Career Vampires

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Career Vampires

They skulk in the shadows… sucking the very life blood from your fledgling VO career.

Your time, money and energy… are theirs to consume.

But this is a tale with a twist: You give them all of these, willingly.

Who are these “Career Vampires”?

Even though they disguise themselves, they will mesmerize you into spending more money, giving more time, wasting your vital energy.

How can you avoid these monsters and save your career?

Do the work.
Research each one before you waste your precious resources.
Ask some trusted friends in the industry.
If you have a coach or mentor, they can help you too.
And always weigh what you’re getting out of the deal.
Everyone is different – there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to crafting your career.

Without further ado, BEWARE!!! Horrors lurk below:

The Three Wraiths: Conventions, Classes, Coaches

Each of these wily wraiths will lure you with promises of easy money, contests, prizes, fame and followers. There are a lot of good ones mixed in with a few bad ones. But it only takes one to set you back in your plans. False hope is the bait for their trap… your money is what they hunger for!

Sirens of Social Media (FrankenBook, InstaGolem, TweetZilla)

Like the labyrinth of old, social media sirens will draw you in. Stealing your time. Filling your mind with misinformation. Distracting you from the real work that needs to be done to build the foundation needed for a career. Cast them aside! Or, if you have the strength, be very selective where you roam. Despair lines the cold stone walls of this maddening maze.

Zombies of Your Mind

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Overconfidence and self-doubt are two sides of the same devil’s coin. One will lead you to believe you already know the way forward. The other will cause you to freeze in a downward spiral. We’ve all had these thoughts from time-to-time. Pause… Breathe… Take the hand of a trusted comrade when you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Video Ghouls

There’s a trap waiting for you… The idea that the internet can teach you anything! Sure, you can find video tutorials and binge watch until your eyes glaze over. But are you really learning what you need? There is no substitute for real-world experience. Go outside. Get involved with a theatre, improv troupe, or choir. These types of productions will teach you things you can never learn by simply watching videos non-stop. How to be directed. Working with others. Building real characters instead of funny voices. Acting and reacting with other actors. Feeling the audience reaction and feedback. Only the light of day can banish the dark reaches of the Video Ghouls!

Have you encountered any of these?
Perhaps you’ve run into some I haven’t mentioned here.
Help me to warn others with a career saving comment below!

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Is This Scalpel Good For Brain Surgery?

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Is This Scalpel Good For Brain Surgery?

(When questions and answers go awry…)

I often find myself frustrated by many of the questions and answers posted about Voice Acting on online forums.

What’s this got to do with Scalpels and Brain Surgery? Everything!

There are 4 parts to what I consider a good, helpful Q+A:

  • The person asking the question (background, experience, etc.)
  • The person answering (background, experience, etc.)
  • The question itself (researched, specific, unambiguous, etc.)
  • The answer (takes into account all of the above and addresses the issues, possibly raising new questions)

Based on these 4 parts, here are some general thoughts on how we can all do better asking and answering questions (based on the “Scalpels for Brain Surgery” example):

  • Before you ask a question, do some research.
    Many of the questions being asked have been asked and answered. Try searching professional forums on the topic you’re interested in. Look for instructional videos or reviews. Ask a trusted teacher or a professional in the industry. A side benefit of this may mean that you’ll find other answers to questions you hadn’t even considered.
  • Give people some background before asking the question.
    It’s impossible to answer a question if you don’t know who you’re speaking to, or what their experience is. For our Scalpels example, are they a med student? Practicing doctor? Surgeon? Or just an interested non-medical person? Knowing this will make it easier for people to give helpful answers.
  • Be as specific as possible when asking for advice.
    I’ve seen newbies and pros make the same mistake: broad, non-specific questions. Try to narrow down the question before posting it. If you’re not sure how to narrow it, that may mean you don’t know what you’re really after. In that case, go back and do some more digging and research. If you ask a wide open question, you’re likely to get a wide range of useless answers.
  • Find out who you’re talking to.
    This is really important for both the person asking the question (see “Background” above), and for the person answering. After all, if you’re a qualified brain surgeon looking for a real answer about scalpels, you probably don’t want the advice of a med student, veterinarian, or failed top-chef contestant. Beware of newbies answering other newbie questions!
  • Don’t answer questions if you’re not qualified.
    Lots of people are more than willing to jump in with their opinion on any topic posted online. This doesn’t mean they’re qualified to answer. I know it’s difficult, but try to know the limits of your own knowledge. Too much misleading and downright horrible information is being shared as if it’s the truth. Before answering, ask yourself how much you really know about the question being asked. If the answer is “I watched a YouTube once about Do-It-Yourself Brain Surgery”, maybe you should sit this one out…

BTW, this advice is a follow-up to a prior post:
Advice on Advice

So, can we all do better? Yes!

