Windows 7 Slates (Tablets) Will Suck

I really hate saying that, but it’ll be true. Why? Because we’ll all compare them to the iPad.

The real problem will be two fold: Microsoft and Windows 7.

Yes, Win7 is a great improvement over Vista, is too big.  Windows is too many things to too many people, used for too many purposes.  It’s exactly what it needs to be though – a general purpose operating system.  That is the very thing that makes it inappropriate for tablets, er excuse me, “slates”.

Secondly, Microsoft is interested in catching up, but they’re going to hamper the non-iPad tablet efforts in the market simply by being themselves.  For the corporate customers, it’ll be another hardware choice that they get to support – !$@&! yay!

The reality is that a true tablet needs to do the basics quickly, easily, and reliably.  That’s messaging, browsing, viewing, reading, and probably listening.  Anything more than that is overburdening the system.

While we can debate whether the iPad does this well or not, the point I’m making is that Microsoft and their partners can’t compete in this market if Windows and/or Microsoft specifications are in the mix.

By the way, Microsoft has been down the tablet/slate road twice before. Windows Tablet PC was first and Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) was the other one, like the picture above of an Asus R2H Ultra Mobile PC from November 2006.

Photo credit: Josh Bancroft

Incredible Droid

image It’s pretty easy for me to gush wildly about Android phones as I’m a bit of a mobile technology geek.  From my first mobile device the Apple Newton 130 to Microsoft Palm sized PC based competitors to the Palm Pilot, to my current favorite of Android based devices I’ve mostly kept on top of the current state of the art.

Of course I couldn’t always afford the latest and greatest, so like any geek worth their statistical prowess I’d read & re-read any materials I could find on my favorite mobile devices.  Nowadays, that fascination and passion has turned to social media (sorry folks, you’re stuck with me), but mobile is one of the key technologies in our mobile lives and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check out new things.

So when an opportunity to check out a new Smartphone or other piece of mobile tackle comes along, I’m all over it.  Such is the case with Verizon’s Droid Incredible (by HTC).


The Incredible is an Android based Smartphone with host of great features.  I’ll knock out some of the top items a techy geek like me thinks are important.  It’s got a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 3.7” 480×800 AMOLED display, 8 megapixel camera with flash, and 1xEVDO rev. A 3G from Verizon.  Things I’m taking for granted are here too: Wi-Fi b/g, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, Android 2.1 (Eclair), microSD (up to 32GB), push mail (Gmail/Exchange), and Micro USB connection/charger.

Personally I’m on my 2nd Android phone (the Nexus One), and have had the opportunity to use many others (Droid, Droid Eris, Hero, Cliq, MyTouch 3G, G1) so I felt pretty comfortable with the device.  The phone is a “candy bar” style, meaning it’s basically a slab, and doesn’t have any flip-out or slide-out parts – and that’s a darn good thing in my book.  Less stuff to break.

Front View with Optical Joystick The large screen dominating the face of the phone is fantastic brightly lit and crystal clear, with flush touch-sensitive buttons for Back, Settings, Home, and Search built into the lower edge.  An “optical joystick” is a nice alternative to the standard Android trackball, works well, and is intuitive in function.

Performance of this phone is excellent, matched only by the Nexus One, and probably by other phones based on the 1GHz Snapdragon processor.  This alone makes Android exceptionally snappy and fun to use.  Video streams play without stutters, and audio quality is flawless – either from the included 8GB microSD card, or streamed over a variety of wireless options.

Back View Since this is an HTC device, sold by Verizon, it carries the signature HTC Sense UI.  This enhanced interface that rides on top of Android, provides a bit more consumer-centric interface than the default one designed by Google.  It also brings a uniformity of usability when you compare your Incredible to your friends Droid, Eris, or Hero and other HTC phones on other networks.

I didn’t use the camera too much, but it worked as expected and I thought the quality of the pictures was perhaps a bit better than on my Nexus One.  This is probably due to the 8MP camera in the Incredible, and the ability to upload directly to Picasa was flawless. Below is a sample picture I took out the window.


