Parents who load their tablets and smartphones up with fun educational apps for their kids to play with may actually be doing them more harm than good. According to The Guardian, spending too much time tapping and swiping away at touchscreens is leaving the muscles in many children's hands too weak to hold a pencil.
In the article, Sally Payne, a pediatric occupational therapist, explains that the nature of play has changed over the past decade. Instead of giving kids things to play with that build up their hand muscles, such as building blocks, or toys that need to be pushed or pulled along, parents have been handing them tablets and smartphones. Because of this, by the time they're old enough to go to school, many children lack the hand strength and fine motor control required to correctly hold a pencil and write. In order to correct the problem, some parents are going so far as to send their kids to pediatric occupational therapists, like Payne:
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Six-year-old Patrick has been having weekly sessions with an occupational therapist for six months to help him develop the necessary strength in his index finger to hold a pencil in the correct, tripod grip.
His mother, Laura, blames herself: “In retrospect, I see that I gave Patrick technology to play with, to the virtual exclusion of the more traditional toys. When he got to school, they contacted me with their concerns: he was gripping his pencil like cavemen held sticks. He just couldn’t hold it in any other way and so couldn’t learn to write because he couldn’t move the pencil with any accuracy.
This is the lowest price I've seen for the Amazon Fire 7 Tablet - $30. I've had one for a year or so, and bought a second one for my wife. It has Alexa built-in, and works well as a video streamer and Web browser. I keep mine on my desk and use it to look at my outdoor Nest camera feed, the changing price of Bitcoin, and Boing Boing's live traffic stats. Read the rest
Amazon's Fire tablets have replaced Apple iPads around our house. This new 10" tablet will be mine.
My daughter has broken many very expensive Apple tablets. I switched her over to an Amazon Fire that only cost $50 and she loved it. I tried one and never looked back.
Due to my heavy use of Apple OS X for a lot of my day-to-day work, Android doesn't integrate quite as well as I'd like -- but for entertainment, which is mostly what I look to a tablet for, these Amazon devices are perfect. I have all the toys I want, and almost none of the distractions that'd take me away from watching, reading or playing.
I am sure if I put the effort in to making Android work well with my interconnected OSX tools all would be well, but I don't want it. I find the screens Amazon chooses to be beautiful, and Amazon Prime video is incredibly easy to access. Netflix and Hulu are also right there for me, when I want them.
This new unit sports a 1.8/1.4 GHZ quad-core processor and 2 GB RAM. It'll be interesting to see how it benchmarks against the Apple iPad Pro, for far, far less money.
I await eagerly. I ordered red.
All-New Fire HD 10 Tablet with Alexa Hands-Free, 10.1" 1080p Full HD Display, 32 GB Read the rest
I've had my Fire Tablet for about a year, and have definitely gotten my $40 out of it. (It's usually $50 but on sale this week). I use it in the day to look at my Nest camera that's pointing at our driveway (I get a lot of packages delivered). I also use it to listen to audiobooks, read Kindle books, check email and Twitter, and stream Netflix and Amazon Prime videos. It's not speedy by any stretch of the imagination, but what do you expect for $40? Read the rest
Lenovo's Yoga Book is the most striking personal computer I've seen in years. More than the original iPhone, or Sony's X505, or the Messagepad, here's technology that seems a few years ahead of schedule. It's compact, attractive and thinner than anything else that might be called a laptop. Imagine two hinged pieces of black glass, one of which glows with the internet and the other with Okudagrams, and you have the Yoga Book. Read the rest
reMarkable's 10.3" tablet has an e-ink display with a paper-like texture, a digital pencil with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, and promises to finally replace all that paper in your workspace. The pitch: read, write and sketch, all on one gadget.
Unlike traditional paper, reMarkable connects to the digital world when you need it to. Your thoughts, whether they’re words or sketches, are instantly synced to reMarkable’s cloud service and made available on all your devices. Documents and ebooks are easily transferred for reading and reviewing with pen in hand. reMarkable connects to the internet for easy sharing and collaboration across devices. You can even take notes on one device and have it appear on a second device, in real time.
It's 10.2" by 6.9" and a quarter inch thick. It weighs less than a pound, and the 1872 x 1404 pixel display works out at 225 pixels per inch. It runs Linux (not Android, though) and has an ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, 512MB of RAM and WiFi.
It claims a latency of 55ms and the demo video shows performance similar to the iPad Pro, which they say has 60ms latency. Wacom tablet hardware polls at Read the rest
When we were at the Mission Inn for Weekend of Wonder, this 5-port USB desktop charging station, on sale at Amazon for $10 kept 3 iPhones and a tablet well-fed. I used the additional port to charge a battery pack. The great thing about it is that you can plug it into a wall outlet (which are always in weird places in hotel rooms for some reason) and set the charger on a desk for ready access. It even comes with a suction cup mat to hold your soap in the shower! Read the rest
Writing on Reuters, Felix Salmon has a good postmortem on the demise of the Daily, Rupert Murdoch's iPad-only, $30,000,000 subscription-based newspaper, which folded yesterday. Among other things, he writes about print media's enthusiasm for iPads, and the inability of closed ecosystems to out-iterate the open Web:
When the iPad was first announced, there were lots of dreams about what it could achieve, and how rich its content could be. But in hindsight, it’s notable how many of the dreamers came from the world of print. Web people tended to be much less excited about the iPad than print people were, maybe because they knew they already had something better. The web, for instance, doesn’t need to traffic in discrete “issues” — if you subscribe to the New York Times, you can read any story you like, going back decades. Whereas if you subscribe to a publication on a tablet, you can read only one issue at a time...
