Author Topic: Netbook vs iPad/Tablet  (Read 8413 times)

in4

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Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« on: December 29, 2012, 09:21:20 PM »
[Admin continuity note: Dan mentioned typing on his new travel'puter, a netbook. There seems to be some interest in travel computers for use on-tour, so I created a new child-board and split/merged the posts to it, starting here. -- Danneaux]

Go on Dan sate my curiosity, which travelputer did you go for?! I'm trying to convince myself of the virtues of mini-tablets. I'm not there yet despite trawling through pages of guff about ipad minis, Samsung Note 2 and something Googlish too. I'm not convinced yet but keep an open mind. A friend uses a Samsung N110 ( I think that is correct) and that appears to be a great value, portable piece of kit, with a proper keyboard too.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 05:11:57 AM by Danneaux »

Danneaux

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Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2012, 11:37:11 PM »
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Go on Dan sate my curiosity, which travelputer did you go for?!
Hi Ian!

I figured that would getcha!  ;)

Short answer?

I got a factory-refurbished HP Mini 1104 netbook postpaid for USD$$226.08 in the factory box and with the static-cling shipping plastic still on the case, apparently never used.

Long answer follows....

Specs
The only problem: The main storage partition on the hard drive had never been formatted, but 5 minutes with G-parted fixed that and got rid of HP's goofy multiple-primary partition setup (I went with a single Win primary, then an extended with discrete logical parts). It uses an Intelฎ Atom™ N2600 (1.60 GHz, 1 MB L2 cache, 800 MHz FSB) with 2GB RAM (2 is needed 'cos Win7 takes up all of 1GB+ with running apps) and a 320GB hard drive that has accelerometer-actuated head parking (senses freefall and braces for impact). It is extremely rugged and has a 93% spill-resistant keyboard with terrific key action and gesture touchpad. It runs Win7Pro with Media Center and will play full HD (1080) YouTube videos without a hiccup or stutter, though won't do the same with my GoPro vids. 80211.a/b/g/n and BlueTooth 3.0 HS.  <-- This last has been an issue in hooking up to my wireless Canon printer/scanners, but I think it is a software issue, 'cos it hooks up fine to a phone. the thing came with a full factory 1-yr warranty and tech support with at-door pickup for repairs. it is a corporate rather than consumer version of the 1104. It measures 10.55 x 7.52 x 0.89 in (26.8 x 19.1 x 2.28 cm) and weighs 2.98lb/1.35kg with the 6-cell battery.

Among the good features is Win7 Pro, avoiding the crippling limitations of Win7 Starter. This means I get things like multi-touch support, virtual XP mode, Presentation mode, Windows Media Center, and multiple monitor support.

Power options
It has tunable power options. In "eco" mode, I get nearly 10 hours from the 6-cell battery. In "Performance" mode, I get a full 8 with the non-glare, sun-visible screen cranked up on full brightness. It was designed to be a real "laptop" -- it runs cool, has a solid bottom, and side-flow intakes and exhaust with a screen that folds flat and 180ฐ of angle adjustment.

PC over tablet; why
After a *great* amount of research -- and given I'm "careful" with money -- I decided a tablet was not for me. Tablets are ideal for consuming content...not so good for creating it. Most have terrible glare problems when used outdoors or in a tent. There's no keyboard or stand. Besides cost, I would have had to add a wireless keyboard to the mix, which meant yet another battery to charge, and added weight. Too, the "apps" had to all be purchased, when I've got a *ton* of Windows stuff here already.

Battery life and power density (power per weight carried) were big on my list, along with reasonable functionality and overall weight and space.

I wanted native Flash capability for uploads to Flickr and such, and Java script and USB ports (3) and a card reader (1, multi-format) and wired networking (1).

I needed a *lot* of storage space to hold the HD video I'll be taking (and to offload it to), and my digital stills add up, too. The 320GB hard drive takes care of that, and I have the option of taking a USB-powered portable Pioneer DVD burner that is only 14mm thick (USD$34).

With virtualization, my own network has 24 computers, so being able to virtualize the computer on the fly to avoid the malware of public wifi was Big. Yes, I use security, but it is also nice to just trash the virtual C: drive when I'm done and anything that might have affected it.

I have a little USB Pharos GPS I wanted to plug into the 'puter and I will have all my Garmin worldwide maps on it whenever I plug-in my Garmin Oregon 400T as well as MS Streets & Trips, Magellan, and DeLorme mapping software and my Sony camera GPS tracking and GoogleEarth Pro, so I'm set there.

