Smartphones

The strength of Google Android Honeycomb is also its major weakness

Google Honeycomb has the potential to be a replacement lightweight, portable personal computer operating system for content consumption and creation. This potential strength is also where Honeycomb falls down.

Some blogger out there is going to eventually compare Google's Honeycomb operating system to Microsoft Vista. The author who does this, should be held down and beat with tube socks loaded with bars of soap by a platoon of angry Marines. Still, after a couple of weeks with the Android tablet operating system, I can understand why someone might let his mind go in this direction. Honeycomb is a major step forward for the Android platform, and a unique approach to bringing an enhanced mobile OS to the tablet market. But in several ways, it falls short of its aspirations.

The potential of Honeycomb may be more readily apparent on the ASUS Eee Pad TF101 transformer than on other tablet devices. The unique focus on a tablet that docks to become a netbook productivity device illustrates the potential of Honeycomb to not just be a bridge, but a replacement lightweight, portable personal computer OS for content consumption and creation. This potential strength is also where Honeycomb falls down.

Let's be clear and get right to the point: in this transitional role between media device and personal PC, Honeycomb is superior to Apple iOS or stock Android. Where it fails is where it falls short of a traditional OS like Windows, OS X or Linux. The problem is not that Honeycomb is a worse OS than iOS or Android 2.x - it is a far more powerful and flexible OS platform than either. It is in the realization that despite how much more full-featured Honeycomb is than other mobile device OS platforms, it still can't match the features of a traditional operating system.

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Streaming event example

This was recently illustrated for me when I tried to watch the streaming live event for the "Awesome" Facebook announcement. A big promise of Android in general, and one that should resonate with Android tablet users in particular, is that Android delivers a richer, fuller browsing experience more like what desktop users expect. In fact, this is the case, and has been one of my great pleasures in moving from an iPad to the ASUS TF101.

I hope Steve Jobs gets the memo - Flash on my Android tablet does not destroy the battery life. The only thing it does in my experience is make the web work closer to the way I've become accustomed to on a full featured desktop OS.

Anyhow, the Facebook/Skype announcement event was streaming video. I don't know a lot about how Livestream, which was used for this event, works, but I tried to access the stream via my TF101. Trying to access the event page at http://www.facebook.com/facebooklive was a mess.

My first attempt in the Android browser brought the mobile version of the page up - which did not render the embedded stream. As a solution, I turned to Firefox. When clicking on the stream, it brought up the option to play the video in either the default video player or RockPlayer Lite. I tried Rock Player Lite, knowing it is a very robust media player that handles most formats thrown at it. It displayed the video, but it was choppy and the audio stuttered.

I exited, went back, and tried the default video player - which failed to ever begin to stream. Irritated, I pulled out my Lenovo S10 netbook, which I fortunately had with me, and booted into Win 7 Professional. I am sure I could have loaded JoliOS and used Chrome as well, as it is a dual boot machine. In any case, once loaded, I opened up Internet Explorer, typed in the URL, and the stream worked as expected.

It was only later, after the event, when the significance of my experience sunk in. I realized that my goal of having a lightweight, portable, convertible tablet that could easily stand in for the duties of a small netbook had met with a significant setback. The truth of the situation was that I came away from this experience thinking that the best solution was that I should carry my Netbook with me as well as my Eee Pad.

The irony therein becomes, why bother with the convertible "NetPad" at all if I was going to be forced to also bring a Netbook along as well. Where was the savings in convenience and portability that comes with not having to lug along a backpack full of machines? This was a disappointing revelation and a serious step backwards in my goal of having a single convergence device that bridged the gap between a content consumption and a content creation device. Heck, in this case, the NetPad option wasn't even meeting my goals for content consumption.

Later I went back to the FacebookLive page where the event is still embedded to stream on my ASUS and played around some more in the default Android browser. This time, in less of a hurry, I went into the settings\advanced\User agent string setting and selected "Desktop" instead of the default Tablet or alternate "Mobile-phone" setting. This worked much better, bringing up the video embedded in the browser and playing video back acceptably smooth. There was some stuttering, but it worked well enough that I would have been satisfied with the experience. Unfortunately, there were still some challenges.

