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Android tablets: Big enough, smart enough, cheap enough?

Rory Cellan-Jones | 09:55 UK time, Monday, 1 November 2010

Six months after swarms of shoppers queued to buy Apple's iPad, today marks the beginning of real competition in the tablet market - and it comes from Android. I've spent the weekend playing with three new Android tablets and trying to work out whether they are smart enough, big enough, and cheap enough to compete with the machine that has defined this new market.

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab, a seven-inch tablet unveiled in Berlin in September goes on sale this morning, while both the Advent Vega and the Toshiba Folio are larger iPad-sized devices which should be available in the next couple of weeks. All three are running Android and are early entrants into a market which could be the biggest thing to happen in consumer electronics for a decade.

Right up until the moment the iPad went on sale there were plenty of questions about whether there was a space in the market between the smartphone and the netbook for another device and, if so, what exactly people would use it for.

The sales figures for Apple's shiny plaything then proved the sceptics wrong, and every month technology analysts have been raising their forecasts for the tablet market as a whole. What's more, the iPad is already invading businesses as well as homes, finding a much wider range of uses than had been imagined.

So let's look at the Android challengers and work out whether they will expand this new market - or even take some of it away from Apple.

I'm not going to say much about the Advent or Toshiba because I was supplied with devices that were not quite the finished product and there'll be a couple of tweaks before they go on sale. But both promise to be substantially cheaper than the iPad and a first glance suggests they will offer a decent enough surfing, viewing and social networking experience.

Their real disadvantage is a lack of apps. They are running on an operating system which is not quite ready for tablets. Android 2.2 is still really a smartphone system, and Google does not allow devices with screens bigger than seven inches to have access to its app marketplace. That will change when a new version comes out next year, but for now the larger tablets have jumped the gun.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is another matter altogether, a very polished product with a number of features that don't exist on the iPad. So what should be the key comparisons? As is my habit, I turned to a popular social network and asked which three tasks I should set for the Tab. Some suggested jobs that seemed more suited to the workplace such as:

"The ability to annotate a document, save and send the annotated version so it's compatible with all formats and OS."

However much some people - me included - have found that tablets can function as work devices, I reckon they are primarily going to be sold as multimedia playthings. So it was this suggestion that I thought most suitable:

"Get a film onto it and watch it. Get a book onto it and read it. Read the beeb news website and watch a video news clip."

So I'm going to take those in reverse order.

Read the BBC News website and watch a clip

This is a good test of what will be a prime use for any tablet, simple web surfing. I used the Google voice search function on the Tab to get to the site, where I found pages rendered quite swiftly and efficiently. I headed straight for the Technology section, of course, and clicked on a video, which, after a short pause, played without a hitch.

On the iPad, surfing around the BBC News site was equally smooth - until I came to that video. Because the iPad does not support Flash I wasn't able to play it. I could have used the BBC's iPad app where some of the videos are available, but on this test the Android came out on top.

BBC News video on an Apple iPad and a Samsung Galaxy Tab

 

Get a book onto it and read it

After glancing quickly at the Tab's "readers hub", which offers access to various newspapers and magazines, and to the Kobo online book store, I realised there was a simpler way to get a book. I'm already reading Howard Jacobson's latest novel on an iPad via the Amazon Kindle store. The Kindle platform works on a range of devices, including Android tablets, so I downloaded the app and then the book and I was away. Like the iPad, the Tab has advantages and drawbacks over e-readers without backlit screens - it's great in the dark, but not so good in sunlight.

The question now is whether the newspaper and magazine groups which have embraced the iPad like a drowning man offered a lifebelt will be just as enthusiastic about Android devices. My guess is that they will wait to assess the size of a somewhat fragmented market before diving in. But one paper, the Financial Times, is already promising an app for the Samsung tablet.

Text of a book on the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab

Get a film onto it and watch it

On the iPad this is pretty easy - if you are happy to shell out for a movie from the iTunes store. Apple, for good or ill, offers you a seamless media experience if you stay inside its iTunes walled garden - outside it's a bit trickier.

On the Galaxy Tab, I found the Samsung Movie store, which required a lengthy sign-up process. But typing on the small screen wasn't much easier than on a smartphone so I abandoned it and went to my computer where I finally managed to get registered and chose a movie. Then I got stuck in an eternal loop where the Tab kept asking me to sign in again before I could download - after half an hour I gave up in frustration and watched a couple of movie trailers. The screen is fine, the quality reasonable, and I can see people watching downloaded movies on a train, but I'm not clear why they would use this at home - and the evidence from iPad users is 80% of them never take the device out.

FIlm playing on Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab

So I reckon Samsung won the web test, Apple wins on movies, and it's a draw on books, making it 1-1 overall.

But the Galaxy Tab does have some other advantages over the iPad. It can make phone calls - though you'll look very Dom Joly if you don't use a headset. There's a camera to shoot stills and make video calls, if you can find anyone with the right kind of phone. There's access to an impressive range of apps - I installed the Ocado shopping app complete with barcode scanner - though I found Google's marketplace was subject to frequent glitches. And Google's various services, from voice search to navigation, add to its functionality.

There are two big doubts for me about this device, its size and its price. Is there really a big enough niche in the space between a smartphone and an iPad for a tablet with a seven-inch screen? It's too small to be a comfortable place to type more than a short message, whereas on the iPad I managed to write most of this blog post. It is being sold as a more mobile device but you can do just about everything the Tab does on a much more portable smartphone.

And, while there's still some fuzziness about pricing from mobile operators, a sim-free price tag of £529 looks pretty steep. Yes, it's about what a 3G iPad costs, but that's established itself in the market. Surely Samsung needs to undercut Apple's device if it's to find much of an audience?

Still, once the much more affordable Advent and Toshiba tablets are in stores, there will be a decent choice of alternatives for consumers who want a touchscreen computing experience on the move. But it may be the spring before we see an Android that is big enough, smart enough and cheap enough to take on the iPad.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Rory,

    As head of technical support in our organisation i've been trialling an iPad with a view to rolling them out to our entire userbase. What really makes the iPad for me is it's size, its big enough to use Microsft Office 2010 from our cloud platform without having to constantly pan around the screen as you do on smaller devices (email me if you would like to try this out on your iPad) but small and portable enough to take on the road to client meetings etc without having to lug around my usual laptop bag and associated cables.

    With cloud technology as it is the find the iPad is the perfect anywhere device, and see it fitting into businesses really well.

    Nick

  • Comment number 3.

    Screen quality? Viewing angle? Weight? Thickness? Build quality? Battery life?

    C.

  • Comment number 4.

    You keep talking about how poor typing is on the Galaxy Tab, did you ever try using the pre-loaded Swype input system?
    Even on the Galaxy S with it's 4" screen it's quick and simple to use so on the larger Tab it should work even better.

    I would strongly recommend that anyone interested in the Galxy Tab should read GSMArena's in-depth review of it.

  • Comment number 5.

    It will be interesting to see if tablet PCs still exist in 5 years.

    Currently Apple could bring out a yoyo, label it i-yo and it would still sell millions....... but that doesn't necessarily mean it would last.

    Personally I can't see there being both tablet PCs and netbooks around in 5 years and I'm not convinced there will be much of a boom per capita in smartphone/table PC/Netbook/laptop ownership over all... more the same people deciding which is more useful to them.

  • Comment number 6.

    Until Android Tablet manufacturers include accelerometers and GPS in the devices I am not interested. Without this functionality a huge percentage of Android apps wont work. I'll keep waiting until these become the norm rather than the exception.

  • Comment number 7.

    An operating system that any developer can build for without having to go through rigorous checks from Apple is what is desired.

    It's all about freedom, if I want Flash, Divx (as well as other formats), Online gambling and indeed Pornographic material I shouldn't have to hope that it's passed Apple's we-know-what's-best-for-you moral test.

    I own Apple devices, they are indeed very smooth and very well designed in general. They just have such control over what you can do on the devices that it completely undermines the experience. It's technology for the masses but not for the enthusiast.

  • Comment number 8.

    I still don't get the point of the iPad or similar devices. I've used a tablet PC (HP TC1100) for years and it does everything the iPad does and so much more. I can remove the keyboard and apart from being a bit heavier and chunkier than an iPad it looks pretty much the same. Admittedly the interface works with a pen rather than fingers but even that is so much more useful. I can write stuff! Imagine a MacBook Air with the screen turned round to be on the outside and you have a device that it so much more useful. Getting iPhone/iPad apps to work on such a device can hardly be challenging.

  • Comment number 9.

    @#6 - Mike Mc: the Galaxy Tab has an accelerometer/3-axis gyro combination and GPS.

  • Comment number 10.