I also want to do some light photo editing, so I loaded on my Microsoft Digital Image Suite Editor, which takes all my Photoshop plug-ins it shares with GIMP and is light on resources.  The rest of the software is either from Portable Apps or stuff I've virtualized, thinstalled, or portabilized with Camino, so none of that appears in the registry. I've got 18 Gmail accounts to keep up with, so a hacked and reduced version of Thunderbird setup as a syncing IMAP client takes care of that. Comodo Dragon a hardened and slimmed version of Chrome works as the browser. I had those both portabilized, but the problem there was since neither appeared in the registry, they could not be made the default apps. I'm working on writing a little standalone resource linker so they can. SeaMonkey didn't play consistently with Google IMAP syncing, so that handy solution was out. I'll pick up some speed if I can go with the portabilized versions of the mail client and web browser, but I'm not having to wait; things are pretty snappy unless I have a lot of browser tabs open with high-demand content while all my mail accounts are also open.

Thanks for the memories...and OS options
I'll be using a Class 10 4GB SD card for ReadyBoost to extend the memory when desired (leaves the USB ports free and won't extend outside the chassis), and another swappable SD card that will carry a couple Linux distros, sharing the common DATA drive with Windows so I can access all my stuff no matter which OS I use. The Linux side will use Thunderbird with a common mail store shared with the Win side, and Chrome again as a browser. GIMP will handle photo-editing on that side, and VLC is my media player of choice on either OS. Skype on both with the built-in webcam. If I turn off journaling to extend the life of the solid-state card and turn off the hard drive, I think I can extend the battery life by about 28%.

The Competition
I initially wanted to get an ASUS netbook, but nearly all in this class ship with only 1GB of RAM, and adding another 1GB can be problematic, requiring complete disassembly, and it appears some models have only soldered RAM, which adds complications. The HP Mini 1104 came with 2GB and a clamshell back that exposes everything if needed for quick and easy home repairs/mods after the warranty period. Acer was another option, but also had some problems. Gateway was not a contender for me due to reliability concerns. Dell seems to have left the netbook arena, or at least has not kept it with HP. I think this Mini 1104 may be the last gasp for this market niche. Ultrabooks are far more powerful but far more expensive, and now everything on the Windows side is going to Win8, which I do *not* like in its present iteration.

I was very taken with the ASUS Transformer-series of tablets (detachable keyboards that contain battery-extenders), but an Android OS doesn't meet my needs. The Apple iPad was a lustworthy contender, but the price and features weren't suitable for my needs/use, either. Also, the battery in the iPad is captive, so a fresh once can't be swapped in, and it has to be sent in for battery replacement when it finally dies. If I take a spare 6-cell battery, I'm looking at about 16+ hours' use between needed recharges; more if I turn off the wireless and then flash-upload when I'm near wifi and plugged-in. At about 45min/night journaling in camp and adding pics to text, that's close to 21 days' worth of use; plenty in-between recharge opportunities. No, the SON/TTTP2 or SON/e-Werk charging systems won't charge directly, and a buffer battery doesn't make sense when I compare weight against intended use. Far better to hack a USB connector onto the spare netbook battery and use that as an emergency charging reserve for keeping the phone, GPS, water purifier and AA/AAA batteries topped up if I was going to be stationary for awhile. It is on the "to-do" list.

The ChromeBooks looked really appealing and slot right in near what I paid for the HP Mini 1104, but their offline functionality is not "there" yet for my needs, and on my tours I am so very often out of wifi and cell-tower range. I'm lucky to get a voice-capable connection; 4G capability is just out of the question. Burger King and McDonald's are my on-road free wifi friends, and so are some banks and department stores, all using free wifi access as a lure to increase store traffic. They also have mains power outlets, and I quickly adapt to becoming a power vampire, pulling a little from the mains at each place to top-off my high-draw/high-drain appliances. The 6-cell pack in the netbook charges from flat in about 1.6 hours, so it won't take much to top it off while I eat.