Will we? That’s up to you…

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Authentic AI Voices

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Authentic AI Voices


(random thoughts from a voice actor)

If you’re a voice actor, I’ll wager you’ve read or been a part of a discussion about AI Voices taking our jobs. Or one about casting for “Authentic” voices for a gig. What follows is some of my thoughts on both topics.

“Authentic” (and other meaningless words)
So, what exactly does “Authentic” mean to you when you see it in a casting notice? The people casting obviously have a reason to ask for “Authentic”. Sometimes it may be that the intended audience is from a particular region and they want to ensure it sounds right to them. Other times, the character is written for a particular ethnicity or sexual preference, etc.

But does that really *mean* anything?!?!? I’m in my 50’s, of Lebanese descent, and was raised in the Midwest. Does this mean I can only play Lebanese guys in their 50’s who are from Cleveland? I worked with a Japanese guy who was raised in Mexico and has a Mexican accent, and a South African who went to school in the UK and has a perfect RP dialect. Are they only limited to their ethnicity or to their childhood accents? And what about anyone with a multi-cultural origin or upbringing?

What is the point of acting? To fully inhabit a character, with all their traits, mannerisms, quirks, etc. To be believable to the audience. For me, that includes the vocal qualities like accent, tone, emotion, etc.

Bottom Line: as a voice actor, who isn’t seen on camera, I should be able to be cast for any role that I can convincingly portray. And so should everyone else.

For those who bring up the very real issue of under-representation for a particular group, I’d say that stems from a lack of opportunity. From the writing, to the casting, and even the funding for projects, whole groups are excluded from even auditioning.

Second Bottom Line: Leveling the playing field means being more inclusive, not less. More opportunity for all, not limiting who can play what. (Shakespeare, anyone? Hamilton?)

AI VOICES (COMING TO STEAL YOUR JOBS!)
AI voices have definitely improved in the 15 years that I’ve been a professional voice actor. They are now good enough to take some of the less demanding jobs. Ones that are just straight information. Phone system prompts. Tech manuals for vision impaired. Voices on trains.

As we move forward into the future, it’s inevitable that AI voices will be doing more VO work. But how much? Will they eventually replace us entirely? I don’t think so. For roles in animation, games, audio books, commercials, etc., where a human voice with emotion and the ability to interpret the subtleties of human interaction in the script is needed, AI will have trouble being believable.

Bottom Line: If you’re doing work that could easily be replaced by an AI voice, now’s a good time to improve your acting skills and make a move to a different genre of VO.

To be honest, I’ve heard my share of really bad Voice Acting… by humans. I don’t know how they got the job in the first place, but if the client sees that AI is cheaper and better, then that’s where they’ll go.

Second Bottom Line: Don’t suck at your job.

Authentic AI Voices
Authentic AI VO Voice Acting

I know AI will eventually replace me as a Voice Actor… but the real question is: Will it have the correct skin color, ethnic origin, religious affiliation, gender designation and sexual preference for the role?

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Have You Killed Me?

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Have You Killed Me?


(parody of “Have You Seen Her?” by the Chi-Lites)

The life of a video game voice actor isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

There’s a lot of dying… then there’s more dying…

So, with all the games you’ve played… Have you killed me?

Audio:

      Have You Killed Me? (Joe J Thomas)

Available on The FuMP at:
Click to buy or listen on The FuMP!

Video:

Copyright 2021, Joe J Thomas, Joe’s Dump, JoesDump.com
All Rights Reserved.
Not a Quinn-Martin Production.

~~~ Lyrics ~~~
“Have You Killed Me?”
Parody: of “Have You Seen Her?” by the Chi-Lites
By Joe J Thomas

Ah…ah…ah…ah…ah…ah… Ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…
One year ago today, I was hired to play a part
My job as a voice actor, talkin’ to a mic, recording in the dark
Doin’ a character in a video game, the one the children play
For me, it was just another gig, but they play that shit every day
They all follow me online, They seem to know my name
I get likes and comments, But it still doesn’t ease my pain
There’s no way I can beat ‘em, They’ll play ‘til their brains are fried
I keep sayin’ I’ll win someday, Seems I’m just not qualified
Oh, they chase me down for my treasure hoard. Crack me on my skull like it was a gourd
Have you killed me? Tell me why’d you kill me?
Yeah they fight in groups on their tv screens. Isn’t fair when it’s one against a team.
Have you killed me? Tell me why’d you kill me?
Why, oh why did you have to stab me with a sword?
Oh…oh…oh…oh…oh…: I’ve been used for gamers’ entertainment
And I lost, baby, I lost!
ow, ow, ow… ow, ow, ow… ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow ow…
Have you killed me? Tell me why’d you kill me? [Tell me why’d you kill me?]
ow, ow, ow… ow, ow, ow… ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow ow…
Have you killed me? Tell me why’d you kill me? [Tell me why’d you kill me?]
Oh you cast a spell with your mystic art, Then you plunged a dagger in my heart
Have you killed me? Tell me why’d you kill me?
Yeah they slay me from the dusk till dawn, Don’t they know in this game that I just respawn
Have you killed me? Tell me why’d you kill me?
Why, oh why did you have to set my head aflame? Oh, no!
Oh…oh…oh…oh…oh…: I’ve been shot, and stabbed and hit with boulders
And I lost, baby, I lost!
ow, ow, ow… ow, ow, ow… ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow ow…
Have you killed me? Tell me why’d you kill me? [Tell me why’d you kill me?]
ow, ow, ow… ow, ow, ow… ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow ow…
Have you killed me? Tell me why’d you kill me? [Tell me why’d you kill me?]
As another game comes to an end, I’m lookin’ for a potion or somethin’
Anything that would put me on the mend, With all the powers I have, hmm
I’m still a wounded man, You know it’s funny
Here I thought the bosses were the ones in command
3X: Have you killed me? Tell me why’d you kill me? [Tell me why’d you kill me?]
— original lyrics —
“Have You Seen Her” by the Chi-Lites
2X: Ah…ah…ah…ah…ah…ah… Ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…
One month ago today, I was happy as a lark
But now I go for walks, To the movies, maybe to the park
I have a seat on the same old bench, To watch the children play, huh
You know tomorrow is their future, But for me just another day
They all gather ’round me, huh, They seem to know my name
We laugh, tell a few jokes, But it still doesn’t ease my pain
I know I can’t hide from a memory, Though day after day I’ve tried
I keep sayin’ she’ll be back, But today again I’ve lied
Oh, I see her face everywhere I go, On the street and even at the picture show
Have you seen her, Tell me have you seen her
Oh, I hear her voice as the cold winds blow, In the sweet music on my radio
Have you seen her, Tell me have you seen her
Why, oh, why: Did she have to leave and go away?
Oh…oh…oh…oh…oh…: I’ve been used to havin’ someone to lean on
And I’m lost, baby, I’m lost
Oh, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo; Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Have you seen her; Tell me have you seen her [Tell me have you seen her]
Oh, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo; Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Have you seen her; Tell me have you seen her [Tell me have you seen her]
Oh, she left her kiss upon my lips, But left that break within my heart
Have you seen her, Tell me have you seen her
Oh, I see her hand reaching out to me, Only she can set me free
Have you seen her, Tell me have you seen her
Why, oh, why; Did she have to leave and go away
Oh…oh…oh…oh…oh…, I’ve been used to havin’ someone to lean on
And I’m lost, baby, I’m lost
Oh, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Have you seen her
Tell me have you seen her [Tell me have you seen her]
As another day comes to an end, I’m lookin’ for a letter or somethin’
Anything that she would send, With all the people I know, hmm
I’m still a lonely man, You know it’s funny
I thought I had her in the palm of my hand
Have you seen her; Tell me have you seen her [Tell me have you seen her]
Oh (Oh, yeah…eah…eah…), doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
6X: Have you seen her – Tell me have you seen her (with echos)

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Voice Acting: 15 Years of JoeActor!

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Voice Acting: 15 Years of JoeActor!

After 15 years of voice acting gigs, it’s time for a little celebration!

Here’s a collage of a few of my roles so far… Looking forward to many more:

(click on the image for FULL-SIZE!)

Joe J Thomas: Characters (JoeActor.com)

Joe J Thomas: Characters (JoeActor.com)

Top Row: Loken & Krik’Thir & Arcurion (World of Warcraft), Leoric The Skeleton King (Diabol III & Heroes of the Storm), Professor X (X-Men Live!)
Middle: Raven/Schwann (Tales of Vesperia), Tibarn (Fire Emblem), Stormtrooper (Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge), (me!), Ch’Gren (Star Trek Online)
