OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

Summary: Once I get my tongue out of my cheek, I'll tell you why.

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No, really. Adoption of some of the most advanced technology available to consumers really just comes down to the right fashion accessory.

I'm the relatively recent owner of a Motorola Xoom. It's the WiFi-only model and, as so many critics have pointed out, it's still too expensive to make a dent in the iPad empire. It was only January of this year that I questioned the utility of tablets at all outside of niche applications or well-thought-out educational uses. But I needed a light, bright platform for product testing and demonstration for the day job. Our developers were already using Galaxy Tabs, so I figured the larger, Honeycomb-based tablet would make for a bit of diversity.

Not only did it make for a bit of diversity, but I've really grown to like the big tablet. The folks at ZDNet haven't had much good to say about the Xoom and have called Android 3.0 Google's Vista. For me, though, as someone who spends his day online and immersed in Google-ness, the Xoom works very well for me on many levels.

This isn't a Xoom review, though. That's been done. Many times. It's about how we use tablets (the Xoom just happens to be my tablet of choice) and where they fit in to our lives. So how does this relate to Google? Apple has figured out exactly how to convince us that we need tablets in addition to iPhones and MacBooks. Until Google helps potential buyers understand the real value prop behind their tablet offerings, the company will always play second fiddle to Apple (and Microsoft if they aren't careful).

And that's why I need the perfect bag for my Xoom. I have an Android phone that works very well to get me online, keep me in touch, and even read ebooks.  I also have a MacBook Pro and various netbooks (including a Google Chrome Notebook), so I'm not ever searching for a computer on which I can write. Why do I need a tablet, too? Where am I going to put it? And isn't it really redundant to stick it into my laptop bag next to a laptop?

There are plenty of times when I don't even bother taking my laptop. Mobile browsing on my phone gets the job done. And then what will I do? Carry the phone in my pocket and a tablet in a cute little sleeve? Of course, the days I leave my laptop behind, I invariably need to review a document that is barely readable on a 3.7" screen or I need to write something longer than my carpal tunnel-ridden thumbs can handle. A tablet sure would be handy then.

Like I said, I get the tablet thing. 10" of screen real estate lends itself wonderfully to reviewing or updating spreadsheets, reading long documents, taking notes, and organizing and accessing content. There are a whole lot of things that one can do easily on a tablet that are fairly painful on a phone. But I need the right bag. I need a bag that begs me to just take the tablet with me. No matter what, when I walk out the door, I grab the bag/tablet, my phone is in my pocket, and there's virtually nothing I can't do at a fraction the weight, bulk, and theft worry compared to my full-blown laptop (in, of course, a full-blown laptop bag).

I can put my tablet in my Scott eVest, but no matter what he says about weight distribution, it's just too bulky. It's also not protected enough for my tastes. I want to have my tablet available to me all the time. I use it all the time at home or in my office, but working remote, it's either my phone or a laptop since the tablet just isn't quite portable enough (at least not in the way a phone is).

Next: So what's a hyperconnected guy to do if he doesn't want to carry a laptop all the time? »

Nope, I can have my cake and eat it too, relying on my light, snappy tablet while I'm out and about, if only I just had a convenient enough bag.

I know, it sounds stupid, but really, there aren't many of us who don't at least briefly wonder if we'll use that tablet enough to justify the cost. Give us a bag, though, that holds just the right amount of useful stuff and our tablets (nothing more, nothing less) then it's easy for the tablet to become a constant companion, much like our phones, but more capable.

I ordered a cheap "Rothco Urban Explorer" messenger bag from Amazon tonight because the cool leather messenger I really wanted cost half of what I paid for the Xoom. In theory, this thing could hold my phone, my Xoom, my wallet, necessary power cords, and a book (and even a couple diapers). These are all the things I unsuccessfully try to cram in my cargo pants most days. We'll see if the new bag cuts the mustard.

This is actually what Google needs to show it's customers: A $15 bag for us guys or a decent-sized purse are all you need to carry a sophisticated keyboard-less computer with you all the time. You don't need to decide. You just need to be online, browsing better than you could on a phone and even creating content in ways that phones just can't support. One little bag and you can do this all the time. And laptops? Who needs laptops when you have the cloud and a tablet, right?

Apple doesn't need to show anyone this: Apple geeks are going to buy iPads in droves because Apple makes them.

Google, on the other hand, needs to turn on the marketing machine a bit. Go ahead, search for Android tablet bags. Then search for iPad bags. Who has the marketing under control?

