Thursday, 8 March 2012

Android laptops (again)

I recently mentioned these 7 inch Android laptops you can find on ebay. At the time I wondered who if any buys them, but I recently saw someone using one in a cafe so I asked them how they found it.

The answer is that it has a browser, email and you can add a simple text editor to it and a calendar app. The major differentiation is that with a keyboard people can create longer emails and can write reasonable documents. The small format means that it can be shoved in a backpack or a bag, and long battery life means that it can last a day. The person concerned was a student so something that works like that as a second carry about machine makes sense. Just as my old Asus Eee that I use when travelling makes sense.

Talking of Asus, a colleague was good enough to let me play with their Transformer Prime. It's a tablet, it's a computer. Again its basically a tablet with a keyboard, but it's light, thin, robust and basically allows you to do everything that you need to do while out and about (email, write notes, short documents etc), and yet it can become a tablet when that form factor's more convenient, say for reading a newspaper or a book on the train.

The other thing is it's light, thin, and damned sexy looking, sexy enough to compete with a MacBook Air or an iPad.

However, at the end of the day it's the software base that sells hardware. Android is rich enough but lacks a decent office suite except perhaps for Polaris Office which seems promising (again purely on the basis of reviews).

Given that the Prime would be up against products such as the Macbook Air it needs to have equivalent capability - which these days means MS-office capability.

However, coupled with a cloud service to back up your files it does look like an incredibly attractive option ....

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