Any Android Tablet users?

Started Jun 30, 2011 | Discussions
Jim Cockfield
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Any Android Tablet users?
Jun 30, 2011

I've been thinking about buying a new laptop or netbook.

Currently, I use a little Eee PC 900 16G netbook from time to time when on the road (for checking forum posts, e-mail, etc.) . But, I've had it for a few years now, and it's seen it's better days. For example, the SSD in it failed a while back, so I'm running a LInux distro from an SDHC card now. The battery life is starting to degrade, too (not as much online time between charges anymore)..

Given that Android 3.x is geared towards tablets with larger displays, I'm wondering if something like an Eee Pad Transformer may be a better way to go instead of getting another netbook or laptop to replace my Eee PC 900 16G.

I just got my wife and I some phones running Android (2.2 Froyo), and started looking into the "nuts and bolts" of Android. For example, I "rooted" my phone using a popular exploit, modified some files, installed some utilities and more. Android uses a Linux kernel "under the covers", so it's pretty easy for me to pick up on (since I use Linux on my desktop most of the time).

There are several new Tablets out now that have virtually the same specs.

For example,, both the Motorola Xoom and Eee Pad Transformer use the same CPU and chipset (1Ghz Dual Core Nvidia Tegra II), and have the same amount of RAM (1GB DDR2), and same display specs (10.1" 1280x800 LED Backlit IPS Capacitive Touchscreen).

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer is just less expensive.. Newegg.com has the Wi-Fi version with 16GB internal flash storage for $399 right now; or the 32GB version for $499 (and the 32GB Xoom is a higher priced $589). The Galaxy Tab is also higher when compared to the Eee Pad Transformer, and it's also got the same Nvidia chipset and screen size.. IOW, it looks like the Asus has the best "bang for the buck" from what I can tell.

You can also get an optional keyboard/docking station for Eee Pad Transformer that turns it into a notebook (it closes just like one), hence the transformer name. It also extends battery life to 16 hours, and appears to sell for $149 at vendors that have it in stock. Scroll down on this page and you'll see more about it:

http://usa.asus.com/Eee/Eee_Pad/Eee_Pad_Transformer_TF101/#overview

So, I'd probably lean towards that model if I go that route (and a WiFi only model is fine, as I could connect to the net via my phone if I'm somewhere without WiFi around and need to get online)..

Is anyone here using a Tablet with Android on it yet, and if so, what do you think of it? Are you using Android 3.x on it?

Basically, I just use a little netbook for checking forum posts and e-mail when on the road; So, a Tablet running Android would probably do the trick for me. It looks like they're going to become more and more popular as time passes.

I sure wish the display on my new phone was 10.1" (the size of the display on some of the new Android Tablets coming out now). . LOL

Please remind me to try out phones before I order them, as the display size on the phones I just bought is way too small to easily use for some things (especially trying to use the tiny Android virtual keyboard for typing anything much).

But, I suspect a larger tablet with a 10.1" display would probably work OK.

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rm2
rm2
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Re: Any Android Tablet users?
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Jun 30, 2011

Android is great, but I like Meego even more. Here is one tablet I am going to be keeping my eye on:

http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/01/acer-unveils-meego-tablet-running-on-intel-atom-cpu/

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Jim Cockfield
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Nokia N9 runs it...
In reply to rm2, Jun 30, 2011

rm2 wrote:

Android is great, but I like Meego even more. Here is one tablet I am going to be keeping my eye on:

http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/01/acer-unveils-meego-tablet-running-on-intel-atom-cpu/

Yea, it looks neat.

I saw the press about the Nokia N9 recently,,where they'll have MeeGo installed on it for shipment later this year, and was impressed with the photos of it here;

http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/20/nokias-n9-official-a-plastic-slab-of-meego-coming-later-this-y/

But, given Nokia's partnership with Microsoft to manufacturer Windows based phones, I'm not so sure MeeGo is going to survive very long, as it looks like most other phone vendors are more interested in Android, and Nokia may end up caving in from pressure that Microsoft is likely to apply.

We'll have to wait and see how the mobile/tablet OS wars heat up this year.

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ptodd
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Re: Any Android Tablet users?
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Jun 30, 2011

Jim Cockfield wrote:

Please remind me to try out phones before I order them, as the display size on the phones I just bought is way too small to easily use for some things (especially trying to use the tiny Android virtual keyboard for typing anything much).