The experience was not a consumer-grade experience suitable to a typical tablet user. Starting the video needed some manual intervention, a bit of a jump-start, to get it going. Just hitting the "Play" button wasn't enough; I had to adjust the slider to get the video to start rolling. The process of going into settings to change the browser ID from a mobile to a desktop page-render is something that - well, just trying to write the explanation of this process is convoluted. Inevitably some Android apologist will claim, "it isn't that hard, it just requires a little bit of technical skill". That is where Android will lose to iOS in a consumer-oriented mobile device market.

Superior but still falling short

Keep in mind, the experience that Honeycomb delivers is superior to any other device of its class. It is simply falling short of the experience one might expect from a class that is arguably above it in performance and features. Subsequent tests had very good results with Live video streaming in the Android browser, including watching a Facebook Town Hall with President Obama that started and streamed nearly perfectly.

I suppose the key learning here is that if you've got a role for your Honeycomb tablet, don't rely on it to be able to deliver the goods on demand, in a crunch. You should do some testing first, be prepared to take some extra steps to massage the machine to deliver the optimal performance. A little extra time spent up front may avoid missing an event or experience later on.

I think the important thing to keep in mind is that Android is a rapidly evolving platform that has ambitions far loftier than the competition. As Android evolves, it becomes ever more suitable as a complete replacement of a traditional notebook for your mobile productivity and content consumption needs. It isn't exactly there yet, but it is very close.

Are you a Honeycomb user? Do you agree or disagree with my observations? Is Honeycomb a suitable replacement for a desktop OS, or is it falling short, or are my expectations too high for an Android device, even one sold on the promise of being a productivity platform? We want to see your comments in the feedback section.

About

Donovan Colbert has over 16 years of experience in the IT Industry. He's worked in help-desk, enterprise software support, systems administration and engineering, IT management, and is a regular contributor for TechRepublic. Currently, his profession...

24 comments
nellof
nellof

Been consumption devices, and considering long battery life, tablets are doing very well. It's not that they don't do well at browsing, it's that webpages were designed mostly for powerfull pcs, so thing get's really hard for tablets, but in my experience, 95% of webpages looks perfect on tablets (Asus here). Dolphin for pad browser is a better solution than stock browser for some pages, so we got options. If you need to create content, work with files, etc., then go to windows or mac. When your content is organized (music, photos, videos) put them on the cloud or any memory card and turn on your tablet, the experience is great. But that's my opinion.

tbostwick
tbostwick

Please don't even bring in W8 and the "tile" experience from W7 mobile. Are you kidding me? M$ is killing the desktop, Windows and all those users that depend on what is a solid, and in some regards, best OS M$ has built to date (W7). They "want" to compete with Android and iOS/Mac OS - but cannot. Instead they've waivered from Vista to a great OS in Win7. Now, rumors of implementing the tiles from a device that only two people own on the planet and placing that gizmo into a NEW shiny OS are simply whack. M$ will go away if they choose to implement this - as they "think" it'll be comparable to what users already see on smartphones that are Android or iOS based. Problem is - those phones work - and are #1/#2 in the market - but where is WinMobile7? I cannot find one (decent) phone in any carrier market in the US - that beats iphone or many of the top Droid phones. M$ would be making a HUGE leap of ignorance (not faith) if this Win7Moblie is mirrored in their next OS. Apple does a nice job of keeping several nuances of their OS alive in the iPhone - but have been doing it for quite a while. M$ however, has failed in the mobile market - and mobile 7 is a great example of this - and to take that one step ahead and build a new OS off of this premise is sheer ignorance.

