iPad Mini has broken glass? No problem…

10633983_968983429838079_2216291504368981093_oA few months back, my lovely wife’s iPad Mini was cracked, right around the button, by my then two year old son.  Now, these things are tough and Xander had thrown it a few times prior to that fateful day.  It hit the floor and then the corner of a cabinet and cracked the glass right by the button.  Over the next month or so, we continued to use the device but…it was dropped once more and, this time, more damage ocurred.

Even in a protective case, the damage got worse and glass shards started coming off, so we shelved it.  Being cheap, we did not want to spend the hundred or so dollars to have it repaired and, on ‘Black Friday’, we took advantage of the $35 (US) Kindle. The iPad Mini just sat, battery drained, on a box under my desk.

Until a few days ago (Feb 13, 2016) when I found a cheap replacement kit for the glass.  This kit came with the glass, home button and the digitizer plus tools to remove the broken glass and install the new glass.  The best part? It was UNDER twenty five US dollars.

I ordered it and it arrived a couple of days later, thanks to Amazon Prime.10357769_968983373171418_8161123942176373028_o

I set about to remove the old glass, which had the white bezel, and install the new glass with the black bezel. I must say, I like the black bezel more.

The process took about three hours as the glass was tough to remove. In hindsight, I did it wrong.

All of the processes I read about said to use a heat gun to soften the adhesive and make it easier to remove. I did NOT do that.  I wish I had.  I ended up destroying the old glass and, in the process, getting little shards all over my hands.

The process is not difficult, but it is a pain in the ass and very tedious.  The sides came up easy, it was the bloody  corners that caused the problem. There’s not much to this, but you need to know a few things…

So, here’s a short, step by step list of things I did (except #1):

  1. Use a heat gun or hair dryer on high to soften the adhesive. Be careful not to overheat the device.
    1. If you do not, you must be very careful with prying up the old glass, it is very brittlle and will break. Easily. Very Easily.
  2. Using a small screwdriver or similar device, gently pry the glass up. Pick a corner and slowly work around the perimeter of the device. 
  3. Once the glass is off, lay it over – if possible – so you can rest the LCD on top. If you cannot, find a soft cloth to lay the LCD on when ready.
  4. There are four screws in each corner of the LCD. Unscrew them and set them aside.  The two small screws by the home button you can ignore.
  5. Be careful, the WiFi antennae are right at the edge of the metal casing, I darn near destroyed them.  It is also easy to unplug them. If you do, no problem, you can plug them back in. At this point, you should not be able to unplug them as there is a cover over them.
  6. Once you have unscrewed the LCD, you will need to remove the black tape holding in place, be careful not to cut or destroy the tape, you will need it later.
  7. Gently lay the LCD over the area you set aside earlier.
  8. Next, there is a metal cover under the LCD that is screwed down by 16 very, very tiny screws.
  9. Remove the screws and gently remove the panel.
  10. Next, on lower right, where the cables are, there a small metal cover with four or so screws. Remove it.
  11. Be careful now, this is where those Wifi antennae live.
  12. The two larger flat cables need to be unplugged. 
  13. Unplug the LCD cable and then the digitizer/home button cable.
  14. Remove any excess adhesive from around the edge of the case. It needs to be clean.
  15. Gently plug in the new home button/digitizer cable
  16. Gently plug in the LCD Panel. It takes very little force and you can only plug them in one way.
  17. Replace the small metal cover and then the larger one.
  18. Replace the LCD panel.
  19. Remove the sticky back tape and any other protective plastic from the underside of the new glass.
  20. Carefully place it on the device and firmly press down around the sides and the top and bottom.
  21. Turn on the device, if charged, make sure it works.
  22. If all went well, congratulations, you save yourself a lot of money.

Those screws are very, very small.  There is no real reason why there are sixteen on the big metal plate.  I think they could have gotten by with half that number or even a quarter of them. At any rate, someone felt they were necessary. 

So, the take away here is that if you are going to do this, get a kit that includes the home button and the digitizer. Some only have one or none of them.

12698567_968983143171441_5796826882905185056_oAmazon is a great source for things like this, but so is eBay.  If you take your time and are patient, you can do this with ease.  Patience is the big thing here.  I nearly lost mine with the small screws. Did I mention that they are small? Oh, yeah, sorry. But, they are DAMNED SMALL!

Good luck if you undertake this endevor. 

Amazon’s Kindle: eReader, internet device and cheese slicer

WP_20150113_22_49_26_ProFunny thing happens when you buy a piece of technology that, at the time, seems to be cutting edge. Yet, in just a few short years, it will become obsolete, regardless if it is still useful or not. Such a wonder is the original Amazon Kindle.

