Tablets

10 things to look for in a tablet computer

Choosing a tablet is about to get a lot more interesting -- and a lot more confusing. Deb Shinder examines all the factors you'll want to consider when the barrage of new models hits the shelves in the months to come.

Now that the iPad has broken the ice, the IT world is poised for a deluge of tablet-style computers to hit the market in the next few months. We're expecting to see several hit the shelves in time for the holiday buying season, going from basically one choice to an overwhelming variety of options. As many iPad users have discovered, the light, thin tablet format is great for those who need something more than just a smart phone when out and about, but don't want to carry around a full-fledged laptop or netbook. It's also excellent for checking a Web site or your email while lounging on the sofa or out by the pool at home.

If you're thinking about taking the plunge and getting a tablet for yourself or as a gift for someone else, you may be wondering whether to stick with the tried-and-true iPad or go with one of the Android or Windows 7 offerings that will be on the market soon. The answer depends on your preferences, budget, and how you plan to use it. Here are 10 things to consider when you choose your new tablet.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Does size matter?

Everyone wants a tablet that's light and thin and easy to transport, but there's a difference of opinion regarding the best screen size for this form factor. The iPad set the standard at 10 inches (well, actually 9.56) and weighs 1.5 to 1.6 lbs (depending on whether it has 3G). Some users have expressed a desire for a larger (12-inch) screen, but more have mentioned that the iPad is just a little too bulky.

Several of the emerging competitors, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab (which is coming to Verizon on November 11 and is expected to be carried by all four major U.S. cell phone companies), are going with a 7-inch screen size. The Tab weighs less than one pound, which could make a big difference to those who will be carrying it around all day. Steve Jobs apparently doesn't agree.

Some vendors are going with a larger size, such as the 12-incher rumored to be on the way from Asus. That company is also offering an 8.9-inch model.

And, of course, there's the Dell Streak, which at 5 inches, has a bit of an identity crisis: Is it a tablet or a phone?

Generally, the Windows 7 tablets seem to weigh more than their Apple and Android cousins, even when the dimensions are similar. For example, the CTL SL10 is only slightly larger in screen size than the iPad (10.1-inch) but weighs about a pound more. This is undoubtedly due to the extras you don't get with the iPad, such as an Ethernet port, microSD slot, two USB ports, mini-VGA port, high capacity hard drive, and camera.

There really is no "one size fits all" when it comes to tablets. What works for one person may be too big or too small for another, so it's important to get your hands on different sizes and consider how you'll be using it most of the time.

2: In storage

The iPad comes with 16, 32 or 64 GB of internal storage -- and what you see is what you get. One of the biggest complaints I've heard about the Apple tablet is that there is no way to add more storage space without buying a new and more expensive version of the device. If expandable, removable storage is important to you, you'll want to look for a tablet that has an SD or microSD card slot. Fortunately, most of the Android and Windows 7 tablets have this feature.

The amount of internal storage still matters, though, as it may limit you in how many apps you can install. The Galaxy Tab comes with 16 or 32 GB of internal storage space and a microSD slot. Windows 7 tablets, such as the bModo, weigh more but come with features such as dual USB ports, allowing for connection of external hard drives.

The Windows 7-based CTL tablet includes a 250 GB hard drive, making it capable of storing far more and larger files than the Apple and Android models.

3: Assault on the battery

One of the iPad's strongest selling features is battery life. It easily gets 10 to 12 hours of usage on a charge, sometimes more. Samsung is claiming seven hours of high def video playback on the Galaxy Tab, or 10 hours of "less strenuous tasks." Some of the Windows 7 tablets are less impressive in that department. Running the more full featured operating system that's capable of heavy multitasking takes a toll on the battery. Engadget was impressed with all those extra features on CTL's 10-inch Win7 tablet, but it lasted only a little over two hours playing standard definition video. Ouch! (CTL's specs claim "up to five hours" battery life.)

If you want a tablet that keeps on going like an Energizer bunny, you may want to look at Apple and Android options.

4: 3G or Wi-Fi only?

Another decision you'll need to make is whether you want a tablet that's 3G capable or a Wi-Fi only model. The iPad comes in both iterations, and so will many of its competitors. The Wi-Fi only models cost less, but of course the 3G models (which can also use Wi-Fi) offer more flexibility. Remember, though, that 3G service plans add to the cost (varying from around $15 to $60 per month, depending on the carrier).

If you have mobile hotspot service on your cell phone, you may be able to buy a Wi-Fi only tablet and connect it to 3G over Wi-Fi instead of buying an additional data plan. Another option is a separate mobile hotspot device, such as Verizon's MiFi.

Or if you intend to only use your tablet at home, you can connect it to your own wireless network. Once again, it depends on your particular usage needs.

5: Open or closed?

Some folks prefer an open source platform such as Android, which allows for more configuration differences, different user interfaces, and apps that can be had from multiple sources without requiring approval by the vendor or carrier. Others like the consistency of Apple's products: As with Holiday Inn, you always know exactly what you're getting. The company exerts tight control over the distribution of the apps, what you're allowed to install, and what changes you can make to the look and operation of the device.

This is really a matter of personal preference and philosophy, but it could be an important consideration in choosing the right tablet for you.

6: Input options

Tablets like the iPad have proven to be great devices for consuming content, but less great for creating it. The onscreen keyboard isn't the most comfortable thing to work with for long documents, and the touch interface, while appropriate for many tasks, can be frustrating for others. There is a wired keyboard dock available for the iPad, or you can use a Bluetooth wireless keyboard with it.

