Robin: This is David Needle. He is the Editor of Tab Times. And we’re going to talk about tablets. Should we buy tablets now?
David: That’s a great question. Sure, sure, I mean, they burst on the scene, they are kind of like reminds me of a couple of generations back when notebooks shook up the desktop establishment, which was what everybody bought was a desktop PC; well, a tablet is a more portable version of a notebook.
Robin: So, now instead of notebooks are we all going to get tablets?
David: Yeah, I think that’s the direction things are headed in. For now there is somewhat of an accessory or something that augments the use of a notebook. They can’t do everything a notebook does because the notebook has a full keyboard; it has much fuller range of applications, especially for productivity type stuff. But it does a lot of those things and it’s headed in that direction where it could be a true replacement for the notebook.
Robin: I am seeing them and I am actually playing with a very cheap Android tablet, and it has Bluetooth, it’s called a Nook from Barnes & Nobel, and a Bluetooth keyboard I have hooked up to it and you know that I can get Open Office on it, I have Open Office on it?
David: Yeah, yeah, ah, that’s cool. So Office compatible, you can do some things there, right?
Robin: Right. As a writer that means it’s a full productivity machine for me. What about these, what kind of – it’s after Christmas, it’s time to look at, we’re beyond the gifts for us, we can calm down and shop carefully, what’s a good tablet – what’s a good deal on a tablet now?
David: Well, actually and of course that doesn’t mean the end of the deal, so, right? Because now we’re hitting end of the year, we are hitting people that want to do may be tax deductions for home office, that type of thing, so there is a lot of deals. It’s a great time to buy. I think what we have to decide as a buyer, as a consumer is, is this in fact replacing the notebook, is this going to be something that you use for work or is this an entity in and of itself. Is this a device that you’re going to use to supplement what you’re watching on TV, occasional e-mails, and that kind of thing and more of a media consumption device, or is it going to be that full replacement or near full replacement for your notebook?
If it’s the latter, then you want to buy a product that’s a little more in-sync with the devices you’re already using, your computers and your notebook. So that’s where Windows Tablets have a little bit of an edge, you can run Office applications, do things like that. If you’re more in the media consumption side, there is where Amazon and its Kindle Fire line come into play, because they are a little bit like the android but they are kind of their own universe. So they’re kind of their own thing, but for media consumption and a great range of apps, very good prices, very good hardware.
Robin: Okay, yeah. And I’ve been experimenting literally, I’m using my android phone as my camera and fast action camcorder, and I am starting to use that tablet as my chariot to a conference or to a remote ____3:41 even though I have a small 11.5 inch screen Chromebook type computer.
David: Okay, right.
Robin: You have a Chromebook yourself, do you not?
David: I have a Chromebook, I have several tablets, I have an iPad, I have Windows 8 machine, so the whole range that you kind of have to have to cover all the stuff. So they all have different purposes but you know the iPad of course is still the winner and the leading tablet. And that’s the gold standard. I mean there is many many more apps for the iPad than any other tablet and it’s a beautiful device.
Robin: Okay. But it’s also costly, let’s say.
David: It’s a beautiful device, it starts at $500 and goes up from there. The iPad Mini with Retina Display is $100 less, that’s a very good tablet. You know smaller than the full sized iPad. Android devices from the Samsung Galaxy to Google’s Nexus, those are great tablets, I mean, they give you a lot for the money too. Kind of the killer app for tablets is the form factor itself, is the fact that ____5:01 supportable that you can go anywhere with them and do more with them.
Robin: What do you figure has the minimum right now that we need to spend to get a usable, not fancy just usable tablet?
David: Sure, sure. You know the funny thing is you could go as low as – we had heard a lot of talk last year about the $99 tablets. I mean they came out from sort of no name manufacturers. It didn’t really happen in a big way. Now the big CES, the Consumer Electronics Show is in January, so we’re going to see a lot of more low-end devices there. But whether we’re really going to see $99 mainstream I don’t know. But for as low as $150, you’ve got Dell Computer with Venue 7 coming out with a pretty good, pretty usable 7 inch tablet. So that’s pretty exciting. That sounded great, that’s not cream of the crop on display or any of those things, but you can certainly do stuff with it.
Robin: Right. Well, I mean, I learned the hard way that you don’t buy pre-teens good stuff because we suffered this. “Give me, no that’s mine, no it’s my turn and it’s plugged in and boom and there goes your main board where the....
David: Well, we’re actually seeing new thing, we’re seeing actually quite a few manufacturers come out with kid specific tablets, designed for kids, designed for the family. So you don’t have to necessarily pass along the one that you’re using for work or play. And these are ruggedized. They have pretty good hardware in terms of hard plastic shells, being able to take a few simple falls, that kind of thing.
Robin: Indeed. From what I’ve seen, the OLPC, the One Laptop Per Child is quickly becoming the one tablet per child project. They have a kid
Robin: I don’t remember who makes a Polaroid or somebody unlikely
David: Well, they were ahead of their time. They basically that original idea was that there would be $100 computer, it was ahead of its time, it’s still around and it’s morphed into a tablet thing, but that was the idea, spill proof, drop proof, applications built-in, pretty nifty idea.
