competitive devices, Asus and Samsung being chief among these. As better devices are created for this software, the Android OS will only continue to gain consumer interest.

I will be posting a review of the Nexus 10 within the next few days.

(I have decided to start a new post category, entitled ‘Video of the Week,’ to share my favorite eReading/tablet/eReader-related videos with my readers. Enjoy.)

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38,000 Free Classic eBooks Android App

I came across this application on Amazon.com today. It offers 38,000 free public domain eBooks, all organized within a table of contents directory. From the screen shots that the developers provided, it looks like you can either read the eBooks inside of the application, or you can download individual titles to your device in a variety of formats. All of the standard literary classics you would expect are there, plus many more lesser known titles.

The best part about this application is that it is currently free. One would normally expect some sort of fee for compiling the files and creating the TOC. This application would be great to have on your Android device. Instead of going to Project Gutenberg or ManyBooks and downloading individual eBooks (this can be very time consuming), you have every classic you could possibly want. The number of titles available through this app will provide readers with the opportunity to discover many classic eBooks they have never heard of before. This is why I love large classic eBook collections.

On eBay, there are a number of sellers offering tens of thousands of classic and public domain eBooks burned to DVDs. I have purchased a few of these sets over the years, and I can tell you they are always worth every penny. These sets usually cost between $5 and $10. Some might think they are getting ripped off because they are purchasing eBooks that are otherwise free, but remember, you are paying for the aggregation and organization of the files, not the published content within.

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Microsoft Sued for Misrepresenting Surface Storage

Here is an interesting story I read today:

A California attorney is suing Microsoft because the Surface RT tablet he bought only gives him 16GB of storage instead of the advertised 32GB, according to news reports in USA Today and other outlets.

Microsoft’s response? In a statement sent to USA Today, the company said the suit is without merit. “Customers understand the operating system and pre-installed applications reside on the device’s internal storage thereby reducing the total free space,” Microsoft said. The statement also noted that consumers can add storage using the microSD slot and USB port . . . continued

Image source: lopscs.com

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B&N and Amazon Offer Good Tablet Deals – Cyber Monday

Amazon managed to get its name at the top of today’s shopping headlines by offering an impressive discount on the second-sort-of-first generation Kindle Fire. Their Cyber Monday “FIREDEAL” offers the slightly upgraded original Kindle Fire for just $129.00 USD. This is definitely a good deal on a solid tablet, but is it the right one for you?

First off, please note that this sale is not for the new Kindle Fire HD (currently $199 with special offers on Amazon.com). The ‘second gen’ Kindle Fire is basically the same as the first but with a couple of hardware upgrades: the battery life has been extended to 9 hours, and it boasts a new 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, making the Kindle Fire “40% faster and more fluid than before.” You still get the same 1024 x 600 screen resolution (162 ppi), 8GB of storage (only 5.5GB available for user content), and standard, not Dolby, speakers. These specs are by no means shabby, and for $129 you will be getting a much better device than you would if you spent that amount on a cheap Chinese tablet. But with the Kindle Fire HD line now on the market, it would be hard for me to endorse the Kindle Fire. This would be a great starter tablet for newbs and kids, but if you are looking to do some serious eReading on a device, go for the newer HD model. It has the new immersive reading feature with Audible audiobooks, and incredible text-to-speech. The screen and Dolby speakers will be much superior on the newer generation.

Barnes & Noble is also putting focus on their older tablets by offering a $20 gift card with the purchase of the already discounted Nook Tablet and Nook Color (if you pay with a MasterCard). $20 off the 8GB Nook Tablet will take it down to $139.00 USD. This might be $10 more than the Amazon deal, but, in my opinion, you will get a much better tablet. The display has 169 ppi, battery life can go up to 12 hours, and it packs a 1GHz TI OMAP4 dual-core processor with 512MB RAM.

The screen on the Nook Tablet offers basically the same resolution as the Kindle Fire, but according to many reviewers, it looks a lot better in comparison due to the Nook’s laminated display. I have noticed that glare is almost non-existent in regular room lighting on the Nook Tablet, but I can’t say the same for the Kindle Fire. More importantly, the Nook Tablet also features a microSD slot, enabling you to expand storage up to 32GB with a SanDisk MicroSDHC memory card (they are on sale at Amazon for $17.99). Remember, you can also purchase a N2A card and turn your Nook into a stock Android Jelly Bean tablet. It is just as easy as sticking in an N2A card and powering on the device. No rooting complexities or warranty voiding.

If given a choice between the two, I would definitely select the Nook Tablet. It looks better, it feels better in the hand, and it has a nicer build quality overall. The microSD slot and vanilla Android potential make it a much more versatile device. If you don’t intend to get a N2A card, or if you are already invested in Amazon’s ecosystem, then I would stick with the Kindle Fire. The app selection is much, much better than the standard Nook’s, and you can’t beat all of the free movies and other cheap content available on the Fire with a Prime Membership. Some reports indicate that Amazon will soon be offering a monthly subscription plan for Amazon Prime, and this will be very appealing to movie lovers who don’t like the automatic $79 annual Prime commitment.

What do you think?

Happy Cyber Monday shopping.

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Kindle Library Adds Random Titles to My Account

I’m not sure what’s going on with my Kindle account, but there have been a few strange things happening lately. Back in August, Fifty Shades of Grey was randomly purchased and downloaded to my Kindle Library. The eBook appeared on my device, and the cost was deducted from my credit card and then immediately returned. This was odd because I have never even visited the Fifty Shades of Grey page on Amazon.com. I called customer service and the matter was resolved quickly, but they had no explanation for what could have caused the phantom book buy. The representative dismissed it as a technical error and assured me that my account wasn’t compromised. I still felt a little uncomfortable knowing that a remote purchase took place, computer error or not.

