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October 23, 2012 5:31 PM   Subscribe

Today saw Apple has enter the competitive 7" tablet market with the iPad Mini. But what if your tablety desires run to something larger, not smaller? Sony has you covered with a 20-inch, 11-pound "tabletop PC".
posted by Artw (265 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also, a mere six months after introducing the retina iPad (and dropping the numbering scheme; it's just "the new iPad", not "iPad 3"), they speed-bumped the CPU and switched to the new "lightning" connector.

I knew I bought too soon.
posted by Potsy at 5:33 PM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I called this when the iPad first came out. I said then, "they'll come out with a size partway between an iPod and an iPad."

When does my money come? Can I sue for patent infringement? I registered my idea in my mind.
posted by jb at 5:38 PM on October 23, 2012


That VAIO would be perfect for Pong.
posted by brundlefly at 5:39 PM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am unimpressed by both Apple and Sony at this point.
posted by wierdo at 5:43 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, why is everyone calling Apple's 8" tablet a 7" tablet?
posted by wierdo at 5:43 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Impartial observer Gizmodo reports "The iPad Mini Seems Crazy Expensive"
posted by Egg Shen at 5:44 PM on October 23, 2012


Christ, do even flat-screen TVs that big weigh 11 pounds?
posted by Rykey at 5:45 PM on October 23, 2012


Is Sony really gunning to become the Onion of electronics companies?
posted by RogerB at 5:46 PM on October 23, 2012 [23 favorites]


$329 is crazy expensive.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:47 PM on October 23, 2012


Looking at that monstrous Sony, Windows device...yikes!

I was listening to the TWIT podcast and they were discussing the Windows RT and Windows 8. Consumers will be confused, most likely.

"There's only one problem: Microsoft's Surface RT doesn't actually run Windows 8."

posted by zerobyproxy at 5:49 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like how when they first introduced the iPad Mini they said "This isn't just a scaled down iPad." and then they pretty much described a scaled down iPad.

It's neat, and if I were going to get an iPad I'd probably buy it, but at $330 it's a bit pricy. I bet they drop the price in a few months the way they did with the iPhone.

The new iMacs sure are pretty.
posted by bondcliff at 5:49 PM on October 23, 2012


One day soon there will be a different tablet that's the exact right size to fit in each different pocket and handbag that you own
posted by dng at 5:49 PM on October 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


But what if your tablety desires run to something larger, not smaller?

Well, sure, if you're some kind of sissy.

I've actually gotten to use the Pixelsense a bit, and it's pretty amazing, but there's almost no native software for it yet, and Microsoft seems to be hoping that users will tell them what the hell it's actually good for.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:49 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it be the Gillette of electronics companies?

The Mini is going to be the test of how much of an Apple premium people are willing to pay. Once Google drops the 16GB Nexus 7 to $200 next week, the entry-level Mini is going to cost more than 150% of every big competitor's comparable model. I've already got an N7 and I'm not looking to jump ecosystems, but I'm still curious about how well the thing actually handles - my gut reaction is that something that much wider than the other mini-tablets, even if it's just as light, is going to be really awkward to hold one-handed or carry around on a daily basis like I do with mine.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:50 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Did they fix any of the software issues? Safari crashing every 10 minutes. The fact that web pages can launch an app, causing safari to close and open an app you may not even want to open. Worse than that, when you go back to safari it just closes again automatically. I use my iPad about 5 hours a day and it is getting less magical every day as I fight with the crappy software.

That tabletop computer is like a rich person's kitchen gizmo. Look up recipes, use Skype, watch Netflix. I guess I could see it being used where large touch systems are used now, like POS applications.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:50 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've actually gotten to use the Pixelsense a bit, and it's pretty amazing, but there's almost no native software for it yet, and Microsoft seems to be hoping that users will tell them what the hell it's actually good for.

Museums!
posted by Artw at 5:50 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Impartial observer Gizmodo reports "The iPad Mini Seems Crazy Expensive"

I don't know where this myth of the A5 being slower than Tegra 3 came about but the iPad 2 was cleaning Tegra 3's clock back in the day.
posted by Talez at 5:53 PM on October 23, 2012


Im still on a 3GS with an upgrade credit to my name. After the Apple maps debacle (I really use maps all the time living in a still new-ish to me city basically without a car), I was waiting for today with the pseudo-intention of getting the galaxy S3 and an ipad mini. Now I may be leaning towards a iphone 5 and nexus 7, which would save me a data plan. A 7.9in retina display probably would've sold me, but I dont want to pay a price premium for a 2 year old display and generation behind processor.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:53 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Mini is going to be the test of how much of an Apple premium people are willing to pay.

The thing is, there hasn't been an "Apple premium" for years and years. The iPad and Air were not only breakthrough products in the tablet and ultrabook markets, respectively; they were also, for a long time, the cheapest products in those markets.

This pricing is out-of-step with Apple's recent pricing approach.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:56 PM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't know where this myth of the A5 being slower than Tegra 3 came about but the iPad 2 was cleaning Tegra 3's clock back in the day.

Specs, mainly. A5 is 1GHz dual-core, Tegra 3 is 1.3-1.4 GHz (depending on settings) quad-core.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:59 PM on October 23, 2012


I'm actually shopping around for a new tablet & to be quite frank, sub-$200 has quite a few contenders not even mentioning the second-hand market..
and since i'm looking for something portable with a keyboard dock, it's a draw between the transformer and the transformer slider
posted by xcasex at 6:02 PM on October 23, 2012


Can someone explain why the Nexus 7 on eBay are selling for more than the price you can buy them directly from Google? For resale overseas to locations they're not officially for sale?
posted by thewalrus at 6:06 PM on October 23, 2012


Still want the regular iPad. This alterna-sizing deal just smacks of business school and not of tech innovation.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:09 PM on October 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


The price on the iPad Mini is a little high to avoid a clash with the iPod Touch ($299). Once refurbs hit the store ($279-$299?) it's a tougher choice between this and rival tablets.

I'm stoked on my iPad 2/16GB/wifi I got on the refurb store this spring for around $370 after tax, no need for anything faster/smaller/more pixels.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:09 PM on October 23, 2012


The new iMacs sure are pretty.

Possibly because of all the Win8 AiO announcements that have been rolling by for a second or so I was expecting it to be touchscreen.
posted by Artw at 6:09 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The new iMacs sure are pretty.

Oof, and even less user-servicable. I wish I didn't like OSX so much.
posted by curious nu at 6:10 PM on October 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Once Google drops the 16GB Nexus 7 to $200 next week, the entry-level Mini is going to cost more than 150% of every big competitor's comparable model.

For apple fans, the nexus and kindle might as well not exist. And they really aren't comparible. I like the form factor of my gf's kindle fire, but I just don't like android, and I wouldn't trade my iPad for it at pretty much any price.

The iPad mini isn't an entry level iPad. It's a smaller iPad that's more convenient as an ebook reader. The iPod touch is the entry level ios device.
posted by empath at 6:10 PM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Nexus 7 is an amazing device and the comparison they made to it were laughable. The browser comparison on the Guggenheim site was hilarious. First, the top "chrome" (interface element) within Chrome (the browser) slides out of the way if you scroll at all. Second, the Nexus 7 has a higher resolution and is MORE pixel-dense. It's like being excited to have a 10" display with a 640 x 480 resolution. It's. Not. Better.

The Nexus 7 is at the perfect no-brainer price. It's literally where you just say "man, even if I don't use it as much as I expect, that's okay." The 32 GB iPad mini is about to become $180 MORE expensive than the launching-next-week 32 GB Nexus 7. That's insane. It's $80 more than the current 16GB, but is about to become $130 more. That's a lot of apps, games, accessories, meals, etc. for an inferior screen, a device that's a half inch taller, and not a lot else.

The mini's prices for cellular connectivity launch it into the stratosphere, and I'm interested to see if the rumored N7 cellular option is anything near as horrible a markup.

Overall, it'll still sell like hotcakes, but that comparison song and dance show was a farce. You don't normally see Apple parrot a direct comparison to an active-on-the-market competitive device in a segment they're entering, and I think it was their attempt to "the best defense is a good offense" their way out of a mediocre, overpriced offering. It doesn't help that it was a silly comparison that fell flat. Oy.

Buy a Nexus 7. You'll be thrilled you did.
posted by disillusioned at 6:12 PM on October 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Museums!

Yes indeed! That's where I am (roughly) and I definitely think it would make a perfect adjunct to our exhibitions, giving people a chance to see a closer view of the things that are on exhibition, or lots of related things we don't have room to show.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:12 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the article on the Sony device: "Windows 8 is the only OS that supports both a tablet form factor and supports multiple user accounts."

Devices like this are what the Unity UI for Ubuntu was made for. Linux in general has been touch screen compatible with multiple logins for almost as long as touch screens have been commodity items.
posted by idiopath at 6:12 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]




I'd like to get hands on with one before I pass judgement. We're a Mac household, but I bought the Nexus 7 last month and love it. Don't feel a tinge of buyers remorse after today's announcement.
posted by arcticseal at 6:21 PM on October 23, 2012


I miss when computer companies made products you could compute with.
posted by DU at 6:23 PM on October 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Having got used to the retina screen, I don't think I could go for the Mini.

The big Sony tablet could be very popular for controlling audio/music production systems.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:23 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing about the Fire and Nexus 7 is that they're being sold as loss leaders. Apple's biggest success has been in capturing the highest profit margin market segments. I don't think Apple cares if they don't sell the most 7-8" tablets, they just want to sell the most profitable 7-8" tablets.

As per usual, buying the first generation of an Apple product is likely to be unsatisfying in the long run. I'd imagine Apple will introduce a retina mini in the next 18 months and bump the original mini's price down to something closer to the $200 market that Google and Amazon are targeting.
posted by polyhedron at 6:25 PM on October 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I miss when computer companies made products you could compute with.

For instance, Apple's refreshed laptop and desktop lines they also debuted today? Or Microsoft's line of tablet/laptop hybrids that will run the full-featured Windows OS?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:25 PM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can someone explain why the Nexus 7 on eBay are selling for more than the price you can buy them directly from Google? For resale overseas to locations they're not officially for sale?

I think that happened with iPhones, too
posted by thelonius at 6:26 PM on October 23, 2012


I miss when computer companies made products you could compute with.

I guess you missed that apple updated the Mac mini, iMac and MacBook Pro today, also.
posted by empath at 6:27 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


(The other thing about today's reveals I don't get: the iMac. Great job cutting out 8 pounds(!!!) of weight, but is a hyper-slim desktop really a thing? One worth flipping off everybody who uses DVDs, no less?)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:28 PM on October 23, 2012


Apple, I think, won't be happy until the computer is a flat thin pane of glass (or hell, just some kind of semi-physical vaporous entity), so I wouldn't expect them to keep any kind of disk drive or port or cable indefinitely, and they're always going to drop that stuff before the competition.
posted by empath at 6:37 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


polyhedron: "The thing about the Fire and Nexus 7 is that they're being sold as loss leaders."

Pretty sad that those "loss leaders" have a higher resolution screen and more memory, huh? Not that being behind the spec curve hurt Apple in the first three iterations of the iPhone.
posted by wierdo at 6:37 PM on October 23, 2012


iPhone 4S: GRAR, Apple made me wait a year for an incremental update

iPad 4gen: GRAR, Apple released an incremental update after only 6 months
posted by brain_drain at 6:39 PM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm glad I bought the last iMac then. I like having the DVD drive.
posted by aclevername at 6:39 PM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]




Pretty sad that those "loss leaders" have a higher resolution screen and more memory, huh?

A loss leader means that they are making a small or no profit on whatever they are selling, with the intention if making it up on volume or after market products (movies or videogames or whatever). The quality of the product has nothing to do with it.

The Xbox and Playstations were loss leaders, and their hardware blew away equivalently priced pcs until very recently. It's just a different business model. Apple doesn't need to do that to get people to buy their stuff.
posted by empath at 6:45 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


homunculus writes "Here’s the obscure “Welding Institute” that invented the “friction stir welding” behind the new iMac"

Wow! that site had four vertical scroll bars on the right hand side (plus one in the middle left); never saw that before.
posted by Mitheral at 6:46 PM on October 23, 2012


As per usual, buying the first generation of an Apple product is likely to be unsatisfying in the long run. I'd imagine Apple will introduce a retina mini in the next 18 months and bump the original mini's price down to something closer to the $200 market that Google and Amazon are targeting.

18 months? And what do you think all the other tablet makers are going to be doing in that time? Sitting on their hands?
posted by aspo at 6:49 PM on October 23, 2012


I have an 1st generation iPad and I really enjoy it though I find it too sluggish for certain applications already and things as fundamental as web browsing could definitely be better. This iPad mini doesn't seem up to snuff. In terms of the machine for your money the Nexus seems far superior. That doesn't totally matter to me. The iOS app ecosystem is sufficiently superior to the android ecosystem for the types of programs I'm interested in that I have little interest in switching. I'm sure there will be a better iteration of this in the future and possibly in the nearish future. That this has a processor that's inferior to the ipod touch suggests that this is a stopgap device. I expect the price to fall and functionality to rise and I think this is the wrong stop to get on this train.
posted by I Foody at 6:49 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I think it would be fun to register with the name CmdrTaco just for Apple announcement threads.
posted by sourwookie at 6:52 PM on October 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Mrs. Machine has an iPad 2, and I recently got a nexus. I prefer the nexus in every way, honestly, and I'm finding myself surprisingly tied to the little bastard. They hit me right in the price point.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:52 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I miss when computer companies made products you could compute with.

