Clearance sale coming

Looking to do a little clearance sale soon. Will probably start in the next week. The two models we still have are both great tablets – a great quality laminated screen Android 8 inch tablet, and a pretty powerful Cherry Trail Windows dual boot 9.7 inch. Teclast is a brand I always find reliable, and I use myself.
After that I’ll be looking to get in the new Chuwi Surbook Mini, and perhaps the 4g version of the 8 inch Android tablet mentioned above (as it has great value for money proposition). Still looking at the options, as usually there’s a few new models over the Christmas period.

Top Ten Tiny space saving ideas for Kiwis

Website Related Stuff
I’m expecting some very exciting tablets to be coming from Microsoft over the Christmas period, as their very first Windows on ARM devices come out. Likewise China usually has a new generation start to come out over this period. So there will be a lot to cover. But in the meantime, I’ve got something a little different for you all.
In keeping with the flexible mobile theme of tablets, I’ve been researching the growing Tiny home phenomena, and dreaming of a little patch of dirt of my own. In my research I’ve found quite a few little gems that might inspire home owners, builders or just someone looking for some space saving gems in their apartment. Now probably anyone deeply into Tiny homes is a bit familiar with these already, but even then, perhaps there’s a few ideas you didn’t know about.

The List!
10. Convertible Bean bags
Ever wanted a bean bag that turns into a comfy mattress? Perfect for kids bedrooms in tight tiny home spaces, or guests.

9. Cheap  tiny fire places
This is a kiwi outfit. They make fireplaces, even wetback fireplaces for small spaces. They are constructed out of old gas cylinders, and offer fantastic value for money.

8. Folding coffee table
This one isn’t exactly revolutionary – it’s a folding coffee table. But it’s good looking and features a solid construction. Lot of good space saving stuff coming out of Asia.

7. Drop leaf desk
Ever wanted a desk space, but don’t have the space? This nice looking drop leaf fold up desk would be great for a laptop or hybrid tablet, for students or professionals. Equally could be used for dining.

6. Mini-kitchens
These kiwi sold mini kitchens generally come stacked full of appliances. You can get everything you need in a contained single unit. Ideal for tiny apartments, or studio flats.

5. Uno modular convertible sofas and armchairs
These aren’t classically convertible space saving furniture items, but they are very nice, flexible modular designs that both save space, and offer increased functionality.

4. Make your own murphy bed
If your a bit handy, or want a specific design – you can get the hinge kits a lot more cheaply on Aliexpress than you can buy them locally.

3. Photo realistic wall prints
These high resolution wall prints are an American made product, and I am not sure about their shipping policy – but if you want a brick or wood wall, and can’t fit the space, or the weight, this is a good option to transform a feature wall into another material. You’ll find a lot of the other stuff at world famous resource furniture sold at our own space saving furniture below.

2. Murphy beds @ Space Saving Furniture
Space saving furniture has a huge range of space saving products, particularly fully featured murphy wall beds. Want a desk that turns into a bed, or a bookshelf, or a sofa that turns into a bed? They have convertible tables and all sorts. Definitely a must see for most tiny home enthusiasts.

1.Homes
If your looking for self contained homes, I’ve compiled a few of them here together. IQ Container Homes offers complete, even off grid container homes – although they aren’t bargain basement, they are very complete packages.

Houseme has some extremely affordable one level studio on wheels configurations. They do look they are built using cheap SIPs and materials, but they come packaged with the mobile extras and you can add some decent insulation. Can go up to 7.2×2.8 or so with a trailer, which can be towed with a decent consumer tow vehicle. Hard to beat prices like this.

Podlife has some really nice looking cheap 15m2 one level designs. They can come self contained, and have nice extra’s like a big deck. I’ve honestly not seen anything this cheap in a design that can be consented (and is also transportable, although not wheeled).

For those looking for something on land, but a bit more elite, Cool House has some small fabulous eco designs.