Some tablets will make it easier and faster to use the onscreen keyboard by including Swype. It may take a bit of practice to get up to speed, but a lot of those who use Swype swear by it and won't even consider a device without it.

Many of the Android and Windows tablets will include USB ports, which should enable you to attach standard USB keyboards and/or pointing devices. Voice command is possible with the iPad if you jailbreak the device, voiding your warranty. The Vlingo voice control app is available in the Android Market; whether it works on the Android-based tablets remains to be seen. All editions of Windows 7 include built-in voice command functionality and dictation. Assuming the tablets have a microphone, you should be able to use these features. However, since none of the Windows 7 slates have actually been released, we'll have to wait to find out for sure.

7: Is the price right?

The iPad costs from $499 (Wi-Fi only, 16 GB storage) to $829 (3G, 64 GB storage), considerably more than the least expensive netbooks. The Samsung Galaxy Tab has been announced by Verizon at a price of $600 (3G, 16 GB storage with microSD expansion slot). There have also been many rumors that Sprint and T-Mobile will offer the Tab for $399 with a two-year contract.

The Windows 7-based CTL tablet (currently sold out and on backorder) is priced at $549 with Windows 7 Home Premium. Windows 7 Professional will cost an additional $55.

8: Smile: You're on camera

One of the iPad's most mentioned "missing in action" features is a camera. Although the form factor is a bit big for general photography, it's perfect for video conferencing, so a front-facing camera seems like a natural. If you want to be able to take pictures or video conference with your tablet, you'll want to skip the Apple product for now. If you already carry a smart phone, most have higher resolution cameras than the tablets and are easier to use for snapping pictures; thus a front-facing camera might be all you need on the tablet.

The Verizon Galaxy Tab sports two cameras, a 3 MP rear camera with flash and a 1.3 MP front-facing one. But according to some reports, the AT&T version will not have the front-facing camera. The Windows 7 CTL tablet has a 1.3 MP Webcam (front-facing) but no rear camera.

9: All about the apps

As with choosing a smart phone, a big consideration for many will be the apps available for a particular tablet platform. The Apple App Store boasts hundreds of thousands of apps, most of which will run on the iPad as well as the iPhone -- but the number made specifically for the iPad is smaller. Those made for the iPhone may not display very well on the iPad. The Android Market has tens of thousands of apps available for its phones and a large number of these will undoubtedly be ported to the tablet format. Of course, a Windows 7 tablet will run most of the applications written for that desktop operating system.

We also expect to see some tablets that will run Windows Embedded Compact 7, like those demonstrated at Computex. Which apps will run on that OS is not clear. What we apparently won't see anytime soon is a tablet running Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 OS:

Also to come in early 2011 are HP's tablets that run the Palm WebOS. We don't have any specs on those yet, although HP just recently released v2.0 of the WebOS operating system.

Choosing a tablet-based on operating system will mostly come down to the apps that are available, and it's not so much about how many there are as whether you can get the ones you want.

10: Compatibility issues

For most users, a tablet won't exist in a vacuum; it will be one of several devices. Although more and more people are comfortable living in a multi-platform world, some prefer more consistency from device to device. That means if you use a Mac and an iPhone, you might prefer an iPad. If you run Linux on the desktop and do your calling on a Droid, one of the Android-based tablets might be a better fit. And if you're a Windows guy or gal, the Windows 7 tablets will provide a more familiar experience.

Another compatibility-related issue has to do with wireless carriers. If you want a 3G tablet, you'll need one that's compatible with your cell phone company of choice. The Galaxy Tab is expected to be available in both GSM and CDMA versions to work with all four major U.S. wireless carriers, but with the iPad, you have to get a little more creative. Since it doesn't work on the CDMA network, Verizon sells only the Wi-Fi version, and then bundles it with the MiFi hotspot. This requires that you carry around a second (albeit small) device to connect.

Summary

Choosing a small, light slate tablet is about to get a lot more interesting -- and a lot more confusing. We'll have numerous options when it comes to size, connectivity, storage capacity, features, operating system, and price. Picking the tablet that's right for you will be more of a challenge, but you'll be more likely than ever to end up with exactly the right fit for your lifestyle, usage habits, and budget.


About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

58 comments
Flagbabygirl
Flagbabygirl

I hate that you never mention the toshiba thrive ! I bought one in lieu of a iPad for the amazing screen 10" tablet , great battery life , tons of space , takes USB plug In and card slot access which makes sharing your pics off your real camera so simple ! It lighter , and also fast ! And it uses the whole android market which lets face it gives you all the great apps for free where on apple App Store you have to buy a lot if the ones that are free ! Lol don't pass up this amazing tablet also it's half the price !

tina.lavato
tina.lavato

Not even a mention of RIM's Playbook?

jayohem
jayohem

OK. What's compatible with TracFone? I'm leaning toward iPad but waiting for the new, improved one that should show up any time now. (What month is it?)

joshortell
joshortell

I have been a tablet pc user for years and now own a Windows 7 multi-touch compatible convertible (ASUS 91MT). Voice recognition is okay, but very limited. You can't use it where it's noisy or where you need to be quiet (or confidential). Windows 7 handwriting recognition is better than voice rec and useable anywhere. Windows had good handwriting recognition in Vista, but it's even better in Win7. I run Win7 on a circa 2003 Gateway Tablet PC and on the ASUS and I love the handwriting input. Obviously the full tablet pc has a better screen for input, but the inexpensive ASUS is quite useable.