Have you tried Swype or similar? Recommend you give it a go...

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Boomanbb
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It kinda depends on what you really want to do
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Jun 30, 2011

Sure a tablet is good for cruising the forums and random emails, but what else do you want to do with it. I have been working with a Viewsonic G Tablet for a couple months. Got it because it was a cheap way to experiment with Android roms. Sure the screen is weak, but spec wise, it is comparable with other tablets. I have found it useful for checking email across multiple accounts, accessing my firm's LMS, and playing Stupid Zombies and Angry Birds Rio. If it had a better screen (Asus Transformer) I would really use it for a photo viewer. It's also handy for reading websites and pdfs. Honestly, that is all I would ever use it for. Right clicking and click and drag operations are annoying at best. Battery life is great. Constantly cleaning the screen is not great.

If I need to do anything more than that which is most of the time, I bring a laptop.

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PhilM oz
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Re: Any Android Tablet users?
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Jun 30, 2011

Was looking at the Asus Transformer for similar reasons, until I started reading about the problems being reported. The ones that worried me most are:

  • touch screen stops working after a few hours in sleep mode. In some cases a complete reinstall is needed to fix, others have had to replace the unit.

  • keyboard dock battery goes flat very quickly in standby mode, read reports of 30-70% drop overnight.

Phil.

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scrambler2
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Re: Any Android Tablet users?
In reply to PhilM oz, Jun 30, 2011

Not aware of specific transformer issues, but Battery issues are usually people leaving the Wifi and or Cell/3G radio On when out of range, resulting in the Tablet wasting energy to search and connect. Once you get use to putting the tablet in Airplane mode (all radios Off) when not using it battery life increases significantly.

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: It kinda depends on what you really want to do
In reply to Boomanbb, Jun 30, 2011

Thanks for your impression of it.

Yea... the screen that Viewsonic has isn't very good from what I can see of reviews like this one, even though the Nvidia Tegra 2 chipset it's using is the same as some of the newer tablets like the Motorola Xoom, Asus Eee Pad Transformer and Galaxy Tab. From what I can tell, it does ship with less memory installed though (512MB of DDR2, versus 1GB of DDR2 found in most of the other new 10" Tablets with that chipset).

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4054/first-look-viewsonic-gtablet-and-tegra-2-performance-preview/1

The 1280 x 800 IPS LED backlit capacitive touchscreen panels on the more expensive models appear to be much better from what I'm reading.

As for usability, are you just using Froyo on it, or did you install Honeycomb?

Is the virtual keyboard very usable on that screen size (as compared to a full size keyboard if you're a touch typist and normally type very fast)?

I guess I really need to try them out and see for myself.

I haven't tried Honeycomb on any device yet. But, based on my very limited experience using Android on a phone (i just got the phones 6 days ago), I can understand why it would be frustrating to use Froyo for very much.

I'd only want to use a device like a tablet for reading and responding to forum posts, e-mals and viewing news pages (typical browsing, not much else). Good support for Flash Player and entertainment sites would be nice to see, too.

But, I would want the virtual keyboard to be somewhat usable if possible (to prevent the need to bring a physical keyboard along with a device like the Eee Pad Transformer).

If i need to get much in the way of work done, I'll use a PC or a laptop. I just want something to use in place of my little Eee PC 900 16G (which I take with me in case I need to access forums that I'm an administrator for; or to pass time by reading through news sites, etc.).

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: Any Android Tablet users?
In reply to PhilM oz, Jun 30, 2011

Thanks.

As scrambler2 mentioned, it's probably wireless.

I have noticed that some programs will continue to run when my phone with Android (2.2 Froyo) appears to go to sleep.

For example, a program that lets me connect to my phone using an Ad-Hoc Wireless connection continues to drain the battery when the phone is sleeping. I suspect a number of other processes are still running, too.

i'll figure that kind of thing out if I go with a Tablet.
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GideonW
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Re: Any Android Tablet users?
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Jul 1, 2011

When I was in China I bought an iPad clone running Android (Herotab m10 / Gpad Gforce). It looks just like the first generation iPad and the hardware specs are quite similar too, but it runs Android 2.2.

I quite like using it for some webbrowsing on the couch or while travelling (it doesn't have 3G, I use WiFi tethering on my phone). The screen is great, it's an IPS panel. Battery life is good during use, but standby isn't that great since the firmware isn't very optimized and some phone-only processes such as the dialer are running in the background (still need to fiddle with that).

