So why do I want an xPad?

Sep 14th, 20113 Comments

Yes indeed, why do you? The answer; usually because of all the marketing hype! That’s not to say however that the hype has no substance!

So, just to clarify, instead of (x)Pad I could’ve written “iPad”, but then I specifically don’t want to promote the iPad, and there’s better and more cost effective stuff out there. I could’ve written a(ndroid)Pad, but then I’d be inventing a new term that nobody seems to have coined yet and I might be misunderstood. I could write ‘tablet’ , which is the technically correct terminology, but then it’s so under-used in the press it may also be confusing, and if I used Geek speak and referred to it as a ‘fondleslab’ you might get totally the wrong idea. Anyway, now you know the options, you know what I mean by xPad.

Reasons why you might want and xPad;

  • Ever been on-call and fancied a Pint?
    And ended up with coffee because you couldn’t face carrying a laptop into the pub and potentially having to get it out, boot it up and plug a dongle in every 10 mins to see if anything’s broken? xPad’s will last for days (on standby) and can be brought up within a second with one keypress, weigh a fraction of the weight of a laptop, and can be carried easily like a book with no hefty case. Power on, refresh page, power off is a 10 second affair with 3G always connected.
  • Can’t go out because you’re bidding on eBay?
    Pretty much see the previous paragraph.
  • Don’t use your laptop while travelling?
    For so many reasons; battery is likely to die in-transit, too bulky to use on your lap, 3G dongle won’t stay in the USB port, just don’t want to lug a bag around, etc.
  • Want to sit in front of the Telly?
    Sure you can do this with a Laptop, but it’s a bit “in your face” and tells everyone else you’re not really with them and not paying attention. If you have what essentially looks like a book that you can pick up and put down as desired it’s a far more sociable approach and you’re far less likely to be accused of working in the evening.
  • Skype user?
    If you are you’ll be aware of how much of a pain it is trying to re-arrange your windows when a call comes in so you can still see who you’re talking to and work on an issue at the same time. Stick your xPad on a dock and run Skype on that and hey presto, you no longer have an annoying windows to worry about, indeed you can stick your webcam on eBay.
  • Now where did I put that video player?
    I was talking about rooting my device today and someone intimated that it would be a good idea to put a standard Linux desktop on the device. Take note, Android 3.1 is *NOT* a Linux desktop and indeed bears no similarity. It’s clean, integrated, stable and works very well, none of this messing about trying to make Unity work. You won’t *want* a Linux desktop on the device, because you already have all the tools you’re going to want, and they’re already working! If you want to play a video, it’s going to work, you don’t have to worry about codec’s, playback speed, whether full-screen will be too much for it etc, it’s a complete, integrated, tested, working system.  Very unlike what you’re going to see next time you get your laptop out.

So, in summary, reasons why it’s not a laptop;

  • It’s an always-on device, you don’t boot when needed
  • It’s got a *very* long battery life, think 10 hours video or 10 days on standby
  • It has 3G built-in, no Dongle
  • It’s got all the bells and whistles you’re going to want already built-in, hardware and software

I moved from a Blackberry style Nokia in Dec 2010 to a Nexus S running Android.

I was staggered by the change am expecting the XOOM to make a similar difference.

Will report back in six months …

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3 Responses to “So why do I want an xPad?”

  1. avatar mark says:

    Okay, I get the ergonomics, and battery life, I get the “set up for you”, I even get the “always on” .. but are you saying the laptop / netbook is dead ?

    Where does Android fit into the “set up the way *I* want it” scenario ?

    Surely there are things a laptop / netbook (or even tablet) running a “proper” Linux DE is better at ?

    Or am I out of touch when I think of an Android tablet as a “gadget” rather than a full blown, do anything computer, where I can set up pretty much every aspect to suit the way I work rather than the way someone else thinks I should ?

    How about “user” multitasking (I don’t mean “can it multitask” in the true sense of the term)… you mentioned Skype and juggling windows,.. can Andriod have multiple application windows open at the same time rather than application “switching” ? .. I actually *like* juggling windows (well sometimes, but there’s always the maximise button or separate workspace).

    I guess I’m really asking… what are *Androids* limitations compared to a standard Linux DE ? .. what are the down sides ?

  2. avatar madpenguin says:

    Mmm, I’d have to say the “netbook” is dead, as for larger laptops, I guess there’s always going to be those who lug desktop replacements around with them, but for anyone looking for a truly portable solution, yes, laptops are dead. I certainly won’t be carrying mine around once I get everything just the way I want it.

    The UI is *very* customisable, the app store is well populated .. no you can’t get a program and compile it up from source .. by default .. but you can jail-break it if you want and it’s a Linux box “underneath”. I will be breaking mine shortly because I *need* OpenVPN as PP2P generally sucks.

    Would I run Android instead of Ubuntu on my workstation? Probably not, but then Android was developed for small form-factor touch screens. Would I ever run Ubuntu on a Tablet? Not in a month of Sundays, at least no more than I’d switch Ubuntu on my desktop for GEM.

    Multi-tasking, yes it has virtual desktops and yes it’s *very* quick at switching. Interesting design feature, as all applications run “full screen” then the switcher can (and does) show proper screen-shots in the switcher menu, which is very nice to work with. Bear in mind also the screen res is 1280×800, as opposed to my 15″ laptop which is only 1027×768, so the definition at 10.1″ is nothing short of amazing by comparison.

    Android’s limitations .. yes, lack of keyboard, although it’s surprising how easy to use the pop-up keyboard is, and of course you can get a low profile blue-tooth keyboard which in conjunction with the case/stand, pretty much makes it as “usable” from a physical point of view as a laptop. That aside, it’s “nice” not to have to use a mouse all the time (say bye-bye to RSI claims!) and the UI makes all the difference! (Gnome and Ubuntu UI developers take node!)

    Yes working with multiple applications, cutting and pasting between them is generally done better by workstations, but if you’re doing “that” sort of work, anyone not using a workstation with “two” monitors is missing out big-time. (find someone with a two-screen setup, tell him he’ll be missing a screen for two weeks and see how loudly he screams!)

  3. avatar mark says:

    Thanks for the info… I think I’m about as convinced as I’m going to get without actually having used one myself.

    At the very least you’ve got me interested enough to go take a looksee :)

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