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iPad Alternative Lists Prove That Lists are Just Lists



Harry McCracken at The Technologizer says we need to be ready for all the Tablet/Slates coming our way, especially all those alternatives to the iPad. He’s not alone. Lots of folks are saying the same thing as we’re supposed to see Android Tablet/Slates raining from the sky like manna from Heaven. The Technologizer has published a list of 32 alternatives (he calls them iPadadversaries, as in adversaries to the iPad) that are here, coming, or promised to be coming. It’s a decent list, and McCracken lays out his parameters for inclusion very clearly.

Steve “Chippy” Paine after seeing this tweeted a url that lists over a 100 Tablet/Slates out there, maybe out there, or might have been out there. It’s a long list (if you haven’t already been following or bookmarking the database at UMPC Portal you’ve been missing out.)

These lists are great places to start if you’re looking to see what might be available, but I’ll offer this word of caution. As much as we keep hearing about the Tablet/Slate tsunami that is supposed to come crashing onto the shores any day now, keep in mind that some of these devices will never appear, some will not appear in all countries-especially the US (at least initially), and some will be here and be gone before you have a chance to hit the product page. Also keep in mind that you’ll have to keep your eye on the bouncing Android ball as to which version of Android a fancy new Tablet may offer. Case in point, the Dell Streak is shipping with Andorid 1.6. I’m sorry, but when I see that, I compare that to many of the Tablet/Slates/UMPCs on Chippy’s list that are running Windows XP. In my book, that’s not just too little too late, but it’s called “why bother.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited as the next geek to see what will happen when we start seeing lots of Tablet/Slate alternatives actually reach the market, but I’m also skeptical that the wave that is supposedly coming is going to be as big or have as much impact as the geek world seems to want it to.



  1. dstrauss

    08/12/2010 at 8:33 am

    Very interesting observation. I think the entire market is suffering from iPad freeze – a little bit like deer in headlights not sure which way to jump. Worse still, all their hard work could go for naught as iPad 2 fever ramps up right after the New Year and they’re no longer compared to what is, but what is about to drop.

    Despite really liking the iPad, I would kill for the following: an iPad size, weight, and battery sipping single purpose OneNote tablet with Windows 7 quality inking. Do not even let me install Office or any other stuff (well, maybe I’d allow Outlook because the two are even better together and I will want to check email or browse files while in that meeting)! WHY – because I envision the perfect office tablet would be a a yellow pad replacement that automatically syncs OneNote constantly with your regular notebook or desktop without user intervention – so whether I’m taking notes on the phone, running off to a meeting, whatever, my electronic notes transfer on the network to my workhorse computer.

    Just think about it – how often are you willing to un-dock or un-cable that great HP 2730/2740 so you can take notes in either instance. It is a royal PITA, and so there I go and grab my trusty yellow notepad and kill another tree. If you do any heavy production work (Word or Excel), its near impossible to use the HP tablet for what it is best suited – a great tablet.

    • SpectRet

      08/15/2010 at 4:25 am

      My soul interest in a slate is One Note 2007. It could be the complete replacement for paper I’ve been looking for. I use it on a think tablet and just love it. Now if I could get that on a Ipad like thin slate It would be perfect and using my phone for the hotspot I would have internet (google) power. Get me through an entire day of work or school on battery and its the perfect device. Let me know if anyone finds this.

  2. ChrisRS

    08/12/2010 at 8:56 am

    Quote — “(he calls them iPadadversaries, as in adversaries to the iPad)”

    I like it! SOunds like copyright infringement!

  3. Sumocat

    08/12/2010 at 8:59 am

    Having posted a list of iPad alternatives myself, I should be offended. However, that was seven months ago when the iPad was introduced, so I agree that playing that same game now is a bit silly and also a little sad, especially since his list is so packed with question marks. My list was primarily existing devices with a few maybes that were strongly promoted at CES. Only two became vapor. Half a year later, you’d think a list of iPad alternatives would be more solid, not less.