    Android (once updated to its newer version) should leave the iPad trailing on these devices.
    Will wait for the other two before even looking at purchasing one, but I wont be getting an iPad.
    I dont want locking into what I can & cant put on MY machine. Apple make you feel like its on loan to you, not that you own it.

  • Comment number 11.

    Rory you do realize I hope that Archos is selling tablets like the iPAD for years now(which are probably better aswell)..

  • Comment number 12.

    Very dissapointing blogg.

    It starts as a review of 3 tablets then reduces to a review of the Galaxy Tab it then fails to provide a review of any sort. As usual it simply degenerated into Rory's favorite freebie vs the rest.

    Web test, Samsung wins hands down, as it should, by supporting flash.

    Movie viewing you had an issue with the Samsung movie download system and decided that was the Tab's fault????? I've had all sorts of issues with iTunes I haven't blamed the device only the system that demands I use itunes and nothing else. There are many ways of getting a movie onto an Android device none of them terribly onerous.

    Book retreival and reading is not a worthy test of anything, any device with a readable screen can perform this function. The Kindle book reader is available for a pile of formats and there are plenty of others.

    The Android marketplace just recently has been a total nightmare, however prior to this and now it is working well.

    The Samsung wins on mobile form factor, I've sat on crowded commuter trains next to people struggling with the size of the iPad, whilst I sit comfortably using my 5" screened Dell Streak (Android powered) to Browse the web, listen to music, read books, edit documents (YES edit documents), send SMS messages, make phone calls etc..... Increasing the screen size to that of the Samsung would perhaps make all of this a little easier but still be miles better than having to cart an underspec'd heavy lump (iPad) around.

    Yes it's expensive, probably overly so but Samsung don't need to undercut the iPad's cost when the Galaxy Tab is immensley superior.

  • Comment number 13.

    The key issue is that people use tablets at home - very few use them as mobile devices.

    As such, the iPad is about the minimum size you would want to use - anything smaller is too small.

  • Comment number 14.

    5.
    "Currently Apple could bring out a yoyo, label it i-yo and it would still sell millions....... but that doesn't necessarily mean it would last."

    Absolutely.
    People are like sheep.
    Baaaaaaa.

  • Comment number 15.

    I've just been into PC World looking at one of these.
    First thing I would say is anybody going into this store is going to dismiss the Samsung outright as it is siting all alone beside the iPads which have a fancy display and its price is the same as the most expensive iPad on display.
    I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the unit but it has the same stickiness in scrolling that my sister's Galaxy S has. Nowhere near as fluid as the iPad.
    Otherwise I was pretty impressed but, like Rory, am struggling to think who will buy it at this price and what advantage it offers over a good smartphone. For Satnav, its a good size (it has Google maps) but it means you need a 3G connection all the time, for games it is good. For movies the iPad is much nicer, same with browsing and mail.
    One of the sales guys was holding it up talking video when I came in and he looked a right jerk - will anybody ever use it in real life?
    One last thing is the Flash - as Rory says, you can play Flash Videos but they are slow to load and, if it is anything like on Android phones, it will hammer the battery life. Likewise Flash heavy sites are slow and hard to navigate.

  • Comment number 16.

    I've owned a Dell Streak for about three months now; for those unaware, that's a five-inch Android device, which Dell have marketed as a 'pocket friendly tablet', but which most reviewers have argued to be more of a smartphone. I purchased it with the recognition that I could use it as a convergence device, fulfilling the roles of both smartphone and netbook.

    It's proven a good fit for my life. My main uses for a portable device are web browsing, instant messaging, GPS (for monitoring my running, and for finding my way through cities while on work-related travel), and music playing. The Streak ticks all boxes - and the form factor is perfect, being just small enough to fit into most of my trouser pockets even in its case. For working on a train or similar, it (unlike any other Android device then available) also supports Bluetooth keyboards - and because the Streak is pocketable, I only need to put my Bluetooth keyboard in a bag.

    A friend of mine has recently acquired a Streak, having previously owned an Archos 5 tablet - he has commented upon how much lighter and more usable the Streak is in comparison. Despite this lightness - it's only 1cm thick - it survived a fall out of my shirt pocket onto a cobbled street with only cosmetic damage, although I keep it in its case now, to ensure no repeat!

    I can't see how the Galaxy Tab can be more useful than the Streak, and the latter is £130 cheaper SIM-free at this point. The only disadvantage the Streak has is being limited to Android 1.6, but that is at least a stable release, and the lack of Flash is a blessing as much as a curse when on a 500MB data tariff...

  • Comment number 17.

    I agree with the idea of i-Yoyo by someone here, really true.

    I do not see iPad as much of a use in current format, I like Samsung putting something cheaper in market, I sure hope it to impact on market. Not everyone can afford an Apple product you know.

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't get why everyone is constantly hating on apple about it being a walled garden. What a load of ROT.

    If you are remotely technical, which you'd have to be to care about such things, its very easy to get Movies and books, onto your ipod/ipad/iphone for free without any real issue. My devices arent jailbroken but I have EVERYTHING I need on them, and the device looks good and will always be properly supported...unlike these Droid flash in the pan things. Google get bored of everything they make..so expect droid to go the same way as BSB and Betamax

  • Comment number 19.

    @Carniphage #3

    I too wish Rory had written about those things.

    @dempsi1997 #4

    Thanks for the reference to the better, more in-depth review.

    It will be interesting to see how well this thing sells. Not too well I reckon.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm a confirmed iPhone user, and expert PC user, not an Apple freak, as I support Windows based systems. The iPad is too big as a mobile device, the Streak is close but for me the 7" devices hold the most interest, anbd yes I want to use my tablet at home, in the car, at work and mobile at work also. So the Galaxy while hitting the spot spec and size wise fails on the price front, I'd need to see a device at the >£350 mark to get even close to buying

  • Comment number 21.

    What about support for printing?
    Not often needed, but for some people a potential show-stopper.

  • Comment number 22.

    And I see that fester61 has similarly good experiences with the Streak. I've yet to use it for document editing, because I only have a free viewing-only app, but I've found it ideal for commuting too (I'll usually listen to music, surf the web, and talk to friends through an IM app).

    For what it's worth, I make calls on the Streak through my headphones, holding the device in front of me (allowing me to surf the web or use other apps during the call to get information relevant to the call).

    And to give you an idea of how much brand recognition Apple has, people have regularly asked me "is that an iPad?" when I'm using the Streak for web surfing or IMing. That's the sort of recognition any Android phone struggles to compete with.

  • Comment number 23.

    "The sales figures for Apple's shiny plaything then proved the sceptics wrong, and every month technology analysts have been raising their forecasts for the tablet market as a whole."

    Sorry Rory, this doesn't seem to reflect the facts. Apple's sales figures for the iPad were below expectation at just over 4 million units sold. For a new product type that's less than stellar, compare that to the sales figures of NetBooks in their first 6 months+ and it looks quite abysmal. It's also worth noting that for Apple, who can usually peddle anything to their most loyal fans it's even worse- even the Apple TV which was a massive flop shifted more units than this.

    To declare the skeptics wrong seems rather premature, when it seems there's a good chance they might actually be right. The sales so far show all the signs of being a typical quick Apple fad and nothing more. Apple's products only really take off when they start to be adopted amongst those who are not members of the Apple faithful in decent numbers and the iPad is not managing that right now. I know you get a bit carried away with Apple Rory, but maintain some perspective- just because the iPhone and iPod did well doesn't mean the iPad will, and it doesn't mean Apple's products always do well- the MacBook Air, Apple TV, MobileMe, 3rd gen iPod nano have all been abysmal failures. Apple still gets it wrong more often than they get it right, it's just that when they get it right they really get it right- I don't see that in the iPad right now, and especially not in it's below expectations sales figures.

  • Comment number 24.

    Rory will you please stop talking about the Tablet war. It's nearly getting as old as the "war" on "terror". Your blogs are basically reviews and opinions that are similar to the ones found in What(insert technology here) magazines. I am sorry but I have not read this whole Blog. Mainly because it isn't very interesting. Why has no one on the BBC mentioned anything about in CS5 you will be able to convert Flash to HTML5 ???

    A, You call yourself a technology blog ?
    B, Talk about missing a big one.

    It will change the way everything will be done. It will open up the world of HTML5 to flash developers. And also stop the market from being so against itself in terms of the flash debate. It will make everything a little more Open source for the developers that can't be bothered.

    Some of the comments made are really funny. I think D Dortmans is the best. Do you ever leave your house ??? I love the Mac haters (PC lovers?) talking about sheep. Have you ever tried using an OS not designed by windows ??? If no were you trying to be Ironic.

  • Comment number 25.

    Not so long ago Microsoft looked at MacOS, made a commercial version called Windows and by stealing apple's idea made a large fortune. With the iPad perhaps its payback time this idea was largely piloted by Microsoft 8 or 10 years ago but was not a commercial success. The iPad whatever its strengths or weaknesses are does seem to be a money maker.