But, see, this is not 1974. Most people don't care about computing. We just want to do shit and have it be easy and look pretty. We're not plotting trajectories for artillery here, we're watching Breaking Bad and reading Metafilter. Also, porn.

I realize there are always going to be purists out there, that's fine, but you are not the target market for these products. You may sit amongst your Linux boxes and quietly snicker at how foolish we are while you recompile your kernel or figure out how to mow your lawn with a Kron job, but we're perfectly happy watching our shitty Hollywood blockbuster on our shiny aluminum thing that does exactly what we want it to do even though we've never once needed to read a man page telling us how to use it.

I don't want to "compute" any more than I want to go back to adjusting rabbit ears on my TV or gapping my spark plugs. The days of computers being a thing some guy in the basement took pride in knowing how to use are over. I used to be that guy but I got over it. Now I just want something that works perfectly when I remove it from my pocket and use it on the train. Yes, that's right, thanks to computer companies moving on from Univac I can now pull a goddamn amazing computer our of my goddamn pocket while I'm riding the goddamn train.

You may continue mocking us for that, if it makes you feel better.
posted by bondcliff at 6:54 PM on October 23, 2012 [61 favorites]


In my head I keep calling it a minipad. As if I were still eleven.

In all seriousness, what do these items do that my android phone won't do? I mean, an Ipad looks attractive to me only because the screen is bigger. Besides, I can play youtube on my Android.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:54 PM on October 23, 2012


18 months? And what do you think all the other tablet makers are going to be doing in that time?

FOURTY INCHES!!!
posted by Artw at 6:55 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I shall call this a "pantiliner"

And I'm an Apple fangirl, too.
posted by padraigin at 6:55 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


empath: "A loss leader means that they are making a small or no profit on whatever they are selling, with the intention if making it up on volume or after market products (movies or videogames or whatever). The quality of the product has nothing to do with it. "

I realize that. The point, however, was that if Google can contract ASUS to sell a tablet for $199 and not be losing money on it (so they claim), Apple can sure as shit match the specs for $129 more. God forbid their margin be down to 50%.
posted by wierdo at 6:55 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


iPhone 4S: GRAR, Apple made me wait a year for an incremental update

iPad 4gen: GRAR, Apple released an incremental update after only 6 months


Conclusion: Touting incremental updates as the Next Big Thing is irritating.
posted by kafziel at 6:56 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Amazon has been pretty clear with the Kindle: it is a tool that sells their stuff. They will take the loss on the device and make a fortune on everything else that they sell to people who have the device. So, a true loss leader.
posted by zerobyproxy at 6:57 PM on October 23, 2012


Possibly because of all the Win8 AiO announcements that have been rolling by for a second or so I was expecting it to be touchscreen.

Oh god please no no no. DO NOT WANT. I can ignore tablets, which seem like they combine all the downsides of a phone with all the downsides of a laptop, but if some bright spark decides to start a trend toward making ordinary computers use touchscreens, I'll be putting up with greasy, smeary, smudgy screens and sore shoulders from now til whenever, and that will suck.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:58 PM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, tablets and PCs meet different needs. I do my real work on a machine that's got two 24" monitors and 16 gigs of RAM. If you need to "compute," you need to buy one of those. A tablet is perfect, however, for taking notes in a meeting using a bluetooth keyboard: the battery lasts a long time, the combo is light, and I don't take up too much real estate on the table. It's also fantastic for reading, at least short things (I still stand by my dislike of reading books on "light-positive" screens).
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:59 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


In all seriousness, what do these items do that my android phone won't do?

Be larger. Worse for on-the-go, but there are some uses where there's no substitute for a big screen.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:59 PM on October 23, 2012




disillusioned: "Buy a Nexus 7. You'll be thrilled you did."

The thing that stopped me from buying a Nexus 7 instead of an Android phone almost too big to fit in my pocket was the lack of any non-WiFi connectivity. Am I missing something?
posted by mkb at 7:01 PM on October 23, 2012


Also on pricing, the Surface now has a price. Bit steeper than I was hoping for, TBH, though I'll still be interested in checking it out.
posted by Artw at 7:01 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing that stopped me from buying a Nexus 7 instead of an Android phone almost too big to fit in my pocket was the lack of any non-WiFi connectivity. Am I missing something?

Yeah, it only has WiFi. But for me, that's not at all an issue. I appreciate that it may to some people.

On October 28th, Google is holding a press event, and a 3G-enabled Nexus 7 is on the top of the list.
posted by kbanas at 7:03 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I don't regret going Android instead of iOS even as a Mac person. Just. For. Swype.
posted by mkb at 7:03 PM on October 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think instead of calling it the iPad Mini, it should have been named the iPad. Same name, smaller font. And when you say it out loud, you use a soft, hushed voice, almost a whisper -- "SO AWESOME, MY GRANDMA GAVE ME AN iPad WITH 50 SHADES PRELOADED." "Huh, I thought you already had an iPad?" "YES I HAVE AN IPAD, BUT I DIDN'T HAVE AN iPad, ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME."
posted by brain_drain at 7:05 PM on October 23, 2012 [31 favorites]


Oh, and I don't regret going Android instead of iOS even as a Mac person. Just. For. Swype.


I agree completely! Swype is terrific. I was like, "That will never work!" And it works so well.
posted by kbanas at 7:05 PM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just blogged about this, so I won't kill anyone with a verbose word-dump here, but IMO this event was a major shift for Apple. The war of devices is pretty much over: it's about ecosystems, now, and Apple's event was all about the cradle-to-grave Apple experience. Over the course of a month or so, we've watched major announcements or bumps for the iPhone, iPod, iPad Mini, Retina iPad, MacBook Air, Retina MacBook, Mac Mini, and iMac. When they talk about software they talk about iCloud and the iTunes Store and working across devices.

Microsoft is better positioned everywhere-but-mobile, Android has a good thing going there but doesn't have the kind of full-ecosystem integration with the desktop, and Amazon is killing the I-Just-Want-To-Read market but hasn't broken into the rest of the home.

We're looking at the real battle lines, now. I think that despite the attention the Surface and the iPad Mini will get this week, the quiet release of IE on the XBox may be a better indication of how things are going to shape up. I'm watching, very curiously.
posted by verb at 7:10 PM on October 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


We're looking at the real battle lines, now. I think that despite the attention the Surface and the iPad Mini will get this week, the quiet release of IE on the XBox may be a better indication of how things are going to shape up. I'm watching, very curiously.


I think this smartglass video is the most terrifying vision of the future I've yet seen.
posted by dng at 7:12 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


kbanas: "Yeah, it only has WiFi."

And Bluetooth, which with a phone that also has Bluetooth means it gets on the Internet anywhere in about two taps.
posted by wierdo at 7:12 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Sony device may only be tablet-sized in the biblical sense, but I can see plenty of potential uses for a sturdy 2-person interactive surface, for instance in the educational sector. Whether Sony is smart enough to realize this is a different question of course.
posted by carter at 7:16 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Verb - Microsoft pretty much laid out just that Strategy here.
posted by Artw at 7:16 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


And Bluetooth, which with a phone that also has Bluetooth means it gets on the Internet anywhere in about two taps.

Yes! And also, from my phone I can turn on a mobile hotspot feature and get on that way with WiFi. But, sometimes, that means an extra monthly cost.

Of course, the 3G for the tablet would cost, too. So whatever.
posted by kbanas at 7:17 PM on October 23, 2012


I just want to know -- if I'm used to a 17" laptop, can I switch to a 13" MBP with a retina display or is the small screen going to drive me crazy? I'd love something lighter.
posted by escabeche at 7:19 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


We just want to do shit and have it be easy and look pretty. We're not plotting trajectories for artillery here

You sir do not understand how I poop! I need all three!
posted by srboisvert at 7:20 PM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]




Speaking of Microsoft's strategy, when the hell did Surface switch to having the keyboard/cover sold separately? That was supposed to be its big feature!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:24 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think that's so you can mix and match, but yeah.
posted by Artw at 7:25 PM on October 23, 2012


Which would you get more out of a $200 Google screen or $200 worth of books?

The only thing which is appealing about the different screens is the amount of stolen content on the internet. I can have an entire scientific library on my *brand screen (even with 8gb)... not in the fucking cloud thank you. But if I want to buy something which I can't steal, I have to pay library prices for a "license" to view a google books scan or ibooks, fucking ibooks.

The story of tablets is the story of how apple and google manage to totally fuck up the pricing for content.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:32 PM on October 23, 2012


My P6800 still beats the Mini in key areas and remains top 7", bitches.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:40 PM on October 23, 2012


The iPad mini looks like cheap plasticky shit. Like a knockoff Kindle fucked a universal remote.

Ugliest Apple product ever.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:45 PM on October 23, 2012


I just want to know -- if I'm used to a 17" laptop, can I switch to a 13" MBP with a retina display or is the small screen going to drive me crazy? I'd love something lighter.

I don't know if it will drive you crazy, but you can't expect it to seem like all of a sudden it acts like a screen twice as big. I have the 15" retina MacBook, and it's a very nice 15" screen, not a very small 30" screen. There is vastly more space on my non-retina 27" Thunderbolt Display than there is on the 15" MacBook, it's just not quite as sharp.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 7:48 PM on October 23, 2012


The iPad mini looks like cheap plasticky shit. Like a knockoff Kindle fucked a universal remote.

Ugliest Apple product ever.


Maybe, but Apple still dominates when it comes to construction quality. My Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7, both of which I love, feel very cheap and plastic-y. I can actually feel their casings flex.
posted by jessssse at 7:50 PM on October 23, 2012


The only thing that makes me sad about my Nexus 7 is the seeming dearth of apps - it's getting better, but I wish there were more, and while I was curious about the iPad mini (I wouldn't mind something larger than 7" and I'm sad to see rumors of Google releasing a 10" so shortly after I was the stupid early adopter), seeing the low resolution of the mini and the fact it's still 30 bucks more for a Nexus 7 I think I made the right choice on that front.

As for the Sony beast... Back when the Wii was known as "The Revolution" and we were all curious - one of the things I had dreamed it might be was a tabletop touch screen system. It would be family friendly, bring people together face to face (not face to screen) and bring new ideas to how to game. When I saw the iPad, I thought this might be close, but it was too small -- and of course Microsoft's huge Surface Table (the original table, not the surface tablet dealio they have now) that was what I envisioned, but maybe not so large. And while I think Sony is wrong in their approach, I think this might be interesting. At the same time -- how many goddamned glowing rectangles do we need?
posted by symbioid at 7:50 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


how many goddamned glowing rectangles do we need?

ALL OF THEM
posted by Sys Rq at 7:52 PM on October 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Anandtech surface review

Made out of injection molded Magnesium.Looks pretty nice. This is a far cry from the crappy windows tablets we saw in the late 90s. Looks thicker than an iPad, but that is probably because the edges are beveled instead of tapered. Makes it look more functional and less designy than the iPad to my eye. Looks rugged.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:52 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing is, there hasn't been an "Apple premium" for years and years.

False. Properly, you should say there hasn't been an Apple premium in mobile. In computers the old habit of charging too much for underpowered hardware remains in force. It does seem overpriced compared with the Kindle Fire and (especially) the Nexus 7, though.

The thing that stopped me from buying a Nexus 7 instead of an Android phone almost too big to fit in my pocket was the lack of any non-WiFi connectivity. Am I missing something?

I'm an outlier case in that I subbornly refuse to tie myself to some cell phone carrier's contract even if I had the money to pay for it, but I've loved the Nexus 7. (Paid for with the money from the best post contest back in August -- it's a good thing mathowie gave me that option, because if I had gotten an iPad 3 I'd be cursing the heavens right now.) But then, I keep track of places in town that offer free Wi-Fi, which are surprisingly many now, even in a backwater like Brunswick, GA. Coupled with Google Voice and you can basically use it as a phone, so long as a Wi-Fi connection is available.

Responding to the case comment above, it seems study enough to me. Not as solid as an iPad perhaps, but it doesn't seem flexy to me.
posted by JHarris at 7:55 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


All the Surface reviews so far have boiled down to "admirable hardware, as long as you don't mind having no programs to run on it." So the Pro ought to be a pretty solid buy, if it's priced decently.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:55 PM on October 23, 2012


Friction stir welding? Ok, now Apple's just making stuff up!
posted by mazola at 7:55 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Responding to the case comment above, it seems study enough to me. Not as solid as an iPad perhaps, but it doesn't seem flexy to me.

Flex might not be the right word. But if I'm holding it just so, on the lower right side I can feel some movement between the plastic on the back and the frame. Anyway, despite that, I love it. I'm a little sad they're already upping the amount of storage for the same price, but I'll live.
posted by jessssse at 8:06 PM on October 23, 2012


JHarris: "Responding to the case comment above, it seems study enough to me. Not as solid as an iPad perhaps, but it doesn't seem flexy to me."

