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  1. #1
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    Your next computer could well be a tablet




    TOP STORY

    Your next computer could well be a tablet


    By Woody Leonhard

    Like it or not — and I know that some of you don't — tablets are changing the way the world works and plays.

    Whether it's an iPad, Kindle, Nook, or a tablet based on Google's Android OS, mobile devices are swirling across the computing landscape. Here's how to pick the right one.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/top-story/your-next-computer-could-well-be-a-tablet/ (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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  4. #2
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    Maybe your next col. should be "Beware how you ARM yourself". Unlike the intel based PCs, ARM devices (phones, tablets etc) seem to have HW level based software. As I see it, this is potentially a big problem, as you can't update what you buy as you can with a PC. EG: my PC purchased 2003 is still running well and being used but my phone is not. My current phone bought December 2011, has ARM6 processor and can't run firefox - you need ARM7 to run Firefox. 6 weeks old !!!!
    The greatest thing about PCs was that IBM dictated architecture, and it was backwards compatible. So, everyone (after a while) followed - EVEN APPLE !! But with Android, Google has not learned this lesson. I hope they do soon, and will try not to commit to any tablet until I see a clear stabilization of the android environment.

  5. #3
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    I've already broken down and got myself an iPad 2, but it's still far from being an actual computer.
    The iPad will fit the bill nicely for the basic computing tasks mentioned in Woody article, if one can tolerate iTunes on the PC to sync your content with.
    (iTunes is the most horrid thing I've ever seen)
    But the best thing about the iPad is it's efficiency, it goes from sleep to fully on in a heartbeat, it's very thin and sleek, very good battery life, and it also
    seems to have a very good balance of basic functionality in terms of software and hardware. Apple realy did get this right.
    The screen size is also just about at the sweet spot in terms of size and quality of viewing.

    I fear Windows 8 on a tablet with be largely bloated and it's performance will suffer like all it's operating system predecessors.
    I do hope this will prove to be wrong though.

  6. #4
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    Cool Your next computer could well be a tablet

    Well, mine certainly will be. I bought my first Macintosh laptop (a Macbook Air) about 15 months ago, my first Macintosh desktop 8 months ago (a 2011 iMac), and my first iPhone (a 4S) a month or so back. I do still have a couple of PCs in the house. One I keep for the occasional Windows app that doesn't run well in a Parallels virtual machine, and the other is my wife's desktop PC, which i haven't persuaded her to replace with a Mac yet. Sorry, but after about 25 years of Windows use I've seen the light. The great thing about the Apple Ecosystem is that things just work, and they work together. Microsoft might well come out with a tablet computer in 2013 or maybe 2014, but in our house we already have an iPad 2, and by 2014 we'll in all likelihood have two iPad 4s that will work seamlessly with our desktop and laptop PCs, our phones and probably our television.

  7. #5
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    While the Android tablet offerings are diverse and rather fragmented, I think leaving Samsung's 10.1 Galaxy Tab without a mention in the article doesn't give a well-balanced overview. It is a serious contender, and some would say holds the advantage over the ipad. I personally own a 1st gen ipad, bought secondhand, as I concluded that for my use it is sufficient, but when comparing ipad2 vs 10.1 tab, I was strongly leaning towards the tab.

  8. #6
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    Tablets...

    Well, I do have an iPad2 now (6 months old) and I love it (even got used to iTunes, ha ha) but I have had a look at Windows 8 and I hate it! Windows 7 is good but 8 is a pain, and OK, it is not the software that will be sold as an OS, but as it was two months ago is not something I would like to have on my work computer. I had an Android tablet and an iPhone. I kept trying to do things on the tablet as I did them on the iPhone and that did not work. So then I bought the iPad and gave my Android tablet away. But all real work, like long e-mails, uploading lots of pictures is still done on my old HP desktop, running Windows XP most of the time and Windows 7 when I want to use one of the new features.

  9. #7
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    "Just as many of us moved from DOS to Windows, from desktops to portables, and from printed and faxed documents to the Internet..."
    True... but we also moved to bigger and bigger display screens along the way. That's one of the tablets biggest drawbacks. If one has to carry a tablet around that is as large as a laptop or notebook -- what's the point?

    I'm retired, but even so I barely have enough screen landscape to get by with every day. During my career as a systems analyst and sometimes programmer, I can't even imagine how I could have accomplished my work with tablet.