 

Breif News Update

Intel’s incoming Gemini Lake

Intel has announced a new successor to the Apollo Lake chipset, popular in many of the higher end 2 in 1 tablets. This iteration of the processor, draws on process level improvements to lower power draw – which in turn is primarily being used to raise CPU clock speeds. It also features a large L2 cache, and supports twice the memory up to 16GB. And for some nice side bonuses, it supports HDMI 2.0 and DDR4 RAM, has a faster GPU, and features intergrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc.
While we can’t be sure of the clock speed improvements yet, this is pretty big news for the affordable but performance tablet market – Faster than Apollo lake, and capable of up to 16GB, I suspect we will hit some new performance highs in the following Chinese market.

Windows on ARM
Speaking of which, we are now only months away from Microsoft’s release of its first Windows on ARM device in December. We will most certainly be dealing with a number of firsts for windows tablets – built in 4G and calling, always on connectivity as well as thinner, longer life devices. This too will likely spur a large amount of innovation in new form factors, further blurring the lines between PC, laptop, tablet and phone.

20 Best Apps for Windows Desktop and Tablet

For ease of use, fast loading, notifications and other functionality, proper “UWP” apps can offer a preferable experience on Windows, especially on a tablet. But what are the best apps around on the platform? What follows is a short summary, and a link to the windows store where you can get them. If your after games for tablet as well, look no further and follow these links:
Touch friendly windows tablet games

Similarly if you want some great Android apps and games, go here: A few good Android Apps, Top Android Games

1. Facebook

Facebook is the current king of social messaging. Whilst recently its been plagued with censorship issues in an attempt to be more family friendly, it’s still the number 1 way to keep in touch online.

2. Skype

Skype

Synonymous with video chat, this is the biggest name in the field. With superb noise cancellation technology, for one on one chats or small group chats this is a must have.

3. Spotify
Spotify
The most popular music streaming service. Spotify recently came to the windows store, and the app is a pleasure to use. Obviously much better with a subscription.

4. Twitter

For the latest current events, twitter is number 1 in being up to date. They recently extended the character limit to twice the size. This app is another must have.

5. myTube!

A great YouTube client. You can, sure run your youtube in a browser but this will deliver a but more responsive experience. Does cost 99 cents, but for the features it offers, it’s worth it.

6. Instagram

The windows Instagram client is very similar to the apple version. Instagram puts good work into their app, so if your a user, it’s a no brainer.

7. Netflix

Without a question, Netflix is huge these days. Smooth streaming and a decent catalogue of TV and movies, the Netflix app on Windows also allows local downloads, for later offline viewing.

8. Flipboard
Flipboard
Flipboard is a treat to use. It collates news articles and RSS feeds from multiple locations, so you can compile your own collections and have a magazine style reading experience custom tailored to you!

9. Fresh Paint

Fresh Paint is a painting and drawing program that works excellently with a stylus. It emulated various papers, paints and physical mediums.

10. FL Studio Mobile

Surprisingly powerful for what is essentially a composition software designed for phones, and a great deal cheaper than the desktop full studio version.

11. Aviary’s “Photo Editor”

Photo Editor
One of my personal favourite photo editors, because of the lush colour filters. Add a sparkle to your Instagram and other photos.

12. Messenger
Facebook Messenger
The companion messaging app for Facebook, a must have for Facebook users. On desktop and tablet, these apps are ported from the iOS versions, and are a pleasure to use.

13. Torrex Pro
Torrex Pro
One of the few UWP torrenting apps, you have to pay for the ad-less version, but it works well and worth a look.

14. TreeSize Free


A must have utility in my opinion. This app helps you find the files and folders on your drives that take up the most space, so you can manage your drive use with precision.

15. Kodi
Kodi
Kodi is an absolutely brilliant app. It provides a media cataloguing system that automatically gathers art, descriptions, can be used as well for streaming radio and TV. If you have a locally stored media collection, or a dedicated media box, it’s definitely worth a look.

16. Timber
Timber
Timber is a third party tinder app. It works well, and also provides a desktop access to the dating app which is handy for messaging, and looking through photos.

