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Old 04-26-2010, 04:19 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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Okay, Are there really any iPad alternatives?

The iPad hype has mostly passed us by. But everyone is talking about the iPad as if the main thing it brings to the table is its nice display and lovable iPhone interface. But is that really true?

Let's try a quick thought experiment -- Other than the iPad, what $500 or less product (already on the market) supports the comfortable reading of full page pdf documents with a large backlit screen? Sure, the iPad doesn't have SD Card or USB support, but are there really any other comparable devices available on the market?

Consider these specs as a baseline. Maybe I'm wrong here, but I don't see a lot of other choices (yet)...
* 10hrs+ battery life
* Backlit 9"+ hi-resolution color screen
* Small slate or convertible tablet form factor (netbook size or smaller)
* PDF, txt and ePub support
* Price below $500

And that has absolutely nothing to do with any of the "Apple mystique" or the iPhone OS. Throw in a large capacity SD Card slot that is available to e-book applications and it looks pretty close to unbeatable in this context, doesn't it?

Granted, if you're willing to live with a netbook form factor, you could get a netbook with 10hr+ battery life. But is that really an ideal consumer e-book device or just a hacker's workaround? And if you are very patient, there should be some solid Android tablets to compete sometime in the next year. But I suspect anyone reading this is too tech-hungry to be a patient buyer, so that's definitely an unlikely scenario!

What do you think? Is there more to the iPad than just the slick interface? Maybe Apple didn't use their mystique so much as they went for a sweet spot in the market where products are still missing despite all the talk of what's to come.
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:27 PM   #2
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Currently available alternatives.. Hmm.. There's the JooJoo.

Hmm. But it doesn't have the battery life, nor "small slate" form factor. More like a large slate. Is $499 though. Is absolutely useless without a net connection as it is basically just a web browser.
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:28 PM   #3
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To answer the original title question: Sadly, no.

No one else is doing the smart thing and leveraging existing technology in a timely fashion to put product in hands.

I don't understand the holdup either. Many chinese manufacturers have suitable products they could use, but they are waiting around and showing at trade shows. What is the R&D time involved in releasing something you made once, just in a bigger chassis?
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:49 PM   #4
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Actually there is a world of difference between producing a 1-off and mass production of an electronic device. Having attended trade shows for several decades, take any device shown at one with a large grain of salt, especially when the company doing the showing is talking about "coming soon" or "almost ready for production." Even if they give you a firm shipping date, don't hold your breath. I can't tell you how many thousands of devices, systems, and software products I have seen over the years that never made it off the trade show floor.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:03 PM   #5
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There are 7 about to come out shortly.

http://mashable.com/2010/01/27/9-upc...he-apple-ipad/

I saw a better article on these with the prices too, but can't seem to find it.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:17 PM   #6
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I agree that there are several tablets on the horizon that will be valid alternatives. I also agree that if Apple had added an SD card reader and USB port built-in, and made an actual file browser, they would have literally owned the market and made it very difficult for the competitors. As it stands now, the market is wide open in my opinion.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:28 PM   #7
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I think one of the requirements the OP had was "(already on the market)". None of those devices are available today if you walk into a store.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:29 PM   #8
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I think one of the requirements the OP had was "(already on the market)". None of those devices are available today if you walk into a store.
Neither is the iPad outside America!
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:52 PM   #9
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Neither is the iPad outside America!
Well his location is "Pittsburgh, PA" so I assumed he meant within the US. Sorry. Guess he'll have to indicate where he wants to go shopping.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:54 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bob Russell View Post
...
Consider these specs as a baseline. Maybe I'm wrong here, but I don't see a lot of other choices (yet)...
* 10hrs+ battery life
* Backlit 9"+ hi-resolution color screen
* Small slate or convertible tablet form factor (netbook size or smaller)
* PDF, txt and ePub support
* Price below $500

And that has absolutely nothing to do with any of the "Apple mystique" or the iPhone OS...

And if you are very patient, there should be some solid Android tablets to compete sometime in the next year. But I suspect anyone reading this is too tech-hungry to be a patient buyer, so that's definitely an unlikely scenario!
...
I am one of the tech-hungry, and that's why I was so disappointed with the iPad, after waiting for it for six months. So now I am waiting for the Androids.

All I really, really want, in addition to the iPad's features, is a full browser, with Flash, and a bigger screen, so I can finally use my favorite format, PDF. And a more open OS, so I don't have to waste time jailbreaking, or fearing the next update.

I am hoping that you are wrong about having to wait for "solid Android tablets" until next year.

IMO, the main reason for the wait is the January 2010 introduction of the Cortex A9-based Tegra 2s (the iPad uses a chip based on the previous generation Cortex A8). Tablets based on these chips should be coming to a shelf near us in the next couple of months.

I would not be surprised if Google introduces a Tegra 2 tablet at Google I/O on May 19th, when they will likely introduce Android OS 2.2, supporting full hardware-accelerated Flash. I would expect the Adam shortly after that as well.

Frankly, if I didn't believe that a better Android tablet was within 2 or 3 months reach, I would have grabbed an iPad by now

Last edited by Sonist; 04-26-2010 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:55 PM   #11
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Well his location is "Pittsburgh, PA" so I assumed he meant within the US. Sorry. Guess he'll have to indicate where he wants to go shopping.
It's pretty clearly a generic and not a personal question. And MR is an international site.
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Old 04-26-2010, 06:38 PM   #12
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Old 04-26-2010, 06:41 PM   #13
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I'm reading this on and writing out my response on a Fujitsu Stylistic ST-4121 w/ extended battery which pretty much meets the stated specifications. Even better, it has an indoor/outdoor display.

Of course, when it was new, the list price was about ten times the $157.50 I paid on eBay.

That said, I am very impressed by the iPad and am looking forward to its competition and its successor(s).
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:45 PM   #14
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:57 PM   #15
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Yes - I expect that we will get more info from Google at I/O -- larger screen than the Pad -not sure about that.
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