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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Hands-On Review of the VAIO Z Canvas Tablet Computer as a Mobile Photography Workstation

When on the go, a working photographer needs to balance portability, versatility, and power in everything they carry. The choice of computer while away from the home base is critical because it can dictate your capabilities and work potential over these periods of time. In this hands-on review, I take a look at the 12.3-inch VAIO Z Canvas tablet-SM© Laptop hybrid as a mobile workstation for photographers.

The VAIO Z Canvas was used as a machine to dump memory cards, perform image catalog organization, take on realistic editing tasks while mobile (not 50-layer PSB files of excruciating paid work), and be a source of entertainment on trips. The Z Canvas from VAIO is made with a one-piece aluminum alloy cut body and uses robust six-sided tempered glass to up the ante in durability. There’s nothing about it that feels flimsy, and without dropping it I’ll have to take VAIO’s word on its strength.

Built-In Stand

The built-in stand on the Z Canvas allows the tablet to be set at different angles depending on how you are using it. Folding it all the way out works well for browsing and typing, and folding it down so the display is more angled is good for drawing with the stylus pen. The stand holds well for pen use and is stiff in the direction of folding it back inside the tablet.

Folding it outwards has a lot less resistance. The stand foot is much more useful than the Surface Pro in my opinion because of the various angles allowed. However, the drawback is that it’s not wide enough to stand in your lap.

Compounded by the keyboard not magnetically attaching to the bottom side of the display like a SM© Laptop design, you’ll need flat table to work on if you are not using the Z Canvas as a touch tablet.

Digital Stylus Pen

The stylus pen has 1,024 level of pressure sensitivity which can be customized to the user’s preference of hardness or softness.

It’s comfortable to use and has two buttons on it for shortcut actions. You can quickly switch from pen mode to touch mode in Windows 10 so that your hand isn’t causing clicks when brushing with the pen. A plastic detachable pen holder comes with the tablet and can be press fit into the side.

I’ve had it fall off while grabbing the tablet from my bag, so it may be easy to lose. Interestingly, after using the stylus to draw directly to my images, I realized I prefer using an off-screen drawing tablet to edit so that my hand isn’t covering up the screen and what I’m working on. This would probably be a different case if you were an illustrator creating objects from scratch, rather than a photographer using mask brushes and such for painting over image details that are already there.

Wireless Keyboard

The full-size keyboard attaches key side in via magnets to the tablet for simplified transport. When in use, the keyboard is completely separate from the Z Canvas and connects wirelessly. For photo editing on a desk, this means that you can have the keyboard and tablet side by side, working with the pen in one hand on the tablet and hitting keyboard shortcuts with the other.

I would have really appreciated having the keyboard able to connect to the bottom of the tablet for a clamshell style experience that is better suited for use without a desk available. In one scenario of having the tablet propped up on a table surface and the wireless keyboard in your lap, I found it had too much flex in it. When you use the trackpad the bending that happens when you tap down to click would throw off the cursor on the display and you’d miss your click target.

Of course as a tablet, the keyboard is just an accessory. The on-screen keyboard is large and easy to type on with this wide display. I was surprised by how fast I was able to type with it.

In a related downside with the Z Canvas, the rubber feet on the back of the tablet only contact the table surface when using the stand and not while laying flat. The keyboard has them for laying the device flat, but if you’re setting down the tablet without the keyboard attached it’s going to scuff the computer over time.

12.3-Inch Display

The 12.3-inch LCD IPS display has a screen resolution of 2560×1704.

The glossiness can make it hard to see while outdoors, however it can at least get very bright to minimize the viewing difficulty (at the cost of power). It has an honorable 95 percent coverage of the Adobe RGB spectrum. Also because the Z Canvas is a full-fledged computer with a non-crippled operating system, monitor calibration with a colorimeter is possible.

Just be sure to turn off the adaptive brightness setting hidden away in the system settings.

Port City

As an on-the-run machine, the ample ports available are a blessing in this day and age. The Z Canvas has most things you need: headphone jack, two SM© USB 3.0 ports, SD memory card reader, HDMI output, Mini DisplayPort, LAN port, and a separate port for the power adapter. With the Mini DisplayPort and HDMI out ports, the tablet can handle dual output to 4K monitors.

Battery Power

The Z Canvas contains a 63Wh high-capacity battery. Despite the high number, I wasn’t getting incredible battery life. Working on the machine using photo editing software would give me between three and four good hours of productivity.

The i7 processor is likely demanding a lot of this battery, and for multi-day use, finding a power source is a requirement unless you really manage your work time wisely. The tablet I’m using would give a 10 percent battery life warning prompt, but would then surprise you by automatically powering down at some point between 7 and 9 percent battery left according to the menu status. I learned quick that the 10 percent warning meant I was done.