dcolbert
dcolbert

A lot of people are pointing out, rightly enough - that a well designed web-page should offer the same or similar experience in a mobile site that is available on a desktop browser. While I think this should be the goal - I think we all know that as it stands today, that isn't the case. Both mobile browsers and dedicated native mobile apps generally deliver a subset of the features available through an actual website. Facebook is an example that nearly everyone should be familiar with - but even the Tech Republic mobile sites and native apps for iOS and Android illustrate this disparity betwen the desktop browser experience and the mobile experience. I'd also point out that with iOS - a lot of these things simply aren't possible. As I said in the post, I'm not sure how the FacebookLive page streams content, but I am willing to bet that iOS devices do not render the page with the embedded video - with the native browser or with 3rd party browsers. You won't hear iOS users complaining about this kind of thing very frequently because iOS users have adjusted themselves to the fact that their devices are only capable of correctly rendering a subset of the entire web - and beyond that, they don't even make an *attempt* to work. In effect, I'm complaining that Android *tries* to do something beyond what iOS will even attempt, but doesn't always do it very well - and the response is that it shouldn't be the burden of the mobile OS, but of the web designers, to make sure that their webpages do render well in mobile environments. I get that. But I don't think it unreasonable to expect that tablets should become bridge devices that should render a desktop environment closer to a true desktop experience. We could argue that the device manufacturers are stretching the goals of Android OS beyond Google's vision of what Android should deliver. That may be the case. The success of the ASUS Transformer speaks to the fact that there is a market demand for that, though - and Google should be paying attention and trying to figure out a way to make Android deliver to that demand. I mean, one of the ways that Apple executes so well is by consistently delivering devices that there are HUGE demand for - sometimes even before the public *realizes* that they have a desire to be met. The iPad (which I originally thought would be a horrible failure) - is a GREAT example of that. Some Anti-Apple zealots will claim that it is all just marketing and hype, but I don't think that is the case. I think that Apple is also good at reading demand, realizing what consumers really want, and creating devices that meet those needs. It is something the entire rest of the tech industry consistently falls short on. Where Apple often fails is when they get out ahead of the technology in trying to deliver something that they read as a demand. The Newton was a great example of this. The public DID want PDAs (which became Smartphones). The Newton was just WAY too far ahead of its time. Apple has learned a lot from missteps like the Newton - and that may have made them excessively conservative in matters like this. Apple's approach is to strictly limit the capabilities of their iOS devices - so that if they can't do something well, they don't do it at all. The Android approach is to evolve in action. Android is *ahead* of iOS in relation to the topic being discussed here, but it is evolving in action. We've heard other bloggers describe it as "people are beta-testing Android on $500 devices". Ultimately, I guess that is what this comes down to. Being able to connect to and correctly render a Facebook page with streaming video embedded on a mobile device like a tablet is bleeding edge. iOS won't even try. Android will, and will probably do it well - but it isn't going to be without hiccups. The question is, will consumers appreciate that, or see it as a weakness? In the battle for the mobile device platforms - this perception is critical.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Today I downloaded and installed an ASUS OTA (over the air) update. I didn't note the versions before, buyt now I am at Kernel version 2.6.36.3-000110g3eb19ec Android@Mercury #1 Build Number HMJ37.US_epad-8.4.4.11-20110711 MobileDock Version EP101-0209. There are several well documented issues with the TF101 at this point that the vast majority of users are reporting: #1 Horribly slow text input in web browsers. This seems to affect the native browser, Firefox and Dolphin HD, with mixed reports from Opera users. Basically there is a tremendous lag when doing any kind of text input in a browser window. It makes the device virtually useless for any kind of web-based app that requires text entry, and even makes logging in on sites like Twitter and Facebook difficult. #2 Double backspace for single key inputs when trying to backspace/correct in web entry. If you make a type and you hit the backspace key, it'll backspace twice instead of just once. This just compounds issue #1 above. When you make a typo or a character is dropped because input is lagging so bad, and you try to correct, instead of deleting the typo, it deletes the typo and the character right before it. #3 - This has been acknowledged by ASUS-UK on their Facebook page - the standby time when DOCKED is horrible. ASUS-UK has announced a fix, but I haven't heard anything from the US offices. Basically, even when turned off and with a fully charged tablet - the battery on the dock depletes very rapidly. You'll still get impressive run-time - but standby time is horrible - requiring a charge every couple of days. If you undock the tablet, the tablet doesn't seem to display the same problem. The dock drains itself rapidly, and then puts the same drain on the tablet. You can read more here: http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2093495/asus-promises-fix-transformer-keyboard-battery including a link to the official ASUS UK webpage where they acknowledge the issue. I was hoping that this fix would resolve these issues. The only issue that seems to have been addressed is the double-backspace issue. This is an improvement, but the other two issues are arguably more significant. ASUS has got to fix web based text input, and the battery life is a mess. The value of the huge battery run time of the TF101 is offset horribly by the fact that you're still going to need to plug in every couple of days at the outside. With heavy use, you'll see results like an Android phone, where you're going to be hooking up to AC every night if you don't want a dead device the next day. Compared to iPad standby (and evidently, the standby that other Android tablets like the Samsugn deliver) - this is horrible. It is nice to see ASUS taking steps to address the launch issues associated with the TF101, but they've got to move faster and do better. It is a great device - but these minor issues could be huge setbacks for the popularity of their device.

