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Edgar The Peaceful
12-07-2011, 10:59 PM
Hi all,

Right, I'm about to go back to college. I have a super duper gaming PC which will be the main workhorse machine. I have an HTC Desire Android phone which is very reliable. I sync all contacts etc through Google. I also have a 17" Asus laptop which doubles as a second desktop really, that my kids play on.

I need something portable for college. I originally thought netbook! But my head has been turned by the shiny, shiny tablets. Now, I pretty much (irrationally) hate Mac for being over-priced and pretentious. But the Ipad 2 is sorely tempting me - I'm Mac-curious you could say. But then there's the very well reviewed Asus Eee Pad Transformer - an Android tablet running honeycomb.

This thing must have some office functionality - I'm going to be using a separate keyboard (comes with the Asus or I'll buy a Mac wireless one) and will need word proc, spreadsheet and even possibly database software. It needs to play nicely with my big old PC.But I'd also like to lol on the sofa, surf, and wonder at its beguiling form.

Normally, I'd go straight for Android, but I hear the app support for Honeycomb is still poor. And, as I said, I'd quite like to see what all the fuss is about over in the Mac camp? Is the app store a thing of wonder? Will itunes make me smash the fascia in a fit of pique?

Can anybody put me right? Do I want the moon on a stick? Any advice from anyone who's used these things much appreciated.

ComradePenguin
13-07-2011, 12:01 AM
If you want productivity then I wouldn't look past the netbook. Install Ubuntu on it and you can have a very good office experience that I doubt any tablet app will meet. Honeycomb is still finding its feet app wise and the iPad isn't really designed for what you want. I'm sure at some point you'll want to read a PDF and make notes on it and that'll prove rather tricky on a tablet. There were quite a few people who tried the tablet instead of laptop thing at uni last year and most of them ended up looking at one thing on the screen whilst making paper notes.

For the cost of a tablet you can probably get either a top range netbook or possibly an ultra-portable and avoid the atom entirely. Either of the tablets will be a lot more fun than the netbook though and a much better couch surfing device. Essentially they'll do what you want well but what you need badly and the netbook vice versa.

CMaster
13-07-2011, 12:40 AM
What are you wanting it for? Tablets are great for browsing the web on, and playing some games. But if you want to like, take notes or do work on the move then you'll be wanting a netbook/ultraportable with a real keyboard and real office applications,

TillEulenspiegel
13-07-2011, 01:00 AM
If you've got the cash, no question: 13" Macbook Air. It's fast, ultra-portable, and a joy to work on.

I'm a big Google fan, but Android so far has been extremely underwhelming. Wouldn't bother with the tablets. The iPad is quite good at what it does (watching videos, reading books, casual web browsing), but if you need to do real work, forget it. It's slowly improving, but it's still very awkward compared to a real computer.

Netbooks are cheap and portable, but they're slooooowwww. As in, forget about even watching 360p YouTube videos without choppiness. It's not bad for light work though, if the 10" screen isn't too cramped for you.

J Arcane
13-07-2011, 04:16 AM
I am a college student. I own an iPad 2.

I stuck with Android and my netbook both for far longer than my patience really was willing to put up with, and when I switched last year with the iPad 1 I didn't regret it a whit. When iPad 2 came out I upgraded to a 3G one without a second's hesitation.

Android just isn't ready for primetime, the app support is terrible. And TillEulenspiegel is right, netbooks are painfully, horribly, "you will want to smash it with a rock" slow. I hated my netbook more than any electronic device I think I've ever owned.

The iPad replaced everything I was doing with both my Android phone and my netbook, in one fell swoop. I can make calls, send texts (thank you Google Voice), surf the web properly and quickly, read books (I'm currently using it as my "textbook" for two different classes), and I also use it extensively for writing (all of my French writing assignments last term were done on it), I have graphing calculator apps for it for my math courses, I watch Netflix on it and David Mitchell's Soapbox, stream my music collection over AudioGalaxy, I use it as a recipe book and timer for cooking, and of course, I play a shit load of games on it. Everything and every style from Weird Worlds in Infinite Space to Simcity Deluxe to Infinity Blade to Order and Chaos to Galaxy on Fire 2. I've got a collection of classic PC shooters like Marathon, Wolf3d and Carnivores.