    What goes around comes around.

  • Comment number 26.

    Well what about the Zoostorm SL8? It has the Microsoft Operating System and you can view flash! What more can you ask for? One of my work fellows got on and it look brilliant!

  • Comment number 27.

    ta for this report. pads look nearly ready for the main business market then? we want free choice of apps, flash, java and long long battery life with loads of usb connects and huge storage all at a commodity cost.

    apple cannot provide that and if it is not careful it risks losing out as it did when it kept the mac locked up and wintel took the market away from it.

    roll on the price war!

  • Comment number 28.

    A useful link to a collaborative Google doc on the state of Tablet development http://bit.ly/9BsVNB

  • Comment number 29.

    A couple of points:

    1) Regardless of manufacturer, the tablet is here to stay, and will revolutionise businesses, once the right apps are available. Just think of all the useless documentation that can be prevented: security guards signing people in daily, for example, with a tablet device, they could scan and confirm a person's ID, which would be linked wirelessly to a central database, and would record their time of arrival and departure without having to write everything down and then store the paper for years. Estate agents, with all their endless bits of info for each property, could have their entire office's files held in one portable device. No, there is definitely a very large niche for a portable device that is somewhere between a smartphone and and a laptop, a device that allows a limited amount of content creation, and thus doesn't require the processing power of a laptop or desktop, but also allows connectivity to a central database or the cloud. It's only people who aren't imaginative enough to see their possibilities who are the naysayers.

    2) Flash: the only reason that the other tablets are allowing the use of Flash is so that they can hopefully gain an edge over Apple. They are not actually looking at the technology and seeing what's wrong with it, like Apple are. Apple have looked at Flash very closely, and decided it's a faulty technology. It is, it's terrible. I had hoped that Apple's stance would force Adobe to take another look at Flash and iron out its faults (and maybe they are). But the other OS makers stance is merely going to prolong the replacement of Flash with something better. This is to the detriment of the market. What is better: for individual companies to competitively build cars that can cope with terrible road surfaces, or to collectively improve the road surface? Apple's stance is actually forcing people to look at the whole infrastructure and improve it, to the benefit of us all, rather than simply catering to a poor infrastructure for the sake of a quick profit.



  • Comment number 30.

    There's a very good chance that my next mobile device/tablet/smartphone will be an Android device. I've currently got a Nokia N900 which I anticipate will meet all my out and about needs for some time to come.

    I just hope that when the time comes for me to get an Android device, the competitors will have stopped trying to undermine it with despicable legal claims to some completely ridiculous patent. If they concentrate on providing their customers with better quality products and compete fairly, hopefully I won't have to pay Apple/Microsoft tax on my Android device!

  • Comment number 31.

    It's an interesting presumption that Samsung could have undercut the iPad with the Galaxy - it's a similar issue with Android phones themselves - the good ones, like the Galaxy, Desire, Droid - are the same price or higher than the iPhone. Flash 10 recommends at least a 1Ghz ARM CPU - the kind you'll only find on those phones, and something that is still pretty much 'state of the art' for mobiles.

    The kind of commodity pricing people are expecting doesn't happen immediately - it took a good 10 years before the standard PC became fast / good enough that people stopped wanting to upgrade because their existing one was junk; at that point the market became about price.

    We're not at that point yet - you can clearly see the difference between the Galaxy and early Android phones; ditto the iPhone 4 and the original model.

    The interesting thing will be what happens when the cost of the technology becomes very cheap - my guess is that this market will be more like radios and TVs than PCs

  • Comment number 32.

    STOP THE FLASH DEBATE PLEASE

    READ WHAT I SAID IN POST 24

  • Comment number 33.

    The screen is fine, the quality reasonable, and I can see people watching downloaded movies on a train, but I'm not clear why they would use this at home - and the evidence from iPad users is 80% of them never take the device out.

    Could there be a good reason why 80% of iPad users never take their device out with them? Something like, oooh I dunno, the fact it's too big to be truly portable?

    I have to question the sanity of anyone watching films on an iPad in their home - after all, these are not going to be people with a wee CRT TV set, they're going to be people with 42" flat-screen TVs. So you buy your expensive big screen TV, and then you sit on you sofa watching films on a wee handheld screen. Err...

    I don't think the market has fully formed for tablets quite yet. I see their market as being people who have previously bought laptops which they've only used for internet browsing at home, watching films on trains and storing their music collection on. Is a 7" screen suitable for these tasks? I dunno - I've not tried one. My only experiences with a tablet device so far have been going to my friend's house to see his brand spanking new iPad, putting it to a video on the BBC news site to show him its very basic failure, and then giggling away to myself at the fact that my wee (free) Android phone is better than his over-priced brick. Still, whether or not 7" is big enough for these tasks, choice is (usually) a good thing, so having a variety of sizes on the market will allow people to buy the right tablet for their needs. As a result, I'm not sure this criticism holds much water.

    The price is ridiculous though - one of the things I love about my HTC Desire is that a SIM-free one is half the price of a PAYG iPhone and yet has all the functionality I require. When I do eventually venture into the tablet market, it'll be for a device which is significantly cheaper than an iPad - just as a new laptop with Ubuntu pre-installed undercuts the same laptop with Windows pre-installed, I would expect iPad-like devices with the Android OS to significantly undercut the iPad, to the tune of at least £300.

  • Comment number 34.

    Out of curiosity, I just searched "Android Tablet" on Amazon and there seem to be some reasonably well specced tablets from China coming in at around the £150 mark. Am I missing something or does this not make the galaxy tab kind of redundant.

  • Comment number 35.

    32. At 12:51pm on 01 Nov 2010, Mel0dymaker wrote:
    STOP THE FLASH DEBATE PLEASE

    -------------------------

    Stopping the debate is like burying your head in the sand: it won't make the problem go away.

    In fact, the biggest issue over Flash that I can see is over this very website: so come on BBC, pull your fingers out, and ditch Flash. Then everyone can see your videos, and we'll all be happy:)

  • Comment number 36.

    Owning any apple product is like owning a high performance sports car, that you can only drive on sundays on a track moderated and approved by the manufacturer. Whats the point? Its almost as if you loan out products from them; they are never yours.

    If people actually shopped around they would see that competitors products are much more sensibly priced and usually offer a lot more for your money (Samsung, Sony etc). People just blindly follow the crowd as apple is more than a social/fashion statement than a device.

    Personally, I think android is the way forward. I myself own a samsung galaxy s and love the fact I'm not limited as to what apps/music/videos I can have, and the fact that I don't have to use a stupid excuse for music software (i-tunes). I can just drag and drop, as simple as that. Also, I don't have to pay for sat-nav software thanks to googles new smart navigation app and maps app.

    All in all, sooner or later people will eventually twig that apple are not all they are hyped up to be.

  • Comment number 37.

    #5 said 'It will be interesting to see if tablet PCs still exist in 5 years.'

    Oh, we'll definitely see them, but only in very limited quantities.

    Let's face it, these devices embody all the disadvantages of a smartphone (awkward data entry, relatively small screen, no accurate pointing device) without the redeeming features that have made smartphones the success they are...

    ...which is their small size and dual role.

    The iPad purchased by our company for evaluation spends its' life sat on various desks, gathering dust, and getting in the way of more important items (such as coffee cups, and free space), whereas we all carry smartphones as a matter of course. Consequently, it doesn't matter that the iPad has technical advantages over either the HTC Legend or iPhone 3GS that currently live on my desk because I can't just shove it in my pocket and go to the pub. It doesn't matter that I could use the iPad to work out why I'm stationary on the M25 again because it'll be sat 40 miles away, whereas whatever smartphone I'm carrying about will be sat in my pocket because it fits there, and because it's a phone and I carry one of those as a matter of course.

    These tablets will, I suspect, go much the same way as the majority of tablet PCs (all the rage a few years back) simply because they're to gutless and specialised to take the place of the genuine laptop, and to large to supplant the mobile phone.

  • Comment number 38.

    I can't see why a tablet from an established and well regarded manufacturer such as Samsung would need to undercut the Apple device in order to establish itself. There are three ways to go when bringing a device to market:
    a) Pitch as cheaper solution than your competitor, this may increase sales or devalue your brand...
    b) Pitch at similar price, may be too expensive for some of your target audience but indicates a similar level of performance
    c) Pitch more expensive, leaving your competitor looking the cheap alternative, but for this you need to demonstrably better or risk gaining no sales at all.

    Personally the 'walled garden' is too protectionist for me - I want to watch what ever film I choose and to read whatever website I want - and I don't want someone telling me their software is prevented from doing it.

  • Comment number 39.

    @25: that would be great, except that Microsoft started developing Windows before MacOS (or System as it was known then) was first released. In fact, both of them (as well as a host of UNIX base systems) took their ideas from Xerox and PARC.