Relative costs
At mega-retailer BestBuy here in the States, a 32GB iPad with wifi currently sells for USD$599, but has only 10% the storage capacity of my little USD$288 netbook and no swappable battery. Add a wireless keyboard for ~USD$140 and a stand at ~USD$15 and a whole slew of apps to do what I want...(many of mine aren't Apple compatible), and we're talking more cost than I can manage and less functionality than I'd like. I think the iPad is a terrific solution for many, and I'd love to have one. However, I am limited on how much I can spend, and needed a travel computer for generating content, and this was a good solution for me. I think it is really good to analyze your own needs before purchase. I know some of us (PhilB, for example, who is on-tour as I write this) are doing amazingly well with their wifi Kindles as an all-in-one solution, and at little cost in the bargain. It is worth a look if you won't be doing a lot of writing and want to keep costs down.

I guess like I'm a roadie at heart, I'm also a computer and research guy. I was mainframes and Macs for many years (my first Mac SE retailed for a staggering $6,500; thank goodness for institutional subsidies that offset about 2/3 of the price), but cost and applications drove me to PCs.

Amazing value and amazingly useful for the money
At ~USD$400-500 new, the margin between my HP Mini 1104 and a lower-level iPad isn't that huge, but at USD$288, the scales tip in favor of the Mini 1104 pretty quickly. At just over USD$200 it is a terrific value as I have mine setup. If you can find one on eBay as I did, factory refurbished and carrying a full factory warranty from an factory-authorized reseller/retailer, then it is an almost unmatchable deal if it meets your needs. I had feared getting a travel'puter would doom it to sitting idle in between trips, but this is working so well, I find myself carrying it with me throughout the house here at home, into the backyard, in the car, etc. I hate to say it, but compared to my speedy Core i7 laptop with 12GB of RAM, this thing measures up well for day-to-day tasks and is a lot more portable. I just wish it had been a skosh smaller so it had fit in my HB bag. Fits in the rack pack just fine in its little hardshell compressed-foam zippered case or slides right into a pannier without taking much room.
-  -  -  -  -  -  -
The real reason I even considered something like this is because I really can't write legibly anymore. I used my hands too hard for too many years thanks to the supposed immortality of an extended youth (antics like chinning myself with a single finger on each hand and work as a car mechanic), and am now paying the price. They cramp terribly when writing and even I can't read what I wrote. 17-hour days in the saddle on really rough roads don't help either, but I can hammer away on the keyboard really quickly using four fingers and a couple thumbs.

All the best,

Dan. (...who tries to maintain an even bike:computer ratio)
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 06:07:39 AM by Danneaux »

Matt2matt2002

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Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 12:46:45 AM »
Jezzo! Even more for my poor brain to take in and chew over.
Chinning one fingered? Amazing. Any pix?
But the 'Puter info was just what I needed. I very nearly bought an eBay Asus last month. Out bid at the last min and from reading your comments I am happy.
Thanx Dan
Never drink and drive. You may hit a bump  and spill your drink

Andre Jute

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Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 02:22:12 AM »
Also, the battery in the iPad is captive, so a fresh once can't be swapped in, and it has to be sent in for battery replacement when it finally dies. If I take a spare 6-cell battery, I'm looking at about 16+ hours' use between needed recharges; more if I turn off the wireless and then flash-upload when I'm near wifi and plugged-in. At about 45min/night journaling in camp and adding pics to text, that's close to 21 days' worth of use; plenty in-between recharge opportunities.

That's wishful thinking. We have several iPad, including the iPad 2 and the New iPad or Retina model.  I use the iPad 3, the Retina model, daily for reading or composing music in my bath, while I eat my midnight snack, and in my gym on the exercise machines. I have never, ever, seen the promised 10 hours of operation, even just reading. In fact, just reading in Pages chews through a fully charged battery in around four or five hours. According to Kingsoft Battery Doctor, which promises to make your battery live longer, I've charged my iPad  26 times this month, including three full charges from dead, which disturbs Battery Doctor. That's to the 28th of the month. It goes on the charger automatically, every day when I go to bed, even if it hasn't died before then. Normally it is down at 20 or 30%. Those last few per cent go down so fast, you can almost hear the clock ticking. The only heavy consumer I haven't switched off is wi-fi because books etc that I'm editing are sent to the iPad via wifi and it's a nuisance switching it on and off. All the "push" notifications are off, no e-mail, no social media, nothing; I don't even write to these fora on the iPad.

