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Help me understand tablets.

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by Snow_Fox, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. Snow_Fox

    Snow_Fox Android Expert
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    Ok, I hate to be overly cynical but, the tablet craze has driven me crazy. I am a nerd. I was a nerd before being being a nerd was "cool".

    I for the life of me can't understand why everyone is selling crack, and prostituting themselves out to get these new tablets though. With EVERY product in existence there is usually a similar product with some tradeoffs.

    Desktop: bigger than a laptop but, more powerful and longer lasting.

    Laptop: portable, shorter life span (increased heat), and weaker but, the amazing ability to be carried around!

    Phone: you make calls, get decent batt life.

    Smart phone: you can make calls, you can get some laptop functionality.. so you don't have to haul a laptop around just to check email, or see what the weather is doing, and although usually extremely lacking in battery life, enough functionality to justify leaving the laptop at home if you only need it for light use.

    Tablet:??? I am really at a loss here.. You already have the smartphone for light functionality... The tablets lack of physical keyboard limits it from having heavy use functionality.

    I have read once "the ipad isn't good for media creation more media consumption" and I guess this is just lost on me.

    A lot of my friends seem to believe these devices will replace their laptops and be "lighter" however, to me thats like saying your iphone or android phone is a great medium for word processing..

    Maybe I am just getting old.. but, to me tablets seem to literally define impractical.

    They are too expensive for not enough power. I mean for 500 to 800 dollars. (decent laptop mark).

    No physical keyboard means they lack solid productivity usage.

    Even though they may be smaller and lighter than real laptops..

    You would get the same use out of your phone for everything you "need" to do..

    And I am not just talking about any one tablet here.. iPad, Galaxy S tab, Moto Xoom, ect ect.

    I just don't see what the selling point of these devices would be..As the review on Anandtech said and it expresses my thoughts perfectly.. "While the ipad is a well made device, it has a vague market and doesn't make a good first or second computer.. maybe a third more likely a fourth and possibly a fifth".

    I mean.. If you "need" a desktop you are going to have that.. most likely a laptop as well depending on your job/needs.. You have a smartphone so that you don't have to have your laptop with you unless you need a lot of productivity on the go..

    I don't see what the tablet market is really suppose to be outside of proving you have enough money to buy five computers...
     

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  2. Outlaw71

    Outlaw71 Android Expert
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    Well I guess if everything that was sold on the market had to be practical, then we wouldn't have gaming consoles. Let's face it, the Xbox's sole purpose in this world is to entertain us. And it's done very well.

    If a tablet isn't for you then you certainly don't have to get one. I personally feel like it falls more towards the 'entertainment' end of the spectrum myself. Sort of a cross between a cellphone and a netbook. And I agree that the iPad is ridiculously over priced.

    I could however see myself buying a Xoom (sp?) Perhaps. I have grown to love touch-screen functionality. But personally I would prefer a really thin laptop with touch-screen integration because being able to fold it up when you're done seems much more practical for protecting the screen.

    But to each his own.
     
  3. baillou2

    baillou2 Well-Known Member
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    my job sucks....
    The Aloha State on a smallish island...
    As a fellow nerd I agree. I don't get it either. I've made the same arguments you just did. I can't see what the hype is about, and I love gadgets like Whitney Houston loves crack. But alas the tablet doesn't rock my boat.
    It's like a piece of hardware designed by committee.
     
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  4. batgeek

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    and as another fellow nerd/geek, i agree. i blame the consumer lemmings and awesome marketing.
     
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  5. Clementine_3

    Clementine_3 Extreme Android User
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    Personally, I don't see myself needing/wanting/getting one...I don't 'get' them either.
    However, I have a friend who is going to be picking up a Galaxy Tab in the next week or so and it's the perfect solution for him. He has a pre-pay phone and rarely makes/receives calls ($100 card will last him most of a year) but he wants the functionality of a smart phone. It makes no sense for him to get a smart phone and pay (VRZ) $39.99 a month for voice minutes that he will never use plus $29.99 for data. He will get the Tab and keep his pre-pay phone and pay $20 a month for data. Win/win for him.
    Sure, he has to carry 2 devices around, but only to work...he's not the kind that has to be 'plugged in' all day long. He is retired and drives a school bus part time, he will use his Tab while waiting for kids at sporting events. He'll read the paper online, surf the web and maybe watch a movie...it's really just the thing for him and his needs.
     
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  6. novox77

    novox77 Leeeroy Jennnkinnns!
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    Here are some places I think tablets shine:

    1) vacation travel. I take lots of photos, and traditionally, I haul my laptop around to unload my photos and share with fellow travelers (viewing them on the tiny screen on the camera kinda sucks, just like viewing photos on a smartphone). A tablet is very lightweight for tavel. Laptop not so much. it really weighs down my pack.

