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. 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. 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. 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. 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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