thomasbartel
thomasbartel

Where was the HP Slate 500 for this article? It has about everything that the iPad doesn't have....

smithandco
smithandco

helped alot but what will be avaliable before Xmas? And of those what r your recomended models/makes?

mr.RichardWright
mr.RichardWright

Prospective buyers might want to really evaluate their needs before excluding 'closed' devices. As you've mentioned, the vast majority of tablet users are looking to augment their desktop computer(s), so full desktop capabilities may not be a must have. As for lack of expandability, how many of us really need to lug around more than the initial storage? How often are the add-ons the cause of issues? We're entering the age of cloud computing. The desktop is also there for additional storage. Really, it's ok to remove those 'B' movies you already watched. Apple has taken a bit of heat for their application distribution model. That said, for the vast majority of apps available simply work. It's yet to be seen if the 'open' systems will be able to claim this after several years. (I'm including the iPhone is this example as it's nearly the same OS as the iPad) This may be the reason for Apple's high level of customer satisfaction. I'll close with this, try traveling light it can be liberating.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

My answers: 1: Does size matter? Yes, though not in the way most techies want you to believe. Smaller is great for portability, but even at 7" it's simply too small for readability, much less real usability in the course of everyday work. 10" is good, but something equivalent to an 8.5"x11" clipboard would be almost perfect for every task that hardboard clipboard originally handled. We're already used to carrying something that size, we just need the touch technology and the associated software/OS to make it work right. 2: In storage This isn't as critical as some would have you believe. One of the biggest reasons for massive storage on desktop (and laptop) PCs is not the size of the files you use, but the size of the apps and OS itself. With some apps exceeding 5GB and the OS exceeding 10 for some versions of Windows, huge storage is needed simply to make the thing run. With a mobile OS and cleaned-up old-style applications, 64GB could be as 'un-fill-able' as the old 4MB hard drives were 20 years ago. In fact, that's the point. Software and operating systems are so bloated by yesterday's standards that it's almost impossible for any one person to know every part of the app. We need to get back to the idea of 'Lean and Mean' on our software. 3: Assault on the battery Absolutely! Longer battery life comes not only from new battery formulations, but also efficient battery usage. This falls right into line with what I said for #2--more efficient software means longer battery life. The same holds true for external connections--the more you connect, the faster you drain your battery. One of the reasons the iPad gets such good battery life is that you can't connect every single peripheral device in the world to it. Honestly, if it's a mobility device, why should you want to? 4: 3G or Wi-Fi only? This needs to remain optional. There are those who only need WiFi due to having other ways of tethering onto 3G or 4G networks when necessary, but those who don't have that capability may still need to connect where WiFi isn't available. When you consider that I am frequently out in rural Pennsylvania where a dialup connection is the only internet available, any form of over-the-air connection is a plus. 5: Open or closed?When you look at the current status of Android compared to iOS, this question is critical. At the moment, reports have even Android 2.2 as "critically flawed", currently bearing over 265 security vulnerabilities, over a quarter of which--88 to be exact--are considered critical. While an Open environment might be considered superior for allowing unlimited development, it also allows for unlimited exploitation. Both Apple and Microsoft have taken a more Closed approach to limit exploitive applications whether vulnerabilities exist or not. I believe Google will have to take back control of Android before it gets destroyed by too many privatized variants and uncontrollable identity theft. Google will have to Close their environment simply to secure it. 6: Input optionsThis, too, needs to remain optional across the board. Not everybody wants a permanently-installed keyboard because it limits how the device can be used. Yes, convertible models of both notebooks and netbooks have been developed, but they were effectively useless when you consider how few touch-centric applications are available for a desktop OS. The form factor isn't the problem, however, the OS itself is. Those convertibles could be extremely useful if they're given a touch OS that has enough software support. 7: Is the price right?Well, if you look at the popularity of the iPad, the price seems to be right. Here is a tablet device that falls between the full notebook computer and the netbook computer in price, yet seems to be drawing people from both platforms. Here's a device arguably more capable than the netbook in so many ways yet is cheaper than a full-fledged notebook that is normally used for the same tasks. Yes, these other two devices do some things better, but for the majority of users, the tablet might be that perfect alternative--allowing the user to supplement a desktop computer rather than duplicating it with a heavy, clumsy 'portable' device. Laptops were never intended to be a desktop replacement, yet that's what they have become; this is evident by the fact that more laptops are sold than desktops by almost every single brand. By putting the heavy computing back into a desktop device and using a mobility device to supplement it, you save money and improve efficiency both. 8: Smile: You?re on cameraTo me, a camera on a tablet is a waste--except maybe a front-facing camera for video chat/conferencing. You already have a snapshot camera in most cell phones--many of them including video capability. They're small, easy to handle and convenient. A back-mounted camera on a tablet is clumsy and comparatively hard to use simply because of the size of the device. The tablet's advantage is its ability to manipulate the photos that you import--modifying, resizing and even sorting before emailing it on or storing it for work on the desktop. Again, it's a supplemental device, not a standalone replacement for either the cell phone or the desktop. Trying to use it as a standalone only exacerbates the apparent limitations while hiding its real capabilities. 9: All about the apps I fully agree, though I believe HP is going to realize the inherent problems of using a full desktop version of Win7 on its Slate far sooner than you might think. Why? Because Win7 simply doesn't have the apps. Desktop applications can't work well in a touch-only environment and this will become very evident to the first adopters. Quite honestly, this is why the tablet form factor has been a failure for over ten years. On the other hand, compact, single-purpose apps that might have some means of interacting with each other could be both more efficient and easier to use. 10: Compatibility issues Both positive and negative. With its smaller size and lower performance, you have to expect that apps and documents created on a desktop machine of any platform are going to have issues. Honestly, I blame the applications that created the document more than I blame the device for being incapable of resolving all of the 'features'. 90% of the users tend to employ only 10% of the features that certain office and graphics applications host. This isn't to say these applications can't be used, but when you're using a supplemental device, why do you have to expect it to carry those normally-unusued features? Office Lite, for instance, could carry only the most-used functions and be compatible with 90% of the documents it would be expected to display; Photoshop Lite could give most of the basic editing features without including all the artistic and 'precision' functions that really need a larger screen to perform anyway. The iPad already understands most of the different RAW photographic formats and even now doesn't modify those RAW images but rather creates jpegs of the edits. As a supplemental device, again it's almost perfect and is not intended to replace the desktop. Best thing I can say is to understand what you need the tablet to be, first--then look for the features you need in it.

