With all the new tablets on the market it’s very tempting to lay down the requisite $500-700 to own a good one, but what if I told you there was a way to convert a good $250 e-reader into a great little tablet? The Barnes & Noble Color Nook e-reader runs a custom version of Google’s Android OS and that let developers and hackers find ways to unleash its real power, and that’s just what they’ve done. This guide will walk you through installing and configuring your Nook Color as a true Android tablet. And while others may disagree, the size, utility, and style of this tablet rivals in many ways the Apple iPads, the Motorola Xooms, and the Samsung Galaxy Tabs. One thing we can all agree on, $250 is quite a bargain for a device that could literally revolutionize your interaction with the web, and in a way, the world.
In the last few weeks new details have emerged about upcoming contenders vying for the market the iPad is expected to create.
Videos, screenshots, and details of Microsoft’s Courier have appeared on Engadget, and reveal the device to be a brilliantly innovative book-like digital journal running a form of Windows Mobile 7 and arriving in Q3 or Q4. But the information comes not from Microsoft, but from a “trusted source”, so there’s good reason to doubt the final product will match the cleverness shown in these videos; I can’t remember the last time I saw a product from Microsoft which I would call innovative (the word derivitive is the one I expect to use for their products). One of the most surprising things for me about the Courier as alleged is the focus on the digital journal centric design. It certainly differentiates the device from the other players in the field which stress no particular application or use (aside from the ubiquitous browsing or reading apps). This could be key to its success or demise, despite the fact that it will no doubt also run apps of every other description as well; the device wouldn’t be limited by design, only by the limits people read into it. This journaling direction isn’t completely new to the Tablet PC versions of the Windows OS which have long had a primitive but good journal app, but if this truly does deliver on the features shown, it just may be worthy of being a central feature of the OS and device.
The HP Slate also got some press this week, debuting in some videos released by HP. In form, the Slate is akin to the iPad, but certainly larger than the foldable Courier, but what sets the Slate apart from both is that it runs a full desktop OS, Windows 7; that is a good and a bad thing. Included in the good is that every Windows app will run on it, that it will be more easily integrated into (and therefore greeted by) conservative business environments, and that for all users the full web means the full web (every last glorious and icky part of it). Chief among the negatives of a full OS, it’ll never be as elegant to use (since both OS and apps are not going to be exclusively designed for that form factor), the battery life will never be quite as good, it’ll always run somewhat hotter, and it’ll never squeeze the best performance out of whatever cpu is inside it; my last three points hinging on the fact that a full OS will always be more bloated in ram, disk, and cpu cycles required to support the services, features, and other “stuff” necessary to accommodate an entire back catalog of Windows applications.
If the HP Slate or the Windows Courier (as described) both appeared on the market tomorrow at a sensible price I’d probably buy ‘em both (but not the iPad), perhaps one won’t preclude the other. The Courier might become the digital journal I carry with me everywhere, which can be my RDP connection to full computers when/where I need them. And perhaps the Slate would replace my Tablet PC as my mobile ideating and writing computer, for the apps like MindJet’s Mind Manager, MS Visio, MS Word, web for blogging, etc. (with bluetooth keyboard/mouse).
It’s times like these I wish I had a time machine…
The viliv S10 Blade is coming, and for those of you who like the idea of an Apple iPad more than the actual iPad, this just might fit the bill, but expect that bill to be a little larger.
Let’s be clear about this, an iPad is basically a giant iTouch. An iPad is not a full computer, and it’s lacking a lot of features many people reasonably expect:
No Flash support & no browser plugins
No true HD (no 720p)
No camera for video conferencing
No Verizon, hope you like AT&T
No USB, no external memory sticks
Limited format support for audio & video (only what will play natively)
The iPad will do what it does in style, and if that’s enough for you, you’ll be happy as a hipster clam.
But many of us are looking for something more. We want something akin to a full laptop in the form factor of an iPad, and we want might options, not the constraints Apple imposes. And the device to best deliver that at the moment is the viliv S10 Blade, a tablet PC running Windows 7.
Here’s a table, with many of the key comparitive points:
Windows 7 is probably less stable, and more bloated, but you have more software to pick from, you can use Flash and any browser plugin, and multitask to your heart’s content!
10 hours (spares allowed)
10 hours (non-replaceable)
32-64 GB SSD, 60 GB HD
16, 32, 64 GB SSD
I haven’t tried the viliv or Windows 7 with multitouch, and I can’t find evidence that the iTouch OS detects more than 2 fingers. So, not sure who wins here.
10.23″ x 7.28″ x 0.67 – 1.02″
9.56″ x 7.47″ x 0.5″
They are roughly the same width and height, but the iPad is half the thickness. You get a regular swivel keyboard as compensation, but for some, that won’t be enough.
The iPad clearly wins here, it’s 33% lighter, and I’m sure you will feel that weight the longer you cradle it and carry it about. The weight won’t bother me unduly, but I won’t deny it will some people.
I’ve used tablet PCs for the last 5 years and I would be miserable without the speed and accuracy of a built-in regular keyboard. Typing on a screen isn’t the same.
A stunning omission for the iPad.
I don’t know enough or care enough about Bluetooth to know how important this is, but the iPad wins.
Yes (and compass)
I am surprised the viliv doesn’t have this, and wonder if perhaps it really does and just isn’t listed in the specs, GPS is ubiquitous these days, and comes on most of the 3G modem cards. If it truly doesn’t have this, then that is unfortunate, but perhaps not such a big deal. I rely on GPS and directions from my phone, and I’m not sure if I would require that from something in a tablet form factor. It could be a drawback, or it may not matter much.
Intel Atom 1.6-2.0 GHz
Apple A4 1 GHz
The viliv is surely faster, but it’s hard to compare speeds. The iPad won’t multitask, won’t be expected to run the full desktop apps the viliv will, so it will surely be fast enough for the uses it’s put to. Personally, I require a device that can multitask, and has the speed to do it.
Wakeup from standby in < 4 seconds
The iPad certainly wins here, and wins big. Those 4 seconds will feel longer than they are, and I’m sure that will have a subtle effect on how people view this device. It will discourage someone ever so slightly from reaching for the S10 Blade to check a fact on wikipedia, when they could do it more quickly with their phone.
Probably not as warm
The S10 uses more power and will almost assuredly feel a good bit warmer in your lap, cradled in your arm, etc.
The full pricing isn’t out for the viliv, so it’s hard to make comparisons. The iPad ranges from $499-899, and I’d guess the S10 Blade will range from $699-1399. So, the viliv is definitely more expensive, but you do end up with a real laptop.
For many, the iPad will surely be another amazing triumph from Apple. For me, and for many like me, it will stop far short of what we want, and that’s where a device like this tablet PC steps in. We’ll pay more, it’ll weigh more, and it won’t be quite as instantly handy, but we won’t be constantly frustrated by the many things we cannot do with it.