Also check out these related articles: Motorola Xoom sales tepid; Production cuts next? Android tablets: Motorola XOOM returned, Honeycomb half baked at best Motorola Xoom vs. Galaxy Tab 7: A study in usability

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Mobility, Tablets

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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36 comments
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  • Windows 7 tablets are superior

    I didn't "get" tablets until I tried one running Windows 7 Ultimate. You can have a full-power PC in tablet form, much cheaper than an iPad, and a nice leather carrying case incorporating a keyboard makes it the best laptop I've ever had:

    http://twitter.com/timacheson/status/58925163105890304

    Sadly, the author of this article is a fashion victim, spending more cash than necessary and writing this page to jump on the trendy iOS/Android tablet bandwagon. ROFL. Those tablets are basic netbooks minus the keyboard and for five times the usual price.
    Tim Acheson
    • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

      @Tim Acheson

      The point of tablet computing is portability, and unless you keep this plugged into a wall while you are working or carry around spare batteries, you aren't going to get a full day's work done on a Windows tablet. Once they can get 8-10 hours of moderate usage on a single charge then your point will carry weight.
      Michael Kelly
      • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

        @Michael Kelly
        B.S.Most people that use iPads are plugged in or near a power source.
        Face it, they are just iFADS. Less power than a netbook, pretty useless compared to a windows tablet like Tim pointed out.
        If you get an ipad they have you by the b a l l s, you are severely restricted on what you can do!
        mikroland
      • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

        @Michael Kelly "The point of tablet computing is portability, and unles you keep this plugged into a wall while you are working or carry around spare batteries, you aren't going to get a full day's work done on a Windows tablet."

        That argument has been peddled and debunked ad infinity, but Apple fanboys continue to cling to it. Let's exercise some common-sense and scrutinize the battery-life myth once again.

        *** If I had a device as limited as an iPad, or on any device restricted my usage to what's possible on an iPad, the battery would last a lot longer! ***

        I don't know what your "day's work" consists of, but I have to do real work not just surf the web (without Flash) and take notes. :)
        Tim Acheson
      • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

        @Michael Kelly
        been out for a couple of years now, Windows netbooks that get 8-10 hours, with an SSD
        mswift@...
      • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

        @Michael Kelly <br><br>You said it yourself mate: "a full day's work done" and I DEFY you to get the mythical "full days work" out of an iPad UNLESS all you do is surf the web and answer email. In the real world productivity means MS Office, and neither the Apple Trinity (Paqes, Numbers, Kenote), nor DocsToGo/Quickoffice can work on production quality documents without severe limitations and format breaks with the shared files (not to mention revision tracking and other required features). Don't get me wrong, I love the weight and form factor of the ipad, but when the fanboys keep tumpeting the all day batteries, they always overlook the obvious - that they are NOT doing full time work. If you want touch and/or inking, that means a Tablect PC (think HP 2760p), or if you wnat the best ultralight, the MacBook Air 11 is far superior to the iPad, with only a pound more weight. For right now, you can't pound that square peg into a round hole.
        dksmidtx
    • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

      @Tim Acheson I was really interested in your comments re the Win7 Tablet, but it's way too heavy (more than 200g heavier than the iPad), only about 3 real hours of battery and only comes with Wifi for $500! The only saving grace is it has a USB. That means it still isn't viable competition for the iPad which I find very disappointing. How lame is that?
      peripo
      • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

        @peripo

        200 grams is all the difference between being the acceptable weight and being way too heavy? If the iPad is cutting it that close to being acceptable then I don't see what all the bragging is about with regards to its weight.
        Michael Kelly
      • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

        @peripo "it's way too heavy (more than 200g heavier than the iPad), only about 3 real hours of battery and only comes with Wifi for $500! The only saving grace is it has a USB. That means it still isn't viable competition for the iPad which I find very disappointing."

        You can get them lighter and with more battery life if you want to pay iPay prices. They also come much cheaper, we only looked at one example. But 0.2 kilograms really isn't a lot of weight. Mobile phones used to weigh more than that. You can't fit an iPad in your pocket. If you notice an extra 200g, I dread to think how you are carrying or using it! You could just carry paper and pens if weight is such a concern, or a phone (iPad is essentially an iphone with a giant screen).
        Tim Acheson
      • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

        @tim acheson
        I agree completely with your point (as I write this from my Notion Ink Adam Android Tablet), if not your facts. I just wish people would get it right for once. iOS was written for a tablet device. Steve wanted to crush netbooks with (what later became) the ipad, but part way through developement he decded the timing was off and switched gears to make a phone instead. This was done because people were already buying phones, but tablets were currently considered a failure with consumers. The OS, being in late beta stages, was cloned and modified to work on phone hardware instead of a tablet with 3g conectivity. The original tablet based OS was shelved until a later date.

