Don’t worry, it sounds redundant even when I read it.  My point though is this: asking someone what you can do with something almost always ends up as a list of what you can and can NOT do, while asking yourself what you want to do with something is just that or at least it is with me.  The “can” is a list of capabilities or lack of.  The “lack of” capabilities part really only exists due to the merging of someone’s “wants” with the list of capabilities.  The “want” can be just your desires, it need not be merged with any other list of requirements unless you want a pet lion but don’t want the possibility of it ever eating you.

Let’s say you’re looking to buy a car, you ask yourself or a salesman: “What can this car do/What can I do with this car?”  After skimming through a list of it’s capabilities you start to have questions that begin with “Can I/it…” or “Does it…” to which some answers will probably be “no”.  On the other hand, knowing that you want some thing that can transport you and your extended family on land and water while offering sleeping areas and a bathroom would lead you toward buying a RV or a “Duck” and modifying it OR taking the Star Trek route and just building a transporter while negating all the traveling related amenities you wanted in the first place.  I guess the more I explain it the more frivolous the point seems but it boils down to the importance of knowing what you want instead of knowing what you can’t have, can’t do, or can’t accomplish.

With that in-mind, a couple months ago I began to look into complimenting my mobile arsenal with a tablet device. I wanted a device that was as closely capable, if not more than, my net book but didn’t need to necessarily replace it. I enjoy my Dell mini 10v but sometimes I just want to browse the web, watch a movie, or otherwise kill some time without the need for a keyboard or the desire to boot it up (which is fast anyway) and have a bigger, more vertical screen for reading books or browsing the web. I found myself looking at various tablet devices including the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Dell Inspiron Duo, the BlackBerry Playbook, the iPad, and several others that didn’t have the portability I was looking for or the interface didn’t stand up to the others.

 

Dell Inspiron Duo. I was really impressed with the form of this device, specifically the sleekness and the unique horizontally hinged/vertically flipping display.  It was exactly what I want out of a tablet: the ability to get some serious typing done for email, writing papers, or articles and to do away with the keyboard when I just want to watch movies, browse the web, or play a video game or two.   My hopes for this were spoiled when I saw how sluggishly the video and touch screen performed in all the demo videos I saw which were all of Dell representatives supposedly showing it off.  I would have been so embarrassed to tout this in front of a room full of critics and media representatives.  This would have been more of a candidate to replace my Mini if anything, not compliment it.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab. My initial impression was that this could make phone calls but I may have gotten the details mixed up after digging through so much information about tablets. The issue there though would be paying for the functionality of a phone without the mobility of modern cellular devices.  The Galaxy Tab’s real features, specifically the front and rear facing cameras and flash support, are pretty high on my list and sadly non-existent in the current version of the iPad. Unfortunately, the resounding answer to whether or not Android is ready for tablet sized screens yet is “no”.

The iPad. I want to make video calls and see flash on websites that aren’t specifically written for iOS’s limitations features but I can’t get away from the iTunes+iBooks+App Store and Jailbreak ecosystems which all together thwart any market place other manufacturer+carrier teams have come up with.  There is a lot of useless junk on Apple’s App Store.  So much that it’s obvious if there were some way to clearly define and remove not just redundant or simply non-functioning apps but also apps that haven’t been updated for the latest iOS, Apple’s App Store numbers wouldn’t appear quite so impressive.  Despite the disappointing feeling I get when I think about that, I have and continue to enjoy more completely free and paid-for apps from the App Store (and Cydia) than the utterly, frustratingly useless apps (some of which I’ve paid for).  One quickly learns to read the reviews prior to purchasing or even downloading free apps though.  Other than the market place, the community support is just as overwhelming and the iPad’s screen resolution and battery life is also superior to other tablets so far.

The BlackBerry PlayBook. Other than this device not being out at the time I was looking for a tablet (or the time of this post), I haven’t seen much that would have deterred me from purchasing it.  Of course, it’ll still be lacking the media and app ecosystem compared to that of Apple.  It is a little smaller than the iPad but makes up for it with a 3MP front and 5MP back facing cameras, it has both full Adobe Flash 10.1 and supports HTML5, and according to the PlayBook and iPad comparison video they have on their site it supposedly out performs the iPad in web rendering by quite a bit.  Even with the PlayBook’s shorter onscreen keyboard it’s taking up about 50% of the screen while the iPad’s keyboard takes up just under that in landscape mode.  It really is a fairly minor detail though, it was noticeable from the comparison video how much less of the background website was visible when the keyboard came up.  The PlayBook will also have 4G network access or a 4G model.

Conclusion. Well by the title and what I’ve compared everything to, of course I bought the iPad… but why?  If I had to pick only one reason it would be the market place/ecosystem, without a doubt.  Just the App Store and Cydia communities alone have provided limitless avenues for revenue, device customization, and user support.  The convenience of purchasing everything for my devices within iTunes or on the devices themselves with one account and the variety of music, books, or apps within all the categories, especially games, is the only reason most people have stuck with or purchased new iDevices (in my humble opinion).  Like many, I am not above buying something that I realize has drawbacks because everything can and will.  Do I want to have a flip out keyboard and full, native support for video chatting?  Well yea, and I can get that with other tablet devices.  Can I play music, watch movies, browse the web, remote desktop, read books, play games, use VoIP, chat, and use all my social networking apps on all of these devices?  Of course.  Which one of those would probably have the most options of both hardware and software?  Probably the Dell Duo with Windows 7, it is a full blown laptop after all but the performance wasn’t very good so… which one of those would have the best performance?  Probably the PlayBook but will it ever have all the games, apps or utilities that are available for iOS whether for a fee or free?  Probably not… all these carrier and manufacturer tag teams can try to reap the rewards Apple has from iDevices but they won’t come close until they can start pulling customers away from that ecosystem where they can obtain all their media or apps and get the support they need.