Bottom line is, I found it did both the productive stuff I needed, and the fun stuff, in one lightweight device with far superior performance and battery life than anything I could get for the same price. It's awesome.

outoffeelinsobad
13-07-2011, 04:17 AM
From what I understand, functionality is similar, so it depends on whether you prefer the more open PC platform or the glossy and rounded Apple product.

Edgar The Peaceful
13-07-2011, 08:25 AM
Thanks for the considered, interesting - and conflicting! - advice. More food for thought and it's all still up in the air (to mix metaphors). I'm leaning towards the ipad with this:
http://www.logitech.com/en-gb/tablet-accessories/for-ipad/devices/8213

ComradePenguin
13-07-2011, 09:48 AM
I agree with TillEulenspiegel and J Arcane that netbooks are horribly slow. I have eeePC 901 that whilst I was able to write essays on it, trying to go to the web to look something up would make me cry. However if you go down the iPad and keyboard route you're going to be spending close to 500. For that you can get a pretty meaty small laptop. Say the Alienware M11x which is 500 at Amazon. And that glowing alien head has to be cooler that an iPad right? A HP Pavillion dm4 has a last gen i5 in it, can manage over 6 hours battery life and is around the same price. No glowing alien head though. So really your alternative isn't a slow netbook.

That said my head has been turned by J Arcane as a tablet is a much more fun solution and one I'd consider when I go back to do a masters if it is viable. Mr Arcane, I was wondering what office app you use and if it can do more than just basic functions (e.g. exporting stuff as PDF, excel fun, inserting other documents etc.) and if it was possible to look at two documents at once (notes and an essay) as they're killer for me (and possibly Edgar too).

winterwolves
13-07-2011, 10:28 AM
If you plan to use it to WRITE, get a netbook :D those "virtual keyboards" present on the tablet sucks IMHO.

Edgar The Peaceful
13-07-2011, 11:29 AM
Just to reiterate - If I buy a pad I WILL get an external keyboard.

Rii
13-07-2011, 12:16 PM
I don't think either platform is ready for prime-time just yet. Check back in a generation or three.

Henke
13-07-2011, 02:53 PM
I love my iPad, but I wouldn't recommend it for productive stuff. Typing on it shouldn't be a problem, especially if you're getting the external keyboard. But editing text can be a pain in the ass. It's not as simple as selecting some text and ctrl+c-ing and ctrl+v-ing it to move it but rather you click on a word, then get these tiny "handles" which you need to drag sideways if you wanna select more text and then tapping on your selected text again to bring up the "rightclick-menu" that lets you copy and whatnot. Also, multitasking isn't as fast/smooth as Alt-tabbing on PC. Then again I guess J Arcane figured out a way to do all that stuff easily so maybe it just takes a bit of practice to get used to it. *shrug*

J Arcane
13-07-2011, 06:38 PM
Thanks for the considered, interesting - and conflicting! - advice. More food for thought and it's all still up in the air (to mix metaphors). I'm leaning towards the ipad with this:
http://www.logitech.com/en-gb/tablet-accessories/for-ipad/devices/8213

I'm not big on that particular case because I don't like that I can't use the iPad without taking it out of the case. If you're committed to getting one and still having a physical keyboard, there are cases that fold and have a small bluetooth keyboard within then while still being usable. There's also the ClamCase if you want to go all spendy and turn it into a mini laptop, but I'm still not sure that thing is real and I don't think they have an iPad2 model out yet.



That said my head has been turned by J Arcane as a tablet is a much more fun solution and one I'd consider when I go back to do a masters if it is viable. Mr Arcane, I was wondering what office app you use and if it can do more than just basic functions (e.g. exporting stuff as PDF, excel fun, inserting other documents etc.) and if it was possible to look at two documents at once (notes and an essay) as they're killer for me (and possibly Edgar too).

