Lenovo Yoga Book Update Brings Stability Improvements

Lenovo Yoga Book

A new firmware update is rolling out for the Lenovo Yoga Book that users will want to pick up when they can.  The update brings some much needed stability improvements to the ultra thin 2-in-1 Android tablet including fixing some random crash issues.

The new build is version YB1-X90F_171013 for those keeping score at home.  It is a 300MB download and takes about 10 minutes to get installed.  The Android Security Update patch is incremented up to the August 2017 level which isn’t great but better than nothing I suppose.

The biggest improvements however is overall stability of the device.

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The Tech & Apps That I Use Every Day

Acer Chromebook 14

One of the most common questions that I get asked, both here on the site, as well as by friends and family has to do with the hardware and software I use every day.  It is a fair question and one that people ask out of both curiosity as well as doing a “stare and compare” with their own tech.

I’ve always said that you need to use the right technology that works for you.  That may be an Android Phone or an iPhone.  That may be a Windows PC or a MacBook Pro.  Whatever the technology, it has to get the job done for you and for me, this list of hardware and software, works for me.  I encourage readers to look into what I use to see if it fits their needs but at the end of the day, it is a personal use case as to whether it will or will not.

I’ve broken this article into two parts.  The first is the primary hardware that I use each day with the second focused on the apps that I use on them.  The apps could be on my phone, my tablet or my Chromebook and I’ll note that as I go along.  As for hardware, I’ll cover what I use every day as well as other devices I use from time-to-time.  You’ll note that very little of what I have is new and that’s on purpose.  I tend not to buy the latest and greatest because I, like most of you reading this, are looking for value in my purchases or I use things for a long time before replacing them.

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The Google Pixel C Tablet is no Longer Available from the Google Store

Google Pixel C

The Google Pixel C, the latest Android-based tablet from Google, has quietly been removed from the Google Store.  It signals the end of sales for the 2015 tablet that was met with mix results both from a sales and overall satisfaction perspective.  The 10.2″ tablet was released in September 2015 and shipped with Android Marshmallow.  It was upgraded last year to Nougat and the latest update to Oreo rolled out in October.

The Pixel C was power packed and from a specifications perspective, was hard to top.  But it was released at a time when many were beginning to question the need for a tablet at all.  Rumors at the time were pointing to Android apps coming to Chrome OS or, perhaps, a melding of the two (Project Andromeda) which made it curious about releasing a tablet at the time.  Indeed rumors persist that the Google Pixel C was actually slated to run Chrome OS but was switched at the last minute to Android.

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Today’s Deal – Lenovo Yoga Book for $299 on Amazon

Lenovo Yoga Book

Today’s Deal is on the powerful and ultra thin Lenovo Yoga Book Android tablet.  The 10″ 2-in-1 tablet is on sale right now at Amazon for $299.94 in Gunmetal Gray.  That’s a savings of $200.

The Yoga Book has a 10.1″ display that gives Full HD resolution of 1200 x 1920.  It is powered by the Intel Atom x5-Z8550 processor, a quad-core processor that is clocked at 2.4GHz.  That is coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage.  That internal storage can be expanded up to an additional 256GB thanks to the MicroSD slot.  Also, the Lenovo Yoga Book can take advantage of Adaptive Storage in Android Nougat so once you have a MicroSD card installed, it can act as part of the main storage on the device.

What really makes the Yoga Book stand out is its size.  It measure just 6.72 x 10.1 x 0.38 in and weighs 1.52lbs.  That’s 256.00 x 170.80 x 9.60mm and 690 grams in new money.  When you open it up, it is 4mm thin.  It has a beautiful hinge that allows the keyboard to rotate completely around to the back of the tablet to use it in tablet mode.  Camera wise, there is an 8MP main camera and 2MP front camera for selfies and video calls.  All of this is powered by a whopping 8500mAh battery that gets you 15 hours of use between charges.  Charging is done via a MicroUSB connector and it supports Quick Charge 3.0 technology for fast charging.

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[Update] Microsoft Arrow Launcher Beta Adds Tablet Support

Microsoft Arrow Launcher on a Nexus 9

[Update:  Version 3.1 has officially been released!]

The Microsoft Garage team behind Arrow Launcher for Android have had a busy few weeks.  Last week they released a major update, version 3.0, to the public channel which brought a significant number of changes to it.  While performance and stability improvements were the hallmark of the release, the new Utility page which shows your frequent contacts, apps and recent documents on one page was the big new feature.  Right on the heels of that 3.0 release, the 3.1 build has hit those in the beta program with further refinements.  The big news though is support for tablets.

