Is the HP Touchpad too little too late?

Daring Fireball:

To me, easily the most appealing iPad competitor. But I think the Pre is the most appealing iPhone competitor, and it hasn’t fared well. HP has matched the iPad’s pricing: $499/599 for 16/32 GB Wi-Fi models.

I think the problem facing HP is summed up in the sub-head on this promotional page:

The ultimate in entertainment with Beats Audio and Adobe Flash.

That’s not a compelling answer to “Why should I buy this instead of an iPad?” I mean, who has even heard of “Beats Audio”?

Update: Lots of feedback arguing that Dr. Dre’s Beats brand has good consumer recognition. I remain skeptical that this is a flagship selling point for a tablet, though, no matter how popular their headphones are.

And Glenn Fleishman had a good quip:

Whenever a hardware maker has to put the name of another company
in its ads as a selling point, it may already have lost.


I don’t typically agree with anything this guy says, but I can’t ignore this post. Unfortunately he’s spot on. The HP ecosystem is incredibly well designed and for all intents and purposes is probably the best tablet/smartphone UI on the market.

While Dr. Dre’s Beats brand does in fact have a solid consumer following it won’t be enough to make the device compelling. And as I mention here, HP needs to expand their line of smartphones to compel consumers to make the transition; or at least design a device that people can’t ignore, i.e. like Apple and the iPhone.

Father’s Day gift becomes FrankenNook

I don’t consider myself a technology geek, but I do consider myself a power user. I like technology, but I’m not typically the guy who goes rooting around in the assembly of an operating system.

Recently I’ve been thinking, out loud, about getting an Android tablet. I’ve also been bemoaning the fact that I’ve never rooted an Android device. I’ve thought about rooting my Droid, but haven’t done it. I’ve also toyed with the idea of purchasing a Barnes & Noble Nook Color just so I could root it.

Continue reading Father’s Day gift becomes FrankenNook

An open letter to HP

Dear HP,

As I read about the release of the HP TouchPad on July 1st, I can’t help feel both excited and disappointed. The operating system on the new TouchPad appears second to none. The “card-view” multi-tasking offers a simple, yet powerful user interface. In fact, the user interface is so nice that RIM blatantly copied it for use on their PlayBook.

In addition the TouchPad offers a dual-core Snapdragon processor, HP Synergy to provide a single interface for email, social media, calendars, contacts and more, just type, support for both Flash and HTML5, video calling on a beautiful 1024×768 multitouch screen, and so on. You’ve designed a tablet truly worthy of consideration even when compared to all other tablets currently on the market. 

Continue reading An open letter to HP

BlackBerry PlayBook impressions

Mobile Health Computing: “I had a chance to briefly see the BlackBerry PlayBook at HIMSS 2011, but then I had a chance to spend some time and play with it recently when I was at the airport. The device is small and light and my first impression was: “this is simply too small.”

The PlayBook is really slim and has a solid feel. You’ll notice that the device does not have a “home” button like the iPad. You’ll need to play around to figure out how to navigate back to the home menu. Try a few on-screen gestures and you’ll quickly figure it out. If you can’t figure it out, try swiping up, swipe down, swipe left, etc. The new mobile Operating Systemis not like your typical BlackBerry. This new OS is much closer to HP webOS (formerly Palm webOS).”

I also had an opportunity to play with a BlackBerry PlayBook recently while at the airport (I wonder if it was the same airport). I found myself in a BlackBerry store, which I didn’t even know existed. I agree with much of what is said above, but I didn’t feel the device too small. I like being able to hold the PlayBook in one hand while controlling it with the other. I feel the same way about the 7” Galaxy Samsung tablet. It’s personal preference at this point.

One thing I think BlackBerry did especially well was the OS, which I also think is similar in approach to the webOS. I found it a breeze to navigate through several open apps without having to jump out of any single applications. With that said, it may take you a second to figure out how best to navigate using “off screen” finger swiping. It wasn’t immediately obvious.

The bottom line is that I’d like to have one.

Taking a look at the new Lenovo X220t Tablet PC

I purchased a Lenovo x201t Tablet PC back in November 2010. It’s been a great machine.

The new x220t is every bit as impressive as the x201t, but has a slightly larger 12.5-inch Gorilla Glass touchscreen. In addition it has a new ThinkPad battery pack that should provide the user some serious portability without the need to continuously be tethered to a plug. I get about 5-6 hours of continuous use  on a single charge with my x201t extended battery pack. I expect the new x220t will get at least that. Throw in the new batter slice and users could potentially get up to 16 hours on a single charge. You simply can’t ask for more than that.
Continue reading Taking a look at the new Lenovo X220t Tablet PC

Epocrates Essentials for Android

Epocrates Essentials is available for Android. I’ve never been a big fan of Epocrates and have always considered it a product for physicians and nurses. I consider Lexicomp to be the drug information of choice for pharmacists. I’d use Lexicomp on my Droid today if I were still a real pharmacist.

Anyway, I was reading through the website and came across the video below demonstrating Epocrates Essentials for Android. It’s pretty cool. I’d love to see it on a Samsung Galaxy Tab or Motorola XOOM. As far as that goes I’d love to see Lexicomp software on a Samsung Galaxy Tab or Motorola XOOM as well.


