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The search for the perfect tablet | Blog | ThoughtLab

The search for the perfect tablet:

by ThoughtLab January 28, 2010

I tend to think that I am a rather creative if not mildly eccentric person. I love to dabble in many different projects until I find the one that feels like a good fit then I execute and produce what feels right. Because of this multi project focus I find that my studio is littered with dozens of notebooks, design schematics, and all sorts of creative fodder. To compound my problems I have files, code, designs, specs, part lists and renders of many of the projects I have in the works sitting on my main computer in digital format. The disconnect between envisioning, designing and follow through often causes me headaches because I don’t have an easy system to organize my assets. My dream solution to this problem has been a tablet system that I can sketch, design, access external resources and consolidate my creative outlets into a single digital portable device. For the last 3-4 years I have been searching for the ultimate tablet to meet my desires.

Month ago I heard the rumor mill running over at about the apple tablet and I thought to myself finally this may be the solution I’ve been looking for! So I held off on any purchases and waited with bated breath to see what they’re offering would be. Finally the day came with announcements and videos and the web was abuzz with the possibilities.  Joining in the masses I read every report, watched every video I could find about how wonderful this solution was. The famous Apple lemming marketing machine was in overdrive! My excitement was peaked though cautious as I evaluated weather it would be a fit and by the specs it seemed like my long wait was over. But as time went by and reviews were provided by critical thinker’s verses general lemming followers I started to get the critical perspective I needed and value in my personal decision making process.

Finally armed with valid and more balanced information I started to weigh and compare my options as now is the time for me to commit to the grand experiment in refining my creative process. There are 3 devices I have been watching develop, reviewing and evaluating for some time that is my primary candidates that we will review and compare below. But first let’s review what I am looking for in my dream device.

Must have:
Ease of use
Readable Screen
Drawing / Sketching
Technical document reference
Quick note taking
Interfacing with Arduino, writing code
Wi-Fi network access G/N
Low price point
Design tool software
Organizational software

Would be nice:
Dedicated Tablet
Video playback
Audio recording
So let’s look at the options I have found to be the best general matches. Each has a strength and weakness and we have a list of many features of each option.


Cost: $499 to a whopping $829

9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)
Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip
H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second,
Wi-Fi model
Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology
Wi-Fi + 3G model
UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
Data only2
Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

A true dedicated tablet
based a well adopted product line
Big screen!
Optional 3G

Cost to offering compared to other options
No multi tasking
Non Upgradable
No Camera
Non user serviceable
Possible to run windows7 but unknown how it will perform.
Significant power user and philosophical use concerns (see links below)


Archos 9

Cost: $549.99

Intel ATOM Z510 1.1 GHz
8.9" touch screen
Windows® 7 Starter Edition
WiFi: PCI-E interface, 1 antenna, support IEEE 802.11b/g
Ethernet: 10/100 Mb/s Ethernet Controller (via port replicator)
Bluetooth 2.0 (EDR compliant)
Extremely light and thin, .67" and 29 ounces
HD Video: Watch video in 1080p (H264HP 1080p)
Internet: Experience the full internet on a 8.9" screen
Edit and create documents with the QWERTY virtual keyboard
Forward facing 1.3MP web cam for video conferencing
Battery Life: 5hr (WiFi Bluetooth off, mini backlight)
Package includes: power cord, power adapter, stylus, removable battery
Built-in leg stand (2 positions)
Web TV and radio player

A true dedicated tablet
Compact and well thought out features

Battery life
Cost to offering compared to other options
Non Upgradable
Non user serviceable
Windows 7 starter edition!

ASUS Eee PC T91�

Cost: $485.00

Display 8.9” LED-backlit / Resistive Touch Panel
Intel Atom Z520(1.33GHz)
1GB Memory
32GB SSD NetBook – Retail
+ 500GB Internet Storage
Ethernet Communication Onboard 10/100 Mbps Fast Ethernet controller
Memory 1GB (DDR2)
Wireless Data Network WLAN: 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth V2.1
Camera 0.3M Pixels
Audio Hi-definition audio CODEC
Stereo speakers
Digital Array Mic
Input / Output 1 x VGA port (D-sub 15-pin for external monitor)
2 x USB 2.0 ports
1 x LAN RJ-45
2 x audio jacks: Headphone / Mic-in
Card Reader: MMC/ SD(SDHC)
Battery 5 hrs*, 28.5Wh Slim and Eco-friendly Li-polymer Battery


Upgradable Ram
Full real keyboard
can be turned into a hackntosh

Not a true dedicated tablet
Battery life

So with all the options and pros and cons I feel rather gridlocked in my choice. Apple and there control, support, DRM and jail breaking punishments leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but if I can run windows 7 on the iPad and it performs well I prefer there offering with the 3G support, though I don’t want to be a guinea pig for that choice as well. By all means I am open to your thoughts and ideas to help me decide.

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