I love the iPad for extending my working hours despite my health problems, for keeping me working away from my desktop Mac, but I wouldn't dream of taking it on the road for a serious tour. That's quite aside from the short battery life. The thing is obviously physically fragile. Even inside the house, and even though I have a nice tactile Italian leather case for it, my iPad lives in Griffin's "mil spec" Survivor Case. It's a superb case, but it's HEAVY. More, it isn't waterproof, though I think the iPad inside it will survive fairly heavy splashing -- but not the sort of persistent rain cyclists and their gear are exposed to. I have an excellent waterproof bag for when I use mine outside, including daytrips on the bike on unfamiliar roads where it is my map, and in the bath, but that just makes it clumsy to handle. (I bought the waterproof bag from Mini-in-the-box for under ten bucks. Highly recommended.)

The lack of a separate keyboard should not be a consideration. The iPad's onscreen keyboard in landscape format is bigger than many of the poncier keyboards now sold. You soon learn to type on it. However, I also have a keyboard, bluetooth, rechargeable, which looks (it is completely covered in imitation leather), feels and works a treat; it comes with a smart folio case that offers the iPad normal protection, but again, none of this is waterproof in any longdistance bike tourer sense. But battery life is in excess of thirty hours on mine... The same keyboard is available without the fancy trimmings for about twenty bucks; ask me for details if you care, as I have them saved somewhere. There are small bluetooth keyboards available -- they're the most common kind -- with waterproof rubberised keys but general opinion is that they're rubbish to type on.

The iPad is fast developing into a piece of equipment on which you can do serious work. For instance, you can track changes, not only on the iPad but across computers, in Pages, including in documents imported from Word and created or edited on any computer. Only two years ago we would have considered that terrific sophistication on an expensive desktop computer. But I just don't see anything the price of an iPad, or even the iPad mini, which is a more useful size on a bike, as a tourer's computer. Maybe if it came from the factory ruggedised, and were a third the price for the loaded models, it would look like more of a match for the job.

Andre Jute
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 05:25:03 AM by Hobbes »

Danneaux

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Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 03:18:34 AM »
Quote
Chinning one fingered? Amazing. Any pix?

I have an old one somewhere from the days when photos were printed from negatives. It was even more impressive 'cos I did it using the 1.5cm extension of the doorframe. I did it 'cos it elicited even more cries of dismay from family members than cracking knuckles. Now I know why. Ah, youth; it is wasted on the young!  :D (I also weighed less then and had a more impressive power-to-weight ratio).

[well-meaning mode on]
Don't do this, Matt. Don't even try it. Even if you can, you will regret it. As have my crack-jamming, rock-climbing friends. We all have claws now, instead of fingers. Even if you can't imagine living to or past age 30, chances are you will even if by accident, and it is really bad to go past the warranty period on some of these body parts. Nothing in the aftermarket parts stream can hold a candle to OEM.
[well-meaning mode off]
-  -  -  -  -  -
Quote
Out bid at the last min and from reading your comments I am happy.
Any questions along this line, give a shout. Enjoy Aberdeen! Happy New Year!

Here's a bit more about what drove my decision...

I could get three of my factory-refurbed HP Mini 1104s for the price of one middling current IPad even before adding the keyboard and such. That was huge for me.

Free software from open-source or licensed stuff I already own. A standard OS and the option to extend service life with a Linux distro. This is a tough little machine with the nonglare screen closed inside when I shut the lid. Netbooks are going at fire-sale prices 'cos they're no longer sexy in the consumer marketplace, but the basic functionality remains (I have doubts they'll make the trip to Windows 8, but they might; MS' Surface RT is bog-slow compared to this or anything). I'll use this for more than just entertainment, but I can also rip and convert DVDs or downloaded content and watch a movie in my tent if I wish, or Hulu in a motel room instead of the usual bad TV those places seem to have on offer.

Again -- The iPad is an amazing bit of kit, and I'd love to own one. However, for my budget and needed functions, the little netbook got me where I needed to go for less money, and the battery life I mentioned is what I am finding in my own independently-timing, not factory-quoted figures. Not as much as the factory promised, but still a full day of productivity and more than the iPad. My netbook battery will decline with age, but for now...not bad!

Andre is correct: a travel'puter lives a hard, hard life...especially on a bicycle. They are subject to a lot of vibration, temperature extremes, dust and humidity. But I decided I'd rather give a netbook a go at 1/3 the cost of an iPad and with greater functionality for my own needs. Time will tell as to its on-road suitability, but in the meantime, I've got a handy little 'puter that chugs along very nicely for day-to-day tasks when I don't need one of my zippier models for the heavy-lifting of video editing and numbers-crunching/modeling.

