Thursday, June 30, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Tablet

Over the past couple of days I got the chance to play with a 7" Samsung Galaxy tablet with WiFi and 3G from T-Mobile at work. We haven't activated the 3G so I only got to use the WiFi.  This isn't a full review, just some first impressions.

The overall feel of the Galaxy is much like a large Droid phone.  The OS is Android 2.2 "Froyo."  I mainly used the Android browser, Firefox, Opera Mini, and Facebook.

Size of the Galaxy is almost the same as my Kindle, but it's heavier because of the glass touchscreen.  Workmanship is solid and the device feels well made.   The screen looks very good and the device feels pretty speedy in most applications.  With a 7" screen it's larger than the big Android phones like the HTC Thunderbolt but it can still fit into a back pocket of one's jeans.  However, this is small enough that you'll often want to zoom in on web pages to read what displays as fine print.

AIUI, the WiFi-only version of the Galaxy has a slower processor than the 3G/WiFi version.  Something to consider if you're in the market for a tablet and considering the Samsung.

I did a little bit of reading using the Kindle app.  Text displays nicely but for reading a Kindle device is still better due to the lack of a backlit screen.  The Kindle's e-ink technology provides a non-glare screen that doesn't cause eyestrain like an LCD display. I found that when using the Kindle app on the Galaxy I preferred it set to have a black background and white text, since this was easier on my eyes.

The Galaxy comes with a USB charger but uses a proprietary connector on the device itself. The connector looks much like an Apple Dock connector but they are not compatible. IMO it would have been better for Samsung to have used a regular Micro-USB connection.

Other ports on the Galaxy are a microSD card slot which supports up to a 32 GB card, and a SIM card slot.  The microSD card slot is the biggest advantage devices like the Galaxy has over an iPad, IMO.

The stock Android browser sucks. I didn't realize how badly it sucks until I changed my cell phone from an original Droid to an iPhone 4 back in April.  In my experience, the Android browser doesn't render pages as nicely as Safari on the iPhone, or Firefox or Opera Mini on Android. It's also slower than the other browsers and scrolling on a page is frequently choppy, especially on pages with many objects, e.g.,

The included YouTube app works well.

The stock Gmail application works as well on the Galaxy as it does on a Droid phone.  Compared with the unified mail app on iPhones I like the Gmail app better.  For example, I like being able to delete a message with one tap vs. two or more on the iPhone.

One advantage that Android tablets, including the Galaxy, have over iPads is that you do not need a specific application on your computer to manage the device.  IPads need iTunes for device activation and management, although it's my understanding that this will change in iOS5.  In contrast, an Android device can be activated by itself and if you do connect it to a computer, it mounts just like a USB drive, allowing you to drag and drop files right onto it.

Overall, my initial impression is that the Samsung Galaxy is a good tablet computing device.  How it'll hold up over the long haul I can't say. Both my wife and I have experienced increasing device flakiness with our Droid phones after about a year of use. How much of that is due to hardware and how much due to software I don't know.  Also, were I purchasing a tablet I'd want a 10" screen.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Another Pietta 1858 Remington Range Report

Tonight I got my stainless Pietta 1858 Remington back out the range and was able to try a few different things.

Earlier today I took my supply of Wonder Wads and relubricated them with my homemade mixture of beeswax, mutton tallow, and canning paraffin wax.  I also added some more paraffin to the mix to make the lube harder for warm weather.  This worked out really well and seemed to keep powder fouling down better than my first try.

The second thing I tried was using toy caps instead of percussion caps. The kind I used were the plastic ring caps, bought at a local supermarket at $2 or $3 per a couple hundred. In comparison, Remington No.10 percussion caps sell for $6.95/100 at Cabela's.  To use the toy caps I had to first cut them apart with a set of dykes.

The toy caps worked well.  They are a snug fit on the Pietta's nipples.  Most of the caps stayed intact on firing though some split. None caused jams and it looks like it would be much more difficult for the plastic caps to cause jams anyway, compared with regular copper caps.

Out of about 30 shots I did have a couple of misfires on what I think were clogged nipples. The nipple pick I had with me -- a straightened out paper clip -- was too thick to poke all the way through the nipple flash channels.  However, I put a CCI cap on the misfired chambers and they went off immediately.

They aren't as hot as CCI or Remington percussion caps but they didn't have problems igniting black powder so long as the nipples were clear. How well they work with Pyrodex or Triple 7, both of which have higher ignition points, remains to be seen.  Likewise, I'll want to try them on a sidelock percussion rifle to see if they are strong enough to handle the longer flash channel.  At the very least, they are a viable alternative for target shooting with black powder in a percussion revolver.

I am assuming that the toy caps are corrosive. The caps I had as kid certainly were. This isn't a big deal since I'm cleaning with water based solutions that dissolve both black powder fouling and corrosive primer residue.

The final new thing I got to test was Swiss black powder. I bought a pound of it last month with the intention of trying it after I emptied my powder flask of Goex.  That happened as I was loading my last cylinder.  I fired off the three chambers loaded with Goex, then refilled my flask and reloaded.

The Swiss powder is impressive, packing more of a punch per volume than Goex. Shooting a 30 grain load of Swiss 3Fg in the Remington feels like shooting a 30 grain load of Triple 7 3Fg.  It's noticeably more powerful than Goex, judging by the recoil.

Even more impressive is how clean it burns. I fired only six shots with the Swiss, but when I went to clean the gun I was amazed at how clean the bore was, even though I hadn't cleaned it before switching powders. My cleaning patches came out almost entirely clean after only three patches. Based on past experience, if I'd just shot Goex it would have taken at least six or seven wet patches through the bore before they started coming out clean. It appears that the cylinder full of Swiss 3Fg blew out most of the nasty fouling left behind by the previous 39 shots loaded with Goex.  I'm looking forward to my next range trip to see how clean it is, without having to deal with Goex fouling.

As a side note, I went with my dad who brought along his Ruger SR-1911. As of tonight he has 500 rounds through it with only a couple malfunctions. It looks like it's a good choice for a well made, reliable production 1911.