    I see the where tablets and smartphones can be used advantageously for many uses and applications -- but to replace the PC? Jus ain't seein' it....

  10. #8
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    Incomplete Article

    I find myself agreeing with Grafitti. This article has totally ignored the excellent Samsung Tablet range which now includes the hybrid Samsung Note Phone/Tablet that fulfills my requirements for a single portable and pocketable device that performs as a phone and a Tablet on the move.

  11. #9
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    I had also concluded my next computer should be a tablet, but like most readers I own a digital camera and dislike the Apple SD card reader dongle kludge as well as the Apple lock in & 30% app tax. So which tablet to buy?

    Well obviously I would be looking for an Android tablet with a 4:3 screen to match the aspect ratio of my photos, plus a full size SD card slot like I've had in my current model for years (a Palm Tungsten T5 since you ask). It would be nice if it could double as a digital photo frame too with some sort of stand/charging cradle, but we can't expect everything all at once. Hang on a sec, seems the best I can get is 2 of those 4 requirements. The only vendor I found offering a full size SD slot is Sony and their slot is VERY tight. Yes some vendors offer a mini-SD slot, which I could just about live with, along with an adapter to put it in my camera. 16gb seems to be the max size for this combo however.

    What about that 4:3 screen (P.S have you ever seen a photo of someone using a widescreen tablet in portrait mode? Have you ever heard an iPad user complaining that Apple didn't offer a wide screen version?). Well Viewsonic offer a 4:3 screen on their Viewpad 10e. Nice screen with good viewing angles for sharing photos, but unfortunately that tablet is aimed at the bottom end of the market and suffers in other areas. Why has almost the entire Android market ignored this format when they are all trying to compete with the 4:3 iPad, which is such an obvious success? It is reported that Asus let slip the reason - Apple is soaking up most of the 4:3 panels being made, so they wouldn't be able to get sufficient supply (Viewsonic make their own screens, which gives them an advantage here). I know in the monitor market 4:3 panels have mostly given way to widescreen formats because they are cheaper to manufacture, so perhaps that's another factor in the tablet market.

    So come on Viewsonic give us a real competitor to the iPad, you might find you have a runaway success, especially if you target it at the millions of digital camera owners out there.

    Oh and the other elephant in the room with tablets is they can't compare with my old Tungsten T5 for stylus input - tablets were originally conceived by Microsoft with note taking as a major reason for buying one - think One-Note & E-Ink (which got good reviews). Windows tablets failed to take off I know, but I think that was for other reasons.

  12. #10
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    I finally broke down and got an iPad 2. I've worked on desktops since CP/M was the OS of choice, and I still use W7 daily. But the one app I never see people mention that is the most useful is OnLive Desktop. It's a cloud based Windows environment available in a variety of configurations. The basic configuration with 2Gb of cloud storage is free. There are more business-like options up to enterprise level. If you have an android tablet, they're working on an android equivalent. See: http://desktop.onlive.com/

    I find that tablets are useful when I to keep up with certain things. It's kind of like a dayplanner on steroids and possesses other useful apps. I highly recommend searching in the app store under generic names to find apps, and to check out as many free apps as you want. Some are crap, some are gems (just like in Windows), but on the iPad it's easy to delete any you don't want (press and hold until they jiggle, press the 'x' to bring up the delete app dialog box). If you buy an app, delete it, then realize you deleted the wrong app - no worries. The iStore remembers all deleted things you purchased and will redownload it for nothing.

    The iPad 2 seems to learn most of your habits. That's handy.

    Cons - iCloud does NOT play nice with outlook on the desktop. If you synchronize your contacts list and your calendars - the iCloud software takes them away to your iPad and to the iCloud web site. That's not my idea of synchronization. I was fortunate and had backups with minimal things to change on my desktop. But I know that would have peeved me if I did my business scheduling that way. I can't speak to the exchange server - my job's exchange server makes it doggone difficult to connect with a PC, let alone anything else.

    Like any tablet, buy a cover and a screen protector.

    BTW - I have a Kindle 3 e-ink device. Once in a while it will stop charging. Reboot the device. Turn it off, turn it back on but hold the button until the screen goes completely blank. It takes a while to boot, but when it returns it seems to charge right again. Hope this helps someone.