Different tablets for different tastes

The Digital Reader: “Due to weight I had to pick between my a Win7 tablet convertible or (as a pair) my iPad and Viewsonic gTablet. I’m taking the Inspiron Duo.

I can get more work done with it than the other 2 combined. I can run all the same apps on my Win7 laptop and on my Duo. I can start a project on one, email it to myself, and continue it on the other. I also know that no matter what I download I’ll be able to open it. Neither mobile OS has any real support for Office formats, not even basics like RTF, ODT, or others.

The same goes for all my other data. Just a few minutes ago I copied 70GB of work files onto the Duo. I didn’t need more than about 100MB, but copying the files over was so easy that I went ahead and grabbed them all. I know that I will be able to open whatever I happen to need, so why not?”

While I don’t completely agree with everything the author says I’m slowly coming to the same conclusion myself, i.e. that a Windows tablet is the way to go. I experimented with an iPad last year, but it didn’t meet my needs. I’ve been seriously considering an Android tablet, but just can’t seem to pull the trigger; can’t really say why. One thing I do know is that I use Windows 7 for a majority of my computing needs, including on my current tablet of choice, the Lenovo X201 Tablet PC.

The Inspiron duo is an interesting machine. I’ve played with it at the Microsoft Store in Bellevue, WA and wasn’t all that impressed with it. But I must say it’s a refreshing change from the standard slate and convertible designs I’ve seen over the past couple of years.

It just goes to show you that one size definitely doesn’t fit all. Different strokes and all that jazz.

Tablet tid-bits

This morning at breakfast I sat across the table from an older gentleman in an Air Force flight suite. He was eating his cereal, drinking his coffee and playing with his iPad. I don’t often see older men in flight suites using an iPad so I felt compelled to strike up a conversation. I simply asked him what device he was using and what he was doing with it. I find that it’s better to play dumb in situations like these as people tend to open up a little more.

Anyway, I found his responses fascinating. He said that he uses his iPad in the cockpit of his aircraft to replace an “entire bag full of papers and books”. He was using an application to file his flight plan, check the weather, handle some flight calculations and review his “alternate” landing sites. In addition he was reading the New York Times and checking his email all while enjoying breakfast.

We talked a bit about the features of the iPad and how he liked it. He indicated that he used to have an iPhone and thought it was similar enough that he didn’t have much of a learning curve.  Before leaving he finished up the conversation by saying “it lets me keep everything in one place” before turning back to finish his meal.

The short conversation got me thinking about the often overlooked value of the new generation of tablet design. In this case it was an iPad, but it could have been an Android device, BlackBerry PlayBook, or HP TouchPad. Three things struck me:

First – The importance of the tablet form factor. Everything the gentleman was doing on his iPad could have easily been done on any computer. However, during our conversation he said that he used to use a laptop in the cockpit, but found that it was awkward. He liked the form factor of the iPad much better. Slate tablets are lighter, smaller and have better battery life. It’s hard to beat that combination of features for quickly viewing information.

Second – Standardized user interface and user experience. The fact that his learning curve for the iPad was improved by his previous use of an iPhone didn’t escape my attention. Android smartphone and tablet manufacturers should make note of this. The current trend with Android tablets is to create a customized user interface that overlays the “stock” Android UI. As cool as I think the aftermarket user interfaces are, they have the potential to create a bit of a dilemma for the end user. Keep it standard across the board boys and girls. From what I’ve seen of the TouchPad it looks like HP is trying to keep the experience similar across its line of devices.

Finally – Availability of key pieces of software and applications. Consuming information on a mobile device certainly took center stage for this gentleman as he was using his iPad to take the place of more than one item that he previously carried in his bag. It’s hard to say if all tablet manufacturers will have enough software and applications to make their devices as compelling as the iPad. Only time will tell.

When our conversation was over and the gentleman had finished his cereal he simply picked up his coffee cup in one hand, his iPad in the other and walked out the door. I suppose that just about sums up the value of utilizing technology in a mobile form factor.

“What’d I miss?” – Week of March 13, 2011

As usual there were a lot of things that happened over the past week, and not all of it was related to pharmacy automation and technology. Here are some of the things I found interesting.
Continue reading “What’d I miss?” – Week of March 13, 2011

Is the tablet PC dead?

Mashable: “Microsoft will release a tablet-oriented version of Windows no sooner than 2012, Bloomberg reports, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Despite Steve Ballmer’s bombastic statements in July last year, when he said Microsoft is “hardcore” about tablets and that we can expect “a lot” of Windows-based tablets by the end of 2010, none of the tablets that actually did hit the stores made any significant impact on the market.

The reasons for this are quite clear: Windows 7 simply isn’t optimized for use with modern tablets with finger-based input. Remember the long, painful transition from Windows Mobile 6 to Windows Phone 7? Once again, it will take time for Microsoft to deliver the user experience it needs to be able to compete with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Honeycomb.”

While the tablet PC may not be dead, it’s certainly on life support. The lack of a significant “Windows” presence in the new tablet market is troubling to say the least. I use a tablet PC nearly every day and for the life of me can’t figure out why Microsoft hasn’t taken a different approach to this market. Apple is kicking the crap out of them, as are Android tablet makers Motorola and Samsung. Why? Because Microsoft isn’t making tablets that people are interested in using.
Continue reading Is the tablet PC dead?