  • Comment number 40.

    Carp Carp,

    I think the popularity of the iPad has already proved you wrong.

    The Android tablets will be even more popular as it will be cheaper and more open.

    At home, I'd like a tablet that doesnt take 5 minutes to boot up so that I can check email. A phone is Ok if you're on the move, but at home I'd like a larger screen. A tablet fufills this requirement however niche.

    And as sales show, it is a larger market than most people think!

  • Comment number 41.

    @Douglas Daniel, I'd like to see where you can get a sim Free Desire for £250. Especially so a few months ago when it was still quite new. When I checked last, it was £415 sim free. Not that much cheaper than the iPhone. Although granted that was only a couple of months after it came out.

  • Comment number 42.

    Rory

    The consumer market will support a range of Tablets using different OS but I believe 7" Tablets like the Galaxy TAB will become the most popular size for the domestic market.

    Within a year, I expect to see Tablets integrated within car dashboards, via a universal docking station. The 7" will be most popular with woman, as they will be able to slip them into their handbag(s). Larger 10" Tablets like the iPad will be too big for dashboards and handbags.

    Perhaps the Enterprise market will require the larger 10" Tablet, we'll see them at Hotel Lobbies, Airport Lounges, Pubs, as well as the Workplace.

    Android powered Tablets will have the largest share of the Tablet market within 2 years, despite stiff competition from Apple, Microsoft and RIM.

    Driving Android sales will be the integration between Chrome, Google Search, GoogleTV, PowerMeter, Google Maps, AdMob, Playstation, etc, giving Google a strategic advantage over the rest. Android will appeal equally to consumers, tech partners and developers and be adopted by the majority of hardware manufacturers.

    There's room for the Slate, iPad, Streak, TAB and all, Tablet adoption will be, as always, down to price. Make enough of them cheap enough and the PC and Laptop are under threat.

    @DevInDigital

  • Comment number 43.

    As a business user, unless I can plug a tablet into a projector at a customer's office and run PowerPoint presentations, the netbook is a far more sensible option.

  • Comment number 44.

    #36:

    "Also, I don't have to pay for sat-nav software thanks to googles new smart navigation app and maps app."

    I hope you don't need to use it abroad, where data roaming charges make Google navigation apps much more expensive than the one off £59.99 for the TomTom app. Or at home, where there's no 3G coverage...

  • Comment number 45.

    37. At 1:30pm on 01 Nov 2010, CarpCarp wrote:

    'The iPad purchased by our company for evaluation spends its' life sat on various desks, gathering dust...'

    So, nobody thought to "evaluate" whether or not you actually needed one for your business, or what it was (and was not) capable of BEFORE purchase, then?

    What a waste of money. Doesn't say much about the levels of efficiency in your business, does it?

    Personally, if I'm thinking of spending more than £100 on my business tools, I look at all the options very carefully, including whether it's something I really need or not. So, for example, I don't have a smartphone, and currently have no plans for a tablet, and even resisted getting an ordinary mobile until a few years ago, as 95% of my job involves being stationary at my desktop, not travelling around. No need to buy something I'd have little or no use for.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think the ride in Tablet adoption will be linked to the rise of Cloud Computing adoption. When users can edit the same document on their desktop in the office, on their laptop when at a client meeting, and on their tablet at home without having to copy it around or make sure all devices are using the same version of software; or when they can play a game on their console, then on their tablet when in the car (as a passenger) then I think you'll see the take-up of tablets grow.

  • Comment number 47.

    Here's a business-style test suggestion for you Rory, try the 'PDA-replacement' test, i.e. check your calendar, update some appointments, reply to some e-mails, update some contacts.

    As for 7" tablets in general, I just don't see the market for them. 10" like the iPad yes, great for use around the house or workplace. 5" like the Dell Streak, yes, great as a mobile device. 7" seems neither fish nor fowl to me, too big to be portable, too small for sofa-surfing.

    On the Dell Streak, just a clarification to the above about the Android version it runs. It originally shipped with 1.6, in the US I believe it is now shipping (or soon will) with 2.1 which will be an OTA update in the UK, and a 2.2 version is on the way. Soon as I get paid, I'm off to get me one :-)

    I'm a mobile/remote worker, and in 6 months time I can see myself having my 13" Macbook for mobile work / desktop computing when plugged into my 27" monitor, a 10" tablet for sofa-surfing at home without having to unplug the laptop or burn my lap, a 5" tablet in my bag for mobile surfing and media consumption when I'm out and about or commuting on a packed train, and my super-slim dumbphone that doesn't bulge my pockets or get in the way when out for the night. It's all about the right tool and form-factor for the job at hand, but then I'm lucky I can afford it :-)

  • Comment number 48.

    @Laurence

    "@25: that would be great, except that Microsoft started developing Windows before MacOS (or System as it was known then) was first released. In fact, both of them (as well as a host of UNIX base systems) took their ideas from Xerox and PARC."

    No, not really. Go and read this article (http://goo.gl/CXvP) at Folklore.org

  • Comment number 49.

    I think that the thing that people always miss when reviewing these devices is that there is no "one size fits all". All of these different form factors come out, and they fit into niches in different people's lives.

    One person may need a large screen, and an iPad is exactly right for them. Somebody else might need something that's really portable, and easy to carry around, so a small to medium size tablet is better for them.

    All of these options that are becoming available now are just brilliant. It means that you are much more likely to find something that is a good fit for your needs, with less need for compromise.

    On the other side of the coin, it means that all of these reviews become less and less relevant (sorry Rory, perhaps you'll need to retrain).

  • Comment number 50.

    Christopher Clarke-Williams and all the others who are comparing the iPad to Microsoft's failed Tablet PC.

    There are some very major differences:
    1. Tablets need a stylus (it's written into the standard) - this may appear petty, but the Palm market was tiny until Apple came along with the iPhone which had a touch display and didn't even supply a stylus. How Palm laughed, until they almost went bust.

    2. Tablets / Laptops last a measly 2-4 hours on a charge if you are very lucky, the Pad has a mobile phone architecture making it last many hours on a single charge. Things like this are very important, people don't want to search for the power cable and a socket when they can just grab an iPad and go.

    3. Windows takes for ever to boot - admittedly Windows 7 is better than XP and putting it into sleep can make it even quicker to wake. However an iPad is on at a touch. This is also very important because again, if you just want to quickly check your e-mails you don't want to go through the rigmarole of a Windows boot sequence. The same goes for shutting it down, windows 7 takes comparatively for ever to go to sleep.

    4. Laptops and tablets are heavy and run very hot with big noise generating fans all over them, there are documented cases of people being admitted to Hospital with 3rd degree burns, where you really don't want to get burnt.

    5. Windows XP tablet was always Windows XP with tablet functionality bolted on. The iPad was born from a touch mobile device (the iPhone) and so the touch interface feels natural. My 3 year old can work an iPhone, where he struggles to understand the TV remote. Who knows how good Windows 7 tablet is, I've certainly never seen it?

    Who knows if the iPad will flop, as pointed out Apple has had more than it's fair share of flops. However let's face it the PC wasn't exactly a million seller in it's first year, and I think the above 5 points give it an edge over the PC.

    If Microsoft do not learn these lessons then they're iPad wannabe will be another Zune.

    And finally, once upon a time there were big heavy, not very portable computers that people used to work on every day. But they were slow and expensive and soon people started working with smaller portable devices that had loads of funky new apps that allowed them to do things the big business machines could only dream of.

    Theses new machines were called 'PC's, and they replaced IBM mainframes.

  • Comment number 51.

    Android will at least give us a range of screen sizes, apps and video formats without the constraint of one man's thinking.

    We can also use them without needing a computer let alone iTunes to keep them updated.

  • Comment number 52.

    What about the Dell Streak - Android 2.1 (2.2 promised) - been around since July now.

  • Comment number 53.

    @Graphis...

    The reason for purchasing one to evaluate was devices like these (and the same applies to smartphones) attract such polarised press that it makes it remarkably difficult to determine whether said devices are likely to be a sufficiently long term success to warrant throwing development resources at.

    On paper, these tablets are a combination of bloated phones and rubbish laptops. However, the raw technical details give absolutely no clue as to whether they'll turn into a long term sales and (more importantly in our case) use phenomenon*. That cannot be determined based on the opinions of pundits n' posters, all of whom appear to have some sort of axe to grind as demonstrated by rather silly "iOS vs. Android" war above. Furthermore, the last people to ask about said devices are those who've just gone out and bought them as they're unlikely to be objective - "I've just blown hundreds of Pounds of this thing and it's rubbish" doesn't fit in with ego padding that surrounds these purchases.

