I've saved up some cash and am looking to buy a tablet, which I have never done before.
Arches back, thrusts out man-boobs.
"Ravish me with your knowledge and experience!"
I bought my mother half her iPad, but that was a gift and she decided based on wanting something that worked like her iPhone. But fooling around with it in the course of helping her has sold me on the virtues of such devices.
However, I don't want an iPad. I want a device I have more freedom to work with. I'm probably not going to go and install linux and try to run a FPS on it or anything like that but I'd prefer much less of a walled garden model than Apple is going to provide.
What I do want to do is mostly use it as an e-reader with extras. I've looked at display models of nook tablets and kindle fires and they don't quite meet my needs. I want to read comics on the device and the screens are a bit too small for that, at least in conjunction with my factory irregular eyes. I had to work a bit to read a graphics-heavy National Geographic issue on a display model nook and the Kindle Fire wasn't a lot better.
I did an experiment and discovered the iPad's screen is in the ballpark of the right size for my crusty orbs. Plus a tablet is easier to take to bed or into the crapper than my laptop and has a more comfortable viewing distance for the aforementioned crusty orbs.
Aside from those factors, what should I keep an eye out for and what should I be keen to avoid? Of course specific product recommendations are cool too.
My bro is very happy with his Samsung Galaxy Tab - he's had it for about a year and uses it for work and some strategy games as well as a GPS, havent' heard any complaints.
The below link doesn't match his exactly but it's the newer model:
Things you REALLY need to watch when buying a tab are:
If you get to demo one, open the browser and navigate here to Paizo forums and check the white on the screen. Imagine yourself staring at that white for hours. Will it burn out your eye sockets?
Check what buttons it uses, and how many. Given how much you need to press those buttons it's important that they feel very sturdy and like they'll last for a few years.
Check the power cable connection - you don't want to be shelling out $50 per cable when it breaks, a standard USB cable would be best.
If the device has independent internet connections check online for reviews about connection range / dropouts etc.
Weight - definitely don't get anything heavier than an iPad 2 - when you're trying to read for sustained periods it can get pretty darn heavy. My iPad 2 is almost too heavy.
Camera - do NOT settle for anything less than 5MP unless you intend to never use it, the camera on the iPad 2 is frikkin useless.
Battery life. I shouldn't have to mention it but I will. Anything less than 8 to 10 hours is a pain in the butt. I had HP Ipaq's years ago and having to charge them every day was a pain. Even the iPhone is a bit like that. My iPad? I might charge it once a week if its lucky - and that's with about 2 hours a day usage.
Unless you are really, really adamantly opposed to buying Apple, you might consider picking up a used iPad 2nd gen. You should be able to get a decent deal now that lots of people want to sell their "old" one in preparation for the iPad 3rd gen coming soon. Plus, buying used means denying Apple your cash, and you can always jailbreak it.
If going Android, make sure it ships with Ice Cream Sandwich and preferable has a Tegra/Tegra 2 CPU... unless, again, you get a really sweet deal on a used one.
Whatever you settle on, try to try it out on an in-store demo model, so you can experience its ergonomics, weight, balance, etc. Don't underestimate the usefulness in standardized ports, a mem card slot, and removable battery.
I would go for the Samsung gtab 10.1 or the Asus Transformer, both have specs that beat the iPad2 and both run Honeycomb (Android 3.2). Both are also going to be receiving an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.02) soon.
The gtab 10.1 has better screen resolution, weighs less and is much thinner than the Asus. The Asus though has built in usb, micro usb and hdmi ports where the gtab needs separate adapters for usb and hdmi connections.
Performance on both is almost equal but the gtab is just a little bit smoother and peppier, IMO.
Both are highly customizable without rooting and even more so after rooting. Check out the XDA forums for easy step by step directions on how to root your tablet.
The gtab is more expensive of the two but both are around $500 for 16gb models, $600 for the 32gb.