That brings up another aspect of Android that folks like me take for granted.  All Android phones, the Incredible included, are closely tied to Google online services.  That’s not to say that you can’t use other services, and tools, but the integration of Gmail, Contacts, Calendar, Talk, Voice, and Picasa is impressive.  This is what you’d expect from well planned online integration – something that each of these online services were not originally designed for but have developed into over time.  The HTC Sense UI doesn’t break this as much as enhance it.

Here’s a few pics to show how the Incredible stacks up with a few Android phones I had lying around.  (From left to right: T-Mobile G1, T-Mobile/Motorola Cliq XT, Google Nexus One, Verizon/HTC DROID Incredible)


Stacked up to show thickness.

(From top to bottom: T-Mobile G1, T-Mobile/Motorola Cliq XT, Google Nexus One, Verizon/HTC DROID Incredible)

Left Side View

Right Side View

Bottom View

Top View

There are a couple of personal opinions I want to share,  One about the phone and one about Verizon & Skype.

  • First, the case on this particular phone is as creaky as an old guy’s knee (I should know, I’m developing one).  It’s probably because this is a promotional unit that’s seen several different people over the past couple weeks for review purposes – exactly why I have this one.  But if the case gets this loose and “creaky” in few weeks use, what will it be like in year?  Like I said, it could simply be this unit.
  • Second, the relationship of Skype and Verizon – and my point is directed more at Skype than the big V.  I really want to thank Skype for signing up with Verizon to only allow the Skype Android Client to be offered to Verizon customers only – what a bunch of bullshit.  There are millions of Skype customers on Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and pre-paid networks too – thanks for leaving us out in the cold.

To conclude, the Verizon Droid Incredible is a great phone, it’s Highly recommended for Verizon offers.  It’s a sister to the much-vaunted and desired Google Nexus One, and is available and supported through Verizon.  You can order the phone now, but don’t expect it to ship until May 14th – though I’ll tell you it’ll be worth the wait.

Good Enough IV

acer-aspire-one-751-netbook-image It struck me today while using my netbook that economy computers have reached that baseline of being good enough at more than the minimum set of tasks. With their very portable size and impressively growing battery life these minimally powered laptops can meet the needs of many folks.

The interesting thing to me is how we continuously discover how we really only need the basics. In the age when we’ve pushed computing hardware to levels that we never imagined, the utility of a basic computing platform is quite impressive. Because we’ve pushed the upper end so aggressively, the side affect is the low end has benefited in reductions in power requirements and size.

Making these low end systems so useful is the way they’ve been packaged into great “mini” laptops. Whether they’re a 9”, 10” or even the larger 12” models that stretch the definition of “netbook”, the ultra portability of a 2 to 3 lbs. laptop is a game changer. It’s just another case of less being more.

Of course, they can’t do everything. In fact, they really are only good for the basics as I mentioned. Anything more than web browsing, email, reading, and some light office apps like spreadsheets, word processing, and presentations. If you need much more than that, you’ll quickly find the limits of these systems.

However, therein lies the catch, the majority of the work done is in this basic range of computing tasks. Writing ideas out, answering email, reading news and information, keeping in touch… the bulk of what we do can be done with a netbook. Especially if you’re a web worker since most everything one does is web-based anyway.

While I’m not suggesting that netbooks will be the main computer for the majority of folks, I know some will be tempted to try.

Good enough. This is where good design and reasonable feature sets reign. The benefit of a simple, cohesive design with a feature set that meets the expectations of the user can be quite successful.

Notes about the G1 as a MID

image It’s surprising that something as portable as the T-Mobile G1 and powerful a platform as Android can be so useful.  Perhaps it shouldn’t be, but I’ve been using my G1 as a mobile internet device more and more often.

The biggest issue as many will point out is power, and the G1 is worse at power consumption and management than any other device.  On the other hand, the abilities simply outweigh the power disadvantages that it has.  Besides, keeping a charger (AC, USB, and auto) at hand eliminates that issue for the most part… minimizes it really.

Since jumping from the Windows Mobile camp to Android, I’ve noticed that my phone is fun & easy to use again.  It’s more powerful, simply because I use it for everything rather than explain how useful it can be as I did with Windows Mobile.  The software is fun too – many more new ideas and attempts to do different things than the staid, boring software selection that WinMo had when I last looked (it’s changing I know).

