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ratherbefishing 06-05-2012 09:34 PM

Why buy a tablet?
I use a desktop at work, laptop at home. No smartphone (I go cheap on phones, tho I have one with a qwerty KB for texting.)

I bought my dad a Kindle Fire and wireless router last month and he's really enjoying it. So, maybe I need one. Or a different tablet? But why? And which one?

gregzoll 06-05-2012 09:50 PM

I have a nook color with the N2Android card in it, to make it a full blown Android tablet. Pull the SD card, it becomes a nook.

user1007 06-05-2012 11:25 PM

I think we are at the start of a paradigm (and I hate the term) shift that happens every couple of decades. Software has been dominating the computer industry for the last 2-3 but it is now as much or more about hardware. And I guess content and storage.

The battle will be fought between operating systems but it will not last long and it actually looks like Unix platforms may be the hands down winners this time.

As for why have a tablet and now? They are dropping in price faster than I can keep track. You can get a super fast one with 9" capacitive touch screen, dual cameras, etc. with oodles of capabilities for $250 with no recognizable brand name but same chipsets and all everybody else is using internally. You can get a slow, entry level tablet for $100 that would probably work for basics. And the difference between computing tablets and ereaders is pretty blurry already.

Why have one? I no longer have a desktop and do love this large screen Toshiba laptop. But it is heavy to drag around. I use my dirt cheap smartphone more than I thought I ever would but would like something with a larger screen so am starting to think tablet. Or a hybrid...

I watched a review of the new ASUS thing for under $300 with a keyboard dock. Rather tempting. I just don't like the company and only bought Apple products for staff when they insisted and when they were the best alternative. Distinction no longer exists. So what tablets are you considering? I am curious for selfish reasons.

It still amazes me. I grew up with all this and the first computer assigned to me for near exclusive use was made by the company I worked for. You programmed it in nouns and verbs and with an intriguing pattern recognition language that fixed syntax as it "learned." Mine was the size of a desk and I had the turbo version with 32K of memory. The disc drive was a giant platter. The cost was something like $38,000. $300 today delivers infinitely more computing power.

ratherbefishing 06-06-2012 02:28 PM

Thanks for the long thoughtful reply, Sdsester; even tho you did have more questions than answers. I'm not sure what I'd use it for. But I know that my laptop with wireless is way more fun than a desktop. But I'd still rather "work" on a desktop with a big screen and a 10-key. I guess the tablet would be cool for taking a few books on vacation, maybe watching a movie on the plane. "What else" is one of my questions. I could really see the value of running a real mapping program, such as Street Atlas. I could carry that traveling on my motorcycle. The laptop usually stays at home. But I don't know if that's possible.

"Which one" is next. Having a Kindle Fire makes sense, because then I can walk my dad thru issues and problems, over the phone. They're 750 miles away. (We are SO lucky that he and my mom have exactly the same TV remote I do. Otherwise, they wouldn't even be able to turn on cable.)

OTOH, I see deals like this:
or this:

and wonder if that's a better way to go. Fifteen years ago, I'd have embraced the idea of buying one, learning the OS and hacking it. Now, not so much. But $50 is a smaller gamble.


user1007 06-06-2012 06:33 PM

This company was advertising on this site awhile back and the prices are intriguing given the use of fairly standard and name brand components. Of course the overall branding is unheard of. That never used to bother me putting PCs together though. I, like you, have not been so curious or anxious to hack my smartphone and probably would not a tablet either.

Big Lots runs tablet closeout ads every week for brands like Polaroid, Sylvania, etc. that seem reasonably configured with decent processor, memory and even Ice Cream Sandwich on one of them. Same deal as above really as I don't associate either with mainstream consumer electronics but the name on the outside is at least recognizable if that means anything. Same guts and in the $80-120 range all with wifi capability.

My smartphone choice was easy since I am a loyal convert to prepaid and no contract. I am also notorious for sending phones through washing machine cycles so am not going to pay $300 for a phone. I am seldom far from the computer anyhow.

I think one use I can see for a tablet is in estimating. Out of the game myself for the most part, I am helping out some others scout and bid work. Some of the construction apps for Android are nice but just a bit hard to see on a small smartphone screen. My use for one, in fact, would probably be most where I just want the larger screen.

The Consumer Electronics Show comes up in the Fall again I think (they still do it twice a year?) and old model stuff usually gets dumped concurrent with that. I may wait. $100 would not be an extreme risk though. I would want to switch from my 4G modem laptop stick to a hotspot and that will be another $100. I have been extremely pleased with CLEAR highspeed since among other things it does not throttle me down but the company is acting flaky, closing stores and so forth.