    So, we bought the iPad so we could pass around various households to see how it went down, and to see how hard it was to pry out of the hands of other halves, kids, and friends. Why is this a good test of the device? Because it takes away the emotional attachment of the user having paid for it (or, even worse, of being a tech correspondent who's got one before most other people), and reduces it to simply a device that stands and falls based on its' functionality. Think of said test like the difference of opinion expressed by people who've bought their own car vs. those who've just received a new company car - if a new company car has some rubbishness about it they'll happily let you know over a beer within a day or two of getting the car, whereas the private owner will defend their purchase with a far greater degree of blinkered vehemence because, well, it was their money and their decision.

    As far as the results of said test are concerned, they were much like (uncannily so, in fact) our first contacts with netbooks. There was a day or so of "ooh, this is cool", followed by one (and no more) attempt at taking it "out and about", followed by apathy. It was pounced on by kids who, once they realised their consoles, PCs, or phones (not allowed to take it to school = total fail) knocked it into a cocked hat, ignored it entirely. Other halves either ignored it, asked "what does it do?", or (in the case of mine) messed around with it for a bit and pronounced it pointless thanks a long list of things it couldn't do that her laptop could do, and had to be able to do do. In short, out of all the people who came in contact with it, we didn't get a single "iPad user" - the contrast with both the 'droid phones and iPhone couldn't have been more stark.

    Was it waste of four hundred odd quid to find out it actually was a gimmick and therefore way down the priority list compared to other projects? Not even slightly! The money couldn't have been spent any better. Why direct development effort at a device that was little more than (no pun intended) flash when said effort could be aimed at the iPhone and 'droid phones which have become "will use" devices for the same people who exhibited such apathy towards the iPad?

    [self getBackToWork];


    * Let's be honest here. On paper, the current crop of smartphones are essentially large, fragile phones with puny battery lives, relatively poor reception (compared to Old Skool phones), and web browsing capabilities so shockingly unpleasant to use they drive their owners to repurchase the same freely available functionality in a more useable form via the built-in content shop. They really do look like gimmicks. However, even for the relatively tech-weary and objective lot that we are, they proved to have enough hooks to win us over.

  • Comment number 54.

    @WelshBlueBird1 #41

    Well when I was first thinking about getting an HTC Desire in April, it was going for just under £400 at Play, and by the looks of things it's still available for the same price. You're right, an iPhone is not quite the £800 I thought it was (I must have gotten that from the price of a 64GB model at the time of launch), but it's still around the £700 mark. Obviously, the price of a 32GB microSD card would bring up the overall cost of the Desire by about £50-60, but that's still about £250 just to have an Apple logo on the back.

  • Comment number 55.

    Hasn't anyone seen the future. Get these to a reasonable price, clam-shell them so one side is Read, the other is Write and every school kid in the country has their whole school career in one device. Homework can be emailed or WiFi swiped in to the school server as back-up. No heavy reference books to carry and homework marked in minutes rather than hours. This is a no-brainer. Get the clam-shell under £400 and every school becomes completely wireless and paper free.

    Duh. 0/10 people. You must try harder.

  • Comment number 56.

    53. At 3:32pm on 01 Nov 2010, CarpCarp wrote:
    @Graphis... etc..

    Thank you for taking the time to put together that considered reply. However, I believe your test was deeply flawed.

    Firstly, your perceived target audience seemed to be made up of "other halves and kids". If this is all you perceive the target market for tablets to be, then I believe you are seriously missing an opportunity. Of course these devices fail compared to the technology we already have in our homes: who wouldn't rather watch a film on a 40" screen than a 10" one? While the home user market is not one to be dismissed, it's the mobility of the tablet that is of most use. You can't after all, take your 40" TV with you to keep the kids entertained on long car journey's for example.

    Secondly, I also think your test was premature. Any tablet, not just the iPad, will sink or swim according to how useful it is to the user. Hence the importance of the apps. Once the right apps are developed, these will become indispensable to many businesses. After all, if I had been shown a new laptop when they were first invented, and there was no email software on it, I'd have been pretty short-sighted to conclude that a laptop was of no use to me, and that therefore they'd fail! Do your test again in a year, and I guarantee you'll have a hard time prising it out of people's fingers.

  • Comment number 57.

    @Douglas Daniel

    I don't know where you are looking, but my iPhone 4 cost me £499 unlocked from Apple. Even the 32GB one is £599. Expensive I know, but still not near £700. And there has never been a 64GB model of the iphone.

    I agree that the iPhone is a fair bit more expensive than other similar smartphones. But its no where near as bad as the media and the apple haters will have you believe.

  • Comment number 58.

    Videos.

    "On the Galaxy Tab, I found the Samsung Movie store, which required a lengthy sign-up process. "

    Dont forget you also have to sign up for iTunes store in exactly the same way.



    Android wins on movies and video because of flash support - your example above on the bbc website proves that.

    The iPad may have a small subset of the bbc iPlayer and youtube but it doesn't have:

    ITV player ,
    Channel 4 on demand ,
    five catchup tv.
    And countless other video sites. These websites have plenty of movies and do not require sign ups. All working with the samsung like a normal desktop computer does.
    Android also wins on video because of removable media support. You can buy media with pre-installed video content on it.

  • Comment number 59.

    @philgreg #18: these "Droid flash in the pan things" are here to stay.
    You say Google will lose interest in it, I suppose there's a chance that'll happen but they'll have to lose interest in making money first as Android, even without licence fees, is still profitable.

    Android handsets have seen a near 1000% increase in sales in the last year, they have wide-spread support from a range of manufacturers, the likes of Sony Ericsson and HTC who are phone manufacturers, LG and Samsung who produce a range of products and even the likes of Dell, Acer and Asus who have traditionally only sold computers.
    Android handsets are available across a range of prices, from as little as £60-70 on PAYG right through to handsets that command £30-35/month on contract (which, despite some assertions to the contrary is still cheaper than the iPhone4).

    This combination of customer interest, hardware support and pricing to suit all budgets means that Android is pretty much assured success.


    @CarpCarp #53: if you want reliable reviews that don't smack of personal preference, I would seriously recommend GSMArena - it's the most in-depth and unbiased site I'm aware of for phone reviews.




    With regards to the price of the Galaxy Tab, I can't help but feel that most people have missed the point somewhat.
    Yes, the price of the unit on it's on is extremely expensive, similar to the iPad but look at the prices of the top smartphones like the Galaxy S, the HTC Desire/HD, they're pushing the £500 mark as well.

    What Samsung understand and what Apple seems loathed to do with the iPad, is the value of network subsidisation.
    Be honest, most of us that have phones on contract aren't fully aware of the price of the handset itself, it's all presented as part of a package, possibly with a reduced up-front cost but quite often with no outlay.

    If you want to utilise anywhere near the full functionality of a device running Android or iOS, you need internet access.
    So, if you want to take your tablet out of the house and use it, you really need some sort of data plan, at which point why not make use of a discount by signing yourself in for a set period?

  • Comment number 60.

    *Stands up* I have an iPad and I enjoy it. *Sits down*

    Ok, so I said it. I'd a 21 year old history student and for me the iPad has been a great addition to my academic lifestyle. I bought the iPad because I love my 2 year old iPhone and my 4-5 year old MacBook and having spent a few days with my step-dad's, found it absolutely wonderful to use.

    I am probably what you would call an Apple fanboy, but I will say that my time within the Apple "walled garden" has been thoroughly enjoyable. Here are a few observations I've made. I bought my iPad on a certain online marketplace and I got the basic 16GB WiFi-only model and accessories for a fair bit less than new, so it didn't hurt my pocket as much as it could have.

    With regards to Flash. Yes there are certain videos I cannot watch on my iPad. But I have only come across this once whilst browsing since August. The iPad-compatible HTML 5 seems to be becoming far more prevalent of late, perhaps in part due to this. As mmm wrote in comment 58, there are sites that still use a great deal of Flash media and I would be unable to watch them on my iPad. I guess I'll have to rely on my desktop computer to do that job for me for the moment, if the need comes up.

    With regards to portability. As a student who often lugged a 13" MacBook around to university and back with all sorts of books and papers, the iPad is an absolute godsend. Ok, so a 7" or 5" tablet would be even more portable, but for me it is a massive improvement and even when I take my dock and keyboard, still far lighter and far more portable than the laptop it has replaced.

    Word processing on the iPad is absolutely wonderful for me. I can have my work synced up to the minute with two different apps working in concert: "Plaintext" and "Dropbox" I will recommend them to anyone. Especially if you are like me and love to have everything synced on several computers and in the "cloud", just in case. Apple's Pages app is beautiful and usable, but its syncing leaves a lot to be desired compared to Dropbox. As a history student I would love to add footnotes to my essays, but I guess I'll have to wait for a subsequent update.