Today, I went to clean out my Kindle Library. Over the years, I have accumulated a large number of free Kindle classics editions (most of them are old Mobipocket classics), but now that I have all of my eBooks stored on Calibre, I wanted to remove them from my cloud. I’m thinking of reviewing the Kindle Fire HD, and I don’t need all of those titles flooding my carousel.

I clicked on “Manage My Kindle” and opened the library only to find about twenty titles written in different languages stored in my cloud archive. Again, this is strange because I have never purchased “Guia do Usuário do Kindle (Portuguese Edition),” “Lo Zingarelli Vocabolario della Lingua Italiana (Italian Edition),” or a Japanese Kindle dictionary. Most of these titles are listed as “unavailable” on their respective Amazon.com pages. There isn’t even a Kindle edition of the Duden Deutsches Universal-wörterbuch for a computer glitch to buy! Luckily, it looks like these eBooks are free dictionaries or Kindle user guides, but why are they in my Kindle account?

I think I will just delete the eBooks and keep an eye on my billing statement. Calling customer support will probably be a waste of time. Now I have to go through the hassle of deleting all of these titles one by one in my Kindle Library. They really need to come up with delete-in-bulk feature for the cloud. If anyone has had similar issues, let me know. It is always good to remember that even big name eBook vendors like Amazon are subject to the whims of program bugs. Always monitor your credit card bill and be on the look out for strange purchases, especially of foreign language Kindle editions that don’t exist.

Maybe there is a scoop here that I’m missing. A few of the eBooks are in Chinese; Amazon will be expanding into their market soon, but that is old news. Who knows.

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Which eReader or Tablet Should I Buy?

Which eReader or tablet should you buy? It’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, and you aren’t sure which device you should purchase. Even as industry pricing drops to an all time low, $199 for a tablet or $120 for an eReader isn’t exactly pocket change. Every name brand website you go to will tell you that its product is the absolute best, and the number of new releases within the past two months can make your search for the perfect gift a little daunting.

If you don’t have the eReader or tablet you are looking to buy right in front of you, it can be hard to know if it’s the one you should purchase. Obviously, physically handling the device and testing out the OS in-person is ideal, but if you don’t have that opportunity, there are other options, like reading my reviews.

E Ink / E Read is getting a lot of foot traffic today, probably due to the number of people searching for information on which eReader or tablet would be right for them. To make it easy for you, I will provide links to all of the review posts I have written about the biggest new gadgets on the market today. If you find this blog useful, please like and subscribe.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite eReader

B&N Nook HD+ tablet

Apple iPad Mini tablet

Kobo Mini 5″ eReader

Sony PRS-T2 eReader

Kobo Glow eReader

New Kindle tablets and eReaders

Android Reading Apps page

Also, check my different categories and tags for posts on the subject you are looking for. There is also a handy ‘search’ feature. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

Right now, I really enjoy using my Nook HD+ for tablet reading and web browsing, while the Kindle Paperwhite is my go-to E Ink device at home. I take the Kobo Mini with me on the go, and it is probably the best of the lower priced eReaders. Get one today from Powells.com for $49.00.

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BLACK FRIDAY IS HERE

For those of you who didn’t want to fight the crowds at 3:00 a.m. this morning—don’t worry—there are still a lot of Black Friday deals to be had online. Real Black Friday shopping is for a much more die-hard breed than myself, so you won’t find me sprinting through the aisles anytime soon. On the other hand, I don’t want to miss out on the extremely low prices on tablets and eReaders that Black Friday sales usually offer.

Camping out in front of a Best Buy for three days just doesn’t sound appealing, but I am willing to spend that time surfing the Internet for deals, many of which average out to be just as good as the ones found in-store. Finding the best prices on tablets and eReaders can be a challenge, especially since there are so many to choose from.

Here are a few tips that will help you get the best deal on the device you want:

  1. This year, a lot of retailers are trying to attract online shoppers through social media alerts and Facebook coupons. Check your favorite store’s Twitter and Facebook pages throughout the day.
  2. Create a new Gmail account and use this address specifically to sign up for every email alert you could possible want. This way, your regular inbox won’t be cluttered by obscene amounts of ad messages for the rest of the year. You will have all your shopping deals in one spot, not mixed in with your regular email.
  3. Go to the .com pages of all the major retailers. Amazon, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and Target should be at the top of your list. For example, B&N has a 30% off coupon posted right on their homepage.
  4. If you are trying to decide between an ASUS Transformer Infinity or a Google Nexus 10, go to YouTube and watch some video reviews. MobileTechReview, gadgetjm, and The-eBook-Reader.com will provide detailed information about the devices you want to know more about. Watching video reviews before making a purchase is crucial in my opinion.
  5. Be patient. Don’t click “buy” on the first device that catches your eye. Do some research, check the specs, and don’t buy ultra cheap tablets or 7″ color eReaders.

Hope this helps. Stay sharp. Feel free to post any deals you find in the comments section.

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Happy Thanksgiving from E Ink / E Read

Happy Thanksgiving!

I will be posting some good Black Friday deals throughout the day.

Image sources: teacherweb.com and slashgear.com. Poorly photoshopped by me 🙂

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