I know what you mean about technology challenged family. My Mom was an analytical chemist at a point in her life but couldn't seem to work things as simple as an answering machine. Of course part of it was attention seeking.

ratherbefishing 06-06-2012 08:47 PM

".....My smartphone choice was easy since I am a loyal convert to prepaid and no contract. I am also notorious for sending phones through washing machine cycles so am not going to pay $300 for a phone....."

Coincidentally, I sent my phone thru the wash last weekend. I replaced it with a cheap Pandigital phone, the same mfgr as those tablets at Ben's. After four days, it seems like an OK phone.

user1007 06-06-2012 10:43 PM


Originally Posted by ratherbefishing (Post 937921)
Coincidentally, I sent my phone thru the wash last weekend. I replaced it with a cheap Pandigital phone, the same mfgr as those tablets at Ben's. After four days, it seems like an OK phone.

Mine is a ZTE Score with built in Muve Music player and it came with a fairly hefty storage card. It is one of the cheapest Cricket smartphone/music player combinations. I am not much into brand names anymore. I have been pleased with it and do not expect it to be a Samsung Galaxy or anything. It runs the apps I use except for a credit card reader. I think it was $50 with discounts at Best Buy. In addition to drowning phones in washing machines I tried to bounce one or two from tall ladders. If this thing breaks I will not cry.

I got the Best Buy smartphone/Muve Music plan which is unlimited everything except only 1,000 talk minutes. Cricket resells service on the Sprint network so my phone actually makes and receives phone calls! My monthly plan, with unlimited music downloads also, is $55/month prepaid with no contract.

My CLEAR superfast 4G unlimited wireless internet service with no throttle down is $45/month. No contract. I use about 32gb a month which means with any other plan out there 2/3 of my monthly useage would be surcharged or at a throttled down speed since all seem to cap at 10gb. What I don't get is that Sprint's phone data plan is unlimited but not its broadband only plans.

With a CLEAR hotspot I can run 8 devices, including a new tablet, off the same connection. The new hotspot will fit easily in a pocket and is not at all bulky. It is supposedly secure. Public WiFi concerns be a bit for security reasons.

Basically, for a total of $100/month I have unlimited everything but talk minutes which I don't think is too bad?

With prepaid, you do have to buy your own phone, wireless modem or hotspot upfront. You end up paying more ammortizing it over a two year contract plan though and you are stuck with a contract in a World that changes ever so rapidly.

By the way, Cricket is now offering iPhone 4s and this marks their entry into higher end phone offerings. With AT&T factory unlocking phones for customers leaving their service, others should be embarrased into following suit. Perhaps the day will come when we can get a nice phone and not be held hostage to a service provider. It is the way it works almost everywhere else but here in the US.

roasted 06-14-2012 12:53 PM

We've gone through the motions of testing some tablets here at work (K-12 school district) but we just can't justify them. The majority of teachers testing them have come back with a "they're nice, but no thanks" response, which I found surprising. There's just so much more you can do with laptops that tablets fall short on yet. I know some districts in other parts of the country are boasting that they just bought 2,000 iPads and their average grades for their students are rising at an all time high, blah blah blah. There's always a honeymoon effect with new technology in the district system, so a lot of that is all but guaranteed to flatline down the road. We saw the same thing yeeeears ago when we got a fleet of 600 new laptops for student use.

Overall, I just can't see having to hold something that I'm also typing on. Don't get me wrong, I like tablets, I love the Android platform quite a lot, I love what you CAN do with them even though there are shortcomings that I'd still have to pull the laptop out for, but more than anything else it's the form factor that gets to me.

Hate to sound like a party pooper with tablets, especially since they fit the bill perfectly for a lot of users out there, but I'm just not sure I'll ever buy one. If I don't have my keyboard or my full blown functionality, I'd likely go crazy. :laughing:

gregzoll 06-14-2012 03:12 PM

Tablets are a lot more compact, plus easier to lock down. With blu-tooth keyboards, the ipad and others can run circles around a laptop or netbook. I can see laptops becoming less, with the airbooks, netbooks and a few of the android and iOS devices. Even with the fact that less and less is avail. on hard media nowdays, w/the exception of Operating systems, which even those you are seeing on keychains, vs. hard media like dvd or cd.

Concreteguy 06-14-2012 03:17 PM

I use a laptop most of the time, but have found a tablet to be a very nice addition. Generally that how I check email, read the news, play on facebook, and shop. I couldn't live without one.