My Nexus 7 has some flex, but that's because it's one of the ones with a loose screw. My Galaxy Nexus, on the other hand, is as solid as my Nokia E71, which is what every phone including the iDevices wish they could feel like.
posted by wierdo at 8:07 PM on October 23, 2012


mkb: "Just. For. Swype."

This is true. Swype is incredibly infuriating when you first try to use it, but after a short training period it becomes second nature, your ability to type quickly and meaningfully on glass advances by leaps and bounds, and you get to glance over, condescendingly, at iOS people plaintively, slowly, desperately plucking away o-n-e-k-e-y-a-t-a-t-i-m-e to enter text. It just looks sad, so much effort. Without Swype or similar, typing on glass basically eliminates glass keyboard devices as useful input devices and creates pain. With it, you have almost, but not completely, regained the utility of many laptop keyboards.

I wonder if there will be a Swype option for the Surface keyboard? That could be amazing.

And this Mini? Yeah, seems like a return to early 90s Apple pricing strategy for mediocre mid-range kit.
posted by meehawl at 8:10 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a far cry from the crappy windows tablets we saw in the late 90s.

The first Windows Tablet PCs didn't come out until 2002. However they were indeed crappy. The PC makers really dropped the ball in so many ways. Sony was making interesting and stylish designs around that time and made some amazing UMPCs a few years later. Even Dell was making some laptops that were ahead of the curve for size and dropping optical drives (really rebranded Samsungs: the X300 and X1). But since that brief glimmer of promise after the beige-box era everything has turned bland and Apple ate their lunches. That Sony linked above is such a joke compared to where they could be right now.
posted by stopgap at 8:16 PM on October 23, 2012


Buy a Nexus 7. You'll be thrilled you did.

I got a galaxy tab2 7" for 150 from woot.

I'm pretty pleased with it, especially at that price. Now I have a 7 inch GPS that compares with any 500 dollar model from Garmin and I can use all the android apps, too.

I guess the new iPad is nice and all, but at that price... Nah.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:17 PM on October 23, 2012


you get to glance over, condescendingly, at iOS people plaintively, slowly, desperately plucking away o-n-e-k-e-y-a-t-a-t-i-m-e to enter text.

I touch type with my iPad, I'm not sure how you guys are using it.

I just did a typing test on the web and got 55 words a minute, including using proper capitalization and punctuation.
posted by empath at 8:23 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I started off by recounting both of these stories for a reason. After using Microsoft’s Surface for the past week I can say that I honestly get it. This isn’t an iPad competitor, nor is it an Android tablet competitor. It truly is something different. A unique perspective, not necessarily the right one, but a different one that will definitely resonate well with some (not all) users.

Good strategy. And though it's not the instabuy it would be if it were $100 cheaper that review really makes it sound like THE thing to replace my aging netbook for writing.
posted by Artw at 8:24 PM on October 23, 2012


Phones before the iPhone were uniformly terrible. Music players before the iPod were pretty bad (looking at you, Jukebox 20). The first iPad basically created a new class of device.

All that buys a lot of loyalty from me. I'm hoping there is one more insanely great product in the pipeline.
posted by newdaddy at 8:26 PM on October 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


empath writes "I touch type with my iPad, I'm not sure how you guys are using it. "

It's interesting you refer to this as touch typing when of course there is no tactical feedback of either finger position or key presses with the possible exception of the edge of the screen giving some location feedback.
posted by Mitheral at 8:27 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


the iMac. Great job cutting out 8 pounds(!!!) of weight, but is a hyper-slim desktop really a thing?

Oh God Yes. Fuck DVDs, I'm sick of their skipping, glitching, Do-Not-Steal warning, No Skip Ads bullshit. DVD-Rs are a horrible medium. And Blurays are even worse.

Slim, gorgeous and fast? Want. Thunderbolt and USB3? Want want want. (Video editor here.) "Fusion" drive, which (supposedly) gives you the speed of SSD but not the cost, and maintains itself? Definitely want. Not user serviceable? Who gives a fuck, this ain't 1990. It costs actual money? Get a job, cheapskate. You get what you pay for.
posted by fungible at 8:30 PM on October 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


The first Windows Tablet PCs didn't come out until 2002

Are you sure? I swear my boss at the first dotcom I worked at had one, this was well before 2002. It was about 2 inches thick. To be fair it had a keyboard that could be twisted around behind the screen, so I suppose it was more of a convertible laptop with touch.

I think surface will do ok, I think at the very least it will stem the tide of everyone at the office trying to do all their work on an iPad and constantly having to jump through hoops.

Giventhe fact that it comes with Office and you can just plug USB devices or use network shares like you are used to as well as use RPD if you want to do something crazy like use VS or manage it server I predict a huge corporate market for surface. just being able to plug in my external drives via sata->USB converter will be sweet. On my iPad I am doing all sorts of Dropbox antics just to read PDFs.

I am really looking forward to being able to RDP from it.

Phones before the iPhone were uniformly terrible

You mean smartphone right? The StarTac was one of the best pieces of electronics ever made
posted by Ad hominem at 8:31 PM on October 23, 2012


It's interesting you refer to this as touch typing when of course there is no tactical feedback of either finger position or key presses with the possible exception of the edge of the screen giving some location feedback.

What ever you want I call it, I use ten fingers.

Though now that I'm actually looking at myself doing it, it seems that I do a weird mix of hunt and peck and touch typing. In any case, it's pretty close to as fast as I can type on a regular keyboard.
posted by empath at 8:33 PM on October 23, 2012


In the history of phone design everything between the Nokia bricks with B&W displays and the iPhone is pretty skippable. I suppose the odd smartphone was okay for it's time but anything in the "feature phone" bracket was an abomination.
posted by Artw at 8:34 PM on October 23, 2012


The StarTac was pretty much the first modern cell phone. It was certainly the first clamshell. My first one didn't even have LCD, it had 8 segment LEDs. 60 million people carried around a StarTac. The only design flaw was the extensible antenna that broke off after several years of use. I refuse to believe anything Nokia ever made is as good as the StarTac.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:43 PM on October 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


the black & white Nokia brick was/is beautiful, though. Long battery, sturdy, easy to answer (no swiping!), nice raised buttons with the best predictive text I've ever had -- and a flashlight, just in case. For phoning and texting, it's the best device. I just wish it were still available locally.
posted by jb at 8:44 PM on October 23, 2012


You had to be careful not to drop the 3310 from an excess height as it might scratch or dent the floor.
posted by Artw at 8:54 PM on October 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


I refuse to believe anything Nokia ever made is as good as the StarTac.

Believe all you want but the 3310's resiliency is legendary.
posted by Talez at 8:54 PM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


For phoning and texting, it's the best device

Yeah I think the StarTac buttons were too small for texting, it was invented for analog service so there was no SMS when it first came out.

StarTac were also ridiculously expensive, my first one was something like $800. In terms of democratization of cell phones and pure functionality Nokia probably wins.

I also wish there were some sort of feature phone were available today either StarTacs or Nokia brick, not some of the abominations I had with nigh on useless cameras, 500 annoying mono ring tones and lights that flashed when it rang, j2se games and shitty web browsers.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:57 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]




Nobody ever made a bomb out of a Motorola KRAZR.
posted by Artw at 8:59 PM on October 23, 2012


j2se games

I *wish* my phone had j2se games; it's j2me all the way.
posted by Jpfed at 9:02 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


shitty web browsers.

What now? Prior to the iPhone and its big boy web browser I practically lived on Opera Mini on a Sony Ericsson Z1010 and subsequent Z800i on the first 3G networks back in Australia in 2003.

Without J2ME I would have been up shit creek without a paddle on feature phones.
posted by Talez at 9:02 PM on October 23, 2012


RAZRS were an embarrassment.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:02 PM on October 23, 2012


The 3310 was in a few ways unmatched by any phone today. It had a standby time of 4 or 5 days, talk time of a few hours, and mine survived a number of spills out of my bike handlebag. It was also a pretty good phone, better than any smartphone I've ever used, Blackberry, Google/Samsung or Apple. All this plus a flashlight and a hammer in a pinch.

Great phones.
posted by bonehead at 9:03 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lipstick Thespian: Still want the regular iPad. This alterna-sizing deal just smacks of business school and not of tech innovation.

Somebody's not leveraging the synergy of this new paradigm.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:05 PM on October 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I *wish* my phone had j2se games; it's j2me all the way.

My bad, Java has too many different editions.

Sony Ericsson Z1010 and subsequent Z800i on the first 3G networks back in 2003.

Clearly I should have gotten one of those. I am pretty sure I had phones with browsers that did not even support images.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:07 PM on October 23, 2012


I would not want to be without my Internet capable multipurpose multimedia device that also has a phone in it, but the 3310 was pretty much the platonic ideal of the just-a-phone phone.
posted by Artw at 9:09 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't mind something larger than 7" and I'm sad to see rumors of Google releasing a 10" so shortly after I was the stupid early adopter
posted by symbioid at 9:50 PM on October 23 [+] [!]

When do these rumors suggest it will be released?


Google's big event is next Monday, so look for news of it, 32GB N7, and cellular N7 then. (Along with new Nexus phone.)
posted by disillusioned at 9:09 PM on October 23, 2012


Giventhe fact that it comes with Office and you can just plug USB devices or use network shares like you are used to as well as use RPD if you want to do something crazy like use VS or manage it server I predict a huge corporate market for surface. just being able to plug in my external drives via sata->USB converter will be sweet.

Not yet, I don't think, because Windows RT won't let you run traditional, non-metro applications, and it's going to be wait and see how many metro apps show up on the Windows Store thing, which Microsoft wants to be the only place you can get them.

In a few months, when Surface hardware with the non-ARM actual Windows 8 SKU comes out, then, yeah, I think the (relative) openness of the platform might make things much more interesting.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:10 PM on October 23, 2012


Not yet, I don't think, because Windows RT won't let you run traditional, non-metro applications,

I'm thinking for corporate peeps it may not matter as much. I can run all my non-metro apps on my VM in the data center and RDP into it.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:14 PM on October 23, 2012


Ad hominem: "I swear my boss at the first dotcom I worked at had one, this was well before 2002. It was about 2 inches thick. To be fair it had a keyboard that could be twisted around behind the screen"

There were some nice Windows CE-based (and some non-MS) convertible machines that were (for the time) thin and virtually instant-on and basically like little solid-state netbooks during the late-1990s (from a slow start in the late-1980s with machines like Atari's Portfolio. Seeing the possibility of erosion of its desktop Windows franchise, MS kind of squeezed these out software-wise and killed its Handheld PC option in 2000 (chalk it up as yet another market segment MS opened up, then abandoned). Even now you can still get these little, odd hybrids from Chinese manufacturers through sites such as alibaba. But MS killed the development of Windows CE in terms of approaching desktop functionality and pigeonholed it into smartphones, PDAs and verticals such as GPS devices. Which is why netbooks happened, and then tablets, and then ultrabooks and now convertibles all over again as trailblazed by Asus and now jumped on with MS and Surface.
posted by meehawl at 9:16 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


but is a hyper-slim desktop really a thing? One worth flipping off everybody who uses DVDs, no less?

No wireless, less space than a nomad. Lame.
posted by killdevil at 9:25 PM on October 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Clearly I should have gotten one of those. I am pretty sure I had phones with browsers that did not eve support images.

None of the in-built browsers prior to Safari were any good. That's why Opera Mini had such a large percentage of the mobile web market.

The Z1010 was like the perfect introduction to 3G. It had PAN support on its Bluetooth so I could tether it to my then Powerbook G4 and actually work (!) on the train home. It had enough juice to run MPEG-4 transcoded Part 2 (!) 220x176 TV episodes or even watch live TV in the same format over the 3G network if I wanted to.

That feeling of having a 384kbps connection for my laptop just about anywhere in the city? That didn't cost an arm and a leg per minute or per kb? It was so liberating.
posted by Talez at 9:25 PM on October 23, 2012


Ad hominem: "I also wish there were some sort of feature phone were available today either StarTacs or Nokia brick, not some of the abominations I had with nigh on useless cameras, 500 annoying mono ring tones and lights that flashed when it rang, j2se games and shitty web browsers."

Meh, this Nokia 6650 I've been using for talking lately works fine for everything the old brick phones did, lasts about 5 days per charge and generally works reasonably well. It is a clamshell, though. And it does have a (mostly useless thanks to color cast) camera, but nobody makes you use the extra features. It has reminded me why I loved Symbian so much. It gave the telephony and SMS functions the importance they rightfully deserve. They're not just slapped on there almost as an afterthought like most other smartphone OSes.

This is why I think the idea they had of eliminating S40 (their feature phone OS) and replacing it with Symbian was genius. For people who just want a phone it works like they expect, and for people who want a phone plus a little bit get the little bit more without having to step up to a not-telephony-oriented smartphone OS.

Talez, the S60 browser used WebKit starting in v3, released in 2005. It rendered identically to the iPhone. JS performance was crappy, but so was the JS performance in the original iPhone. I'm not sure what was so crappy about it.
posted by wierdo at 9:29 PM on October 23, 2012


iPad Junior
posted by blue_beetle at 9:30 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mars Saxman: "Oh god please no no no. DO NOT WANT. I can ignore tablets, which seem like they combine all the downsides of a phone with all the downsides of a laptop, but if some bright spark decides to start a trend toward making ordinary computers use touchscreens, I'll be putting up with greasy, smeary, smudgy screens and sore shoulders from now til whenever, and that will suck."

