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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Need to know when buying a Tablet Computers

Need to know when buying a Tablet Computers

this year. After Apple broke open the tablet market with the iPad in early 2010, nearly every major manufacturer announced its own plans to make a flat, keyboard-less wonder.

That’s not surprising, since tablets have much to recommend them.

Thinner and lighter than a netbook, tablets easily pack into a small bag or purse. They offer super-simple browsing and e-mail reading capabilities. While they lack keyboards, they’re easier to type on than a tiny smartphone. And they can stream audio and video, making them excellent portable media devices.

However, navigating the tablet market can be tricky. The difficulty of making a usable, well-built tablet with long battery life is illustrated by the many months it took manufacturers to come up with credible alternatives to the iPad.

And while the iPad still leads the market by a mile, there are now options if you want to get a device that wasn’t conceived in One Infinite Loop.

If you’re shopping for one of these portables, here’s a quick rundown of buying decisions and features you should consider before pulling the trigger.

Screen is, arguably, the most important factor in your purchasing decision. In general, you’ll probably be more comfortable typing and tapping on a larger screen — even a half-inch bigger can make a significant difference. However, some users might want their tablets to be more portable, and a big screen adds more weight and bulk. Dell’s Streak comes in on the smaller end of the scale with a 5-inch screen, making it more of an oversized smartphone, while the Samsung Galaxy sports 7 inches. For those who want as much real estate as possible, the Archos 101 has a 10.1-inch screen that outsizes even the iPad’s generous 9.7-inch screen. Meanwhile, Toshiba’s Libretto sports dual 7-inch displays in a funky clamshell design.

You should also look at dot pitch, or the screen’s native resolution measured against the size. More pixels per square inch generally means a sharper picture for movie-watching and clearer text for reading. Of course, how a screen looks is largely dependent on color depth, contrast and brightness.

Outside of stated specs, which can be misleading, try to take a tablet for a test-drive to check the screen’s capabilities. Definitely check to see how responsive the screen is to your touch — after all, you’ll be poking at it constantly. Make sure brightness is turned up all the way so you’re evaluating each tablet at its best. Lastly, keep in mind that a sleek, glossy screen might look great in even lighting, but can cause horrible glare in bright light or sunlight, especially once you’ve smudged it up with your fingers.

Tip: A clear adhesive screen protector can mitigate some glare, as well as protect the screen from scratches. If you plan on replacing a laptop with a tablet for heavy-duty daily use, consider carrying a microfiber cloth and some screen-cleaner fluid for more stubborn spots. Wiping your tablet screen with tissues or napkins (or on your pants) can make smudges worse and leave behind lint.

Wireless Connections
Nearly every tablet is Wi-Fi-capable, but check which: Some models only support the 802.11b/g spec. This probably won’t be a big deal if you’ll just use your tablet for general computing, but if you plan on doing media-streaming and heavy-duty downloads, look for 802.11n.

A tablet with a 3G cell connection on top of Wi-Fi will let you stay in touch even when you’re out of hotspot range. But consider the coverage in your area, as well as the details of the contract.

The iPad 3G patches into AT&T, while the Samsung Galaxy Tab is available through Sprint. The upside? You can get online anywhere that wireless service provider has a signal. The downside? The data plans are costly and sometimes (but not always) come with a contract.

You also might want to consider a model with GPS, since a tablet’s larger screen size makes it an easier-to-read travel companion than a smaller GPS-enabled phone. If you’re looking at the iPad, you’ll have to shell out for the 3G model if you want the GPS.

Bluetooth can be useful, as well. For one, it offers easy wireless data transfer. Connecting a Bluetooth headset or headphones can also be useful for chatting and listening to music. You may also want to use a Bluetooth keyboard for longer typing chores.

OS and Apps
The main choices here are Apple’s iPhone-proven OS and Google’s up-and-coming Android. Each has advantages and drawbacks.

Apple’s iOS offers a massive app store as well as rock-solid hardware and software integration, but lacks support for Adobe Flash, limiting the web experience a bit.

There’s a better selection of Android tablets to choose from made by a variety of companies, but the OS isn’t quite as refined as Apple’s. In addition, the Android app market has a lot of great apps, but the quality control isn’t as tight as Apple’s. This cuts two ways: There are plenty of great apps that are the same as, or similar to, offerings for the iPad, but Android apps can be buggy.

The one thing that will always be true about storage is that you can never have enough of it, especially if you plan on using your tablet as an entertainment device for movies and music. Yet the flash-based RAM used in most tablets is expensive, meaning you’ll have to settle for a few GB at most. A tablet with an SD or microSD slot is a big boon, since it will let you upgrade your storage by adding a removable memory card.

Inputs and Outputs
Since tablet PCs are fairly lean devices, connections are usually restricted to the usual 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB port. Apple’s vaunted iPad doesn’t even have a USB port, so you’re limited to gadgets that work with its proprietary iPod connector.

A select few will have additional ports like HDMI out, letting you show videos or photos on a TV. Ask yourself if you’ll be using your tablet as a desktop/notebook replacement. If the answer is yes, then these additional ports will probably come in handy.

If a tablet you want doesn’t have all the connections you desire, there are a handful of external port adapters for tablets. For instance, the Archos 9 tablet offers a detachable port replicator that gives you VGA out, ethernet and a couple of USB ports, while Apple has a dock-to-VGA connector for connecting to a full-size monitor, and a camera connection kit for uploading images from your camera to your iPad.

Sure, most folks use headphones, but there will inevitably be times when you’ll want to keep your ears unplugged. Built-in tablet speakers won’t sound great, but if you’re shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, take the speakers for a spin to see how far you can push them.

