Daily Archives: May 2, 2011

Review: iPod Touch, Playbook, smartphone or netbook?

Last week, BF got me both the iPod Touch and the Rim Playbook for my birthday! He knew that I wanted to get an iPod Touch to use a “mini computer”, but many talks and figuring out what I needed it for, he got them both for me to try before making my decision. (Side note: Up to this point, I have been using the iPod Touch to type up this post.)

Here is my non-techie review of the Playbook, iPod Touch, and other products I considered.

What I Want the Device to do

This is coming back to the “first principle” of why I want a “mini computer” in the first place.

I spend a lot of time away from home and I miss having my laptop with me, especially on weekends. Usually, I am either at BF’s or my parents. It would be nice to have something to check email, review comments or read my favorite blogs while on the go.  (I don’t feel super comfortable doing that on anything other than my own devices.)

Last year, I bought a backpack with a special laptop sleeve which I have been using for the past year to lug my laptop back and forth. It was working out great, but these past few months, I’ve been feeling the toll on my back.

I know there is a plethora of “mini computers” to choose from.  I was looking at netbooks last year at this time, but hadn’t taken the plunge.  This year, I tried out all the “mini computers” I could think of, including the Playbook, the iPod Touch, and even contemplated several “smartphones.”

Factors in my Decision

I prefer Wifi over data.  I primarily want to use the data available from Wifi,and would rather not have a data plan added to my monthly phone plan.  I know that I must be last dinosaur to not own a smartphone… but I really think that I have so much access to the internet via my laptop, at work and via Wifi, and that’s enough for me, for now.

Portability.  I would like the device to be portable.  Something that I could bring in a purse or bag.

Reading and typing.  Even though I’d like the device to be small, I would still like the screen to be big enough to read, and whatever mechanism typing mechanism it had, it should be easy to use.  Picture me in a coffee shop on a beautiful afternoon working on a blog post.

Battery life.  I know that the bigger the screen, the more juice the device will use.  One of the main reasons why I don’t want to go with a smartphone – if my primary phone is also my mini-computer, I would have to charge it almost every night.  My current “dumb phone” lasts me 4 – 5 days a charge, and I love it.

Extras.  Some extras would be to have something like a personal planner with me to write down notes or check me calendar.

In a nutshell, those are the factors influencing my decision.  Onto the product reviews :)

RIM Playbook

Being the techie that he is, my BF just couldn’t wait to get his hands on the Playbook.  ;)  So, he got it for my birthday for me (and him) to try.

Tablet. The Playbook is a great tablet device.  It was perfect for reading my favourite blogs and had a really intuitive interface.  The swipe motion was pretty easy for me to use and the it used the same “pinching” motions to zoom as the iPod Touch and other Apple products.

The keyboard.  The keyboard was big enough and typing was easier than I anticipated.  The touch screen keys were responsive and spaced far enough apart that typo’s weren’t too big a deal.  However, I was still finger pecking away, and my pinky got tired after a while.

Battery Life.  I got a solid 6 – 7 hours of battery life from this little guy and was pretty happy with that.  That’s with some gaming (Tetris), surfing the web, and generally playing around with my new toy.

Cost.  BF bought it but I’m pretty sure it cost $499 + taxes.

Shortfalls.  I’m sure that real techie review sites have more.  These are just the things that I noticed.

  • Gmail. For some reason, my GMail never worked whenever I tried to login on the Playbook.
  • Drop down menu responsiveness.  When I tried to check my WordPress dashboard, I couldn’t get the little arrow to drop down.  It kept activating the “My Blog” big button next to it.  I wish RIM paid more attention to details like this.
  • Tethering.  I don’t have a Blackberry, but BF did, and could not get his to sync, properly.  Not sure if it’s just his, because it worked well for his roommate’s Blackberry.  (Update: I think it only works for the later versions of the Blackberry, or you need to update your older Blackberry)
  • Not too  many apps.  This isn’t a huge deal for me, since I don’t have a smartphone, but it’s just something I noticed.

Apple iPod Touch

I have been drooling over the iPod Touch since reading Fabulously Broke’s review on this nifty little device and playing with my sister’s.  I was really excited and hoping that it could do what I wanted as my “mini computer.”

Screen size.  As I was reading my emails and Google reader feeds, I realized that the screen was a little small for me.  (I know, I know, I did want a mini computer.)

Keyboard.  I typed the first portion of this post using the Touch to see what it was like.  I know that the touch screen takes some getting used to, but I  was making a tonne of typos, and the “suggestions” Apple had were hit or miss.  It’s also a lot easier typing when I turn it lengthwise.