    I also have the Nook e-ink. While good enough for reading books, I still prefer the Kindle for getting books. BN makes you jump through so many hoops compared to Amazon in my opinion. However, that said, the Nook is a great device.

    I agree with the author of the article about android - so many manufacturers have so many versions. I have two different versions that react in an unpredictable fashion to apps.

    If you're wondering where I get all the cash for these - I don't. I am a Computer Science professor considering what we will need to teach in two years time. I received donated and purchased equipment to examine. I wouldn't consider myself an expert. These are just my observations so far. I hope my experiences help with other people's experiences to provide some insights.
    Last edited by zhrinze; 2012-02-02 at 06:47.

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  14. #11
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    Try out the Ainol Novo 7 Basic Android tablet. I got mine from around $150 and just upgraded to ICS 4.0.3

  15. #12
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    I haven't used ICS compared to the prior two major versions of Android. If you have, can you provide some comparisons? Thanks!

  16. #13
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    Your next PC could be a tablet, but what is a tablet?

    Long long time ago I had a Grid tablet, loved it. I have never understood why that form factor never took off. A few years back came the iPad, but it (as you say) is not a PC. I bought my wife a Color Nook, I have a low end android tablet, but, they are not PCs, they never will be, I can't see how the iPad incarnation of the tablet can ever replace my PC. Now along comes Microsoft, you remember them, the folks that brought us Windows 95 et al. These guys have this Windows 8 os, I've seen it, touched it, played with it. By Jiminy, its my old Grid, updated 30 years, but it is a "PC Tablet", it runs all those old programs and stuff designed fo the 'tablet' world.

    My point is this, I think you may be missing a form factor here, I don't believe its "PC->Laptop->Tablet" I think it is going to be PC->Laptop->PC-Tablet->Tablet. So my next PC is going to be a touch screen intel Windows 8 PC-Tablet. Docked its a PC, grab it and run it's a tablet, with a little extra guts. Why should I settle for a Tablet that does only most or some of what I need it for when I can have it all. By the way, for those of you at HP, Dell and others, please put a cell radio in the thing so I can use it as a phone as well.

  17. #14
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    "Let’s start with a given. A tablet is not a PC."

    This is the best statement in the article. Too many in the technology press have been pushing the idea that a tablet can replace a PC or laptop. For people that only surf the Internet, read e-books, and play an occasional game that may be true. But for the rest of us, a tablet is an extension of a PC or laptop.

    As far as comparing the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet to an iPad, the comparison is ludicrous. Its like comparing a Cadillac CTSv to a Chevy Cruze. Of course the CTSv is the "better" car. For some purposes. Apples to oranges. I continually see articles touting how much better the iPad is than the Fire and Nook Tablet. Well of course it is! Its larger and more expensive. but not everyone needs, or wants one.

    I suppose it really comes down to personal preference, but I've compared the Nook Tablet side by side with the Kindle Fire. Hands down the Nook is a better device. Better screen, faster, much more responsive (though I understand the latency issues on the Fire have been improved with the last update). My only two nits about the Nook are the built in browser and some of the interface features. The browser issue can be fixed by downloading the free Puffin browser. Its fast and more than makes up for the inadequacies of the built in Nook browser. The interface issues are really just a matter of understanding how things work and coming up with your own way of using it.
    Chuck

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    "Let’s start with a given. A tablet is not a PC." The problem with this statement is that it lacks the modifier "yet" I predict that the tablet form-factor will indeed become the standard for providing a general purpose computing platform, primarily providing a CPU, local data storage, a mobile rendering engine (the tablet screen) and mobile connectivity. Using a technology such as WiFi Direct, when you walk into your home or your office, it will seamlessly connect to your desktop peripherals (keyboard, mouse, monitor), connect to your LAN for networked peripherals such as your printer and your networked disk. You will set the tablet into it charging dock and not look at it until you are ready to move to a new location. Hotels and other remote work locations could offer a standard keyboard/mouse/monitor setup in the room that would allow the user to have a higher quality work environment than having to tote around freestanding peripherals.

    Desktop PCs will be reserved for high-end gaming and engineering tasks that require a much higher level of computing power. Laptops (with their built-in keyboard and mouse) will disappear completely as providing no value add over this architecture.

    I strongly suspect that this is how Microsoft expects to recapture significant market share on this platform. Windows 8 will provide a more complete and comfortable experience for most users than having to learn a new or secondary OS.

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