I have a gtab 10.1, love it, it fulfills all of my gaming needs and more.
If you want "out of the garden" then Android is a good bet. As noted, the Asus and Samsung are very solid choices. For either, though, you really unlock the potential of the device by rooting it. As such, you need to be dedicated to learning how to do that, how recovery works, etc. In other words, if you truly want the Android freedom, it's going to require some dedication. The benefits (access to more powerful backup/system tools, UI customization, etc.) are excellent and easily won me over to Android vs. Apple, but I'm a techie that likes to learn new stuff. If you just want something solid straight out of the box, thankfully both the Asus and Samsun are good there as well.
And the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade, as noted, is a very nice bonus. I'm running it now and it's got some really slick features and excellent performance.
Marc Radle wrote:
+1 (Battery Life alone is a huge plus)Mine's pretty much used as an eReader for the time being, with all my Paizo PDF's and NookBooks (via the Nook app). I play the occasional game here and my local cable provider app now lets me watch any tv channel anywhere, like in the kitchen, in the can, etc. :P
If you wanted to run a game solely out of a mobile device, I'd go for one of those new razor thin laptops instead. Multiple open windows and a tv out for tactical maps would be better IMHO. For anything else, I'd go iPad. YMMV.
Marc Radle wrote:
The walled garden. The short version is that I want the equivalent of the Internet, not the equivalent of an AOL account. :)
It's mostly an aesthetic preference, but I had enough trouble getting a scanned comic on my mother's iPad to already feel the walls chafing a bit. I'm sure there's a great app out there for it somewhere, but needing to jump through all kinds of hoops to get a simple file on the device was just silly to me.
That said, the iPad is a wonderful device for her. She loves the thing. I just want a bit more.
Thanks to everyone who posted. I went out tonight specifically with the intent to field test and spent ten minutes fiddling with the Galaxy Tab at my local Walmart and getting a feel for its buttons, screen brightness, etc.
I have follow-up questions. :)
I don't think I noticed any kind of port on there except the charger port, though I spent a few hours fighting my cable modem afterwards so my memory's not at its best. (And that battle also ruled out my going to other places to look at other tablets for the night.) Specifically on the Galaxy, is that cable just a proprietary end on a standard USB cable or is it something less convenient where I'd be in for a dongle if I want to do more than just charge the thing?
I saw that the tablet shipped with Honeycomb, but the net tells me it's upgradeable to Ice Cream Sandwich. Is that upgrade relatively painless, something like synching an mp3 player, or is there a steeper learning curve? I'm not necessarily afraid of that (I'm a dork; I like complicated things!) but would like an idea what I'm getting into.
Just remember that Apple's Walled garden has about 100 x the applications available in the Android Market. And given your status, you really don't sound like the person who's going to be coding your own.
Also keep in mind that since Google doesn't do the hard inspection of the apps on the Market to the extent of the App Store, you may find that a fair number of Android apps come with some nasty undocumented features.
The bottom line is that I suggest that you make your choices on a basis other than tech political slogans or bandwagons.
Rubber Ducky guy wrote:
Actually for most cases, updates to android devices don't happen. It's a process that's totally dependent on the manufacturer, (outside of hacks which are so-so at best) and many of the cheaper suppliers simply don't bother to update.
If you are looking for standard ports, that's another selection criteria... ;^)
I've had a strong dislike for proprietary interfaces dating back to my days working on Compaqs (decades ago). I know devices like the Gtab, iPad, etc. have converters and such, but when I get to a site and forgot that fiddly bit, it does me no good. I specifically went with my device (an Adam from Notion Ink) because it has an array of standard ports, microSD, etc. I use it for movies, either on the device of via its HDMI port. It can take a USB memory stick, mouse, keyboard, etc. I've got nearly 200 apps from the Android market that cover everything from productivity to RPG support to multimedia to games to IT diagnostics.
