Travel Through Technology: The search for the ultimate mobile tablet device

Yes, I am Borg. I was assimilated during February of 2010 with the purchase of an Android OS smartphone. The Android smartphone has become my tiny little laptop, phone, clock, weather station, calculator, news reader, literature library, gaming system and more.  Then there is “Angry Birds”.

There is even an app for reading the “check engine” codes on my car. That one has not been used yet, but it is there.

Now there is a burning desire for something that lies between the bulky laptop and the miniature smartphone: a tablet device that will have:

A 7 inch to 10 inch screen,

Dual core processors

At least 1.1 GHz speed

Dual core processor

Good battery life

The newest Android operating system

4G service

At least 5 megapixels on the camera

USB slots

HDMI ports

Front and rear cameras, at least one with HD video capacity

And the capacity for upgrades for at least 18 months.

Is this too much to ask? Today I will explore the ratings and the reviews in order to see if such a beast exists.

 

TABLETS

Tablets had a terrible time of it in 2010. My preferred service provider, Verizon, was slow on the uptake with its 4G network and the prices practically prohibited buying a tablet that had not proved its worth.

The Apple iPads are a hot commodity, but I am not inclined to pay for Apple because of a technical culture that is practically Albanian in its isolation and inability to play well with Adobe Flash. I would love to have the Apple apps market and ease of use, but cannot take another chance on a limited, expensive and far too rapidly non upgradeable product.

In April PC World had a fairly recent  and nifty slide show of 15 tablets that are supposed to compete with the iPad. Again, my preference is for the Android OS.

None of that makes much sense right now, because many of the devices in the slide show either have no Android or Chrome OS, or they have not been released yet.

A search of Verizon’s tablet market shows only two options: iPads and Samsung Galaxy Tabs. The new Galaxy Tabs are out of stock, but some pre-owned versions are available.

Sprint has the highest customer rating on the Galaxy Tab, but  T-Mobile and Verizon also have high customer ratings for these models.  The problem with the Samsung Tab is that the OS is Android 2.2 Froyo. It would be lovely to have Android 3.0, simply because of a mentality that wants the latest hardware and OS for later upgrading. So the Galaxy Tab is out of contention.

There is the Motorola Xoom: the chameleon of controversy, threat to the iPad, and nabob of newness. Xoom runs on Android 3.0 Honeycomb, but has yet to be modified in order to get the 4G equipment installed. There is a wi fi version, but that is it. Xoom is a hot commodity with an ice cold price of $599 with a 2 year contract (or $799 without the contract).

Joshua Topolsky at Endgaget has written a magnum opus of a review for the Motorola Xoom, so I find these details.

The Xoom has the desired 5 mp front facing camera and a rear facing webcam at 2 mp. But holding up something the size of a book to take a picture is not an optimal situation. The video shoots  at 720p  and some basic video editing software is included.

There is some size, at 9.8 x 6 x 1/2  inches. The weight is fine at 1.5 pounds.

The resolution is higher than the iPad’s at 1280 x 800 to Apple’s 1024 x 768.

Some of the buttons are in annoying places. The power button is too close to the camera button, for example.

The portrait resolution is taller than normal, and might look a bit awkward. But most of my non reading use will be in landscape view, which is just fine. Human eyes and brains are incredibly adaptable  and that portrait awkwardness would probably go away with more use.

Battery life is at about 8.2 hours, which is fine, given that my current Android smart phone requires many visits to the juice bar, even with a battery saver app.

the Xoom has a Micro USB and mini HDMI jack. This helps with output to TV, synching with other devices.

It has the 1GB of DDR2 RAM and 32GB of internal storage.

 

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING WITH ANDROID OS?

The spanking new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has an obvious 10 inch screen and has a hefty starting price at around $500. The reviews and specs are sparse and the release date is sometimes in July.  Pre orders are supposed to start on June 8 at Verizon, but nothing is at the Verizon site.

This model stays true to Google’s plan for Android to be for mobile devices. This one runs Android 3.1 and is the thinnest and lightest tablet of all, weighing in at 1.25 pounds.

The 32 gig model will blast the bank account at $629 and there is a 16 gig model at about $529, both with a two year contract at Verizon.

This device will take the Android 3.1 update when it comes, but the apps market for Honeycomb is kind of slim right now. This is odd, since developers have been scrambling to catch up with apps for Android.

It has 1 GHz and a 1280 x 800 res display.  The processor is a dual core NVIDIA Tegra 2. It will be 4GLTE enabled.  The cameras are pitiful at 2 mp front and 3 mp rear, but waving a 10 inch camera around is not the dream photography scenario anyway.

There are no USB ports, so some kind of dongle will have to be set up for adding any bells and whistles that are USB dependent.

Back in may, one reviewer at BGR found a lot of crashes and bugs in just one 45 minute session, and this is always a problem with first generation and new devices.

As a result, a lot has to be fixed before the Galaxy Tab 10.1 becomes a serious (and highly desirable) contender in the Android wars.

 

 

CHROME OS: IS IT TIME YET?

The bottom line from Google is that Chrome is for laptops and is eventually headed for desktops while Android will be around for smartphones, laptops, tablets and Google TV. The main point is to help those who do most of their action through web browsers, rather than through programs that reside on their computers. Thus, po

I wrote an article on an early version of a Chrome device last December when the Christmas launch was delayed for more beta testing by a huge number of people.   Now it looks as if some Chrome devices are going to be available this Summer. Brad Linder at Liliputing has one scoop, even if he has not been able to fully test the latest Chrome and Android books.

The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook  is rather large, at 12.1 obvious inches. It has a large starting price, too: Around $430. But, as the historical cloud computing advancement that was hooted and jeered at during the 1990s, Chrome takes only seconds to get from the power off position and straight to the web.

Bang! Chrome computers will be designed to do one thing:  get to the web through a browser. If a website is running properly and supports Chrome browsers, then there should be no issues.  Also, there will be far less malware, because what little data is downloaded is supposed to be “sandboxed” within a specific application. This will prevent malware from one program from getting to other parts of the computer.

The big deal about the Chrome OS is that you do not download whole computer programs into your device in what is called “desktop native” work.  Of course, users can store  data for offline work when there is no internet connection, but most of the action goes on through cloud and web applications that can also be accessed from Windows, MAC or Linux PCs.

I had heard about this last year and even applied to be a beta tester, but got debunked from that action. I have been waiting for CHROME as my first choice.  With 99 percent of my writing work, social networking, entertainment and research done on the web or through Google applications, I may be free of the laptop in no time!

The Chrome devices probably will have to be an enhancement or extension of PCs and laptops, but will someday free us from the mess that software conflicts, malware and breakdowns have created in our lives.

Google Chrome devices will take mobile computing to Star Trek levels of grandiose advancement.

In the end, my choice will probably be for a Chrome device with Verizon’s 4G LTE service. Given the ability to access the same web accounts with smartphone, desktop and large tablet, this looks to be the way to go.

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