17. Kobo Books
Kobo Books
A great reader and book store app, for it’s namesake.

18. Pandora
Pandora
Pandora is a great little audio streaming app. It let’s you play an unlimited selection of songs, that are like another song you select. Find more of what you like, or use it like a radio station.

19. Audiocloud
Audiocloud
A Soundcloud based app for finding free music via Soundcloud’s streaming system. There is some great indie stuff on Soundcloud, DJ sets, and a lot of music you won’t find elsewhere all for free.

20. Easy Movie Maker
Easy Movie Maker
If you want to put together amateur home videos, or for posting on social media, a movie editing app doesn’t get more easy to use and straightforward than this.

 

Exciting Times Ahead: Windows on ARM and Composable Shell

Hybrid Tablet WindowsThis year, December, we’ve been promised the first “Windows on ARM” devices. I wanted to talk about this week, just why this is a big deal for tablets and laptops.
So what is “ARM” anyway? Well it’s a kind of “system on a chip”, or SoC, which means that it has a central processor, radios for LTE and Wi-Fi, graphics processor and so on. Basically its the “whole computer” that sits inside your smartphone.
So coming later this year, is a full version of Windows, that can run on, essentially smartphone hardware. There’s a lot of little small advantages to that, but its how they add up that is important. First it means that cellular capabilities will be built in to all these devices – both voice and data. Obviously also the same GPS and sensors you find in most smartphones. But like a smartphone, this LTE cellular ability will be “always on”, meaning it still gets notifications and data, even when the device is asleep.
You are of course, in one way or another familiar with all of this! Also, ARM SoC circuits are smaller than Intel ones, and more power efficient – which means smaller, thinner devices, longer battery life and more room for the battery. A smartphone chip also has a quick wake function, ‘instant on’.
Until now, Windows hasn’t really had any of this.

Sometimes an extra module is put it for LTE data only. But this full Qualcomm Snapdragon package, is not the way Windows has rolled. Soon, like a smartphone your Laptop, or Windows tablet will be able to alert you of incoming notifications, or even phone calls, even when its asleep. And it’ll have that instant on that makes other tablets more casual to use. With all the desktop software, for full quality browsing, music, video, gaming, productivity that you expect from Windows.
Which, is pretty huge right – your PC is getting all the smartphone “stuff”. For tablet users this means a Windows on ARM windows tablet will be that highly mobile creature some users love – you’ll be able to Google maps, text and chat apps as well as everything else.
We can also expect to see some super slim devices. iPad thin stuff. Laptops that make the MacBook air seem thick (MacBook is based in intel, these will be able to be thinner and smaller). And with really long battery life, and just as importantly for my customers cheap!
ARM processors are typically cheaper than their Intel counterparts, which means, once the initial device prices come down, there will be a lot of thin, ultra-mobile, long-life laptops and tablets at killer prices. Doing what other tablets do, what smartphones do, and all the Windows stuff as well.
Which in itself would be an exciting thing. Except that’s not all we expect to see from Microsoft. There has been leaked a version of the long rumoured “Composable Shell” or Cshell for short.

So what’s Cshell?
Composable Shell on a Windows MobileIt’s an adaptive, changing User interface that scales to its output mode. Simply put, the OS will adapt to the screen size its on, even in all likelihood offer an “entertainment” mode, like a game console interface, and a “productivity” mode like a PC interface. So if you are running it on a tiny screen, it’ll look like a mobile phones interface. On a small tablet, it’ll run the ideal interface for that. On a huge screen, it’ll adapt there too.
Which means, your small, thin, light, long life Windows on ARM tablet or notebook, will also be getting a scaling interface as well – which means a great deal for Windows as an operating system because it’s struggled to work well in smaller sizes, and nothing that small has the kind of software power Windows has. Whether it’s streaming your desktop to your phone, displaying your phone on a big screen, or any size of tablet – or even a mini PC you want to set up as an entertainment device – Windows will become more flexible.
A big screened Windows tablet IS a great experience. You get the UWP apps, like most touch platforms, with a great touch user interface, but you also get that full desktop software, with its richer, higher quality and more powerful software, whether its games like Trine 2, or software like FL Studio, or just Chrome, Opera, Edge or Firefox browser. Its a best of both worlds scenario.