Introduced in 2007, the innovative Kindle eReader was an ugly and expensive device.  It languished a bit until Oprah Winfrey devoted an entire show to the device. Jeff Bezos came on and explained the device, Ms. Winfrey had a family explain how much they loved it and, best of all, the device was made available at a substantial discount if you used the magic code from the Oprah show. Each studio audience member also got one for free.  The device took off after that and so did the eReader category. Within a year or two, there dozens of devices available at a wide range of cost, from $99 to $500. 

The original Kindle was all white, used e-ink display technology and had a cell radio and something called Whispersync, which allowed for over the cell-air purchase and downloading of content. It would also keep your device in synch with other Kindle devices, be it a computer or another Kindle.  The cell radio was on the Sprint network and worked reasonably well. You could turn the radio off to conserve power.  Speaking of power, the device sipped the juice very conservatively. One could go weeks on a charge, as long as the radio was off.

The design of the device was unique.  Wedge shaped, it feature this funky ‘elevator’ controlWP_20150113_22_49_01_Pro that you would use to select lines or options. One would ‘click’ the wheel to make a selection.  There were lots of buttons, including a full but split qwerty keyboard and very large next and previous page buttons.

The on device software was fairly complete and featured a very crude web browser (something later Kindles would eschew) and a basic mp3 player that would play music while you read.  The browser, believe it or not, came in very handy during several storms and hurricanes. In fact, at one point during a hurricane in 2012, it was the only way we could get news while we were home. All of the cell phones had run out of battery power, and there was no internet so the iPad was kind of useless. I broke out the Kindle, which was about half charged, and not only caught up on the news, but was able to check the power company web site to see if restoration was near.

Amazon realized, by the time the Kindle 2 came out, that giving away life time service from Sprint was a costly thing to do and made the browser only work via Wi-Fi in later devices.  However, I’ve had my original Kindle since its introduction and STILL have the Whispersync service, even though another company services Amazon along with the grandfathered Sprint devices.

Overall, the original Kindle, while ugly, was a great device. It has since been made obsolete by newer and better devices from Amazon, Sony, Barnes and Noble, Samsung and others but this first device will always have a soft spot in my heart. 

New Surface Tablets, Blackberry rots and Nokia

In the past week, there were three major product announcements. One, that of Blackberry, essentially, throwing in the towel, will have ramifications greater than just losing a once mighty product and service. Blackberry’s retreat will, no doubt, give Microsoft and Windows Phone 8 a badly needed shot in the arm. How? One less target to shoot at and the possibility of those former customers headed Microsoft’s way. A percentage will, no doubt, go to Apple and iPhone but, perhaps, a larger percentage will head to Windows Phone 8 as the capability of that platform is closest to what they know.

The other two announcements, the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, while interesting, will not have much impact on the world of computing.  But, they are bound to sell more than just a few and, perhaps, serve to force the other manufacturers to improve their offerings. 

The Surface 2 is the Surface RT, 2.0. Faster hardware and RT 8.1 will make for a more useful tablet. Surface Pro 2 is Haswell based and offers better performance, Windows 8.1, a slew of new accessories and better battery life.  Problem, however, is that they look like the tablets they are replacing. And that could be bad.

With the recent announcement that Nokia was releasing a Windows RT (yep, RT) tablet and then the subsequent announcement that Microsoft was purchasing the phone and hardware end of Nokia, one wonders about the fate of said Nokia ‘Sirius’ Tablet.  I have a feeling we will see the tablet released, before November of this year.  The completion of the Nokia acquisition is probably six months to a year out, so that would give Nokia plenty of time to release the tablet.

A recent Microsoft event reiterated that company’s commitment to Windows RT.  But, Steve Ballmer is due to step down fairly soon and hand the reigns over to a new CEO.  That incoming CEO may decide that RT is NOT the path Windows needs to take.  I think that would be a mistake.  Windows needs to evolve and getting rid of the baggage would certainly help.

[BEGIN RANT] Along those lines, it amazes me that Windows and Microsoft has to travel a different path than any other company. Apple completely changes the way Mac OS X works, CHANGES PROCESSORS mid stream, rendering machines obsolete over night; overhauls, completely, iOS and people CHEER them on and give them more money. Android forks every day and no one cares. Microsoft removes a button and the world is ready to roast them alive.  I’m not sure, but I think this actually means that people LOVE Windows? Could that be? Could it be that people are actually MORE passionate about Windows than Apple fans are of Apple? Huh…[/END RANT]

I am looking forward to checking out the new Surfaces.  I won’t be buying one as I have an Asus VivoTab Smart, but I still want to check them out. Who knows, maybe my Asus might show up on eBay…

In other news, Amazon introduced three new Kindle Fire tablets.  They feature faster processors, better screens, better battery life and new versions of Android.  Check them out at Amazon.com.