Now, the Adam is not a tablet for starter folks, or anyone not willing to invest in it to get the device's full potential. Of the two Android devices recommended here, the Asus wins out with regard to having more standard ports, but it's nothing like what the Adam has.
I've heard some good things on the Iconia, but know less about them.
I could not agree more - well said.
Time vs Money
It's like the alignment axis of consumer products. For any tablet or computer or smartphone it comes down to use cases. What do you want to do with it? How often do you intend to upgrade hardware?
For me the "Walled Garden" isn't so bad when you hop the fence using VNC/RDP and leverage a full PC as the backend to your tablet front end. I watch a lot of Hulu over Splashtop piped from my computer to my iPad while I'm cooking. I've also tended to find gaps in Apple's fence where I need them. For example I route virtually every through GoodReader and prefer Apps that can send/receive files from it. But that's me and I was already using my iPod Touch as a PDA so an iPad was quite logical step up for me.
You may want to wait and see if anyone can match the iPad 3rd gen and its higher PPI screen, cause that's going to make graphic novel reading so much crisper.
I agree with not basing a decision on tech politics or bandwagons, but from my perspective that's actually a mark against Apple rather than for...
On the app front, the "we've got more apps" war has always been pointless to me, whether the provider is Apple, Amazon, Android, Blackberry, HP, etc. The true question is does the platform have the types of apps you need at a quality level that is consistently supported and in the price range you prefer. 50,000 apps that are basically crapware cannot compare to 500 apps that are solid options. I've worked in IT all my professional life, and thus far the Android selection, especially the quality of free apps, is more than adequate for my numerous needs. I'm not saying Apple has crapware--far from it (my aim there is more at my experiences with Blackberry) but I don't see a substantive difference in the apps between Android and Apple based solely on looking at usable, quality apps for most general use cases.
Using remote desktop options is definitely a cool way to leverage tablets for greater functionality--I run Herolabs through Splashtop to my Adam.
Because of the customizations of the android software for each device, you do need to wait the the manafactuer to patch the update. But my HTC phone and Samsung tablet both got updated to froyo, and in the case of the Asus transformer prime, they have already released the update.
Also, the 9,000+ more apps on iDevice is irelavent now that plants vs zombies is now on android :)
Samnell, I'm looking forward the hearing what you get, and how it works for you.
For updates, it may be obvious from my posts but if not I favor the "hacks" and indeed that was another driving factor in selecting the Adam. Notion Ink works directly with the hackers on custom ROMs. I find the quality to be great, actually, and of course it gives me maximum flexibility for making the tablet do what I want. I prefer the freedom and more rapid turnaround, so can't speak to the official update process for other devices. But I did want to note that the quality of mods are far beyond so-so, especially in the Cynogenmod variants.
I'm posting from my Asus now, which is tethered to my DX via "teh bigger WiFis". You can't do that with an Apple product 'cause you're in lock-down. I am not in lock-down! Oh yeah, the full-sze keyboard dock is lots of awesome sauce too.
Now what I need a quality character sheet that can be edited on this platform.
Oh yeah - because I'm rocking root, I have an isolated Gingerbread build on the DX. Means I can tether sans the man.
You can tether the ipad to a DX. Also, there are apple keyboard docks and 3rd party docks and full size keyboards for the ipad.
I own both systems - I have to say that Apple's apps have more quality control because of their strict regulation.
I own machines based on what I need them for. For Desktops I always build a PC with a Windows/Linux dual boot. I switched to a macbook pro mainly because I could open a command window and use unix commands and my wife gets the ease of using the mac operating system (though the Linux ones have come a long way). We have an Ipad 2 (which I inherit once my wife gets her Ipad 3 which she has preorderd) and an ASUS transformer (also a great little machine).
If I had to choose one it would be the Ipad. It just feels better made (the same goes for laptops in my opinion). The components that make up the ipad are clearly higher quality. The warranty is better (international). Also, 3rd party apps increase the chance of catching a virus. I could be wrong but I believe that to date there haven't been any verified viruses on the Ipad. I've certainly never gotten one on any apple product.