tazman968
tazman968

Thanks for the review. I found it useful. I want to mention that I use different OS-based devices for different needs. For Smartphone, I use a T-Mobile Android device - it allows me to tether, has numerous useful apps available (many free), includes free GPS, stores music without the Apple restrictions - can't leave home without it. For Tablet/Pad/Slate, I've been using a Toshiba Windows Tablet-PC for three years (I even upgraded it a few months ago to Windows 7 with no problem) - it works great for meetings, presentations by me, presentations to me, etc. I plan to switch to a Windows 7 Tablet/Slate in the near future. For a laptop, I use a Mac - it's great at doubling as a home PC. For a desktop, I use a high-end Windows 7 PC (upgraded from Vista) - it's great when I'm sitting at my desk all day & using multiple monitors. I should admit that I'm a technology consultant, so I know a little bit more about computers than the average Joe. Regardless, my philosophy is to find the best device for particular situations in which I expect to find myself, e.g. driving, meetings, office, home.

Rexxrally
Rexxrally

One thing you forgot to mention: a Capacitive screen. I bought an el-cheapo special from China with a Resistive screen and it's absolutely horrible. You have to BEAT on the thing to get it to accept your click, and scrolling is practically impossible

Histrion2
Histrion2

... "tried and true iPad?" You're kidding, right? As of today, the device has been out for a whopping 7 months. I don't care how fast the obsolescence cycle is these days; that doesn't constitute "tried and true." Perhaps what you meant was "well-known, well-marketed, and greatly hyped." I'm not criticizing the iPad - I have no opinion on how it compares to any other pad/tablet/whatever we're going to call it. I just don't think it's been around long enough to warrant veteran status.

nick
nick

Nice summary, but not much help in selecting a device. Apple or not?

spawnywhippet
spawnywhippet

Please remember when blogging that 90% of buyers do not live in the US, so comparisons of US specific features (eg US telco pricing plans) are relatively useless to us.

wxrman
wxrman

Can we establish what is what? A tablet should resemble a tablet. 8.5 x 11 inches. a pad is smaller. Motion Computing had touch tablets around before the iphone and of course, way before the ipad, yet they don't even get a mention here. All of this tablet buzz is misguided and really disturbing that those creating it, seem to know so little about the history. Why not re-evaluate the market and include true tablets, pads and the like. Motion Computing's j3500 is a thing of beauty and fully Windows 7 compatible.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I do hope the new type of tablet gets it soon. Win7 is great for many things, but it's far too much OS for a mobility device.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

It seems to have disappeared again.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Only you know what capabilities and features you really need in such a device. You've got at least some hint of what is or will be available before Christmas. The rest is up to you.

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

Honestly, you really believe that iOS and WP7 would show less than 88 critical vulnerabilities, if ran through the same code analysis process? I'm assuming the answer is "yes", but ... "Really?" (to quote an MS ad ...) Guess we'll never know, huh? Unlike our ability to know in 6 months how many have been fixed in Android. Or maybe you believe they're harder to find in closed source OSes? Again, really? You really think the people hunting out exploits start with the source code as the most efficient approach? And other approaches apply just as well to closed products. Note that I'm totally ignoring the self-serving nature of the code analysis you're referring to ... they may be a totally ethical, up-front company, or they may not, i have no idea.

mimoore
mimoore

Exactly. An active digitizer screen, a passive touch resistance screen, and combo are 3 different machines.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

While I might agree with some of what you say, disparaging the iPad with, "well-known, well-marketed, and greatly hyped" is hardly any better. If the iPad were only "well-known, well-marketed, and greatly hyped", then sales should have slacked off long ago, rather than maintaining record sales at over a million units a month. Original estimates by professional analysts said Apple would be lucky to sell 4 million by the end of the year, yet they've already exceeded 10 million and we're only beginning to enter the holiday shopping season. This level of sales can't only be due to marketing and hype--people really want it. Why? Could it be because it offers something no previous tablet/slate device could--namely programs actually designed to run on it? The need has been out there for years; Microsoft has pushed for more tablets this entire decade, before that came the PDA and before that the Newton. There's even some who say there was a tablet-like device even before the Newton. The people have wanted one, but until the iPad nobody quite figured out how to develop it. The iPad has earned its 'veteran' status by becoming popular to the general public first--just like the iPod and the iPhone before it.