Looking for a tablet for your child? Check out the Nabi 2

nabi2The Tablet computer continues its ascension and there is now a tablet for pretty much every need, including children.

Since the devices can range in price from $50(US) to thousands, with most in the $300-$800, many of us do not want to spend that much for such a fragile device for our kids.  Apple and the iPad Mini come close at just over $320, while Amazon is pretty much dead on with its $159 Kindle Fire and the $199 Fire HD.  However, these devices were still designed with adults in mind (though the Fires do have a child mode built in that is pretty effective.)

The children’s tablet, real tablets, is a fairly nascent market with two entries so far: the Kurio and the Nabi.  The Kurio sells for $149 for a 4gb unit. However, it seems pretty lacking and the touch screen is so-so. Also, it does not come with any full-version games.  The Nabi, on the other hand, not only comes with full-version games, it includes 50 very kid-friendly music tracks, an easy to use interface and the touch screen is really nice. Not Kindle Fire nice, but not bad either. Plus, the device is running Android 4.0 with a kid-friendly and a parent friendly user interface. The Kurio does allow for upto 8 profiles, while the Nabi has two: Nabi and ‘Mom Mode’ (which could also be called ‘Dad Mode’.)

In Nabi mode, the device is kid centric. Very few system settings are available here, only the ones dealing with the screen and wifi are available. Plus, the child cannot do much in the way of changing the appearance of the device, delete software, purchase anything or do other things they should not do.  In other words, it is pretty kid proof.

There are games like Angry Birds included. In all, there are 25 full version games and other software plus a slew of demo games.  Also included, is something called the Treasure Chest.  Treasure Chest can be a reward for the child: do something good and get rewarded with games, puzzles, music or what ever. The Treasure Chest uses coins as its monetary system. The parent buys coins from the Nabi store (think Microsoft or Wii points) which can then be doled out to the child via the management panel. When you allot coins, they are available to the child in the Treasure Chest. They can then use the coins to ‘purchase’ something from the Chest. It’s a fun, nice way to reward the child.

For the parent, they can add the Amazon App Store and purchase and download apps there as well. Since only the parent can purchase software, only the parent can make it available to the child via the Nabi mode home screens. In the parent mode, there is an ‘add/remove apps’ app that allows Mom or Dad to add or remove an app from the child’s home screens.  That game you just got too violent for them but you like it, just remove it from the Nabi home screen. By default, software is NOT added to the Nabi home screens, you must do this yourself.

The device also includes a lot of educational software and games as well as a trial for University,  a sort of online  school. I have not looked into this, so I can only repeat what is on the web site.

Internet access is via the Maxthon Browser’s child mode. There are ten or so links already in the browser for kid friendly sites and the parent can add sites as they wish.  The full Maxthon Browser is also available for the parent as well as Android’s Browser.  While Flash 11.1 is included, Flash based sites do not appear to work or work well.

The device, a 7 inch Tegra 2 tablet, is rugged, but kid friendly. It comes with a red rubbery bumper that is adequate for gripping by the child. Graphical prowess-which, I might add, is pretty damn good, is by nVidia. The speed boat racing game looked great and was very smooth. Audio, while not loud, was crisp and clean.  Overall, this is a very nice tablet for parents as well. It also comes with 8gb of storage and has a micro-SD slot for additional storage. Connectors include micro-HDMI, power and USB.

accessories-section-cMy one gripe with the hardware is the case itself: the middle of the back has these lego like things that protrude up. They are used for these blocky letters, so you can turn the device over and use with real world blocks to spell out things. They are called ‘Kinabis’. Check out the accessories page.

For $179, the Nabi 2 is really good tablet for both children and adults. A bit more expensive than the Kurio, but it seems worth the extra $30.  If you are looking for a kid-friendly tablet, hop on over to your local Best Buy or Toys R Us and check this thing out.

The New Kindle LIneup for 2012

Amazon announced new Kindles as well as updates to existing Kindles.  The current $79 Kindle will get a price reduction to $69 while the Touch and Touch 3G are being replaced by the Paperwhite line. Kindle Fire gets a reduction in price, a bump in performance and memory and several siblings. 

The 9 inch DX is history.

The Paperwhites

kindlePaperwhiteThe Paperwhites have a white background and are of higher resolution. They also are backlit, presumably to better compete with the Nook Glow from Barnes and Noble. The Paperwhites will come in two flavors: WiFi only and WiFi + 3G.  They are $119 and $179 each.

Features include:

  • built in light that is evenly distributed across the whole screen
  • 62% more pixels
  • eight week battery life, even with the backlight on
  • six fonts in 8 sizes
  • feature that will estimate your time to completion, based on your reading speed
  • 25% better contrast

As with the previous generation, the lower end versions have Amazon’s ‘special offers’ which are ads that display on the devices lock screen. For $20 more, you get the ad free version.

