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Old 11-27-2011, 02:58 PM   #1
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Default Tablet computers - Which ones and why?

After a recent discussion with davydd about the pros and cons of these newfangled tablet computers
like the iPad, I'm curious how many of us have one, are thinking about getting one, or see them as
just another fad that will go the way of the dodo.
I've started looking into them, but the prices will have to come down a bit before I bite on one. I'm
just not sure they have the "horsepower" of a full blown laptop, at a price I like. But I'm looking.

My main absolute must haves are battery life, durability, security, lightweight, intuitiveness, easily
connects to my home router and public wifi (last month at a Starbucks in Anthem, AZ I actually guided
a guy through connecting), and lastly, price.
Nice to haves would include detachable peripherals, like a real keyboard, and USB ports for mice,
flash drives, etc.......
I've never been an apps person, but that could always change. Technically, POI files are "apps" so
I've got some experience. Using, vetting, and creating from scratch (Roadtrek Service Locations).

What do others think? Share your thoughts, opinions, and anecdotal experiences.
Thanks.
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Old 11-27-2011, 04:07 PM   #2
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Default Re: Tablet computers - Which ones and why?

The first thing you have to get over or understand is a tablet is not a computer in the sense that it is a substitute for one. A tablet is more for information gathering be it surfing the internet, reading books, newspapers, other information, PDF documents, etc. They are also great for doing research through specific and dedicated apps such as campground directories. All this stuff can be done more intuitively easier than going through a conventional internet browser. Visually most apps make reading easier. Information gathering is a whole lot easier holding a device similar to hold a book than a hinged device like a laptop or a desktop computer with separate keyboards, monitors and mouse. A tablet is a pickup device that turns on and off instantly.

There are shopping apps for Target, Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, etc. that a much easier to use than going through a browser like IE or Firefox.

On the road, through a tablet, I can still browse the internet with a browser such as visiting this message board. But when I am on the road my habits change. Being online goes way down simply because I have little idle time to be online.

I have apps to check my accounts with my online broker. I have an app to conduct all my banking business, pay bills, transfer money, etc. through my bank.

Twitter and Facebook are easier to use and more enriched with apps like Flipboard.

I watch movies with my tablet either personally by holding it my hand or via wifi to my large TV screen at home or by component cables to my TV in my RV. I can live stream or I can download movies. Similarly I can watch TV shows on demand. Similarly for music I have my iTunes with me and I can tune in any radio station in the nation anywhere.

The iPad stores photos from digital camera. I can edit them and upload them if I desire. One feature I don't have on my current iPad are cameras. We have been using our new iPhones to conduct Facetime calls with friends and family and look forward to expanding that idea with the next iteration of iPads. That's like Skype but seems smoother, easier to do and it is totally free. All that is needed is any Apple device (iPhone, iPad, or computer) with cameras and a wifi connection at each end.

This past year with over 100 days on the road, I took my iPad and my laptop computer along. Not once did I bother to take my laptop out and use it. At home I do use my laptop most of the time for internet browsing because I spend more time interacting rather than gathering. The keyboard is simply easier to use as I am a touch typist. I could add a bluetooth keyboard as an accessory to my tablet but haven't felt a need to.

A tablet is not just a smartphone with a larger screen. That may seem the case with Android devices because Android app development is still way behind in that most are still blowups of smartphones. Apps on the Apple iPad are totally different than apps on the iPhone and have much more functionality. Apple's tablet maturity still has a 25 to 1 advantage over the Android market. The app developer for the Allstays many Campground & RV apps said over on RV.net the Apple iOS (iPhone & iPad) was 10 times better and faster and easier to develop for compared to having to write apps for over 960 combinations of Android devices and OSes. That's just the facts of life right now. It could change.

Games. Smartphones and tablets will replace dedicated game machines and computers. This is not my expertise but my grandkids have taken tablets like fish to water.

