A new age is upon us.
The age of bulky desktop computers and low-battery-life laptops has waned. The age of tablet computers with SciFi-like touch capabilities has begun. With these tablet computers, portability reigns over those tied down to a cord.
Some people might be wondering about all the hype surrounding tablet computers. While tablet computers are often compared to oversized smartphones, tablets may soon be on the top list for school supplies for a college student.
I’ve been privileged to have the opportunity to use a first generation iPad for the past two months, thanks to my father, who is allowing me to borrow his. Through using it, I have seen the benefits of using a tablet, especially in the academic setting.
During the school week, I use the iPad in a few of my classes to take notes. With the Bluetooth keyboard, the iPad is my top pick for taking notes (it doesn’t offer as many distractions as a laptop would). When it comes time to studying for my tests, I can log onto MyNWC account and retrieve my professors’ class presentations.
Another way the iPad has helped me this semester is in the area of organization. I sync my calendar with Google Calendar, which I can access both through my Palm Pre and through the iPad. It has helped me become more organized and on top of schoolwork, class times, meetings, etc.
The last benefit I want to mention is the ability to use it as an e-reader. This is one of my top reasons for preferring a tablet over a laptop. I am able to read my professors’ handouts without having to print them off or be tied down to a computer. I also have a few non-class-related web design e-books that I read in my free time.
Now that you know a bit about why tablets might be good for you, let’s take a look at a few of the major tablet options of the year.
The iPad2 currently steals the show as being the most popular. Being released less than a month ago, the iPad2 boasts a more powerful processor than its predecessor, yet is lighter, thinner, and includes a front and rear camera. Outside of these changes, the iPad2 is very similar to the first generation. It contains the same 4:3 aspect ratio giving it a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels and runs off version 4.3 of iOS (for those of you who don’t speak computer: that’s pretty good).
The iPad’s current competition is the Motorola Xoom. The Xoom is powered by the Android 3.0 platform. This latest version, dubbed “Honeycomb,” features a tablet focused user interface, better notifications, smoother handling of multitasking, and plenty more features. The Xoom has the best screen on a tablet with an aspect ratio of 16:9, perfect for HD-wide-screen content (1280 x 800 pixels). The Xoom also features a two mega-pixel front camera and a 5 mega-pixel rear camera featuring auto-focus and a dual-LED flash.
While the Xoom and iPad2 are currently the major competitors in the market place, there are plenty more tablets coming out in future months. The next tablet out will be RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook on April 19. The PlayBook is a smaller tablet measuring at seven-inches (iPad is 9.7 inches) and powered by a new BlackBerry OS which supports Adobe Flash, WebKit, Java, Open GL (3D rendering), and Adobe Air.
Later this summer, Hewlett-Packard will be making their debut on with the tablet computers. In June, HP will launch its webOS powered HP TouchPad. The TouchPad features a 9.7-inch display at 1024 x 768 pixels and will contain the fastest processor on a tablet computer. The TouchPad will also feature smooth integration with the upcoming Pre3 smartphone, with call and text forwarding from the phone to the tablet and touch-to-sync capabilities, which will allow an easy transfer of data between the two.
In addition to the four major tablets listed above, there are also the Acer-Iconia Tab, Asus Slider, Dell Streak, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the Toshiba Tablet, just to name a few. With all of the tablets that are out or on their way, this will be the year of the tablet computers.
The major question in getting one often comes down to price. Many money-strapped students may wonder if buying a $400-$700 tablet computer is worth the money, or if that money is better spent somewhere else. As for me, when my father takes his iPad back, I’ll probably be getting one of the tablets I wrote about. There’s nothing like checking e-mail, keeping up with the latest peer drama on Facebook, and reading web design e-books, all while lounging on my nice comfy couch, no cords attached.