I'm apple all the way: Iphone, airbook, Ipad, plus all the other. My brother bought the kindle fire, and I really like it. I also have a regular kindle I read books on.

creeper 06-14-2012 03:28 PM

There is nothing like the convenience of an e reader, but why have a million different gadgets when you can just get a tablet. I don't have one yet, but like congreteguy said once you have one you won't want to go without.

Just make sure you get one thats backlit for added convenience

user1007 06-14-2012 04:54 PM


Originally Posted by creeper (Post 943465)
Just make sure you get one thats backlit for added convenience

Indeed! But this brings up a very critical factor from what I am told. Just like with laptops, battery life is a spec worth paying attention to.

I knew what I was getting into with my laptop and really did not perceive being beyond an electrical outlet for more than the 2-2.5 hours of battery life. And Toshiba was pretty honest about it. It has worked out well.

I would be miffed if I got a new tablet and it sucked juice so fast it did not function for more than a few hours! One thing I hate about my phone is all the bloatware I cannot get rid of and I hope if I get a tablet I am not stuck with stuff I will never use.

I was just thinking about a little computer my employer got me years ago. Actually we got to pick what we wanted. I got a Poqet and it was sweet. It was an exactly perfect size to fit on an airline tray. Weighed about a pound and I could get 8 hours of actual use---not just standby time---off two regular AA batteries so I never had to carry a voltage converter. It ran the state of the art version of DOS at the time. The technology shut it down between each keystroke on a full size keyboard. Nice crisp monochrome monitor and a chip resident software suite for basics. Two memory card drives for anything else. It was expensive I guess and the peripherals like parallel and serial cables and dial up modem were clunky and heavier than the computer. I loved that thing though and often wonder why it all disappeard. Fujitsu bought the company and the product line went away. I think it sold well.

roasted 06-15-2012 12:22 AM

Tablets are only going to get more popular, but I don't think tablets in their current form are going to be the long term norm. I remember a slew of friends and family members rushing out to get tablets, only to buy an other laptop to pick up where the tablet left off. As tablets get more advanced, the gap will close... however I don't think there's any getting away from a keyboard entirely. There's just something about it that enables a user to be quicker and more comfortable for actual work. What Asus did with the Transformer makes complete sense to me, and as time passes, I think that'll become the norm.


Originally Posted by gregzoll (Post 943454)
With blu-tooth keyboards, the ipad and others can run circles around a laptop or netbook.

Run circles around a laptop? As in, an ipad and other tablets can do more than laptops? Am I understanding this comment correctly? I like tablets, they have their place, but speaking from an extensibility point of view, tablets are still quite a ways off to matching laptops in terms of what tasks they can actually accomplish. We've tested, gosh... countless tablets... from cheap knockoffs to the actual iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab. There's still quite a gap yet.

gregzoll 06-15-2012 07:32 AM

It is not that tablets are lacking, people have not realized the potential of them. And yes, what you can do with a tablet will run circles around a laptop. Each has its purpose or need, but you find that those with tablets, use them more than a desktop or laptop.

Hell, I use my netbook more than my desktop, but probably use about the same as my nook that is running the Nook 2 Android card. Again, people are being short sighted, and have not grasped the potential of what tablets offer, because they choose not to.

hyunelan2 06-15-2012 11:22 AM

I bought my wife a Kindle Fire as a graduation present (for me graduating and her putting up with me during grad-school). She is not a technology buff and would have never bought it herself. She says on a daily basis how much she loves it and how wonderful it is. She uses it for all the common things tablet things (facebook, browsing, email, etc), but also for an organizer. She is a big list maker, and there are much less pieces of paper floating around because of it. Grocery lists and things are now managed digitally. With the Amazon Prime subscription she also uses it for streaming movies and shows while she's on the eliptical machine. [edit: and lots of Pandora - the Kindle Fire has amazing sound for a tablet]. She does have an Android smartphone, because she liked mine so much, but barely uses it for more than a phone/texting because of the small screen.

I have always been big on computers (also what I do professionally), and have several powerful desktops, HTPCs, and servers at home. None get as much use as my netbook, due to portability. When it's time is up, I will likely be replacing it with a tablet - as the primary function is just browsing and running SaaS apps. The days of needing a full Windows-based computer for everything are over.

As an Apple anti-fan, I just cannot see paying their pricetags for what they are offering. I don't need the extra "cool points" just to say I have an iPad. If the kindle fire comes in a 10" version in the future, I'd be all over it. Otherwise, I'll probably grab onto one of the deals you see occasionally on a Tab or Xoom 10" tablet.

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