I probably missed a few things to mention considering I have download in excess of 200 apps and played around with them other than to see quite a few are free and the cost range is generally less than $5 compared to buying similar stuff for a computer that would cost six times as much.

For me, on the road, the tablet has made a lot more sense than taking along a computer.
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: Tablet computers - Which ones and why?

Do you feel comfortable doing financials and banking on these things? I believe I read somewhere that Apple took 7 months to correct an SSL exposure discovered in one of their Operating Systems. For anyone who isn't aware, SSL is a secure connectivity protocol (usually uses a URL address prefixed with https:// ) which can be used in most web browsers and allows the user to connect securely to websites which support it, like many online banking sites.
Online security is probably the one make or break for me on any technology.
I realize no security system is 100% safe, but I'm concerned these newer operating systems may be full of holes. Most have some. I'd rather deal with a vendor who realizes the importance of plugging those holes as soon as possible, every time one is discovered, and doesn't try to dodge the issue. Microsoft is arguably probably the best at proactive and reactive security fixes. Out of necessity. But I like the way they deal with every problem openly and honestly.
I'm concerned that some vendors may actually believe their operating systems are invincible, and greatly underestimate the potential for serious breaches. I guess if these tablets are more research units (web browsers) as opposed to action units (laptops?/desktops?) then maybe it's not necessarily an issue.
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Old 11-28-2011, 03:17 AM   #4
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Default Re: Tablet computers - Which ones and why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davydd
The first thing you have to get over or understand is a tablet is not a computer in the sense that it is a substitute for one. A tablet is more for information gathering be it surfing the internet, reading books, newspapers, other information, PDF documents, etc. They are also great for doing research through specific and dedicated apps such as campground directories. All this stuff can be done more intuitively easier than going through a conventional internet browser. Visually most apps make reading easier. Information gathering is a whole lot easier holding a device similar to hold a book than a hinged device like a laptop or a desktop computer with separate keyboards, monitors and mouse. A tablet is a pickup device that turns on and off instantly.

There are shopping apps for Target, Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, etc. that a much easier to use than going through a browser like IE or Firefox.

On the road, through a tablet, I can still browse the internet with a browser such as visiting this message board. But when I am on the road my habits change. Being online goes way down simply because I have little idle time to be online.

I have apps to check my accounts with my online broker. I have an app to conduct all my banking business, pay bills, transfer money, etc. through my bank.

Twitter and Facebook are easier to use and more enriched with apps like Flipboard.

I watch movies with my tablet either personally by holding it my hand or via wifi to my large TV screen at home or by component cables to my TV in my RV. I can live stream or I can download movies. Similarly I can watch TV shows on demand. Similarly for music I have my iTunes with me and I can tune in any radio station in the nation anywhere.

The iPad stores photos from digital camera. I can edit them and upload them if I desire. One feature I don't have on my current iPad are cameras. We have been using our new iPhones to conduct Facetime calls with friends and family and look forward to expanding that idea with the next iteration of iPads. That's like Skype but seems smoother, easier to do and it is totally free. All that is needed is any Apple device (iPhone, iPad, or computer) with cameras and a wifi connection at each end.

This past year with over 100 days on the road, I took my iPad and my laptop computer along. Not once did I bother to take my laptop out and use it. At home I do use my laptop most of the time for internet browsing because I spend more time interacting rather than gathering. The keyboard is simply easier to use as I am a touch typist. I could add a bluetooth keyboard as an accessory to my tablet but haven't felt a need to.

A tablet is not just a smartphone with a larger screen. That may seem the case with Android devices because Android app development is still way behind in that most are still blowups of smartphones. Apps on the Apple iPad are totally different than apps on the iPhone and have much more functionality. Apple's tablet maturity still has a 25 to 1 advantage over the Android market. The app developer for the Allstays many Campground & RV apps said over on RV.net the Apple iOS (iPhone & iPad) was 10 times better and faster and easier to develop for compared to having to write apps for over 960 combinations of Android devices and OSes. That's just the facts of life right now. It could change.