  4. Zeuxidamas

    08/12/2010 at 11:09 am

    For the HP2730P topic: may be that the problem is using the HP dock. I use a dual monitor setup, with bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and place the HP2730p on a laptop stand/easel in tablet mode. I write on it like a tablet, and when I need to stop inking and do work in MS Office, I use the wireless KB, not needing to change the status/cfg of the HP2730p.

    I agree on the generic lists issue. I like UMPCPortal, and its sister-site CarryPad. But the list is only of value if you look at the top 10 – 30 most popular items. The rest have been on the list for sometimes more than a year and are not representative of devices that are currently competitive against the iPad. You also have to know what the cutoffs are for reasonable requirements to be iPad-competitive in order to eliminate the right items for the list to have any value if you are really looking for an iPad alternative.

    The big problem with the competitive state of the tablet industry in North America is that no one is competing. Of the devices listed on the UMPCPortal that are desirable as potential iPad competitors, most are not available for direct retail sale in North America. You are rolling the dice on ordering from China. My fear has always been raised as to what the timeline will be if I have a HW and/or warranty issue. It is just not a route for me to go if I need something to fill a functional need right now, as I did when I bought my iPad (after many months of mulling over the WiTs A81, SmartQ V7, buying an Archos 7 Home Tablet, and looking at other options).

    I am sure building these things is hard. But I/we have all suffered basically three years minimum of uberPDAs being announced as coming to market “soon”. They exist, they are just not being sold here. I was tired of getting the same head-fake I have been getting, waiting to pull the trigger on a device.

    The one thing that makes the lists dubious is that the iPad is available, works out of the box (depending on your needs; for some, it meets their needs, for others not), and can be bought in North America now. All of the other devices, when will they get here and how many articles do we have to go through a day saying “New Tablet X, will have specs Y. No release date or pricing announced, though”.

    I am not interested in anything the MID/Tablet industry has to say until their product is posted on BestBuy/NewEgg/…whatever, and not as the head-fake pre-order posts that went up for the Archos 7 on Amazon or for the Dell Streak, both of those products becoming available roughly a month after they initially went up for pre-order. Sorry for the vent. I’ve been keeping some of this bottled up for a while.
    – Vr/Zeuxidamas

    • ChrisRS

      08/13/2010 at 9:59 am

      Your set up sounds good. Can you post a picture?

      • Zeuxidamas

        08/13/2010 at 3:44 pm

        Unfortunately I can’t, at least not of the actual setup. My company does a lot of DoD work, so I can bring a camera phone into work, but I am not supposed to take photos in the plant without specific permission. Things at the plant are a little dicey these days with a recent layoff, so I reckon I should not push any envelopes right now. I’ll see if I can replicate a faux setup at home that mimics my office setup. Might not show the easel, but everything else I can show using some of my iPad accessories like the BT keyboard I use with it.

      • Roger J

        08/14/2010 at 1:40 am

        Here are three photos of my set-up in the link below. Please email me if the link doesn’t work.

        The first two photos are in my current Damascus apartment, set it up last night after reading posts on this thread. I have not yet got my customised desktop box to raise the working height to a standing level, my project office here has such a box.

        Tablet is Toshiba M700 (UK), replaced XP with Windows 7 Ultimate last October (first time I’ve ever gone for a new OS on first release!), replaced 160 Gb HDD with 250 Gb earlier this year.

        External monitor (in extended desktop mode) is a Samsung LD190 19″ ‘laptop’ model. I found I was missing my UK home office similar Samsung 21″ model and my 63 year-old eyes were not happy.

        The Toshiba, Aviator stand, cables, MS keyboard and mouse etc travel in my Redoxx Airborne rucsac, the LD190 goes in its carry handle type original box and foam inserts.

        The third photo was taken in my UK home office last year after raising the desktop to standing height. This was easy as the desktop was ‘loose’ on top of the two filing cabinets, so I just inserted two large Really Useful Storage boxes. The monitor is the one I used before I got the Samsung LD 21″ monitor.

