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Laptop Vs. Tablet

So yeah, I’ve been looking at which would be better to take on the road, a laptop, or a tablet. The end.

Not really the end, but what this has done is open up a huge can of worms for me. Review after review, netbook vs. notebook vs. iPad vs. a sheet of paper and a pen. It’s an overwhelming task, especially when you are looking to move on to other aspects of planning. This has been oddly time consuming. I guess it’s mostly because I want to get the best possible item, but I also think it’s my nature. I’m not an impulse buyer. I debate for days, sometimes weeks, over the simplest purchases. Sigh.

I suppose I should let you know my criteria and what I plan on using it for. When I’m out on the road, I would like some entertainment. Whether it’s my Netflix, or (God forbid) Angry Birds, I would like to be able to take my mind off of some of the more difficult points of travel. The checkpoints, the layovers, the hours of straight flat road, the swaying of train cars rocking me to sleep. The headaches of not knowing where you are. I think you get that part.

Then there is the communication aspect of it all. I would like to see my friends and family from time to time, especially since I am looking for at least a 3 month trip. So I think Skype will come in handy.

Google maps… ‘nuf said about that.

Usage time would be rather important. That is to say, the time between recharges should be a bit longer than my phone, which can’t go more than a day without a charge.

I’d like it to be lightweight, somewhat rugged, and really dependable. I don’t want to have to deal with reloading an OS or fixing some stupid shit bug it gets. I just want to use it, and enjoy it.

So I finally went into the Verizon store in Pasadena last night. I needed to see what the competition really looked like, and how each felt in my hands. Immediately, I was drawn to the iPad 2. It really is this sleek little tablet, looks cool, and because it is an Apple product, you can almost guarantee a small learning curve. Bells, whistles, etc. They are all there. It is the most widely publicized tablet out there. No questions about that. Neato. Wait a second… $829 for a 64GB? Are you serious? I could get a bad ass laptop for that, easily triple the storage capabilities, and even throw in a blu-ray player for those long nights in sparsely populated areas. Strike one.

In comparing the iPad 2 to its competitors, I noticed some things that REALLY bothered me. For starters, the only port to plug ANYTHING into the tablet was Apple’s usual plug. No mini-HDMI, no mini-USB. Nothing. Just the plug you’d expect to see on your iPod or iPhone. Strike two.

Then after speaking to several of the lovely Verizon folks (not being sarcastic, they actually helped me out this time) I was informed that I could NOT use Skype, and would be forced to use Apple’s FaceTime. Now that wouldn’t be so bad if I knew SOMEONE ELSE WITH FACETIME. Apparently, you can only communicate with folks that have an Apple product capable of using FaceTime (iPhone 4, Touch, iPad2). Safe to say, that’s strike 3, Apple.

You’re out.

I really wanted to love it. I did like the long battery life, the ease of use, and gorgeous display. And while two of the three that I just mentioned are part of my criteria, the 3 strikes outweigh the two criteria. Landslide loss.

Then I noticed a little itty bitty netbook next to it. New 2 year agreement says I can get it for $139. Game. Set. Match. No? I wasn’t really feeling it. The HP netbook is a cute little guy. After playing with it for a few minutes, I got bored and realized it was like every other laptop I have seen, and there was nothing special about it. It was just smaller, more lightweight, and had a lot of storage capabilities. Cool. Bored. I guess if it comes down to dollars and cents (sense?) I would go that route, but I think I might as well just use the laptop I have and save the money for a tattoo in Prague or something. Moving right along…

Out of the corner of my eye, I see what intrigued me most in the whole comparison. Motorola’s Xoom. Nice looking display, decent battery life, and it seems to have the best cameras both front and rear. You CAN use Skype, or even Google’s Crosstalk (all you need is a GMail address) to communicate with friends, family, the IRS, whomever. Apparently, the Honeycomb OS is supposed to be excellent, speedy, and relatively easy to use, and after playing with it last night, I’d agree. If you have used any smart phone, I’m sure you can figure it out. Mini-HDMI and USB ports available, but the power cable looks a little weak. Its a tiny little dude, and looks like it could, or will snap off if you aren’t super careful with it. With that said, I think this is the best bargain out of the bunch.

It is ready to run on the 4GLTE network (whenever Verizon decides to let that one loose), and Motorola promises to double the memory to 64GB when the 4G is released, so the price point of $599 now (with VZW’s 2 year agreement) makes it the pricing winner.

Maybe I didn’t give the netbook a fair shake. Maybe I knew which one I wanted all along. Maybe I have something against Apple. I really do believe I was unbiased. I wanted an iPad 2 to be totally honest. I’ve always wanted to be on the cutting edge of technology, and have the latest gadgets and stuff, but, I JUST got my first smartphone in February. Like, very first. Ever. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

All things considered, when I do go to buy my tech toys for the trip, the Xoom will be first on my list. I just can’t see any way around it, unless of course someone sends me something for free to “test on the road” which I would gladly do for them, but let’s be honest here, who would do such a wonderful thing?