All the best,

Dan. (...who thinks there's myriad ways to get there, but finally settled on this one for cheap*)

*...and I can use it with two mice! https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/multitask.html  ;) :D ;D
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 03:39:31 AM by Danneaux »

JimK

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Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2012, 03:33:23 AM »
I wonder if a pelican case like this:

http://www.pelicancases.com/1490-p/1490.htm

would be worth the bother... I used to use one of their cases for commuting. Probably for touring it is just too much space.

Danneaux

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Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2012, 04:10:31 AM »
Hi Jim!

Those Pelican cases are wonderful things...I've had the privilege of using them in the past, and was impressed with the protection offered. However, a bit too expensive/large/heavy for me, so I went the eBay route again, getting a compressed-foam/nylon jobbie with padded interior for USD$12.96ppd:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Black-Hard-Handle-Case-Bag-Lenovo-IDEAPAD-S10-S10E-10-1-Netbook-Notebook-/190764130988?pt=US_Laptop_Cases_Bags&hash=item2c6a6da2ac
It is due to arrive Monday or Tuesday. I figure the Otrlieb bags will keep the netbook dry and fairly dust-free, while the lightweight hard case will improve crush-resistance in the event of a fall. I've had remarkably good luck with these sorts of cases for camera equipment in similar conditions, so I am hopeful now.

Best,.

Dan

Danneaux

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Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2012, 04:44:07 AM »
A photo-collage of the HP Mini 1104 (attached) for those who asked, and a size comparison with my 17" HP Pavilion dv7.

Best,

Dan. (...who thinks of his new netbook as a kind of Tardis, larger inside than out*)
*http://www.gizmag.com/tardis-augmented-reality-model/25577/
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 09:07:57 AM by Danneaux »

Danneaux

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Re: Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2012, 05:57:09 AM »
Hi All!

Those of you pondering the netbook vs iPod choice for bike touring may wish to read the following articles to help choose which is best for you. Though a couple are dated by as much as a couple years, the basic information is still helpful -- just keep in mind, the iPad has evolved and most netbooks tested below have only 1GB of memory; speed increases greatly with 2GB of RAM.

My favorite minicomputer review site, Liliputing: http://products.liliputing.com/

• 15 Reasons iPad is better than a netbook – REDUX
http://coregeek.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/15-reasons-ipad-is-better-than-a-netbook-redux/
• The NetBook Is Dead, The iPad Killed It, Don't Buy One
http://www.forbes.com/sites/briancaulfield/2011/11/28/the-netbook-is-dead-the-ipad-killed-it-dont-buy-one/
• 42 Reasons Why Netbooks Are Better Than the Apple iPad
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2358590,00.asp
• Looking for Netbooks? Are they discontinued? If not, which is best for me!
http://www.overclock.net/t/1206313/looking-for-netbooks-are-they-discontinued-if-not-which-is-best-for-me
• Free Must-Have Netbook Apps
http://www.laptopmag.com/review/software/free-must-have-netbook-apps.aspx
• 10 things Netbooks still do better than an iPad
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10443246-1.html
• Which netbook to take on a bicycle tour?
http://ask.metafilter.com/215863/Which-netbook-to-take-on-a-bicycle-tour
• iPad vs. Netbook: Tight Race
http://www.1025theparty.com/ipad-vs-netbook-tight-race/
• The Top 10 Best Netbooks
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2369244,00.asp
• Netbooks for Photographers
http://francisspecker.com/blog/2009/6/7/netbooks-for-photographers.html
• Best Netbook Review
http://www.bestnetbooksreview.com/
• How Does the IPad Compare to Netbooks?
http://www.pcworld.com/article/188172/article.html
• 3 reasons iPad is better than Netbook (and 10 reasons it is worse)
http://standardwisdom.com/softwarejournal/2011/05/ipad-versus-netbook/
• When Netbook is greater than iPad
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/datacenter/when-netbook-is-greater-than-ipad/1429
• The iPad Has Killed The Netbook
http://www.cultofmac.com/165398/the-ipad-has-killed-the-netbook/
• Should I Buy a Notebook, iPad or Netbook for Travel?
http://www.google.com/#q=ipad+better+than+netbook&hl=en&tbo=d&psj=1&ei=x8XfUIuhNcjVsgb3tYCAAg&start=10&sa=N&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=75746be565b0cb2f&bpcl=40096503&biw=1280&bih=715
• What Can an iPad Do That My Netbook Cannot?
http://www.ehow.com/info_8689696_can-ipad-do-netbook-cannot.html
• How Tablets Are Actually Great Productivity Tools
http://lifehacker.com/5779982/how-tablets-are-actually-great-productivity-tools

Hope this helps,

Dan.