However its never quite worked on a small screen. It’s never been advantaged by LTE “always on”, and certainly never come with voice telephony and GPS as standard. And laptops basically never come with these sorts of features. With the many new devices from major manufacturers coming December, and the yet unannounced but confirmed composable shell, Windows will be taking on entirely new forms, and having entirely new functions. A true hybrid OS of a computing system.
Windws Fluent Design SystemAnd, with the slick looking fluent design system always start to roll out ‘wave one’ late this year, it’s also going to look beautiful, almost sci-fi good looking. Watch this space, here at Tap That too, because I know China is going to do amazing things with this technology, and there will be devices beyond conventional tablets and laptops, that nobody expects. It’s going to be a very exciting time for Windows devices over the next year.

Top 15: Windows 10 Mobile Games

Some of these games, marked with a *, can be played on desktop, or tablet. You may notice I have excluded some popular titles like Asphalt 8 and Dungeon Hunter 5 because they are riddled with ads and in-app purchases and basically annoying to play- a pet peeve of mine!

1. Leo’s Fortune*


A fun platformer, with simple controls, and a gorgeous 2D style. This game also has somewhat of a story, and a pinch of charm. Fun on a tablet, on mobile, or on a desktop, it’s almost the perfect “bus stop game”. Highly recommended.

2. Tiny Troopers*


The top down shooter has all sorts of variety it its missions. You control a team of little soldiers, and while cartoonish, the graphics are quite nice. It also features a sprinkle of humour. It has a sequel and works together with the Xbox version.

3. Deus Ex Go*


This, like the others so far, is a full UWP – that means you can play on any Windows device. The GO series is a masterful mobile gaming experience, Hitman GO, and Lara Croft GO are also both excellent titles. This is the cream of the crop, graphically and strategically – It’s a turn based puzzle game, which works like a strategic board game, set in a cyberpunk setting. Another solid, go to mobile game.

4. Prune*

Time magazine’s game of the year 2015, Prune is a peaceful game where the aim is to cultivate trees. A different and attractive indie game, with a style that will help you cultivate your zen.

5. Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade*


Another game to reach critical acclaim, Warhammer Freeblade runs not only on PC, tablet and mobile, but is a continuum game that can be played in continuum mode on your windows phone, making this a more flexible experience on Windows phones. You pilot a massive robot in this casual freemium shooter, which features lovely 3D graphics, and you don’t feel like you HAVE to buy the in-app upgrades. Addictive!

6. Dream Machine*


This captivating machine based puzzler, has you solving optical illusion puzzles, fighting bosses, and resolving logic based puzzles. It’s visually a treat, and more than worth the cheap entry price.

7. Forza Motor Sport

A beautiful racing simulator for your windows mobile phone. Enjoyable gameplay, that unlike many racers is not too difficult to control.

8. Theft Inc. Stealth*

This is one of very few stealth games on a mobile platform. It’s easy to pick up, and features some very attractive top down graphics.

9. Lara Croft Relic Run

I’m not a huge fan of endless runners, but this one features some novel gameplay, and some very attractive graphics. Its head and shoulders above the rest in my opinion.

10. Metro 2033 Wars


This is a strategy game, which features management, and top down combat. It’s a turn based open world game, set in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s got enjoyable gameplay and a grim ambience.

11. Quarto*


This is a game for two players. It is a novel board game where the goal is to create a line of pieces with a shared characteristic. Could be a good way to pass time on holiday, or on a plane journey.

12. Shadow Fight 2


This game has a separate edition for desktop and tablets. It’s a bit of a mixture of an RPG story line, and a fighting game, but its addictive gameplay that gets the line right between challenging and achievable. You’ll be engaged!

13. Abyss*


This extremely challenging game may be more frustrating that enjoyable to some, but for those that like a real challenge, you will love this game where you swim a biomechanical robot through various hazards. Think flappy birds on crack, with nicer graphics.