Patrick-Warwick
Patrick-Warwick

Nice one. When will these guys realize there is a world of computing beyond the U.S. of A.

n.gurr
n.gurr

I don't know the % but a significant number of us do not live and work in the US. At least represent other English speaking countries please, even if your world-view gets no wider than that. Research would be easily possible as we speak the same language!

tazman968
tazman968

I agree with your statements. Maybe we should simply start thinking of Tablet PCs as a totally different genre from a Pad (not really a PC).

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Which is exactly why it failed. People still don't understand that it's not the form factor that's making the iPad a success, but the OS inside. It's easy to use and has a huge library of touch-centric apps available for it, vs almost none for Windows. Once this lesson is learned, you will see more non-Apple tablets selling on the open market.

sperry532
sperry532

Stylus input. Being able to fill out forms, write numbers into spreadsheets, write a note in a word processor rather than having to type on a hard-to-use virtual keyboard, or having to lug a keyboard and attachments around is a definite plus. Handwriting recognition is not all that difficult anymore and as an input interface, it would greatly increase the value of the devices regardless if you call it a tablet, pad, slate, or Phred!

Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182
Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182

Thanks for the comment. I like Motion Computing gear, as well. I think, though, that this article was aimed at devices that would fill in for those who want something between a smart phone and a full-out tablet format laptop. Smart phones, netbooks, pads, tablets, hand-helds -- I wonder how many steps they can squeeze in between a cell phone and a full-featured notebook computer.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

But then, I go with what works right out of the box. I haven't had much luck with other brands.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

We already know by several reports that Android's security is one of the reasons the enterprise is rejecting Android devices in their environments, even while they're accepting iPads and iPhones. We also know that for a compact OS, having over 250 vulnerabilities is like leaving your front door, back door and every window open in your house while you go out on a six-month vacation. At least if you live in a gated community, there's some chance that the criminals will be blocked. Apple's so-called Walled Garden blocks any malware that tries to invade through the app store, which means that the only successful exploits so far have been against jailbroken units, unlike the Android app store where roughly 20% of the apps are potential malware and several have already proven to be data thieves and high-fee autodialers. Trying to 'straw man' already established facts only makes you look foolish.

justinm001
justinm001

Wow, no mention about the HP slate that was just released (2 weeks before shipping though). The Ipad might be the first well known tablet, slate but it's just a big ipod, nothing more. I don't get the ipad hype at all. I purchased the HP slate and can't wait for it to come. $800 for a full win7 pro device that'll run Outlook and Onenote, what more would you want in a tablet.

Histrion2
Histrion2

I never said anything about the level of iPad sales, or the quality of the product. I'm saying that it's not "tried and true." It's been out less than a year. It's not possible to be "tried and true" (or, for that matter, have a "veteran" status) in that time, no matter how many people have bought one. The reason it seems like a "tried and true veteran" is because of the level of hype and marketing, combined with the short news cycles and attention spans commonly associated with 24/7 news coverage and commentary (which includes websites like this one - no offense, TR). I have no opinion about the product as a product - I don't own one. But elevating something to "tried and true" status when it's been on the market for less than a year is a subtly anti-competitive mindset that only works to the benefit of Apple's marketing team.

melias
melias

Speak right up and post your own specs and arguements based on non-US/non-N. American technology standards. Since I was able to read your posts, you should be able to tell us about the technology from your perspective. :)

Rexxrally
Rexxrally

I don't know about "Research would be easily possible as we speak the same language!" After all, Winston Churchill once said that England and the US were two countries separated by a common language........... ;-)

mimoore
mimoore

I'm sure it can be frustrating, but it can actually go both ways. Over the past 5 years I have had several instances where I wanted a product that was sold in Europe or Asia but not in the US. One example was the second version of the NEC slate Tablet several years ago. There was a lot of buzz on some Tablet blogs about how to acquire one, as it was not being marketed in the US. Some folks found a way to buy one overseas and have it shipped; at least one person while in Asia on a business trip made a point of stopping in a small B+M shop, I believe in Tokyo, to buy one. There was no English manual with it, and probably no one in the US qualified to service it, but those who loved the first (or liked it and hated the bugs) wanted the scond.

mimoore
mimoore

Yesterday I searched the BestBuy website and was informed that a "Tablet" is a device with a 7" screen made by any one of several companies, in contrast to the IPad which has a larger screen. (note the sarcasm in my voice) Even with this skewed defintion (for those who knew about "Tablet PC's before the IPad was a twinkle in its designer's eyes), there is no evidence of the HP Slate 500, even though it does have a 7" screen, is made by HP, whose products are sold at BestBuy, and actually qualifies as a computer as in "Tablet PC". So, it looks like "Tablets" are getting recognition, as long as you're talking about a 7" device which is not a full computer and made to compete with the IPad. I don't think HP can market their Tablet PC's any worse even if they tried.

mimoore
mimoore

I think the popularity of the iPad with its OS reflects what the general public flocks after- entertainment and toys. What things from Apple have made big waves in the market? iTunes, iPhone, and as people have pointed out, the iPad (while some have found ways of using it as a serious tool in business, etc.) is seen as primarily a "consumer" device. Tablet PC's were not meant as a tech toy or entertainment interface, they were meant to link the power of a computer with the natural abilities of handwriting and drawing notes. It has only been recently where the best applications have begun becoming popular- college students, medicine, engineering, management of docs, etc for a mobile work force, in spite of the lack of promotion.

