View RSS Feed

oldcpu's meandering thoughts on Computers, GNU/Linux and openSUSE

Pondering the Requirements for a tablet ?

Rate this Entry
This blog issue reflects some of my thoughts about the requirements for a tablet.

What use is a tablet ?

As I noted previous, my wife suggested I start playing with her iPod to get a better handle as to what I might want to use a tablet for. Clearly due to both keyboard and also application functionality and file standard compatibility reasons, a Tablet would not serve to replace an Office nor a fully fledged laptop PC for the sort of office work that I do.

So again what possible use is a tablet ?

Now that I know how to interface GNU/Linux to my wife's iPod Touch 3G, I thought that I would offer to upload movies to her iPod that she could watch. She noted she was NOT interested in movies on her iPod Touch 3G. Why ? She says its small at 7.5cm x 5 cm (with a 480x320 resolution) and the videos NOT bright enought (ie too dark). But I noticed her watching what I though were videos on her iPod Touch 3G. She stated, no, they were news videos and for news videos she is willing to accept a lower screen size/resolution.

I asked if she was interested in music videos or movie trailers (ie movie news) on her iPod Touch 3G and again she noted, no, screen quality was too poor.

From that I deduce in any Tablet (which with a ~ 25.5 cm (or ~ 10") screen size) in addition to having a larger presentation than her iPod Touch 3G also need a reasonable brightness. ... That's not a major issue I think, as most new Tablets are reasonably bright. But clearly screen quality in comparing Tablets may be a major issue in driving the functionality of the Tablet.

So something I thought useful, was not useful, and I had to go back to square one and get her opinion ...

My wife's use of iPod


My wife noted she uses her iPod to:
  • audio chat chat with friends using Skype via internet wireless
  • email receipt examine email via internet wireless
  • email reply provide very limited and short answers to email inquiry's via internet wireless
  • news watch the news via internet wireless
  • weather check the weather via internet wireless via internet wireless
  • currency/stock prices check currency prices (ie Euro vs US $ ... or Euro vs UK pound) [hence useful for realtime tracking currency/stock market moves] where internet wireless is needed
  • parcel tracking ... my wife as a part-time 2nd job does parts procurement for a family company and she uses a parcel shipping application on the iPod to track items that she ships, ... again internet wireless is needed
  • photo album the iPod is useful for showing photos to friends.
  • ebook reader read ebooks (although she noted she can not read for long as its hard on her eyes - much harder than with a nominal ebook reader)
  • public travel schedule keep train and bus schedules ... which may or may not require internet - she was not sure ...
  • dictionary/translater have a portable dictionary/translation device for a few different languages. Possibly even provide an audio output as to how a word is translated
  • address/contacts use as a address/contact 'ebook'
  • calendar use as a calendar/activity scheduler

So, for her use her iPod is in essence a portable wireless device (except when used as an ebook reader, photo-album, dictionary, train/bus schedule, contact/address book and portable calendar)

What my wife does NOT use iPod for
(but what might be useful)

So what does she NOT use her iPod Touch 3G for , which I think I might want to use a Tablet for ?