    1a) watching movies on the plane is better than a smartphone: much larger screen. It's better than a laptop because the battery life is much better on the tablet. The battery will last longer than your flight.

    2) Edutainment. If you have kids, there are tons of great apps designed to teach and entertain at the same time. The large screen gives the kids a comfortable way to interface with the app. smartphone not so much. And a laptop is just overkill for these types of apps. Also, a touchscreen is a much better interface for learning than a traditional QWERTY keyboard, IMO.

    3) Coffee table device. Here it's mainly used as an Internet browser. Maybe you're watching a TV show and are wondering who that girl is. Tablet is right there for you to IMDB. Sure you can use your phone, but the tablet is much easier to type on. Like I said in another thread, the larger the touchscreen, the more enjoyable the experience. You could have a laptop on your coffee table, but to me that's a lot of bulk for such casual needs.

    I do agree it's a luxury device; you can get by without it. But the same can be said for any piece of technology. How did people 200 years ago get by without electricity? Obviously technology has given us many conveniences and arguably made us more productive. You have to decide whether the tablet gives you the same for the amount you pay for it.
     
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  7. gruss

    gruss Android Expert
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    While I agree with the OP too that I just don't get it, I remember when I had a dumb phone and a palm pilot I could tether to it for email and stuff when I needed it, for this it would work perfectly as i see the appeal to your buddy....same scenerio just modernized but since I already have a smart phone and a laptop i just don't see the point.

    if they were cheaper I'd get them for the kids, but since i just bought a dual core laptop, win7 with 3 gig of ram a 360 gig hard drive for $400.....i'm not seeing the appeal of an ipad/tab/xoom etc.
    Get them into the the sub$200 range and then I'll be interested so i can keep the kids off my desktop at home ;)
     
  8. rowuncw

    rowuncw Newbie
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    My view is that it all comes down to screen size. Most tabs I've seen don't necessarily have much greater storage capacity or processing power than a good smart phone. People just want a big screen to watch movies, manipulate pictures, read magazines, etc. To consume media essentially, which is what most web usage seems to be these days (as opposed to being productive). Why bother with a huge hard drive or super fast processor (again, I'm speaking about media consumers) when you can get basically the same experience with a tab?
     
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  9. Snow_Fox

    Snow_Fox Android Expert
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    Yes but, unlike the tablets, it is outright sold as an entertainment device with no pretense of being anything else.

    Consoles have the same value as books or tv. They whether your average person wants to believe it or not, have a lot of redeeming artistic value.

    I feel like your taking all of my points about "what can you do with it" and skewing it toward "its an entertainment device".

    I never said it doesn't do anything at all. I am saying the tradeoffs seem to put it in a classification that makes it useless for what it is. Even in advertisement.. the uses have all been obscure and well.. really hard to follow..
    I can understand touch screen integration into laptops, even the weird onces I would worry about breaking because the screen turns around..

    But, my point is all devices have tradeoffs.. the tablets seem to have really poor tradeoffs.. nothing that really tilts the bar towards "worth buying" over "not worth buying".

    Consoles like xbox are relatively cheap compared to gaming computers (and they can't compare to gaming computers for real gaming). They are easy to use, install and set up.. and provide a lot of entertainment which actually engages you. *You know.. you use your brain instead of vegging out on tv*..
     
  10. Snow_Fox

    Snow_Fox Android Expert
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    While I do see where your coming from..

    Why pay more to get less?

    I mean it is people's choice to make.. but, I would like to think that in this horrible economy everyone is complaining about.. getting the most out of your money would take priority.
     
  11. salimundo

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    I think for a lot of people the majority of there computer time is spent surfing the internet. I am one of those people. I have a computer at work that I do work on but at home all I do is surf the web and play flash games on my computer. For me my laptop computer is slightly overkill. I rarely type on it(mainly quick emails and occasionally on forums etc..) so I don't need a physical keyboard, a tablet would provide longer battery life, and I could play all my android games on a larger touchscreen. My laptop is heavier, hotter on the bottom(so hot sometimes i have to plug one of those fan bases into it) and not as convenient as a tablet. So for me, when all these gingerbread tablets start coming out in the next couple months I will be looking very seriously at them, and my laptop with most likely be left in the corner to collect dust.

    In conclusion, for me, with my usage, a tablet would be a great idea, for you maybe not. But just because its not for you doesn't mean that someone else wont see a use for it. I would use it completely as a consumption/entertainment device and be happy to never have to wait for windows to load up again.
     