AlPGoSU
AlPGoSU

In a business setting we are going to want to connect to our corporate networks, and corporate data, in one way or another. Clearly any Windows 7 based device will work in a way we're all familiar with. For others maybe that's just a function of the apps available?

mimoore
mimoore

I agree. "Tablet Computer" is the term used for close to 10 years for a fully functional Windows based computer with an operating system that allows direct Pen input as well as through a virtual or physical keyboard. An iPad is not a "Tablet Computer". At least if you think it is, one will rapidly become confused doing searches on "Tablet" computers. The iPad and other devices are wonderful for many people and what they want to do with them, but it would be a great disservice to not make it clear that there is another class of computer that "looks like a tablet" that is far more powerful than an iPad, if that is really what one would want. This is especially true since most B+M electronics /computer stores rarely have "true" Tablet PC's around, and hence may not know they exist. In fact, I was in a shop run by an apparently very experienced and proficient PC professional as far as desktops/laptops go, but had no clue on the differences between an active digitizer screen, a touch screen, and a combo.

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

The report is a scan of the Android kernel, which is the basis of all Android phones. I forget which version of Android was involved (i.e., what's on the Droid Incredible), but it was the kernel that was in turn based on the Linux 2.6.31 kernel (Android 2.1?). That kernel is essentially unchanged across all Android implementations - the handset manufacturers may adjust a few modules, but little more than that. So the scans would be different across Android versions, which use different kernels, but essentially the same across all handsets using that version. Buried in the report, I believe they said their average of 1 defect/KSloc is across both FOSS and commercial projects, so the statement that Android has less than half the average should be understood in that light. They don't give more details on the makeup of that average (e.g., how many are OS kernels vs. other kinds of software, how many are FOSS vs. proprietary) ... that'd be interesting. And again, the bugs are rated "critical" from Coverity's definition, and 25% excludes false positives. But sure, any that are truly important should be fixed (who knows, some may even already be fixed in a newer Android). Not sure the article avoided comparing to iOS, it just noted that figures aren't available for iOS.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

* "On Tuesday software-scanning firm Coverity announced the findings of its annual open source bug hunt, this year focusing on HTC?s ?Droid Incredible? version of the Android mobile operating system. The company found 359 bugs, a quarter of which they classified as ?high risk.? * "Mahaffey says Android is relatively bug free considering that, like Apple?s iOS device, the engine that runs Android mobile devices is powerful enough to run a desktop computer." I will grant that this is good for a single model of phone with Android on board. What this doesn't say is how other Android implementations compare, only that when compared to 30 other Open Source projects, only two have lower numbers. Still, when 25% of those bugs are considered critical, it's worth considering the consequences. Now, how does this compare to Apple's iOS? The article clearly avoided any direct comparison beyond noting that both iOS and Android are capable of operating desktop computers.

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

For Android, there have been 2 reported viruses/trojans in the wild - Aug/2010 and Dec/2010. iPhone trojan (like you described, affecting jailbreakers) 2008. iPhone virus discovered in the wild July 2009. Another iPhone virus discovered in the wild July 2010. Variant on the 2008 virus, but which works on ALL phones, not just jailbroken ones, found in the wild Nov 2009. iPhone market apps (approved ones, in your walled garden) found to be sending private info, Aug/2009, and again in Dec/2009. Just like on Android, it's possible to tell what info they're sending, but most users don't. As to the Coverity report, you've (apparently) completely misunderstood. They scanned the kernel used in Android, not apps in the marketplace. Applying those statistics to the Android app store is N/A. (remember that Android apps run in a sandbox, unlike the kernel). Not that any of this will change your mind, they're only facts after all.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Yup. It points out one single trojan back in January of '08 that targeted people who wanted to jailbreak their phones. One trojan in three years on the iPhone vs how many in one year against Android? " iOS's "walled garden" has now clearly been identified as permitting apps that steal personal data, and on the same order of magnitude as Android's App Market." Same order of magnitude? Are you sure about that? A majority of those 'potential malware' apps sent the data to unknown third parties vs the iPhone apps sending data back to known marketers like Apple itself. Ok, so you argue that even the Linux people can't verify or disprove many of the 'potential malware' apps. You go so far as to say 33% of 33% read as false positives. That still leaves 67% of that 33%--roughly 22% of the total--still questionable with many of them proven positives. Is that really any better than the original report? Any unverified application could carry potential malware, and Apple, at least, attempts to filter that type of app before it gets approved. Again, 1 trojan out of over 300,000 verified apps is far better than 33,000 (22%) out of 150,000 unverified apps. Facts? Or opinion?

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

Just a quick go back - the report is now available, and having read it, it was really much ado about nothing, in a lot of senses. The key findings: - Android Linux kernel has less than half the industry-average number of findings (470 issues located out of 765K SLOC); even the newest code, added just for Android, is better than industry average (0.8 findings/K SLOC, vs. industry avg of 1.0/KSLOC) - They are VERY clear that these simply MAY indicate vulnerabilities - their product can't always follow all program logic, and can't determine if things are false positives, dead code, not reachable under any standard use, etc. {I would note - static code analysis of an OS is especially tricky, because code isn't called top-down in any kind of deterministic fashion} - They asked Linux developers to go through the findings, and of the 1/3 which have been examined, developers have tagged 33% as false positives; per their own process, that high a false positive rate is outside acceptable for them, indicating the possibility of problems with their scan. Not that I expect facts to confuse anyone's opinion. One add'l note (not for @vulpine, he likely won't change his mind - but in case others are reading his straw-man assertions without full info) -- iOS's "walled garden" has now clearly been identified as permitting apps that steal personal data, and on the same order of magnitude as Android's App Market. Googling iphone trojan is enlightening.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... when autodialers and identity stealers have already been found on the Android platform, isn't it? Or are those just imaginary too?