The newer Blackberries (I know, bear with me here...) have a hybrid interface, with a touchscreen, keyboard, and the weird little BlackBerry scroll-y thing. It's a bit awkward at first, but eventually most people find themselves fluidly switching between the three input methods.

It's convinced me that touch has its place in Desktop OSes, just like there are certain applications where you might want to have a mouse or keyboard handy. I think that Microsoft are almost certainly heading in the right direction here. Touch won't be the primary input source in future desktops, but I do think that it'll play a very important role.

fungible: "Who gives a fuck, this ain't 1990. It costs actual money? Get a job, cheapskate. You get what you pay for."

I've upgraded the RAM in every Mac that I've ever owned. The amount of RAM that apple puts in its stock machines is usually OK at the launch date, but quickly becomes anemic after a year or so. The iMacs and Macbooks announced today ship with the same amount of RAM as their predecessors did a year ago. Also, RAM upgrades are pretty simple as far as these things go -- anybody can do it.

I get that hardware specs aren't everything -- I bought a MacBook even in spite of the fact that it cost a bit more, and was a bit slower than its PC counterparts -- OSX and Apple's unmatched build quality more than make up for that. However, I'd be pretty hesitant to buy a new (and expensive) PC today that only had 8GB of RAM, especially if there was no opportunity to upgrade it. It'd be a dealbreaker.
posted by schmod at 9:35 PM on October 23, 2012


Buy a Nexus 7. You'll be thrilled you did.

As an experiment, I rooted my Fire and installed Android, dedicating myself to using it for a week. I didn't play games, so I didn't expect to tax the graphics card, but the performance of web browsing and PDF reading was pretty close to a Nexus 7 I borrowed from a friend. Not too impressive coming from the iOS world, but for the cost, probably sufficient for casual work. Definitely one of those try-before-you-buy purchases.

What bothered me the most was that the Fire's and Nexus's touchscreens were not very accurate — I'd often have to tap things twice to get a response, or the tap would hit some other element on the screen and do something unintended. Maybe a software fix will address the touch accuracy, but I couldn't see getting much work done on one as-is with how sluggish it was, and how many taps I'd have to make to get the correct thing done. Android's interface was confusing, coming from iOS, and the lack of apps I use in iOS was, in the end, really not convincing as worth the "savings" (though others who would not have need of the iOS apps I use would not need to worry about that, obviously).

I also didn't think it was right that I'd have to get extra software to get it to sync with my laptop, and I missed not being able to sync through iTunes (as bad as it is) but for testing purposes, I was okay being stuck with trying out web browsing and PDFs on the Fire and just listening to music on our stereo through my phone. I do wish there were improved text entry options for the iPad, other than using a bluetooth keyboard, and the autocorrect can be frustrating, but those were the only things I felt were truly missed going back to iOS.

Not too impressed with the iPad mini's specs — for $329 they could have perhaps sacrificed just a bit of profit margin and give it a bit more oomph, making up the difference on the sheer volume that Apple will move — but the new Retina-display iPad looks like a very smart piece of kit, and I can hand down my iPad 2 to a relative without feeling like I'm pawning off a 386 on granny. I'm sure Apple will do well selling these computers to people looking for something a little smaller than the iPad, or people who have used iOS before — and if not, then the next revision will be at the same price point, while the current mini will be priced to compete with the Amazon Fires.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:58 PM on October 23, 2012


I'm thinking for corporate peeps it may not matter as much. I can run all my non-metro apps on my VM in the data center and RDP into it.

There are a lot of RDP clients for iOS. I'm not sure if any support microsoft's network level authentication but the client I've been using (iSSH) supports RDP over an ssh tunnel. It also has a built in X environment with optional dwm window manager, as well as VNC and of course a standard ssh terminal.
posted by polyhedron at 10:15 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


iPod cost at introduction, October 2001: $399. Nomad 6GB: $220. Archos 6GB: $250.

History argues Apple's iPad Mini pricing is correct.
posted by mwhybark at 10:33 PM on October 23, 2012


iPod sales graph. Not sure the release price in 2001 tells us much when it didn't sell in any great numbers for a few years.
posted by markr at 10:42 PM on October 23, 2012


On the one hand, I feel like in the hands of the right people, a 20" touch-driven computer could be nearly as revolutionary as the iPad was ("It's just a big iPhone").

On the other hand, I feel confident that Sony are not those people.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:12 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok Jony Ive, I love you and all that, but "we took the time to design a product that was a concentration of — not a reduction of — the original".

Maybe because I cook but, WTF?

Perhaps you mean you didn't just 'scale down' an iPad.

And speaking of Cook, I like Phil Schiller on stage.
posted by mazola at 11:16 PM on October 23, 2012


From the Surface review
I then listened to Panos Panay, GM of Microsoft’s Surface division, talk about wanting to control the messaging around Surface ... didn’t want Surface to be judged immediately and cast aside on someone else’s terms
Then Mr Panay you failed. Your device started out as an iPad killing business tablet with a keyboard from the heavens then was rumoured to have a cheap-ass price point which would make Apple sweat balls. It turns out to be a same-price less good iPad with a keyboard you have to buy seperately. The reading-between-the-lines feel of that review is so obvious I wouldn't be surprised if the first letter of each paragraph spelled "save yourself, kill them all".

The iPad3 New iPad Ipad with retina screen should be called the iT's Not You It's Me. I finally drink the brushed aluminum cool aid and what I buy has a shelf-life shorter than the Mars bar I got on the way to the Apple Store. Hey Apple, go fuck yourself yeah.
posted by fullerine at 1:34 AM on October 24, 2012


A Sony device? I imagine it comes with key-tracking pre-installed? Has the market forgotten or forgiven Sony's evil history?
posted by Goofyy at 1:42 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are a lot of RDP clients for iOS

Yep, enough people at my company currently work on iPads a fair amount so there is a level of acceptance for people doing serious work on tablets. So far people have bought their own ipads except in specific cases to test public facing apps. I don't think it is a stretch to see corporations buying Surface.

It turns out to be a same-price less good iPad with a keyboard you have to buy seperately

I don't want to make myself the official surface defender but the fact it can run Office, and in fact has a version of office free, and can use external storage makes it a much better iPad IMO. For me, syncing has always been a slap in the face. Just let me drag and drop fies from a thumb drive or plug in one of my enclosures.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:49 AM on October 24, 2012


I don't want to make myself the official surface defender but the fact it can run Office, and in fact has a version of office free, and can use external storage makes it a much better iPad IMO.
Oh I don't doubt it, and I assume the surface will take such a big share of the business laptop market that hardware manufacturers will be incredibly pissed off at MS. Even just in my office the plethora of Project Managers, Sales and generally MBA rather than M.SC types will be all over this thing. Integration to Exchange and the already hugely powerful Microsoft enterprise space meant this thing was going to outsell everything else anyway.

But it seemed to promise much more. As a consumer device it look liked they were going to use the guaranteed business sales to take a bath on the hardware and give Apple a bloody nose. As Mr Panay wanted to control these expectations well, he failed. A Lot.
posted by fullerine at 2:51 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Contrarian viewpoint:

I am a Mac and iPad owner. I own a Nexus 7 because I wanted the 7" form factor quite badly for book-reading (I prefer LCD screens to e-ink, and the full-sized iPad is too damn big and heavy to be comfortable in one hand). And I've been trying to love the Nexus for a couple of months now.

But I'll be buying an iPad Mini.

Why?

Largely it's down to design aesthetics. Most (not all, but a large subset of) Android apps look like they were beaten with the ugly stick, and beaten hard. Moreover, many key Android apps are smartphone-optimized, not tablet optimized. Twitter on Android is execrable. So is SplashID (my preferred cross-machine password management database). And so on.

There are a couple of points where Android clearly wins hands-down over iOS. Configurability of input methods is one area. Another is low-level access to the device (if you take the trouble to unlock it.) A third is apps that Apple wouldn't be happy about -- Firefox for Android, for example -- or which simply don't exist on iOS -- TextMaker, perhaps.

But then there's the garish and intrusive advertising everywhere. (You can mostly switch off the ads or buy premium editions without it on iOS; not so much on Android.) The malware infestations. The ridiculous proportion of apps that want to upload my inside leg measurement and urinary frequency to their shady owners' servers in the Ukraine. And so on.

But simply having access to a broad range of apps that don't make me want to gouge my eyes out with a rusty spork when I look at them is a sufficient net win for the iPad Mini that I'll accept the 50% price premium and shrug.

Key example: compare The Guardian's offerings for Android and iOS, and weep. (NB: to do this you'll need an iPhone for the phone version, an Android phone or tablet, and someone with an iPad and a paid subscription for the full e-newspaper. It is as night and day. And for something that gets 15-60 minutes of eyeball time per day, that's not insignificant.)

(Doesn't mean I'm off-loading my Nexus, though -- Canonical have sort of pre-announced Ubuntu on the Nexus for next month, so it may well have an afterlife as a portable Linux machine ahead of it.)
posted by cstross at 3:42 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I don't get that. Apple releases a new model and suddenly your old one stops working or what?

Also always amused at how much like sports this gets. It's a device that does certain things more or less well and costs more or less money. If you like what it does and can afford it, good for you. If you can't, too bad for you.

The price of a consumer electronic device (or its design) is just not a moral issue. A company is not a team.

Shorter: fanboys of all sorts, no one cares what you think.
posted by spitbull at 3:43 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the office/Office angle, it's worth noting that Dell have already announced an RT tablet with a (fairly orthodox) keyboard dock, which one can probably assume is also a prelude to a full keyboard-dockable Windows 8 tablet. Lenovo have shown a 12.5-inch "ThinkPad Twist" which twists, flips and folds like the old convertible tablet laptops (although more sleekly), and is very clearly aimed at the enterprise - a tablet which runs Windows 8 and also offers the much-loved ThinkPad keyboard.

PC makers - and certainly PC makers like Dell, who have deep-rooted relationships in the hardware procurement space with businesses - are not going to surrender that territory meekly to the Surface Pro, which should make for some interesting competition.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:58 AM on October 24, 2012


Just a quick addition to cstross's post: for reasons that I don't pretend to understand you can get ad-free, reasonably priced versions of many popular Android apps in the Amazon app store. Why these companies aren't making the same choices available to people using the Google app store I have absolutely no idea.
posted by pharm at 4:55 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't mind a 15" tablet, truth to tell... especially for reading textbooks, webcomics and e-comics, going through picture galleries, and basic photo editing and organizing.

My 4" phone display, especially with Android Jellybean's text selection and Swype's text entry, has pretty much replaced my iPad 2 for casual browsing and email, and I ain't never gonna give up my desktop Mac for Heavy Munging. A tablet with a nice, big, hi-rez area I can use as a content viewer or as an interface for a network application would be nice... however, I should be able to hold it in my lap and prance around the kitchen with it without getting a hernia.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:28 AM on October 24, 2012


bondcliff: But, see, this is not 1974. Most people don't care about computing. We just want to do shit and have it be easy and look pretty. We're not plotting trajectories for artillery here, we're watching Breaking Bad and reading Metafilter.
The genius of software is its flexibility. There is no dichotomy. There's no technical reason something like an iPad couldn't also include at least intro-level CompSci tools like home computers of yore. You should be able to have your TV and your web surfing and your artillery trajectories too. Is that idea offensive to you?
You may continue mocking us for that, if it makes you feel better.
Somehow you've started with a plea for egalitarian access and greater opportunity for all, and re-framed that as an elitist position. And you've been mean, personal, and about ten times as mocking along the way. And you've even found a huge number of MeFites who think you're a genius for doing so. Is today opposites day?
posted by Western Infidels at 6:23 AM on October 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


cstross: "The ridiculous proportion of apps that want to upload my inside leg measurement and urinary frequency to their shady owners' servers in the Ukraine."

That does suck, but I suspect iOS is also as nefarious in terms of identifying user data tracking and access, only it's opaque so you don't get to see the grisly details itemised and explained as part of the prepurchase screen.

If you want to get control back over your data dissemination, use something like LBE to firewall permissions - and for something so relatively geeky it's avoided the ugly stick beat down so far.
posted by meehawl at 6:39 AM on October 24, 2012


I'm surprised people are so eager to attach a keyboard to a tablet and effectively turn it into a laptop. To me, having a separate wireless keyboard is a big advance for usability because laptop ergonomics are terrible. Standing up an iPad in portrait mode on, for example, the bottom shelf of a kitchen cabinet with a wireless keyboard on the counter is pretty much an ideal standing computer for me. The screen is at eye level and the keyboard is at a comfortable position for typing. Why would I want to recreate the awkward layout of a laptop?
posted by stopgap at 6:45 AM on October 24, 2012


"The ridiculous proportion of apps that want to upload my inside leg measurement and urinary frequency to their shady owners' servers in the Ukraine."

Is not shady. Ukraine University of Urination and Tailoring Sciences is accredited and number one in world.
posted by griphus at 6:46 AM on October 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


There's no technical reason something like an iPad couldn't also include at least intro-level CompSci tools like home computers of yore.

