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Old Jan 19, 2012, 3:31 PM   #1
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Default Using a Tablet as a birding tool. . .

. . . or "How I Can Shamelessly Rationalize Getting Another Gadget". . .

Hi All,

I have been using a 9" Acer One Windows XP netbook for portable display of my photography, and the OS/ GUI is just too cumbersome and slow, plus it's a bit of a burden to carry, and though fine in landscape orientation, it's a pain to view portrait oriented photos at full resolution. . .yada, yada, yada. . .

. . . So. . .my Xmas present to myself this year was a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 +. I wanted a faster, more portable and convenient to use electronic "portfolio" and bird reference, and decided that a tablet would work fine as long as the apps were suitable.

After a lot of research (I'm not a smartphone user -- my cell is just a phone, and I use it as sparingly as possible, so I knew little about Android), I chose the Galaxy 7.0+ 16 GB Wifi for it's dual core processor, more tablet friendly Android 3.2 OS, battery life, and the recent $50 price drop which allowed me to get a 2 yr extended warranty with accidental damage coverage (at @ 1/2 price) for close to what had been the original price. I was seriously considering waiting for the new Galaxy Tab 7.7 for its higher resolution Super AMOLED screen, but they're taking their time releasing it, and it likely will be a couple of hundred $$ more. . .and I had waited long enough. . .

My second and more downscale choice would have been the original Nook color (single core processor), "rooted" to a full version of Android Gingerbread (still a phone OS) through a Nook2Android micro SD card. . . but this, with the extended warranty would have only saved me under $100, so I opted for the Samsung.

The Photo Gallery app that was included was okay, but the free QuickPic app is much faster and more capable for photo viewing, so that's what I settled on. I separated my bird photos into folders by genus, and did the same with my scans of various field guides. This way, through the one app, I've got both my photos and a combination of field guides available very quickly.

I also have both Scopes and Peterson's bird song guides available through the Music player. Switching between apps is very quick, and though I'd originally thought I'd have to create my own "super field guide" e-book to combine information from multiple sources, add my own photos to the illustrations supplied from the published guides, and have the songs available with a link within the book, I'm very pleased with how the tablet functions for all of these as is with separate apps. I still might make up a super field guide for myself, but it would be a lot of work for just a slight improvement in functionality.

Using the tablet for showing off my photos is great. I use files downsized to 1200 pixels on the long side and PP'd to taste. The interface is very easy to teach people who are not already familiar, and the auto rotation allows portrait shots to be viewed easily at full resolution by just rotating the screen. Zooming in to view at greater magnification is easy with two finger gestures, as is advancing to the next shot or returning to the last. My 88 year old mom, who cannot (and will never) get either the concept or the operation of a mouse after numerous frustrating tries by a number of people, can flip through my photos using the zoom when she wants, and actually enjoys the experience -- that, for me is what it's all about. . .

I am torn though -- The 7" tablet is great, and very portable, but really only gives me about the same experience as showing 3x5 prints. . . the same resolution files would really be much more impressive on one of those 10" tablets. . .

Scott
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Old Jan 19, 2012, 3:47 PM   #2
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It sounds like you're maximizing the potential of the tablet. The specs show that the 10" is about twice as large (although a little thinner). There are spaces in camera bags (and other places) that the 7" might fit safely and the 10" wouldn't fit at all. Then again....
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Old Jan 19, 2012, 10:51 PM   #3
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LOL! Dan has an iPad and loves it. I must say, it's really fun to use the touch screen for solitaire and other things. I can see how your Mom wouldn't have a problem with something like that, it's very intuitive. My Mom, on the other hand, grasped the mouse concept pretty quickly. She can't type but that's OK - she uses the computer pretty much strictly for games anyway (and she's well into her 90's).
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Old Jan 20, 2012, 12:19 AM   #4
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Sounds like you already have a sweet set-up that I personally would be rather reticent to change. However the screen real estate on a 10" over 7" is very noticeable and it's almost like displaying 10 x 8s prints.

I have an iPad and find it a great addition to my camera kit bag (info, photos, DoF and hyperfocal scales etc., GPS, emergency contacts and info such as Skype and First Aid etc.). To say nothing of tethering via an EyeFi card.

