2014 Tablet or Bust


This coming year I will be saving up money, since I am quite worried about geopolitical happenings. I feel that the powers that be have decided to reset the system, because the West, and particularly the USA, cannot afford it’s debt. Therefore I am embarking on a modest plan to save enough to pay rent, electric, and internet for two months should my income become imperiled, or the dollar losses value, and expenses rise.

Nevertheless, I have a few electronics purchases I have been meaning to make, and have to pare these down to fit my new budget. Essential function is the watchword, which leaves either the laptop or the tablet as the device to upgrade.

The laptop I currently have is a Toshiba Satellite P775D-7360, and the tablet is a Nexus 7 2013 32Gb. While both function well enough, they are also budget devices, and I am looking to combine the functionality of both into a single device. I have been toying with the idea of purchasing a Surface 2 Pro 8 GB RAM 256 GB SSD, but the cost is prohibitive: Once one spends 1,300 dollars, plus tax, then one has to purchase a keyboard for over 130 dollars to have laptop capabilities. The price is too high, I’m afraid, and I would by necessity need insurance, raising the cost again. So… Time to look for alternatives in productivity.

Next choice, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014, which is my current favorite. Stylus input, 10 inch display with high resolution, light, and plenty of storage options, plus up to 64 GB SD card storage. The tablet has palm rejection, and Samsung has truly worked at an extensive library of provided apps, that ensure the stylus has functionality. The downside is that the screen is only 10 inches diagonal, making this choice less of a laptop replacement, and more of a tablet replacement. If the rumored 12 inch Note materializes, however, problem solved.

The third option is to move back to laptop computing, which will not happen until I have adequate pain management for my back. I hope the 12 inch Note rumor is real, I would give up World of Warcraft for a chance to replace desktop, laptop, and 7 inch tablet for a unified solution. With the Chromecast slowly starting to show its muscle, a possible screen mirroring function from a Samsung Note 12 inch tablet would add to media consumption, and possibly productivity, plus reduce the need for a large computer monitor.

My only misgivings are processor power and screen size, even at 12 inches. If I have to go for 10 inches, the current laptop will be in my future, and the current one I have has also been a royal pain, so in 2014 I really hope to be tablet centric at last, finally getting rid of my hellish PC experience. To say that PCs are temperamental is an understatement, and now that I can finally remove them in favor of a lightweight, future proof experience, I will certainly do so.

Apologies to Amd and Toshiba, laptop and rift perform very well!

I must have hit the wrong setting somewhere when I started tuning rift the first time. When returning ccc (vision control center) to balanced mode and putting rift on default settings for each tier of graphic quality I began to see quite decent performance overall from the satellite p775d with a8 APU. So good in fact that this is a 100 percent turnaround of a post. While not close to my main rig it is decent enough to walk around in the capital city of Meridian without a lot of drag. Outside in the game world there was a much more notable improvement.

A number of points to consider. For one, we must simply assume that the apu is set up by driver tuning for defaults since my previous changes I made were to reduce computational stresses. It is an assumption because I have been known to reduce framerates when fooling around with ccc without entirely understanding the reason. I also can conjecture that the apu has to balance processing power with graphics output and thus I may have accidentally bunged up the works by trying to run too much data through.

Either way I’m glad I rechecked my settings. Rift plays very well on defaults with both vision control center and the various graphics settings in Rift. One thing to note, turning shadows down in the settings greatly improved frame rates, saying that while the game world is fully rendered, you still need a dedicated gpu if you want all the bells and whistles. However, you need to buy a 1300 dollar laptop to achieve the same effect I have been able to get on a 700 dollar laptop. Amd vs. Intel, game set and match AMD. Now if only they would raise the clock speeds :-d

Some distress with the laptop lately although my usage patterns aren’t normal so. . .

The laptop lately has been going into repair mode every time I boot it up. I have been a desktop user for a long time and so I am a little perturbed at this behavior from a seamless build when my desktop is a mishmash of parts old and new which should be more unstable. I also have some distressing news to report about Rift and the laptop. . . A vanilla install of rift doesn’t play well at all with the low clock speed of the quad core. This is obviously a single threaded game. Wow has no problems on higher settings so AMD is saved by good coding but this is not good news for anyone trying to run everyday run of the mill games.

So. . . AMD has to stop playing the efficiency game and boost the clock speeds, simple as that. This would mean larger batteries and add a significant cost to the OEM bottom line when considered with their overall strategy as a bargain brand. There is a silver lining here though, and that is the fact that ultrabooks don’t have decent graphics and require low watt processors so this processor with a little tweaking could be a dream for that segment, or even without tweaking.

Where the A-series really shines is the addition of a fully functional graphics unit, which is why I purchased the laptop in the first place instead of an i5 that was available at the time. The i5 simply didn’t have game level graphics, and was dual core instead of quad core. I wanted a laptop that could use the vreveal video editing suite since I was purchasing a video card for my desktop from AMD in the 6xxx or even 7xxx range and I didn’t want to waste my purchase. That video editing suite happens to leverage the Radeon cards in that range similarly to Cuda for nvidia.

I’m going to be spending some time tinkering with rift on the laptop to see if I can juryrig the game into spreading across all four cores. They had experimentation on multiple core implementation a few months ago and I suspect the new processor isn’t being detected properly. What gives me such a notion is that the software render of the game is smooth and the core is rated at the 66xxm performance level, so chances are there is something just not right about this herring. By the way, other than this major digression the laptop is quite nice overall for what I need it for. But for Gods sake, get the extended battery. . .