I don't doubt the quality of Apple products--they are more controlled (back to the walled garden). However, that comes with a price, both for the device itself and for the limitations on what you can change. I'm not an Apple basher, I simply believe I can get more for my money elsewhere. I highly dislike the "consumer electronics" mentality for devices like this. When I buy a tablet, music player, etc., I expect to use it for years rather than discard it when the next upgrade comes along. Apple could take the simple step of adding a microSD to their devices and they'd come a long way forward in my book.
Sure it is a "walled garden" but it is a really big "walled garden". Most things that people say you can't do or have on the Ipad, you actually can have. You don't have to upgrade. I have a macbook that is 5 years old. I just recently replaced it but the old one runs perfect. That walled garden is what keeps viruses rare and battery life high.
If you want a secure system that is unix based you go for a walled garden. So it really comes down to what you intend to do with it.
All that said - I think it is nuts that JB an ipad is illegal and enforced with the DMCA. As soon as I get my wife's ipad 2 I am JBing the shiznit out of that sucker.
That is why my advice is to buy a used ipad 2 next week off of ebay for $100-150 bucks and JB it.
I haven't kept up with iDevices for some time. How do they go about loading files. Do you still need to use iTunes for music, videos and photos? What about pdfs?
The security of apple is nice, but they've been slipping of late. The app Path was approved on their store despite being able to copy your contact list and send it to their servers (un encrypted aswell)
Not even going to get into Apple vs Android - as a homebrew programmer & a big fan of getting 'under the hood' the choice is no choice for me personally. As for the OP, I have to 2nd the recommendation to get hands-on with a lot of tabs (I went to Fry's) and also to have some sense of what you actually will use the device for.
My hubby has an 8" Archos G9, which I find to be an okay compromise on screen size in exchange for microSD, miniHDMI, and microUSB built-in. It is a bit meh on responsiveness and mid-level on graphics, but that's good at the $250-300 price level.
For myself, I checked out a lot of tabs, incl my sister's iPad2, and have decided to price-wait on the Asus Transformer Prime. It is very comfortable in the hand, comes with built-in microUSB & microSD, has great responsiveness, and f'in brilliant graphics - not just in terms of pixel depth or clarity, but also graphics processing power. I played their water-motocross game for a good 20min (after a staffer had been goofing off on it for who knows how long) and the image had no lag or stutter or artifacting that I could detect, even projected live on a big screen.
I've tried typing on both the Archos & the iPad, and found it to be very taxing and cumbersome/clunky for (a) a touch-typist and (b) more than a few words, or extra-dictionary words, like for DM's notes. I would like something with the touch-or-tactile-type that I've come to enjoy on my original Droid, but with the size/robustness of a tablet, and I think that's the Transformer Prime. But it's still listed at $500-550, plus $150 for the dock, which is too rich for me now.
Rubber Ducky guy wrote:
There are lots of apps now that are basically less bloated options to itunes. There are a handful of pdf apps as well.
I program too (computational physicist by trade) and I agree with you here. I helped design an app to be used for some experimental work and though it was easy to write for the ipad environment getting it accepted by apple so it could be shared with everyone working on the project was absurd. We gave up, which is why I have an Asus.
That being said, for computers (not tablets) Id rather have my teeth kicked in than not use a linux or OSx based machine for programming for science.
Remember when choosing that with Apple products you will have to use iTunes at some time, also that anything bought from iTunes will stay on iTunes and will not be transferable to anything not made by Apple. It is one of the ways Apple locks their users into the Apple ecosystem. You can still buy songs, games and books from other vendors and transfer them to iTunes but anything bought from iTtunes can't be transferred to anything that is not an Apple product.
With Android anything bought from Google app market can be transferred to any device you want.