david
david

Since ASUS tweak Honeycomb anyway, I would think they could set defaults so that the Pad is not seen by the internet as a phone. This would go a long way to solving this problem. Generally, I agree with most of the posts, this to me is not a major issue and was easily solved. On the other hand, the Pad should work that way out of the box. The average user does not want to go anywhere near a "settings" page. BTW I love my TF101, I miss the delete key and would be interested to hear from others about your experience with Polaris Office. The acid test for me for the transformer is how well can i edit Word files and Powerpoints; so far my experience has been OK (but not great) for simple files, not yet at the stage where i can leave my netbook at home. I feel though that with improvement to the Polaris suite this could change.

DesertJim
DesertJim

I have an ASUS TF101 and use it as my laptop replacement, initially from necessity as my wife is using the laptop, but now as I get the device set up and bedded in, from choice. It is not a desktop, nor a mobile phone or just a tablet, Asus, probably didn't realise just how good a concept they have and should reconsider their default settings? That does the trick for me. I use it as a tablet, consuming content, about 75% of the time and docked the rest of the time doing more serious work. Asus have built a damn fine machine and Android Honeycomb is a great OS, just needs a bit of tweaking by the manufacturer to exploit both.

ThomDoss
ThomDoss

I have the same problem with tablets, they are great fro consumption, but I almost never go very long without needing to create content of some kind. I have been waiting for MSFT to release W7 with the UI from Windows phone for a tablet. Couple that with a tablet that lets me transform to a quasi laptop, and I'd pay a premium for that device. W8 will have the tiles from W7 phone and from all appearances should do the job, but I can't help but wonder what would happen HTC 'skinned' W7 like they do with Windows mobile. HTC Sense makes using WM 6.5 a very comfortable experience. We have an Android phone and a HD2 and there is no comparison on ease of use. Unless you want to spend your time tweaking the phone, Android is not friendly to the average consumer. (out of the box)

dcolbert
dcolbert

I see a common thread here in some of the most recent responses. I think those responses are valid observations - but I don't think it matters. Everyone knows that the only Android tablet that seems to be enjoying any significant sales - the kind that create demand shortages, is the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. Even there, the majority of reviewers who have done hands-on reviews find the ASUS to be lagging behind the iPad in many significant ways. In particular, there is an argument about the elegance and simplicity of the iOS experience. This is an example of excessive complexity in the Android ecosystem - and that isn't what the majority of mobile OS device users are interested in. That was an undercurrent of this entire blog - a point I felt I was having trouble clearly articulating in the piece. Honeycomb is riding a fine line of offering features that an iOS device simply can't deliver - which makes the system more complex. As the system becomes more complex, it approaches both the FEATURES and the COMPLEXITY of traditional OS platforms. That is a double-edged sword. What is necessary is a simple, elegant mobile OS that competes head to head with those feature-sets of iOS, but still delivers the full-featured experience of a desktop OS. This is an incredibly difficult balance to strike, I believe - but my conclusion is that Honeycomb seems to be headed in the right direction. Having the pick of multiple browsers which can be custom configured for a variety of situations is awesome flexibility, but also part of the problem. Expecting pages to be coded "right" for your particular niche platform is *not* the ultimate solution - especially for a device base that isn't selling in the spectacular numbers that iOS devices are. Developers have an incentive to design for iOS devices - but far less to take the additional time to re-code their pages to also render for the wide variety of Android devices. This is the "Amiga-paradox", where the Amiga was the most powerful consumer available machine on the planet for a brief moment of time, but mostly ended up playing EGA ports of PC titles because there was no economic incentive to code from scratch for the advanced features. The trap I see here is falling into the Linux argument of, "The platform isn't the problem, it is the user". That is a path that may lead toward obscurity and insignificant market share. I've had a lot of arguments where Linux advocates claim, "market-share dominance is not the only measure of success". I've disagreed - I still do. The measure of Android success is how well it competes with the market leader, iOS. Right now, things like this make it difficult for Android tablets to execute against iOS. Which is bad - because Android offers a significantly more empowered future than one where iOS devices dominate. So, I have a horse in this race - I *want* to see Android win - or at least compete *strongly* for second place. I am more critical of the things I *want* to see succeed than the things I do not care that much for - a trait I am often misunderstood because of among the Tech Republic readers.