        For standing height, I still have to put a small box under the monitor to get it to a comfortable height.

        • Zeuxidamas

          08/14/2010 at 5:26 am

          Ok, your first two photos are similar to my office setup. My easel inclines the tabletpc up more, and my monitor is on a stand. One note on this setup is that I usually have to turn off one of the two overhead lights in my office. Despite the fact that the HP2730P has a matte screen, extremely intense overhead fluorescent lights make for a bad tablet experience regardless.

  5. Tuur

    08/12/2010 at 12:43 pm

    Maybe a dumb question: I think it’s clear that me might see more Android tablets/pads appear in the near future then the always promising but always late W7 OS.

    I’m urgently waiting for a iPad like tablet with full inking features. Is it possible for Android devices to integrated pen enabled input too or is this just a Windows feature?

    I think the iPad rocks, if only it had inking possibilities…

  6. Zeuxidamas

    08/13/2010 at 2:48 am

    I suspect that developers will provide capacitive stylus’ and ink apps as has been done for the iPad. I have a couple of inking apps for the iPad and am pleased that the capability is now there, although of course it falls short of the native support in Win7, and no app matches OneNote. However, for a portable slate-style form-factor, it is a plus over not having it at all.

  7. dstrauss

    08/13/2010 at 7:52 am

    Zeuxidamad is right – given the lower quality of inking on a capactive screen (similar to me to the old pressure touch only screens), the iPad is still a very useful device (keep an eye on Bricklin’s Note Taker HD – it just keeps getting better if you can deal with writing in the second box).

    Still, that OneNote only slate that lasts 10 hours would be a dream come true…

  8. Roger J

    08/13/2010 at 9:09 am

    I think I’m with dstrauss and Zeuxidamas in this batch of comments.

    I’m the first to blame myself for not taking advantage of my Toshiba M700 and OneNote like others have done. The schlep of turning the screen and going off has put me off, along with the weight, so Zeuxidamas’ description of his work setup is very tantalising, the more so because I already have the Toshiba on an Aviator stand and an Extended desktop with a Samsung LD190 for accommodate my 63 year-old eyesight.

    It’s all made possible by a BT MS 6000 keyboard and numeric pad, I lug the LD190 around in its cardboard box, everything else goes into my Redoxx Airborne rucsac on my current assignment in the Middle East

    I work in a standing position most of the time (see my response a few minutes ago in another article here), so trying Zeuxidamas’ configuration is worth exploring.

    What would I REALLY like? First, the “touch screen” MUST be able to handle handwriting. Second, it must be compact (10.12 – 7″ netbook dimenstions) to use as my digital yellow pad AND use easily in cattle class on long intercontinental flights. Maybe that Toshiba Libretto will do the trick?

  9. dstrauss

    08/14/2010 at 6:45 am

    Ok – for all you really experienced “Mobilers” – what about a used TC1100 as that yellow pad I am looking for? I’ve been reading about these little gems, and could see they are underpowered by modern standards, but for a single use system (Outlook & OneNote) with Win7 and a memory boost, it might do the trick?

  10. StanB

    08/14/2010 at 8:14 am

    To me the ipad is like the PSP. Tons of hype but never see anyone using one. Great product that ipad but, like it’s been said a 1000 times before. It all comes down to usage. Consumption vs production.

    I would never trade my x70 for an Ipad. I update word and excel files for work etc. Did my yearly evaluation/ learning plan and reviewed those submitted by staff.

    Nothing better to take notes in meetings or do presentations. The x70 was on those lists!

    I even use it as a phone, while working. GPS etc…

    How many have umid’s etc… there is a reason those sell so well. Productivity… plus flexibility. I even have a playstation emulator on the x70.

    This read like excom meeting minutes. Complete disconnect with reality in the field.

  11. zeuxidamas

    08/16/2010 at 9:59 am

    I will disagree with you, Stan, on a few points.

