There are ideas that start off sounding good and end up being bad. They often are brilliantly designed by frightfully clever and confident people but end up being the dreaded ‘technology looking for a market’. Like the Segway, for example.
Then there are ideas that start of sounding weird
and dumb but end up taking over the planet. Like, SMS, for example. And you end up loving them, missing them and spending time with them. So – iPads and Tablets. Are they technology waiting for a market? Or will you fall in love? Are they the real game changers rather than smartphones? I recently had a fling with an iPad. Well, that is after all what Apple builds into the DNA of their products isn’t it? A sense of sexiness, style and fun. And a little ‘i’ at the front of everything. And they feel lovely. But there was something I didn’t quite get. Its size was still big enough to be clunky and its weight did not inspire me to move it around the house. It had great games and looked lovely when it worked but like the luscious iPhone it frequently stumbled and stopped as soon as I tried to do anything it did not want me to do. I decided not to buy one and wait and see what would happen. Would Apple bring out a much better version in 9 months, as they did with iPod and iPad? Or would Android manufacturers launch their version? In the meantime I found myself drifting back to my HTC-Android phone but missing the big screen. I was sad and confused. I waited with my questions and two weeks ago I bought my SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB as my answer. Its not cheap. I bought it on a Carphone Warehouse deal, so I got a few good add-ons, but all up the little card reader still blinked £550 as I clicked my credit card PIN. And – I still have a £10 a month tarif with TalkMobile too. It all seems a lot and as I played with my HTC Hero in the shop I did wonder what all the fuss was about. Isn’t it just a big Android phone, like the iPad is a big iPhone? Well, yes. Do you really need another device, when you have a laptop and a smartphone already? Well no. But then footballers wives don’t really need sixteen pairs of expensive shoes do they? And footballers don’t really need to cheat on their wives in their expensive shoes and drive their expensive cars do they? £550 is a lot. But to fall in love, not a lot at
all. So, what’s all the fuss about? The Galaxy Tab is the initial major player in the first wave in the invasion of the Android Tablet. It’s a wifi and GSM (3G) enabled 7 inch TFT screened tablet that runs Android 2.2 (Froyo). It has a 1Ghz processor and 32 Gb of memory. What does all that jargon babble mean? Well, its smooth, sharp screened and as its made by Samsung its built like a tank. And its fast. Very, very fast. It can open websites quicker than my massive laptop that I bought a year ago and loads videos in about 2 seconds. Like other Androids and Apple devices – you navigate by swishing around with your fingers browsing screens that you can populate with widgets and shortcuts. Android Market is smaller than Apple’s but all the key social media services, news sites and smart tools can be found in seconds. If you are already linked into Google’s world of Gmail, iGoogle and Reader – then everything links in effortlessly. The machine powers up pretty well for about 12-15 hours of use and can dock to a neat keyboard and a range of other devices and add ons too. So am I in Love? Well. I think so, yes. The laptop is my work machine, the phone is for quick messaging. The Tab is for me. I can scroll through my Reader reports at the kitchen table, email a few pieces, check the trains and take it with me. No briefcase, not bag. Just the Tab in a small black case in my hand. It loads YouTube in seconds and is fantastic browser of Spotify. Someone wisely described the iPad and Tablets to me as ‘couch and coffee table’ devices – and its so true. Whilst watching a Bond movie you can comfortably check the Aston Martin. Whilst watching footie you can comfortably check the other scores. Key word here: comfortably. Trust me, a smartphone, netbook or laptop come nowhere near the browsing and ease of a Tab. Like other great Loves, the Tab is compelling. The more I see what it can do, the more amazing it is. I am still only using about 5% of its power, so heaven knows what I will do with it but I do know I will be using it a lot. Is it a trifle spoilt? Yes. But then, so much technology is. Wants. Needs. Spoilt. It’s all a bit like Love.
Five Reasons Why I’m In Love:
5 – Love Is Infectious: Great games lock you in to their schemes. A great movie absorbs you. A great track sticks in your mind. Love is infectious and the Tab is infectiously compelling. The more you use it, the more you play with it – and the better it becomes. Easy to access, easy to take with you and easy to adapt from a work tool to a game station and so it is very, very infectious.
4 – Love Is Simple Whenever I get a new laptop, from work or at home, trying to understand the latest Microsoft whimsy and dazzling array of icons is always a cure for a peaceful afternoon. It is what makes Microsoft hated. Strange warnings, rules that change, the familiar goes away to be replaced by a more confused cousin. It is what makes Apple loved. If you can flick around an Apple or an Android phone, you can have the Tab up and running in about 5 minutes. Email. Say, 1 minute. Facebook and Twitter: About 30 seconds each. Google reader: 30 seconds. Add a newspaper and few games and you’re done. Its the old axiom: Great design does not have to be explained.
3 – Size Matters: There is a reason why mugs are 95mm tall and 75mm wide. There is a reason why phones and wallets fit your pockets. If you build something that fits the human hand you’re already half way there. The Tab is a perfect size that you can browse like an A5 diary anywhere. If you’ve ever read a paperback book – then you know why that size works. It goes with you and the text is the perfect distance from your eyes. The Tab has that same functional simplicity: small enough to be carried in one hand, large enough to be read at arms length. Size matters.
2 – Love err, Google? OK. Maybe this is the odd one out. But love them or loathe them, no doubt Google delivers. Search. Maps. Gmail. Android. Once you are hooked into their system, it all adds up and builds beautifully. Gmail to Greader, maps to local search. You can switch from one to another without a thought. It just works. And as Android is their OS, everything is built to work with Google.
1 – Love Is Timing: This is the kind of device that the web was designed to be on and what I have been waiting for. Two years ago, when social media was still inane and broadband and wifi were still not established – this could not work. The smartphones led the way and now with iPads and the Tablets marching it all fits together. Processing speed, social media, connections, simplicity. Functionality is key but timing is everything.
Loving a Computer eh? Where will it end?