Personally, I do all my writing in iA Writer, which is more like a simple text editor than a full office program. Like many writers I prefer such editors because of the simplicity and lack of distractions they provide. iA Writer also autosaves your documents, so that switching between them as you say is completely transparent, you just select the other file. I do this often when switching between my story notes and the treatment or script I'm writing.

However, I also have Celtx for iPad for screenwriting/scriptwriting applications as well, as it does some handy things that make scriptwriting easier and it also syncs over the web with a desktop version.

I have yet to personally acquire them, but the three main iWork apps, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are available and I hear nothing but wonderful things about all of them and some of the features are seriously cool. There's also a few MS Office compatible suites that are reasonably well received.


If you plan to use it to WRITE, get a netbook :D those "virtual keyboards" present on the tablet sucks IMHO.

Personally, I found once I got used to it, I had no problems with the virtual keyboard on the iPad. It is large enough that it feels like everything is more or less in the right place, and I actually grew somewhat fond of the lack of physical force required to type. I know nerds rave about old-school switch keyboards but I find them to quickly wear on my hands and so more and more I gravitate to keyboards with as little physical resistance as possible, so I love typing on the iPad screen as it's pretty much the most ideal option.


I love my iPad, but I wouldn't recommend it for productive stuff. Typing on it shouldn't be a problem, especially if you're getting the external keyboard. But editing text can be a pain in the ass. It's not as simple as selecting some text and ctrl+c-ing and ctrl+v-ing it to move it but rather you click on a word, then get these tiny "handles" which you need to drag sideways if you wanna select more text and then tapping on your selected text again to bring up the "rightclick-menu" that lets you copy and whatnot. Also, multitasking isn't as fast/smooth as Alt-tabbing on PC. Then again I guess J Arcane figured out a way to do all that stuff easily so maybe it just takes a bit of practice to get used to it. *shrug*

I do agree the copy/paste system is frankly, ass. It is the single weakest point in the entire software chain. It's one thing I've never quite gotten used to, it's always a bit of a fight getting those stupid little blue circles to line up with what I want to highlight. Then again, I have issues doing it properly on a notebook touchpad too, and the Android trackball thingy, so I guess it's one of those things that's always ass without a decent mouse.

I never had an issue with the multi-tasking on the iPad though, so long as the apps themselves behaved with it. My running apps and more are always just a double tap of Home away.

Edgar The Peaceful
14-07-2011, 11:42 PM
Well, I'm typing this from my spanking new IPad 2. The Apple Store was so shiny and I am so weak.

Nice bit of kit. Once college starts i'll let you know whether it's a White elephant.

J Arcane
15-07-2011, 12:30 AM
Oh, and to answer the question from upthread: yes there is a PDF converter app for iPad. http://www.148apps.com/news/pdf-converter-ipad-writers-business-users/

CMaster
15-07-2011, 04:19 PM
I never had an issue with the multi-tasking on the iPad though, so long as the apps themselves behaved with it. My running apps and more are always just a double tap of Home away.

It's worth pointing out that both iOS and Android don't multitask. When you switch from one app to another, they freeze one and swap to the other. Fine for some purposes, a real problem in others.

J Arcane
15-07-2011, 04:56 PM
It's worth pointing out that both iOS and Android don't multitask. When you switch from one app to another, they freeze one and swap to the other. Fine for some purposes, a real problem in others.

This is not actually true, just so you know. Android DOES do full multitasking if an app requests it, and depending on the nature of the iOS app, apps there can run from 10 minutes, to indefinitely, in the background. The main rub is it's up to individual app developers to support which subset of the multitasking functionality they wish to use.

It is true that most non-realtime sensitive apps will just do a state save and pause, but it's not 100% true of either OS.

CMaster
16-07-2011, 02:12 PM
This is not actually true, just so you know. Android DOES do full multitasking if an app requests it, and depending on the nature of the iOS app, apps there can run from 10 minutes, to indefinitely, in the background. The main rub is it's up to individual app developers to support which subset of the multitasking functionality they wish to use.