14. Poly and the Marble Maze*


This is a attractive modern platformer, where you guide a ball through a maze. It’s fun and challenging, and sits nicely amongst these stellar mobile titles.

15. Halo Spartan Assault*


This is a fun casual shooter based in the Halo universe. Its visually impressive, although the simple game play does not suit extended play. It does have a sequel if you want to keep playing on.

Let me know in the comments if you think there’s anything I’ve missed!

 

The limits of Cardboad style mobile “VR”

Google cardboard and its associated “face boxes with lenses” are the most common way into VR. And the most common use for those devices is 360 video.
But I want to just talk briefly about all the great many disadvantages to that easy first taste of VR.
Displaying two screens, one two each eye, in itself has limitations. But the DPI of phone screens, even rich ones blow up on lenses, creates a pixelated effect. Which is really not the worst thing about mobile based VR.
The problem lies in the brain. The human brain expects to see what the balance sensors in the body are sensing. It expects your arms to be where your arms are. Your feet where you feet are, your head to be in precisely the speed, angle and orientation your head is in. The smallest latency can produce nausea, incorrect mapping can produce disorientation.
360 video in itself is limited in that it cannot track your head position, only its orientation. It cannot map the users body in VR – it breaks what is needed for a comfortable, sustainable VR experience in itself. Put that on a mobile device, with its slower hardware, and inherent tracking latency, and the average video time in VR becomes a paltry 10 minutes or so, compared to the average 2.5 hours of television people watch daily. They simply don’t do it much, because the longer you do it, the more disoriented you become.
There are of course problems with VR related to all headsets. Light bleed. Angle of field of vision. The steaming up of the lenses, and general effect of heating under a head mounted display – these at least are problems that higher end hardware can try to address even if real solutions aren’t met yet – but actual 3d content, like vr games, played through a HMD like the htc vive, can be used comfortably for long periods without disorientation or nausea, and they offer a less pixelated experience where your body can be more accurately mapped in 3d space.
So while cardboard type devices, and mobile VR is a nice taster, and certainly the most popular, please remember folks, that 360 video on a cardboard is literally the worst VR experience you can have by a considerable margin. Try a real HMD like the HTC Vive, Oculus, PlayStation VR or the incoming mixed reality headsets for Windows before making your mind up on what VR is really about.

Google announces interesting new technologies at Google I/O 2017

While it’s not quite the flash and wow of last year, there are some interesting announcements coming from this year’s Google I/O.

Google has been pushing an AI based direction. One of its most exciting announcements is a camera/picture based technology called Google Lens. This software can identify objects or places, and use that info, to say, identify a flower, or pull up a review from a picture (see above picture).

Google like Microsoft, are working to make their voice assistant more proactive. Their photos app will have more sharing functionality. They are launching a new Android One platform designed to run on low end devices, running smoothly on as little as 512mb of ram.

Lastly Google Play Protect, is software that warns users of suspicious app activity, to help plug androids greatest security vulnerability malware. As malware and app security issues slowly creep up for the platform, this is an important move.

Lastly Gmail smart reply extends their AI direction, by offering intelligently automatic reply options to emails that over time learn how you would respond.

Microsoft Unveils Amazing Changes coming to Windows

Microsoft's Story Remix

Microsoft unveiled in its second day Keynote for the #MSBuild conference so many new amazing Windows features, it’s almost hard to know where to start!

They started with explaining how they are moving to expand stylus support system wide to the operating system which is pretty cool for us Tablet users (FYI, the Chuwi tablet I stock supports stylus and Windows). Not only this, they intend to expand stylus support beyond the screen, into Mixed Reality!

And then they also explained the new Design/Look of Windows 10 called “fluent design”, which features rich animations, depth, and translucency and frankly looks amazing.

But this is where it gets viral level. They have a new video editing app, “Story Remix”, that automatically takes the best moments of any video and compiles it, adds a soundtrack. It uses artificial intelligence and 3D tracking, so not only does it do the heavy lifting, but you can add 3D effects and writing to your videos (So your soccer ball turns into a fireball, or you get chased by a dinosaur). So the things movie makers have been doing for years suddenly will become accessible to anyone.

