I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas this year, and that you were able to spend some quality time with your family. For those who celebrate another holiday, I hope that you, too, had a wonderful time. No matter the holiday that you celebrate, gift giving seems to be common to many. I thought it would be fun to for us share what electronic-related things we were given. You can use the comment field at the bottom of this column to tell the rest of us what you received (share a link if possible) and perhaps give a brief review. Also, tell us -- based on your limited experience with the new item -- if you would recommend it to the rest of us.
I will go first. This year, my wife was very generous to me. She got me a very nice new tablet. It is the Dell Venue 8 Pro running Windows 8.1 with 64 GB of internal storage that is extensible with a micro SD card slot.
Dell Venue 8 Pro with keyboard and active stylus.
I actually received this present a few weeks early, and I have to say that I love this machine. I am the type of person who is not really looking for entertainment from a tablet, but I am interested in the device for the productivity it offers. This tablet nails the productivity aspect very well while providing some fun, entertainment-related features.
The best part is that it runs, not only runs tablet-style applications, but also full desktop programs. For example, I have Octave UPM and DesignSpark Mechanical MCAD installed. I have tested both of them and can confirm that they work very well. I also have the CoIDE development environment installed for working with the STM32 family of microcontrollers.
One important detail is that my Dell Venue 8 Pro has enough battery to last 2-3 days of my typical usage (about 8-12 hours of actual device usage). I cannot yet comment on the keyboard cover, because it has not been delivered. Also, if you are considering purchasing one of these machines yourself, I would hold off on purchasing the active stylus for a month or so. It seems to have a small design flaw that should be worked out in future versions. Despite the issue with the stylus, the tablet is really fantastic, and I look forward to using it on business trips.
My next presents were two books. The first one is titled USB Complete: The Developers Guide – 4e by Jan Axelson.
Cover of USB Complete: The Developers Guide – 4e.
I have not been able to dig deeply into this book yet, but I have been able to read a few chapters in some detail, and I am excited to read more. Many of my current projects could benefit from adding USB to increase their functionality. Unfortunately, it seems very difficult to find information on programming applications for the desktop. Perhaps this is old hat to people who have been in the business for some time, but for people like me, details on how to make this work seem to be somewhat scarce. Happily, this book provides the details needed to develop desktop applications using the DLLs already found in Windows.
The second book, RF Front-End: World Class Designs, was compiled and edited by EE Times editor Janine Sullivan Love. Once again, I have been able to read only a few chapters, but it has already answered some of my questions about RF design.
Cover of RF Front-End: World Class Designs.
It is very hard to find good material about RF design. Most books I've found seem to spend a lot of time on theory and forget to mention anything about application. This book does a great job at balancing theory with practical application. In one evening, I read through the chapter about impedance matching, and I was able to understand not only the basic theory, but also how to apply these concepts in practice. I am designing a small 75MHz receiver for my radio-controlled submarines. This book seems to have the answers to a lot of my lingering questions about RF design.
OK, now it's your turn. What electronics-related presents did you receive? I think that sharing this information will prove very helpful, because my wife is always asking me what I want for Christmas. With the list that you put together, next year I will be able to point her to the comments on this post.