paulroberts
paulroberts

I have an Asus Eeepad and also set the user agent to desktop, but have very few issues with video streaming. I have had some problems with the built-in browser locking up, but if you download Opera that is much more stable. I tried Firefox too but that kept displaying the mobile version of sites and I couldn't find any option to set the user agent to desktop - you can do this with Opera.

eharris
eharris

In your browser settings, change the user agent to Desktop In the Spare Parts app, uncheck the Compatibility Mode checkbox. Those two adjustments will typically address the issues mentioned. Not sure why tablet manufacturers don't set those by default. On tablets, you want the viewing experience to closely resemble a computer display, not a phone's. On smaller devices, you will run into apps optimized for smaller display and websites that assume your device can scale the app down without the developer having to accomodate you device's size. Newsy seems to be designed for smaller displays (phones) , but you can make it tablet full-screen with by changing the Spare Parts-Compatibility Mode setting. It looks great full screen. Better than some TV-Websites. Because we all are dealing with an evolving environment, you can expect to make adjustments along the way. The same thing happened with all OS's as they mature. In this case, you are dealing with software developers trying to accomodate platforms from phones to netbooks/notebooks, hardware manufacturers with different screen sizes and the OS. A pretty challenging job, but Google has accepted the challenge. We will see how it turns out.

kumaran.pec
kumaran.pec

I would like to point out that this may not be an issue with the device consuming content, but the way the content is presented in itself. Given that most of us use a mobile device to do much of our online activites, the content creators should take the right steps for the content to be properly available on a variety of devices. This will especially true today. I faced an issue when I attempted to watch a webcast on my Smartphone. The website was built in such a way that it requires me to fill in my user credentials to watch the webcast, but the web designers/developers have assumed that I will be having a physical keyboard and will only be accessing the webcast from a Desktop/Laptop/Netbook. When the content creators make assumptions about the methods/devices used to consume that content, we have a problem.

marl
marl

"This time, in less of a hurry, I went into the settings\advanced\User agent string setting and selected ???Desktop??? instead of the default Tablet or alternate ???Mobile-phone??? setting. This worked much better, bringing up the video embedded in the browser and playing video back acceptably smooth." - So it's streaming server fail on "Mobile-phone" user agent string as I see it. Why did you blame Android on this?

mikepritchard
mikepritchard

I recently purchased the Xoom and am quite happy with having the ability of using Evernote in meetings and then having the content on my computer when I get back to my office. I would have to agree with you on the video end. I have tried using mine for video and it has not been able to provide it in the way that I want. Most of the apps that I used to run such as Newsy, still do not expand enough to be able to have a full screen. I have not tried much flash but found that it does not work with Hulu and Netflix at this time. The devices to have a way to go but they are definitely moving in the right direction.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Was it just one of those flash video players that stream another video file through them?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Is Honeycomb a suitable replacement for a desktop operating system? Does Honeycomb fall short of its promise?