Of course, being a Chinese knockoff, it has its limitations. The build quality isn't as good as the A-brand devices and the firmware has some quirks that can be annoying from time to time. But considering the price of 160 euro for a 10" tablet with a capacitive IPS touchscreen, it's all good.

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richiebee
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Re: Any Android Tablet users?
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Jul 2, 2011

I have a Xoom. It was a laptop replacement for me, which I've only ever used for light processing. I think the Xoom has a generally higher build quality than some of the competition out there, but it has a couple of down sides. The screen is not an LED screen like found in most of the competition. I haven't put it side by side with any of the other Androids, but I have put it side by side with the iPad2, and the difference is noticeable. But, without comparing side by side, the Xoom screen is very good. When you go outside, both the Xoom and the iPad screens suck... Even on full brightness.

The other downside with the Xoom is the support, and fragmented approach to upgrading the device. The US got their 3.1 upgrade ages ago (could be months now), while he in Canada, and much of the rest of the world, we're still waiting. When wee do get it, we will have Android 3.1 with SD card slot support. The US have Android 3.1 without SD card slot support.

Having used the iPad2 a bit now, it clearly has a slicker operation. Slightly better touch sensitivity, better screen. And yet, I reach for the Xoom every time. I way prefer Android over iOS.

On screen keyboards on these ten inch devices is fine (I'm typing this on one and can do so pretty much at normal typing speed... And I have fat fingers!).

The ASUS can transform into a netbook, but if a real keyboard is what you need, they can all do Bluetooth. I've seen a Motorola case with a built in keyboard... It doesn't give you the full sized USB port or the added battery life that the ASUS does, but it does give you real keyboard functionality in a laptop style.

My Xoom has become invaluable for meetings where I can combine handwritten and typed notes with handwritten drawings and photographs taken using the built in camera, and graphics files on the device itself, into single documents. I can export as a PDF and have the whole thing in my email when I get back to my office.

It's been great for surfing, and I've even used the GPS... That takes some planning since maps have to be loaded before setting out, but it doesn't require wifi to work on my wifi only Xoom.

I'm not ready to give up my desktop computers, but I'm fine with a tablet in place of a laptop. And despite the issues with Motorola and that upgrade, the device is very functional and stable. I'm happy with my choice of the Xoom.

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: Any Android Tablet users?
In reply to richiebee, Jul 2, 2011

Thanks...

I didn't realize the display was different on the Xoom. The Asus Eee Pad Transformer has an LED Backlit IPS panel according to it's specs (and it's less expensive compared to the WiFi version of the Xoom).

I don't need anything more than the WiFi only version of a Tablet, since I'd just connect to my phone via wireless and use it to get to the Internet if I were using it somewhere that WiFi wasn't available. I've already got my phone setup so I can connect to it via WiFi or Blu-tooth and use it's internet connection if need be.

Since the Asus is less expensive (at least here in the U.S.) compared to the Xoom (not to mention it's got a better display from what I'm gathering from your comments about the Xoom), it's at the top of my short list if I decide to go with a Tablet.

As for keyboards, the one Asus has available looks neater, in that it attaches in a way that makes it easier to carry (as it can work just like a netbook, where the display folds down towards the keyboard); and also gives you extended battery life, since also has a battery built into it that adds another 8 hours over what you'd get with the one built in the Tablet (for up to 16 hours total when using the optional keyboard with it).

See the photos on this page:

http://usa.asus.com/Eee/Eee_Pad/Eee_Pad_Transformer_TF101/#overview

I also love the way some of the promos look (showing a keyboard attached to an iPad using duct tape) to highlight that it was designed to work with it's optional keyboard. LOL

See this page for one example:

http://promotions.newegg.com/ASUS/073111/index.html?cm_sp=TabStore_Tablets-_-ASUS/073111-_-http%3a%2f%2fpromotions.newegg.com%2fASUS%2f073111%2f696x288.jpg

I guess blu-tooth wold have the advantage of being wireless though (in case you wanted to keep the tablet further away and use the keyboard in your lap or closer to you).

The Asus should work with blu-tooth keyboards, too. But, I have read where it can be a bit of a problem finding keyboards compatible with Android (OS is really not designed to work wth most blu-tooth devices like keyboards yet, unless a tablet manufacturer adds specfic profiles for a given keyboard model).

