I’ve been kind of wanting a tablet since, well, how long has the iPad been out now? Because it’s been about that long. Phones are too small and come with expensive data plans; laptops are too big and have pathetic battery life. Tablets seemed just right.
But, I hate to be an early adopter—otherwise known as suckers. Those tech-hungry folks who pay too much to essentially do beta-testing on versions 1.0 of whatever, thus paving the way for the rest of us to get the better, cheaper 2.0 version.
So when iPad 2 came out to mostly rave reviews, it seemed no longer necessary to wait. Except… Now there were all these competitors as well. And, I didn’t really like what I was hearing about how Apple was treating some of the apps providers. And, I wasn’t really that crazy about having to do everything through iTunes. And not having USB. Or Flash.
But many competitors seemed to have serious failings. Very short battery life. High price. Small screen size. Finally, the Motorola Xoom was released. On size, price, storage, battery life, it was about the same as Apple. Considered more clunky and harder to use, it wasn’t exactly getting rave reviews. But it didn’t tie you to a particular application to load files. And it had Google behind it, and I do use many things Google. So it seemed worth consideration.
However, the Xoom is very, very much at version 1.0. The list of features it supposedly has but that don’t quite work yet (updates someday, we promise) is almost comical: SD card, full USB support, full Flash support, Android 3.1 (created but not yet available in Canada). And the number of apps, particularly those designed for tablets in particular, is way behind what is available in the iTunes.
So that was the dilemma. Get the mature product that would leave me tied to the whims of Steve Jobs, or pay the same amount for a product with the potential—but not the actuality, yet—of being better.
Uncharacteristically, I voted Xoom.
For the record, it does have flaws. Most of which I was aware of before purchase:
- The screen is an unbelievable fingerprint magnet. You’d think someone would have realized that was a bad idea for a touch device. I’ve never Windex-ed anything so much.
- The screen is also overly reflective. When viewing darker videos, you get a great reflection of your face back. I’m not narcissistic enough to really enjoy that.
- It can’t handle that many video formats. Actually, I haven’t been able to load any formats it will view. Though maybe some app would help with that–haven’t checked.
- It’s not as handy with PDFs as I’d like (though again, there may be an app for that). I can always view them; I can’t always seems to load or download them, and I’m not sure why.
- Google Books doesn’t work in Canada.
- The wild and crazy world of apps does take some getting used to.
On the other hand…
It really is great with most things Google. Unknowingly, I’ve been preparing for this tablet by using so many Google features on the computer. After the wireless connection (quick and easy), it asks you to log into Google. And based on that, it sets everything up: Your email, your calendar, your Picassa photos, your YouTube account, your Google docs. And they all work beautifully, with a great tablet interface. The Google maps are also nice. (And I hear Google Chat is very good, but I don’t use that one.) Google Reader is just OK–but I have found an app that improves that.
And the browser experience has been pretty decent so far as well. It’s just so much better, in fact, to view long web pages with embedded video and links and images on the tablet vs. on my desktop. And like on an iPad, you can zoom the font size, change orientation, smoothly scroll around.
It’s also very customizable, which, I’m told, the iPad is not. It comes with five different home pages you can set up how you want. I’m only using two so far, but I like the possibilities.
The on-screen keyboard has also been surprisingly easy to get used to, and much better than trying to type with your thumbs. Mind, functionality that is way basic on a computer takes a little work here—does this auto-save? (Nope. Save command in menu on the bottom bar.) How do I close this? (Can’t. Unless you get an app for that.) How do I copy and paste? (Select, hold, menu will pop up with these options.) But I suppose figuring all that out is good for my brain. (Though it’s actually making me wish for more online help as well.)
Anyway. It’s only day 3, so I still have 11 days to change my mind and return it. But so far, it definitely has more items in the Keep than Return column. Pass the Windex!