Tablets Are the New Netbook

Remember when the iPad was announced and people said “meh…”? And now, less than a year later, it’s a huge bread winner for Apple. Everyone else appears to be noticing as well, in the past few weeks more and more tablet rumors have popped up with the vast majority of big name players in the industry on board.

Don’t believe me? Let’s review…

  • The long rumored Notion Ink Adam has pricing, and is expected to launch between November 2010 and January 2011.
  • HP confirmed internally a webOS tablet, then confirmed publicly both a Windows and webOS based tablets for 2011.
  • Bloomberg reported recently that RIM is working on a poorly named tablet, dubbed “BlackPad”, which is supposedly going to launch in November.
  • ASUS was quick to announce the Eee Pad, but it likely won’t ship until March of 2011.
  • LG has confirmed their own tablets are in the works, including a Windows 7 based model and Optimus, an Android tablet. Promised ship date is Q4 2010.
  • Kmart is selling a cheapo Android tablet and even though it has terrible specs they seem to be selling like hotcakes, with Kmart barely able to keep them in stock.
  • Acer teased an Android tablet back in May, but apparently put it on hold until it can ship with Android 3.0 Gingerbread.
  • Toshiba just shipped, and promptly sold out of, a limited run of its dual-screen Libretto tablet.
  • Also from Toshiba is a rumored Android tablet, hitting the streets in September or October.
  • And of course Google and Verizon are supposedly prepping a Chrome OS tablet of their for launch next yet.

While I did go outside the scope of the past few weeks, you get the idea. I’m also probably leaving out a ton of other tablets, like the failed JooJoo tablet for example.

This whole jumping on the tablet bandwagon seems to me to closely resemble when ASUS first launched the Eee PC and the netbook revolution took off, people were a little skeptical at first and then realized it was a great idea. Now I’m not saying tablets will kill off netbooks, but they seem to be the flavor of the month for the foreseeable future. And reportedly the iPad by itself has caused a decline in netbook sales for ASUS.

Bottom line, I love the iPad, but I really am excited to see cheaper (and hopefully better) tablet solutions from companies besides Apple.

Good Cheap Laptop

I just picked up an Acer Extensa EX5620-4025 laptop for $399.99 over at Newegg, regularly $499.99 (on-sale currently for $449.99, but with a promo code it gets it down to $399.99).

It really is a fantastic deal considering the specs:
Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
CPU: Intel Pentium dual-core T2370(1.73GHz)
Screen: 15.4″ WXGA
Hard Disk: 120GB
Optical Drive: DVD Super Multi
Graphics Card: Intel GMA X3100

And for an extra $30 I ordered another GB of RAM for it. I’ve purchased a few of these in the past for clients and they’ve gotten great reviews. Even in the stock configuration I was impressed at the speed it runs Windows Vista (nothing amazing mind you, but still not bad).

Acer also provides XP drivers for the Extensa series of laptops, which is a nice bonus.

The promo code for the extra $50 off is: EMCAGBKAH but it only works if you’re subscribed to Newegg’s newsletter.

Vista Vs. XP

I’ve often wondered just how bad Vista really is on system performance, so recently when I purchased a couple of Acer laptops I decided to install XP on one and leave Vista on the other for a few tests. Basically I’m just running Geekbench and a battery life test, nothing crazy.

For the battery test, I merely pointed the browser to a URL set to auto refresh every 30 seconds and disabled all power saving features.

Both computers are the follwing:
Acer Aspire 4715Z
Processor: 1.73GHz Pentium Dual Core

[ Vista ]
First, I ran Geekbench. The system scored a moderate 1911, but of course the system shipped with a bunch of bloatware, so in the interest of fairness I removed all the pre-installed software and ran Geekbench again, it then scored 1922.

The battery life gave out after 1 hour and 45 minutes of doing nothing but browsing the internet, that’s pretty sad.
[ XP ]
Running Geekbench on XP with no drivers installed, resulted in a score of 1939, only slightly higher than the Vista machine.

After installing all the drivers and re-running Geekbench I ended up with a much more statisfying score of 2168. Not as large of a difference as I expected, but still a noticeable improvement.

The battery life saw a huge jump though, ending with 3 hours and 14 minutes while browsing the internet.

Looking For XP Drivers For Your Acer?

Let’s say you just picked up that sweet Acer Aspire AS4715-4053 notebook for $499.99 at Newegg, but it’s not living up to your expectations due to Windows Vista. Good news! It’s a little known fact that Acer still provides XP compatible drivers for most of their machines, not all but most. So if you happen to be looking for Acer drivers, try their European support site.

I checked and they do offer XP drivers for the Aspire AS47150-4953.

[ Drivers and Utilities (Acer EU) ]