I Want a Tablet, But…

By , March 5, 2012

I’ve been shopping for a new portable computing solution for several months, but I’m experiencing lots of frustration. Basically, I’m finding that every option available includes only a subset of the features and capabilities I desire.

Today, I was ready to buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.  But when I went to Best Buy today to make my purchase, I made some discoveries that changed my mind.

First, I found that the Galaxy Tab slowed to a crawl when I visit a web site that used Flash. I wasn’t even able to log in to the site, because it took several seconds for each keystroke to register.  Suddenly, this claimed advantage over the iPad (the ability to view Flash content) simply vanished.

Next, I asked about using USB, and the clerk explained that I’d need to buy a separate “dongle” to be able to use USB devices with the Galaxy Tab.  When I mentioned that I wanted to use a USB keyboard, he warned that most USB keyboards and other devices wouldn’t work with the Galaxy Tab.  And while using the USB dongle, I couldn’t charge the tablet (which, like the iPhone and iPad, has only a single port). The clerk suggested that I consider using a Bluetooth keyboard instead (which I know would reduce the tablet’s battery life).

What I really want is a “modular” solution.  I don’t like the idea of carrying a bulky laptop computer everywhere I go (especially since I’ve never found a laptop computer with an acceptable keyboard).  But I definitely want a larger screen than any cell-phone (even the Galaxy Note), and I don’t think I’d be satisfied with a 7- or 8-inch tablet screen. It would be great if I could find a single solution that would allow me to scale incrementally from the functionality of a cell phone, to the capabilities of a tablet, to the abilities of a notebook PC. Today, that’s just a pipe dream.

Recently, I concluded that the best solution for me would be to buy a tablet plus “remote access” software so that I could use the tablet to remotely access my desktop PC (using the tablet’s WiFi connection to the internet) when I need to use software that’s beyond the capabilities of a tablet CPU. Unfortunately, I can’t “test” this alternative without first buying a tablet.

I’d also like to be able to use the tablet as a VOIP phone (using WiFi to connect to my VOIP internet service). Again, I can’t evaluate whether this is a workable solution without first buying the tablet.

But now it appears that some of my earlier assumptions about Android tablets were mistakes, so I don’t really know what to do next.


Added March 15: I’m also curious how tablets fit into the mix for web sites that “force a mobile view,” including many news web sites which negate the value of inbound links by redirecting mobile users to the site’s mobile home page, instead of the article specified in the link.  It’s an incredibly infuriating experience. (CBS News: You Suck!)

Update March 21, 2012: I have just placed my order on Amazon.com for an Acer Iconia A200 10.2-inch tablet.



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