Linux Geeks and Tablet Temptation

If “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” summed up all that was wrong in Jan’s world on “The Brady Bunch” all those many decades ago, an equivalent for today’s computing world might be, “tablets, tablets, tablets!”

After all, the widely hyped new devices pretty well dominated the news coming out of CES, and they continue to do so in most other aspects of consumer IT.

It’s virtually a given that most Cupertino fans have already pledged their love to Apple’s market-leading iPad, of course — but what about those of us here on the FOSS side of the fence, where the Android alternatives are arriving on the scene in droves?

Are Linux geeks tempted by tablets too?

‘Apple’s Famed Reality Distortion Field’

That was the central question over at TuxRadar recently, and it’s generated quite a lively discussion in the Linux blogosphere.

“Maybe the shiny videos of Android 3 have whetted your appetite, or perhaps you’d rather have a full-on Linux installation with all the Gnome/KDE bells and whistles,” wrote the TuxRadar gang earlier this month. “Alternatively, you could be getting tempted by Apple’s famed Reality Distortion Field, or you just think that tablets are a silly fad that will go away soon.”

Was there a diversity of opinions in the Linux blogosphere? Let’s put it this way: Is there ever anything else?

The Ubuntu-Powered Tenq P07

The iPad2 was in the purchase plans of at least one Anonymous Penguin commenting on TuxRadar, while an Android-powered device was on madhukara phatak’s shopping list.

Not surprisingly, others had their sights set on the Tenq P07.

“Before I’d read about this, I hadn’t wanted a tablet at all,” wrote Dafydd. “Now the thought of flashing it about in front of those idiot Apple fanboys makes [me] feel all warm and fuzzy.”

Others weren’t so sure.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love gadgetry as much as the next geek, but tablets just aren’t for the discerning nerd,” opined SkinOfStars.

‘My Mobile Needs Are Taken Care Of’

Still a holdout in the tablet domain herself, Linux Girl couldn’t resist taking a small poll of her own.

“So far I have about all the computers I can eat,” Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza told Linux Girl. “I’m waiting for them to get a lot cheaper before I can afford to be adding still more computers to my sizable (if aging) fleet.”

Similarly, “I don’t plan to get a tablet computer because I prefer the tactile response of a keyboard, and my mobile needs are taken care of by either my notebook or my Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) phone with sliding keyboard,” Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack said.

‘Tablets Excite Me’

Slashdot blogger Daengbo, on the other hand, has already given in.

“Unable to wait until 2011, I bought an ePad from China in October, then was surprised when my district decided to use me to pilot iPads for teacher use,” Daengbo began.

“Tablets excite me because they allow me to take notes and update data about students as they go about tasks like labs — activities which normally are two-step processes,” he explained. “My uses for tablets are limited, and the cheap ePad is good enough for my needs.”

Regarding CES, “what excited me most was not the plethora of tablets, but the entrance of devices like the Atrix 4G, which can fill several niches,” Daengbo added. “There’s no tablet accessory for it yet, but that would be a simple add-on. The standard interface (HDMI + USB) for the docks shows amazing foresight.”

‘I Doubt I Will Be Buying Any New Device’

Blogger Robert Pogson — also an educator — has “spent years teaching students not to touch the screen of the monitor,” so “I am not sure I will ever be ready for a touchscreen,” he told Linux Girl.

“I could hook monitor, keyboard and mouse up to one,” he pointed out. “I have a bunch of thin clients, a notebook and a terminal server in my home.”

Still, “I doubt I will be buying any new device for a year or so,” Pogson concluded. “If I were to buy something with touch it might be a smartphone, just because I love ARM and GNU/Linux running on ARM.”

‘Why Not Just Buy a Netbook?’

Tablets are not in Slashdot blogger hairyfeet’s future, either.

“With the exception of a few simple tasks such as taking inventory, tablets are more for content consumption than anything else, and I already have plenty of ways to do that!” hairyfeet told Linux Girl.

“Why anyone would want to spend the prices they want for a halfway decent tablet — when one could get a nice AMD Neo netbook for the same price which will let you consume PLUS game PLUS create PLUS take notes and do another dozen jobs — is beyond me,” hairyfeet opined. “I have yet to see a virtual keyboard that wasn’t just horrible, and if I am gonna have to buy a keyboard for the thing anyway, why not just buy a netbook?”

‘I Really Don’t Feel the Need’

Finally, Slashdot blogger Barbara Hudson, who goes by “Tom” on the site, took a similar view.

“I encourage everyone who wants one to go buy a tablet computer,” Hudson asserted. “That way, if I get the urge to buy one a few years down the road, I’ll get something 10 times better for half the price.”

In the meantime, “let the early adopters pay the ‘Shiny Gadget Tax,'” she said. “I already spend too much time in front of the screen — why would I want to drag yet another one around ‘because it’s even MORE portable’?

“Besides, I really don’t feel the need for a ‘fashion accessory’ tablet computer that, truth be told, makes you look like you took a wrong turn on the way to a Star Trek nerd-fest,” she added.

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