My smallest walkaround bag is the Tamrac Express 7 (does anyone else suffer from BBA as well as LBA and CBA ?) http://www.tamrac.com/welcome.htm and this has a zippered pocket on the back which whilst too small to actually zip closed still holds the iPad securely. Larger bags almost all have space for the iPad, though TBH I'm not sure that, in your situation, I'd bother to change to a 10" having already got a full working system in place.
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Old Jan 20, 2012, 7:55 AM   #5
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Scott, people in my bird club have ipods with the bird aps loaded and plug a small 8oz Altec Lansing speaker into them and will use the bird calls to bring the birds they hear but cannot see down from the tops of trees into a lower position in the tree for better viewing. It is amazing how well this scenario works.

I was considering a device like yours for my upcoming trip but my son in law lent me his HP Mini (10" screen 2.5 #) and it better suits my need as I can take my mini 500GB USB external hard drive with me and download my pictures (has a card slot) each night into both the mini and the external drive before formatting my card for the next days shooting. It fits nicely in my camera bag.

Lou
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Old Jan 20, 2012, 8:10 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Scott, people in my bird club have ipods with the bird aps loaded and plug a small 8oz Altec Lansing speaker into them and will use the bird calls to bring the birds they hear but cannot see down from the tops of trees into a lower position in the tree for better viewing. It is amazing how well this scenario works.
Lou
Hi Lou - obviously you do not know this but this practice is frowned upon (and even illegal in some places or for some birds) because of the potential for disruption to breeding, and an increase in aggressive territorial behaviour, by stressing the birds out unnecessarily. Leading to poor breeding / abandonment of nests/eggs or in Winter loss of calories, as the birds fly hither and thither trying to find the intruder, that birds can not afford to spend defending their territory against phantom birds they can not find.
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Old Jan 20, 2012, 8:45 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Frogfish View Post
Hi Lou - obviously you do not know this but this practice is frowned upon (and even illegal in some places or for some birds) because of the potential for disruption to breeding, and an increase in aggressive territorial behaviour, by stressing the birds out unnecessarily. Leading to poor breeding / abandonment of nests/eggs or in Winter loss of calories, as the birds fly hither and thither trying to find the intruder, that birds can not afford to spend defending their territory against phantom birds they can not find.
Kevin, I agree that this must be done discreetly and not just blasting bird calls all over the woodlands. It is not a practice that they do flagrantly. In all cases the bird is heard first and not seen but coaxed into view with the calls. In many instances it is done with migrating small bird species like Warblers that are hidden in the tree canopy.

Lou
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Old Jan 22, 2012, 7:50 AM   #8
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WOW That's interesting Scott, I did go with the Nook Color and rooted it to Gingerbread. I find the 7" size just right and personally wouldn't go to 10" but that's just me. I like the sound of your software setup. With WIFI I can access my home image files on my NAS drive hooked to the net any where in the world. I was in Italy on a short business trip a few days ago and it came in quite handy. Having access to every image I have ever taken anywhere with WiFi on a small tablet is wonderful. I took 1000's of work related shots that come in handy when consulting.

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Old Jan 22, 2012, 2:55 PM   #9
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Ok. Now you guys have me wondering again. Back in October I was going to buy an e-reader. But, then heard that Kindle and Nook were coming out with something new. Waited to see what it was. Did look at them as a reader and for using for photos. But, realized they don't take SD cards. I wanted to use it as backup for my photos out in the field. Decided to wait for the next generation and just bought a Kindle Touch for reading for now. I have put my K5 manual on it so have it with me at all times.

But, sounds like for what you wanted, you've got the perfect set up.

Patty
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Old Jan 22, 2012, 3:23 PM   #10
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Mine would be hard to use for backup in the field, the nook does have a micro SD slot but no internal storage to speak of, you would need an internet connection to access a hard drive. If I were looking to have in field backup I would go with a netbook hooked to an external USB drive. Netbook about $300, drive about $100


Hans

I did some more digging but Android will only support one storage device at a time so even if you plugged a USB hub into a tablet you couldn't plug in an SD card reader and an external drive at the same time, so the smallest device is still a netbook
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Last edited by hnikesch; Jan 22, 2012 at 3:56 PM.
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