dcolbert
dcolbert

If the last few years should have taught us anything, it is that bold predictions like this are *very* dangerous. People lose site of the incredible continuity of the evolution of personal digital devices. The Newton was the birth of Palm devices. At one point, Palm had such incredible dominance of the business market for PDA devices it seemed inconceivable that anything could upset that lead. Then the Compaq iPaq came along and launched Windows CE into the "must have executive gadget" space. This lasted well into the acquisition of Compaq by HP. Enter the Blackberry. And then came the iPhone. Followed closely by Android. (It is worth noting that at each step, the previous king co-existed with the new king for awhile. Palm with WinCE, WinCE with Blackberry, Blackberry with iPhone and now, iPhone with Android). When you look at it like this - it is clear that the dust hasn't remotely settled. Can a Windows OS that supports the traditional paradigm of desktop OS computing *and* a mobile interface work? Possibly. After all - Android and iOS are really nothing but Linux kernels with custom user interfaces - that is... full desktop OS guts running custom UIs better suited to mobile environments. I've learned my lesson in doubting that the iPad could have a significant impact on the market. This is an incredibly hard part of the industry to predict on right at the moment. The consumers are outrageously fickle and resting on your laurels while your competition innovates is a fast-track to becoming irrelevant. Apple shows all the hallmarks of hubris and over-confidence that every dominant market leader before them has shown in this segment. The competition is offering things that Apple steadfastly refuses to deliver. In the long run, that may be what unseats them. Sure, there have been a lot of swings and misses from the competition - but it only takes ONE dark horse to come up with something that is super compelling, and history tells us the inevitable result. I agree, the MS strategy toward mobile computing *sounds* like a turkey to me - but until we see how it is executed, I'm not going to say it is impossible. I'd say it sounds like a long-shot to me - out of step with where the consumer market wants to go.... but there again, the iPad sounded the same way.

tbostwick
tbostwick

Perspective is everything in the mobile market - Honeycomb may be a great step forward, but how well it does what it's supposed to do is key.... I like Apple's approach - call it safe - but they remain on top because of it. How many PC'ish manufacturers would like to be in Apple's shoes right now?

dcolbert
dcolbert

I played around with Polaris enough to realize that for anything more than writing a rough draft, it just isn't going to do the job for me - and obviously, I do a lot of document creation. I gave up and tried Google Docs via the web browser. This would be an excellent solution, except that it defaults to the Mobile web app. So I changed the browser to identify as a desktop client - and that revealed several additional problems. #1 - the "Slow text input in browser" issue that plagues the ASUS TF101. Where you can render as a desktop browser client in a web-app like Google Docs, the configuration of the TF101 would be *awesome*, except there is a bug right now that is affecting a lot, if not ALL TF101 users. Text input lags intolerably. You might get a way with a cautious status update in Twitter or Facebook - but anything longer is virtually impossible to compose. #2 - Some of the desktop features of the Google Docs web app simply don't seem to work right in a touch screen display (even if you enable the mouse pointer) on the Android browsers when identifying as a desktop browser client. These are some critical features. So I switched to the Google Docs native Android app - but that isn't full featured either. Additionally, I have been unable to compose a document in Polaris, select all, cut and then paste into Google Docs. As I've mentioned elsewhere - I'm lost without a spellchecker, and this is a pretty big omission on the part of the Polaris suite. Instead, what I've been doing is using Evernote, or composing a draft in Polaris then saving it and copying the saved file to my Dropbox - then later copying the document from Dropbox into Google Docs from a REAL PC and doing some cleanup and spell-checking after the fact. Which I suppose is good enough in a pinch - if I had a great idea and only had the TF101 around. But it prevents it from being an actual REPLACEMENT for carrying around a full machine. I mean, for me, overall the machine is nice enough that I can ignore these relatively trivial issues and hope that a future update will resolve the problems - but I can see how someone a little more focused on raw productivity would find these issues a deal breaker. On the other hand, for a lot of users, I suppose Polaris by default would be enough for the kind of quick and simple documents they might want to write up when on the road - and for someone like myself, I could always look into alternative native Office suites and pony up a few dollars for something that would meet my needs. I've just got this silly expectation that if something is bundled as a value add - it should actually add the value to the product I am looking for. I think we're both at the same point. I'm bringing my Netbook with me still - and I'd like to get past that. ASUS has some work ahead of them to fully realize the potential they have with the TF101. Until they fix those issues, my feeling is that they're probably getting a higher return rate from consumers than they really should be. Unfortunately, I also think that it is very important for Android tablets to deliver nearly flawlessly. My guess is that most people who buy and return an Android tablet go straight to an iPad 2, and that is something the Android tablet ecosystem cannot afford right now.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

I do believe it is the responsibility of web developers to write standards compliant code. The site that you had trouble with was no doubt riddled with Javascript hacks and bloated flash code. If it was a simple HTML5 video would it play in the Honeycomb browser?