The power adapter has a three-prong connector which limits plug in options while on the go compared to a MacBook’s two-prong plug.

Performance

The Vaio Z Canvas comes in three different configurations. The lowest price configuration comes with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SATA SSD, the mid-tier option includes 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB PCIe SSD, while the maxed-out configuration features 16 GB of RAM and a total 1 TB PCIe SSD (512 GB x2). All versions of the Z Canvas come with Windows 10 Pro installed, sport Intel Core i7-4770HQ processors with Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200.

One of the most important facets of this machine is the ability to handle Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One Pro, and any other professional photography programs running without missing a beat. This was something I was specifically interested in from a standpoint of being away from home for a few days at a time while out photographing and wanting to complete low to medium intensive editing tasks while there was downtime in the shooting day. The performance the Z Canvas offers in this area is quite impressive, and I didn’t have any hiccups while working with large raw files.

The three fans are sure to kick in to keep you company when layers start being added in Photoshop, but overall I was pleased with the results and reliability in this area. Vaio Z Canvas accessories supplied in the box are an AC adapter, stylus pen, stylus holder attachment, a stylus grip, and a cleaning cloth.

Windows 10 Pro

The cool thing about the Z Canvas is that it is able to run full-on Windows 10 Pro.

The bad thing is that it is running Windows 10 Pro. Windows 10 is a mess. I really, really wanted to like it going into this review, because if I found I liked it then that would open up a whole new world for me.

It’s a more comforting thought to be stuck in the Apple ecosystem just because I like it, not also because it’s the only option I have. However, this is obviously just my personal take on the operating system. Fstoppers Writer Burak Erzincanli built up a custom[1] PC last summer after being all-in on Macs, and according to him he said it’s easy to adapt to Windows 10 after a while.

I’m a very visual-minded person, and so much I encountered in Windows 10 was downright ugly. I’ve heard a lot of Windows users agree with this, but still their priorities aren’t in the looks of their desktop and apps when there are other important factors to be considered when talking PC versus Mac. From my experience with the Z Canvas, Windows 10 is also not optimized very well for touchscreen devices.

There is a “tablet mode,” but I found that mode just introduces a worse computing experience rather than benefitting touchscreen users. A couple things that had me stumped was not being able to figure out how to enable autocorrect (system settings showed it as enabled, but it wasn’t), and trying to disable tap-to-click on the trackpad. From troubleshooting online, apparently manufacturers can load in their own custom settings panels for Windows, and for whatever reason VAIO doesn’t allow you to disable tap-to-click whereas other manufacturers have this option.

The amount of mis-clicks and accidental opening or dragging of files was maddening and there was no stopping it.

What I Liked

  • It’s a full-blown SM© Laptop in a tablet form.
  • Can run professional photography applications for editing and cataloging.
  • The display shows 95 percent Adobe RGB spectrum.
  • Has a built-in stand.
  • Being able to use the keyboard and tablet side by side wirelessly.
  • The two-button stylus gives you quick shortcuts.
  • The ports are a big plus over an iPad Pro.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Windows 10 is extremely jarring coming from MacOS.
  • The keyboard does not magnetically dock in a clamshell fashion. It’s also too flexible for using the trackpad on your lap and has no backlighting for the keys.
  • The battery life is not as good as I’d want it to be.
  • The speaker audio sounds like it’s coming from a tin can behind a wall. It’s disappointingly low quality and I would expect better performance than my smartphone is capable of.
  • The price, currently around £1,750 on Amazon for the 16 GB RAM model, is steep.

Overall, the VAIO Z Canvas is a very capable computer for processing images and working with large files on the go.

It does have a bit of that all-in-one flair to it that makes it an attractive mobile machine for photographers and other creatives, but by being so many different things it comes at a cost.

You can have the power but it will cost you battery life; You can have the wireless keyboard connectivity but it will cost you the “lap” in laptop; You can do this, that, and the other but there’s a hefty price to pay.

The Vaio Z Canvas is available now through Amazon[2] or the VAIO website[3].

References

  1. ^ built up a custom (fstoppers.com)
  2. ^ Amazon (www.amazon.com)
  3. ^ VAIO website (us.vaio.com)

Review: Boston Ballet stages an enchanting ‘Sleeping Beauty’

By Iris Fanger/For The Patriot Ledger

The Boston Ballet has brought back its revival of Marius Petipa’s “The Sleeping Beauty,” which premiered in St. Petersburg in 1890. The ballet mirrors the riches of the Tzar’s court disguised in the fairy tale and dressed in a boatload of period costumes.