Anyway, just wanted to drop a note about how much I’ve come to depend on the G1, much more than my MDA that stayed by my side for 3 years.  Even though I believed that to be a powerful, useful device, Windows Mobile can’t hold a candle to Android (or the iPhone) at this time.  The phone is fun again.


Why Google’s Android Simply Rocks

Android There are dozens hundreds user-interface or aesthetic reasons that I could list off about the T-Mobile G1 which runs Google’s Android. However, it’s the functionality that has really sealed the deal for me.

The form factor and the ability to quickly add such a wide variety of applications to the device really makes it more useful to me then previous smartphones I’ve used.  The variety of applications and new ideas is exciting and fun to watch develop. It’s no secret that mobile app marketing is very successful, below I’ve listed a number of applications that I’ve loaded and find really useful.

Cool Apps to Check Out

  • fBook – A Facebook client app, similar to the iPhone app. Makes quick work of keeping up on Facebook.
  • Locale- Basically a profile customization utility.  It can change profile settings based on location, time, system events, contacts, messages, calls, etc… Really useful
  • Maverick – An IM client that allows you to connect to more Google Talk accounts than the one tied to the phone account.
  • Meebo – A Meebo client that allows you to log into not only your Meebo account, but also into any other IM service that Meebo supports.  The nice part of this is that the Meebo client uses the data connection for send/receive rather than the text-messages that the built-in IM client does for Yahoo, Live, or AIM.
  • PF Voicemail + – Enhanced voicemail, similar to visual voicemail on the iPhone. Allows you to review your voicemails by caller so you can choose which one to listen too first.
  • Phonalyzr – Nifty little utility that will graph your call usage by date, time, length, incoming, outgoing, and other criteria.
  • ShopSavvy  – Cool tool  for use while shopping.  It uses the camera to scan a UPC code and then look up that product online.  It has the ability to generate wish lists, and alerts for favorable pricing.
  • Mileage – Allows you to keep track of mileage and costs for multiple vehicles.
  • Twidroid – Currently the best Twitter client for Android. That statement, of course, is entirely subjective.  I like it and that’s all that matters right now. 😉
  • WeatherBug – Great Android version of the desktop app. Well designed for the screen size with a smaller memory footprint than The Weather Channel app – which is also a top-notch weather client.
  • TextEasy – Allows you to send an SMS text message to more than one recipient.
  • Toggle Settings – The app to have! This great tool allows you to quickly and easily manipulate various settings and radios on the G1. Very important since we know how power-hungry the current G1 software stack is.
  • wpToGo – Have a WordPress blog? Either on or self-hosted, this tool is a simple but effective blogging client for Android.
  • Opera – Opera Mini 4.2 for Android. ‘Nuff said.
  • AnyCut – Allows you to create a shortcut on the desktop for nearly anything in the system.

Other Good Apps

  • Task Switcher  – While you can’t close processes with it (or others that don’t have root access) it’s still nice to see what apps you may have left running.
  • Voice Recorder – Quick voice notes. This functionality should have been built into Android.
  • Video Player – Watch videos from your SD card.
  • Solitaire – When you need to pass a few minutes.
  • Pictoral – Ties into Picasa.
  • PAC-MAN – Is there anything to say?
  • Orienteer – Makes use of the digital compass in the G1.
  • Fitness – Uses the accelerometer in the G1 as a pedometer. Kinda works, and the developer is getting closer and closer with each release.  Neat to see new app ideas like this.
  • HotSpot Locator – Locate T-Mobile WiFi hotspots close to your location, either by GPS or by Wireless.
  • inetwork test – Get a quick result on the 3G or EDGE network performance in your current location.
  • Convert That – Conversion tool for nearly anything you can think of.
  • Bubble – Mostly a demonstration app, it’s a level that uses the accelerometer in the G1.
  • aTweeter – Another Twitter tool. A bit lighter weight than Twidroid, but improving quickly.

Of course, I don’t have all these installed right now (though almost!).  I’ve been testing and experimenting with these apps and many more.  The available application options have grown significantly over the past month. A great indication of a healthy & robust development ecosystem.

If you’re thinking about an Android device – don’t hesitate.  Sure, the G1 may not be the one for you, but watch the next one or two devices that come along on your network.  I promise, even the iPhone doesn’t hold the amount of promise that Android does long term.


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