Honey, I shrunk the iPad! [iPad mini]

iPad, iPad 2, The New iPad, I’ve have them all. And, they have all been great devices. I have used many tablets, and always landed on the iPad in one form or another. They have always felt like the right device for me. Honestly, the only thing that has kept me looking into new Android tablets as they are realized, is when they are a smaller form factor. I have always secretly wanted a slightly smaller iPad. It’s not that the iPad is too big, it’s a fantastic computing device, but I have a slightly different problem. My tablet is an “in between device”. I want it to be right in between my phone and my laptop. Trouble is, when your laptop is an 11" MacBook Air, a 10" iPad is not really in between anymore…

Like any Apple product line, rumors are constant and never cease with their ability to be far fetched. So of course the rumors of a “smaller iPad” had to be taken with an entire salt mine rather than a grain. But, sure enough, it turned out to be the truth not too long ago. When the iPad mini was announced, I was in possession of the third generation iPad Retina w/4G. I was immediately on board and pre-ordered that Friday night at midnight.

One week later, I had it in my hands and I have not looked back since. Of course the biggest worry people have when switching is “the lack of retina display”. I have to say, it doesn’t bother me anywhere near to what I thought it would. Even when I use my wife’s Retina iPad, I don’t feel like I made a mistake switching. (Will I upgrade to next year’s iPad mini when it gets a retina display? of course I will! haha) It is an excellent size and shape. It also now fits perfectly in between my 11" MacBook Air and iPhone 4S.

It *would* be great….for $149. HP Touchpad.

Well, I went to see it in person, and after trying very hard to keep my expectations very low, I was still somehow disappointed. It pains me to say it; I want WebOS to survive in the worst way, but sadly this launch (if you can even call it a launch) did nothing but further weigh WebOS down from getting off the ground.

Hardware:Since I mentioned weight I guess that is a good place to start with describing the new tablet from HP: heavy! The Touchpad feels like a massive brick compared to other tablets on the market. The hardware in general seems very poor in both quality and design. It feels as though very little time was put into hardware design. The speaker holes feel rough, sharp, and unfinished. The “home” button feels extremely awkward and poorly designed for being the only interface button on the device. Design wise, it is basically a giant iPhone 3G, which came out in 2008.

If it weren’t for the spec sheet saying it had a dual core processor, you would thing it was running a single core around 1.0GHz or less. For being a dual core 1.2GHz, it felt sluggish.

The screen left a lot to be desired as well. It felt very dull as far as color reproduction went and not very clear.

Software:WebOS is still a solid and well designed OS. This new 3.0 version is great, but doesn’t feel as snappy and fluid as it should. My only concern is that you don’t immediately have access to the entire WebOS catalog of apps, since all apps must be re-written to work on 3.0.

As the title states, if HP would have sold this device at a loss to get people amped up and excited for WebOS, that would have been huge. Hell, even at $199 it would be a no brainer for everyone to get one, if for no other reason than just to try it out. If you don’t put WebOS in people’s hands, no one is going to just discover it on their own, sadly.

One last note about this “launch”. I say launch in quotes because HP continues to half ass the release of these new devices. When the Veer came out, no one knew it was out. The stores that were selling it, barely knew it even launched. This was no different: you heard nothing about it, and saw nothing either. You might have just happened to see the display for it sitting in between its competitors, the iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1; both of which are far more polished and the same exact price point.

At this point I am definitely saying do not buy the Touchpad, and WebOS is officially on the back burner (apparently HP feels the same way).

Quick Hands On: Blackberry Playbook

We were in an Office Depot yesterday to drop off some packages to be mailed  when I happened to see a display for the Blackberry Playbook. I had seen many online reviews for the tablet but hadn’t actually seen one in the wild yet. We took the opportunity to go check it out and play with it for a bit to see what it had to offer. The consensus was “nothing too special here”.The size and feel of the device was very solid, but after getting past that, it kind of fell apart. We found the UI to not be very intuitive or discoverable. After figuring it out, however, the UI did offer some nice visuals.

After that, it was time to find out what kind of applications this thing had to offer. This was a source of disappointment. It seemed like every time I launched an app, Twitter, Facebook, and so on, it was simply just launching the browser and taking me to the website of those services.. I would assume there are third party applications in their catalog that are native code, this demo unit just wasn’t loaded with any.

Finally the price. At $499, $599, and $699, I am not really sure you are getting your moneys worth. If you are a die hard blackberry user and this thing integrates with that experience for you well, then great, otherwise I would say hold off.