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

You're presupposition is that Android is less secure than iOS. I'm just pointing out that's a presupposition, not fact, and a company that sells a code analysis product advertising that there 88 vulnerabilities in the Linux kernel used by Android A) doesn't make it so, and B) doesn't make it worse than other solutions. And Linux failing in the enterprise?? Uh ... oh, never mind.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

First off, the article is about things to look for in a tablet computer. Security has to be one of those ten. You claim my arguments about Android's insecurity is a Straw Man, but in all honesty, that insecurity is one of its biggest drawbacks right now. The problem is, that's far from its only drawback. However, should an enterprise be able to purchase a number of generic smart phones capable of running Android or maybe even loaded with a very generic Android, then like their PCs, they could conceivably use a master file to initialize each phone and contract with a specific network to provide phone numbers and data plans. Since all the software is now installed and created in-house, then like the PCs, they have far more control over their devices and can effectively eliminate any chance for malware to infect them. But will the enterprise be willing to take on that added workload? By one of the latest reports, Linux in general is still failing miserably at getting any foothold in the enterprise. The more the networks or the hardware developers can make the job easier for them, the better they like it. Right now, it looks like Apple and Microsoft have the best chances of that.

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

Comparing enterprise adoption of Android (slightly over a year in the field) to iPhones (over 3 years ... and iPads are rightly lumped with iPhones, since they run the same OS) is wrong. Where was enterprise adoption and comfort with iOS security a year after launch? And it's YOU who is engaging in strawman arguments by comparing the 88 (purported) critical Android vulnerabilities with a closed source unknown set of vulnerabilities in competitors. Likewise, the marketplace argument, I suspect you know to be a strawman, since no enterprise worth its salt is going to allow uncontrolled app installation. And of course, reports are that plenty of apps in the Apple store also potentially compromise personal information - but again, it doesn't matter, since any sane enterprise is going to provision and control the endpoint. Whatever, neither of us will convince the other, of course.

justinm001
justinm001

Apps? I don't get the point in having apps when you can have full on programs. Sure it might be a bit hard to run win7 on a slate but atleast it'll run whatever you'll want. Also you won't need to attempt to find a way to "manage" it, since it'll be another domain computer companies can enable group policy and treat it just like another computer. I have an Ipad, smartqV7 (winCE, Android, Linux) and they're just toys. I only use the ipad for stupid games as it's a huge pain to type on, i don't get how do you hold it and type. It doesn't have handwriting reconigition. My plan for the HP slate 500 is to run Girder and Netremote, basically create a frontend that'll allow me to have large buttons that'll allow me to do all my home automation stuff, but also allow me to create buttons for outlook, word, onenote, and IE. Doesn't get more touch centric then being able to custom build your own buttons ontop of full win7 professional connected to my domain.

mimoore
mimoore

A Windows7 OS Slate from HP for $800? Thanks for the tip, I want pen input and OneNote Organization. Large screen passive touch input may be what a lot of what people want, but it's a totally different beast.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Touch-centric applications? I think you'll run into the Slate's limitations far sooner than you expect.

Histrion2
Histrion2

As long as you attribute the iPad's sales to only "hype and marketing," I didn't. I just said specifically that I wasn't talking about its sales. Not a single product prior to the iPad has seen such sales is such a short amount of time with one exception Irrelevant to my point, since I'm nooooot taaaaaalkiiiiing aboooouuuut saaaaaales. [...] Movies. Some movies have seen enormous hype and marketing, and been a total flop at the box office. [more blah blah blah about box office receipts.] What I'm saying is that there comes a point where the product goes beyond that hype and marketing and either becomes a success or falls to mediocrity. [...] Tried and true is Windows tablets only holding 5% of the market while the iPad commands 95%, despite the Windows tablet on the market for over 10 years. So, then, the Windows tablet would be considered a "tried and true" product, because it's been on the market for 10 years and it's still there. The terms "tried and true" and "veteran" are a reflection of one thing and one thing only: time on the market. My 6 year-old Toyota Matrix might be considered a "tried and true" car, because I've had it for six years, and it still runs. (Quite well, in fact.) My wife's Chevy Malibu is only about a year old - not as deserving of the term, no matter how else (price, popularity/sales, or features) it might compare favorably to my Matrix. If Sam Bradford has a stellar season this year, throwing more yards and completions by year-end then Peyton Manning, does that make Bradford tried and true? No, he's still a rookie. Manning is tried and true because he's been in the NFL since '98. See how this works? You seem to have this idea that I'm attacking the iPad. I'm not. I made no comments about its sales. I made no comments about its quality. My original comment didn't even have anything to do with the iPad. I was commenting on the words the author used to describe it, which were inaccurate. It wouldn't make a difference if half the adult population of the US already owned iPads - they've been on the market less than a year, so it's not a "tried and true" or "veteran" product. Now, follow closely: my complaint is that using the term "tried and true" for a rookie product has anti-competitive effects. It attributes qualities to the product that don't exist, ergo it's irresponsible for a journalist to use the term, just like it would be irresponsible for a journalist to say that the iPad can print currency or improves sperm motility. And I would say the same thing if Windows 7 were described as "tried and true." Now, I do think the reason the iPad is being inaccurately perceived as a veteran product is because of the amount of hype and marketing that came with it. The more talk goes on about a product, the longer it seems like it's been on the market. And the existence of a 24/7/365 media that has to resort mostly to using itself as fuel is part of that issue.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