Bottom: Nobunaga (Hunter X Hunter), Professor Oak (Pokémon), Lex Luthor (Mortal Kombat vs. DCU), Namor The Sub-Mariner (Marvel Ultimate Alliance) Yodeling Pickle (Archie McPhee)

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Barcelona Booth

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Barcelona Booth

Last week, my wife and I relocated to Barcelona.
(how we did it is at the bottom of this post 😉 )

Since we may be here for a while, I needed a new studio setup.

Here’s some photos (click for full size), and the details on the equipment:
JoeActor Barcelona BoothJoeActor Barcelona Booth doorJoeActor Barcelona Booth insideJoeActor Barcelona Booth bling

The Booth: StudioBricks One Plus (VO Edition)

Comes with lighting, ventilation unit, extra sound dampening, bass trap, table, mic arm, and copy arm.
Overall… Stellar! Super quiet inside. Door handle turns up to seal the booth, down to open. Ventilation has several modes, the lowest of which is inaudible. Lighting and copy arm fit the bill nicely. Can always add more lighting easily.
One added perk: Since they’re made in Barcelona, the manufacturer came out and assembled it (for a very low fee)!
Another added perk: the acoustic foam on the walls has built-in channels for cable runs. So. Damn. Cool.
The only thing I’m not sold on is the Yellowtec mic arm. I’ve adjusted the spring, but it’s a bit hard to get it to stay where I want it to. I’d also prefer something a bit smaller. Might replace it in time…

The Mic: AKG C214

Excellent microphone. Very low self-noise. Picks up every nuance of my voice. Some reviews peg this as being “too bright”, but in my opinion it captures a true representation of my voice. Of course every voice is different, and you may not get the same feel from this mic. But for me, it’s a step up.

The Interface: Motu M2

Beautifully designed. Very low self-noise. Works like a dream. Really like the built-in meters. Also has an on/off switch on the back, and a monitor switch on each mic input for direct monitoring. Recommended!

The Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 Ohm

What everyone says about these… yeah, they’re right. Solid choice.

The Cloud: Google Drive (Google One)

A final piece of the puzzle: Inside the Booth vs. Outside.
Google One gives you 2Tb storage for $99/yr.
My fanless laptop inside the booth shares files with my computer at my desk. Everything is backed up in the cloud and available everywhere I need it. Easy.

… And How We Got Into Spain During A Pandemic Lockdown!

At the time of this post (for those in the future), the Covid-19 pandemic is raging. Due to the horrible handling of… well… everything in the US-of-A, most of the world doesn’t want US citizens traveling to their countries. The exception is if you are a national of that country, or happen to have a visa.

My wife and I have what is known as a “Golden Visa” for Spain (mostly thanks to her). It allows us to live and work in Spain and the EU. Getting one is no easy feat, however.

So…

Step 1) Build a time machine.
Step 2) Go back to 2016. Be horrified by the results of the election.
Step 3) Jump through all the hoops needed for a “Golden Visa” (buy property, get health insurance, background checks, bank account, paperwork, visa, residence card, travel to Spain every time something is needed)
Step 4) It’s now 2-3 years later (yeah, lots of hoops)
Step 5) Due to the pandemic, jump through lots more hoops (call the embassy, consulate, lawyers, travel agents, airlines, etc.)
Step 6) Get an impossible Covid-19 test (nasal swab, must have results within 72 hours before flight)
Step 7) Discover Step 6 wasn’t needed (what?!?!?!?)
Step 8) Get baggage opened and everything touched by security to make you feel insecure.
Step 9) Congratulations! You’ve arrived in Spain!

Easy, right?

The take-away: It’s better here. I’m glad I followed my wife’s instincts.

See you in the (remote-er) booth!
Joe J Thomas
www.JoeActor.com

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WordPress: One Week to a New Website

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WordPress: One Week to a New Website

My old website had been neglected for a while. I needed a new, fresh look. And I needed the content to be easier to update. Maybe even have it automatically update!
JoeActor.com New and Old
One week ago I installed WordPress onto a sub-domain of my JoeActor site. This allowed me to work on the new site without disturbing the old one. Installation of WordPress was a breeze.

If you’re thinking “But, Joe, WordPress is only for blogging!” Well, yes and no. It has two types of content: Posts (used for blog entries) and Pages (static web pages). When you build a site using only Pages, it’s just another website. The advantages are it’s easier to maintain and updates automatically. Plus if you’d like to add a blog later on, it’s already built in.

Choosing a theme for my new site was next. For those of you new to WordPress, the theme is the look and feel of the site. Fonts, menus, etc. I selected the “OceanWP” theme. Very flexible, clean look, and adaptable to all devices (computers, tablets and phones).

The old site was a bit too complicated and required frequent content updates to stay relevant. To get around that, I decided to eliminate the “News” page. I also changed my “Resume” page to automatically display my IMDb information instead (there’s a plug-in for that!). This means that my new site will always be up-to-date on the resume and news, and it’s less complicated for visitors.