I'm traveling to China and want 64+ GB worth of video and songs available without paying through the nose for on-board memory. With my Adam, I swap out cheap 8 GB microSD cards. iPad can't do that and it's always been nonsensical to me that they won't take that basic step on any of their portable devices. I can underclock my device to extend battery, overclock it for performance, etc. I can add multiple ROMs to create alternate boot options if I want to play with a beta version and still have my tried-and-true system readily available. This is what I'm talking about, and iPad can't do that (at least not with company support). Again, I'm not saying Apple's bad, it's just not ever, from what I can tell, going to be a device that is friendly to my specific needs.
For typing, I prefer the Beansoft Thumb Keyboard as it's split-screen capabilities are marvelous. Alternately, I just write using an iFaraday or More/Real stylus and Freenote.
No matter what device you get, you're going to run into problems. If you aren't a techie though, the nice thing about having the most popular device is that you'll be able to find other people more knowledgeable than you who have a solution more easily.
For example, I hate running iTunes, ever since it routinely destroyed my old laptop because I had logitech hardware installed on it. Now, I run it only when absolutely necessary. There are a myriad of programs which are able to transfer files to-and-fro on the ipad. For example, I use the free version of CopyTrans to manage music files on my ipad and ipod. I found that iTunes wouldn't allow me to add non-apple store movies to the ipad, so I grabbed another app for $3 and put my non-drm movies on with that.
Safari isn't great, but I'd be hard pressed to tell you exactly when I'm not on the "normal" internet.
The only downside to all of this, is that I can't backup my ipad exactly as is, the only way to do that (with apps) is through itunes. But if you're willing to give that up, you can mostly avoid apple software.
Also, the apple app store has the best Pathfinder app in existence for $0.99, Spells. The app has almost all the OGL content available and he's been adding new stuff for free. The spells are sorted by class and level and you can mark which some for a custom selection (but you can't save multiple sets). It also includes all the monsters (he just added Bestiary 3). It's a very fast app, easy to use, easy to read and some pretty good options (you can exclude certain sources if you want).
I'm playing a druid right now and for summoning alone it is awesome. I click any of the Summon Nature's Ally spells and it brings up a list of all the summonable monsters. I click one and it pulls up the stat block. I just have to remember to adjust it for Augmented Summoning.
Rubber Ducky guy wrote:
There are options, unfortunately I haven't found an all in one solution. I use a different program for each:
music - Copytrans (free version, works for most any apple device)
Why should it be? The whole Idea that Android represents freedom is questionable. Freedom to do what? Freedom to choose from less than a tenth of the amount of available apps? Freedom to expose myself to a greater risk of being hacked? I'm not a coder, and if I were, I could code for iOS, just as much as one could code for Android. It's just that my freedom for malicious mischief is more limited when I code for the Apple garden. For me the Apple products represent a freedom of their own. Freedom to spend my time actually DOING stuff instead of adding a pile of hardware and software worries that I've got to guard against. The new Ipad3 has one major thing going for it. The new doubled up resolution might be candy to some folks but when it comes to text, it's going to be a godsend viewing Pathfinder PDFs at double the effective resolution.
I'm traveling to China and want 64+ GB worth of video and songs available without paying through the nose for on-board memory. With my Adam, I swap out cheap 8 GB microSD cards. iPad can't do that and it's always been nonsensical to me that they won't take that basic step on any of their portable devices. I can underclock my device to extend battery, overclock it for performance, etc. I can add multiple ROMs to create alternate boot options if I want to play with a beta version and still have my tried-and-true system readily available. This is what I'm talking about, and iPad can't do that (at least not with company support). Again, I'm not saying Apple's bad, it's just not ever, from what I can tell, going to be a device that is friendly to my specific ne
The Android flexibility comes with restrictions of it's own. Android systems are always going to be constrained by their base memory of how many applications you can install. My phone for instance has 256 megs of base ram. Sure I could add a 64 gig hd sd card to it, but what I can install to that phone will still be limited to that 256 megabyte of base storage space.
