I was seriously considering purchasing an Apple iPad. Walking through one of the "Big Box" stores, I couldn't help enjoy the irony of seeing the many connectors, cables, adapters, and audio accessories, all designed for the Apple iPod and iPad line. Seems like just a few years ago, "if it wasn't Microsoft", you were out of luck.
Of course there was the double irony, when you consider that now, after the introduction of Apple's new "Lightning" connector, all those millions of items sitting on the shelves today will be reduced to the Clearance bin as being incompatible. Yes, I know there are adapters out there, but in many cases, these would give a very “klugy” appearance.
Still, the iPad held my interest. My old 2g iPod Touch continues to serve me well, although I seem to be running into more and more applications which required the newer Apple OS. I also appreciate the security generated in working within iTunes and the Apple applications environment.
However, after Apple announced their newest and greatest iPad just six months after the release of their previous generation iPad, and seeing CNET's Bill Ditwiler's , “Cracking open of the iPad Mini”, http://cnettv.cnet.com/cracking-open-apple-ipad-mini/9742-1_53-50134722.html
I started to reconsider.
Call me old-fashioned, but shelling out a “half a grand” on an unrepairable iPad, which has a very short lifeline, just doesn't “sit right” with me. I wouldn't expect to go hunting around in the unit, popping out potentially bad surface mounted chips, but if such a marvelous device can be shut down by an inaccessible, expendable battery, then that's pretty sad. Taking a heat gun to the iPad glass to melt the securing adhesive, just seems cruel!
When I bought my iPod Touch several years back, there was nothing like it on the market. Today, there are lots of tablet choices. Making the right choice is the tough part.
There are a whole bunch of “no-name”, cheaply made tablets available through several venues including the local drugs stores like CVS, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens. Also, you can find close-out tablets at places like “Big Lots”. These tables are priced at $100 or less. Reading Internet reviews on such items, leads to a consensus that the buyer will probably be dissatisfied with the quality and features of these low end machines. Screens are dim, battery life short, speed is extremely slow, storage capacity limited, and Web browsing is hit-or-miss. Some do not use capacitive touch, but rather pressure sensitive screens. The user must physically press the screen with a stylus to initiate contact. Also, the choice of applications that actually work on these tablets can be extremely small.
There are much broader and better choices for tablets priced closer to the $200 range. First consider the physical format. There are tablets with either a 10 inch screen, or a 7/8 inch screen. The ten inch tablets are generally more expensive. They may be a bit more cumbersome to handle, but provide more content on any particular screen. If you watch movies, read technical journals, or play games, there may be advantage to the larger tablet. The seven inch table is lighter, can be more easily operated with one hand, and may provide a better typing experience. Also, it may be easier to carry around.
It is a good idea to look at the tablet's functions and capabilities which you plan to utilize the most. If you see yourself using the tablet as an e-reader, then perhaps the Kindle or the Nook is a good choice for you. If the tablet is to be used as a laptop replacement for simple email and web browsing, then a Nexus 7 or Samsung Galaxy Tab may be a more to your liking.
I had considered the Nexus 7, which had great reviews at CNET http://cnettv.cnet.com/nexus-7-tablet/9742-1_53-50127293.html
However, it didn't have several features which I considered important, like expandable memory, http://cnettv.cnet.com/reasons-buy-nexus-7/9742-1_53-50128542.html
and there were a number of Internet reports about reliability problems and bad customer support.
I chose the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. http://cnettv.cnet.com/samsung-galaxy-tab-2-7-0-full-android/9742-1_53-50123132.html
I saw myself using my tablet in the family/TV room. Aside from the many standard features this tablet offers, it also includes an IR transmitter that makes it into a smart TV remote. It uses the Peel APP to do this. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.peel.app&hl=en
I was hoping that I could also use the Verizon Mobile Remote APP with my tablet, but apparently Verizon is currently having a problem with the Android version of this application.
The Magic Machine
For some reason, the price point of $199 seems justified as an expendable device. Considering what my tablet can do, it really seems like magic! Some of the “Easter egg” applications I've come across so far are:
An Augmented Reality Compass that uses the rear camera to display the scene superimposed with a real time compass.
GPS with turn-by-turn navigation with spoken Street names.
And, although not having all the magic of SIRI, I can speak into Google and get the answers I need. Pretty amazing stuff!Security Considerations
Used to be that when you purchased a program application from a developer, it was pretty much an anonymous transaction. Programs were packaged in boxes and shrink wrapped, being made available at the computer store, or through the mail. Offers of “FREE” apps used to consist of time-limited “trials” or programs with reduced functional capabilities. Times have certainly changed. Today, unfortunately, many of the free apps AND
the paid apps, are “connected” through the user's machine to the Internet. Data and information mining by the developers for potential sale to third parties has become rampant. Although Apple, Google, and now Microsoft are trying to tightly control their Application Marketplace to make sure their apps are virus-free and come from reputable sources, the programs can still gather information from the user. When I install an Android app, I am presented with a list of “Permissions” which I must grant to the developer in order to use the program. Some are necessary for program operation, while others, seem to be just for data mining. It is a scary situation, and a matter of, “Who Do You Trust”.