Danneaux

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Re: Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2012, 06:28:33 AM »
Hi All!

Depending on need and what you wish to do, an Amazon Kindle might well be the choice for computing while touring.

Our own Philb0412 is currently on-tour to China (and perhaps back!) and is writing and posting his blog from a Kindle:
http://philsbiketour.wordpress.com/

He generates text, reads, and surfs the 'Web on the Kindle, then uploads pics from his camera when he gets to a computer (Internet caf้ or friends). The newer Kindle Fire HD has more versatility than older models, and there is also the Nook HD.

Google's Nexus 10 Android OS tablets offer versatility and are looking to compete with the iPad mini.

All of these get a fair summary here: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/reviews/tablets/3415634/nexus-7-vs-kindle-fire-hd-vs-nook-hd-tablet-comparison-review/
...and might well serve better than an iPad or netbook if they match your needs. Certainly the price is attractive, and there appears to be a possibility for dynohub USB recharging, or charging via a dynohub-charged buffer battery; I am still investigating.

And, too, smartphones can serve as travel'puters if you are within cell range; they're serving well in that role for many and it is hard to beat the size or convenience -- especially if you already have it with you!

Best,

Dan.

Andre Jute

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Re: Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2012, 09:28:12 AM »
There are quite a few problems with the Android OS smartphones and tablets. First of all, they are an unlicensed ripoff of the Apple iOS, and Apple is committed to spending $10bn to pursuing Google about it in the the courts. Apple has already made an example of Samsung, who was ordered to pay them $1bn immediately with more to follow. I don't suppose Android will be orphaned overnight, but it's development could be curtailed or stopped, distribution could be disrupted, and somehow the makers will have to recover the license fees and penalties and legal costs Apple will extract from them, so prices will inevitably rise to iPad level, in which case you may as well have the original and best tablet, the iPad itself.

The second problem is that Google ties Android machines much more closely to them than Apple ties the iPad. I have an Android smartphone, and there are many places where I cannot go on it, even though the URL is sent over directly from my Mac, on which I have been there. The Android system wants to send you to Google instead. Ditto with Amazpn.

The third problem is that Android devices, the ones I own and have handled anyway, aren't made as well as the iPad. I was at first impressed with my Samsung Android phone, a Samsung Galaxy Europa, as a cheap device that did much of what an iPad does, then irritated by the awkwardness of the thing, and am now terminally brassed off by its chronic unreliability. It's latest party trick, in a long, long list of constant glitches, is to disown the SD card it previously recognized, which is still recognized by all my other devices. That could have taken all my work, music and photographs with if if I didn't have other devices to read the card. It's cheap rubbish and behaves like it. I haven't decided yet whether I shall keep it as a dumb phone (without the SD card, it loses almost all of its most attractive facilities because the internal RAM is miserably small), or whether I need to start carrying a proper phone, say an iPhone; the decision is complicated by the fact that I don't actually carry a smartphone to take calls on -- people with the number wouldn't dream of interrupting my rides with telephone chatter -- but only as an emergency measure for calling out in case of flats or incidents with cars or to call the ambulance; in short, a sophisticated phone isn't truly necessary, though reliability is critical.

****
I also have to report that I have the appropriate Kindle (Series 3 3G with keyboard) that has been suggested here as a possible cheap device, and I think anyone using it to send the even the shortest message on that miserable little keyboard is possessed of heroic patience. A bunch of editors and I tried to use Kindles for editing, just making short annotations; out of about a dozen of us after a month or so the Kindle didn't have a single friend left; as a reader it is brilliant, but as a communicator it is a piece of incompetent crap. You'd better not try to send an emergency message on a Kindle -- you'll bleed to death before you succeed in linking on anywhere, or before you can type a short sentence. As for pulling maps off the net, forget it; without colour, the maps are incomprehensible, and you can't get them scaled right, they're either unreadably small or so large that some farm lane takes up the entire screen when what you want is a network of major roads to the next town.

I'd rather take my chances with a smartphone, smaller screen, but at least with colour, than with the Kindle.