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richiebee
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Re: Any Android Tablet users?
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Jul 2, 2011

Fwiw, the ASUS was top of my list, but I got fed up with waiting for it to become available - sold out everywhere, and seemingly no local re-sellers anyway would have meant buying unseen. I do think its a good product, and am sure that I would have been happy with it, despite the plastic body.

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gs85739az
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Re: Any Android Tablet users?
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Jul 6, 2011

Looking forward to reading what you end up with and why.

I'd of thought you'd of plunged for a fairly decent laptop for the $ mentioned...

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: Any Android Tablet users?
In reply to gs85739az, Jul 6, 2011

I'm no hurry, and I really don't have an urgent need for something like that, other than my little Eee PC 900 16G netbook is worn out (it's SSD failed and I'm using it by running Linux from an SDHC card right now ), and it's very underpowered for very much.

I recently got my wife and I new phones running Android, and that's probably the appeal for a Tablet to replace my worn out netbook.

The new phones are giving me something interesting to play with ("rooting" them, installing new software, etc.), and a Tablet with a larger IPS display would give me something better and more usable for browsing, responding to forum posts, e-mail, etc..

So, rather than replace the netbook with another one, I might get a Tablet instead.

Right this mninute, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer appears to have the best "bang for the buck". But, I'm digging through listings for "no name" tablets from Chinese Distributors, too. Unfortunately, most are deficient in one area or another (display resolution, display type, processor type, bluetooth support, i/o ports, etc.) and/or don't offer any real cost/performance benefit over something like that Asus.

New Tablets are coming out at a brisk pace now. So, the longer I wait, the more likely I'll get a better tablet for the same money (or spend less money for a tablet as good), and I'm trying to weigh pros and cons of as many devices as possible before making a decision.

I'll probably want to consider dual booting with the tablet I choose, too (as more and more Linux distros are coming out with support for ARM, with desktops geared towards touchscreen displays).

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Wayne Larmon
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Briefly. I just returned a Xoom
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Jul 13, 2011

Jim Cockfield wrote:

Is anyone here using a Tablet with Android on it yet, and if so, what do you think of it? Are you using Android 3.x on it?

I had a Motorola Zoom for several days, but just got back from returning it to the store. I'll summarize my reasons:

Pluses

  1. Well built, the screen was crisp and has lots of resolution. It has more resolution than my old Aspire netbook.

  2. Android is much opener than Apple's iPod/iPad/iPhone infrastructure. Even though there is an Android app store (called "Market"), you can install from anywhere. The file system is exposed and it mounts as a USB "Storage Device" under Windows and you can copy to some directories. You can open a shell prompt and run ( a very few) shell commands. It has a scripting environment--you can run languages like Perl and Python (but not from the normal shell.)

  3. Honeycomb is arguably better than iOS from the end user perspective, according to some reviews I've seen.

Minuses

  1. Way less apps. And way less apps that my wife wanted. No Netflix (doesn't run in the browser either.) No hula (ditto). No Facebook app (works in the browser though.) But you probably know this so I won't elaborate.

  2. Even though it is somewhat open, it is still maddeningly locked down. As I said above, there are only a very few commands that you can run. 'cp' for instance, isn't available. We get 'ls' and 'cat', but not 'more' or 'less' I'm not sure what the point was in opening it up a small bit. Yes, they can be jailbroken, but I don't want to do that. I am a casual developer and Android devices would be much more valuable to me if I had 'cp', and the like, and I could run standard Perl (like I can on Windows.).

  3. It is single tasking! They built a single tasking GUI on top of Linux! I felt like I was back running TRS-DOS.

  4. I never solved the problem of copying files around. Easily. Even through there are a bunch of file manager type apps in the Android app store, all the ones I tried are very clumsy. I tried Dropbox, but it isn't doesn't act like Drop on Android. It is only a file uploader and downloader, which is a lot clumsier than having a directory that auto-magically syncs to "Dropbox" directories on your other computers. The final straw was using a file manager that purported to zip files and uploading the zip file with Dropbox, but the zip file wasn't readable on Windows (either Winzip and 7Zip). I'm sure that the problem is solvable somehow, but I exhausted my patience.