But for that matter there's no technical reason a TV or a car stereo or coffee maker couldn't include intro to CompSci tools. But just because an iPad is released by the same company that long ago gave us the Apple II people think it should come with BASIC built in. These things evolved from computers of yore but they are different things now. If intro to CompSci is what you want these are not the products for you. It gets a little tiring every time we have a thread about tablets when people complain that they can't do everything on them that they can do on their Redhat box.

Somehow you've started with a plea for egalitarian access and greater opportunity for all, and re-framed that as an elitist position. And you've been mean, personal, and about ten times as mocking along the way.

"Ten times" is a bit of an exaggeration, but you're right, I was a bit dickish and broke one of my own rules. The post I responded to was pretty harmless. I think I was probably responding more to the poster's history, which is also something I don't like to do.

Is today opposites day?

This is a trick question. If I say "yes" what does that mean?
posted by bondcliff at 7:18 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I don't get that. Apple releases a new model and suddenly your old one stops working or what?

OTOH, Apple releases a new model at the same price and yes, your old one is suddenly worth less in resale.
posted by smackfu at 7:24 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's the standard usage model with Apple computers? Most people I know who own one run them into the ground over the course of several years, so the resale value isn't a priority. Are there people who basically lease Macs by purchasing them, reselling, and purchasing new ones as they come out? I mean, I'm sure there are, but does anyone know what the numbers look like?
posted by griphus at 7:30 AM on October 24, 2012


That does suck, but I suspect iOS is also as nefarious in terms of identifying user data tracking and access, only it's opaque so you don't get to see the grisly details itemised and explained as part of the prepurchase screen.

Hah. Yes, good point: Android is up front about this stuff, because Apps have to explicitly request permissions from the user. iOS (when I last looked) is mostly open season for user data, barring a few specific exceptions.

The lack of a wide range of decent tablet Apps for Android is a real flaw, but it does seem to be getting steadily better.
posted by pharm at 7:39 AM on October 24, 2012


No wireless, less space than a nomad. Lame.

It was an honest question. Do people care about the sleek-itude of a machine that doesn't actually have to go anywhere? I don't, but I build my own desktop computers so I'm about the diametric opposite of Apple's target market for that sort of thing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:39 AM on October 24, 2012


What's the standard usage model with Apple computers? Most people I know who own one run them into the ground over the course of several years, so the resale value isn't a priority. Are there people who basically lease Macs by purchasing them, reselling, and purchasing new ones as they come out? I mean, I'm sure there are, but does anyone know what the numbers look like?

Hard to say.

I had a 15" macbook that I'd purchased and put in some hard, heavy travel time with. A couple of continents, a dozen conferences, a lot of onsite trips to visit clients, and so on. It held up like a champ and after a few years I sold it on craigslist for about 50% of what I paid -- not bad accounting for the beating it took, and enough to get me within inexpensive striking distance of an Air, allowing me to lighten my travel burden considerably. Similarly, my wife and I just upgraded our iPhones after skipping a couple of generations. She got the $200 upgrade discount from AT&T, and I sold her old 3GS for $50 on Amazon.com. My massively beat-up 4 sold for about $150, to someone who wanted to jailbreak it and mess around. Haven't tried to sell the old iPad, we'll see. I passed on a 6-year-old Mac mini to a friend rather than trying to sell it.

The desktop machines and laptops tend to hold their resale value pretty well, according to Craigslist and eBay numbers. As long as I don't get sucked into the endless Treadmill of Shiny, things have worked out pretty nicely.
posted by verb at 7:45 AM on October 24, 2012


Do people care about the styling on a car?
posted by empath at 7:46 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do people care about the sleek-itude of a machine that doesn't actually have to go anywhere?

Yes, absolutely.

I built my last PC, and I'll probably build the next one too, but even I can see the appeal of a slender slab sat on the desk that just works & doesn't take up any more space than the monitor it replaced.
posted by pharm at 7:46 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It held up like a champ and after a few years I sold it on craigslist for about 50% of what I paid -- not bad accounting for the beating it too...

Having just bought my first Apple computer, I am feeling a lot better about the borderline-egregious expense.
posted by griphus at 7:51 AM on October 24, 2012


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: "It was an honest question. Do people care about the sleek-itude of a machine that doesn't actually have to go anywhere?"

Yeah, I was a bit perplexed when I read about that. I'm looking at my monitor straight on, and while it's a reasonably slim recent Dell model it could be ten inches thick and look no different from my computer chair.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:15 AM on October 24, 2012


Having just bought my first Apple computer, I am feeling a lot better about the borderline-egregious expense.

I can't say that'll always happen, and I tossed in an old case and an old iWork disk I'd picked up at the time. But yeah, it's not like the value just crashed. As a point of comparison, I also unloaded my much much older 2006 era black MacBook for about $100. That one had REALLY been through the wringer, but a college student in the area needed it as a stopgap measure, it ran the software she needed, and the timing as good.

In my experience the used Mac market tends to hold up better on price. My theory is that the smaller pool of clearly-distinguished models means there are fewer workalike machines drifting around.
posted by verb at 8:34 AM on October 24, 2012


Apple releases a new model and suddenly your old one stops working or what?

it does kinda suck when you buy an ipad 3 and then two weeks later a device at double the speed and the same price shows up. part of buying apple smartly is waiting long enough for any bugs to be found and worked out on a new product (particularly since apple has a reputation for pretending such bugs don't exist), but not waiting so long that you buy right before an upgrade. six months is a really short window for this.

my main gripe is that the faster the products turn over, the sooner you can expect your version to fall off the radar. the first-generation ipad was just over two years old when the first ios came out that won't support it.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:41 AM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


But, see, this is not 1974.
Do you think Apple and others are building walled gardens because they think allowing children to learn to program is too "retro", or because they believe you will eventually want to buy apps without going through them, and they want to make that too hard for you?

If the latter answer is correct, why not take their beliefs seriously?
posted by roystgnr at 8:43 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't get that. Apple releases a new model and suddenly your old one stops working or what?

You're smokescreening. When you buy a piece of computer equipment, it is nice to know that it's good for updates for a while, that you aren't going to be punished for adopting it at a certain time. People who bought iPad 1s stopped getting iOS updates for it less than two years after its release. They were abandoned shockingly quickly. And lots of iOS software demands an iOS version of some minimum version; the consensus line for that is now 4.

At least people with iPad 2s still seem good at the moment; since iPad Minis are basically iPad 2s in ability, people with the older, larger hardware (raising hand) should be good while it's viable.

it does kinda suck when you buy an ipad 3 and then two weeks later a device at double the speed and the same price shows up.

A little, yes. That there's a way to "buy apple smartly" is a strong indication that something's screwy, though.
posted by JHarris at 8:46 AM on October 24, 2012


WHERE MY 320GB iPOD CLASSIC AT?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:47 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Do you think Apple and others are building walled gardens because they think allowing children to learn to program is too "retro", or because they believe you will eventually want to buy apps without going through them, and they want to make that too hard for you?

The answer is "C" - Malware is a huge and growing threat. A walled garden is, so far, pretty much the only proven means of mitigation, and even that's imperfect. (Though ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE less imperfect than "security software" solutions. Never trust an A/V vendor.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:14 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


But yeah, it's not like the value just crashed.

Yeah, that's really all I'm counting on. The HP laptop it is replacing is, literally, falling apart inside and out. It had hardware errors since day one (although that was my fault for not researching the model well enough) that just got worse and worse and worse and keeping it in working order is feeling like the whole "two hours of work for one hour of flight" situation with the Millenium Falcon. I like the idea that I don't have to put up with researching discontinued model numbers and specific parts on web forums that haven't been updated since 2010 to maintain a computer was incentive enough to buy a Mac.

Also, hooray, my new MBP just arrived in the mail along with the replacement RAM and SSD. Just waiting for the tool set to get here now.
posted by griphus at 9:19 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're smokescreening. When you buy a piece of computer equipment, it is nice to know that it's good for updates for a while, that you aren't going to be punished for adopting it at a certain time.

I don't feel cheated at all. The new iPad is barely different from the old one. Connector, little better chip, that's all. Maybe if I was buying and selling them every week that would be a problem? Resale value is not something I think about too often.

People who bought iPad 1s stopped getting iOS updates for it less than two years after its release. They were abandoned shockingly quickly.

People who buy Android phones are pretty much outdated every week. They often get NO upgrades at all. People who bought Windows Phone 7 are already getting burned - NO upgrade to 8. The iPhone 3GS still gets iOS6 minus some obvious hardware-driven features. Yeah, boo Apple. Boo progress. Please.

it does kinda suck when you buy an ipad 3 and then two weeks later a device at double the speed and the same price shows up.

As usual, I hear they let you trade up if you bought in just the last couple of weeks. Check their website.
posted by fungible at 9:26 AM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Defending an Apple decision by saying "at least it's better than what someone else does that we all agree sucks" is pretty weak.
posted by smackfu at 9:29 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, the analogy of Apple to Android isn't exact - "no OS upgrades" has different implications depending on which side of the fence you inhabit. People who bought an Android phone last year may not get Key Lime Pie, Jelly Bean, or - if they're really unlucky - Ice Cream Sandwich, but they're still getting the latest versions of Maps, Talk, etc., because Google doesn't tie those apps directly into its operating system.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:34 AM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's your choice and a typical one for the Internet to go on about how much everything sucks. It's equally valid to point out that if you want your device to remain prominently targeted by developers there is no one close to apple.

The fact that apple sells the iPad 2 is the best thing to happen to iPad 2 owners since the iPad 2. It'll provide plenty of cover for the iPad 3. The fact that the carriers "sell" the iphone 4 for 0 $ is the best thing to happen to a person with a 2-year-old iPhone than since the iPhone 4.

The system of re-using previous years for lower spec machines (including the mini) is a huge win-win-win for Apple, owners, and developers.
posted by Wood at 9:35 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Likewise, what Android phone was EOLed on the same version of the OS it launched with? If "they often get NO upgrades at all", then please, offer some examples.
posted by kafziel at 9:36 AM on October 24, 2012


I would propose that, in most categories, Apple products tend to have multiple advantages versus competing products. Design and build-quality are pretty much across the board, and software and media availability are still an advantage for their mobile devices. Most of their products also have some distinct features that can justify a premium price for some people, like their retina screens.

The iPad mini seems highly dependent on software ecosystem and build-quality over competing products that are significantly cheaper. I don't really see any other factor that someone could point to and say, "But you can't get THIS from anyone else." This may be an interesting test to see how important software, build-quality and brand can justify paying a premium without an additional hardware or feature advantage.
posted by snofoam at 9:43 AM on October 24, 2012


@Fungible:
'"Fusion" drive, which (supposedly) gives you the speed of SSD but not the cost, and maintains itself? Definitely want.'

They've been around for a while now; Seagate has been selling one for at least two years, called the Momentus series.
posted by qcubed at 9:49 AM on October 24, 2012


WHERE MY 320GB iPOD CLASSIC AT?

I think you'll find all the gigabytes you need in the iCloud, Lentrohamsain.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:54 AM on October 24, 2012


Weird how, year in, year out, all discussions of Apple are functionally identical. Just change the product names around, inflate a few digits here & there, maybe change the names of competitors.
posted by aramaic at 10:00 AM on October 24, 2012


Do you think Apple and others are building walled gardens because they think allowing children to learn to program is too "retro", or because they believe you will eventually want to buy apps without going through them, and they want to make that too hard for you?

Third possibility: They want to protect the quality of the user experience that is their main marketing pitch by avoiding the malware infestations cstross mentioned.

But in any case, accusing a corporation of wanting to make money off us strikes me as a soft indictment.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:00 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


On preview, what Slap*Happy said.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:02 AM on October 24, 2012


So... no one cares about the back camera then? I'll admit it's not essential but it's definitely nice. I think the back camera is a big part of the price and how Apple targets the mini differently than the other small tablets. If Surface is half ipad and half macbook air then the ipad mini is half ipad and half nexus.

I have a nexus 7 and an ipad 3. (Mea culpa, the $200 price of the nexus is a great price.) They're both great but there's plenty of areas where android still sucks. At least on the ipad screen you can play games without the stupid soft buttons. I know I'm supposed to think of them as replacements for buttons or something like that but not supporting fullscreen for games?

The DPI is a disappointment but in reality the ipad app for the new york times is much better than either the phone app or the web site on the nexus 7. Ultimately the 1024x768 thing, here as in elsewhere, can quite literally be directly connected with the developer costs of android. Apple made the decision to do an 80% ipad 2 and get all of the apps for free.

p.s. people who complain about other people using tablets to take photos are horrible.
posted by Wood at 10:03 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't really understand any anger about the iPad upgrade. Yes, the iPad 1 was an anomaly, but it didn't have very much RAM and I can understand Apple's decision to not upgrade it 2 years after release. Going forward I think the new iPads are going to be released, especially since they're still for sale. I think Apple is really intelligent on how they do product upgrades. From the iPad 1 to 2, it wasn't a huge deal, different case, faster processor. 2 to 3, retina display, it was a good upgrade or first iPad. The 3 to 4, it's just a processor upgrade, really. There's no compelling reason to upgrade if you already have the 3. It's been the same for phones. The 1 to 3g was a big upgrade, but you could skip the 3s comfortably and go to the 4, then skip over the 4s to the 5 with no pain.

