Flipping on tablets

In my previous post I discussed the irrelevance of tablets. Well, they say that you got one standpoint until your take another; so go ahead and laugh 🙂

What happened?

This year I am having a logistically inconvenient summer. Usually my daily commute to work last about an hour, with 40 minutes spent on a train. That works very well, with nice little walks sandwiching a long, uninterrupted stretch of time where I can read or write; work or relax, as I please. However, this summer the train line is closed for three months, with the comfortable train ride replaced by a much longer bus ride. While not quite as horrible as I expected (some of the buses are OK, while others seems to have been pulled back out of retirement), y commute still takes 30-45 minutes longer each way and since I have kids that must be brought to daycare in the morning and picked up again i the afternoon, things get difficult. Fortunately I have a very accommodating employer and I can get a lot of my work done in the evenings when the kids are sleeping, but even then, I prefer to be online and do most of my work while my colleagues are at work as well.

To do this I need a device that lets me work on emails, Skype and document reading and (basic) writing, and be connected to company resources during my commute. Usually my company laptop is just fine for this job, but within the confined space of a bus seat on a bumpy ride it doesn’t work well… Long story short, the actual need to own a tablet computer has caught up with me. I do not claim to be an early adapter.

Much has been written about the rise and stagnation of tablets – just this morning this was in my news feed and I shall not comment further on that. However, here comes a personal perspective.

A brief history of me and tablets

So, it is not like that I haven’t noticed tablets before. I remember the early hype surrounding the first iPad and I remember doing early research on Android tablets as far back as 2011; and I think that after reading lackluster reviews of for example the HTC Flyer we decided that we didn’t need such a thing. The benefit just didn’t justify the cost – paying the price of a laptop computer for a device that could do less than a laptop, when we did have enough laptops at home, didn’t make sense. And so time passed.

The Galaxy age

What finally motivated us to acquire the house’ first tablet was that my wife was expecting our first child in 2012 and eventually sitting with a laptop became so unconfortable that an alternative solution made sense. We were already then a happy Android family, so we looked into the Android options and at that time what looked best for us was the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.

Shortly after I also thought about getting a Nexus 7, which was getting a lot of positive hype at the time. Some “pro-active” dental care stopped that.

The Tab 2 never really did it for us, and ICS + TouchWiz was not a good mix for user experience. Being a user improved significantly when I replaced the OS with CyanogenMod and I remember using it on my daily commutes pretty much until I got my new HTC One phone and then quickly found that with a BIG 4.7″ screen I had little use for a tablet. Eventually my 1½ year old daughter took over the tablet. She later passed it on to our youngest and it remained in use until an unfortunate drop to the floor last year cracked the screen.

The Lenovos

The kids and the Samsung Tab 2 all grew older and in early 2016 we went looking for another tablet for the kids. Being cost conscious in general and in particular when it comes to hardware that a kid can bread in a moment’s distraction. We settled on a modestly priced Lenovo Tab 2 A10-30, which works just fine for simple games and watching movies both from storage and streamed from Netflix. I haven’t really used it for anything myself, because even though it is 3+ years newer that our first tablet from Samsung, the screen is much worse (resolution on both are 1280×800). But they work for the kids and as long as they sometimes forget their computers lying on the floor, that is just fine.

Tablets now

The selection of Android tablets these days is not exciting and it may not get better any time soon (or ever, who knows). So I also considered the alternatives.

First of all, the newest iPad does look good and at quite a reasonable price too. I almost did it, but at the end just couldn’t get myself to step into the Apple world.

Next I thought about the Microsoft Surface series, but it looked like I would be paying a lot for a miniaturized touch-screen laptop, and that isn’t what I am after.

Finally looking over the Android offering I decided to focus on Samsung, whose KNOW devices I knew would comply with BYOD guidelines. With different tiers available it was then a straightforward matter to balance specs and budget. Later may be greater, but I don’t want to pay extra for something I don’t really need. I therefore went for the middle tier – a Galaxy Tab A 10.1. Not a great device and already past the support period from Samsung (at least it runs Android Nougat), but for a tablet-skeptic like me who only need the device for a few months it should suffice and one of the kids’ tablets is also due for replacement soon. However, I must admit that I am quite a satisfied customer, being able to do my daily work mails and document reading on the go, just as needed; and I see my wife taking a liking to it also.

And so my new standpoint is that tablets can be pretty nice devices. I hope the Android variety stays around for a while still.

Updates

  • Got excited about Steam link for Android, as an interesting idea to play PC games away from desk and give my Nexus TV. Streaming worked fine, but games are not for touch screen and while pairing a controller with a phone or 10″ tablet is possible, it doesn’t work well (no surprise). I also tried it with my Nexus Player which was underwhelming. That may have been the last straw that prompted me to ask for new TV.
  • I finally watched Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, which is the 42nd in the line of classics and in my opinion one of the better ones. I can related well to both the troubled child and it is funny how a monster that is genetically engineered to cause nothing but destruction can remind one of a three year old.
  • Had another repair made on my OnePlus 3 – this time the camera glass was broken, but happily a replacement glass was very affordable and the replacement took 20 minutes for a specialist and Fixed camera glass on was done while I was looking.