Drive-by Mobile Tests

I went on a quick stroll through Best Buy today, and tried a lot of the devices I’ve been reading about for the last couple of months:

  • The iPad 2 is impressive if only for its reduced mass and flat back, which led many to claim that it feels totally different to hold compared to its predecessor (The white version is stylish, but I think the black bezel better complements the screen.) But for all other purposes, it’s a tiny update to the original iPad: even better for new users, while us early adopters stay current.
  • My first impression of the Motorola Xoom was nothing like that of the many tech reviewers – the hardware was solid, and the UI is at the same time surprisingly powerful and usable, especially for the first version of a totally new UI. Apps intended for smaller phones scale to tablet sizes better than iPhone apps do on the iPad. Holding the tablet in portrait orientation is actually pretty nice – I think most reviewers are just too accustomed to the 4:3 iPad. The biggest surprise, however, was that the Xoom’s browser sucks. It does tabs like a desktop browser, but beyond that, its performance trails far behind any mobile browser created in the last four years. It surprises me that an internet services company – the one behind Chrome, even – lags so far behind on mobile browsers. Continue reading

The State of the Slate: Today’s iPad and Tomorrow’s Tablets

The iPad created a new class of computing devices and a new way of interacting with technology. It seems like this ambitious device means something different to just about every segment of the technology world: Old Media publishers herald the device as their salvation from death at the hands of the Web. Open software advocates balk at its controlled app platform as a regression for things like rich web applications and open standards. Tech pundits label it a device which prioritizes passive consumption of content over production and collaboration. Customers complain about the $500 starting price — and then buy over 15 million of them in under a year. (This quarter, Apple is on track to sell more iPads than Macs.)

I took the plunge and bought an iPad last September to see what all the fuss was about. I have to say that I don’t think any of the popular perspectives effectively mirror my experience. Things are about to change very quickly in this new space, and I think this is the appropriate time at which to reflect on its current state and potential in the future.

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