    Not sure what areas you frequent where you do not see the iPad in use. I flew through Dulles and Pittsburgh last week and saw significant iPad use throughout the airports. Not huge, but every gate I had a connecting flight in had 3 to 6 in use. This was at the small puddle-jumper gates. Not a metric per se, but just to give a rough feel for what I saw.

    The iPad is not solely a consumption device. It is a matter of the individual user, so coloring the device for one purpose, is like a cop giving a 70 year old doing 35 in a 40 zone a ticket because he’s in a corvette. Just because the car was designed to go fast, does not mean every person driving one is doing so. Just because the product lends itself to one purpose more than the other does not mean it cannot be applied to other uses.

    I have 3 games on my iPad, all pasted to the 7th page of my 7 home screens. I have 20 icons on my main home page alone, which is also my productivity page. Numbers, Pages, Penultimate, SpringPad, Evernote, Documents-to-Go, Notes, Noterize…none of these apps are made directly for consumption. I read and surf and do a lot of other things, too, but my iPad is predominantly a productivity device that I use when I have a need for the utmost portability and battery life.

    Your discussion seems to proceed mainly from a premise that I have been advising the media that they are platforming from incorrectly: that any discussion concerning the iPad is about choosing it over one device or another. In this day and age where lots of people use multiple devices, it is not automatically a binary argument.

    As far as doing annual performance reviews in excel and word documents, that is a task accomplished easily on an iPad. I assume that you are talking about a Viliv X70, and I cannot imagine taking meeting notes on a 7″ device that has no palm rejection. The lack of active digitizers in UMPCs for a reasonable cost and a lack of apps (as far as I know) for Windows 7 that have palm-rejection in SW is exactly why I went with an iPad over a UMPC (having previously owned a Samsung Q1, Q1 Ultra Premium, and Fujitsu U820).

    I have used UMPCs, TabletPCs and the iPad “in the field” (and I mean really in the field…pouring over spaghetti-like electrical schematics and signal-flow diagrams for complex systems while on-site for initial commissioning or trouble-shooting events). In these scenarios, the iPad is just as serviceable as the other two. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

    Not saying your opinion is without merit. But I find it hard to not disagree with posts that do not explore the merit of both sides of a device-based argument, or from users who have not used both or all of the devices being compared. UMPCs were slick for their time, and if they meet the needs of a particular user, they are great devices. I personally had to look across my whole mobile setup…smartphones, TabletPCs, UMPCs, tablets…and I settled on a mix of all except another UMPC. People have to make choices, but they do not make binary choices because one device is absolutely useless and another is not. It’s about fit and applicability to the user, some of which includes the user’s ability to figure it out and not feel bound by what the rest of the world says about the limitations of a device’s use. In this case, a UMPC works for you, and the iPad works for me. Let’s leave it at that instead f always trying to decide who always wins out of a fight between the two.
    – Vr/Z..>>

    • Sara

      08/18/2010 at 3:53 am

      Agreed. The iPad can be an incredibly productive tool. I hadn’t realized (until I googled) that the x70 was a UMPC. Stan’s same argument can be held if we compared the iPad to my tablet PC. I can talk (VoIP), and do pretty much everything I can do on the iPad, but better, and have a real active digitizer to boot. But even with this in mind, the iPad is a compelling device to own. Many apps are made for it that are incredibly useful, and unique to the iPad/iPhone. Touch on such a large screen makes it a joy to use. I can make the iPad so useful with apps, it would replace half the functionality I get from my tablet PC, which is precisely why I’m not buying one.

      I feel the shift from netbooks/laptops to the iPad heralds the beginning of another era, similar to the shift from desktop PCs to laptops. People began using laptops for portable power. But now, our “portable power” is being largely supplanted by even more portable devices, making the laptop almost like the desktop PC of the past. So the iPad is the new laptop.

      I’m not sure I want to make the shift, to allow the iPad to be my new “laptop”, and thus not have to carry my real laptop/tablet PC wherever I go. If I had no qualms about doing so, I definitely would buy the iPad for myself.

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