  12. txrxio

    txrxio Well-Known Member
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    This is where I see it too. If you want to watch a movie in a different room or on the go, here's a device with a big screen for it. If you are doing some intensive web browsing or reading, likewise. It is simply easier than the screen on your phone, lighter, and more portable than a laptop so you can use it in the living room on the sofa. It isn't a full replacement, but it fits a niche. I certainly wouldn't spend that much on a tablet (and certainly not the current iPad) since I rarely find myself in those situations, but I can see how some people can replace 90% of their normal desktop time with one so it is much more justified for them.
     
  13. Stuntman

    Stuntman Android Expert
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    You beat me to the punch. I was actually going to start a thread on the exact same thing. Ever since the iPad became so popular, I've been trying to determine how it can be useful for me.

    The tradeoff between my laptop and phone is between size/portability and easy of use/functionality. My laptop has the greatest ease of use (physical, full-size keyboard) and functionality. On the other end of this spectrum, I have my phone for size/portability.

    These two devices are specialists in a way. The laptop has the greatest functionality. It has a large amount of storage. It has a good full-size keyboard for large amounts of data entry. It has a large screen for viewing multiple objects easily. It has full internet functionality. If I want any of these properties, I use the best device I have for this which is my laptop.

    My phone is a specialist in portability. I can take it anywhere very conveniently. When I am carrying my phone, I don't really notice that I'm carrying my phone. Most of the time, I don't have to make any adjustment if I carry my phone compared to not carrying it. If I have to carry my laptop, it involves a case, a hand, noticeable weight and bulk.

    Enter the tablet. What is it really a specialist at? For most of what a tablet can do, it cannot really do it better than either my laptop or phone. I have asked people I know about their tablets, and the first thing they say is it cannot replace the laptop. There are some applications where the form factor of the table is more useful than either the phone or the laptop. One person told me that it is great for cooking because a phone is too small and a laptop is too bulky. There aren't too many uses where I cannot simply hold my phone closer or place my laptop somewhere without getting in the way. The one main selling point is that a tablet resembles the commonly used portable devices I see on Star Trek: The Next Generation (i.e., it's just a novelty item). Another is that the battery lasts a lot longer unplugged than a laptop or a phone (under heavy use).

    For all the tablet can do, I find it hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars at least on yet a third device. At best, I have very limited uses for a device of this form factor over a phone or laptop. The battery life seems to be more impressive than for a laptop or phone unplugged. If power is the issue, I would rather spend money on a portable power supply for my phone.

    I feel that the biggest attraction of a tablet is the novelty factor. I feel that my phone itself is cool enough as is to be impressive. As for being a useful device as it, it feels somewhat incomplete. I have seen some devices recently that is a combination of a table and a laptop. You can flip the screen around on the laptop and then close it. The screen would then be up and covers the keyboard. This form factor I find to be rather useful. If I only need to consume content, I would like the keyboard tucked away and just use a touch screen interface with a large screen. If I have to do a lot of data entry, I would prefer to have a full size keyboard. I would think that something like the Mac Book Air with its light form factor and a fold away keyboard with touch screen would work for me. I use the Mac Book Air as an example because it is the only laptop I have tried that is so light weight. Add a touch screen and allow the keyboard to fold away would be ideal for me.
     
  14. takeshi

    takeshi Android Expert
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    For you and that's the key. Your usage and needs/wants may not be the same as the person who is considering or using a tablet. I'm not saying that every tablet owner has really thought things through. There are certainly those who bought one just because it's the latest thing. However, there's no point in trying to convince you of its purpose if you don't see the point. If you don't get it, move on. Life's too short to waste time pondering every single thing you don't get.

    Worth is always highly subjective, regardless of the topic.

    Anything that one doesn't see the point to is a novelty. Just be careful assuming that what you find to be a novelty is universally a novelty. Again, it's all a matter of perspective.
     
  15. Stuntman

    Stuntman Android Expert
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    I did not assume that it is universally a novelty item. My post is purely from my point of view. I personally do find it a cool form factor. When I try to look beyond the novelty aspect of the device, I cannot find features of a tablet form factor that is not adequately covered by either my phone or laptop to be worth forking out hundreds of dollars for.
     
  16. novox77

    novox77 Leeeroy Jennnkinnns!
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    I think the other possibility that might account for the current tablet frenzy is that people enjoy interacting with a responsive touchscreen.

    Tablets have been attempted in the past, and they all flopped. What changed? Apple's spin on design, and a very responsive capacitive touchscreen. If anything, I think people just buy it for the cool factor. It's a cool way to interact with a machine.

    But tablets are an unproven form factor, even now with the tablet craze. There is a chance that in a few years, we all look back and laugh at how useless and expensive tablets were and wonder what ppl were thinking.

    Or, through more use and exploration, the tablet carves out a niche that it can claim to be a specialty for. We'll know for sure in another year or so I think.
     