  5. USB is semi-broken on Windows. I could connect with USB and see some of the file system, but parts remain hidden. Even withing directories I can see, some files remain invisible. It isn't clear why, because these files and directories are exposed on the Android itself--both the file managers and from a shell prompt. It doesn't seem to be a Linux permission issue. Apparently there is something going on above Linux. There is a USB "debug" mode, but after enabling that, Windows refused to connect at all. I even installed a Motorola device driver installer and that didn't help. Tried on an XP and a Win 7 machine. (This problem is widely reported on various web forums.)

  6. It still isn't clear that Android will be a success. Warts and all, I'd like it to be, but right now it isn't there. Because the device didnt solve either my wife's or my immediate needs, I didn't want to keep an expensive device in the hopes that Android will catch up "someday."

  7. The screen is clear and bright but the gamut is small. Even compared to my laptops with TN screens. I could display photos fine and they looked sharp. But none of them looked really impressive because of the very small color gamut. Also the image viewers I found were limited to a single level of directory tree. This would be way too unwieldy for my entire image collection.

  8. The web isn't really tablet compatible. This is why so many media companies are writing "apps" Because HTML based navigation is touch screen friendly--the links are too small in many cases. Also the "mobile" versions of sites are really horrible on a large screen, like the Xoom has. "Mobile" sites are optimized for cell phone sized screens, not tablet sized screens.

Jim, my situation isn't your situation. You could probably solve the file copying problem easily. (Rooting, for starters.) But I'm only a casual programmer and it looked like it would take a long detour into learning Android development to solve it myself.

I'm not giving up on tablets. I really hope that Android catches on and the problems I listed get resolved. But for now, I'm sticking with my desktop/ThinkPad/netbook/Kindle setup.

Wayne

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: Briefly. I just returned a Xoom
In reply to Wayne Larmon, Jul 13, 2011

Wayne Larmon wrote:

  1. Way less apps. And way less apps that my wife wanted. No Netflix (doesn't run in the browser either.) No hula (ditto). No Facebook app (works in the browser though.) But you probably know this so I won't elaborate

I don't even have a facebook account yet. But, my wife uses it often and I installed the latest version of the official Facebook app on her phone (running Android 2.2 Froyo). Are you sure it's not available for Honeycomb, too? It's in the Android Marketplace and is supposed to work on Android 1.6 or higher. See here:

https://market.android.com/details?id=com.facebook.katana

As for Netflex, I've read you can modify your build.prop file to make it look like a supported device. But, I don't know much about that yet. As for Hulu, the same thing might apply (I haven't researched yet).
.

  1. Even though it is somewhat open, it is still maddeningly locked down. As I said above, there are only a very few commands that you can run. 'cp' for instance, isn't available. We get 'ls' and 'cat', but not 'more' or 'less'

Install Busybox. It's in the Android Market:

https://market.android.com/details?id=stericson.busybox&hl=en

See it's command set here (not quite as full featured as you find in most mainstream distros, but most commands you need are there):

http://www.busybox.net/downloads/BusyBox.html

  1. It is single tasking! They built a single tasking GUI on top of Linux! I felt like I was back running TRS-DOS.

LOL

Actually, I thought Honeycomb had more ability in that area. I do notice that some apps continue to run in the background with my phone under Froyo (for example, a program I installed to allow ad-hoc wireless connections to my phone for internet browsing continues to run in the background). Yet most apps are just "frozen" to their last state (still in RAM. but not eating CPU cycles), where you can press and hold the home key and pull up a list of recently used apps and switch to the one you want.

Another thing I'm noticing is that more Linux distros are being targeted at ARM lately, with ports available from Debian, Fedora, Bodhi, Slackware and more. I'm also seeing available Linux desktops learning towards supporting touchscreens more as time passes.
.

... I tried Dropbox...

Hmmm... I haven't tried installing dropbox on my phone yet. For local file management , I installed a simple app designed to work OK with root permissions (provided you have su installed). This one:

http://market.android.com/details?id=com.estrongs.android.pop&hl=en

There are probably better file managers around. But, it was free and it's the only one I've tried. lol

You can also install busybox and get command line utilities (cp, etc.)

  1. USB is semi-broken on Windows. I could connect with USB and see some of the file system, but parts remain hidden. Even withing directories I can see, some files remain invisible. It isn't clear why, because these files and directories are exposed on the Android itself--both the file managers and from a shell prompt. It doesn't seem to be a Linux permission issue. Apparently there is something going on above Linux. There is a USB "debug" mode, but after enabling that, Windows refused to connect at all. I even installed a Motorola device driver installer and that didn't help. Tried on an XP and a Win 7 machine. (This problem is widely reported on various web forums.)