[i]The reason it seems like a "tried and true veteran" is because of the level of hype and marketing, combined with the short news cycles and attention spans commonly associated with 24/7 news coverage and commentary (which includes websites like this one - no offense, TR).[/i] As long as you attribute the iPad's sales to [i]only[/i] "hype and marketing", you overlook the fact that it's gone far beyond what hype and marketing are capable of. Not a single product prior to the iPad has seen such sales is such a short amount of time with one exception--and that exception is a class of products, not a single product in itself. That class? Movies. Some movies have seen enormous hype and marketing, and been a total flop at the box office. Others have had very little marketing but performed remarkably well in the box office. [i]Avatar[/i], for the fairly small amount of marketing it really received, blew so far past the next highest grossing film that it's set a record unlikely to be matched by any other film for years--with the possible exception of its own sequels. What I'm saying is that there comes a point where the product goes beyond that hype and marketing and either becomes a success or falls to mediocrity. In almost every case, this point comes long before seven million units are sold--usually before even 1 million are sold. A most obvious example is the myriad examples of Android devices--which, while Android itself is still growing, not one single product has sold even half the units that Apple's iPads have sold. Tried and true is Windows tablets only holding 5% of the market while the iPad commands 95%, despite the Windows tablet on the market for over 10 years.

mimoore
mimoore

You are absolutely correct that I am parroting what I have read here by people more in the midst of the tech business than I. "Apple is promoting those capabilities through channels the average consumer doesn't see-the industry news magazines" Maybe that's my problem. As an individual consumer I learned about Tablet PC's by accident years ago, after spending much time and energy trying to take info from a PocketPC in the field and using macros to put it into the necessary format on a PC. I think my point stands that the "original" Tablet PC's were the attempt at bringing the full power of a computer and the natural habit of writing by hand together. For many, it is still considered "computer-centric" rather than "hand input-centric". I'm assuming (no, I haven't played with one) that the iPad is much more hand-input centric. As an individual consumer who doesn't read the trade publications, nor has the time to read between the lines on spec sheets, I would appreciate marketing that makes things clear, not confusing. (Imagine that, Microsoft!) iPads are great devices for many things, but an iPad is simply not the same device with the same capabilities of my NEC "Slate Tablet PC". As a poor smuck out here who grew up way back in the last century, I'd like for people to know what they're talking about. Somebody who wants precision input with a "pen" to use handwriting recognition software will be quite disappointed when they get home with an iPad, correct? Can someone on an iPad do a word/sign search on 200 pages of scribbled notes, or do they have to page through them looking for something? I can on my Slate. I would hope in an article about what to look for in a "Tablet" would be helpful in understanding the various capabilities of different devices. How about an article on "What to look for in hand-held devices?" Are you talking cell-phone, smart phone, iPod, Pocket PC, PDA, ultraportable computer?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

By whom? The majority of the pundits using that argument are techies and competing companies who won't think beyond the form factor and predecessors' limitations--most of which are perceived rather than real. The enterprise is already recognizing its capabilities and Apple is promoting those capabilities through channels the average consumer doesn't see--the industry news magazines. The tablet format is a lot more than mere media consumption. How it's used is up to the buyer, not for somebody else to determine.

mimoore
mimoore

Terminology I guess is best meant for communication, but get money and marketing involved who knows what will happen. FWIW, "Slate" has actually been used to refer to a Tablet PC (running a full MS XP/Vista/Win7 OS) that is not a "Convertible" since they became available to the public. (Slate has no permanently attached keyboard, hence typically more compact and portable, Convertibles have a keyboard permanently attached by a joint that can rotate between the typical laptop form and a thick "Slate-like/pad" form). Now, people may call them anything they want, but if people want to be clear in communicating as to what kind of technology they are selling or buying, websites of "Tablet" enthusiasts who have been around for years typically have meant a specifc thing by the term "Slate Tablet PC", and an iPad is not equivalent. Who knows what device is being called by what name where now, but I've had a Slate PC for 6 or so years, and I use it in ways I could never use an iPad. When I talk to someone about a "Tablet PC, I don't mean an iPad like device with a passive resistance screen, I mean a Tablet PC, which has a Tablet version MS OS with an active digitizer screen. But then I don't run a marketing company, either.

gbohrn
gbohrn

This is why the industry is calling these devices a slate, not a tablet or pad. Slate doesn't have any preconceived definitions. Yes, tablet computers have been around and generally failed to captivate the market. The industry is trying to define a slate as anything between a laptop and a smartphone. Personally, I don't care about picking knits about the terminology. The devices are here and are they really useful beyond being a gadget? Not sure. As a SW engineer, I use a laptop all the time and carry a smart phone and have a house full of computers. Not sure what a slate is giving me that I already don't have. For others, a slate may be a laptop/desktop replacement for those who don't do much more than looking at photos, sending email and doing social media stuff which is quite a few folks. for them, it is a cool, lightweight device that fulfills their needs for the price of a laptop (or maybe they should just buy the laptop). I think they are cool from a geek factor, but still trying to find a use in my daily life.