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My review: HTC Google Nexus 9

2014-08-25Time for a state of the tech address

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A good chunk of this blog is wittering about hardware or software I found interesting at the time... but I'm a confirmed "new gadget" addict, to an extent, and an infrequent writer. So because I've just replaced a PC here's a bit of a round-up, which I might start doing every year or so if things don't get to their own write-up.

Desktop: Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p

Replacing a Shuttle XS35GTV2 I put together a few years ago and which was increasingly struggling because it was a glorified netbook (I intend to turn that into a media PC for use with a TV at some point). It's a similarly small form factor machine that fits on a VESA mount, but has a Core i5 and USB 3.0 ports... unfortunately because of the more powerful processor it's not fanless (the reason I retired a full size Core 2 Duo system way back when) and the resonance of the case is going to drive me insane unless I find a way to soak up enough of the vibration. I find the relatively soft whirr of spinning discs reassuring but this is pissing me off at the moment.

Laptop: Dell Mini 1012

Still kicking after four years or so, with a small SSD to make it completely silent. I don't have much call to use a laptop apart from for work so the remaining ThinkPad (a T61) has gone to a better home. This is still an acceptable emergency system with keyboard and mouse added... it'll drive a 22" monitor without trouble and run basic productivity software. And it's convenient for taking out to do tech support for friends.

MP3 player: Sansa Clip+

Running Rockbox because I only use a player on the go, so I prefer to mix music to mono, normalise volume and listen through one earbud. Takes a large micro SD card and even after several years it doesn't need charging any more than once a week for lots of walking. I predict I'll happily get another at some point.

e-book reader: Kobo Touch N905

WHSmiths were selling these off for thirty quid, and they're really nice. More configurable page turning (choice of taps, swipes and directions) than the Sony and Amazon readers I've used, and having a white body feels like book margins. It'll do until the apocalypse cheap high contrast colour e-ink readers without backlights appear, and I've still got a third gen Kindle Keyboard with 3G for checking email on the go.

Phone: Nokia 220

In pretty much every way apart from the battery life inferior to the C2-01 it replaced. The camera's awful, the home screen has tacky Facebook and Twitter icons that can't be removed, and the viewing angle on the screen is amongst the worst I've ever seen. Assuming that Microsoft haven't killed off Nokia by the time I get around to replacing it I'll still be looking at other manufacturers, and that's after knocking on for twenty years of consistently using them. I should've done more research.

Camera: Canon PowerShot A495

Whilst the Panasonic DMC-FP1 is a nice point-and-click camera with an entirely internal optical zoom, it does require planning to charge a battery. The A495 was twenty quid second-hand and takes AA batteries. It eats them rapaciously if they're alkaline and flash is being used, and I'm not keen on extending barrels... but I won't be giving up the convenience, decent quality lens and disposable factor in any hurry. For tripod photography I've got an S50 and S45 (very configurable) plus mains adapter to experiment with when time permits.

Tablet: Nexus 7 (2013)

There's still no sign of a Nexus 8 or Nexus 9... the smart money seems to be on an October release, and there's no guarantee it'll be 4:3 (which I want for comics and web pages). The Nexus 10 was best suited to watching TV and a bit awkward in portrait mode; basically I want an iPad Mini Retina running Android. If the follow-up Nexus turns out not to have been worth the wait I'll probably try an LG G Pad.


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