Not only this, but using MS Graph, Windows PCs will now support a new “timeline” feature, which remembers all your apps, tasks, what things you do on your computer, and allows you to seamlessly continue those tasks on _any_ device (Windows 10 mobile, iOS or Android). So you can start reading an article on your phone, finish on your tablet or edit a document on your PC, and finish it on your phone! Using liquid computing MS services are now going to be your portal to working seamlessly between devices.

In addition to this Onedrive will now support a feature called “on demand” files, which basically allows you to treat cloud files, as if they are local, share files with others, again across devices. Bringing the cloud, essentially closer to user.

Lastly, they announced both a new 3d tracking controller for mixed reality, and two cheaper Mixed Reality headsets from partner OEMs (A term they are promoting to replace AR/VR), coming in as cheap as 399 USD (Much cheaper than any that exist like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive). This is going to really bring along virtual reality, in terms of accessibility to the average person.

Yesterday they also made announcements about Cortana and Artificial Intelligence. They are expanding Cortana’s “skills” so that any developer can write new capabilities for her. There is a preview of this available to US citizens, where they can also get news, weather, order a pizza and more. Developers will also get access to a range of AI and machine learning APIs to add visual, audio and other Artificial intelligence to their apps. And yesterday they also demoed the new smart home device the “Invoke”

Cortana moves from the PC

It was an amazing keynote speech, and I suggest you check out some of the videos demoing these technologies, because Microsoft is fundamentally changing computing with its new focus on creation, seamless computing across devices, AR/VR and Artificial intelligence. With 500 million users already, the future of Windows is very bright.

Fuschia: Googles Windows 10 competitor? 

Google has been developing a new OS designed to run on “modern phones and modern personal computers”. It recently unveiled some of the UI, still a work in progress, that operates like a traditional desktop OS with Windows, mixed with a mobile OS, using Google’s material design. Which seems very much like a hybrid OS in the vein of Windows 10.

Fuschia is also a real-time multi-tasking environment, unlike Android, and like Windows 10. Fuschia is built using a custom kernel called “Magenta”, rather than the Linux base of Android and ChromeOS. Entire sections of the UI are devoted to google search and suggestions, putting an emphasis on Google’s advertising based profit model. It also features a new universal app platform, that might be able to run cross platform.

We don’t yet have any official announcement on whether this will replace Android and ChromeOS, but we do know that this is a product intended for release. Looking at the design, and considering that Google has long wanted to move into the desktop space, it seems most likely that this is indeed intended to be a Windows 10 competitor, and that if successful it might replace ChromeOS and Android entirely.

Users have long speculated when the other two tech giants, Apple and Google might develop hybrid OSes. Apple has indicated that as an eventual and distant plan, but they are classically very tight lipped on any new projects. Google here, seems to be taking the same approach. Apple obviously has clear advantage in a new hybrid OS having success in both the desktop and mobile arena’s, although how those two systems can be dovetailed is probably a very complicated business – OSX runs on x86/x64 and iOS on ARM. They are wildly different systems iOS and OSX. Microsoft has the time based lead on both having it’s UWP platform for numerous scaling/adaptive apps, and being first to market, but Google will no doubt bring to bear its Android app platform via some kind of Android runtime.

Like Win32 programs these face a scaling problem – they are suited to touch and a small screen, not mouse and keyboard.  Whether it’s big screen apps being too busy for the small screen, or small screen apps being too simple for the big screen – scaling is the problem hybridization is intended to solve, and in some ways for any company it’s essentially starting from scratch. Apps are only starting to be developed that way for Windows 10.

With growth in smartphones (outside of budget sectors) winding down everyone is looking for the next big thing. Whilst Amazon fights for the voice space, MS releasing its Cortana skill SDK advancements soon, its work on Hololens, Facebooks secret investments in VR, AND rumors of Apple’s secret AR project – Like the race in IoT, virtual reality, augmented reality, and personal assistants, with the Hybrid OS; the fight is very much on for the future.