Should we now expect to pay $500+ to be tablet beta-testers?

Should we now expect to pay $500+ to be tablet beta-testers?

Summary: Tablet makers continue to fall short of the Apple iPad and roll out buggy and incomplete tablet devices, at prices of $500 or more, and I am getting tired of it. Aren't you?

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This past weekend I went to Best Buy to get my $80 credit for the HTC Flyer Magic Pen that I purchased in May and also take a look at the HP TouchPad for myself. I Tweeted this visit and many of my followers said I would be coming home with a new HP TouchPad. In all honesty, getting the $80 back, having a $50 credit for owning a Pre Plus (I gave to my sister-in-law), and having $20 in Reward Zone credit all had me expecting to pick one up too. However, after playing with the TouchPad for 15 minutes, I left the store without one and absolutely no desire to pick one up anytime soon.

Most reviewers were just OK with the TouchPad while stating they wouldn't recommend it over the iPad. Some, like Jason Hiner were a bit more forgiving and some like Jason Perlow clearly stated it was a failure. Palm has yet to have a webOS device with excellent hardware and now that HP owns them that trend hasn't changed. The TouchPad feels a bit like a Fisher Price version of a tablet in today's sleek world with the iPad 2, BlackBerry PlayBook, and Samsung Galaxy 10.1. The glossy back is a super fingerprint magnet and 1.6 pounds is pretty heavy for a tablet.

I could not believe how much lag there was in the device and I even tried out two of them in the store to make sure it wasn't just one device. That was easy to do given that no one else was looking at the TouchPad and they had plenty in stock. I could not find anything overly compelling about the TouchPad during my 15 minutes with the device. Cards and multi-tasking were slick, but the multi-tasking on my iPad 2 is just fine and the PlayBook is much faster with a UI that looked to be a copy of webOS, but is now better in some respects. HP has had time to get webOS rocking on the TouchPad and the competition has been out the whole time so it wasn't a surprise what buyers would expect.

Google also is failing so far with Honeycomb and I personally could not stand using the Motorola Xoom with a disjointed UI that had me tapping all over the place with inconsistent user interface elements.

Out of the three newer tablet operating systems, RIM is actually doing the best in terms of a slick UI and solid performance with the PlayBook and even though I am not a BlackBerry smartphone user, after testing Honeycomb and webOS on tablets I am seriously considering picking up a BB Bold 9900 as soon as they get released -- since my PlayBook is pretty rocking.

Applications optimized for all three of these newer tablet operating systems are quite lacking compared to the Apple iPad; again, it should come as no surprise that people are comparing them and seeing that they are failing in this area.

In today's tough economy, I have to wonder how many more tablet devices will be released that launch with known issues, readily apparent UI problems, and lack of apps. Yes, many things can be fixed with updates, but why should we be paying good money for hope of updates that don't always come as fast as promised or as complete as you may be led to believe (yes, I am thinking of you, Motorola Xoom)?

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Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Laptops, Mobility, BlackBerry, Tablets

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226 comments
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  • anything but apple

    I'm loving my viewsonic gtab and it was only $260 for a 10.1" screen & dual-core 1Ghz processors, not $500. It was OK out of the box but from reading on xda-developers & slatedroid web sites I've learned alot about android & used several of their mods. I don't need to .. I want to & I enjoy it. Besides, it's not an apple. Fair use > apple.
    Jook DeBeaux
    • thanks for sharing

      @steve.griffis@...
      ok out of the box. mods. yeah, well, you know, you enjoy it so that's great. what the heck does that have to do with this article or the vast majority of people who don't want "ok" out of the box?
      maybe it was just so you could type out anything but apple.

      geesh.
      sportmac
      • So OK,

        @sportmac

        Apple crybaby, why the heck are YOU responding except to defend your precious apple product?
        sackbut
      • RE: Should we now expect to pay $500 to be tablet beta-testers?

        @sackbut: The intent of his comment is the point that, unlike iOS and the iPad, no other tablet to date has had a complete, integrated 'feel' to it. Most Android tablets are praised for their hardware but fall short when the OS is brought into the discussion--either receiving an 'unfinished' or 'beta-level' grading when using 3.0 or 3.1 while 2.3 comes up with 'can't handle the large display' or some other shortcoming.

        You really have to reach to say you're happy with "anything but Apple."
        Vulpinemac
      • Excellent post vulpine

        I have to agree, it is the "feel" of the iPad that makes it the best out there and makes anyone who buys anything but the iPad a complete idiot. Thanks for your input. No wonder the competitors have no chance, they simply can't get good feeling into their tablets.
        woulddie4apple
      • re thanks for sharing

        @sportmac
        what that had to do with the article was that there are ALOT of very good androids that are NOT beta and NOT $500. The reason to respond is because I don't agree with the attempted brain washing going on by Apple fanatics that Android is so bad compared to the Apple. And as far as mods are concerned have you imstalled any apps on your ipad ? Or was it so great right out of the box that you made no changes ? Lastly why the hostility over a gadget - do you make money off it ?
        Jook DeBeaux
      • RE: Should we now expect to pay $500 to be tablet beta-testers?

