Friday, 13 August 2010

ipads, apads and joojoo

I've been quiet on the tablet and e-reader front lately. Simply because recently, and unusually, I have had little to say.

Clearly we see the market segmenting into two strands - the cheap dedicated bookreader market where the devices basically have a monochrome e-ink type display and read epub and pdf format files plus a couple of proprietary ones., and the more general purpose content surfing device - the iPad.

Most big bookstore chains now offer basic bookreader device, and stores like Officeworks sell various models at discount if you don't want a tie-in. Interestingly publishers don't seem to be pushing logo'd versions - yet.

They're here, and while actual usage figures (as opposed to units sold) are hard to come by, you do see people using them on planes and buses. And one could see a future where they continue to occupy the low end, gonna get banged about, not going to cry (much) if it dies on me part of the market. The mp3 players of the book world. Does one thing, but does it well enough.

The really cheap ones have a cable connect to host pc for download, slightly more expensive ones have a wi-fi connection, and all cost less than $200. They do what they do quite well, and certainly provide a viable way of lugging a pile of reading around. They're less good on reference works, where you want to bookmark and skip about, but hey, $200 baby!

Do I regret buying one?

No. I learned a lot, and even though I don't use it that much I could see myself using it a lot more if I commuted by bus rather than driving to work.

Now the iPad. I'm probably the only geek in Australia who's never touched one. I did think of buying myself one but I couldn't quite bring myself to. I still have a lurking suspicion that something with a multi tasking operating system and a more open architecture might be better in the long run. In the meantime Steve and his crew have done a wonderful job in convincing the world that the iPad is a wonderful game-changing device. The iHype I'm sure will be pored over by marketeers for years as an example of how to get a vibe going.

In part the iPad has succeed by being there, and unique in coming to market with a whole ecology and applications base. Alternatives like the JooJoo havn't made it, and probably are now niche players at most.

And Android - well the first tablets are starting to appear, but so far there's no real momentum behind them yet - in the west anyway.

And while you can get yourself a Chinese Android iPad like device such as the Apad on ebay for $150 or so, reviews and user experience is mixed to say the least. Poor build quality, poor battery life - the latter being fatal for a content delivery device given that you're probably going to sit in front of it to read for a reasonable chunk of time at each sitting.

This of course doesn't mean there won't be better Android iPad analogs out there sometime soon, just they're not there yet. On the other hand, an Apad for the cost of a Kobo ...

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