With my Samsung phone, I didn't need any extra dirivers to connect to it from Mepis 11 with debug mode enabled on the phone. But, Windows requires drivers to connect the same phone that way, and I suspect the same thing will be true for most tablets, too. Not a big deal though (at least with Samsung phones), as the drivers are available for download.

I've been using adb from linux for connecting to my phone and copying files to and from it. You'll see a section on how to do that on this page:

http://developer.android.com/guide/developing/tools/adb.html

There are some GUI front ends available for it, too (with nice file manager screens from what I can see of reviews). See this article about one of them. But, I haven't tried any of them yet:

http://www.addictivetips.com/mobile/qtadb-adb-android-debug-bridge-beginners-gui/

You'll need to have a rooted device with busybox installed to use it (and I've already done that with my phone).

  1. It still isn't clear that Android will be a success. Warts and all, I'd like it to be, but right now it isn't there. Because the device didnt solve either my wife's or my immediate needs, I didn't want to keep an expensive device in the hopes that Android will catch up "someday."

Yea... I came very close to ordering a new netbook, today (since Dell has a coupon for 50 bucks off of most netbooks and laptops at dell outlet that expires today). I'm still thinking about it (as they have some with 1366x768 pixel displays).

  1. The screen is clear and bright but the gamut is small. Even compared to my laptops with TN screens.

Yea, that's one thing I'm keeping in mind (as a number of the newer tablets have IPS panels)

  1. The web isn't really tablet compatible. This is why so many media companies are writing "apps" Because HTML based navigation is touch screen friendly--the links are too small in many cases. Also the "mobile" versions of sites are really horrible on a large screen, like the Xoom has. "Mobile" sites are optimized for cell phone sized screens, not tablet sized screens.

I'm seeing problems with some sites now using my phone running Android. Being able to "pinch and zoom" is useful in some cases. But, it's frustrating on some sites.

With a full size tablet, I wouldn't expect as many problems (and with some browsers, you can spoof the User Agent to look like a Windows machine to web sites so that you don't get the mobile version of the sites that have them for sites that don't look right).

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photogirl44
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Re: Any Android Tablet users?
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Jul 14, 2011

What about the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet. Any thoughts?

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Wayne Larmon
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Re: Briefly. I just returned a Xoom (1 of 2)
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Jul 14, 2011

(Happily writing from my netbook.)

Jim Cockfield wrote:

Wayne Larmon wrote:

  1. Way less apps. And way less apps that my wife wanted. No Netflix (doesn't run in the browser either.) No hula (ditto). No Facebook app (works in the browser though.) But you probably know this so I won't elaborate

I don't even have a facebook account yet. But, my wife uses it often and I installed the latest version of the official Facebook app on her phone (running Android 2.2 Froyo). Are you sure it's not available for Honeycomb, too? It's in the Android Marketplace and is supposed to work on Android 1.6 or higher. See here:

My wife has a Samsung Galaxy Tab temporarily with Froyo and Facebook installed on that. But it didn't show up in the Xoom "Market" so it must be a Honeycomb issue.

As for Netflex, I've read you can modify your build.prop file to make it look like a supported device. But, I don't know much about that yet. As for Hulu, the same thing might apply (I haven't researched yet).

What is that? I haven't found any "Android for power users" type docs (other that your reply here), and I didn't know about that.

  1. Even though it is somewhat open, it is still maddeningly locked down. As I said above, there are only a very few commands that you can run. 'cp' for instance, isn't available. We get 'ls' and 'cat', but not 'more' or 'less'

Install Busybox. It's in the Android Market:

https://market.android.com/details?id=stericson.busybox&hl=en

See it's command set here (not quite as full featured as you find in most mainstream distros, but most commands you need are there):

http://www.busybox.net/downloads/BusyBox.html

Ah, I didn't know that! Yes, just having 'cp' would have made life a lot better. Still not happy that Google consciously removed permissions to the commands that are already there. I would really like to hear the corporate rationale for doing this.

  1. It is single tasking! They built a single tasking GUI on top of Linux! I felt like I was back running TRS-DOS.

LOL

Actually, I thought Honeycomb had more ability in that area. I do notice that some apps continue to run in the background with my phone under Froyo (for example, a program I installed to allow ad-hoc wireless connections to my phone for internet browsing continues to run in the background). Yet most apps are just "frozen" to their last state (still in RAM. but not eating CPU cycles), where you can press and hold the home key and pull up a list of recently used apps and switch to the one you want.

