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Here Come the Linux iPad Clones

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the send-in-the-clones dept.

Handhelds 584

CWmike writes "You can now pre-order an Apple iPad; but do you really want to, asks Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. 'I mean, I get why you'd want an iPad. I'd like one too,' he writes. 'But,' he says, 'when I consider that there are soon going to be literally dozens of cheaper, Linux-powered iPad devices on the market, I find it a lot easier to resist putting $499 on my credit card. On top of that, Apple will be including DRM on some eBooks and other iPad content. I really, really hate DRM. All that said, I agree the iPad is really cool. I predict with absolute faith that the iPad and its clones are going to kill off single purpose devices like dedicated eReaders such as Amazon's Kindle and GPS devices within the next three years. How can it not work out this way? For the same price as a high-end dedicated device you can get a tablet that will do everything they can do and far more. But, and this is the important bit, you don't have to buy an Apple iPad to get all of the iPad's goodies. ARM, a mobile microprocessor power, is predicting that we'll see no less than 50 ARM-processor-powered iPad clones by year's end. And, what will they be running? These ARM-powered entertainment tablets will all be running Linux.'"

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584 comments

No iPad for me (5, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456638)

What with all the other tablets coming out that let me install whatever the hell I want on them, I see no reason to be stuck with the programs Apple deems "appropriate" for me.

Obviously, this is just my opinion and only applies to myself.

Re:No iPad for me (1, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456806)

You are right. The iPad isn't for you.
The iPad is for your Ma, Pa, Grandma and Grandpa.
In other words, everyone else in the world that isn't a nerd/geek/tech-head.

Re:No iPad for me (1, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456906)

If this was even just ten years ago, I would agree with you...but at this point, the average person has a basic understanding of how to use a computer, and shouldn't be pandered to with watered down offerings that cost as much if not more than their full-fledged peers. The elderly thing still holds true today, although the "young" elderly are more tech-knowledgeable than ever before.

If someone WANTS to pay that much for something with half the functionality of similarly priced tablets, that's totally up to them...but I think it's a little insulting to suggest that you have to be a geek to use something more complicated than a modified version of the iPhone OS.

Re:No iPad for me (5, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456998)

but at this point, the average person has a basic understanding of how to use a computer, and shouldn't be pandered to with watered down offerings

You clearly have not done a lot of tech support. The "average person" deserves treatment only slightly better than being beaten with rubber hoses. Since that won't clear marketing, they'll get the iPad instead.

Re:No iPad for me (2, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457118)

You clearly have not done a lot of tech support.

I do quality assurance and mail merge programming in a call center. Trust me, I've seen some stupid shit :-)

That being said, the average person still knows how to use a "regular" computer. They might not know how to fix one or maintain one, but I don't see how that would be any different with an iPad. True, being locked into the app store would prevent them from wandering elsewhere and downloading potentially "harmful" software, but my question is this: why wouldn't Apple let me use the appstore OR whatever software I want. I know the answer (money and sales, obviously), but that doesn't mean I like it (which is why I won't get one, doy)

The "average person" deserves treatment only slightly better than being beaten with rubber hoses. Since that won't clear marketing, they'll get the iPad instead.

Awesome:-)

Re:No iPad for me (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456934)

Why? Can't ma, pa, gram, and gramps just use a Windows XP or Ubuntu or Puppy Linux tablet? They are as easy to use as this porta-Mac iPad. Maybe you would have had an argument that Macs/Apples were better in the 1980s or 90s (and been right), but that doesn't apply today. The "others" have caught up.

Re:No iPad for me (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456986)

as others replied to you, that market of non geek/nerd/techhead is only getting smaller over time.

trying to cater to that market is just going to become futile. The more popular/successful these devices get, the more people become geek/nerd/tech head.

Tivoization (1, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456816)

What with all the other tablets coming out that let me install whatever the hell I want on them

Not necessarily. The mention of "ARM-powered entertainment tablets" makes me think some of these tablets will be locked up like a TiVo DVR [wikipedia.org] : running a GPLv2 Linux kernel digitally signed by the manufacturer and GPLv2 apps digitally signed by the manufacturer. The compliance and robustness [wikipedia.org] requirements of the digital restrictions management systems used by the publishers of non-free works on "entertainment tablets" might prohibit any environment that isn't suitably Tivoized so that someone can't just tee(1) [wikipedia.org] the cleartext of a non-free work to a file.

Re:Tivoization (2, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456946)

You forget though, there are plenty of tablets coming out that will have Windows 7 on them (and, in theory, be modifiable), and I wouldn't be surprised if in a year or two once companies get the logistics of tablet design and construction down we will see the cheap knockoffs that you can do whatever you want to appearing on the market.

I'm sure there are other open (as in "do what you want", not "open source") linux-based devices coming as well.

Re:No iPad for me (2, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456840)

FTFA

ARM, a mobile microprocessor power, is predicting that we'll see no less than 50 ARM processor-powered iPad clones by year's end — and these ARM-powered entertainment tablets will all be running Linux.

50? Really, 50? That can't be good for anyone of them. Market fragmentation leads to incompatible devices, applications, etc.

Surely the Linux world learned its lesson from the desktop wars, hasn't it?

Re:No iPad for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31456884)

Surely the Linux world learned its lesson from the desktop wars, hasn't it?

No. No, it hasn't.

Re:No iPad for me (2, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457080)

Surely the Linux world learned its lesson from the desktop wars, hasn't it?