Even if you already have one on your phone (which you’ll probably have with you, anyway), an extra camera is always handy. Editing photos on a tablet’s larger screen is also inherently easier. Measuring a camera by mexapixels is one thing, but remember that real video and photo quality comes from accurate color and the ability to change camera settings for a particular shot. The Samsung Galaxy Tab even has two cameras — one front-facing, one rear-facing — so you can video chat or simply record yourself. The iPad, however, does not have a camera at all.

It Won’t Replace Your PC
Tablets might be the future of portable computing, but we interact with them in a profoundly different way than with smartphones or laptops. Tablets are ideal for web-surfing, watching films and TV shows, doing some light e-mail, reading magazines and newspapers. They’re fit for consuming.

But for creating content they’re lackluster and underpowered compared to even the most bare-bones laptop.

Tablets may revolutionize the way we interact with the web and other media. Just don’t expect one to serve as your primary computer.

Acer launch round-up: tablets, 4.8-inch smartphone, and more

Acer has taken the wraps off a range of new tablet devices and a content platform as part of an ambitious effort to rival Apple’s iPad and capture a good portion of this still nascent market. The new lineup includes a 4.8-inch "smartphone with the soul of a tablet," 7 and 10-inch Android tablets, a 10-inch Windows-based variant, and a unique dual touch screen hybrid between laptop and tablet. Here's a quick rundown of the key features disclosed so far:

The social-networking giant: Facebook allowed to Trademark the Word 'Face'

The social-networking giant: Facebook allowed to Trademark the Word 'Face'

Facebook Plans to Trademark the Word 'Face'
The social-networking giant was just given a green light in its efforts to trademark the word "face." The company's efforts have moved Facebook's pursuit of face past the opposition period, according to the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, and a "Notice of Allowance" has been issued. And it looks like the application will be approved, Neil Friedman, a partner at law firm Baker and Reynolds who regularly practices trademark law, told

Facebook now has six months to file a statement of use (SOU), which is a sworn statement signed by Facebook attesting to use of the mark in commerce, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Without the SOU, the application will be abandoned.

The document says that Facebook provides "telecommunication services, namely, providing online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among computer users in the field of general interest and concerning social and entertainment subject matter, none primarily featuring or relating to motoring or to cars" – so, no Facebook Motors, then?

The effort to trademark "face" goes back to 2005 when CIS Internet Limited, a U.K.-based company, tried to trademark "face" for its site. Facebook bought the application from CIS in 2008.

Even without the official "face" trademark, Facebook has already gone after companies using "face" – as well as "book" – in their business names.

In August, the company sued Teachbook, arguing that "book" is a term associated with Facebook. Selecting "book" was a completely arbitrary choice and "pilfers a distinctive part of the Facebook," Facebook said. Travel site PlaceBook also changed its name to TripTrace after Facebook contacted the site and said its name was confusingly similar to its own.


"At the end of the day, will they have protection in this space? Yes," Friedman said.

A trademark may help Facebook throw the book at the competition -- and Facebook faces a wealth of it., the world's largest domain name registrar, told that it has 53,000 domain names containing the word "face" in its databases. The company estimated that the Internet has 89,000 domain names containing the word "face" just in the .com world.

So put on a happy face, Facebook, that trademark may need to be put to use.

A trademark can cover a variety of things, from the audible jingle in T-Mobile commercials to words or phrases, letters or numbers -- even something pictoral like the Nike swoosh, Friedman explained. Even a color. In Facebook's case, the trademark would cover "telecommunication services, namely providing online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among computer users in the field of general interest and concerning social and entertainment subject matter, none primarily featuring or relating to motoring or to cars."

Cars? What could that mean? A spokesman for Facebook declined to comment on the trademark pursuit, but Friedman has a theory: "My guess is that they've been rejected by somebody that has face already for something related to cars," he said.

The unusual patent may be probably partly explained by its history: The social network picked up a trademark application originally filed in 2005 by U.K. company, run by British company called CIS. Tech news site Engadget explains that the original application covered everything from festival planning to dating services to text message systems -- though that doesn't explain the car thing.

Around October of 2008 CIS filed to split the various categories into separate applications -- one of which was for online chat rooms. That application was taken over by Facebook on November 7, and on November 17 Facebook officially swapped in its attorney.

This doesn't mean that Facebook has won the battle for the word just yet, however. The company must first pay an issue fee, and submit a statement explaining how it uses the word face. Besides, Friedman noted, there are several other trademarks already filed that use the world face.

"In this category, there are already 34 other trademark applications that have a face component," he told "There's one for streaming video on the Internet -- mymusicface. And there's facefirst for monitoring security of others," for example.
"If someone else were using face by itself, yes, they'd be able to block that. But in the real world, that will have to be taken on a case by case basis," Friedman told

So Facebook won't be able to block all other faces -- because Mark Zuckerberg doesn't have the very first face.

Other prominent faces: Apple's newly launched video conferencing service Facetime may be the most high profile service to feel the brunt of Facebook's patent, though it may not be covered by the trademark. (Apple has filed its own trademark application for Facetime, though its efforts have been rejected.) And Facebook has already filed suit against a pornography company with the similar name FacePorn.

The company's efforts are also interesting in light of the current litigation surrounding the other half of the its name -- the "book" part, that is.

Facebook has been embroiled in a spate of trademark-fueled litigation in recent months, most recently a back and forth with parody site Lamebook. The company has also sued Teachbook and Placebook in an effort to protect its identity following the social network's astronomical rise in popularity in recent years.

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