Wednesday, March 07, 2012

iPad or Android tablet as mobile computer replacement for netbook, notebook or laptop

I have to say I was keen to try a tablet computer as a replacement for my ageing netbook. The netbook has been (and still is) a great machine. I’ve been able to run all my Windows based applications and the built-in Ethernet adaptor and wireless meant that when travelling, I could connect to both wired and wireless access at hotels. Tablets only have wireless access which rules out a lot of hotels. The attraction of the tablet is the long battery life and the slimmer form factor.

So I purchased an Apple iPad 2.

As I was working with others I noticed I was using the iPad 2 to demonstrate what a site/blog would look like on the internet, but the real work had to be done on the netbook. After a couple of weeks I felt it was absolutely crazy to be carrying both devices around. I also found many sites just didn’t work with the iPad (even those that didn’t use Flash). A major limitation for me was Apple crippled the browser so you can’t upload files using the browser, a feature I use regularly. To Apple’s credit they took the device back with a full refund.

More recently I purchased an Android based tablet (Acer A200) running Honeycomb 3.2. A number of the online sites I use are Google sites so I felt surely Google’s own sites would work better than with the iPad. How wrong I was. Google’s own sites are sluggish at best and often simply don’t work. The built-in email application is very basic and even lacks basic spellchecking. I’m hoping Android 4 will make the tablet useful, or otherwise it will have been a waste of money. When I check the reviews for Android based tablets I often see high scores. To me that simply doesn’t make sense. I’ve found the Android tablet to be flakey and the functionality far from what I expected. The Acer hardware feels well made and doesn’t feel like it is the problem. The problem is the operating system, or more specifically for me, the browser.

If you’re considering a tablet as a replacement computer make sure you try out the tablets first. Don’t just try them out in the store and hope for the best, try them with the applications/sites that you run. Putting in the passwords to use an online site isn’t something you or I would feel comfortable with in a store, so you need to find a way to get a device and try it in a real world situation.

For clients I now have an Android 3.2 tablet you can test your real world applications/sites. At the end of the test we can reset the tablet so your important information such as your passwords are wiped.

The irony is all I require is a decent browser on a tablet and I’d be happy. If Apple provided their full Safari browser I would have been happy. If Google provided their Chrome browser I would have been happy. Both companies have chosen to provide a limited experience which to me is a shame.

The lesson here is if you think a tablet device is potentially a more portable replacement for your ageing notebook or netbook, then make sure you test each of the devices in a real world situation.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 if you require computer assistance and live

In Templestowe or the surrounding suburbs.


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