My first computer was 500Mhz with a 12GB hard drive and wait for it…. 128MB ram! This was towards the end of the 1990s and we all know technology moves on but….
We are now in the age of the tablet ( The Romans had these as a bit of slate and a lump of chalk!) And as a photographer they seem to be an invaluable device for showing clients portfolios etc.
The devices are tactile and more fluid in navigation than a laptop and opening and closing images with a click and nice to hold, but what are the options…….
There are a number of cheap Chinese tablets on the usual auction sites, and while most of these look good on paper or in videos, the screen and power will not be up to much of a job.
At the DSG chain of stores (Curry’s, PC World, Dixons) they have the best budget machine that I have see to date. The Advent Vega has 512MB Ram, 512MB built in flash but you can fit upto a 32GB Micro SD card (it is supplied with a 4GB card and runs Adnoid 2.2 (Froyo) While this was for phones and not meant for tablets, it is re-flashable with a custom rom and launcher to change the home screen animation as your apps slide out of the way.
There are a number of sites with custom ROMs and the Modaco and Corvus seem to be the most popular. Speeding up the machine nicely and ironing out little bits and pieces in the software. The custom ROMs also add the official Android Market for downloading Apps etc which is missing out of the box.
The Advent Vega also has a 1024 x 600 screen resolution (but poor viewing angles off square on) It is a dual core machine to so speed with the Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. The price of the Advent Vega is currently £199.99
Now Google Android is in it’s 3rd incarnation known as Honeycomb.
Tablets with this are now on the market with lots more on the way, The Motorola Xoom has 32GB storage, has a 3G option and also has a 10.1″ screen. The Motorola Xoom is priced at £479.00 for the WIFI only version.
The Asus EEE Pad Transformer, nice snappy name! has 16GB storage with the option to use a MicroSD card to give more space, but has a docking laptop keyboard to turn it into a netbook. The Asus EEE Pad Transformer is currently priced at £379.00 without the optional keyboard and £429.00 with the keyboard.
Acer has the Iconia A500 which has just gone on the market. Looks very nice and well built with a brushed metal back and 10.1″ screen etc.
Specs across these new machines are pretty close.. So I am not going to go into every bit of detail.. The Acer comes in Windows 7 and Android 3.0 flavours and is priced at £449.00
Other tablets that are coming, Samsung has upgraded it’s 7″ Galaxy Tablet with 8.9 and 10.1″ screens and these looks superb so far, though I have seen there are still bugs in the software, but Honeycomb 3.1 is now out that should address some issues.
Of course the Ipad is a package that many look to owning or indeed copying. It is a well designed, made and thought out device. Stylish and tactile the aluminium and glass construction, the software is stable and integrates superbly, however being a closed system you can’t personalise it like you can the Android devices…. Ipad prices start at £399.00 for the 16GB WIFI model and upto £659.00 for the 3G 64GB version.
It is not all Android though and not just Apple using it’s own in house software on tablets and in the next few months the choice of tablets will be mind blowing. Though there are a number of tablets running Microsoft’s Windows 7, which many seem to agree is just pretty poor on a tablet.
One thing to think about are the different APPS from both Apple’s Itunes store and the growing Android Market which is not as big as Apple’s app store, but is growing. This is probably a deciding factor for many potential buyers and it is one to think about. It is the apps that make these devices personal to how we use them.
I do see the 7″ devices improving and indeed Blackberry has a tablet on the market in some countries in the price range. For photographers I see the 8.9 and 10.1 size tablets being the most popular sizes.
Of course you can get around 3G by buying a MIFI 3G modem either as a pay as you go or contract device. Switch it on and leave it in your bag. Handy if travelling away from home. Though some places do have free WIFI…
I haven’t decided which one is for me yet.. But it is an exciting area of the computer market right now… as for the choice to make, It’s app to you!