Kindle Fire Lineup

The original Fire gets a boost in speed from a faster processor, twice the memory and longer battery life. The processor is now a 1.2GHz processor and the device features 1GB of RAM, making it 40% faster than the original Fire.  Battery life is up to 9 hours as well.

The Kindle Fire HD comes in a 7 inch version and a 9.7 inch version. The HD features a 1280 by 800 hi-def display with a polarizing filter and anti glare technology. Audio has been beefed up and now includes built in stereo speakers, Dolby audio that gives an immersive, virtual surround sound feature. The processor is 1.2GHz with the Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core.  This thing was, clearly, designed with gaming in mind.

A forward facing HD camera will allow for free Skype (included) video calls. You also get free unlimited cloud storage for your Amazon stuff. Like the Paperwhites, it also features the ‘special offers’ and sponsored screensavers. Unlike the cheaper devices, you cannot turn this off or pay more for ad-free.

kindlefireHDThe software that drives the Fire has been revamped as well. The bookshelf appears to be gone and a more XBOX like feature (From a few years ago) now makes the interface. Items are presented as a scrolling row icons.

Kindle Free Time, another new software feature, is a personalized experience just for the kids.  Essentially parental controls and customized interface, parents can set time limits and restrict the content they have available.

WiFi has been enhanced as well. Amazon offers up two antennae and MIMO, resulting in a 40% increase in performance.

Memory sizes are 16 and 32 gigabytes.There are no expansion slots, though they do include HDMI ports and BlueTooth.

A 4gLTE version is available for $499.

These new devices, coupled with the Surface and the Galaxy Nexus 7 are all sure to give Apple a run for the money. If I were not waiting for the Surface, I’d have to get me a Kindle Fire HD. These are some serious devices.

New Kindle Fire?

During the NFL broadcast on NBC, there was an Amazon commercial. While watching the commercial, I notice the Kindle Fire looked a little different.  The one in the commercial appears to have a microphone and a forward facing camera.  Could this be the new Fire? They are slated to release something new on Sept. 6, so we will see.


Amazon’s Fire: does anyone really use it?

I’m a podcast junky. I love listening to them, it makes my work day go by much easier.  Since I am a geek at heart, I tend to listen to technology oriented podcasts (No Agenda is, for now, the lone exception.) As such, I listen to the ‘biggies’ like TWiT, Windows Weekly, The Vergecast, Macbreak Weekly and the Engadget podcast to name a few. The past few weeks, these podcasts have focused on tablets, Windows 8 and Android.  Of course, the announcement of the new Android tablet from Google has most of these people speculating that it will shut down other competitors like the Kindle Fire.

For some reason, the press (and these podcasters) have turned on Amazon and the Fire. I’ve heard things like ‘sales fell like a brick after the Christmas frenzy’ and ‘no one uses them.’  That last one I have heard repeatedly since that Google announcement. It makes me wonder…just how do they arrive at this conclusion?

Well, they usually use internet web access analytics.  And, surprise, the Kindle is barely a speck on that chart. iPad, by far, takes the lions share of the mobile numbers. Android is right there at number two.  Kindle Fire? way down in the bowels of the chart. Windows Mobile 6 seems to have higher numbers.  Why is this? Amazon sold a few million Fires. Surely, these people use the fire online, right? Well, maybe yes, maybe no.  I know myself, I use it for Facebook and…not much else. Sometimes, depending on where I am, I may use it to hit up News.com, the Verge or CNN. Mainly, though, I use apps to get my internet related content. Things like Flipboard and USA Today. I read PC Magazine on the Fire. I also use it for reading the books I’ve purchased and, yes, I listen to podcasts on the device when I neglect my Zune (which, unfortunately, seems to happen a lot these days…I must be getting old or something.)

Now, mind you, I may not be a typical user, but my instinct says that I use my Fire quite a lot like most would and, since it is sold by Amazon and marketed primarily as eReader, I suspect most will use if for that purpose and not for browsing. So, for these ‘reporters’ and podcasters to make such a statement, based solely on numbers for web pages, is just ludicrous. Of course, many of these same people also claimed that the Wii was used once or twice and put in a closet. Right. For nearly five years, the Wii sold like hotcakes and so did software for the device. The top ten in software sales would be dominated by Nintendo for four of those five years. Yet, according to the ‘experts’, no one played it. Funny, we have two and they still get quite a lot of play. Nothing tops Mario and as for the Fire, it’s a dandy tablet. Good size, decent performance and does not cost a bloody arm and a leg, only a Wii and Mario Kart.