Tablet Mania

Apple just released the iPad2 today.  Woopee.  There’s at least 100 others that are coming to market.  So what to choose?

I posted last year my thoughts on the iPad as a viable platform, especially for it’s “Kindle replacement” argument (obviously that hasn’t happened yet).  I still stand by the argument that if you want a pure reading device, that’s your best bet.  But I’ve found myself away from my PC’s more (sitting in the Great Room) and despise having my phone for internet access. My laptop only has a 2hour and change battery (what I get for going low-end, but I didn’t need the monster I had prior to this one).  Price-wise, tablets are still not a “consumer item” (at $499+ for a “decent” tablet, plus data).  There’s been dozens of reviews on the spec differentials, so I won’t bore you there.  But earlier this week, I came across an article discussing how people were taking the Nook Color and “rooting” it to run the Android OS.  After doing some more reading and digging (it’s relatively simple), I came across the Viewsonic G Tablet as a viable option.  It’s priced in the upper 300’s, so it’s a bit more reasonable, and it’s got the specs to match the iPad 2 and Xoom (dual core processor, onboard RAM and memory).  I went out and picked one up.  The stock firmware isn’t that hot (even after the update to the latest version), so I rooted it to run any number of “ROMs” that are out there.  Most of them are based on either “Froyo” or “Gingerbread” – phone OS’es.  They aren’t bad, and certainly seemed snappy enough.  But that form factor… just didn’t jive for me.  It’s 1.55 lbs, and huge.  It also doesn’t sit well, as the screen is “off center”, and the screen itself doesn’t work well unless you’re looking right at it.  (It’s a netbook screen, basically.)

So going back to my reading, I picked up a Nook Color, having the chance to play with one in the B&N store.  Much better, as it’s the same size as my Kindle3, just heavier.  As soon as I got it home, I immediately rooted it to the “preview” of Android Honeycomb (the OS designed for the Xoom and other tablets).  All I have to say is WOW.  It’s just as snappy as the bigger gTab that I had, weighs less, feels more “solid”, and infinitely easier to root than the gTab.  Honeycomb isn’t slated for release for a few more weeks, so a lot of the features in this ROM aren’t ready yet, but the basics (email, web browsing, etc.) work just fine.  I can’t ever see myself using these as a gaming platform or just casual videos (youtube/trailers), but for $250, it’s basically a “poor man’s” Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Now, the stock B&N firmware isn’t that hot, so I still wouldn’t recommend it as a pure e-reader.  It was very sluggish and misinterpreted a lot of the taps and touches on the screen I was working with.  When you’re working with a pure e-reader, the device itself should take a back-seat to the reading experience itself.  That’s why I love my Kindle.  The “device” falls away when I’m reading and I’m engrossed in the content.  I don’t think the iPad or even a rooted Nook Color would really allow that to happen, but I’ll give it a shot when I’m playing with this thing in the meantime.  =)