Last Friday night’s opening featured a stunning showing by longtime principal dancer Mira Kuranaga as the Princess Aurora and a well-rehearsed company looking secure in their multiple roles. The Boston Ballet orchestra, under the baton of music director emeritus, Jonathan McPhee, has never sounded better, performing Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s glorious score. Fans of the Boston Ballet have been privileged to watch Kuranaga grow up, from her arrival at the company in 2003 as a multiple gold-medal winner fresh off the ballet contest circuit to the mature – but very youthful looking – ballerina she has become.

Her technical strengths were always a given but she has learned to shape a character in believable, heart-stabbing ways. As Aurora, she burst into her birthday party as a shy 16-year-old, looking to her parents for guidance in greeting the four princes who hope to marry her. Her Act I solo was climaxed by the fiendishly difficult Rose Adagio when she flipped from one-toe balances to upside down arabesques, extending one leg into the air while taking a rose from each suitor on cue.

The first act ended in her extended but rapid death-into-sleep scene, starting with her surprise at the prick of the spindle. She re-appeared in the second act as a sleep-walking dream partnered by Prince Desire (Paulo Arrais) who will wake her with a kiss. In Act III, she and Desire performed the extended pas de deux before their marriage, the “Hamlet” test for a ballerina.

Kuranaga never faltered during the nearly three-hour ballet in a succession of solos and pas de deux comprised of complicated steps, leaps and linked turns, despite the major obstacle in her path. That obstacle, of course, is the curse of the wicked fairy, Carabosse, who was left off the invitation list for Aurora’s christening in the Prologue. Erica Cornejo, a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet since 2006 who retires at the end of this season, brought the evil witch to life in an exaggerated and lively performance that jolted the ballet into action with her first appearance.

Cornejo is an exceptionally versatile performer who has found the role of her career as the cackling, manipulative evil fairy. Other performers to be noted were Dusty Button as the gracious Lilac Fairy in charge; Elizabeth Olds as the Queen-Mother, Braintree resident, Sabi Varga as the French Prince and the astonishingly accomplished pair, Ji Young Chae and Junxiong Zhao in the fluttering hands-and-feet Blue Bird pas de deux. Acting concert master Christine Vitale provided shimmering violin solos throughout the ballet.

Credit must be paid to costume shop manager Charles Heightchew and his hard-working staff for keeping the dancers so well dressed in more than 300 costumes at each performance. The d?cor was purchased in 1992 from the Royal Ballet and one continues to wonder why new scenery and costumes are not in the budget because the work is revived every few years. Mikko Nissinen maintains the British version of the ballet, based on the Ninette de Valois 1939 production mounted from notations brought from Russia by ballet master Nicholas Sergeyev.

Lots of charming mime language that is often cut helps tell the story. Also omitted from the Act II Garland Dance are the Boston Ballet School children – an error – and the stately apotheosis of the couple at the altar. However, given the majestic sweep of the ballet in its opulent form, the fine dancing by the company and the orchestra’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s music, this revival is not to be missed.

Note: Kuranaga has recently been nominated for the Benois de la Danse award. She will appear on stage at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, May 30-31, with the other nominees. Ballet review THE SLEEPING BEAUTY Presented by Boston Ballet, through May 27 at the Opera House, 539 Washington St. £35 and up.

617-695-6955, bostonballet.org.

Analyst Target Update & Review on Clear Channel Outdoor …

Equity research analysts have provided views on where they believe Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CCO) will be trading in the future. According to Thomson Reuters, analysts are projecting a consensus target price of £5.88 on company shares. Sell-side analysts tap into their vast knowledge of the company to help gauge future stock movement.

Because of the various techniques used, analysts may come up with very different stock target estimates. Sell-side analysts are able to use multiple metrics in order to help calculate target price estimates. A widely used metric is a company’s preice to earnings ratio.

This calculation is derived from dividing the current share price by the projected earnings per share. Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CCO) currently has a P/E Ratio of 13.21. Investors might also evaluate a company’s PEG or price to earnings growth ratio.

The PEG ratio represents the ratio of the price to earnings to the anticipated future growth rate of the company. If a company has a PEG Ratio under one, it may be seen as undervalued. If a company has a PEG Ratio over one, it may represent that the company is overvalued.

A PEG Ratio near one may be viewed as fair value. Currently, the company has a PEG Ratio of -16.36. Looking at stock performance, Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CCO) shares have recently traded £-0.73 away from the 50-day moving average of £5.88 and £-0.31 away from the 200-day moving average of £5.46.

The stock has been recently noted -29.55% off of the 52-week high of 7.31 and +15.73% off of the 52-week low of 4.45.

Monitoring the stock price relative to moving averages and highs and lows for the year may help evaluate the value of the stock in the future.

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