***

As you can read above, I'm not exactly over the moon with the iPad on a bike either -- too expensive, too big, too fragile, too obvious to thieves. I suppose the iPad Mini is cheap enough, and small enough, but you'd still have to put it in a Griffin Survivor or some other protective case. But it's starting to look like all the alternatives to an Apple device are crippled, second best, third rate, unless you're willing and able to do major software surgery.

If you want the good smooth Apple software and the known Apple hardware reliability, but at a reasonable price, what is wrong with an iPhone, which is much smaller, and of which the 3GS in factory rebuilt form sells locally for €169 or €189 in hardly used form with 3-6 months of Apple warranty. I mention the 3GS because it has plenty of software, is bigger and heftier and sturdier than the current itsybitsy iPhone/iPad generation, has plenty of bike-specific hardware available on Ebay, and at these prices look very attractive against the cheaper but compromised Android smartphones.

Andre Jute

PS: In4/Dan: Maybe we should have "Smartphone" in the title too.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 09:30:41 AM by Hobbes »

Cambirder

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Re: Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2012, 12:26:12 PM »
"First of all, they are an unlicensed ripoff of the Apple iOS, and Apple is committed to spending $10bn to pursuing Google about it in the the courts."

I have to disagree there, Android is not a ripoff of Apple's iOS the patent infringements Samsung were found guilty of mainly around design issues including single-finger scrolling and two-finger zooming, rounded corners and home button. Things that really should not even be patentable but every hi tech company seems to be buying up patents in order to restrict what their rivals can do and thereby restrict competition, something it seems all to easy to do with the seriously flawed patent system and America's litigation crazy legal system.

ianshearin

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Re: Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2012, 02:20:30 PM »
An interesting thread you have started Dan  ;)

I am planning my trip for Next Year and as a Gadget fan I am excited about the possibilities of what to take with me.

One of the problems I am experiencing at the moment though is that a few Months in our World is a lifetime in the Techno World.
What we might debate and discuss here today can be obsolete by the time I go on my trip and so I cannot commit to buying enything yet in case something better/Cheaper comes out next Summer.

Curently I am looking at taking a iPhone 4S, a Garmin 800 and a Kindle.

The iPhone for texting, posting my location to Facebook and as a phone. (Owned)
The Garmin will be used for route planning (Planned to buy)
The Kindle for reading books only. (Owned)

I have an iPad which I thoroughly enjoy and is grafted onto my arm at the moment, but it is too heavy and expensive to take on a bike tour.

The 3 devices above take care of my basic travel needs but I am still lacking a device to post onto my own Website for general blogging, I cant see me using an iPhone for this.

I was surprised to see one of my Sisters at Xmas gave her kids a Tablet PC each, upon further investigation she had bought these from ebay new at ฃ57 each, I checked them out and they are quite a nice little machine, there was no brand name on them but they were 7" touch screens with wifi access.
I was thinking I could take one of these and not worry too much if I lost it or it broke, got nicked.

At the moment I am keeping a close eye on technology for 2013, for instance I think Battery technology will get better and also mobile speeds will increase and become cheaper.

Woudn't it be wonderful to have one device that can be charged from a Dynahub and satisfy all of our Cycling tour needs....  :D
In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.
'shing xiong'

rifraf

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Re: Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2014, 01:40:32 PM »
None of the HP computers available the week I looked Dan and the utilization of the iPads I struggled to get my head around with the hand gestures etc.

I've ended up grabbing a 11' Macbook Air and a iPhone 5s.
Both just of base spec.
I was able to justify them having dropped my 5 year old Blackberry (cracking the screen) and my 2006 Compac V2418au laptop harddrive getting  noisy.
Wallet still in recovery mode.

The learning curve of both, I'm struggling with a bit, having never used more than the phone and txt functions of the Blackberry  and the Macbook is a bit of a mystery having used PC for all my tech life.
Sure I'll get there eventually.

Danneaux

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Re: Netbook vs iPad/Tablet
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2014, 06:30:05 PM »
Hi Rif'!

Sounds like you're on a good path and all will work out well, I'm sure...just takes a bit to adjust to any new system whatever it may be. You've top-drawer equipment to work with, a wonderful setup!

Yours is a timely post, Rif'.

I'm in mid-plunge with a new system myself. My goal is a smartphone-based dumbphone/netbook/tablet workalike that is lighter, smaller, and allows for USB charging.