I don't really think resale value is a valid criticism since there's no other piece of electronics that we think about this way. If you want to stay on the latest, there's costs associated with that, if it's not worth it, then you're free to use the old one until it dies.

Things are a lot more perilous with other manufacturers. The next best Android phone is always just around the corner, you can bet that the 38 different models of Dell you can buy this week are going to have better graphics and processors next week, etc. Apple is at least somewhat consistent in this regard, except for a few anomalies, like the iPad3 to 4, which isn't an upgrade that is going to make a whole lot of people regret their iPad3 purchase, unless they just got theirs last month or something.
posted by mikesch at 10:06 AM on October 24, 2012


qcubed: They've been around for a while now; Seagate has been selling one for at least two years, called the Momentus series.

Apple's implementation is different, it works at the software level instead of the hardware. The SSD and disk are separate, but merged together by the OS, which keeps track of what should be where. In theory it's a better implementation since the OS knows what's happening and where to put things, instead of having the drive have to guess about it blindly based on disk access patterns.
posted by mikesch at 10:09 AM on October 24, 2012


I don't really understand any anger about the iPad upgrade.

Really? People felt they were making an informed decision when they bought an iPad recently, and then it turned out they didn't really know the whole story, and probably wouldn't have bought the iPad 3. Not surprising people aren't happy about that. It may just be a processor upgrade... but would you buy an iPad 3 today over an iPad 4 if they cost the same?
posted by smackfu at 10:10 AM on October 24, 2012


If "they often get NO upgrades at all", then please, offer some examples.


first google response


There's a few on there. Now not all phones get NO upgrades, but the graph with the tiny fraction of Androids running the current software should tell you something. I don't blame google for that - it's the manufacturers and carriers.

If you like Android, great. I'm just saying it's odd to slag on Apple for having upgrades once or twice a year when the competition has even shorter life spans.

They've been around for a while now; Seagate has been selling one for at least two years, called the Momentus series.

True, and I've even seen articles where people reworked their hackintoshes to make this work, but it's nice to see it come installed and working seamlessly with the OS. Whatever floats your boat.
posted by fungible at 10:13 AM on October 24, 2012


People who buy Android phones are pretty much outdated every week. They often get NO upgrades at all.

You see? This is why I said you were smokescreening. I didn't say a word about Android or Windows in that comment. I debated with myself whether I should put some preemptive text in there saying "Note that I'm not saying Android is better, especially seeing as how Google is beholden to manufacturers. It sucks for everyone." But I didn't, because I responded to myself "Don't be silly. You're being too defensive. They're computers, not political parties or religious sects." Yeah, silly.

A word against Apple is not a word for Google or Microsoft, and neither is the reverse. It's not a goddamn zero-sum game. There is a world out there outside of mobile computing.
posted by JHarris at 10:13 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was an honest question. Do people care about the sleek-itude of a machine that doesn't actually have to go anywhere? I don't, but I build my own desktop computers so I'm about the diametric opposite of Apple's target market for that sort of thing.

I dunno, are you still using a CRT monitor that's a foot or so deep? Would you build your own computer if the only case option was a 4 foot high tower or had to be kept in special room? It kind of feels like you're arbitrarily deciding what level of "sleekness" works for you and deriding anyone that draws the line in a different location.

It seems like the endpoint of this particular drive to sleekness that began with shrinking room-sized industrial computers is going to be a personal size device the size of a phone (or maybe USB key, or even a coin) that contains all the computing power you want, and you just plug it into to various input/output devices as needed as you go about your day. Beyond that? Who knows? Embedded computers in your flesh?

To arbitrarily decide that any one point of shrinkage is unnecessary after the benefits decreasing size and increasing power has brought us seems to go against the thrust of the entire computing revolution.
posted by modernnomad at 10:14 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am genuinely hoping hardware design is evolving in the "some kind of semi-physical vaporous entity" direction as empath stated above.
posted by griphus at 10:16 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It kind of feels like you're arbitrarily deciding what level of "sleekness" works for you and deriding anyone that draws the line in a different location.

What confuses me is the idea that streamlining every possible inch out of a desktop PC is so important that it's better to have those tapered edges than an optical drive. It's not the level of sleekness I'm looking at, but the tradeoff.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:17 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read what you wrote smackfu and the part that broke down was where people thought they were making an informed decision but they obviously didn't because they didn't realize that computer hardware gets upgraded. That's it. The problem is entirely on the user side. Apple did nothing wrong at all. Zero, zilch.

On the internet it's widely considered inappropriate to include content on a game disk that is available for later purchase. There is an entire community of people on the internet that take the customer is wrong to a whole new level.
posted by Wood at 10:18 AM on October 24, 2012


A word against Apple is not a word for Google or Microsoft, and neither is the reverse. It's not a goddamn zero-sum game. There is a world out there outside of mobile computing.

Uh... we're in a thread about tech stuff. The current market consists of Google, Apple, Microsoft and the people who sell their stuff. Who are you talking about? Are you trying to say that everyone sucks, so we should just give up? Should we talk about the weather instead?

Personally I love all this shit. That's why we like talking about it. If you don't, then don't.
posted by fungible at 10:20 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Really? People felt they were making an informed decision when they bought an iPad recently, and then it turned out they didn't really know the whole story, and probably wouldn't have bought the iPad 3.

I'll give you that. I tend to follow hardware and personally wouldn't have bought one since the rumors of the lightening connectors and iPad mini started hitting heavily and there was some uncertainty with where things were going. I can't fault other people for not wasting as much time as I do tracking hardware. Of course I'd rather have an iPad 4 than 3, but the 3 was worth $599 to me when it was released and I don't regret it today. It didn't suddenly become less valuable to me personally because a new one was released, I was going to hang onto it for a couple of upgrade cycles regardless, they just came faster than expected. Eventually it'll get passed to my nephew when I get a new one just like my iPad 1.

Apple at least telegraphs their moves better than most. The Android tablet or PC I buy today will almost certainly be better tomorrow and will have no resale value besides.
posted by mikesch at 10:21 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The optical drive tradeoff is that I get something fundamentally cleaner/smaller in exchange for giving up a drive that I use maybe 3x a year. I ordered a USB drive from Amazon last year for those instances and I keep it in a box for those rare times I need it.
posted by mikesch at 10:25 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you think Apple and others are building walled gardens because they think allowing children to learn to program is too "retro", or because they believe you will eventually want to buy apps without going through them, and they want to make that too hard for you?

Neither. Well, neither-ish.

If they'd really wanted to make it impossible to do useful things without being a gatekeeper, they wouldn't have put so much emphasis on the power of mobile web-apps when the phone first shipped. They wouldn't have baked in support in the OS for web-apps that want to appear on a user's home screen like a native app, complete with a chrome-less version of the browser when they're tapped.

But since they introduced third-party apps, they've always been clear about the fact that purchasing and downloading apps is something that will always go through them. As others have noted, some of this is about ecosystem control. Some of it is about security and sandboxing. But I can't really see any of it being about a desire to keep kids from learning about how to program, for fear that they'll break the iShackles.


Really? People felt they were making an informed decision when they bought an iPad recently, and then it turned out they didn't really know the whole story, and probably wouldn't have bought the iPad 3.

Possibly, but I'm still glad that I did. I logged about 20K miles of travel with my retina iPad, and the amount of work and recreational reading I did with it made it a pretty big win. The boost in processing power for the iPad 4 doesn't have much impact on that. The only real annoyance is the lightning port, and I saw that coming the minute the iPhone5 leaks started circulating. At least there are adapters.

In a lot of ways, buying any kind of computing hardware these days -- tablet, smartphone, laptop, tower -- is like watching a train pass you by. Every car is fancier and more spacious than the last one, and the train is infinitely long. Why should you ever jump on board, knowing that your choice will be lackluster compared to a future train car? Well, when you actually want to get on the train and move.
posted by verb at 10:38 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


People who buy Android phones are pretty much outdated every week. They often get NO upgrades at all.

I get updates all the time, because I bought a Nexus device. If you buy a device that is spun out and limited by a phone company or has some custom interface shoved over then you live with it.
posted by juiceCake at 10:48 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I built my last PC, and I'll probably build the next one too, but even I can see the appeal of a slender slab sat on the desk that just works & doesn't take up any more space than the monitor it replaced.

The trouble is when your desktop stops "just working", which I've had happen to my iMac 4 times, mostly video related but once the hard drive died. I've had a 1.5 hour round trip to take it to the nearest Apple store to drop it off for repairs, after which I get it back up to a week later and get to make the trip again to pick it up. This is a 24" iMac and it is not exactly light or easy to carry; I've been using the box to truck it around in but the handle wasn't meant for long-term use like this.

Last time I did this, I got the computer back, and the microphone had stopped working (they were replacing the board for video issues... again). Drove back out that day. Guy opened the computer for me and said, "Huh, dunno." Got a call 3 days later. "Oh, someone forgot to plug the microphone back in."

Hnnngghh. And of course because I (thankfully) shelled out for the extended warranty, I was hesitant to open the thing up (which is not nearly as easy as popping the case off a tower) and void it, because I had/have to rely on Apple for replacement parts. (it's out of warranty now so I suppose I can be more cavalier with it)

I've really enjoyed my iMac but the anxiety whenever something starts to go futzy isn't worth it to me, and the new one looks even more worrisome. I'm not sure who the ideal market for it is.. maybe offices or studios where you'd have multiple computers and everything on le Cloude.

But I do still really like OSX. Will probably go for a second-hand mac mini (same service issues as iMac, I think, but wayyyy cheaper) or pro as next desktop computer.
posted by curious nu at 10:49 AM on October 24, 2012


It was an honest question. Do people care about the sleek-itude of a machine that doesn't actually have to go anywhere?"

Do you have nice furniture in your living room, which doesn't go anywhere? Do you have a nice stereo, which sits in your house and doesn't move? For the same reason I want my computer to be nice, even though it never leaves my desk.

There's only one object in my life that I spend more time interacting with than my computer, and that's my bed. If I'm going to be spending that much time looking at and interacting with something, it had better look good and feel good and certainly not piss me off with rough edges or clunky details. This is why I keep buying Apple hardware despite my ongoing disenchantment with the company's walled-garden business model: they make the nicest stuff around. It feels nice and everything works the way it's supposed to.

Also, those tiny aluminum keyboards - ! Nobody else makes anything like them, they're all these desk-destroying monsters with dozens of extra keys I'll never use getting in the way of the mouse.

Okay, anyway.

The newer Blackberries (I know, bear with me here...) have a hybrid interface, with a touchscreen, keyboard, and the weird little BlackBerry scroll-y thing. It's a bit awkward at first, but eventually most people find themselves fluidly switching between the three input methods.

I was the last Blackberry holdout among my friends, and only (finally, reluctantly) gave it up when Google gave me a Galaxy Nexus. I still can't type worth a damn on the touchscreen. I miss that QWERTY board. The Blackberry didn't really have a functional web browser, despite what people claimed; what surprises me is just how bad the web browsing experience is on a modern system. People actually pay money for this? It's good for killing a few minutes waiting for your lunch to show up and for not a whole lot else.

I really do not miss that weird little BlackBerry scroll-y thing, though: it was always getting clogged up. The phone would randomly lose the ability to scroll down, or left, or something, and I'd have to mash down on the roller to try to get it to move, and eventually I'd have to take it apart and swab it out with alcohol, and it just sucked. I guess a touchscreen is better than that. I just hate the way my phone's screen is always smudgy and gross looking even if I clean it two or three times a day.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:50 AM on October 24, 2012


But in any case, accusing a corporation of wanting to make money off us strikes me as a soft indictment.

It is, but that indictment remains unleveled. What I got from actually reading this thread is that people feel that Apple is hampering a lot of potential uses for the things it makes by instituting the policies that it does. Which leads me to...

But for that matter there's no technical reason a TV or a car stereo or coffee maker couldn't include intro to CompSci tools.

...this fallacious analogy, because to prevent iOS devices from being able to do these things requires extra effort from Apple in the form of the App Store guidelines. Yeah, the malware prevention argument is pretty credible, but I don't think that's the main reason for the guidelines' existence or the main effect that they have on the iOS ecosystem. I think that a solution that makes both casual and technical users happy is possible, but they won't realize it because accommodating the latter group would probably cut into one of their profit centers. That's their prerogative, but I'm not seeing what's so balls-out unreasonable about wishing that Apple culture were a little different in that regard.

I don't know. I inherited an iPad from my parents, and I like it a lot. I like it enough that I wish I could use it for more of the things that I use computers for, which (and bear with me here, this is about to get controversial) do not include swapping peoples' milled aluminum and shiny glass for beige sheet metal and a command prompt, or preventing them from watching bad movies. This nonetheless seems to really put people on the defensive, which is confusing, but I'm no politician.
posted by invitapriore at 10:53 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you have nice furniture in your living room, which doesn't go anywhere? Do you have a nice stereo, which sits in your house and doesn't move? For the same reason I want my computer to be nice, even though it never leaves my desk.

