Tablet ris­ing

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE - By DAVID LIAN

Last week, ap­ple an­nounced it had sold 4.19 mil­lion iPads around the world in the last quar­ter and while it was some ways short of the five mil­lion Wall street had ex­pected, it’s still a big num­ber.

truth be told, it’s still early days for the tablet 2.0, but the com­pe­ti­tion for the iPad is al­ready build­ing up. We’ve seen a flurry of an­nounce­ments from var­i­ous com­pa­nies promis­ing an­droid tablets by the end of the year. Re­search In Mo­tion (RIM) an­nounced its Play­book tablet, though pre­views of it have yet been made avail­able. Last week­end, Hewlett Packard rolled out the busi­ness-cen­tric slate 500, run­ning Win­dows 7.

Let’s face it, the tablets are com­ing in thick and fast.

In Malaysia, the first salvos have been fired. amid spec­u­la­tion that the iPad would be the first to of­fi­cial ar­rive, the two tablets that have ac­tu­ally made it to our shores first are of the an­droid­flavour.

First to launch – and credit must go to them – was our very own Malaysian-made CsL spice DroidPad Mi700. sport­ing a 7-inch screen, two cam­eras, and the lat­est an­droid re­lease (Froyo), the DroidPad feels like it’s the lit­tle “pad that could”. Re­tail­ing at RM1,699, it’s cheaper than an im­ported iPad (which goes for more than RM2,000).

the sec­ond tablet to launch of­fi­cially in Malaysia (last week, in fact), was the much-vaunted sam­sung Galaxy tab, which sports sim­i­lar spec­i­fi­ca­tions to the DroidPad but has a faster pro­ces­sor, a more ap­peal­ing de­sign (in my opin­ion) and some op­ti­mised sam­sung soft­ware.

But this isn’t a col­umn for re­views; and it wouldn’t be fair ei­ther as I’ve only had limited time with both an­droid tablets. the ques­tion I’m try­ing to an­swer is – is this tablet “revo­lu­tion” re­ally some­thing? Or is it just hype?

Like ev­ery­thing tech, it comes down to how you use it. Geeks some­times tend to over-em­pha­sise spec­i­fi­ca­tions over us­abil­ity. the best ad­vice any­one can give you when buy­ing some­thing new – es­pe­cially if it is a piece of technology – is to think first about how you are go­ing to use it.

When I bought the iPad, I knew what I wanted to do with the tablet. Mainly, I’d like to read on it – mag­a­zines, the news, books, even the Bi­ble. se­condly, I wanted some­thing to take notes on and do some sim­ple word-pro­cess­ing while I’m on the go. I also wanted to play games on it.

Be­neath the bells and whis­tles, there are two un­der­ly­ing fac­tors that make the tablet such a com­pelling gad­get for car­ry­ing out these tasks.

there’s the “in­stant-on” ca­pa­bil­ity. Imag­ine this sce­nario if you will: You have 10 min­utes of wait­ing time and you’re seated at a res­tau­rant wait­ing for your friends to ar­rive. You could pull out your lap­top, but you’d waste five min­utes wait­ing for it to boot, and then an­other five min­utes fum­bling around to shut it down when your friends ar­rive.

You could play around with your phone, but re­ally, be­tween the fid­dly on-screen key­board and the small screen size, you’re not go­ing to be very pro­duc­tive.

In a sce­nario like this, the tablet be­comes ideal. ten min­utes is enough time for read­ing a short ar­ti­cle, draft­ing that blog­post you’ve got in your head, or just brows­ing the web.

the sec­ond big thing about tablets is the form-fac­tor. the touch­screen in and of it­self is nice, but the killer fea­ture is re­ally the form-fac­tor it en­ables – you can hold it like a book or mag­a­zine. Los­ing the key­board that a net­book would tra­di­tion­ally have brings many new use-cases to the fore. Read­ing be­comes a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence, and the loss of some heft in your back­pack is equally wel­come.

In fact, I’ve started leav­ing my lap­top at home in the week­ends, re­ly­ing en­tirely on my tablet to do word­pro­cess­ing and read­ing while on the go. the flat form-fac­tor and soft keys aren’t go­ing to make pro­longed us­age en­joy­able, but for short spurts of pro­duc­tiv­ity, you can’t go wrong with the tablet.

tablets – if my four-week ex­pe­ri­ence is any­thing to go by – are here to stay. I was skep­ti­cal at first as I thought the lack of a key­board would surely ham­per pro­duc­tiv­ity. But as I’ve found these past weeks, the tablet ac­tu­ally fits in nicely into a spe­cific use-case that we’ve al­ways needed for com­put­ing on the go. It’s sort of like the de­vice cat­e­gory we never knew was missing un­til it ap­peared. and now that it’s here, I don’t think any­one will ever go back.

q David Lian spends too much time boot­ing up PCs that his iPad has prob­a­bly saved him a cou­ple of hours of wait­ing al­ready. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at http://twit­ter. com/davidlian.

The new Sam­sung Galaxy Tab.

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