    Regarding Videos. I can convert any of the movies I have to the iPad-friendly MPEG-4 format using VLC player or Handbrake. Honestly, the iPad for me is less about watching videos and more about work and browsing, but it does make watching a film awesome. Holding the screen of the video you're watching is a surreal experience.

    I use my iPad for everything I used my laptop for and love its instant-on usability. Plus I can and have used it on trains, buses and whilst waiting for a lecture to start. My laptop is far less likely to come out of my bag for those times. Nowadays, it never leaves my flat, even after I solved my screen problem.

    This is just a brief summary of my iPad usage, I don't do anything to tax it and there are things that I wish it could do, but I cannot wait for the Android tablets to hit the market. As someone who has many Apple products in my flat, the better competition there is in the consumer marketplace, forces Apple to make any future products that much better!

  • Comment number 61.

    I find it interesting that no-one really seems to know what users would or do use a tablet for. I've owned an Ipad for six months or so and it is definitely not something that becomes a main machine, it's far more an ancillary device.

    I use it for sofa surfing mainly, have read a couple of books on it in bed, and the other use is for watching streamed content from my media server around the house. A tablet is a great device for watching a movie or live tv in a room without one amd I also use it in the bedroom linked to a pico projector to watch movies etc and can access my pcs remotely etc.

    The main user in the house is, I have to say, my three year old daughter who uses a large number of educational and games apps. The OS is extremely child friendly and she was able to use it with ease in no time.

    I think every tablet owner will have their own uses for a device and it's down to the developers to bring out units that are flexible to allow that. As an earl;y adopter I have to say I don't see the tablet ever becoming the main machine in a household but as an additional device that can be used anywhere in in myriad ways, it will have its place.

  • Comment number 62.

    Flash is not the be-all end-all. In fact the age of the flash player is soon to be dead.

    Just so someone doesn't go "you know nothing" I don't mean the program Flash Pro I mean the player. The one that breaks your browser every couple of days.

    Search google. Flash convert HTML5. If adobe have the balls to release this then the age of flash player is over. In fact the format wars on web video players will soon be over.

  • Comment number 63.

    62. At 6:20pm on 01 Nov 2010, Mel0dymaker wrote:
    ....the format wars on web video players will soon be over.
    -------------------------------------------

    Someone will break ranks and their will be a new limited release codec (as always) because there are vested interests that make money out of format wars.
    It is an Apple commercial decision not to allow flash, it is nothing to do with quality or anything else. Manufacturers need differences in far more than operating systems. It is not about the consumer.

  • Comment number 64.

    Didn't you find the Blinkx app on the galaxy for finding video's? Its the same technology that drives the BBC iplayer and is absolutely the best in class for finding relevant video on the web.

    Go find it and try it

  • Comment number 65.

    Two technologies that are a waste. Firstly, this Cloud nonsense.

    Fridays BT outage in its Edinburgh Exchange shows what happens with no connection. All your eggs in one basket, no thanks. I'll stick with Office installed on a Hard Drive.

    Tablets. I can pay to download a film? Wonderful. What if I've got an extensive DVD/Bluray collection? Can't play that on your large iNewton, can you?

  • Comment number 66.

    #53 CarpCarp - why not sell the iPad. If its in good nick, I'll give you 100 quid for it.

  • Comment number 67.

    #53 Carpcarp thanks for the best "real" review of the iPad to date. Rory, your comments on iPad sales are incorrect, they were lower than expected in the last Apple reporting period - don't just follow the hype. As for Flash Mel0dymaker, er..when I buy something I just look for it to do the stuff I expect, eg. watch videos on the BBC site. Geeky speak re HTML5 ultimately replacing Flash in years to come does not make up for my disappointment that I cannot view a web site. 60dcxiii , if you already own a Macbook and iPhone, you are perhaps not the best one to provide "neutral" advice. For my part, I love my Windows 7 PC, it is an excellent computing platform at a great price. I also love my iPhone 4 for it's great looks and excellent functionality (apart from flash). The point about printing from the ipad seems to be massively overlooked by everyone, because people are so used to using wifi to print. My understanding is you can't print to a local printer with an ipad, unless you use web/cloud printing or are able to sync with your own local PC/MAC - a big flaw. Open-ness is the name of the game in modern computing and devices that allow simple USB stick / wifi transfers of data, and the ability to play all kinds of audio/video formats, will win the day.





  • Comment number 68.

    Firstly I am an Apple fanboy so let's get that out of the way first.
    Secondly I like all tech. I am interested in android, WinPho7 and whatever RIM are going to do with their tablet.
    Thirdly I am typing this on an iPad.

    There has been lot of rubbish talked about Flash, Walled Gardens and the like. That is all philosophical bs spoken by people with either too much time on their hands or no time at all. Flash is going; it has served its purpose and will evolve/merge/integrate with HTML5 and Adobe will make money on this. So a nice happy ending.

    Walled gardens are needed to control what gets onto a machine in one way or another...even Google has the ability to kill apps if needed. Don't forget you can always use a web browser.

    Tablets are the future and the best size will be determined by the user and the job it is required to do. I love the size of the iPad. It is exactly what I need and my laptop (a windows7 machine) is pretty much a very large hard-drive...or a very heavy cloud.

    Apple are doing a great job at the moment of building high quality, user friendly and superb pieces of technology. Other companies are getting there but they don't seem to concentrate on an area with the same intensity as Apple.

    The iPad is the first commercial tablet success and will only get better (MS Excel would be nice). Samsung, MS, RIM etc will make a good contribution to the Tablet market with RIM's playbook being the main competitor to the iPad (along as it doesn't remain vapourware).

    It's a great time to be a tech head!

  • Comment number 69.

    Good comparisons here and there but the big question is: Isn't an iPad just an oversized iTouch?

  • Comment number 70.

    I am an iPad user. I can watch all the news related video's on websites such as The New York Times, CNN, and great nature vids on National Geographic. The only website of any stature that needs Flash is in fact this one! Yes the dear old Beeb is again burring it's head in the sand and refuses to to convert to HTML5. Not only am I an iPad user but also a licence payer. Myself and millions of others are being denied access to the full features of BBC sites because of this unwarranted stance. Come on BBC wake up!

  • Comment number 71.

    Am I missing something here?
    The figures you mention, 80% of iPads never leaving the home - exactly what can the iPad, or indeed any of these devices, do better than the most basic of desktop PCs (at substantially less cost than a tablet, too)?

    The 80% figure is damning - it suggests people are prepared to spend £500 to avoid having to walk from one room to another.

    In the good old days, these were known as Stupid People.

  • Comment number 72.

    71. At 11:59pm on 01 Nov 2010, CoalitionOfTheWilting wrote:
    Am I missing something here?
    The figures you mention, 80% of iPads never leaving the home - exactly what can the iPad, or indeed any of these devices, do better than the most basic of desktop PCs (at substantially less cost than a tablet, too)?

    The 80% figure is damning - it suggests people are prepared to spend £500 to avoid having to walk from one room to another.

    -----------------------------

    Actually, it suggests that people are clever enough to realise they needn't spend as much for a laptop, when they don't need all the functions of a laptop, and there is a new product they can get that does all they want for half the cost of a laptop.

    Of, course, I mean half the cost of an Apple laptop. And there's the answer to your first question: what can the iPad do that a basic (Windows) laptop can't? Work, for a start. Not get viruses. All the usual arguments:)

  • Comment number 73.

    What i miss here is the cross between tablet and netbook where oyu can flip the creen and turn netbook into a tablet. such as for example the lenovo ideapad s10-3t

  • Comment number 74.

    Dear iwinter,

    You need to get your facts rights about iPad sales.
    Apple sold 4 million units in the last 3 months, and 3.5 million units in the month before. That is 7.5 million since it was launched. That is faster than the launch of the iPhone, and way more than sales of the Apple TV.

    Apple did not say how many they wanted to sell, the financial analysts guessed at a figure for the last 3 months and got it wrong, they 'guessed at 5 million and Apple sold over 4 million.

    Bearing in mind that Netbooks are made and sold by many manufacturers and the iPad is made by one, it is not really a sensible comparison is it?

  • Comment number 75.

    I think everyone is loosing sight of the Post at hand. It was a garbage review, plain and simple. This is exactly why salesman dont build houses.
    The quickest way to solve this is put them side by side and benchmark them to death on commonly used functions and features, that will tell you which is the best unit. Review 'additional' features afterwards and put this into comparison against the price.
    Size, weight, functions, price blah blah blah are all 'User Preference' there will ALWAYS be an argument over what is best. What is true for the individual is not always true for the collective.
    Android is going to overtake EVERYTHING on the market within a year or two, not just Apple products. Anyone with an ounce of common sense and technical knowledge and an insight into Android since it all started can see that.
    How much raw processing power do you need to play a song, view a document, update Faceplant with how your cat is feeling? Its all relative. Unless people decide to do hardcore gaming, audio, picture or film editing, all of the units currently available will be sold at a cost comparable to the functions and features they offer. These types of devices are made for fast, easy access to commonly used functions that help enhance our day to day lives.
    You're not going to be able to overlock them, leave them number crunching on Seti@home or have them configured as a small grid computing project (Althought... that last one could be interesting... anyway...)

