Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tablet Update - New iPad 2

With the iPad 2 announcement yesterday, I thought I would look back at the info I had posted previously and see how close the rumors were. Turns out they were real close, with the exception being no SD card slot and it's actually coming out March 11th not April. They also dropped the price of the regular iPads by $100 to $399 for the 16GB WiFi only model. The price of the iPad 2 (WiFi only) is $499 for the 16GB version, $599 for the 32GB version.

This was intriguing to me because things have changed slightly since my last post on 2/10. My existing laptop has developed an annoying problem. With it on my lap or on the edge of the couch or somewhere not on a flat surface, it fluctuates between battery power and A/C power, making my screen go from bright to not as bright over and over at times. It can be VERY annoying. It's not the A/C adapter, already replaced that. The wifey already told me to just get a new laptop so I stop complaining, but I'm not one to go out and spend a bunch of money if something still works fine most of the time.

Problem is I have very bad luck with laptops. I use them constantly at home and I am rough on them. They fall off the edge of the couch many times and they don't make them like they used to. I'm going to replace the power connector on the laptop itself again, already did this once after it snapped off inside when I dropped it once before. So, it's definitely mostly my fault with this one. The last one was an HP Pavilion high end laptop that was very pricey and died on it's own completely after 16 months. There are 100s, possibly 1000s of other people in the same boat and they do not stand behind their products. I will never buy an HP laptop again as a result, but that's a story for another day.

Bottom line is that the laptop works fine if it's on a desk or like tonight it's been mostly fine on my lap. It varies, but it got me thinking...If replacing the power connector again doesn't help, I can keep it in the office and it will work fine on the desk when working from home. But then, what do I get as a replacement for use on the couch, when traveling, etc.? I'm torn and trying to talk it out here and see where I end up and get some opinions from others....

My thinking is this...since tablets have far less moving parts, that they'd be more reliable and last longer than the 2 year rate that I seem to go through laptops, assuming I don't drop it on it's screen and break it. My laptops have all been 17 inch screens over the last 5 years because I like the additional screen resolution/real estate when working from home, however that is quite bulky when traveling. A tablet would solve that problem nicely. Additionally, since I don't typically travel for work, I don't need a powerhouse computer for the road or personal use.

My main requirements are to be able to web surf, email, Blog, use Google docs, WebEx for webinars from time to time and being able to access video content. The keys being able to type quickly/easily and good screen resolution/size. I could sorta do most of that on my phone, but even though I love the Droid X phone and the 4.3 inch screen is real nice, it is still very difficult to type a lot, like when updating this blog or sending long emails and in order to surf over an extended period of time, I'd need a bigger screen. I did look into seeing if I could add a Blue Tooth keyboard to the phone and I found out I can, but it's $85. That would help the typing but not the screen size, and would rather use that money towards something else if I can find a cost effective alternative.

If I were to go out and get a new laptop that I think is more reliable and matches what I would really WANT, it would be just over $1000. I really don't want to do that, since even the nicer laptops still aren't as reliable as you'd like. The HP cost more than that and was completely dead after 16 months. So....enter the tablet.

I would be interested in the WiFi only version, I don't want/need cell coverage, since I have the phone for that. I can also use my phone as a WiFi hotspot, so would have coverage for the tablet anywhere. So after doing some research it looks like the Motorola Xoom is supposed to be roughly $600 for the 32GB version WiFi version, the iPad 2 with the same storage is also $599. But at that same price, the Xoom is more powerful, has a larger screen, better screen resolution, SD card expansion slot and also will have Flash support, if not at launch, shortly afterwards. Currently, iPad has a big jump in the app store, since it's been out longer.

Features that the Xoom and iPad 2 have in common are front and rear facing cameras. I find that odd, since who would want to use a 10 inch square as a camera? Video chat MAYBE, but after having my new phone for a while, can't see using that feature either any time soon. In addition, most other features are comparable. Battery life is the same, around 10 hours.

So, if they are in fact both $599/600 for the 32 GB version, I would probably go with the Xoom due to the additional power, SD card slot, USB port and Flash support. I'd have to wait until probably sometime in April for the Wifi Xoom. However, since I do not currently have any use for a front or rear camera on a tablet, the $399 current iPad is interesting as well. Only downside is 16GB of storage with no way to increase that and no Flash support.

So, could I get by with that amount of storage and work around the lack of Flash support? Probably...guess I'll have to get my hands on the iPad from a friend and see how I like it. Other options are a cheap laptop, which is probably what I really need, or perhaps a Netbook. What are your thoughts given the situation described above? I would love to get some different opinions. Do you think a tablet will be fine for what I need?

First I will attempt to fix my existing laptop, since I'd really rather not spend any $ at all and will go from there. Thanks ahead of time for any info!


Jen said...

I say Ipad/zoom it up if you're going to buy a cheap laptop anyway, but maybe try to fix yours first. Davids sister has an Ipad and its pretty cool, its just like my phone but huge screen. I'm in a similar situation, but different. My laptop is holding strong for approx 6-7 years minus the fan issue that you have fixed for me. I am having storage issues and it is just falling apart. My thing is that I have digital scrapbook software that I'd want to install, and I don't think they let you do that with an ipad? Can you use microsoft office programs?

Chris said...

No I don't think you can use Office on there, but for Android I believe there is a comparable free software suite that is compatible, but not sure for iPad. You can probably check the iPad app store to see if your scrap book program is available.

I did a little hands on research today...Tried out the iPad of a guy at work and also in the store and a tablet won't work for me unless I use it along with an actual keyboard. It just doesn't work having to type on the screen with one or two fingers. It's not for things like typing this response on the blog or the actual blog post. I also stopped at Best Buy on the way to get the new power connector at Radio Shack and I actually like the 15.6" laptops and the 1366 x 768 resolution isn't bad at all. I'm used to the 17 inch screen laptops with 1440 x 900 resolution, but the 15.6 inch screen would be just fine. So that drops down my price into the 400-500 range for a pretty powerful one. I'm still hoping the new power connector will take care of everything, but if not I'll probably concentrate my effort on the 15.6" screen laptops. Acer has a bunch on Amazon and I do like my Toshiba, except for it not being super sturdy when dropped repeatedly. ;)

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