  • mp3 audio playback . She does not play back music audio nor audio books with her iPod. THAT was a surprise to me. Why ? Because she has a much smaller portable device which does that sort of audio playback just as good in her view.
    .
  • tape recorder. Neither my wife and I have a need for this sort of recording. Plus, one needs to plug in a microphone for it to work. Still, its an idea for those who like to record their observations/ideas/conversations
    .
  • Games. She does not play games on her iPod, although I noted 'stockfish' plays a pretty mean game of chess on the iPod, so I could see additionally using a Tablet as a gaming device in addition to playing movies (if screen was good enough). My wife notes this could be the biggest market for Tablets ... ie the younger generation could end up taking the Tablet market by storm.
    .
  • Surf the web. She does not surf the Internet on her iPod Touch 3G. It is capable of doing that, and she will use it as such only in an emergency in say a restaurant/coffee-house that has a wireless, or at friends where to go check something on their computer is too slow.
    .
  • Map. She does not use the 'map' function on her iPod Touch 3G as the map is too small, although I could see a Tablet being a very useful portable map (with its larger screen).
    .
  • Movies. Again, the screen is too small for movies. But a Tablet shold be ok with its larger screen.
    .
  • Television. Some TV is streamed over the internet. Again, the screen is too small for TV. But a Tablet shold be ok with its larger screen. Having stated that, I don't watch TV, so this would not be a requirement for me.
    .
  • Office work. Noteably missing is the review of documents. Her iPod Touch 3G is too small to read technical documents (hence she does NOT check work email with the iPod). She noted even if it were big enough, the keypad is not good enough to interact technically in an email. Her view is the same is true for iPad2 and current Table screen keyboards. Not good enough for a proper email replay. wrt Tablets with an external keyboard they 'might' be useful for work IF the application for opening word documents, spreadsheets, presentations was good enough for editing. But given Tablets use either an iOS or Android, it appears the applications don't support office work well.
    .
  • Social internet media Neither of us are 'in' to facebook, tweet ? or any of the other internet 'social medial' so that is something neither she nor I would use a Tablet for.
    .
  • Card reader/scanner the card reader idea is where one takes a picture of a page of text and then run an OCR program on the picture of the text. If the functionality is reliable, this could be useful in a foreign country to understand the signs. But my wife's foreign language abilities are better than mine, and she does not need such an app, while I might find it useful.
    .
  • Photo/movie camera backup/storage in addition to being a photo gallery, one could possibly copy one's photos/movies on a Tablet direct from the camera IF the Tablets software allowed. In this case if the iPod (and possibly iPad) the hardware does not allow this. But for some Android Tablets I think this can be done.
    .
  • Remote access to one's home PC If on the road, one could possibly acess their home PC from the road, to obtain important files that one had forgotten. I confess I can't see this being useful for me, because we always turn our PCs OFF when not at home and we also prepare sufficiently for a trip that it is rare that we forget a file.
    .
  • Banking applications If on the road one could do banking, although the security of doing such is likely highly questionable and hence not something we would likely use as we would be afraid of being hacked.
    .
  • Travel information apps. This lies sort of in-between an ebook reader and surfing the web, where some applications purport to have great information on travel : tourist sites, restaurants, hotels, etc ... My wife's experience with these are they are uniformaly very bad and both a waste of time and money. But maybe that has changed?
...

Next steps ?

The next steps for me are to look at what applications are available for the above for use in all of the following Tablet OS :MeeGo, Android, iPad (and possible Windows8 if it becomes more than vapourware) for a comparison. If iPad application advantage is not significant here then that means an Android or MeeGo tablet could be more competitive.

Submit "Pondering the Requirements for a tablet ?" to Digg Submit "Pondering the Requirements for a tablet ?" to del.icio.us Submit "Pondering the Requirements for a tablet ?" to StumbleUpon Submit "Pondering the Requirements for a tablet ?" to Google Submit "Pondering the Requirements for a tablet ?" to Facebook Submit "Pondering the Requirements for a tablet ?" to Twitter

Updated 21-Jun-2011 at 04:45 by oldcpu

Categories
Uncategorized

Comments

  1. oldcpu's Avatar
    I slight typo ... that should read
    From that I deduce in any Tablet (which with a ~ 25.5 cm (or ~ 10") screen size)
    unfortunately our forum software does not allow one to edit their initial blog post.
  2. Knurpht's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu
    I slight typo ... that should read ....
    unfortunately our forum software does not allow one to edit their initial blog post.
    I can !! And you too: Hover your mouse over the title and a little editing icon appears; click it and you're in editting mode, even allows you to remove the blog entry. BTW I did the editting for you
  3. oldcpu's Avatar
    Knurpht .. many thx ! Me thinks that indicates a freudian problem with my own image recognition and possibly why I struggle so much with a Mac ! ...