It is true that most non-realtime sensitive apps will just do a state save and pause, but it's not 100% true of either OS.

Interesting. So they can multitask (to some extent) but the default behaviour is not to?

TillEulenspiegel
16-07-2011, 03:16 PM
Interesting. So they can multitask (to some extent) but the default behaviour is not to?
"To some extent" on Android = until the system is low on memory and decides to automatically kill background processes

When the user navigates away from the current app, the app is sent a "pause" message, which it's free to ignore. There are no significant restrictions beyond those naturally imposed by the limited resources of a mobile platform.

Kamikaze-X
16-07-2011, 04:00 PM
considering that Android devices are currently in the process of being released with more and more system memory, i don't see that being an issue in the future, and in part, even now.

many devices tote 1GB, of that around 800MB available to system apps. I'm a very heavy user, and on my Galaxy S2, I rarely hit 500 MB used.

I have no idea how i went through life with my old BB Bold 9000 with its 100MB of application storage which doubled as RAM.

J Arcane
16-07-2011, 07:52 PM
Interesting. So they can multitask (to some extent) but the default behaviour is not to?

Sorta. iOS didn't actually support any form of multitasking prior to version 4, it always did the save state and quit thing except for certain built-in apps like the music player. Then in iOS 4, they introduced the current method of multitasking, where apps are allowed to keep doing their thing in the background for a limited time, enough to wrap up a task, and some apps that need to keep running like GPS or music apps can background themselves.

It's limited, and up to the app developer to choose to use it (or choose to update to support it, for those apps that were around before the update, some apps still don't even support the "save and quit" behavior from iOS3). The reason for all this is that Apple didn't want to go full multitasking for everything because it's actually exceedingly hard on the battery, which is why the iPad has such great battery life, and also why when you jailbreak one and switch on full multitasking it drains the battery in half the time.

CuriousOrange
16-07-2011, 10:54 PM
I feel like I live in a different universe. I've never spent as much on a gaming rig as an iPad is worth!

That's why to me they seem like a massive rip off. As they cost more than a 'proper' computer so it's impossible to justify. Plus I've never had an issue with my smartphone that could be fixed with a bigger screen. The problem I have with it is it doesn't have a mouse and keyboard.

J Arcane
16-07-2011, 11:00 PM
It costs that much because it can make games that look like this: http://www.epicgames.com/infinityblade/

While still only weighing like 10 ozs and having 12 hours worth of battery life. That kind of engineering doesn't come cheap.

Comparing your home built gaming rig full of off the shelf consumer parts to a custom engineered tablet computer is silly.

Quetzal
24-07-2011, 11:25 PM
The question of iPad versus Android is really based on preference.

The iPad is the system that is marketed as a device that simply works.
It's simplistic controls both inside and outside are easy to master, however the software -although abundant- is arguably limited by it's design (no easy connectivity with other devices, no things like DLNA built in) but most software vendors made great workarounds to say the least (apps like Quickoffice Pro and their webDAV, Dropbox and Googledocs support comes into mind here).

On the other side, Apple's strict grip on the software side does make for a very sleek and accessible experience.

The Android devices shine in their customisibility and variety, there is always a device for your price bracket and preference wherether it's the powerful "Xoom The First: Beloved of Google" and the enduring and versatile EEEpad Transformer or one of the many chinapads that flood ebay and import shops.

However this variety comes at a price, the performance, consistency and general of the Operating System is usually at the mercy of the OEM which usually hold shorter maintainence cycles, make a lot of crapware for the device (remember the AV program that comes with your laptop? now imagine you can't remove it!) and sometimes delay the deployment of software upgrades.

The app selection compared to apple might be considered meager to some but the bleeding edge hardware features and easy possibility to gain superuser access to the device (along with its perks like ROM management, NES emulation) could make this the more promising of the two!

It have an Android phone and a second-generation iPad.