    Best way to cut this oversized 190k rant short is...

    Think what you need it to do, choose a budget, choose a device that gives you the most for less, factoring in your 'standards' when it comes to buying a product. Choose something that you want and need and not something that has an overpriced marketing strategy. Be an individual.
    Darren.

  • Comment number 76.

    70. At 10:54pm on 01 Nov 2010, peppercorn100 wrote:
    Myself and millions of others are being denied access to the full features of BBC sites because of this unwarranted stance. Come on BBC wake up!
    ---------------------------------------------

    Just accept that this is Apple's stance. They intentionally deny Flash Video.

  • Comment number 77.

    @Kit Green

    Apple do have a valid point with Flash though. It is just not meant for touch based portable devices. Its CPU intensive, battery draining, and quite often include mouse hover events that do not exist in a touchscreen environment. Even Adobe's mobile version can be slow and cumbersome (haven't used it myself, just going on reviews and such).

    However I would like to be given the choice. Perhaps a setting that allows you to use flash, that is defaulted to off.

  • Comment number 78.

    @pgmartinez #69

    by iTouch I presume you mean iPod touch?

    If so then no, the iPad is not just an oversized iPod touch. In this case, size does matter and makes a real practical difference to the utility of each device.

  • Comment number 79.

    @Graphis #72: Of, course, I mean half the cost of an Apple laptop. And there's the answer to your first question: what can the iPad do that a basic (Windows) laptop can't? Work, for a start. Not get viruses. All the usual arguments:)

    I've had a Dell Inspiron since last January, which originally ran Windows Vista and now runs Windows 7 (as well as an Ubuntu partition). Before that, I had a Dell desktop which I had owned since the beginning of 2006 which ran Windows XP. I'm a software developer, so in that time I've also been using Windows PCs for 8 hours a day at my job. That's over four and a half years of problem-free computer use on Windows environments. Where are all these viruses my computers have apparently been laden with? Granted, I've had anti-virus software, but it's still overall cheaper than a MacBook. Even cheaper if you use one of the very reliable free anti-virus packages out there (or just plump for Linux completely, saving even more money if you have it pre-installed instead of Windows...)

    And of course, we can reverse the question: what can a basic (Windows) laptop do that an iPad can't? Play Flash, for a start. Connect to a printer (or any other USB device), for another. How about letting you store data on an SD card? As someone who sees tablets as being the device of choice for ordinary consumers who use laptops merely for internet browsing and media use (thereby leaving laptops to be more the preserve of techies, programmers and others who need large processing power), there are some very basic things that stop an iPad being a complete replacement for a laptop for these types of people. Not to mention being tied down to iTunes...

    Urrgh!!! Damn you Apple for making me stoop so low as to actually defend Windows...

  • Comment number 80.

    I completely agree with #79 iPads and such devices are merely an extension of small fixed devices that carry out light tasks, basic entertainment, internet etc Thats all they will ever be but i CANNOT envision the day where we get triple and quad core processors in these things, there simply isnt the need to have that much power in a small, mobile form factor.

    I saw 2 iPads out in public yesterday, the first i might add since launch... in an expensive jewellers displaying ads on watches by Bentley... Speak Volumes. Infact, im sure they were Flash based ads :P (cough)

    Anyways, this was an interesting point:
    'And of course, we can reverse the question: what can a basic (Windows) laptop do that an iPad can't? Play Flash, for a start. Connect to a printer (or any other USB device), for another. How about letting you store data on an SD card?'

    Can i add to this list and say 'Multi-task'?, having more than one thing over at any given moment? lol

  • Comment number 81.

    STOP TALKING ABOUT FLASH ANYONE WHO STILL SEEMS TO THINK IT IS A "PRO" NEED TO CHECK THIS.

    *search google. "FLASH CONVERT HTML5". If you watch that video and still don't get what I am on about please go out and buy your latest WHAT? Tablet Magazine. Oh and stop trying to pretend that you know anything about web development.

  • Comment number 82.

    I have been waiting for the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy Tab but have to say the pricing has put me off at the minute I feel for it to take off mainstream it needs to be quite a bit cheaper than an Ipad considering the market it has got, Yes Samsung will sell a few to tech minded people but at them prices I can not see many parents going out and buying for kids.

    I understand that Dell will be launching a 7inch tablet before Christmas which fits in with the dop in price of the Streak so I will wait for that and decide then where my money is going.

  • Comment number 83.

    #81 - that's great and all, but until developers start using these Flash-to-HTML5 tools to convert their Flash content into HTML5 code (or even just start developing for HTML5 in the first place), then non-Flash-enabled devices will not be able to view content such as the video at the top of this page. It should be the user's decision whether or not they want to view a Flash video, not Apple's. I can't help seeing shades of MicroSoft's years of refusal to make IE adhere to proper web standards, which meant extra development time trying to make websites work in IE using CSS hacks, even when the code was valid and worked perfectly in standards-compliant web browsers. So until Apple stop trying to dictate which tools people use to make web content and control what people can and can't see, I think it's perfectly valid for people to use the Flash stick to beat them with.

    I dare say there are many developers who would have loved to just make websites that adhered to web standards and then try to steer people away from the non-compliant IE by displaying a warning like "if you want to see this page properly, you'll just have to download a non-IE browser", and while it would have been in the name of a noble cause (forcing MicroSoft to stop ignoring web standards), it would not have been the correct approach (and anyone who did so just looked lazy/incompetant). So even if Apple's Flash stance is indeed in the name of a greater good, it's still wrong and bordering on abuse of their position in the market.

  • Comment number 84.

    Its a good point about some people leave the iPad at home because its too big but I'm not one of those people. I leave my laptop at home and take the iPad to University because the weight of the my bag with the laptop is stupidly heavy! I love my iPad and it really suits my dyslexia needs!

  • Comment number 85.

    @48: Don't believe everything you read on the internet. Most of the elements in most GUIs derive from the work done by Xerox and PARC. Of course everyone is going to develop and implement their GUI in their own way, but that doesn't mean they've ignored what has gone before.

  • Comment number 86.

    Please can people stop going on about HTML5 as if it will cure all ills. It isn't a standard yet so no self respecting developer is going to put his money on something that could quite easily change. Video in HTML5 relies on standard codecs - of which there aren't any fully decided on yet - and if your system doesn't have the codec that the site has decided to use then tough. When it does become a standard then it will be a major leap forward, but until then it's probably worse to use HTML5 then Flash (why? because we would then be letting the browser companies force the standard and developers would have to code around the different browser implementations as they currently have to).

  • Comment number 87.

    @75

    Benchmarking when two completely different operating systems are involved is not as easy or objective as you seem to imply. Nevertheless, I am sure there will be many technical journals and websites which will do just what you ask - and this is precisely why we don't need Rory to do it.

    You may formulate an equation every time you make a computer-based purchase, in which you add up all the vital features you need and divide by the amount of time it takes a product to do them, then divide again the result by the price to reach a score, but that is not how the majority work - the popularity of Apple products is testament to that. And none of this analysis you hanker after will necessarily judge ease of use, or a multitude of other relevant factors most consumers factor in.

    Why do most people pay the extra for metallic paint on their cars? It doesn't make them work any better. A small example, but one which shows that what the consumer wants is not always able to be simply expressed in numbers. Personally, I prefer using Macs, not because they do anything better, faster or cheaper than their Windows counterparts (some might argue the opposite) but because I find them easier and more intuitive to use. That's not something a benchmark will tell you, but it's what Rory is trying to assess. You do not appear to have grasped that.

  • Comment number 88.

    @79 Douglas Daniel

    Urrgh!!! Damn you Apple for making me stoop so low as to actually defend Windows...

    LOL.

    Actually, you made fair points. But my gripe really is that the vast majority of the people who read 'tech' blogs (and I count this as one, regardless of what the grumps say) are quite simply not the target market for tablets.
    Which is precisely why most of you can't see a use for them: they don't fit into YOUR work/lifestyle pattern.

    But for millions, they will (and already do). And for millions more in the future. All of us who develop, or design, or code, need more functionality and processing power than a tablet can (currently) offer. But for the millions who only want to consume what we create, this is all they need. Why waste money buying something that does far more than they'll ever need?

    And for the business user, it's an 'electronic clipboard', that will revolutionise the 'paper clipboard' method of working, whatever line of business it's used in. No, it won't ever replace the laptop, but that is so not the point.