  17. Snow_Fox

    Snow_Fox Android Expert
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    While I do realize that EVERYONE has different values.

    Believe it or not, I do try to be open minded.

    My friend has given me one example where they are useful. Her Grandmother who doesn't want a smartphone and doesn't need a laptop, wants an ebook reader and to have something to keep track of her grandkids with.

    It is perfect for her because, there are apps she can use over wifi to send text to her.

    Thats the problem though. In that example it requires a person A. not have a smart phone. B. want an ebook reader. C. wanting the device for specific apps.

    I do understand there is a market out there.. I am not saying there isn't.

    But, I do think there is a broad difference in a market existing for a product, and everyone and their dog thinking that a new product is the greatest thing ever.

    Now if we are talking a 7" screen like the galaxy s Tab and you can dock it into a case which doubles as a keyboard/stand.

    That would be cool. That would be really cool. A decent sized physical keyboard, stand, case, plus the ability to get rid of the extra while your just browsing.

    That even with phone processor in it would be worth 500$ and it wouldn't even need a dedicated "browsing" os.. just something to take notes on in classes/meetings with.

    Bigger and more elegant than the laptop dock the Atrix 4g comes with.

    Maybe leather binding over it similar to the portfolio style cases for the ipad.

    Sure it would be bigger.. but, it would offer flexibility which to me would make it really fit more so for general use than general lust..
     
  18. mrspeedmaster

    mrspeedmaster Android Expert
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    Well,

    I have an iPad and have gone through a few Chinese Android tablets.
    I've also been a PDA user for over 15 years and have various smartphones.
    I have three laptops and one netbook at home. I hardly ever use them.

    Tablet works for me because of the portability and flexibility.

    My main computing will always be a desktop workstation. Laptops and especially netbooks have some serious compromises.

    I don't always carry my laptop around. I tried the netbooks (gone through three) thing but they were practically useless.
    The screens were too small. The keyboards suck, the battery life were horrible. I could never play any of my HD video files.
    And even with my laptop, 80% of the time, I'mm SSH/logged into a server or a more powerful workstation. The Laptop is just a display/keyboard interface to faster,more powerful computing devices I have at my disposal.
    Heck most of the time, I'm pxe-boot and running my OS off a remote server on my laptop. I can do all of this with a tablet.

    When I got my iPad, I could mount my desktop via SAMBA and access all my files. I play my entire HD blu-ray rips (720p/1080p) with no problems.
    When I'm lying in bed, I can watch movies/tv shows for hours. All my technical work documents are in e-books/pdfs. I have all my work manuals loaded on my tablet.

    When I want to get real work done, I fire up an RDP or X11 session and connect to my monster desktop workstation. I can SSH/SCP into my desktop and run anything I need with real power.
    E.G. Last night, I scheduled 5 torrent files downloaded and made a ffmpeg bash script to convert all the wmv files into h.264 mp4 files straight from my iPad.
    After a few minutes, the files were on my SAMBA share and I was watching movies right away.. I don't need a netbook to do that.

    A smart phone, well, typing on a 3.5 or even a 4" screen w/ 840x480 resolution gets tiresome.I do a lot of database work and using a tablet is lot easier for making remote queries in the comfort of my hammock.
    I no longer have to sit at a desk to manage/deploy servers w/ a laptop/netbooks. I no longer have to make half-ass work-arounds w/ smartphones.

    Basically I use a tablet as :
    1) media consumption device
    2) Casual web browser
    3) X11/RDP remote terminal to my main workstation


    I recently went on a month long vacation and I used my tablet for everything abroad - maps, GPS, dictionary, currency converter, travel guides.

    With 10 hour battery life, some solar USB charging packs, I was able to use my iPad in the rain-forest. I paid like $15 for a 3G sim and I was still connected to the world for 2 weeks; getting work emails in a 3rd world country. I was even doing facebook status updates and uploaded pictures straight from some archaeological sites. On one visit, I was lost and I whipped out my iPad and locked into a GPS and found a temple. It took like 15 seconds from my backpack. Freaking unreal. Imagine if Indiana Jones had an Ipad in the Amazon.

    Simply amazing. I would travel 300 kilometers on a bus in the middle of nowhere and still be connected. The ipad was in my backpack and took no space whatsoever.

    I could not imagine doing that w/ a laptop. I would not know where to charge my laptop in a hostel and on the bus. Forget about it. My tablet lasted 3-4 days before I had to physically plug into a wall outlet.
     
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  19. Stuntman

    Stuntman Android Expert
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    What I am impressed about tablets is their long battery life. My phone would probably last only a few hours if I browse the internet. The one thing I would like for my phone is to have such a long battery life before needing a charge.
     

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