Another week, another tablet

For about 10 days now I switched my iPad for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 to see how they compare – thanks to Belgacom. First things first, this is the first version of the 10.1 (now renamed to 10.1v), there’s a newer one coming on the market that has the same name but is slightly thinner than this one.

The hardware specs on this tablet are quite impressive. It has a 1280×800 screen resolution, runs Android Honeycomb 3.0, has an 8 megapixel camera (that doubles as 1080p HD video recorder), Wifi and 3G and a 1 GHz dual-core processor. That all weighs just under 600 g making it a bit lighter than the original iPad (it’s also a bit smaller).

What do I like about it?

First of all – nice screen, solid battery, powerful, … everything you expect from a tablet that wants to be a serious competitor to the iPad. Getting the basics right is obviously crucial in this game so no remarks there.

It’s my first real experience with Honecomb and I must say that I was rather pleased with the result. It’s an intuitive experience and something I like about Android in general is that you can add more than just app icons to your screen. The widgets for recent browser history for instance is one that I use quite often and.

The tablet came with a data subscription and I was surprised by the loading speed in both browser as well as with downloads from the Android Market place when on 3G. It’s definitely faster then the data connection Mobistar currently offers on my iPhone.

Flash. You sort of learn to navigate around Flash enabled websites when you’re surfing on the iPad but it’s still annoying when trying to consult a webpage that cannot be displayed due to the no-Flash policy of Apple when it comes to mobile. The Samsung’s browser displays Flash just like you’re used to and that still is a nice surplus.

Last but not least

What can be improved?

I like the more solid, the more polished feel of the iPad. The Galaxy Tab feels a bit more plastic but as mentioned before it’s probably the reason why it weighs less as well.

What needs most improvement in my opinion has more to do with Android Honeycomb than with the device itself. Unlike with the iPad you cannot see which apps on the Android Market are built for tablets, meaning that most apps you download are regular Android apps. Those are decent apps – nothing against that – but they don’t use the screen estate like they should. Similar with the browser as most websites detect your device as a mobile device, defaulting to the mobile phone experience. You will have to switch to desktop version to get the full advantage of the tablet. Since that is a change you can make it’s just a little annoyance, the differentiation for Android and Android Honeycomb in the Android Market is something I would like to see changed soon though.

Overall pretty decent result and definitely worth checking out in my opinion.

[Disclaimer: Belgacom provided the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v to me including SIM with data subscription]

Reading white papers on the iPad (Evolved)

I recently figured out a nice way to read white papers on the iPad and thus finally catch up to the reading of all those white papers. It was/is a good solution but there are 2 elements that could be improved:

  1. Would have been nice to be able to open the PDF’s in iBooks straight from Dropbox without having to open them in Dropbox first and then in iBooks. Minor issue but could be easier.
  2. You can bookmark pages in iBooks on the iPad but that’s pretty much all the interaction that’s possible. It could have been better if you could make all kinds of annotations on the document, like notes or highlights etc.

And well what do you know, I just found out there’s a solution for that called GoodReader, a relatively new app for the iPad. It doesn’t look half as good as iBooks where you get that nice view of all your document covers on those shelves… but you can sync with your Dropbox folder from within the app and you can make all kinds of annotations on the document which you can save separately as annotations or immediately within the document. Sounds like a winner to me.

Check it out.

The promise of interactive television (part 2)

There are 3 reasons I once decided to get a digital television at home:

  1. Better quality. Especially with one of those fancy new full HD screens that’s a much better experience.
  2. Comfort features. Think about the EPG, easier recording, movie rental, …
  3. Interactivity. Push the red/blue/whatever-color button and you will get a richer experience

The end score, 2 out of 3. I don’t know how it is in the rest of the world, but in Belgium interactive part is pretty nonexistent. I’ve used the red button less than 5 times in the 3 years I’ve got digital tv at home. It was always a disappointment. Useless information, bad experience, ugly, … Content makers nor advertisers seem to show any interest in it. Too bad because I had really high hopes for this. It’s pretty easy to imagine how this could be used in many really cool ways. Didn’t happen.

When I read about the My Generation iPad app from abc it sounded like they built an app to do what interactive tv couldn’t. The same promise all over again, but you’ll need another device to experience it. And only with My Generation on abc.

Don’t get me wrong, I think these are cool evolutions. I’m just wondering why none of the richer tv experiences have ever really succeeded without the help of peripheral devices. Sounds like a missed opportunity to me for television makers.

Anyway, good stuff from abc. Curious to see how this will evolve further. What do you think?

Apple iSad

I was just reading this:

“Apple issued a cease and desist letter to Newsday regarding their iPad app commercial. The commercial essentially showed how the iPad can’t completely replace newspapers as the screen will shatter when your hit flies with it. Long story short, Apple doesn’t want their iPad’s glass getting shattered as a newspaper app commercial.”

Is that true? Because of this ad?

You have to be kidding. Really Apple, sometimes you can be so small. Small-minded that is.

My issue with the iPad

It’s not about the lack of Flash support. Although you visit less sites in their mobile version (if available) on the iPad thus the lack of Flash support is a bigger pain than on the iPhone, I knew what I was getting into when I bought one. Nor is it the lack of multi-tasking capabilities, I’m sure once iOS4 arrives on the iPad we will have that (kinda) sorted out. And also the fact that there are only few really good iPad apps is an issue (for now). There may as well be several thousand apps available (250.000 if you count all iPhone apps), we all know most of them are rubbish.

My issue is with the OS. It still is a big phone, without the phone functionalities then… probably to avoid situations like this to happen. Now a mobile phone typically is a very personal piece of technology. You don’t just hand to someone else to toy with it, it’s yours and personal. And that’s where the problem lies, for me the iPad isn’t personal. Not like the iPhone (or any other mobile phone for that matter). My wife and I both have our own mobiles but it’s rather unlikely that I we will get a second iPad, we both use it. But since it’s built on a mobile OS, it’s not really built for multiple users. There’s no need for that on a phone but it means that on the iPad there’s a primary user next to other people that can also use it. But not in the same way.

Still don’t see the problem? I really enjoy Flipboard, so does my wife. But it’s logged in with my Twitter/Facebook accounts so she cannot really enjoy that part. I could add her email account(s) to the iPad but then those would be visible to both of us, that’s not really what you want. And we try and beat each other on playing Mahjong but since there’s only one high score, it impossible to tell (remember) who it was from. It would enable me to personalize the iPad for the kids when they use it as well. With us, the iPad is typically lying around in the living room for anyone in the family to use when they feel like it. But since I’m the primary user (and the geek – yes, that too) it’s mainly setup towards my needs. I find that a missed opportunity.

It would be great to see the iOS for iPad change in a way you can have a user login upfront, similar to what we are used to on our PCs/Macs. Or the possibility to switch between users, all to get a more personal experience on a multi-user/shared device. I’m afraid that is not going to happen (soon) so maybe in that case it’s worth asking the developers of Flipboard, Reeder, Mahjong, … to implement the possibility to switch between users in the app itself. Less ideal, but it would still solve my issue with the iPad.