Thursday, December 23, 2010

iPad annoyances and Samsung's giant Droid-- I mean, Galaxy Tab

The iPad and I have a complicated relationship.

One minute I'm enjoying the utility; reading PDFs, sketching, watching Netflix, doing quick internet searches, or just playing a game. The next minute I'm gripped by futility; crashing after hours of work on a sketch, crashing on picture heavy sites, crashing on picture light sites, crashing on sites in general, crashing with an alternate browser on a random site, crashing when I watch a youtube video in the browser, crashing when I adjust the volume after starting a youtube video, crashing when I zoom in or out of a youtube video in the browser, failing to display any interactivity with youtube, crashing when I youtube in general, locking up on updates, forcing me to stare at a progress bar like a simpleton because it can't multitask, refreshing the large page I'm spawning windows off of every single time I leave it and return to it seconds later, refusing to let me search a site for words (REALLY?! Would "Find" have complicated things too much, Steve?!), refusing to present any content beyond simple java, making me hit "More" twelve times to find the app I want to download only to make me hit "More" twelve more time to get back to where I left off in the list. I could go on, but I'm just angry now.

There is a new update to the iOS, but it still came from Apple, so I don't expect anything more than another layer of polish on this turd of an OS, with a few bells and whistles duct taped it. Any update from Apple would only treat the symptoms, not the disease. Because Apple IS the disease.

While the iPad has been alternatively useful and infuriating, my Android phone has done nothing but improve. This lead to some enthusiasm about Samsung's new Galaxy Tab.

I thought the Tab would make a great mid point between my phone and the iPad. Smaller, handier, more functionality, all on a bigger screen. That is, until I actually played with one.

First impressions were great, the size seemed more versatile, more convenient, and handier, but the screen left something intangible to be desired. After a bit more time with it, I realized that the display was nice, but what was on it hinted at the truth I would find out later. That the Android OS was far from optimized for larger screens. Everything felt clunky. Even at 1Ghz (the speed at which I overclock my Droid), everything seemed slower. Once I started browsing, and looked at media, it kind of brought me back in. The browsing and media had certainly been optimized by Samsung, while the other apps struggled with the larger screen. The more I used it, the more I felt like I was just holding a bigger, clunkier Droid phone with no keyboard. (One thing I must give the iPad is that its keyboard is actually usable with a bit of practice. If only its autocomplete wasn't so terrible it's a source of amusement). Once I had the idea of a giant Droid phone in my head, there was nothing I could do to get it out. The fact that my phone can do so much on a screen I'm quite comfortable watching had made the prospect of a few measly inches a tease.

I don't want a bigger phone, I want a full size tablet. I want an iPad, but I want it to actually do all the shit the iPad can't or won't. I want to browse sites on a full screen, watch flash content on a full screen, read books, view pictures, draw, browse, and multitask on a screen with more real estate!

Sadly, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is the best option for an Android tablet at the moment. Other contenders being deficient in a few large or many small ways. (No Android market support being a troubling norm thankfully broken by the Tab.) That is not to say the Samsung Tab isn't deficient in 600 large ways, but it's the best implementation of the Android OS yet. The fact that it has come so far since the first Android tablets in such a short time is quite reassuring for the future of these devices and the OS itself. The fact that Samsung has already hinted at larger Tabs coming soon makes me wonder if it was just testing the waters with a 7 inch tablet so as not to go head to head with the iPad just yet. Given the feel of the Tab's OS, it seems they've made the right decision. Test and perfect on the 7 incher, then slap Apple across the face with something they can call an iPad killer with a straight face.

Of course, just because I don't need a Samsung Galaxy Tab, doesn't mean you don't. If I didn't have a Droid hacked, overclocked, and unlocked with an iPad waiting for when I want a more comfortably sized screen, I would be sorely tempted to try out apps, video conference, watch flash content, or just read ebooks and browse the net on this handy tablet while testing the waters in the Android pool.

The fact that OS integration is a little dodgy in tablet form is only a minor hurdle given the fact that Android has shown itself surprisingly unafraid of issuing large OS updates that add support and new functionality. It's a whole new world out there now that we've got an OS that is not irrevocably fused to the hardware on which it was originally installed. Plus, if you're the adventurous type like me, just wait until the this thing gets rooted, and individuals start writing custom Android versions for it. The hackability was the major reason I went with the original Droid instead of the soon-to-be-released Droid 2. I think this hardware has some serious potential. It just needs some software that's not afraid to use it.


Fletch said...

Since I'm getting into Android development, the iPad has been a great device on which to read instructional PDFs, browse online tutorials, and search reference material.

Understanding the foundation the OS is built on, and the programming philosophy, has only solidified my position that Android will not only surpass Apple's tablet OS, but will greatly exceed it every arena.

... Unless Oracle gets postpartum depression and drowns Java in the bathtub...

No really. The possibility (though quite remote) is actually pretty scary.

NotClauswitz said...

Like the investment man said, Apple is a boutique, luxury niche player like Herm├Ęs or Louis Vuitton with fantastic profit margins - if you want to be rich buy the stock not the expensive product.