    @87 Musric

    ...because I find them easier and more intuitive to use. That's not something a benchmark will tell you...

    EXACTLY! I'm a designer. As a creative, I am probably the least technically-minded here. I think in pictures, not words, and because of this, the Apple OS is a dream to use. I couldn't really argue about the technical merits of Android, or OS X, or Windows: but my experience of them tells me which is easiest for me, not only to use, but just to get on with my work without any hassle. That's why Apple win every time.

  • Comment number 89.

    @Lawrence:

    By extension, be aware that there are people out there that do know what they are talking about and that the people directly involved with the development of most of this technology have written about it. The Folklore articles ***are*** written by people who were there, in this particular instance, Dr Bruce Horn. I didn't mention in my post that Xerox's (PARC was part of Xerox, not a separate entity as your post suggests) 'claim' that they invented the GUI is a bit of a misnomer. The notion of the GUI (and therefore the 'invention) in relation to computers can be attributed to Vanevar Bush, who spoke about the concept in the late 40's (incidentally, Vanevar Bush also came up with the idea of the mouse and the hyperlink). Works by both Ivan Sutherland (Sketchpad, 1968) and Doug Engelbart (the mouse, 1968 - http://youtu.be/X4kp9Ciy1nE - can't use one with out an interface...) predate the work done at PARC. A number of PARC alumni worked under Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute and also went on to work at Apple. So, it isn't as black and white as 'Xerox invented the GUI', it's true that they innovated the GUI by developing it further with Smalltalk (Horn worked on that too), but it was Apple that innovated the WIMP model that nearly all desktop UI's follow today. Windows development started after the Macintosh. Microsoft based its ideas on Apple's Macintosh, for which they had a development model to develop Word and Multiplan (the precursor for Excel) on.

    Your missive about HTML5 is off the mark too. The strawman that is 'it's not a standard yet and isn't close to being one' is tired, hackneyed and just plain wrong. Anyone that is involved with standards development in pretty much any field will tell you that they are typically a snapshot of a technology as it currently exist. This is particularly true of HTML5 (and friends). Since the spec is written by the browser developers and not the the W3C, most of the currently available modern browsers support HTML5, including the (really rather good) Internet Explorer 9. Most of the legacy browsers, excluding Internet Explorer, support it too. Using HTML5 is not the same as using specific HTML5 elements; many leading web developers and designers are already using HTML5 simply by just using its 'doctype'. Have a look at Google's landing page for instance. To suggest that developers are just going to use one codec is misplaced too. Sure there are some zealots out there that'll use only one (probably the poorer quality OSS one) but then these people don't understand what standards are actually for. As it stands, both Safari and IE only support h.246 encoding. Chrome supports H.264, Theora and Google's WebM. Opera support WebM and Theora, and Firefox just supports Theora. Interestingly both Opera and Mozilla are complaining about MP3 too, a long established codec and a defacto industry 'standard'. Which one will win? I don't know, but the majority of hardware currently available (video cameras, mobile phone cameras etc.) only support h.264, these can be upgraded, but I wouldn't hold your breath. In truth web developers and designers are so used to supporting multiple browsers with work arounds that this really isn't that much of an issue. if you read the spec, this has been catered for. Yes, it's a ball-ache, but the market place will sort it out. The iPad, much to the obvious chagrin of the naysayers, has been a success. Big companies are beginning to shy away from Flash and Microsoft have re-evaluated what Silverlight is going to be used for. Flash is a useful technology that filled a gap. That gap is getting smaller all the time and eventually there will not be the need that is currently there for Flash.

  • Comment number 90.

    @89: Where do I start? So much misinformation, deliberate misrepresentation, and incorrect facts. WIMP was indeed developed by Xerox/PARC (PARC may have been owned by Xerox but was effectively a separate entity) - I never claimed they invented it, just that ideas were taken from it. Windows started development in 1982, and was announced in 1983 - before the Mac release in 1984 - but wasn't released until 1985.
    And I think you've hit the nail on the head regarding HTML5 and how standard (or rather not) it is across browsers - and indeed what level of support of HTML5 browsers give. Why? Because it's not a standard. A standard certainly isn't a snapshot - you try telling BSI and other standards organisaitons otherwise.
    Why post something that is so wrong? I'd be inclined to put you down as a Troll.

  • Comment number 91.

    @90
    Hang on, if you're going to get all huffy at 89, don't imply things yourself which are inaccurate. Although you do not state so explicitly, the intention of your information regarding the genesis of Windows is definitely to imply that it came first, or at the very least was not a copy of Apple's work. The history here is well documented. Apple first visited Xerox PARC in 1978, and development of the LISA, which was the first commercial machine with a WIMP interface was begun in that year. It was released in January 1983. By that stage the Macintosh work was also well underway, and Microsoft had a development machine, which formed the basis of their own WIMP development.

  • Comment number 92.

    @90: What 91 said. I'll add that work on the Macintosh platform actually started shortly after the Lisa project, both in the late 70's. Implying that Apple fully developed their OS and hardware in less than 12 months *after* seeing work by Microsoft is disingenuous to say the least! Are you also going to tell me that Microsoft developed Word for Windows first?

    "Where do I start? So much misinformation, deliberate misrepresentation, and incorrect facts." A little melodramatic and in fact utterly baseless. Microsoft, btw, did not invent modern computing and neither did Xerox on their own. All the parties concerned have played their part and the facts are well documented by the individuals concerned (historians like to call them primary sources), warts'n all.

    "I never claimed they invented it, just that ideas were taken from it" So, how is this any different from Apples actions? The fact that Apple *employed* a number of the PARC researchers is no different from Xerox's employment of the very same people from SRI. Or is it, as I suspect, because it's Apple?

    Regarding standards: I have previously been involved in developing several standards and can assure you that is *exactly* how it works. Where do you think the references come from otherwise, thin air?

    The petty name calling is just not on. Not only is it passive-aggressive, dismissing someone as a troll or otherwise because they oppose your view is puerile. I am surprised that the moderators posted it as it is agressive and uncalled for, it also blatantly goes against the 'house rules'.

  • Comment number 93.

    81. At 1:05pm on 02 Nov 2010, Mel0dymaker wrote:

    Can you stop screaming about HTML 5's video tab.

    Firstly HMTL 5 isn't finalised and what we are seeing is browser makers make what they think the spec is. The spec also has holes in it for example the video tag doesn't specify a codec. Which is why Chrome/Firefox have decided it means WebM and IE/Safari have gone for h.264.

    Secondly just because it's HTML 5 doesn't mean its interoperable IE6 used web standards and I don't think you'll find a single web developer who see's that as a viable browser.

    Lastly Flash isn't purely video and things which can be fairly simple and lightweight in flash become very large and heavy in HTML 5 (vector animations for example).

    As for the so called "review", after reading it the only conclusion I could come to was it was written by the typical media apple type. The review gives no real detail about the android tablets. For example I won't own an Apple product because I find iTunes buggy and slow, does the Samsung Galaxy Tab have a similar piece of synching software and how does it compare? People keep raving about Swype did the reviewer get on with it. What was the reviewers experiences with battery life? Were there any applications you used which were useful? Do these Android tablets support a bluetooth keyboard and if so was that worth getting? What video formats does it support. How portable was 7" tablet? Did it make it pocketable or does the reviewer think it will suffer the same fate as the 10" iPad?

  • Comment number 94.

    I am a likely iPad customer/user. I will use it minimally at home. Professionally I am a tech sales rep. I need to carry a technical manual, references etc. I could use a laptop, but my Dell Latitude is heavy, very slow to start up, has a failing battery so is really not a good presentational device. The iPad should allow me to instantly show docs to my customers. The large screen size is ideal - 7 inch would not work so well. The CRM I use has a smartphone app, but it is not full function, so larger screen browser access plus 3G makes this usable. I could do some of these things on my iPhone or a laptop, but it is really not convenient.I think iWorks will allow me to modify documents on the road, at least I hope so. USB would be nice though. Large tablets should be ideal for people who need to carry lots of reference material around, need to quickly refer to it/ show it and need a full days battery life.

  • Comment number 95.

    I'm an Apple skeptic and hate the restrictive practices that Apple subject you to. I would never buy an Apple Mac because it's overpriced styleware. Instead, I have a reasonable spec PC running Ubuntu. I use a Desire phone.

    That said, when I played with an iPad in John Lewis, I was smitten and I can really see that form-factor taking off. Clearly, it's no good for data entry and you'll need a polishing cloth handy for wiping the smears off the screen. It would be good if it folded in half also to make it more portable (as laptops do).

    I can see it working for many business apps - email, doc reviewing, mathematical modelling (albeit with crunching offloaded to a compute server somewhere). Perhaps we ought to recognise that the keyboard has had its day and this could be the shape of things to come.

 

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