        @sportmac he still paid less than half the price for something more than adequate.
        Jimster480
      • Message has been deleted.

        blueskip
      • Message has been deleted.

        i8thecat3
      • DUH...

        @vulpine
        Does ANYTHING Google does NOT feel like a Beta of some sort?
        Wolfie2K3
      • RE: Should we now expect to pay $500 to be tablet beta-testers?

        @vulpine@...
        "The intent of his comment is the point that, unlike iOS and the iPad, no other tablet to date has had a complete, integrated 'feel' to it. "

        I'm glad you used the word 'feel' in that sentence, because that is exactly what the Apple product does. It gives the user a 'feeling', that they are looking at a complete and tightly integrated product. You know - the way a government gives people the 'feeling' that it has got their best interests at heart.

        I know this merry-go-round appears to go on eternally, but I just wanted to say that I think the point most of us, who don't like Apple products like the iPad are trying to make is that crying 'incomplete' about other products is a bit of a joke in itself. Android is incomplete (and BTW I don't entirely disagree that it has its bugs) - but compared to what? the iPad? The iPad is basically as stripped down and useless as a computing device can get. Its like a Vtech MyFirstComputer or something, that can playback music and videos (as long as they are not Flash or some other 'unknown' format) and requires that you lock into the iTunes universe. Other tablets, based o Android and competing OSes are trying to break out of that and offer some freedom on the devices. The cost so far is in extra development required. This also happens in other parts of the tech industry - such as ALL software and operating systems used by all industries on the planet. This is something else the article misrepresents as if the iPad is a special case of a 'perfectly' crafted product.

        Its easy for Apple zealots and Apple themselves to smirk and say 'we got it right from the get-go', when in fact all they did was RIP OUT anything that they could not be bothered to make work properly.

        This article/post and most others misrepresent this fact and directly compare tablets to the iPad as if iPad was the benchmark to begin with. Actually it isn't the benchmark for all tablets. It has resurrected and made the tablet a popluar buzzword again for sure, but in fact any Windows/Linux tablet is FAR more capable.

        Popularity does not make a product good. Are "Boyzone/Girls Aloud/I could go" on the best bands in the world based on the fact they are more popular than Rush, Deep Purple, Led Zep, or Dream Theater? No, they aren't. Is iTunes good - is it even close to the best media library software in the world? Not a chance! So why do many people use it. Simple - it is what they are now used to - nothing else.

        Having said all that...
        Do Apple have the right to charge $500 for the iPad? Sure...
        Do people have the right to buy it? Of course they do
        Do people have the right to like it? Yes they do
        Do zealots have the right to spout nonsense? Well, yes they do, but I would prefer it if they didn't

        Should other tablet manufacturers be charging $500 as-if in direct competition? Nah ah. Not unless it is COMPLETELY awesome and smashes all the boundaries. These competing products should be priced competitively or 90% of people looking for a tablet will not even consider it - me included.
        12312332123
      • RE: Should we now expect to pay $500 to be tablet beta-testers?

        @sportmac Shut your mouth already.
        xSteven777x
    • RE: Should we now expect to pay $500 to be tablet beta-testers?

      @steve.griffis@...
      The only reason why we even have this conversation is because APPLE came out with the iPad in 2010... otherwise we wouldn't be talking about tablets...
      Hasam1991
      • Message has been deleted.

        Violetw
      • Message has been deleted.

        brant@...
      • RE: Should we now expect to pay $500 to be tablet beta-testers?

        @Hasam1991 As someone pointed out in another reply to another tablet debate in response to a Zdnet article, tablets existed before the iPad. Apple with its devoted following can sell air and it would be better than the air we know. Frankly, those who're trying to imitate Apple are silly, because the OSes they use are generally for people with a bit more technical competence than the average Apple fan, who may be an artist who wants to paint or play a piano on their device and call tech support if they forgot to charge the battery.<br><br>Most of these imitators want to create working tools that double as toys. Apple develops toys that do a good job of aiding with work.
        marcusantoniouslee1@...
      • RE: Should we now expect to pay $500 to be tablet beta-testers?

        @ Violetw

        If you don't know how to spell kernel, you are not a techie, either, and must not have a Mac, as the integrated spell checker would have told you same.

        P.S. True techies have no problem modifying the kernel in OSX. Incompetent much?
        DeusXMachina
      • RE: Should we now expect to pay $500 to be tablet beta-testers?

        @brant
        Funny you should mention that. The WWW WAS invented on a NeXT, a computer by a company owned by Steve Jobs, whose OS, NeXTSTEP, became MacOS X, actually. But thanks for playing.
        DeusXMachina
        • RE: Should we now expect to pay $500 to be tablet beta-testers?

          @ marcusantoniouslee1

          You know crap all about the mac demographic
          DeusXMachina
      • RE: Should we now expect to pay $500 to be tablet beta-testers?

        @Hasam1991
        Er, I was using tablets well before apple came out with its pad. All teh Ipad really did ws move from a real HD to a solid state one.
        reibertg@...