Yeah I don't understand why they don't add a microSD card. I know lots of non-Ipad users that would switch in a heartbeat if they did.
Yes if you want to do any of that then an ipad is not the machine for you (though ipad's battery life is very good without under clocking). I can do all of those things with a jail broken ipad (which I will with my used ipad 2).
Though, I would venture to guess that the vast majority of tablet users do not care to do any of these things. They are just looking for a dependable, stable, and secure machine. I originally bought my wife the Ipad 2 because she is a student and wanted to be able to load the pdf versions of her textbooks so that she didn't have to bring 50lbs worth of books to school. However, I also did not want her to easily download some virus and transfer it to my home or work network (helps me sleep at night).
This isn't true. I am able to transfer music from itunes onto a thumbdrive and onto my windows machine, convert from m4a to mp3, and use it however I want. The same is true for movies and ebooks. I think your statement only holds true for apps (and that is just a guess).
LazarX, I'm not sure what you mean on the base memory constraints? I install very little in the base memory--only apps I know I want always available. Everything else goes on the microSD. At present I have about 5.4 GB of apps and associated data on a single microSD card--mostly games and such for my kids--that I can easily pull and then pop in another 8 GB card with movies. Perhaps you are using an older version of Android that can't transfer to SD?
And there's that "we've got 100x more apps" argument again. Can you tell me specific apps available for the iPad that I can't get on my Android? That somehow total to hundreds of times more usability? I doubt it, but maybe I'm missing something. And I simply don't see the massive hardware and software worries you note. Do you have specific instances for reference? Asphere is making substantive comments on the iPad, but generalized statements of "Android is unsafe" and "Apples got more apps" are not very useful in comparing products.
I agree that the increased resolution on iPad 3 will be nice. And as Asphere notes, Apple is a solid choice for folks that don't want to take the time to fiddle with their devices. I agree on that point as well. For me, I like to fiddle...
And note that the Spells app is available on Android as well. I like it, along with Pathfinder NPC Gallery, Summoner, Spellbook - Pathfinder, and PFRPG RD.
My wife gets her Ipad 3 next Friday. I am going to load Beastiary 3 on that bad boy and do a video review. Then I will promptly delete it from her Ipad 3 and hand it back to her with great sorrow.
The threat of an Android devices being hacked is overblown hype. Recent studies have found Android is harder to hack than iOS. Malicious apps have been made for both Android and iOS and can be avoided by simple common precautions.1) Don't download apps from third party vendors
2) Don't download hacked apps
3) For Android, not sure about iOS, always check the permissions before downloading. If something looks suspicious don't download it and report your suspicions to the app market.
So far no Malicious apps can infect any computer the device is synced to. Removing Malicious apps and their effects are as easy as deleting the app from your device, no anti virus programs needed.
If you purchased the songs on iTunes, you can only allow a certain number of devices to play them with your password, IIRC 5.
1. At last count, The App Store has over 250,000 applications so listing the ones that you don't have on the Android Market isn't something that's going to happen in a post. I know about the apps you've mentioned, I've got a couple of them on my Android phone, which I plan on switching to an iPhone on my next update. The Android market also doesn't have anything even close to resembling ITunes University which is a major deal for me, especially with the overhall it got in January. And it's free.
2. When your bulk of your system memory is on an SD card, you are prone to connect and disconnect issues with that memory. I've heard lots of reports of Android users who have had major issues with this especially on cheap hardware. I have this problem frequently on my phone if I listen to music for more than a half hour at a stretch.
3. The Apple tablet especially with the new refresh is simply the best hardware in it's class on the planet for the money you pay. There's simply no contest at the point. And sites like Ipadhacks and AppleTVHacks are ample proof that you can tinker with Apples hardware to your hearts content, if you're driven that way.
5 devices and 5 computers.