Honeycomb is more like that. One file manager and the terminal emulator I downloaded from "Market" run in the background, but these are the only ones. It has a full gig of RAM! If my Netbook running Win XP can manage true multi-tasking in one gig, then why can't something that is built on Linux? Yeah, there are power management concerns, but how hard should it be to refine 'nice' some?

Another thing I'm noticing is that more Linux distros are being targeted at ARM lately, with ports available from Debian, Fedora, Bodhi, Slackware and more. I'm also seeing available Linux desktops learning towards supporting touchscreens more as time passes.

I sort of wish they hadn't dropped mouse/touch pad support when they added touchscreens. So long as we are still using the web. Selecting a single link from pages like DPReview's forum list with a fat fingertip is an exercise in frustration. A device the size of a Xoom has enough room for some kind of pointing device.

A Thinkpad style nubbin and two small buttons would do. Or a Bluetooth mouse should be doable. I know that the big content providers want to drive a stake in the heart of the free web and switch everybody to paid apps, but I wish that Google hadn't gone along so willingly.

(Continued in part 2)

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Wayne Larmon
Veteran MemberPosts: 9,116
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Re: Briefly. I just returned a Xoom (2 of 2)
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Jul 14, 2011

(Continued from part 1)

... I tried Dropbox...

Hmmm... I haven't tried installing dropbox on my phone yet. For local file management , I installed a simple app designed to work OK with root permissions (provided you have su installed). This one:

http://market.android.com/details?id=com.estrongs.android.pop&hl=en

SugarSync claims to offer true directory mirroring on Android
https://www.sugarsync.com/products/mobile/android.html

but their free service is more limited than Dropbox's (limited to 25 meg file sizes when sharing to non SugarSync users.)

There are probably better file managers around. But, it was free and it's the only one I've tried. lol

You can also install busybox and get command line utilities (cp, etc.)

  1. USB is semi-broken on Windows. ...

With my Samsung phone, I didn't need any extra dirivers to connect to it from Mepis 11 with debug mode enabled on the phone. But, Windows requires drivers to connect the same phone that way, and I suspect the same thing will be true for most tablets, too. Not a big deal though (at least with Samsung phones), as the drivers are available for download.

I downloaded the Motorola driver and it didn't work. Only non-debug mode works.

I've been using adb from linux for connecting to my phone and copying files to and from it. You'll see a section on how to do that on this page:

http://developer.android.com/guide/developing/tools/adb.html

There are some GUI front ends available for it, too (with nice file manager screens from what I can see of reviews). See this article about one of them. But, I haven't tried any of them yet:

http://www.addictivetips.com/mobile/qtadb-adb-android-debug-bridge-beginners-gui/

You'll need to have a rooted device with busybox installed to use it (and I've already done that with my phone).

I hate that you need to jailbreak devices to make them useful. For better or worse, at least Windows comes "rooted."

  1. It still isn't clear that Android will be a success. Warts and all, I'd like it to be, but right now it isn't there. Because the device didnt solve either my wife's or my immediate needs, I didn't want to keep an expensive device in the hopes that Android will catch up "someday."

Yea... I came very close to ordering a new netbook, today (since Dell has a coupon for 50 bucks off of most netbooks and laptops at dell outlet that expires today). I'm still thinking about it (as they have some with 1366x768 pixel displays).

That was the one thing I liked about the Xoom. My Aspire's 1024x600 display is a bit tight. (But I'm still happier running Firefox that hasn't had all the functionality stripped off.) I also noted that the Xoom + its Bluetooth keyboard was bigger and bulkier than my netbook. The Xoom alone is about the same overall volume/weight.

  1. The screen is clear and bright but the gamut is small. Even compared to my laptops with TN screens.

Yea, that's one thing I'm keeping in mind (as a number of the newer tablets have IPS panels)

Yep. Photographers should check screen quality closely. It probably would be a good idea to put up a gallery of known test photos somewhere and go to that when testing tablets (or other computers) in the store.

Jim, thanks for your advice. I should have asked here first. Even though I returned my Xoom (if my wife wasn't happy with it....), I'll probably get some kind of tablet in the future.

Wayne

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