Robin: Okay. Now we all love tablets all of a sudden, in fact here you are working on an publication that covers nothing else, why didn’t we pick up on tablets when Bill Gates was walking around showing them off over and over again, why did we ignore him?
David: Right, well and we largely did, I mean, they did find a niche, the Windows Tablets did find a niche in sort of delivery service people and medical and certain more limited scenarios. The problem was, Microsoft’s vision has always been ever since Windows came in the scene, Windows and then everything else grows from that. So they tried to extend the basic Windows desktop metaphor to a tablet form factor. And it didn’t really work. What Apple did, Apple came along and said, let’s reinvent this idea of a tablet and they were also the beneficiary of great timing, because the hardware had really evolved to the point where they could come out with a real portable device, low cost – relatively low cost and it worked out well for them. They started from a blank slate. They didn’t try to extend the Mac OS to a tablet. They said, no, let’s start with this iOS idea. And make it for tablets and let’s make a tablet be this unique thing that’s a very portable device for media consumption.
Now since that’s come out and Microsoft was always like, well, you can do everything you do in a desktop on a tablet. Well, it was heavy, it was expensive, it just didn’t work from that perspective, from a mass market perspective. Now, Apple has extended – really the developer community has extended this idea of media consumption and said, now you can do productive things on the tablet.
Robin: Which you can.
David: Which you can and there’s third parties companies coming out with keyboards and peripherals. It’s interesting because Apple itself is not – Apple sees different markets, Apple sees the tablet market, it sees the desktop market, the notebook market. So they themselves don’t do a lot to make the tablet more usable from a productivity point of view. They want you to buy a MacBook.
Robin: Well, I mean those who can afford it, no doubt do, it’s a
Robin: I’m just finding that the jump from the desktop down to the tablet isn’t big, and that leads me to another question, okay; let’s say we’re making a website.
Robin: Okay, let’s do that, do we need an app or apps (plural) for Android and for the Apple people or do we just need a mobile website?
David: Yeah, I think there is going to be and they’re already is starting to be a big convergence, we’ve heard about this term called HTML5.
David: Which is a kind of programming language, and the great promise of that is that it kind of reminds me of Java, the write-once-run-anywhere idea.
David: You do HTML and then you don’t do separate apps, and whether apps will – I think that is the direction. But right now there is this hybrid idea that you need an app for everything, and that hasn’t always been successful particularly on the publishing side, for example Rupert Murdoch’s company News Corp., invested a lot of money and hired a lot of people to do this thing called The Daily, which was an app for the iPad, and it just didn’t work, it didn’t pay in terms of the pay back for them. The idea that you have to load a separate app, I mean, we have an app, there’s a Times app, there are different apps for publications, but the idea that you always have to launch an app when people are so used to just go into a website. For media, it’s hard to know if that’s going to work long term.
Robin: I personally don’t think it will, I mean, I remember when everybody was going to have their private little walled-off piece of the internet; in fact, I have started writing one online, when Time Life was doing that.
Robin: They had all their magazines; it was Path Finder was the site, you’d never need another site except
David: Well, not to get too off topic, but, yeah, the idea that you had this gold standard, you had this terrific brand Time and they said, well, okay for the web we’re going to start this thing called a Path Finder with all new names and all new – yeah, in retrospect not so smart.
Robin: But even so, once again everybody was trying to have their little private thing; as you may or may not recall, you’re not an old man like me, so you may not remember back when there were like these things like CompuServe and the [Prodders]; there’re all these different online services, and you gave one money and you couldn’t send email to your friend from CompuServe, you couldn’t send email to your friend on ____13:01 .
Robin: Everybody wanted their private thing. With the one size
David: Yes, I don’t really see us going back to that, now the one thing you do have is for example you can’t run iTunes on an Android tablet, on a Kindle Fire, that’s not available, so we still have our separate universes up to a point.
Robin: Really I haven’t tried, I thought I – yeah, I do too have, I have iTunes on an Android; yeah, you can do that.
David: On like a Kindle Fire, you can’t run
Robin: Well, the Kindle, there’s some adoptions you have to do, you have to route it, so you’re in the mainstream Android.
David: Yeah, except
Robin: It’s not hard.
David: Well, yeah.
Robin: Well, I’m the tinkerer, let’s face it, I run Linux and I play with things. But I’m fine with the Android stuff which I gathered Android is now the world’s most popular operating system. Scary.
David: Yeah, that maybe, and I guess that is true, but then you get into usage, and when they do measurements of Internet usage and an app usage and things like that, it’s no contest, I mean, there’s much more traffic going through the iOS universe; iPhone and iPad.
David: Yeah, well, there's a lot of devices, they’re really cheap on the Android side that, do they ever get used? Well, it’s kind of hard to say. Or they are used very minimally. So a lot of devices out there, what’s actually being used, it’s iOS.
Robin: So if we want to be mainstream at this moment, we want to go with iOS.
David: Yeah, I mean, in aggregate I mean there’s still plenty of great things on the Android side that you can take a look at. And, I mean, Nexus 7, there is no question that that’s a popular device, Kindle Fire very popular, so plenty of options there. Windows ironically you’re talking about things in the past, Windows is the dark horse and I would say don’t count them out. There’s lot of resources there. They don’t always get it right the
first time, but they get it right at some point.