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My Next Mobile Device -- God Willing :-)

Image by liewcf via Flickr

The wait is over.  MWC Barcelona has come and with it the HTC 7" tablet revelation -- the HTC Flyer.  I've waited for the Android Honeycomb upgrade and for HTC's 7" tablet.  Now all the cards are on the table and I'm ready to take my pick.

I have been without a PDA-phone for 2 months and I've spent this time reading reviews and weighing options.  PDAs have been an integral part of my life for almost ten years now and I continue to value their everyday utility.

What are the 3 main considerations for my next device?

I.  Always Stick to the Need:  Mobile Productivity

II.  Operating System -- stay with Windows Mobile/CE or take the Android plunge?

III.  Hardware -- main considerations -- processor, battery life and screen size

In the days of Palm OS vs Pocket PC, Windows CE was so exciting and cutting edge.  But after Windows Mobile effectively killed Palm OS with mobile office, colored display and multi-tasking Windows started to slack and stopped innovating.  Then came the iPhone.  Then came Android.  And now Windows Mobile has churned out Windows Phone 7 in order to catch up with a market that it once briefly dominated.

Windows Phone 7, iPhone iOS, or Android Froyo/Gingerbread/Honeycomb?

I've had devices from Compaq, HP and HTC running 4 versions of Windows  -- Pocket PC 2002, Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 2003 SE and Windows Mobile 6 Professional.

I've spent this January reading Android reviews and I think I'm ready to take the leap from Windows to Android OS.  Windows Phone 7 IS great but I think a little late, especially since there is no tablet running on this OS yet.  If I were to choose a 4.3" inch device then HTC HD7 running Windows Phone 7 and HTC Desire HD running Android Froyo will be my top two picks.

However, after seeing Samsung Galaxy Tab's 7" screen -- bigger than the biggest smartphones but smaller and easier to hold than the iPad, my mind was set on the Galaxy Tab.

Yes, HTC's Sense UI is better than Samsung Touchwiz and yes, I think Windows Phone 7's UI with it's tile layout is the best mobile User Interface but when it comes down to my needs and preferences I still redound to Samsung's Galaxy Tab.


Because my number 1 consideration is the need that the device fills.  I need a device for MOBILE PRODUCTIVITY, not one for gaming and not one primarily for calls and messaging (though the Galaxy Tab offers both).  I need all my PIM data, especially my personal calendar and work calendars and schedules, wherever I go in an instant at the press of a button and after one or two screen taps.  I need a device that serves as my personal secretary as I go around work thinking, mentoring, leading, and directing the four teams entrusted to me.  A camera built into the device can even help me quickly take shots of any defects within our facilities, tap some notes and send it to the teams concerned.  The device should be able to go with me wherever I am and it should be easy to pull-out from its holster, and easy to hold for extended periods.

A 7" screen is great for looking at and working on populated calendar appointments and events, reading books and other text, word processing and occasional work on spreadsheets.  These are my main needs.  A regular smartphone is small.  A 4.3" screen is decent but it is nothing compared to a 7" inch screen.  On the other hand, Apple's iPad is too big and difficult to hold for a long time.  That's the same problem I have with the recently launched and hailed 10" tablets running Android Honeycomb. Sure, I would love a tab running Honeycomb but right now they are all sporting 10" screens.

I waited for the release of HTC's 7" Flyer (revealed yesterday) just to make sure I wouldn't regret getting the Galaxy Tab.  But it turns out the Flyer is running roughly the same OS as the Galaxy Tab and the same screen resolution.  Yes, I think HTC is right with the re-introduction of the digitizer pen on the Flyer, that's one thing I want in the Flyer; but it will not be released in the market soon, it will be more expensive and it has a stated battery life 3 hours lesser than the Galaxy Tab.

What I will miss from Microsoft are OneNote synchronization, out-of-the-box Pocket Word and Excel and Microsoft Reader.  I will wish I had HTC's re-introduced digitizer pen.  I guess you just can't have everything at a single given time.

Why not a 10" screen?  Too big for real mobility.  Plus, I can always use the larger 13" screen of my Acer ultra-thin laptop for heavier processing needs.

Isn't the soft keyboard better on a 10" screen?  Yes, but if I really need to type heavy stuff on the tablet then my thin foldable keyboard can be pulled out and it will work way better than a soft keyboard.

iGo Ulta-thin Bluetooth Keyboard - Amazon.com

Another regret.  Since Android doesn't natively synchronize with MS Outlook my Outlook Calendar will have to be synchronized over the air via Google Calendar.  The only problem is that Google Calendar does not retain the color categories in Outlook Calendar.

Color Coded Schedules in MS Outlook are not synchronized in Google Calendar

 I also wish Android has a widget that displays overdue reminders like this Outlook box:

So there you have it.  All the bases covered.  My reasons for wanting an "aging" Samsung Galaxy Tab.  Mobile Productivity.

UPDATE:  A friend just recommended the soon to be released HP Touchpad running HP's new proprietary OS  called "webOS".  It IS very attractive but I didn't consider it in my list because I'm afraid it will be among the most expensive tablets.  It also also has a 9.7" display, still larger than my desired 7" display.  I expect it to have a hard battle against the other 10" tablets -- namely the Motorola Xoom, Apple iPad (2?), Samsung Galaxy 10.1 and still upcoming devices from Acer, Asus and Toshiba.

UPDATE (Oct. 2011):   The new 7.7" Samsung Galaxy Tab

Related articles

Remember Windows Mobile? It Outsold Windows Phone 7 Last Quarter (MSFT) (businessinsider.com)
HTC Flyer: 7-inch Android tablet with a surprise (zdnet.com)

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