I have in my possession a Surface, an iPad, and an ASUS T300 Android Tablet. After having spent time with all three, I look at the pluses and minuses of them, from my perspective, which means that there are opinions in here that are just that, opinions.
Tablets are the new big thing. Everyone wants one, and plenty of companies are making them. Some tend to be designed for specific things (Nook, Kindle) while others make what seem like empty promises to me. I started out with a Nook Color e-reader not long after it came out. I had figured that it would be the tablet of choice for me. Problem was, the 7″ screen and lack of apps, especially free (Ad Supported) apps made me think of getting something else.
That something else came from my work. As we were getting iPads and starting to support them at client sites, they gave me one. this was for me to play with, learn about and use so I could support them. I enjoy the iPad experience. It is quick, and solid. I don’t like Apple, their holier than god and we know what is right for you attitude, and the lack of decent tech apps. Video playback on it has been nice on trips, but I am limited to the Apple formats, as usual.
The Surface is the newest of the Tablets I have. I really had high hopes for this machine, and maybe in the future it will reach those aspirations, but not at the moment. Right now, I deal with the frustration of not finding either the apps I use or an equivalent. Flip Toast is ok, but has bugs (They have told me they are working on fixing them). I can’t find decent Network tools, most apps that I can get free with Ads on other platforms, cost money, or are more expensive than they are on other platforms. Then there is also my Nook issue. I have the Nook app, or my Nook Color on everything else. My Library is there on all my other devices. Microsoft, which bought an 18% stake (IIRC) in Nook has no Nook App for Windows 8. In Fact if you search for Nook in the App Store, you get 2 choices as of writing this article, Kobo or Kindle. So much for partnerships. Don’t get me wrong, there is good about the Surface. Office works nicely, the hardware is responsive and the tile system looks nice. Plus there is the keyboard cover, which is pretty sweet.
Both the Surface and the iPad I got through my office for testing and learning purposes. We want to make decisions on what our sales and service techs are going to use going forward. Honestly, I would lean to the Surface, because of Office, and because of the ease at which it integrates into a Microsoft environment. I can access network shares easily (even though I cannot join an RT device to the domain), and it will do everything that our sales and service teams need. The iPad integration we were trying with a Mac server and we just could not get it to do what we wanted.
The ASUS Transformer T300 is a personal item. It was a birthday gift back in Sept. To tell the truth, I love it. Outside of Flipboard not being available for it, I have everything I want or need on it right now. Yes, I am using Pulse on it, but the lack of new sources I like, and the lack of aggregation from the social media world, makes Pulse a bit annoying, especially in regards to World/U.S. news. Still, I have everything else, including a free Office Suite (which is amazingly useful in its own right). The only drawback to the T300 as compared to the Prime, is the plastic back. I also got a 3rd party case/bluetooth keyboard for it which works as nicely as the Surface’s keyboard cover.
My recommendation right now to people would be the Android Tablet. The T300 does it all, and while a bit sluggish at times, is still is plenty responsive. There are more free apps available for it, and you are not tied into iTunes or Apple’s network. The Surface might be the thing in the future, bight right now, it doesn’t have enough to make it worthwhile, especially on price point. The T300 costs under $400 for a 32GB model. The iPad and Surface (with Type touch cover) are both at $600 for 32GB (Without the Cover the Surface is $499 for 32GB).
The Touchpad isn’t completely Dead. Mostly dead, yes, but is it just a flesh wound? The Touchpad frenzy has proved a point, and now can HP, or any company, really capitalize on it?
Apple has been the cock of the walk, the king of the tablet, since the iPad came out. They came up with something that is a great idea which has spawned a whole tablet market. No competitor seems to be able to come up with anything to seriously threaten its dominance. Its not that the Android tablets aren’t good, it has to do with features, and more importantly price point. I touched on this when talking about the Nook Color in the past. HP though, unwittingly, came up with the plan. Something I had mentioned in those same posts about the Nook Color. Its the same thing that gave the PC the advantage in the PC wars back in the 90′s. that is price point.
I’ve been wondering when we would see a price point that would spur competition. Most Tablets are in the $400 plus range of price. The Nook Color, although a reader, is $250 and offers a lot of tablet features, but its App store is lacking. The demise of the HP Touchpad and the fire sale though has shown that for a lower price point, a tablet that doesn’t have as much app support can compete. Now imagine if you will what would happen if Android had a tablet in the $200 or less range. More people purchase it, more developers see a reason to write apps for it, and bingo, a true competitor to Apple can emerge. Amazon might do that with its rumored tablet, but no solid information on it is out yet.
The idea being that in a down economy that we are in does put limits on what people are willing to purchase. Done properly though, a low cost tablet can bring in a nice profit to a company. Yes they might loose on the initial hardware, but if partnered up with the developers, it can be possible to turn a profit through the purchasing of apps. It might mean the developer makes a little less, or the apps are a bit more expensive, say $2 for most apps instead of $1, but it is possible.
Barnes and Noble could have done it completely, instead of halfway. Now the question is will others learn from this or not?
Apple, a company you either love or hate. Its about as black and white as one can get. Now they really have a chance to make some good changes to their culture, but they won’t.
When Apple was founded, the computer world was a simpler place. Young people just wanted to be able to play, to work on these new machines. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created a company that fed into those dreams, helping define an era. Having an Apple II machine was hip, it was cool, and it was around $1000-$1500 to get one. Most of its competitors cost around the same, so it wasn’t too big of a deal. You could purchase or write your own programs, and do what you wanted to with the system.
Somewhere along the way, after Woz left, Apple’s vision started changing. They came out with the Macintosh which was an amazing little machine. A machine that started to really open the world of computers to more people. A machine that would redefine Apple. Who can forget the Orwellian Ad that they came up with for the Mac. Funny how prophetic that would be.
Steve Jobs always had a great mind for marketing and a brilliant mind for ideas. Some over the years would stick, some wouldn’t. He got removed for Apple, sold all but one of his shares, and eventually through the means of mergers and acquisitions wound up back in charge of the company he had founded. He brought them back from the brink with a savvy set of ideas that pushed the envelope not in computing, but in consumer electronics.
Jobs also took the paranoia he got from his original ouster to an extreme. While Mac is a good, and solid system, and pretty easy to use, the helped create fallacies around it, from the level of its security to the ease of its use. He also locked the system down tighter than Fort Knox. Same with the iPhone and iPad. Locking down these systems not only gives Apple more control over the device and the data but creates a problem for consumers from a pricing standpoint. The lack of competition helped Apple become the 2nd largest company in the United States, only behind Exxon Mobile. It also gave Apple another item at its disposal, the lawsuit.
Apple is as much a company now that is anti-competitive as Microsoft was back in the 90′s. Its biggest rival is Google, who is just as closed minded and stupid about things as Apple is. Both companies claim to have the consumers best interests at heart. Apple looks at any competing product and immediately tries to find what it can sue over. This is not in the best interests of the consumer.
With Steve Jobs stepping away from the CEO position to Chairman of the Board, he still has a great influence over Apple, its products, its direction. Tim Cook could try to open things up, but won’t. The consumer friendly company that was the little engine that could is gone. They are a company that wants, like Google, to tell you how to do things. They don’t care about what you think. This is why they have been referred to as a cult over the years. Just like Scientology, Jonestown, the KKK and many others over the years, the ultimate goal is to control you and make you bend to their will.
Steve, thank you for all you have done to forward technology, but your controlling and paranoid thoughts, I won’t miss.