Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
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extended or repaired


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Friday 07 June 2013 The Forest Road Reader, No 67

In the "industry talk" around Android devices it's all Google this, Asus and Acer that in the "tablet space", and is-it-HTC-is-it-Samsung in the "mobile space". The discussion focusses on the super-duper top end stuff, where anything more than a year old is chronically outdated. This is nonsense, of course. It also completely overlooks the budget end of the market, which is what I suspect will ultimately end up being a big chunk of the active devices. Maybe not the biggest, but too big too ignore.

Little Master Cricket. Play positive. The forward defensive will not help you in this game.

Budget hardware traditionally means budget performance. If you spent money on an early bottom end Android tablet, it really wasn't great. I bought an Elonex eTouch 7 inch tablet. It had a 640x480 resolution resistive touch screen which worked best when poked with the wrong end of a pencil. It was underpowered and struggled to do more than one thing at once. On the plus side the screen was easy to read and the battery life was good. Large was what I wanted, I used it to demonstrate the CycleStreets app and my friend Ken picked one for reading comics on, but there was no way I'd have recommended one for general use. The alternatives at the time were things like the Asus Transformer or Galaxy Tab - excellent but expensive. Neither of us could afford one of those, so it was budget or nothing. Most people would have gone for nothing :)

They're for cars! Only cars! - a pop-up park in the middle of Manchester.

These days, thanks to Moore's Law, the good people at ARM, and Chinese industriousness, the budget devices are pretty decent. They won't win any speed contests, but on the other hand would you be happier to give your child a device costing £45 to play with or the £300+ phone? Yes, go on, look at the specs and laugh at it's measley 480x272 pixel screen. Snigger quietly at its 512 megs of memory.

Rereading Comics: Goodwin and Simonson's Manhunter. I reread myself only yesterday while reshelving a load of books. It is a scortchingly good comic.

Get one in your hand though, and you'll be pleasantly surprised. The Scroll Pocket is quite a lively little thing. The screen is still readable, and the touch is (much to my surprise) responsive and precise. Battery life is good. Wifi connection seems to take a while to connect from power on, but is otherwise entirely fine. To Harry's delight, it even has a (passable) camera. If you didn't need a phone that could actually make phone calls, but wanted a super-portable tablet it could be just the ticket.

Nasa chief Bolden says agency can go where no man has gone before: Mars. You knew he was going to say that, right?

Your kids won't care about the spec anyway and you won't have to have them run down your battery just because they want to play Minecraft, you won't have to fill up your SD card with JLS 'tunes', there's no risk they'll text your friends and colleagues telling them you smell, and you won't risk your ringtone being changed to a fart noise when you aren't looking. Now £45 isn't quite at the it-doesn't-matter-if-it-gets-lost-or-broken threshold, but it's not far off, and its wildly nearer to it than a phone.

Off to Edgbaston with the kids tomorrow to watch the cricket. Should be super. Have a top time doing whatever you're doing.


Tagged android, twats-in-cars, comics, mars, and cricket


Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
software created
extended or repaired

Older posts are available in the archive or through tags.

Feed

Follow me on Twitter
My code on GitHub

Contact
About