15 April 2012: This is today’s CLASSIC POST!!
A tablet is a form factor/hybrid still very much in search of a purpose.
The IPAD has inexplicably become all the rage, but recent studies show the number one thing people do with the IPAD is play a game called Angry Birds, followed by email, followed by web browsing.
At $500 that’s a lot to pay for what amounts to a crippled laptop. I mean, you spend your money how you want to spend your money, but for me $500 for a tablet, with the limitations current tablets have, doesn’t make sense. Tablet’s currently being something that is neither quite as portable as a phone or as useful and powerful as a laptop, but some bastardized form in search of a function.
The form factor of a tablet lends itself to one attractive purpose, wherein it does something better than either a phone or a laptop, as an ebook reader. With the dimensions generally of a book, the tablet format lends itself to easy reading on the couch or in coach or business class while traveling.
The ability to easily read books or magazines or comics, when carrying multiple real books would not be as convenient is a real selling point. As a traveler I can appreciate this purpose, and niche, that the tablet format can fill better than squinting at a tiny phone screen, or lugging around a laptop.
So at its heart the central selling feature of the tablet format, 7″-10″ screen, is easy, book like reading. That said a tablet is not an ebook. A true ebook uses eink, and while monochrome is supposedly easier reading than the LCD format (The eye strain argument. I’ve worked on both, and for myself find the difference negligible. I’m used to LCD screens, and just adjust the brightness to a comfortable range, and for me what you gain in color, offsets whatever you may lose in sharpness with eink), and is far better on power usage, lasting weeks on a single charge as opposed to hours for a LCD screen.
So if you just want an Ebook reader, you can get decent ones between $80 to $250. Generally speaking the big thing to look for regarding ebooks is does it play epub files (which is the standard and pretty awesome format used by libraries and bookstores, as well as free online repositories etc), pdfs (which we’re all familiar with, and many magazines come as), and text (which again is supported by many free sites).
So when looking at Ebooks such as the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, the Kindle by virtue of being the defacto standard of the world’s largest book and shopping site, gives it a massive edge just in terms of prevalence and ease of adopt-ability. Add to that Amazon having the lowest price, and all things being equal why would you not buy the Kindle?
Well here’s the problem, and here is where Amazon for me, shoots themselves in the foot. All things are not equal. Amazon did not trust themselves to create a quality ereader, and didn’t trust you the consumer enough to give you choice. A common problem with business in the 21st century, they don’t want to earn your business, they want to own your business, they want to enslave you. What do I mean by this? Amazon decides to not support on their Kindle Ereader the defacto standard of Epub, and instead creates a new proprietary format, AZW.
You’re already inclined to buy the effing electronic book from Amazon, that should have been win enough for them, but no, they basically want you to buy the book and read it on their device. It’s like me buying a book from a physical store, and then the cashier telling me you can only read the book in the store.
If I have a hundred ebook readers, consider them different rooms in my house, I should be able to read my ebook I bought from Amazon in any damn room I feel like. The purpose of a locked down AZW ebook format is to keep you from having digitally, the same rights you have in the real, physical world.
That’s the problem corporations have in the 21st century, they want a certainty on your actions, that they never had previously, and to do this they are willing to criminalize anything they cannot control, and for me I don’t respond well to you trying to own me. You don’t get to be sure, you get to make a product, you get to sell a product, and you get paid for a product, and you get to deal with wrong doing if it happens, but you don’t get to treat me like a criminal before a crime, which is what all these companies, movies, music, media conglomerates are doing.
You have customers you treat em with respect. And if it turns out a customer bought your book and is running off a printing press in his basement and is selling copies, you prosecute him. What you don’t do is treat all your customers like criminals, because of the one criminal you may have to deal with.
That’s the 21st century mindset between devices like the Kindle, that I was all for buying, $90 Ereader?? Cool? Wait, I can’t read Epubs on it? Wait I can’t transfer easily AZW files to other devices? Wait so I’m paying you $90 for a reader, that is basically a jail cell for books I buy from you but don’t really own, and that are locked down with DRM? I’m paying you like $90 to treat me like a criminal in other words? And Kindle Fire is just as crappy and locked down.