My final and most difficult task was to rewrite the home page. This is the first thing that visitors will see, so it’s very important. I worked with my wife and some friends for the “About” text. I also included my contact information and main demos. One new element is a rotating slide-show at the bottom. This shows companies I’ve worked with, projects, and major roles. New slides can be easily added as I land more work.

So, that’s it! The new site is up and can be viewed at JoeActor.com – take a peek and feel free to comment if you’d like.

And if you’re considering WordPress for your site, let me know in the comments as well. I’ll try to answer any questions here.

Cheers,
Joe J Thomas
JoeActor.com

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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IMDb Study: Nearly 70% of Actors Have Careers That Last Only One Year

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IMDb Study: Nearly 70% of Actors Have Careers That Last Only One Year

IMDb Stats
A recent study in the journal “Nature Communications” provides some eye-opening statistics into the careers of actors and actresses in the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com).

Data was collected from IMDb on the careers of 1,512,472 actors and 896,029 actresses as recorded as of January 16th, 2016, including careers stretching back to the first recorded movie in 1888.

Their model predicts with up to 85% accuracy whether an actor or actress is likely to have a brighter future, or if the best days are, unfortunately, behind them.

Some of the key findings:

  • 69% of Actors and 68% Actresses have careers that only last one year.
  • The unemployment rate for Actors/Actresses hovers around 90%
  • Acting careers run in hot and cold streaks.
  • Cold streaks tend to fade more quickly for Actors than for Actresses.

For a more detailed look at this study, please follow the links below…

Relevant Links:

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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VO Business Posts! (New Menu)

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VO Business Posts! (New Menu)

All of the Business, Voice Acting, Studio, and Voice-Over advice onJoe’s Dump, in one place! See the top menu on the site for the new “VO Business” option!

Find out:

  • How to get into Voice Over
  • What equipment I use in the studio
  • Tricks in the Voice Acting world
  • Advice on running your VO Business
  • Funny Voice Acting stories
  • … And Much, Much More!!!

Over 80 posts to help you find your path in the amazing world of Voice Acting!!!

So, what are you waiting for? Just click the link below, or get there any time from the “VO Business” option on the top menu!

Joe’s Dump: VO Business Posts! (clicky clicky…)

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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VO and Tablets

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VO and Tablets

Many voice actors take a tablet into the booth to read and markup their copy.

But what if you could run your entire studio on a tablet?

Samsung S5E Tablet and Monitor: Joe's Dump

What you see in the above picture may be the future for home studios. At the bottom is a 10″ Android tablet. It’s connected to the top screen, a mouse, keyboard, external drive, microphones interface, mic and speakers.

It could run everything you need for a home recording studio. And it costs around $400.

In this test, I was running a Chrome browser with two tabs, a Google spreadsheet, a Microsoft Word document, and Lexis audio recording/editing software. Recording quality was the same as on my laptop.

So, what exactly makes this possible?

The tablet is a Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e – here are the specs:
OS: Android 9.0.
Display: 10.5in WQXGA Super AMOLED, 287ppi.
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 Octa-core processor (2×2.0 GHz & 6×1.7 GHz)
Memory: 4/6GB.
Storage: 64/128GB + microSD up to 512GB.
Cameras: 13Mp rear, 8Mp front.
Ports: USB3.1 (Type C)
Plus! Very thin and light: just 5.5 mm thick, and weighs only 399 g (0.88 lb)

The USB-C port is an OTG (On-The-Go) type. This means it allows USB devices, such as USB flash drives, digital cameras, mice or keyboards, to be attached. Also microphones and speakers and screens. No drivers to install, or software to update. All I did was plug in a USB-C hub and everything worked.

The processor has 8 cores, and is pretty fast. The new version of this tablet (the S5) is expected to be even faster.

Battery life is 14+ hours, but you can also have it plugged in while you’re using it.

The final piece of the puzzle is the windows like interface on the big screen. That comes from Samsung. It’s called “Dex”, and is one of 4 modes on this tablet:

  1. Normal Tablet Mode (one app takes up the whole screen)
  2. Split-screen Mode (two apps share the screen equally)
  3. Pop-up Mode (one app appears in a pop-up window; any second app appears behind it, full screen)
  4. Dex Mode (full window and icon interface)

When you put all of this together, you can easily see the potential… and where we all may be headed.

I used the setup exclusively over the weekend, just to see how easy it was. It’s definitely good enough for auditions, or for the central component of a travel rig. To run a full home studio, I’d probably want better recording/editing software available. It may already be out there…

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

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