Arrow Launcher on tablets works the same way as it does on phones with the ability to customize the launcher as far as icon size, rows and columns and some included widgets.  It also supports app notifications (for apps that support it) and works in both landscape and portrait viewing.  It is also incredibly stable.  Those who visit often know that I generally shy readers away from betas because of bugs and stability issues.  This beta of Arrow Launcher however is pretty rock solid in the couple of days I’ve been running it on my Nexus 9.  Obviously proceed at your own risk but I’m happy with it so far.

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Android Tablet Sales Drop 10% in The Last Quarter of 2016

Nexus 9

While there were a few bright spots, the Android tablet market continued to constrict in the last quarter of 2016 according to Strategy Analytics.  The site Q4 2016 report is out and with it, you see that overall, Android tablet sales dropped by 10% year-over-year with Samsung seeing a 10% drop themselves year-over-year.  Interestingly, relatively new comer Huawei saw a 49% increase in growth over last year as they made their first significant efforts in the tablet space in 2016.  It seems to have paid off – at least for now.  Amazon also enjoyed a nice growth rate of 21% thanks to their Fire lineup of Android-powered tablets.

The news on tablet sales didn’t just impact Android.  Apple saw a 19% drop in iPad sales year-over-year in Q4 2016.

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Opinion – Chrome OS Could Kill The Android Tablet in 2017

Acer Chromebook 14

As 2017 gets started, one thing has become abundantly clear to me:  The days of the Android tablet form factor are numbered.  Its not that the Android experience on tablets will kill them – which is pretty poor to be fair – but rather the flood of Chromebooks and other Chrome OS devices that are set to hit the market this year.  2017 will be the year that Chrome OS takes off for good with a wide range of form factors expected to be release and the much anticipated support of Android apps on the platform in Chrome 56.  The latter is due within days and the former, with the likes of Samsung’s new Chromebooks, will set the stage for a transformative year.

The push for the tablet form factor came fundamentally from Apple.  With the launch of the iPad, it suddenly became a tool by which you could get more things done on a larger screen.  Add to that portability and a lower cost, generally, than a laptop and you set the stage for a form factor that seemingly many wanted.  But for all the might of Apple, the iPad has never really taken hold.  Samsung, HTC and Google themselves have had the same struggles.  They brought the conveniences of a mobile Operating System and the associated apps but equally, they brought limitations that users did not experience on laptops.  It was, as if, they were a stop-gap measure until a proper merger of a desktop OS and a mobile OS could take place.

That merger is happening now with Chrome OS and Android.

Android apps running in Chrome will be more than just a stop gap.  You will get the benefits of an app ecosystem along with the power and productivity of a desktop OS.  Is it perfect?  No but it is a far cry better than having two completely desparent solutions to meet your productivity and entertainment needs.

I suspect that my usage of my Nexus 9 Android tablet is similar to many of you.  I like the tablet but 90% of my use of it is for entertainment:  Games, movie watching and social networking.  Rarely do I use it for productivity, even with the solid Google productivity apps like Docs, Sheets and Slides.  The only time I really use it for productivity is when I’m on an airplane, in coach, crammed into a little seat with little room to pull out a 14″ Chromebook to work.  If I’m in business class or First class, the Chromebook is always the weapon of choice to get things done.  So the question becomes, if I had my entertainment on a slate or convertible Chrome OS-based device, would I need a tablet?  The answer, in my mind, is a resounding no.

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Today’s Deal – Huawei MediaPad M3 Tablet – $299 on Amazon

Huawei MediaPad M3

Today’s Deal is on a well appointed new tablet from Huawei.  The MediaPad M3 is their latest offering and the 8.4″ tablet sports 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a 2560 x 1600 pixel IPS display for $299.  To make this an even sweeter deal, the M3 has Harmon Kardon tuned sound so you should have a great media experience with it on top of the great overall specs.  The new tablet from Huawei was announced in November and hit the Amazon digital shelves in December.  If you are an Amazon Prime customer, shipping is free.

The MediaPad M3 is powered by the Octa-Core Kirin 950 processor running at 2.3GHz and it is coupled with the Mali-T880 MP4 GPU.  This combination should do great for everyday use and you have plenty of RAM to support the processor which always helps.

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