Games. Smartphones and tablets will replace dedicated game machines and computers. This is not my expertise but my grandkids have taken tablets like fish to water.

I probably missed a few things to mention considering I have download in excess of 200 apps and played around with them other than to see quite a few are free and the cost range is generally less than $5 compared to buying similar stuff for a computer that would cost six times as much.

For me, on the road, the tablet has made a lot more sense than taking along a computer.
I've just finished re-reading your post about your iPad. Very comprehensive. Upon further review, here's what I've gleaned.

It's starting to sound like an expensive option, even if, as you say, the initial unit is very reasonably priced, and you go with a 16GB, wifi only, iPad 2, with front and rear cameras. That doesn't sound too bad by itself. But you go on to say that you have to buy what sounds like a library full of additional software (apps) in order for it to do more than browse the internet? The more I think about it, it seems like everything I hear on TV and read online from users of the iPad, is about going to the Apps Store and buying this or that, to do x,y,and z. Seems like getting the thing to do what you want it to do, might not be worth the effort and expense involved. What's the most expensive one time price app you've bought, and what does it do?
I'm thinking I may go with a smaller Win7 laptop after all. I'm thinking they do as much as the iPad, and more, and it all pretty much comes with the original hardware/software in the package, or can be downloaded for free off the internet. That's a strong sell for conventional operating systems from Microsoft or Apple. There's lots of stuff out there on the web that can do most if not all of the things that pay-per-use software does. All of the major applications running on my laptops was free off the web, and it all works just as well as the more expensive licensed software from commercial software companies, like Symantec, Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, etc.. I don't get nickel and dimed with the laptops I've bought, unless I want to be. I'll assume there are some tablet OS apps that are free, but I also think the majority are pay-per-use. Is that correct?
My laptops don't have a touch screen, but my laptops aren't covered in fingerprints either. They need a mouse because that's what we like, and I like the feel of a real keyboard for the same reasons you do, just easier to type. And, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I don't do Facebook or Twitter, I'm just anti-social I guess.
I'm just not sure the tablet is for me after all. Sorry Steve (Jobs).
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Old 11-28-2011, 06:44 PM   #5
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Default Re: Tablet computers - Which ones and why?

iPad - Free support, support, support!!
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Tablet computers - Which ones and why?

I have a Toshiba Thrive tablet running Android 3.2. Got it for under $300 because it was a open box deal. It is nice if I want to turn something on quick and check the Net (email, Facebook, banking, weather, some games, etc). It turns on quicker than the laptop and the battery lasts a lot longer. I can easily watch 2 full length movies on my tablet and still have battery life left.

As far as which is better and which is worse, that depends what you want the device for. The laptop does far more than the tablet. I have a MagicJack for when I am away from home so I can make phone calls anywhere in North America for free through the Internet. It only works on a computer through the USB port. There is apparently an Android App that will use the MagicJack account to make calls but there is a lot of tweaking to do to get it to work. A laptop has far more storage than a tablet. My tablet has 16Gb with a 32Gb memory card. My laptop has a 500Gb hard drive. Both my laptop and tablet have full sized HDMI and USB ports so I can watch movies on our TV though either of them. I use the tablet just because it's quicker to set up and get started. Storage room is one thing the tablet wins on. It's a lot smaller. The laptop wins on using a keyboard. Mind you, I have a bluetooth keyboard for my tablet so it's really the same as the laptop but it adds to the storage area required.

One thing not mentioned here is the Netbooks. They are a full laptop but with the size of a tablet. They just don't have a CD ROM built in. They have the portability and are full Windows computers. I still think a good tablet will have better battery life than the Netbook but that's just a guess.
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: Tablet computers - Which ones and why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by renrut
I have a Toshiba Thrive tablet running Android 3.2. Got it for under $300 because it was a open box deal. It is nice if I want to turn something on quick and check the Net (email, Facebook, banking, weather, some games, etc). It turns on quicker than the laptop and the battery lasts a lot longer. I can easily watch 2 full length movies on my tablet and still have battery life left.

