As you probably know, dear reader, I was an enthusiastic Mac user for about 20 years. Recently, open source software such as Ubuntu Linux and Mozilla Firefox have reached a much more accessible level and I have been happily only buying hardware that runs open source operating systems ever since. This includes my mobile phone (sort of) which runs the somewhat-open WebOS platform. (I bought it as a Palm loyalist, but then it was sold to Hewlett-Packard, who don’t seem to know what to do with it.)
Anyway, I’m telling you that to tell you this: For years when my friends drooled over iPads and and Android tablets, I was not moved. I bought a netbook that runs Ubuntu instead. But suddenly I find myself desperate for a tablet! What changed? A few things, including being a parent and seeing the many applications from ebooks for kids, to games and videos that can help entertain and maybe even teach my son. I’m also going on a long trip for work soon and want to do a lot of reading. I do a lot of live-tweeting during meetings that I think I could do from a tablet if I had an external (probably bluetooth) keyboard. And a colleague recently mentioned that a lot of folks watch videos on their tablets while working out at the gym, which I could see me doing if I ever go ahead and get that membership.
So I have a lot of geeky friends, and I thought you might be able to help me decide on the best tablet for my needs. Some of the criteria I’m looking at:
- Not made by Apple, and an open of an OS as possible. I like WebOS and so I’m open to the Touchpad as well as the many Android choices.
- Preferably smaller than 10″ for ease of holding up for long periods, but this is not a deal-breaker.
- SD or mini-SD slot so I can easily add music files.
- Sturdy enough for a preschooler to play with it, or a large supply of compatible cases.
- Bluetooth or some other method of connecting with an external keyboard.
- Excellent full-featured web browser as almost everything I do is online.
- Decent battery life.
- Bonus: able to act as a remote control to my media center, which is a computer running Windows and Ubuntu.
Here are some of the leading contenders I’ve looked at recently.