So to answer my question, (some) people do think sleekness is an inherent virtue in desktop hardware, worth trading off other functionality for, even when it doesn't actually decrease the box's footprint. That's what I was asking. Seriously, not trying to be antagonistic.

(For the record, my living-room set is visibly faded from its time as a display model. Comfiest damn sofa I've ever sat on, though.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:56 AM on October 24, 2012


So to answer my question, (some) people do think sleekness is an inherent virtue in desktop hardware, worth trading off other functionality for, even when it doesn't actually decrease the box's footprint. That's what I was asking. Seriously, not trying to be antagonistic.

I think a way of phrasing it in a less antagonistic manner, if that's what you're going for is:

"Some people view aesthetics/design/appearance as an inherent virtue in itself, and will consider that as a characteristic as important as raw functionality."

See also - fashion, interior design, automotive design, art, etc.
posted by modernnomad at 11:06 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


this fallacious analogy, because to prevent iOS devices from being able to do these things requires extra effort from Apple in the form of the App Store guidelines.

Just to poke my head in -- again -- I've got introduction to algorithms sitting on my iPad, along with a Python IDE that executes code on the device itself; a LISP IDE that lets me build and develop games on the iPad itself and share them with other users, and a variety of similar tools.

You're right, though, in that there's no way to drop GCC onto it and start compiling. One of the challenges is that there's a very fuzzy line between "trojan that builds and installs arbitrary malware on your tablet" and "tool for learning how to program." So far Apple seems to have drawn the line at "You can't compile external code into native cocoa instructions, period."

I'm still angry that there isn't a HyperCard For iOS style app coming out of Apple's R&D labs. But that's another matter entirely.
posted by verb at 11:55 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Verb: I can see how you might use such a setup to build code you've downloaded, but how do you write new code?
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:06 PM on October 24, 2012


What's the standard usage model with Apple computers? Most people I know who own one run them into the ground over the course of several years, so the resale value isn't a priority. Are there people who basically lease Macs by purchasing them, reselling, and purchasing new ones as they come out? I mean, I'm sure there are, but does anyone know what the numbers look like?

iPad resales surge over 700%
"Two major resale sites reported eye-popping surges in business in the run-up to the iPad Mini launch. Some 140,000 devices were put up for sale on Gazelle.com Tuesday – a 700% spike from the day before, says Anthony Scarsella, chief gadget officer at the site. Half of that increase occurred in the hours just before the announcement, he says – and the most common model put up for sale was the “new iPad” released just six months ago."

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 PM on October 24, 2012


Half of that increase occurred in the hours just before the announcement,

That's interesting and smart. People locked in their buy price for 30 days... before the new iPad was announced and killed the value.

I mean, Gazelle is only offering $250 for a "flawless" iPad 3 16 GB Wifi that costs $499 new. I bet they were buying for at least $100 more before the announcement.
posted by smackfu at 12:50 PM on October 24, 2012


Just to poke my head in -- again -- I've got introduction to algorithms sitting on my iPad, along with a Python IDE that executes code on the device itself

I have to admit, I'm pretty pleased there's a Python on iOS now, although it's still pretty gimped. Not that Python on Android seems too much more useful.

I'm still angry that there isn't a HyperCard For iOS style app coming out of Apple's R&D labs.

Alas Apple seems to have pretty much disowned Hypercard, but that's from long ago now anyway, there's never been a version for OS X for instance.

Half of that increase occurred in the hours just before the announcement, he says – and the most common model put up for sale was the “new iPad” released just six months ago.

They knew the handwriting was on the wall and wanted to get their money back to get the iPad 4. If they had waited any longer to sell, they wouldn't have found many people to sell it to.
posted by JHarris at 12:53 PM on October 24, 2012


It was an honest question. Do people care about the sleek-itude of a machine that doesn't actually have to go anywhere?"

Most people I know don't have homes large enough to have dedicated office space, so their computer usage (desktop or laptop) competes with space with everything else they have to do in their home. If they haven't just gone all laptop (as many have), they often have only a small desk to work on, and the less space taken up by hardware, the better.
posted by jb at 12:55 PM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


OTOH, Apple didn't actually change the envelope of the iMac. It's still 8" deep including the stand. So it's certainly thinner but not in ways that actually save you practical space.
posted by smackfu at 1:21 PM on October 24, 2012


I prefer my Nexus 7 but I think Apple will sell crazy amounts of iPad-minis. 7/8 inches is a better size for tablets than 10inch, and its an iPad for crissakes.
posted by memebake at 1:32 PM on October 24, 2012


Mars Saxman: I can see how you might use such a setup to build code you've downloaded, but how do you write new code?

By... typing it? That's really where having a bluetooth keyboard, or a case with one that's integrated, comes in handy. It's a clunky experience since code rarely works nicely with autocorrection-based solutions to fat fingered typing, yes. But the biggest limitation to people learning to program or tinker on an iPad is the form factor and what it's best suited for, not the inability to compile and share binaries right on the device.

That's not a platform limitation, though, just a matter of device tailoring. I've used an external keyboard to pound out text and small amounts of code pretty quickly -- and SSH'd into assorted servers with no loss of functionality. If you're used to vi and you're using SSH with a cheap bluetooth keyboard, there's not really much difference between a tablet (heck, a smartphone) and a $1500 desktop machine.

JHarris: Alas Apple seems to have pretty much disowned Hypercard, but that's from long ago now anyway, there's never been a version for OS X for instance.

Yeah, I realize that griping about the loss of Hypercard is like insisting there were only two Aliens movies, but it's never stopped me before...
posted by verb at 1:37 PM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some people like to argue about sports teams.
Some people like to argue about tech companies and products.
At least the people arguing about tech are arguing about something that has real-world impact.
Different technical philosophies and approaches that will make a detectable difference to the future.
posted by memebake at 1:42 PM on October 24, 2012




memebake: "At least the people arguing about tech are arguing about something that has real-world impact."

What Cleveland Lost When It Lost LeBron. In as much as money is real, rather than a symbolic, mutually shared illusion.
posted by mkb at 2:23 PM on October 24, 2012


fungible: "People who buy Android phones are pretty much outdated every week. They often get NO upgrades at all."

Yet people who buy them from Google get plenty of upgrades. The Nexus S has official Jelly Bean. It shipped two years ago with Gingerbread. And unlike Apple phones, it gets all the features of the new OS.

So yeah, you can talk about all these other phones, which have no equivalent at all in the Apple ecosystem because Apple refuses to allow third parties to use iOS, but it's a goofy comparison. Comparing like for like is more appropriate. And there, they're pretty much the same. Most devices get updates, sometimes they can't. Granted, the Nexus One is done with official updates (GPU is too slow), but even then, third parties have ported both ICS and JB to it.
posted by wierdo at 3:08 PM on October 24, 2012


Every phone in fungible's link received multiple OS upgrades, as well as continuing support to this day of official Google apps.
posted by kafziel at 3:13 PM on October 24, 2012


My old Nexus One is running Cyanogenmod 7, and if I felt like it I could upgrade that to a Nexus One-tweaked ICS or Jelly Bean, or indeed a version of Cyanogenmod which keeps the 2.3.7 core but adds various bits from Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean. That's getting on for three years old, and although Google itself no longer offers OTA upgrades, it's certainly upgradeable. A lot probably depends on what you see as the appropriate lifespan of a phone. The iPhone 3GS is about the same age as the Nexus One, and got iOS 6, so that's about right, maybe? Whereas the iPhone 3G (2008) is no longer updated, and the HTC Hero, which came out a little before the iPhone 3GS and was arguably the first half-decent Android phone, is updatable to 2.1 officially, and 2.3 unofficially, but not 4.0.

I think things get a bit odd when you try to compare not updating software and releasing new hardware, though. That seems to be what fungible is trying to do, which I think plays on two different meanings of "outdated" and "upgrade".
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:38 PM on October 24, 2012


The iPhone 3GS is about the same age as the Nexus One, and got iOS 6, so that's about right, maybe?

It technically gets something that's being called iOS 6, but features were excluded on older hardware as early as iOS 4. Bundling app updates with OS updates and calling an app update an OS update is how you get claims that the 3GS is still supported after three years.
posted by kafziel at 3:40 PM on October 24, 2012


Right. Apple does it by deprecating features - so Siri is available in iOS 5 on the iPhone 4S and contemporary devices, but devices which run iOS 6, like the 3GS, don't have Siri.

Is that a problem, though? I'm OK with new features being hardware-specific - otherwise, why bother to update the hardware. Then again, I also think that if you have 2.3.3 or above, you have, in essence, a modern Android phone, so it's down to whether the saving of a carrier-subsidized phone with a locked bootloader is worth the delay in updates. Possibly I'm easily pleased, though.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:48 PM on October 24, 2012


(I mean, I'm still running Snow Leopard.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:49 PM on October 24, 2012


The odd thing is, I'm in love with my Nexus 7 the way I haven't engaged with a gadget for ages. I wouldn't disagree with much of cstross' comments - some of the aesthetics of the apps is atrocious to the point of unusability, especially with buggered eyes, and I don't play games at all so can't really talk about that. I've downloaded some, just to exercise the GPU, and they seem fine to me, but I don't actually care.

I didn't get the iPad. Still don't. Have had long-term use of every model so far, but after a while they just gather dust. I think that's because they're just too darn big, I'm not really a shiny person and tend to dig function rather than dress. Plus, I have a thing for accessibility and getting good tech into the hands of the people who need it, rather than those who can afford it, and I just do not like Apple's pricing.

So, I got a bit excited by the Nexus, which was far more affordable and far more portable. And it works for me in a big way. I tether to my phone and - bam. The stuff I care about - web, email, a bunch of weather, navigation, media and eclectic tech apps - is there, plus emulators for just about every computer in my past and a bunch of others besides. It fits in my pocket, and is part of my life on the hoof.

And the physical design is... right. It's solid, the textured back is very pleasant to hold, the screen is a pleasure, battery's fine, I think Jelly Bean handles a lot of things very well - the multitasking in particular - and I have a deep attachment to the philosophy (albeit imperfect) of open source. It gives me actual pleasure to have Linux work so darn well it's invisible, and to be able to move and use media files as I wish.

I've stopped worrying about software updates, because for me they don't actually matter very much now that basic functionality is so good and life is too short. (And if Google did to me what Apple did to its users with Maps, I would be furious. Many of my Apple pals are. That sold a lot of Samsung S3s, and gave Apple's Nexus 7 comparison shtick during the iPad mini launch a particularly ironic flavour.)

But mostly - I get the feeling that with the Nexus 7, Google worked hard to make it as good as it could be at the price point, and as user-focused as possible. With the iPad mini, it feels more like a strategic entry to a sub-market where many design, configuration and pricing decisions were there to maximise revenue over the refresh cycles to come. Apple is very good at that, which is why it has so much bloody money.

But it offends my engineering sensibilities, it offends my life-long love of technology as life-changing for as many people as possible, and it offends my distrust of organised religion.

I guess I'm more Woz than Jobs.
posted by Devonian at 3:58 PM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Right. Apple does it by deprecating features - so Siri is available in iOS 5 on the iPhone 4S and contemporary devices, but devices which run iOS 6, like the 3GS, don't have Siri.

Is that a problem, though? I'm OK with new features being hardware-specific - otherwise, why bother to update the hardware. Then again, I also think that if you have 2.3.3 or above, you have, in essence, a modern Android phone, so it's down to whether the saving of a carrier-subsidized phone with a locked bootloader is worth the delay in updates. Possibly I'm easily pleased, though.


Well, it's mostly a problem in so far as it creates a double standard, and that double-standard becomes a point of dishonest criticism, as we've seen. A Nexus One running 2.3.6 is a hell of a lot closer to a Galaxy Nexus running Jelly Bean than a iPhone 3GS running iOS 6 is to an iPhone 5 running iOS 6. And yet, you see these bad-faith arguments in this very thread about how the 3GS is still getting updates, when more recent Android phones aren't, because the 3GS has iOS 6, but, say, the Droid Bionic is still on an iteration of Gingerbread.
posted by kafziel at 4:13 PM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah, I get you. Yeah, I think trying to directly compare this stuff is pretty dangerous - like I said, you start getting into different meanings of "update", "upgrade" and "obsolete" pretty quickly. So, it's a problem in arguments, but perhaps less so for users. (Depending, I guess, on how much they wish they had new features not supported by their hardware, and how soon before the new hardware they bought their device.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:41 PM on October 24, 2012


I feel like we need to make a spreadsheet indicating the various distinctions and permutations we're discussing.

One, you have major OS updates. Two, you have specific features and bundled apps that may or may not be supported on all hardware. Three, you have third-party apps that leverage OS specific APIs.

So, an iPhone 3GS running iOS 6 may not be able to use Siri, but it has access via the OS update to all of the new core APIs that third-party apps can use. There are apps out there that require a particular OS version, but I've never run across ones that require specific hardware-limited OS features like Siri.

The end result, I think, is that there are different kinds of upgrade pitfalls on the Android and iOS sides. I don't think anyone in this thread has been making bad faith arguments as much as making assumptions about one ecosystem based on the norms of the one they're more familiar with.
posted by verb at 4:43 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't own an iPad but I have been an iPhone user for 4 years or so and a Mac user for much longer.. this means that for me the cost difference btw the mini and say the nexus 7 is at least partially eaten up by existing investments in software that I'd have to repurchase.