My 11 year-old dumbphone died and I got a terrific buy on a pair of Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphones -- a 16GB for one penny and a 32GB verson for USD$249.99. Timing was everything. I'd been a customer for 11 years, off-contract and month-to-month for the last nine years. I quit and toughed-out the waiting period to come back as a new customer to get the incentives. Re-upping as a loyal longtime customer, the penny phone would have cost USD$249, so for the same price I ended up with a phone with more storage and a second one to leave with folks at home while I travel and a better plan. The GS5 is coming, so networks are eager to clear out current stocks of the GS4 through aggressive new-customer incentives.

I went with the Android-based GS4 'cos it has a field-replaceable battery and readily expandable storage and so met my needs better in those ways than an iPhone, which I otherwise liked very much. Also, the GS4 was on special and the iPhone was not and living out here in the wide-open spaces of Oregon and the American West, I have found Verizon CDMA has much better tower coverage compared to GSM providers AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile. The Verizon GS4 will work as a CDMA phone stateside and also will accept local GSM cards once I leave these shores, so that will help for foreign travel. Not everyone has the same needs/requirements/restrictions wrt to network coverage, but it was something I had to consider.

The biggest benefit of the smartphone over the netbook for me is it can be recharged by USB. My plan is to use the dynohub/TTTP2+ for on-ride daytime charging and JoosOrange solar panel/5400mAh accumulator battery for nighttime recharging. The netbook required mains power for recharging, a problem if I was away for awhile but is still fine for shorter trips. Backup field power for the phone will be an Anker 15,000mAh booster battery, precharged on leaving. By turning the phone off except when needed (for talk, text, journaling and photography), that should see me through till I can get to mains power to top it all off again. In the tower-remote areas I ride, leaving the phone on where it searches for distant towers at top-power really drains the battery with no direct benefit unless I am awaiting a call. Turning it off helps enormously in stretching the juice.

To overcome the lack of a hard drive, I'll be using an OTG card reader (attaches to the USB recharging port) so I can upload the photos from my standalone camera's SD cards through the phone the same way I can upload the ones on the phone's own 64GB card. SD-jacketed micro-SDXC Class 10 (video-capable) SanDisk Ultra cards are cheap at Amazon right now...~60% off if you time it right (the sales seem to come and go throughout the day and day to day). SDHC tops out at 32GB and so do the card readers in laptops that are just a couple years old, so be sure to check your devices for compatibility if you go above 32GB. Flash storage size is always a dilemma -- go with more small cards and risk outright loss and frequent changes /or/ put all your eggs in one basket if a Big Card goes belly-up. I'm going to give the big cards a try this time and see how they fare. It will be nice for shooting HD video, which has high storage demands. Thinking of a 3TB Western Digital MyCloud hard drive for Network-Attached Storage so I won't have the concerns about paid Cloud storage with a company that might not be around tomorrow or one that offers only limited storage.

By replacing the netbook with the smartphone, I can also leave home my Verizon 4G LTE portable hotspot, 'cos data access is built into the phone (as well as wifi). I plan to connect primarily via wifi rather than data, as I have only 4GB of data/month shared between the two phones. On those occasions when I might wish to take the netbook, I can tether it to Data through the phone, again replacing the portable hotspot.

Phone cases are important for the Galaxy 4 in rough conditions. It is a plastic phone, thin and with a large screen. I don't think is is a drop-tolerant as the iPhone, so I have searched long and hard for a reasonable case and have decided to give a Chinese case a try. It beds the phone in a protective silicone "bathtub" with shock-absorbing trusses, then covers the screen with a layer of GorillaGlass and all is held in place with machine screws and aluminum bezels. Weight and size is comparable to the more common snap-together cases. I expect to modify the sound ports, compromising water/dust proofness to end up with a sturdy case that just might withstand an unfortunate drop onto gravel. A wrist strap can be fitted, which seems a good idea for on-bike use.

I think with careful selection of apps, it will work. I'm not tied to to iTunes and there's a surprising number of standalone Android apps that don't require a data connection to work. Going to try a variety of Android-based keyboard apps (Swiftkey and Swype look promising); if that doesn't work, I will pick up a cheap (USD$8 or so) USB-rechargeable mini-keyboard (they run ~30 hours on one USB charge).

So...smartphone as netbook/tablet hybrid. Bold new world and worth a try methinks, as I needed the phone anyway and getting it inexpensively made the change possible.

We're each getting there in our own ways, and I'll be looking on eagerly to see how your new setup works for you, Rif'. It sounds like a great one, and I'm looking forward to field reports.

All the best,

Dan.