        This was not the first time Apple dropped the tablet idea due to lack of consumer interest.
        aiellenon
      • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

        @peripo <br><br>Just bought an Acer convertible Win 7 tablet/netbook new off Ebay A$748. Only a Core Duo with 4G memory running Win 7 64 bit so I wasn't expecting great performance. The 12" screen and wider keyboard is a nice step up from a 10" netbook and it functions fine in tablet mode. 8 hour battery life claimed and it certainly took over 6 hours when I was burning it in. 1.7 kg. It also has a touch UI (nothing to write home about) and uses finger and stylus with hand writing recognition.<br><br>This computer was released over a year ago.<br><br>Now the touch UI isn't as smooth as my WP7 phone, but it works and the handwriting recognition is a plus for those of us still with handwriting skills, but it's a Win 7 computer with a real keyboard - so it has all the software I need to work anywhere, has acceptable performance and acts as an entertainment device when I need it.<br><br>I've used an iPad. That's why I got something better <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink">
        tonymcs@...
    • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

      @Tim Acheson

      Great point!
      Finally someone who is not iNaive!
      Thank God
      mikroland
      • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

        @mikroland

        Thanks for the insults. Adds soooo much weight to your arguments.
        acmw@...
    • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

      @Tim Acheson
      Right on there, Timmy - all of those losers out there who don't know about the POWER of Micr0$uck$ LoseDoze 7 don't have the ability to install the internet onto their tablets / phones / netbooks to allow them to browse the web and point and click and cut and paste and multitask and do all of the things are so DIFFICULT if not IMPOSSIBLE to do with any other O/S.
      HackerJ
    • Slow, but heavy

      @Tim Acheson On a pound for pound basis, that one's a steal. Five pounds of tablet for $500! You wouldn't want to hold it for very long, but you wouldn't need to because he battery would die before the mighty 1.7GHz Atom processor could boot up Windows.
      Robert Hahn
      • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

        @Robert Hahn You can get a Windows tablet much lighter than that, or indeed mugh cheaper:

        http://twitter.com/timacheson/status/67521075679993856

        You're too used to iPad -- outside Apple land we have a vast range of choices. :)
        Tim Acheson
    • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

      @Michael Kelly - Oh, and that's funny... I have never even seen an iPad connected to a power supply. Strange.
      acmw@...
    • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

      @Tim Acheson - not yet they're not.

      Take your current-gen Windows tablet and rotate it 90 degrees. Some tablets require you to press a button to rotate the screen. Either way, watch the screen go black for 5-10 seconds each time you rotate.

      I am a fan of much that Microsoft does, but I am also realistic and know that in the tablet game, they're nowhere right now. This is painfully evident to me as I seek out a decent tablet device for some of my customers - I've now had to being iPad app development to create a solution they need.

      However, I do expect that Windows8 will usher in a whole new world of tablets to the Windows ecosystem. Microsoft are well on the way to porting Windows to run atop ARM based devices and if the Windows Phone UI is anything to go by, they're also likely to have a very VERY compelling tablet UI in the works.

      Frankly, the market needs a competitor like Microsoft to step into the fray because without them, Apple will ride roughshod over everyone and that would NOT be a good thing.
      bitcrazed
      • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

        @bitcrazed
        I sure hope that MS doesn't port windows, but instead makes a new compatible OS that runs on ULV processors. They should drop ARM support and chuck some cash over to Intel for some hot fast 18nm SoC that is x86 compatible. Not that it will ever happen...
        aiellenon
  • RE: OK, I get the tablet thing...now I just need the right bag

    Android phone, Android tab, Chrome laptop... You are a walking poster boy for Google Dawson. But I guess you know what you like and there is nothing wrong with that. I myself am trying to have the best of both worlds with my iPhone 4 and my ASUS Transformer (whenever the damn thing ships!). IOS and Android living together in harmony on one desk :D.

    I am glad to see you are enjoying your Xoom and Honeycomb. Getting tired of hearing people bash it.
    Bates_