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BITS & BYTES: Internet Tablets = Fun!

By Staff | Nov 10, 2010

As the holidays approach, more and more people are talking and asking us about Internet Tablets. What is an Internet Tablet? A good Internet Tablet will give you quick access to the Internet, your e-mail, your multimedia, along with many applications that can make it your own personal tablet.

An Internet Tablet offers some neat advantages over a conventional computer: no boot time, easy access to applications, generally no moving parts, spacious displays and (sometimes) laptop or desktop size keyboards. An “iPad” is just one brand of Internet Tablet.

One of the first devices of this kind was the Psion Series 7 from the year 2000. This was also the first device to use the term “netbook.” At the time, however, most users still needed a full computer for most use. As time progressed, Internet connections became faster, more resources were made available via the Internet, and general computer use has now become much more Internet centric, thus removing the need to run as many applications as frequently; the web browser has become, in many instances, the primary application. A large percentage of our use can now easily be accomplished with an Internet Tablet. They are fun and convenient to use and come in handy for sitting back and adjusting Netflix queues, reading articles, looking at the news, etc.

Internet Tablets are offered with varying features, form factors, and priorities. The best ones are the most open (non-proprietary), enabling, dependable, helpful, and fun devices. Cost is also a factor: the open, easy-to-use brands are often the least costly.

Things to look for when you’re reviewing what’s out there:

• Can it tether? If it can, you don’t need a separate data plan as it can simply bluetooth connect to your cellular PDA or phone to connect to the Internet. If it doesn’t tether, you will most likely need a separate data plan for it, incurring monthly charges.

• How easy is it to move files? Do you need some proprietary program/third party service or can you simply connect it to your network and move files without any additional software?

• Is the screen easy to read matte finish or highly reflective gloss finish?

• How easy is it to view the display outdoors?

• Does the device support a full web browsing experience including support for at least Flash 10? If it doesn’t, then you will miss out on much of why you web browse.

• Can you get applications from anywhere or are you restricted to getting applications from one exclusive store, limiting your choices?

• Does it have USB ports for easy connections? This ends up being quite important when you want to have access to lots of things.

Some neat Internet Tablets:

• Archos 101 and Archos 70: These run the open Android operating system which provides access to applications from many application stores and even from the developers directly: you have easy access to the applications made for the platform! These come with a choice of an easy to carry 7” display or spacious 10″ display. In addition, this unit features full USB ports so that it can connect to flash drives, hard drives, etc.

• Blackberry Playbook: This unit is one to keep an eye on. It runs the robust QNX (pronounced Q-nix) operating system that RIM purchased. Overall this units looks very exciting.

• Notion Ink Adam (this is probably the most exciting, but may not be out for quite a while): this one has a display from the company Pixel Qi that can be easily viewed indoors and then can become reflective for almost perfect outdoor viewing. In addition, it has a ton of other interesting characteristics such as dual core CPU.

Some people have asked us about an Internet Tablet Vs. an E-Book Reader. These are incredibly different products for very different uses. For this reason it is not unusual to have both devices.

Here are some E-book reader pros:

• Does not “feel” like an electronic device.

• Electorphoretic display to provide extreme clarity. EF displays use physical material that is “printed” to the glass providing an image that looks like a sheet of paper. As EF displays are reflective, the reader’s eyes do not have to adjust when they shift from the surrounding environment to the display, thus e-books readers are more comfortable to view, especially after a long day of work looking at LCD displays.

• Battery life: E-book readers only use power when changing what is displayed, but don’t need power to hold the current image. Most e-book readers can easily last multiple books on only a single charge.

• Outdoor readability: perfectly viewable outdoors.

• Weight; most e-book readers weigh less than a paperback book.

(Bits & Bytes is a computer troubleshooting advice column provided by Zebis, a single point of contact managed service provider located on Sanibel serving clients worldwide.)