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Mobile Devices

A Video of this training that was done on 17/10/2013


Day 2 First Session Day 2 Second Session

Whether it be Ipads, Tablet Computers, Iphones, Smart Phones, Android devices or Sat Nav systems, there has been a big revolution in mobile devices and what they are capable of doing.

In this session we will explain:

  1. - What they all are
  2. - The relative advantages and disadvantages of each
  3. - The common working of each of them
  4. - How to learn how to use them
  5. - What to watch out for when purchasing them

Quite a bit of time will be set aside for a questions and answer session and for those who want to stay a bit longer,

we will provide 'one on one' on how to perform specific functions on your own device.

So please bring along your own device and its manual if you have one.

Some terminology explained

A notebook and laptop computer are basically the same thing and I will use the terms interchangeably.

Tablet computers are often called pad computers. Again I will use the terms interchangeably. So an Apple Ipad is an Apple tablet computer.

So what are mobile devices?

Mobile devices, or I should say, mobile computing devices, are any computing device that can be used without connecting to a power point. That basically means computers that run on batteries.

Until relatively recently the most common mobile computing device was a laptop or notebook computer. Generally laptop and notebooks have the same functionality and can run the same programs as desktop computers.

There's a whole multitude of newer devices but the best known ones are the Iphone and Ipad. These are put out by the Apple Computer company. An Iphone is a smart mobile phone. An Ipad is a tablet computer, basically a smart phone the can't make phone calls but has a bigger screen than a phone.

The next best known of these devices are Android pads and Android phones. The software for the these (instructions that make them work) is written by Google. That's the same Google that everybody searches with. Although it may sound strange Google do not sell their software. They give it away to the manufacturers of these pads and phones. To organisations like Samsung, HTC and Sony Ericsson. Google make their money out of advertising.

The programmes for Ipads and Iphones are incompatible with the programs for Android pads and phones, however it is possible to move and used quite a lot of data (information) between the two and to and from notebook and personal computers.

A latecomer to the tablet computer market is Microsoft with their Windows 8 or Windows RT. They also market a tablet computer called the “Surface”. It has been grossly unsuccessful in the marketplace.

Ereaders are specialized tablet computers designed specifically and mainly for the reading of the books. They have a special screen technology called Eink such that they do not use any power to display an image but only use power to change an image. Hence they have an extremely long battery life.

In addition to the Android and Iphones and the multitude of pre smart phones, there are a small group of other smart phones, such as Nokia and Blackberry.

Satellite navigation systems are another form of mobile computing device. They basically only have one function. To allow you to navigate from one position to another whilst showing maps and giving verbal directions. Most modern smart phones and pads have equivalent built-in Satellite Navigation functionality.

The relative advantages and disadvantages of each

These advantages and disadvantages can be broken up into a number of categories:

  • Physical size
  • Storage capacity
  • Functionality
  • Usability
  • Speed
  • Battery life
  • Price
  • Personal preference

It is difficult within these categories to specify absolute advantages and disadvantages because of the various makes and models of each device. So all these comments below are generalisations and there are many exceptions to these. Also because of changes in technology these relative advantages and disadvantages most likely will change in the future.

Physical size

In physical size the largest devices are notebook computers followed by tablet computers, Ereaders, satellite navigation systems, and a smallest devices being phones.

Storage capacity

In storage capacity, I'm talking about the storage capacity of the device. Because of cloud computing and the ability of most of these devices to be able to connect to cloud storage, storage capacity can be less of an issue.

Notebook computers have the largest storage capacity followed by phones, tablet computers, Ereaders, with satellite navigation systems generally having the smallest storage capacity.


Functionality can be very subjective.

The greatest functionality must belong to all smart phones because in addition to being able to do most functions of a notebook computer they can also be used as a phone, an Ereader and as a satellite navigation system, because of the built in GPS.

Tablet computers follow next, only because some of them cannot make phone calls, then notebook computers followed by Ereaders and satellite navigation systems must be equally last because they only perform those specific functions.


Again usability can be very subjective. Some people feel that they must have a large screen, but then a larger screen is difficult to put in your pocket. It is not possible to use a device at all when the battery is flat.

Because notebook computers have a physical keyboard many people feel that makes them much more usable. However if you are just a reader of information and not a creator of material the lack of a physical keyboard may not be a problem. Most Modern devices allow you to talk to it to get it to do functions.

Because of the size of their screen tablet computers are more easy to use than phones, but not for making mobile phone calls.

Because there are generally physically smaller phones are you most likely the most difficult devices to use. Satellite navigation systems and Ereaders because of their single function design tend not have the advantages and disadvantages in usability relative to the other devices.

There is a perception that Apple products are easy to use than their competitors. This perception has not been borne out in some control tests.


Speed will definitely vary based on make and models and on the function being performed. For example the newer high end mobile phones could be faster than the low end (cheaper) notebook computers. Also because some phones and pads are optimise to play high definition video they can do so faster than some of the fastest notebook computers.

