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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Owning a tablet - is it in your future?

I have noticed a couple of things since getting an Android phone. First off I search for stuff on the internet a lot more. This is mostly due to easy access. I was sitting in the car waiting on my son to come out from his clarinet lesson and I spent most of the time on the web looking for birthday presents for my other son. As I found something interesting I did a long press, Share, Email sequence to send it to my wife to discuss later. Worked like a charm.

I do crossword puzzles at home nearly every night. Something you can pick up, work on for a bit while waiting on some aspect of food to cook, put down and come back to later. I will look up answers on the web to obscure things like "author of book {book name here}". Personally I am not a fan of those types of clues but they do turn up often in the more difficult puzzles. Phone works pretty good for that even though I long for a keyboard.

In the car the kids may ask a question and we will look something up. At night while watching things on TV I might want to check out DZone, SlashDot or some other tech site. Maybe I am researching something or looking up information on a home repair. I can do it on my phone in the living room as most of it is content reading. Nothing to fire up, phone is already on so pretty much instant access. Maybe I will switch to a game for a few minutes or check out LOL cats as my son is brushing his teeth getting ready for bed showing him the funny ones. Nice way to unwind the night.

A few friends and neighbors now have tablets. At first I really had no desire to own one. First I don't think I could bring myself to buy something from Apple as they annoy me and second there is the cost. Of course the more both my wife and I use our phones the more I can see a tablet being really handy. My wife really likes to read, text and email at night in bed. I tend to fall asleep well before she does. Laptops are a pain, tablets seem to be about the right form factor.

I tend to be a cheap bastard so I am not looking at the Xoom at this point. I also realize the truly cheap ones will be super crap and most will not have access to the Android Market which is a must. Finally I really want it for in the house so I want WiFi only as I don't want to pay for another data plan. I would love to share my phone for 3G access to use on the road though. I could see it being used by the whole family for a number of activities. Could be one of those things we fight over enough that we end up picking up another one. Kind of like the DVR, once you have one you pretty much end up with more of them.

Just doesn't seem like the Android tablet market has quite shaken out. I like the size of the Samsung Tablet, the 7" size seems to be a good hand size especially for eBook reading. 10" appears to be a bit big but I have not used one enough to really know. I think we are going to get an iPad 2 at work and since I will be the lead developer on that I should get a good chance to check it out.

I also hate to be behind the technology curve by too much. The minute you buy one you are screwed. Never know if they will update to the next Android version. Best to get one with a version you can live with. Is 2.1 or 2.2 enough on a tablet? Will I drool over 3.0 and the dual processor speed? If it really is for web browsing and email then the older version are more than adequate. I will play games on it and newer games might not work on the older stuff which would really stink.

Don't think now is the time to buy. Let more come out, let some go on sale, let the rules change so a device that does not have phone support is still allowed full Android Market access. Check out who is willing to update OS versions and who abandons you once the check clears.

Yesterday I install the app I am writing on a Samsung Tablet owned by our QA lead and I got a chance to play with it for a bit. The screen is not as nice as my phone, not a big surprise as that would be a really big expense, and the glare of the office fluorescents does not help but it seems like a nice tablet. Excellent size, fast enough and familiar as it is same OS version I use. Wanted to see Angry Birds running on it out of curiosity but that was not to be. He got a deal on it at Costco and is really happy with it.

Best just bide my time...