Camera.  Camera was pretty cool and sharp, but I doubt that I will use it much.  It’s got the two faced camera, which seems to be all the rage.

Battery Life.  The battery life was decent.  Not sure how long this lasted me since I used it on and off for most of the week.  I also turned off wifi when I wasn’t using it.

Portability.  I LOVE this pint size of the iPod Touch.  I just picture myself carrying it with me everywhere, and checking my calender or playing Sodoku on it.

Cost. BF got this for me, but it costs $249 + taxes.

Camera.  Pretty cool. It’s got the two faced camera, as well.  I will probably end up using this camera more than the Playbook, just snapping pictures out and about.  I have a Canon point and shoot that I usually carry with me, so this isn’t a deal breaker, just a bonus.

WordPress & Internet.  I tried writing a post in WordPress and it was not the greatest interface.  The formatting was off, and I couldn’t figure out how to change the formats for heading vs paragraph texts.  On the other hand, it was great for commenting and reading other blogs – I could easily switch from the mobile site to the full site.

Extras and accessories.  I’m not gonne lie.  The plethora of cute cases for the iPod Touch makes me do a little happy dance.   I also love that I can have my calender and notepad in one device.  Kinda like the paper agenda I carried around with me throughout high school, but cooler.

Netbook

I hadn’t thought about this for a while, but am re-evaluating as I am typing out this post on BF’s Acer netbook.  After all, it’s literally a “mini computer”.

Screen.  The screen is the perfect size. I can do and see everything the way that I would with a computer.  No more mobile sites for me :).  I think this one is 10 inches.

Keyboard.  I love that I get to type on a real keyboard and use a touch pad.  Enough said.

Battery Life.  The juice is pretty good.  This netbook is a 6 cell battery and has at least 5- 6 hours of life on it.  Even with me typing this long post and playing music at the same time.

Portability.  This is definitely not the size I was picturing when I thought about my “mini computer”.  It still weighs about 2-3lbs, and I can’t just toss it in my purse, like I can with the iPod Touch or smart phone.

Cost. $349 plus taxes for a netbook with a 6 cell battery.  Not bad at all, much better value that the Playbook, IMHO.

No extra features.  I wouldn’t be able to use it “on the go”, such as checking my calender or using the camera.

Smartphones

I will lumping these all together as I’ve not fully reviewed a smartphone.  I have searched and inquired about various data plans, and also played with friends’ and co-workers’ smart and asked them questions about their phones.

Battery Life.  The consensus is that if you have a smart phone you will be charging it every night, if it has a nice 4″ display screen (unlike the Blackberries).  Even though smartphones have evolved quickly, the evolution of batteries hasn’t quite kept up.  I don’t like it when my phone is dead (it’s my primary landline, as well), but would find it bothersome to bring the cable with me everywhere (since I’m not always home).

Data plan and $$$.  The way I see it, there’s isn’t much of a point of getting a smart phone without a data plan.  And data plans cost $$$.  The best deal I could find was from Rogers for $53 after taxes and fees, on a 3-year contract.

  • My 5
  • 100 Texts
  • Unlimited evenings and weekends
  • Early evenings at 6pm
  • 500 mb data
  • Caller ID & voicemail

If I didn’t have a data plan, I could probably get away with a plan for about $20 a month, since I will have more leverage after my current contract with Rogers is up.

Contracts.  I hate contracts.  Remember my post on Rogers?  The last thing I want is to be stuck in a 3-year contract with them just to save $500 on a smartphone.

$500 for most smartphones.  I could always buy the smartphone outright and not get trapped in a contract.  I’ve been looking at the Nexus S, HTC, and other Android phones.  But then, I’d still be paying for data.

Get a “tab”.  With Koodo or Wind Mobile.  Again, Koodo is under Bell – aka a worse provider than Rogers.  As much as I rant about Rogers, Bell is worse.  Wind Mobile, I haven’t heard great things about them either.  So, why should I give them my money for data plans which may or may not work?

No need.  I have survived thus far without a smartphone.  Why get one now?

Verdict?

I’m so glad that I typed this all out.  I’m sure that I must be driving BF up the wall with my constant jumping back and forth between which device to keep/choose and discussing to death the pro’s and con’s of each one.

After looking at all the different angles, I think that a smart phone and the Playbook are definitely not for me.  Too many compromises on what I want it to do.

It’s still down to between the iPod Touch and the netbook.  I’m not sure if it’s crucial I be able to type and edits posts in my mini computer, since this will definitely compromise the “mini-ness” of it.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts, as well.  Feel free to chime in, and share your experience with any of the device that you have used.  Verdict coming up… :)

Cheers,


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