I would never consider myself to be an early adopter of technology despite having a technical degree and spending my entire career in the technology industry. So when cool new devices come to market and I not person that will wait on long lines or pre-order just to be one of the first people to have something. This behavior has held true to form with the emergence of the tablet as well.
But anyone that has been reading my blogs recently knows that my travel schedule, which reached an all new level of craziness in May, does lead me on a quest for the best technology solutions for the international mobile worker both in bringing more balance as well as productivity to life. Lucky for me as an analyst I have access to experts on the latest devices and operating systems along with my own knowledge and coverage of networking and content. So one would think this would be an easy decision to make. Well one would be wrong.
With the continuing explosion of tablet devices on to the scene, Sprint just last week announcing it is adding more options to their tablet line-up, and the ongoing battle between Android lovers and Apple lovers for applications and operating systems. Not to mention the network decision – Wifi only or Wifi and 3G/4G or tethering – its enough to make even the most educated users question their decisions.
Where does one even begin? That at least is an easy answer. We each need to begin with ourselves and make the decision that allows for the user experience to be as personalized as possible for those tasks and uses that are most important to us in our day to day lives. With that in mind, I thought I would once again use myself as the example and share some of my thought and evaluation process with you as I embark on my own table expedition.
First things first – what physical characteristics are liked and disliked? For me weight is a HUGE factor. If a device feels too heavy its going to turn me off. I already carry a lot in my daily life whether I am traveling or just out running errands that I don’t want to add yet another brick to my bag. At the same time, I also want a device that is sturdy enough to handle actually being used which is where having a good case comes in handy. This also is an area I can be a little flexible on but at the same time I at least have an idea of what I want.
Next up is connectivity! While I will likely use the device at home when I am watching TV or sitting on my deck in the evenings and will therefore be connecting to my home WiFi, we all know I travel and that means more options. Has a Blackberry and iPhone user I have the options of such tablets that I could tether to one of my smartphones but I also like the idea of built in wireless broadband – at least having the option. Not sure I want yet another carrier contract for service but having the option is a big plus or at least the option to tether to a mobile device without losing my lungs in data plan charges.
And finally, if not most importantly, it is the content and applications analysis. What can I do with this device? This is arguably the most personal of decisions in selecting any new technology device. There are of course the basics – email, news sites, searching the web, social networking, and games. All this basic stuff is going to be available on pretty much any device platform. And I am not a heavy gamer when I am addicted to specific games or products that MUST be available with a perfect experience graphics, etc. Pretty much I am happy with a Sudoku, solitaire, word search kind of assortment of games to choose from so that isn’t going to make or break my tablet ecosystem decision. It’s the other apps and content that will – lifestyle and work related applications. So that’s when its time to pull back the covers on the application ecosystem for the devices and operating systems out there and if possible to try before you buy. Lucky for me I have friends and colleagues that are early adopters of new technology or that are in a position to test new devices and they have been kind enough to let me borrow their devices of choice for a few days or even a few weeks to see how they fit my lifestyle. But for those of you that don’t have that luxury then I suggest the next best thing – leverage your social networking connections to get opinions and experiences of those empowered users out there. People that have great or horrible experiences are sure to weigh in and you know the people in your network so you will know who has an opinion or experience that is going to most closely match the way you would use a tablet.
So what did I choose? Well for me the jury is still out. At the moment I am wondering if a tablet will really change my life or should I wait for some of the newer editions that will likely be hitting the market in the coming months as we move toward the holiday season and maybe even the launch of the next iPad early next year. I’ll definitely keep you posted! And feel free to comment with your experiences or suggestions.