Saturday, 11 June 2011

Commuting Gadgets

I'm planning to move house soon, and I'll be spending a lot more time on trains. This is the perfect excuse for a new gadget! My requirements:

  • Good for watching video (I'm going to catch up on all those series that everyone recommended to me while I was persevering with Prison Break)
  • Great battery - I'm already a slave to my nearest plug, I don't want to make it worse
  • Something i can read a lot on - I"m planning to actually read my 'to-read' list (you know, all those JISC, RIN, DCC etc reports you've filed for reading and never get to, just like me)
  • Something I can work on - spreadsheets, word docs and pdfs. This probably means I need a physical keyboard.

Existing travelling gadgetry: I've got an Android phone, a 4th gen iPod touch and access to an iPad2 at work. So these are my options:

Chromebook:

The idea of only working with the cloud is quite tempting - this device will fill the gap between home and the office. Nothing needs to be native to the device for this purpose. However, relying on 3G could be a folly. The offline performance would be key, and they're very new to market.

Asus Transformer:

Ok, I like this because it's called a Transformer. It's also an Android tablet that can be turned into a reasonable netbook very easily - with giving you a real keyboard, extra battery power and USB/SD slots. They've also been reviewed very highly. It's also just received a bump to Android 3.1. Only thing lacking is a 3G version. I could use my Desire as a hotspot, or buy a 3G dongle.

Galaxy Tab 10.1 (slim version):

This is brand new, and has immediately been hailed as the best Android tablet available. It looks great on paper. The hardware is as good as the iPad. It's simply a question of whether Android is mature enough.

Kindle:

No chance. It won't run tweetdeck, for a start.

iPad2:

Well I use one of these frequently at work, but I can't load it to the brim with my own apps etc. It's great - very light, endless battery etc. There's also the promise of iOS5 later in the year. However, I don't like the silly magnetic cover, and I really don't like looking like an Apple fanboy.

Conclusion:

The Transformer is definitely the most tempting. The Chromebook could be great, but seems a bit limited - it's not a computer, but not as flexible as a tablet. The iPad is super slick but I think Android will only accelerate faster and faster. There is an issue with fragmentation and obsolescence with Android though - where will I be with an Android tablet in 1 year?

In fact if I wait a month, things will probably have moved on again. Time to get my hands on the Transformer in real-life to see if it lives up to the reviews!

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