But as a generalisation the fastest devices are notebook computers followed by phones, tablet computers, with satellite navigation systems and Ereaders coming equal last

Battery life

Because Ereaders do not use any power to display something on the screen they have the best battery life, followed by phones, tablet computers, satellite navigation systems, with the worst being notebook computers.


Prices are very difficult to categorise because of different makes models, performance and the like.

The cheapest advices are satellite navigation systems, followed by a Ereaders, phones, notebook computers with tablet computers being the most expensive.

Personal preference

This is impossible to establish because everybody is different. However based on total worldwide usage and sales the most used devices are by far mobile phones, with almost as many being used as there are people on the planet, followed by tablet computers, then possibly notebook computers, simply because they've been around for a long time, with Ereaders and satellite navigation systems coming last.

The common working of each of them

The common things that all computing devices do is:

  • Allow Input
  • Process information
  • Store information
  • Output information

Mobile computing devices do these without the need to be plugged into a PowerPoint.

The distinguishing item is, the form of input. Notebooks generally allow the input via a physical keyboard whereas smart phones, tablets and some satellite navigation systems allow input via a touch screen and a virtual keyboard.

Touch screen devices allow functions to be performed by what is known as hand gestures. That is touching and sliding your fingers over a touch sensitive screen that shows where and what you're supposed to touch or slide on.

How to learn how to use them

The best way to learn to use your device is to experiment. You're not going to break it by experimenting, unless you get frustrated and throw it down hard on the ground.

What is becoming common, with these types of devices, is that no paper based Manual is supplied with it, or if one is, it is only a very short introduction. Often the full Manual is on the device, or has to be download from the Internet.

This is because the paper manuals, for all the functional of the devices, would be many times larger than the device itself.

Actually, once you learn how to access the electronic Manual and more particularly use the device to search for what is in the Manual, it can be easier than using a paper Manual.

You will learn to use your device quicker if you understand what you are doing, rather than just memorising how to perform a function. Unfortunately the manuals often do not provide you with an understanding of what you're doing.

A very good modern way to understand your device is to watch videos about certain functions, on the Internet.

Some devices also have built in the videos or help systems. Watch out for them.

Most devices have the ability to enter and save text. Learn to use this function first, so if you run into something you do not understand or know how to use, write that in the device itself, so that you have a list of what you don't know. You can then later look that up on the Internet or ask somebody about it.

What to watch out for when purchasing them

Not even the computer experts know all there is to know about all these devices. With the proliferation of these devices it is very unusual to find a salesperson that can objectively give you advice on what to purchase, considering also, their objective is to sell you what they have available to sell.

You should make your own independent assessment as to which device is most suitable to you.

This will depend on what your requirements are. Taking into account the relative advantages and disadvantages of each device in relation to your personal preferences you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. - What do I hope to achieve by using the device?
  2. - What particular functions do I wish to perform?
  3. - Do you want a separate device for each function or one device that does multiple functions?
  4. - Will you mainly be looking for and reading information or creating information?
  5. - How often am I going to be using this device?
  6. - Where am I going to be using the device?
  7. - How long do I wish to use the device without recharging it?
  8. - Do I wish to use the Internet away from my home?
  9. - Do I wish to be able to make mobile phone calls?
  10. - Other than the initial cost what will be the ongoing costs?
  11. - Do I have any preference for certain makes, models?
  12. - How much am I willing to spend?

The down side of Low Cost Android devices.

Many Android devises do not disclose how much System Storage they come with. It is important to know as explained below.

Their are some very inexpensive Android phones and Android Pads on the market. Usually, because they are so inexpensive, they tend to not operate as fast as the more expensive ones. However they also tend to have far less System Storage, the equivalent to RAM on a computer. What can be confusing is that although with these inexpensive devises you can add an SD memory card to the built in USB memory, those storage is NOT System Storage. On portable devises System Storage can not altered. Mainly because the System Storage is on the same integrated circuit chip as the processor (brains of the device)

System Storage is used when Apps are operating to temporarily store information and the App or part of the App itself. As Android allows multiple Apps to operate at the same time and these Apps have to be fully or partially stored in System Storage, having a restricted amount of System Storage will limit the number of Apps that can run at the same time.

User of these less expensive devices often will get a message saying something to the effect that there is insufficient memory to install an App even though the devise will show their is plenty of USB storage or SD card memory free. The memory the message is referring to is the System Storage. Usually their are to many Apps running so that their is insufficient System Storage for the Installer App to operate.

To overcome this problem you can exit Apps or via the Application Manager in Setting force Apps to Close. Also the RAM manager can be forced to clear inactive and background processes. RAM manager may be able to be accesses by long pressing the Home button and then touching the memory icon (possibly a pie chart icon).

The Android system automatically manages System Storage. Consequently you may find situations where an App you have operating is no longer operating because Android has determined it has been inactive to long and is not the current foreground App (currently displayed on the screen) and so has terminated it. This happens more so with devices with less System Storage.

Using them

mobile_devices.txt · Last modified: 2013/10/18 20:04 (external edit)