Well to that I say, eff you very much Amazon. I’ll stick to just getting real books from you, get my ebooks somewhere else, and look for an Ereader that will let me play my purchased or free ebooks as I see fit. So to the Amazon VP who brainstormed their Kindle/lock-down/AZW/slap customers in the face policy…
You’re making money, but you could have made more, if you feared less.
or in other words…
Shove the Kindle where the sun don’t shine and set it on fire.
Why don’t I tell you how I really feel?
And this comes from someone who does business with Amazon and likes buying print books from them. But ebooks? No I’m not doing their DRM nonsense.
Anyhow, so once that decision was made regarding the cheap Kindle not being for me, I decided if I was going to pay anywhere near $200 for something to read ebooks, then I should get something that would handle all my reading needs. Including comics, magazines.
So that meant color, and that meant LCD screens, and that meant Tablets.
Now I knew looking at tablets, specifically the Ipad, that there was no way on earth this was something I was going to pay anywhere near $500 for. $500 for what amounted to a stopgap technology, a glorified ereader, or a crippled laptop if you will. And researching Tablets I saw Apple Ipad was infected with the same disease/mentality as Amazon’s Kindle in essence it’s designed to treat you like a criminal before crime.
What do I mean? No USB ports. No HDMI ports, No SD support. Things have to be transferred to and from the Ipad via the Matrix GateKeepers of Itunes. Cloud Computing in other words. Cloud Computing is the 21st century re-purposing of the 20th century thin client/server model, but pushed from corporate America to the masses.
In a word… Cloud Computing sucks! Cloud Computing is you trusting your information to companies that don’t trust you.
How on earth does that make sense to you?
Cloud Computing is the move to eradicate the hard-drive for the individual, the idea of private storage. Eff that! I’ll hold onto my hard-drive.
It’s that level of utter control of everything you do with the device, this Draconian iron fist, that I’m just not effing having. I’m just not going to 1/ to be treated that way and 2/for what amounts to a severely crippled device. And I’m definitely not paying anything over $250 for a bloody tablet.
And at $250, at $200, at $150, at $100, I still wouldn’t pay for the effing Ipad. No USB, no HDMI, no SD support, beautiful screen or no, it’s a paper weight to me without those ports.
And Apple’s tendency to treat customers either like children or criminals extends to their corporate mentality. Morally the company is doing some really immoral stuff in regards to software patents and stifling innovation. If Apple has its way there will be no alternative to Apple’s high-priced crippled devices. So people should really think twice before supporting them, because they definitely don’t have supporting you… in mind.
So what would I buy in tablets? I’m liking the Android tablets, and I think the Toshiba Thrive and Asus Transformer, are great Ipad killers. Offering all the useful things the Ipad doesn’t.
Unfortunately while not as expensive as the over-priced crap that is the Ipad, they are still expensive and above my $250 Tablet limit. However going used I can get an Ipad Killer, that meets all my needs and then some, chief among them, bringing it all home, ebook reading.
So my choice for the recommended Tablet this holiday season?
From France the feature rich ARCHOS 101 10.1″ Tablet. And while the latest version is generation 9, and generation 10 is on the horizon, generation 8 which you can get used blows away any Ipad in terms of versatility and usability. Now, it doesn’t offer 3G, but Wi-fi is all I need. Plus if you do need anywhere support you can always tether to your smartphone or use your USB aircard with a cradlepoint. All cheap, easy alternatives to spending hundreds more just to get a built in 3G/4G connection.
All in all, by the time I’ve done the learning curve, and outgrown (if I do) this Archos 101 G8. the used Thrive or the used Achos G10 will be available in my price range of $250. A lot of people buy above what they’ll use, and by the time they master it the next new thing is out, that’s why it saves to not be an early adopter.
If more people did this, ignoring or waiting for prices to drop, manufacturers would be forced to stop this overpricing of tablets.
So that’s it kids, a month or so of research distilled to my choice of the best buy for a tablet this holiday season.
Here’s one link:
Archos 101 16GB
With a little searching you can pick up an Archos 101 16GB G8 for under $200. And out the box it comes with the Alkido Ereader installed. One of the selling points for me, along with tons of other reasons, including the built in stand.
Well that’s it folks.