As far as which is better and which is worse, that depends what you want the device for. The laptop does far more than the tablet. I have a MagicJack for when I am away from home so I can make phone calls anywhere in North America for free through the Internet. It only works on a computer through the USB port. There is apparently an Android App that will use the MagicJack account to make calls but there is a lot of tweaking to do to get it to work. A laptop has far more storage than a tablet. My tablet has 16Gb with a 32Gb memory card. My laptop has a 500Gb hard drive. Both my laptop and tablet have full sized HDMI and USB ports so I can watch movies on our TV though either of them. I use the tablet just because it's quicker to set up and get started. Storage room is one thing the tablet wins on. It's a lot smaller. The laptop wins on using a keyboard. Mind you, I have a bluetooth keyboard for my tablet so it's really the same as the laptop but it adds to the storage area required.

One thing not mentioned here is the Netbooks. They are a full laptop but with the size of a tablet. They just don't have a CD ROM built in. They have the portability and are full Windows computers. I still think a good tablet will have better battery life than the Netbook but that's just a guess.
Thanks for the comments. Storing a laptop is a good point, although we have one netbook and one laptop, both are fairly small screen sizes, we usually take them both, and and we just use which ever, or both, based on requirements. I'm not sure about the security of the tablet operating systems. There's not much out there on it, so I don't know whether that's good or bad. The battery life on the Acer 10" netbook is pretty poor. In fact, 2 years after buying it (outside warranty) it barely holds a charge. The convenience factor sounds good but I'm not sure adding the extra apps to make the functionality is really worth a faster setup to browse. After much practise, I can setup either laptop styled pc in a few minutes. The wifi hotspot connection basically happens automatically from saved ssids, so I don't have to do much except boot them up, and open a browser or two. If it isn't designed to do much more out of the box than web browsing, or information gathering, or reading, and making phone calls if it's 3G capable, then it sounds a bit like going hunting, but only taking the scope with you, not the rifle.
I guess I'll keep looking. Maybe there's something out there that might do more out of the box.
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:08 AM   #8
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Default Re: Tablet computers - Which ones and why?

A lot of apps for tablets are free. You could just take a look at the Android Market or the Apple one just to see what is available. One thing that is nice about a tablet is ebooks. The tablets aren't much bigger than a book but can hold hundreds. If you're into reading, taking one tablet will take up a lot less room than several books.

There are all kinds of tablets out there now. Some have poor batteries and don't last very long. Some have resistive screens which are not very practical. Some Android tablets come with cellphone versions of Android. They are alright but a lot of apps are designed to fit on a phone screen not a tablet. There is a lot of information to look at if you want a tablet. Of course, same thing goes with laptops or anything these days.

Personally, I use both. I'm away from home again in Little Rock Arkansas and brought both with me. When I go to class (I'm here for training), I bring my tablet. I can catch up on news, play a few games or watch a few short videos without any problems during breaks or when our class is split up for practical and we're in the class waiting. Can't do that with my laptop. In my hotel room, I have the laptop set up and use it for most things. I do use the tablet to check weather since the weather app I'm using is quick and quite good.

One thing I do like about my tablet is the GPS. I installed CoPilot GPS software on it so I could use the tablet for directions. It is quite big but I can look for points of interest. Data or WiFi is required for Google to work. For driving, I just use the same program on my phone and place it on the windshield mount.

Just thought of one more thing about a tablet; it doesn't need a cooling fan. That way, you can pretty well put it anywhere. A laptop needs to have the vents open so the air circulates and keeps it cool or the motherboard could burn out. A guy here just had his girlfriend destroy a laptop by using it on a bed and not keeping the bottom clear for the cooling.
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Old 11-30-2011, 04:53 AM   #9
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Default Re: Tablet computers - Which ones and why?

