We have a limited amount of time to write articles for Carrypad so we try and pick products that truly fit what we believe to be a consumer internet device. Here are three very important points we consider:
- Web – High quality browser (but not full internet experience with Flash, plugins.) because 50% of tweets, many emails, many facebook updates come with a link that needs a browser. It’s the common denominator of applications.
- User interface – Must be finger-focused (if no pointer controls or keyboard are included in the design.) Developing a rich, deep, comfortable and enjoyable UI is a skilled job and takes a long time.
- Applications (built-in or downloadable minimum requirements we expect to see) – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, text editing, email (POP3, IMAP), PDF viewer, Epub viewer, image viewer/editor, mp3 player, video player, weather app, PIM (contacts, calendar with synchronization.)
There aren’t many products that fit the bill but more importantly, there are a ton of products that pretend to fit the bill. Most of these come from China and tend to be built to price rather than requirements. Have you ever wondered what the digital picture frame manufacturers do now? Yup, they make cheap tablets.
We’re not saying that these cheap products aren’t sometimes reasonable value or fitting a need but in general when a product is cheap, the quality is often poor and the product is often incomplete.
Here’s an example of a poorly finished product that many will buy because it looks and is marketed to be an iPad-a-like by a well known brand. It’s the Next (a respected middle-of-the-road clothing retail in the UK) 10 Tablet and it’s getting slated in early reviews.
The Guardian newspaper reports:
My recommendation: do not buy this item unless you have tried it out thoroughly in a shop, and found out whether you can crash it (as I did in 30 seconds).
the Next Tablet feels hollow and tapping the screen is akin to pushing your finger onto a wobbly piece of plastic, a very thin piece of plastic at that.
It gets worse. Check those links out for more details.
Next clearly have no idea what it means to have incomplete products reviewed by important websites. Those early reviews will hang around on the web forever and whatever Next does to improve the software will have no significance because no-one will bother to re-review it and write about it.
We’ve lived-with and had hands-on with literally hundreds of tablets in the last four years. We’ve used them for productivity, entertainment and sofa-surfing. In short, we have a reasonable idea about a what a successful recipe would be. Admittedly there’s a certain amount of magic and third-party developer weight that can turn a tablet from so-so into something interesting but you need the basic groundwork to be solid first.
The tablet market is becoming a mess and customers are going to be ripped-off left right and center so we suggest you check with us before making that purchase. All the tablets we’ve checked out are in the product database.