Similarly, when the iPad launched, it allowed people to do things they could never do with a print publication: watch videos, say. But at the same time the experience was still inferior to what you could get on the web, which iterates and improves incrementally every day. The iPad then stayed still — the technology behind iPad publications is basically the same as it was two years ago — even as the web, in its manner, predictably got better and better.
I was skeptical of the iPad for this reason from the start:
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I think that the press has been all over the iPad because Apple puts on a good show, and because everyone in journalism-land is looking for a daddy figure who'll promise them that their audience will go back to paying for their stuff.
Mat Honan at Wired: "This is a great device. It is a new thing, in a new space, and likely to confuse many of Microsoft’s longtime customers."
Joshua Topolsky at The Verge: "I wanted to love this device."
Sam Biddle at Gizmodo: "Should you buy it?
No. ... It's a tablet-plus, priced right alongside the iPad and in most ways inferior."
Tim Stevens at Engadget: "The Surface is a slate upon which you can get some serious work done, and do so comfortably. You can't always say that of the competition."
Joanna Stern for ABC: "The Surface is full of potential, but until its software performance and apps are as strong as its hardware, I, unfortunately, will still drag both a laptop and an iPad through security."
Zach Epstein at BGR: "It really is the perfect combination of a tablet and a notebook thanks to the Touch Cover and the Type Cover, and I felt right at home with the Surface the moment I turned it on."
Harry McCracken for Time: "For an audacious version 1.0 product, it's impressive. Now "it's up to Microsoft to prove that it's serious enough about this PC business to forge ahead with Surface until it's impressive, period."
Avram Pilch for Laptop Magazine: "The Surface and its innovative Touch Cover proves that Microsoft can make hardware to rival the iPad, but the app ecosystem needs to catch up." Read the rest
Turnstyle's Noah Nelson interviewed comic book great Mark Waid, longtime creator of adventures for Superman, Batman, Spider-man and The Incredibles. He's now mastering the format's transition to digital media such as the iPad.
“That doesn’t change the image but it completely changes the context of what the story is.”
Take the comic Waid wrote for Marvel’s new “Infinite Comics” line. A hero hurtles through space, a red-orange blur behind him. When the reader swipes the screen, the page doesn’t turn. Instead the image shifts focus. The blur becomes the fiery cosmic Phoenix, the X-Men’s most deadly foe.
“I got news for you, I’ve been doing this for 25 years and this is the hardest writing I’ve ever had to do,” Waid said.
Be sure to play the audio at Noah's article: it's fantastically produced. Read the rest
Google and Asus have a tablet, reports The Verge, ready to run Android 4.1; Modaco.com has a screengrab with specs: a 1280x800 display, 8 or 16GB of storage, 1GB of RAM and a 1.2MP webcam. Read the rest
After Microsoft announced its in-house Surface tablet, the critical response was warm but cautious. It looks good, but we just don't know enough about it. One sign that it's a contender: Microsoft's omnifailing tablet partners are already hating it publicly. At Gizmodo, Mat Honan zeroes in on the most interesting feature: the innovative-looking hardware keyboard. Read the rest
Sony's double-screened Vaio P Tablet comes with "4G" internet via AT&T, dual 5.5" touchscreen displays, and a selection of apps optimized for the new format. Running Android 3.2, the data plan costs $35 a month for 3GB and $50 for 5GB. At $550, though, it'll be a difficult sell. With a two-year contract--itself a thousand dollar proposition--it's $400.
Product Page [Sony] Read the rest
Glenn Fleishman reviews the Kindle Fire for The Economist: "The Fire is not an iPad killer. But nor does it need to be." Read the rest
The short version: it was killed because making a cut-down Windows for tablets would "threaten" the desktop version that runs on all the hugely successful UMPC/MID/Slate tablets (pictured) that gave Microsoft its unassailable lead over Apple and Android. Then Bill Gates asked where the Exchange client was and had an allergic reaction when iPads were explained to him. [Cnet] Read the rest
Government workers are dying to get their hands on tablet computers, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act and published by Government Attic. The files show, however, that security protocols may result in a slow roll-out at some agencies.
The Federal Trade Commission, National Archives and Records Administration, Deparment of Veterans Affairs, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Tennessee Valley Authority each produced internal records which discuss the merits of iPads and similar devices. Read the rest
The Mozilla Foundation is pressing hard with mobile Firefox efforts; the Android tablet edition sounds very tasty. Firefox has been my browser of choice for years, and I'm just about to try out a new Android tablet -- looking forward to seeing how they get along. Read the rest