All the Dead Horses

Here’s the thing with tablets.  None of them that don’t have an Apple logo on the back are worth a crap.  All of the other OS’s suck, except Android.  And the haphazard way Google and the hardware makers administer (or not) versions and upgrades cripples Android to the point of logical irrelevance.

There are only two possibilities for tablet alternatives.  Amazon, who will subsidize the hardware and probably has enough sense to maintain some control of the versioning process.  And Microsoft, who would be a major player, if it would only get in the game.  My guess is that Microsoft is so busy thinking up stupid names for its non-core applications (and then changing them over and over) that it hasn’t realized there is a tablet space, with the second seat open and available.  Even so, Microsoft will, one way or another, eventually be a player in the tablet game.

Everyone else is just throwing away money, and hoping that consumers will do the same thing.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t love to read about other entries into this one-horse race.


Take the exciting, if not so new, Maylong M-150.  Somehow I missed the buzz that surely surrounded its release last year.  And I don’t think I’ve seen one in my many trips to the local Walgreen’s, where they are- or were- on sale for $99.00.  Maybe Walgreen’s has dumped them for one of the other dead horses.  But courtesy of a post at Mac Forums today, I had a good laugh.  Take a look at this review by Ars Technica, from last year.  I don’t read Ars Technica because the name sounds too pretentious (like pre-owned cars and whatnot), but if this is how they roll, then I’m in.  Even better, take a look at the follow-up by… wait for it… the Best Buy blog.  Best Buy has a blog?  For real?  That’s sort of like a dinosaur having a Segway.  It reads like it was written by a dinosaur while riding a Segway.

Anyway, based on these reviews, it looks like a Maylong may make you long for the days of DOS.  Somebody could make bank by starting a humorous review site.  I still miss Mirsky’s Worst of the Web.

There’s no competition in the tablet space- yet.  But at least there’s a little humor.

We need more of that.

Snoozing Through the Xoom and iPad 2 Hype

I’m a regular of my iPad and used my Galaxy Tab a few times before concluding that it sucks.  As such, I keep an eye on the waves of new and updated tablets that crash, in varying levels of completeness, onto our shores almost daily.

I like the Galaxy Tab’s pocket-appropriate size

The two new tablets I’ve been most interested learning about are the new Motorola Xoom, because it comes with Honeycomb,  the tablet-centric version 3.0 of Google’s Android OS, and the iPad 2, because, well,  it comes from Apple.

Now that I’ve seen both, I’m a little underwhelmed.  There are things to like about both devices, but I’m not going to buy either one.  Here’s why.

But the iPad is more elegant and has better apps.

The Xoom looks really nice, and Honeycomb is a significant improvement over the current versions of Android.  But it’s too expensive, too big (I really like the smaller size of the Galaxy Tab) and, inexplicably, it has to be sent back to the manufacturer in a few months to be updated to the new 4G network.  Maybe it would have been better to wait a little longer and release a mature product.  There’s simply no way I’m going to buy some device, put all my stuff on it, become dependent on it, and then mail it somewhere to be upgraded.

The iPad 2 has some nice new features, like a faster chip and cameras, but it only added one item from my wish list.  I view it as a minor step in the upgrade path, and expect the next version, likely to be out next year, to have more material improvements to offer.  Like a better display, wireless syncing, etc.

So for the time being, I’m going to keep on using the tablets I have and wait for a more compelling reason to upgrade.

3 Reasons Why There is Hope for Windows Tablets


I read with interest Paul Thurrott’s post today on the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and Microsoft’s underwhelming presence there.

While I completely agree with Paul’s recent theme regarding Microsoft’s dire need to pick up the pace and raise its game, to keep up with new evolution cycle and the rapid migration to the cloud, I don’t know that I agree with Paul about the prospects for Windows tablets.

Paul says:

This year, dozens of companies will ship Windows 7-based tablets and they will all fail. Instead, consumers will continue buying iPads, and they will buy Android-based tablets (and, possibly, the RIM PlayBook), because those products, unlike Windows tablets, have been created specifically for that market.

While it may very well be in spite of- and not thanks to- Microsoft, I think there is a real chance for Windows-based tablets to succeed.

Why?  Three reasons.

Better Content Creation

iPads are great for consuming content.  They are very, very bad for creating content.  Sure, you can read a Word document, but anything more than minor revisions are extremely difficult.  Tracked changes (which are mandatory in corporate America)?  Forget it.  Microsoft keeps hinting that it may one day bring Office to the iPad, and maybe if Microsoft does blow the Windows-based tablet opportunity, it will.  As plan B.  Because I think the fact that it hasn’t yet is very telling: as slow and insular as Microsoft can be, even an old dog knows that Office on a tablet- in any semi-workable form- would be a good selling point.

Consuming is one thing.  But creation is king.

And it’s not just corporate documents.  I knew that I would never be able to manage my flow of Word documents via iPad.  I did think, incorrectly, that I’d be able to blog via one.  To call the WordPress iPad app horrible is a vast understatement.  It’s simply unusable.  Even if they get it fixed, the lack of useful copy and paste and the inability to easily acquire, insert and place photos will always be a frustration.  Live Writer on a tablet?  Sign me up!

The creation hurdle has clearly affected my iPad usage.  I have noticed that the number of days I carry my iPad with me to work has slowly and steadily declined since I bought it.  Now, it’s about one day every two weeks.  That does not sound like a mission-critical device.  Frankly, more than half my iPad usage these days is playing Words With Friends.

Greater Enterprise Acceptance

Like all tech bloggers, I love new technology.  But my company is still running Windows XP and some ancient version of Office.  I’ve only seen one other iPad in my office.  Ever.

A Windows-based tablet, with software that we already have, has a much bigger chance for Enterprise acceptance than the iPad, Steve Jobs and coolness factors notwithstanding.

User Convenience

Again, I’m a tech blogger.  I have Windows computers, Macs, an iPhone, an iPad, several Apple TVs and one (currently highly content deficient) Google TV.  But the large, large majority of people out there in the real world use Windows-based computers.  It would be much easier for a new customer to choose the known- Windows- over the unknown- IOS.  Better does not always trump convenient.

Microsoft clearly needs to be more nimble, and certainly needs a paradigm shift where application naming and marketing are concerned.  But I think the tablet space could be a big win for Windows.

Shoot, I had a Windows based tablet six years ago.


That little tablet can still create content easier than my iPad.  All it needs is a few tweaks here and there: an option to use the stylus or touch; a leaner version of Windows; wireless broadband; a better display.

I’d give it a try.  Wouldn’t you?