I like the looks of the iPad mini though I'm disappointed that the GPS chip is excluded from the wi-fi only model (or rather, that there is such a price gap between the wifi and cellular equipped models). I don't need data everywhere given that I have an iphone, but a GPS equipped 7 or 8 inch tablet with a pre-downloaded map app would be a pretty sweet travel companion.
posted by modernnomad at 5:07 PM on October 24, 2012


I'm still surprised no one is willing to subsidize that 3G price difference.
posted by smackfu at 5:55 PM on October 24, 2012


One, you have major OS updates. Two, you have specific features and bundled apps that may or may not be supported on all hardware.

It really speaks to the way Google and Apple support their platforms. Android updates apps, granularly, while Apple seems to update monolithically.

Google slipstreams new updates, including major new features, continuously. On my wife's phone, which is nominally still 2.2, she has access to the same apps, Gmail, maps, browser, the music apps, facebook, etc... as I have on my 4.1 phone. The main issue she's having is that the newer apps are much bigger in memory footprint, and the older phone has limited on-device storage. However from a usability point of view her older phone isn't hugely different from mine. The new version of Android does have a nicer launcher and much nicer task switcher, but I don't think she'll really notice much difference when she upgrades in a month or two. The programs she's will be using on a new Android phone are identical.

In contrast, the Apple iOS approach seems to be to enhance the core software only as a bundle, approximately once a year. It's a singular, notable event. Makes for great tech demos when they do their famous pressers.

The difference between Google's slipstream and Apple's big updates leads to a lot of misunderstanding of the daily experience on each platform, I think. It is fair to say that many Google phone have not received system updates as frequently as people might like or even as the manufacturers promised. However, keeping the apps up to date means that much of the newer user Google experience is backported to older devices, and thus fewer customers feel really left behind.
posted by bonehead at 6:50 PM on October 24, 2012


Mars Saxman: "those tiny aluminum keyboards - ! Nobody else makes anything like them"

But they do you know. This is just one, but I can find literally several dozen compact remote keyboards, in various states of brushed, machined, dyed and plain metal finishes. Some removable battery powered, others solar, some with capacitive pads, others without. You go to the higher end, you can get OLED adaptive glyphing.

The actual PC market is incredibly variegated and capable of satisfying pretty much any design aesthetic and wallet (although not often at the same time). One of Apple's big value props since the 1970s has been to offer people, for a premium, a curated roadmap through a complex market, with nicely finished devices calculated to hit enough design and capability signposts to satisfy a large number of people's desire for predictable satisfaction. That's what a brand does. That's Apple's business.
posted by meehawl at 6:57 PM on October 24, 2012


I "want" a tablet, but can't justify getting one based on price point and crop of offerings.

Unless, of course, unless there was a bezel-less version the size of a piece of US Letter or A4 (preferably the maximum of both). Would be an academic's dream for reading and storing PDFs. Surely someone would develop a better PDF management/search/annotation app than are currently available.

These Win8 tablets are really interesting, but I'm wary how much of the "lockdown" model that Apple uses that Microsoft will try to adopt.

That 20" Sony VAIO? My parents would love it. Throw in a wireless keyboard (I'm fond of this solar powered one) and mouse or trackball and this thing would define "We are living in The Future." Could be useful for programming or where screen real estate is useful for someone who regularly travels to do said activities.

Too bad it's 11 pounds. My desktop sans case, power supply, and hard disk drives - all the heavy stuff that aren't in a laptop- weighs a lot less than 11 pounds. Maybe they can optimize the glass on the display or something.

As for this being marketed as a children's toy, Silver Spoons anyone?
posted by porpoise at 7:40 PM on October 24, 2012


I bought a 5 inch Galaxy Note knock off for 150 on Amazon and it's amazing. I wouldn't want any more or less inch in a portable device.
posted by PHINC at 10:12 PM on October 24, 2012


My Samsung S3 doing just fine!
posted by sona at 10:33 PM on October 24, 2012


I'm still surprised no one is willing to subsidize that 3G price difference.

Perhaps the telcos did some research and did not see much user interest in contract lock-in on the Apple tablets.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:20 AM on October 25, 2012


Oh, I'm not thinking contract. More like how prepaid cell providers will subsidize a phone that is locked to them.
posted by smackfu at 6:16 AM on October 25, 2012


That tabletop Vaio might actually be interesting. Not as a portable machine, but you could download images of board game boards, display them, and play right off the screen.
posted by JHarris at 8:43 AM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]




Swiftkey is the best thing ever. Sometimes the word prediction is so good that it's a little creepy. Not sure how I feel about them adding Swype-like sliding, I could never really get the hang of Swype.
posted by octothorpe at 5:31 PM on October 25, 2012


More like how prepaid cell providers will subsidize a phone that is locked to them.

If the iPad didn't have the wi-fi hardware, you'd probably be right.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:07 PM on October 25, 2012


But they do you know.

No, actually, I didn't! It makes total sense but I really had no idea. Last time I went keyboard-shopping Apple was the only game in town if you wanted a keyboard that didn't look like a model of an aircraft carrier.
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:13 PM on October 25, 2012


Well, there are always knock offs of apple designs, but I'm fairly sure you won't find a keyboard like that for sale before apple's.
posted by empath at 7:15 PM on October 25, 2012


Swiftkey is the best thing ever. Sometimes the word prediction is so good that it's a little creepy. Not sure how I feel about them adding Swype-like sliding, I could never really get the hang of Swype.

Am I the only person who finds it faster to just type the next word than to stop my typing and check the predictions?
posted by kafziel at 7:16 PM on October 25, 2012


empath: "I'm fairly sure you won't find a keyboard like that for sale before apple's."

That's just not true. There have been compact wireless function-key free keyboards available ever since 2.4GHz was a big thing at the start of the 2000s, in a wide range of finishes (admittedly, a lot of these with the more expensive finishes were for bespoke multimedia installations and not often sold in local malls). My personal fav that was widely available has always been the tripedal Lenovo multimedia kb, first outed in 2004, which grafted a trackball onto the bottom of a compact form, and was lovingly mocked at the time for taking the already existing compact wireless form and extending it along a second dimension. I believe Apple's wireless kb from 2003 was an office-standard elongated one and Apple's embrace of the compact form didn't emerge until 2007 (but does kind of echo the original Mac's tiny kb, so there's that).
posted by meehawl at 9:32 PM on October 25, 2012


It's funny since it used to be a big deal when accessory manufacturers made stuff that went with Apple computers, and now it's a bad thing that they're matching the aesthetic.
posted by smackfu at 5:35 AM on October 26, 2012


It's obvious why though; Apple used to sell computers and now a large portion of what they sell is style and life style accessories. Can't have knock offs and inspired bys devaluing the image and exclusivity.
posted by Mitheral at 7:21 AM on October 26, 2012


Regarding subsidized tablets, I'm wondering if that might be exactly what we're getting from Google next week. If the leaks are accurate, we're looking at a $249 Nexus 7 with 3G. (No, not a $249 tablet that can be upgraded to a more expensive cellular model. The store page that mistakenly listed the 32GB model early included 3G in that version.) That is crazypants.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:22 AM on October 26, 2012


It's obvious why though; Apple used to sell computers and now a large portion of what they sell is style and life style accessories. Can't have knock offs and inspired bys devaluing the image and exclusivity.

That's because technology devices are now lifestyle accessories. Motorola, interestingly enough, reaped the benefits of that shift with their RAZR line. Their biggest failure is that they had no idea how to parlay that accidental one-shot hit into a pattern of growth.
posted by verb at 11:21 AM on October 26, 2012


Their biggest failure is that they had no idea how to parlay that accidental one-shot hit into a pattern of growth.

The RAZR was the epitome of style over substance. People lusted after them until they actually had to use one. Then they never wanted to use a Motorola phone ever again.
posted by Talez at 2:22 PM on October 26, 2012


I still can't believe they didn't do an entire marketing campaign of RZA for RAZR.
posted by griphus at 2:24 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


IIRC the software that Verizon put on the RAZR was particularly Toxic and crippling - Apple definitely did the right thing for themselves and users by insisting on owning that side of the experience.
posted by Artw at 2:32 PM on October 26, 2012


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: "If the leaks are accurate, we're looking at a $249 Nexus 7 with 3G."

I doubt that is true, but HSDPA chips aren't at all expensive and haven't been for a long time. I could easily see the price on the screen and flash having dropped enough in the last few months to leave enough room in the budget for a 3G radio and antenna. If the rumor was that it had LTE, I would find that highly unlikely.

Actually, I hope it's not true because I might be tempted to buy one. My existing Nexus 7 works just fine, thanks. And gets on the interwebs over bluetooth. (My phone can be a wifi hotspot, but it drains the battery a lot faster than BT)
posted by wierdo at 2:35 PM on October 26, 2012


And on not-preview: I hated the RAZR's software and didn't even like the hardware that much. Nokia feature phones made a lot more sense to me. That said, the folks I knew who carried RAZRs had no problem with the software. I presume that's because they didn't actually use it for anything but making and receiving phone calls.
posted by wierdo at 2:37 PM on October 26, 2012


Agreed -- I was just on the cusp of enough phone nerdiness at the time that a blackberry or a Sidekick was far more appealing. But there was that stretch of time when RAZRs were absolutely everywhere, and were genuinely stylish. I think it's worthwhile to compare that to the iPhone line, which is definitely sold as an aspirational/style product but has deeper appeal.

It's by no means perfect, but it's not (as many suggest) simply a triumph of shiny packaging and marketing.
posted by verb at 2:50 PM on October 26, 2012


Google announces Nexus 7 with cellular, Nexus 10 tablet and Nexus 4 smartphone

The 8GB Nexus 7 is discontinued, the 16GB wifi-only Nexus 7 is $199, 32GB wifi is $249, and 32GB wifi + HSPA is $299.

The Nexus 10 is a 10" tablet with a 300ppi display (retina quality, at least in terms of specs) for $399.
posted by jcreigh at 10:30 AM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Okay, so not quite as nuts as the $249 level, but still. That is stupid cheap.

At the same time, it throws one of the weirdnesses about phone pricing into sharp relief: The 32GB Nexus 7 with cellular connectivity is $300. The 16 GB Nexus 4, off-contract, is $350. 4G or no 4G, that still doesn't make much sense.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:48 AM on October 29, 2012


The Nexus 7 isn't provisioned for voice calls, so that may have something to do with the pricing. The Nexus 4 also has better cameras and newer innards as well.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:31 AM on October 29, 2012


The 4 is amazingly cheap. No LTE, but still half the price of an unlocked iPhone5. If you don't live in the US (or Canada) it's quite the deal.
posted by bonehead at 2:21 PM on October 29, 2012


It's quite the deal regardless of where you live. It does 3G everywhere but China.
posted by wierdo at 2:05 AM on October 30, 2012




"glue"?
posted by Artw at 11:45 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's called "Fusion Adhesive" and it is a proprietary mixture of regular adhesive and a secret ingredient for extra adhesion.

The secret ingredient is more adhesive.
posted by griphus at 11:51 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


NEW iPad - iPad HUGE commercial
posted by homunculus at 1:59 PM on October 31, 2012


Or, y'know, friction stir welding, which is an actual thing.

Yeah, I know, I know, welding. Tedious, old-farty, and no fancy javascript libraries to fall back on. Not really technology at all. Shit, you can't run Chrome on a welding robot, so what the hell is the point of even having it exist? Only oldsters care about welding, and they're probably just making it up. Probably just a word for some stupid framework that isn't one-tenth as cool as Meteor.
posted by aramaic at 6:33 PM on October 31, 2012




Heh, that statement was so ballsy I was surprised there wasn't a post about it.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:19 AM on November 1, 2012


"Apple tried to argue that it would take at least 14 days to put a corrective statement on the site – a claim that one judge said he 'cannot believe'."

Well, the guy that does that is on vacation and we've been having a lot of phone trouble so it's just going to take some extra time.
posted by griphus at 10:23 AM on November 1, 2012


Or, y'know, friction stir welding, which is an actual thing.

It's an actual thing they use on the iMac but not the iPads, as far as I can tell.

Re: the statement, there's a fine line between ballsy and stupid, and thumbing your nose at a judge in a case to which you're a party is pretty far into "stupid."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:29 AM on November 1, 2012


Apple has trained us to look down on actual welding. "It's not machined out of a giant block of aluminum? Who cares!"
posted by smackfu at 3:19 PM on November 1, 2012




griphus: " Well, the guy that does that is on vacation and we've been having a lot of phone trouble so it's just going to take some extra time."

That designer came back from their holidays, and it turns out they're a snarky fucker:
Apple automatically resizes the image of ipad on UK-site depending on the browser-size so that visitors will always have to scroll to see the apology.
posted by meehawl at 10:06 PM on November 4, 2012






Nobody's engineers pay any attention to patents - having them do so would be a liability without benefit.
posted by Artw at 6:07 PM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]






I'd agree, for the last few years certainly, though I wonder if that will continue now Sinofsky has left.
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on November 16, 2012


Has anyone been able to get a Nexus 10? Sold out far quicker than I had anticipated.
posted by juiceCake at 12:22 AM on November 17, 2012


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