I seriously looked at a BB Playbook today. It was on sale for around $300, the 32GB model with wifi.
I was very colose to a done deal, and then I asked about security, and battery life. I called RIM Tech
Support and they stated the Playbook is as safe as any desktop, laptop, or cellphone when doing
secure internet browsing, as long as the connections are to SSL enabled websites, as most banks
and FIs are. So that was issue one resolved, I was happy enough with that info.

However, as regards battery life/replacement. The battery life is unknown. OK, fine that's what I
expected. What really surprised me, and it apparently applies to most tablets, is that when the battery dies, most tablets are refurbished with a new battery and then forwarded to a different owner.
Apple and BB both apparently do the same thing when your battery dies. The Tech at RIM mentioned
this when I asked about whether the batteries are user replaceable and what they cost.
I admit, I was really surprised. You send them your dead battery tablet, and usually pay for service and the shipping, and they send you back somebody else's tablet, with the battery replacement/refurbishment already done. It's a giant tablet computer battery refurbishment Ponzi scheme. And, since you don't get YOUR Ipad or tablet back, any personal data has to be backed up and removed from the device before you ship it. They do not return the same box you send them. That really doesn't fly well with me. This isn't an issue with a compact laptop.
Unless you are told this up front, you could put all kinds of personal stuff on them, like account numbers, userids/passwords, saved emails, and a world of other stuff, and when your battery dies, kiss it goodbye unless you pre-organize it so that it can be quickly and easily moved off the tablet if necessary. So, now the question of how long will the battery last, suddenly becomes much more important.

Did those of you who have a tablet computer know this?
Here's one story that describes it, from last year 2010.
http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/13/dead ... sends-ano/
This process isn't clearly mentioned in the battery replacement page at Apple's website, as an example.
http://www.apple.com/batteries/replacements.html
The above scenario applies to tablet computers with non-user replaceable batteries, which probably includes most tablets. If the battery is replaced at the location where you bought your unit, and apparently some do, you might be able to get the same tablet back that you bought. I can't confirm this, though. YMMV.

Further research may be required on tablet computers. Even at the low price of $300+tax, I'm not sure if I ever want to have to deal with the dying battery issue. It sounds like it could be a PITA.
Link to a sample DIY battery replacement
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Old 11-30-2011, 02:05 PM   #10
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Default Re: Tablet computers - Which ones and why?

Mike,

The other concern you should have about the RIM Playbook is how long it will continue to be supported. RIM just announced they were going to start developing for the Apple iOS (iPad/iPhone) for their enterprise systems. That's a hint they might be throwing in the towel. HP with its Touchpad WebOS didn't last but a month on the market. No one is going to invest and develop apps for the RIM Playbook.

Android tablets can't seem to be making any inroads against the iPad either. They are still stuck for the most part using blowup smartphone apps that take no advantage of the larger screen real estate. That's because developers are just not willing to invest in the market. The Android smartphone market is healthy. As both an iPhone and iPad owner I can tell you that aspect makes a huge difference and is what makes a tablet worthwhile. Otherwise you might as well stick with a smartphone.

The market is coalescing down to the Apple iPad if you want everything possible on a tablet including the software (apps) available and the stripped down information gatherer/eBook readers offered by Barnes & Noble (Nook) and Amazon.com (Kindle Fire). Those three have a retail base to build off of that none of the others have. If I want assurance my tablet would still be supported in the expected lifetime I plan to keep it, those would be the only three I would invest in and I think I would narrow it down to Apple and Amazon.com.

As for battery life on my iPad I consistently get the 10 hours of use and greater depending on my usage. I've had my tablet since day one April, 2010 and will most likely get a new iPad before there is any battery life fall off. So, I'm not worried about that aspect.
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