VBJackson
VBJackson

Consumers expect the system to just work. Most of them have little technical training, and don't want to be bothered with having to dig around in the settings. If you have to make adjustments along the way, then it really ISN'T ready to be a replacement for a desktop/netbook.

david
david

IMO the strength of Microsoft is not in its windows OS. It is in its Office Suite, specifically in Word. Anyone who can make a programme that writes, reads, and more importantly displays .docx files in the same way that Office does will allow freedom from the OS. I don't think web-based solutions are the best, too many times on a road trip I get to places with really bad internet. I want to be able to work completely on my computer. I use Ubuntu at home/office and Android on my phone. I use Textmaker, Open Office & Libre office at home/office. I'm just trying out Polaris. I stopped using WordPerfect because of poor market penetration. The Word format for documents is truly ubiquitous and any viable word processor must render word files exactly the same way Word does, unfortunately no programme does. If I am working on highly formatted documents, or docs with protected tables or forms etc. then I have to change to Windows and use Office. IMO IBM Lotus, Libre/Open office, Corel and Softmaker all need to get together and figure this out this problem. If they can, then all the OSes can compete on their merits. I have a sneaky feeling that Microsoft knows this.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Consumers don't care. If it works flawlessly on a desktop browser... in Windows, in Linux, in OS X... Then why should it be an issue in a mobile browser? Right or wrong - that is how consumers see these issues. If there are 6 people at a convention, they all pull out their devices, and the 4 traditional OS based machines work fine, and the two people with mobile OS devices (one iOS and one an Android) have problems... those two walk away going, "I should have had a traditional OS based machine" - generally. What consumers don't do is think, "Facebook should hire web-designers and developers that write standards compliant code that isn't riddled with Javascript hacks and bloated flash code".

dcolbert
dcolbert

I do the same thing all the time - and when I'm putting my name behind recommending a product, I've learned that it is something I really do need to be aware of. The technical "truth" is that the Coby Kyros is a great, inexpensive Android tablet for someone willing to root the device and deal with pretty poor battery life and some other issues. But *most* consumers will think it is a piece of garbage. For technically inclined readers here, it is a nifty little gadget to play with for less than two C notes. If I were writing a review for a more mainstream tech site like ZDNet, my postive review might actually be irresponsible. That is a fine line to walk when readers will judge my credibility based on their experiences due to my recommendations. I think the Coby review versus this one is a great example, too. The $150 Coby Kyros is something that is best suited toward a technical user, and I was fairly liberal in saying that for the price-point, for the *right* kind of user, the Coby Kyros was a device that was worth considering. But, in my mind, the right kind of user would put up with apps hanging on every reboot, requiring you to hit Force Close several times before the home-screen showed up. The right kind of user would be willing to put up with the fact that the battery drains fairly rapidly for a device like this. The right kind of user would understand that for $150, they were not going to get an iPad like experience - nowhere close. As an Android 2.2 device, things like Flash and streaming embedded video weren't really talking points. But the $399 Transformer is in a whole different ballpark. It is priced like an iPad, and in fact, it operates in a very similar manner in most ways. People are going to expect an entirely different level of performance from the TF101 - and when it falls short, it'll be noticed. My expectations are certainly higher for the ASUS tablet. In most ways, it meets or exceeds my expectations, but in this case, I think that the issue is Honeycomb, and I think that Honeycomb needs to improve to be competitive. It isn't a reason *not* to buy a Honeycomb tab, and honestly, my recommendation would be that most users *should* buy an Android device over an iOS device (the benefits far outweigh the few places where Android is difficult or has feature lag).

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

You are right. I keep forgetting that I am not a normal consumer.