    ... anyway, reference Tablet application requirements, I should note the above was with the idea of a pure Tablet. If one has a Tablet that can transform to a netbook, then the possibility of office applications are opened. My current ideal Tablet (where this assessment is likely to change tomorrow as I learn more) would have an external keyboard that was light weight and could act as a 'cover' for the tablet's screen, and the Tablet would also triboot (which none to my knowledge can do) to:
    • some tablet OS (preferably Android or MeeGo) - when no keyboard attached
    • openSUSE (for when keyboard is attached) - 95% of the time when keyboard attached
    • Windows7 (for when keyboard is attached) - 5% of the time when I need to run an application from where I work where the GNU/Linux equivalent is not application file compatible or the application is a custom work app and simply not available for GNU/Linux

    With the above possibility (one would need a large SD drive ( ~ 64GB) in the Tablet/Netook, then there would be many more application requirements than just those I listed above.

    Its very interesting to see all these Tablet developements.
    Updated 21-Jun-2011 at 15:37 by oldcpu
  4. oldcpu's Avatar
    How I use a Tablet.

    In November last year, I came into possession of a 1st generation Asus Transformer (TF1010) and I have been using it since (for the past 6 months). I thought I would complete this blog post as to what I use a Tablet for.

    I'll go through each of the points I noted above, commenting if this is how I use the tablet.

    • audio chat. chat with friends using Skype via internet wireless => My use: I definitely use if for this purpose. Practically every day I chat with my 86 year old mother via Skype, at the same time every day (normally just after supper). But if I am late coming home from work, then I chat with my mother over the Transformer while I am doing dishes, or even having supper. The tablet's portability makes this possible (with our home WLAN).
      .
    • email receipt. examine email via internet wireless => My use: Email is likely what I use the transformer for the most
      .
    • email reply. provide very limited and short answers to email inquiry's via internet wireless => My use: This is so true, and just what I expected. My Tablet email replies are terse and brief and I typically read, but not so much reply to emails.
      .
    • news. watch the news via internet wireless => My use: I use this only occasionally. I prefer my desktop for this
      .
    • weather check. the weather via internet wireless via internet wireless => My use: I use the Tablet for this all the time. This is much more useful than I expected
      .
    • currency/stock prices. check currency prices (ie Euro vs US $ ... or Euro vs UK pound) [hence useful for realtime tracking currency/stock market moves] where internet wireless is needed. => My use: I use the Tablet for this all the time. Its very handy.
      .
    • parcel tracking ... my wife does parts procurement for a family company and she uses a parcel shipping application on the iPod to track items that she ships, ... again internet wireless is needed. => My use: I don't use the transformer for this at all.
      .
    • photo album the iPod is useful for showing photos to friends. => My use: I use this on occasion on my Tablet. I do not as often as I had thought, but it is very very good for this purpose, especially when visiting friends.
      .
    • ebook reader read ebooks my wife on her small iPad can not read for long as its hard on her eyes => My use: I use this a LOT at the office, for office publications. The Asus Transformer has a good sized screen and is great for this
      .
    • public travel schedule keep train and bus schedules ... which may or may not require internet. => The application I use requires Internet, and I use it a lot.
      .
    • dictionary/translator have a portable dictionary/translation device for a few different languages. Possibly even provide an audio output as to how a word is translated => My use: I've used this only on occasion. I've used it much less than I expected.
      .
    • address/contacts use as a address/contact 'ebook' => My use: I don't use it for this at all.
      .
    • calendar. use as a calendar/activity scheduler => My use: I have my calendar at the office sync's with my Tablet, and hence I do use it for this


    Some addition items I noted:

    • mp3 audio playback. My wife does not play back music audio nor audio books with her iPod. => My use: I don't use my Tablet either nominally, although I have some French language audio tracks that I use to teach myself French (which are mp3 files) and I use the Transformer for that purpose
      .
    • tape recorder. Neither my wife and I have a need for this sort of recording. => My use: I've never used the Tablet for this
      .
    • Games. My wife does not play games on her iPod, although I noted 'stockfish' plays a pretty mean game of chess on the iPod. => My use: Stockfish also plays a mean game of chess on my Asus Transformer Tablet. But I've only used it occasionally for this. I don't play chess much anymore
      .
    • Surf the web. My wife does not surf the Internet on her iPod Touch 3G. => My use: sometimes in a restaurant I use this.
      .
    • Map. My wife does not use the 'map' function on her iPod Touch 3G as the map is too small => My use: I use this a bit. The problem I has is the maps tend to work best with Internet, and typically one does not have Internet when one wants to use the map (unless one has a 3G connection)
      .
    • Movies. Again, the iPod screen is too small for movies. => My use: I use my Asus Transformer tablet to watch videos all the time.
      .
    • Television. Some TV is streamed over the internet. The iPod screen is too small for TV. => My use: I do not use my Tablet for this. I'm just not a TV watcher
      .
    • Office work. Notably missing is the review of documents. => My use: I use my Tablet at the office all the time. This was an unexpected benefit. I use it for review of MS-Word documents and PDF documents. I have the equivalent of a book case, full of documents, stored on my Tablet. Its very useful for this.
      .
    • Social internet media. Neither of us are 'in' to facebook, tweet ? or any of the other internet 'social medial' => My use: I do not use my Tablet for this. No surprise here.
      .
    • Card reader/scanner the card reader idea is where one takes a picture of a page of text and then run an OCR program on the picture of the text. => My use: I never found a good application for this scanning of text. But I did note it could read the barcode information on a book/package and provide more detail. That was neat, but I do not have the need for using it. I considered cataloguing all my books this way (by scanning their barcodes), but in the end decided not to.
      .
    • Photo/movie camera backup/storage. in addition to being a photo gallery, one could possibly copy one's photos/movies on a Tablet direct from the camera IF the Tablets software allowed. => My use: I succeeded in testing this, but I do not use the Tablet for this purpose. I use my laptop, which has a much larger storage capacity, for this purpose.
      .
    • Remote access to one's home PC. If on the road, one could possibly access their home PC from the road, to obtain important files that one had forgotten. => My use: I tested this. It works. Its neat. But I rarely use this capability. I only really used it once, when at Christmas Dinner at a friends, and I was called by the office on Christmas day. And on that occasion, the Tablet was indispensable. It saved me from deserting my friends at Dinner and rushing in to the office. Instead I was able to review things at the office from my friend's place (via remote access), come up with the answer, and not rush in to work.
      .
    • Banking applications. If on the road one could do banking, although the security of doing such is likely highly questionable => My use: I do not use my Tablet for Banking. I do not trust my Tablet's security for this.
      .
    • Travel information apps. This lies sort of in-between an ebook reader and surfing the web, where some applications purport to have great information on travel : tourist sites, restaurants, hotels, ... => My use: I don't use travel apps on my Tablet. But I do do research BEFORE a trip, and save the preparatory trip information on the Tablet. I found this VERY useful.


    Perhaps the most important thing I learned, is the Tablet MUST have mobile Internet to be very useful. This means one needs a 3G connection. I obtained this via a small portable router, but if one does not have that, then one needs an integrated 3G in the Tablet. That drives up the cost of use, but in my view it is indispensable. The vast majority of the apps require Internet to function well.

    Some apps that I ended up using that I did not expect:
    • Flashlight app . This turns my tablet into a bright white screen, and it can be a limited range flashlight, which is useful when crawling behind a computer to work on cables
    • Network sniffer. I found this useful to see if there is a Network in the area. I also use it to debug my home WLAN. This functionality is typically NOT allowed on an iPad, but it is with Android tablets and its very useful.
    • Calculator. I use my Tablet as a basic calculator at times. Rather obvious, but I had over looked this use when thinking of the tablet.
    • Medical encyclopedia. I use my Tablet to look up symptoms of illness and try to help do a home diagnosis, prior to seeing a doctor about a problem. Very useful for this.


    One thing I note, with many of my colleagues having an iPad, is they are very restricted in trying to copy files to their iPad. It is incredibly inconvenient for them to do so. Not with my Android Tablet. I have a small adapter, that I plug inbetween a port on my Transformer and a USB stick, and I can quickly at the office, transfer Gigabytes of data. This transfer is so inconvenient for the iPad users, such that most of them do not bother to use their Tablets at the office (with the exception of a few who put up with the inconvenience). But with my Android Tablet there is no inconvenience. This fact alone will probably ensure I never purchase an Apple iPad.