Help a busy, geeky mom choose a tablet

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.


Or Galaxy Tab 8.9

6 thoughts on “Help a busy, geeky mom choose a tablet

  1. Michelle says:

    Hi Ruby, I just got a Kindle Fire to test drive down the tablet highway. I LOVE it so far! My little cousin got one for Christmas and it was all I could do not to steal it from her(smile)

  2. Michelle says:

    HI a good friend of mine just reviewed your options and he recommends the Galaxy. He is a tech and social media guru like yourself. Hope this helps!
    He laughed at the Kindle idea so what do I know in these matters right?

  3. Thanks, Michelle! Both comments are very helpful.

    For a while I was really into the Kindle Fire, but I think would probably get frustrated with the inability to do things “my way” since it’s sort of locked down.

  4. Chris Greer says:

    I’m sure you knew this answer was coming from me but iPad. There are no other contenders. I think android is clunky enough on phones but hand it a 7″+ screen…….no thanks. Its worth the extra green both in hardware and happiness. Plus the iPad 3 is coming out very soon, so the iPad 2 should be on discount….my 2 cents 🙂

  5. lisa says:

    Have you looked at the Asus Transformer android tablet? It’s 10″ and has a portable keyboard dock, so you can use it undocked, as a true tablet, or docked, more like a netbook. Mike has really been enjoying his. The transformer prime is out now, so the prices have come down a little on the original transformer, too.

  6. Well, a crazy thing happened. Last night I played with Brian’s iPad (he got it from work) and after trying to read in bed I confirmed that it was too big and that I should look at 7″ and 8″ options instead of the bigger tablets. Then this morning I woke up to find that had Touchpads for sale at an excellent price and today only.

    The Touchpad is 9.7″ the same size as the iPad, but I couldn’t turn down the deal. PLus I really do like WebOS and am glad not to have to start over and learn my way around Android. I hope it works out…

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