What a completely stupid question. Guess what? It's not like Linus can actually command some tablet maker to not use Linux, unless that manufacturer violates GPL. Other than that, you can Tivo-ize Linux, hide it safely inside a cluster of google compute-nodes, hell you could even put it in a missle and fire it off. Not much that Linus, Redhat or anyone from the "desktop wars" could anything about. "50 different tablets" is just another page in the unfinished book of Linux.

Re:No iPad for me (5, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456964)

What with all the other tablets coming out that let me install whatever the hell I want on them, I see no reason to be stuck with the programs Apple deems "appropriate" for me.

Obviously, this is just my opinion and only applies to myself.

You grasp something that a lot of people in these arguments fail to understand - that there are opinions that differ from yours (gasp!). The worst "offenders" seem to be some of the folks who basically wanted an OS X-based clone of the typical Windows Tablet PC. The only pre-release poll I knew about the "rumored Apple device" fell pretty decidedly in favor of an iPhone-like interface instead of a OS X-like interface - it was something like 2/3 to 1/3.

For me, as an iPod Touch owner, the Apple restrictions have not been a perceived problem - and the larger screen an iPad offers may very well eventually lead me to purchase an iPad (AFTER the first generation!). But obviously there are people like you that want the absolute freedom they perceive in a Linux-based tablet device, and who chafe at the restrictions they see in the Apple offering. Having options is always better, no matter which camp you fall into; and the market will eventually settle all these questions we seem to love endlessly debating on Slashdot.

Re:No iPad for me (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457044)

You grasp something that a lot of people in these arguments fail to understand - that there are opinions that differ from yours (gasp!). The worst "offenders" seem to be some of the folks who basically wanted an OS X-based clone of the typical Windows Tablet PC. The only pre-release poll I knew about the "rumored Apple device" fell pretty decidedly in favor of an iPhone-like interface instead of a OS X-like interface - it was something like 2/3 to 1/3.

I made very sure to include the "it only applies to me, this is my opinion" boilerplate to that post, ESPECIALLY in a discussion about the iPad :-)

For me, as an iPod Touch owner, the Apple restrictions have not been a perceived problem - and the larger screen an iPad offers may very well eventually lead me to purchase an iPad (AFTER the first generation!). But obviously there are people like you that want the absolute freedom they perceive in a Linux-based tablet device, and who chafe at the restrictions they see in the Apple offering. Having options is always better, no matter which camp you fall into; and the market will eventually settle all these questions we seem to love endlessly debating on Slashdot.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the iPad shouldn't exist...I know it's going to sell well, and for the type of device it is, it looks like it does its job well...I just think Apple is going a little overboard with the Apple Tax this time. If each model was reduced by $100-$150 (which I'm sure won't take long, if history is any indication) then I think it would be worth the money in its current state. As it stands though, my primary issue is paying a full-feature price for a half-feature product. That's all.

Re:No iPad for me (1, Insightful)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457090)

the larger screen an iPad offers may very well eventually lead me to purchase an iPad (AFTER the first generation!).

I'm an early adopter, you insensitive clod!

Joking aside, this is exactly the kind of reasonable disagreement I wish I saw more of on the net. It's almost like Pres. Obama took over SlashDot from CmdrTaco.

Re:No iPad for me (2, Interesting)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456996)

It really depends on what you want from such a device. At first I wondered why on earth I'd want an iPad... but then it struck me that I would really like a good device for on the coffee table in the living room, for light browsing and such. Something that:
- is small, lightweight, and looks good
- instantly switches on (no booting, no taking bloody ages to come out of hybernation)
- has a usable touch screen... I do not give a toss about multitouch, but I love the iPhone touch screen because it works very well even with fat fingers.

I'm very much a Wintel guy, but I've considered getting an Apple laptop, mainly because they really do come out of hybernation instantly, making them useful to have lying around in the living room. Now I might get an iPad instead... Lack of a physical keyboard makes the device lighter and better looking, and if the touch screen is as good as the iPhone's, it'll be more than good enough for casual use. And the user interface is very well suited to this scenario.

The iPad looks like a winner for me... Unless one of those Linux ones measure up. But it'll take a lot to beat Apple when DRM is not an issue and their out-of-the-box product already does what I want.

And You Look Like A Loser To The Rest Of The World (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457116)

"The iPad looks like a winner for me..."

What a fucking moron.

And here come the pundits... (4, Insightful)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456648)

And here come the pundits declaring every tablet computer to be an iPad clone. Because as we all know, the CrunchPad/JooJoo is such a ripoff of the iPad.

Aren't we so lucky to have Apple around to invent everything for us?

Re:And here come the pundits... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31456780)

Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, yet he is often credited for it.

This is because his improvements in the automobile "ecosystem" (fabrication, costs, etc) took the car from a one-off product to the mass market.

iPad = Model T
Every other pad (CrunchPad, DellPad, MS Pad, 50 no-name linux pads) = one-off market

Re:And here come the pundits... (3, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456956)

I think that remains to be seen.

If you said iPod = Model T, then yeah, that'd be hard to refute.

Re:And here come the pundits... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31456970)

Still... calling any tablet coming out after the iPad a clone is a bit rich. The word clone implies a duplication on a material level, copying the physical product.

Re:And here come the pundits... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31456988)

You didn't just compare the Model-T --an innovation in almost all aspects of automotive design and fabrication-- to the iPad --which really isn't much more than a large iPod Touch--, did you? Wow...

Re:And here come the pundits... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457026)

FWIW, I have never heard anyone credit Ford with the invention of the automobile. Modern manufacturing techniques, yes. The automobile, no. I have, OTH, seen Apple take credit for many things they did not invent.

Re:And here come the pundits... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457032)

Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, yet he is often credited for it.

I have never, ever, [heard|read|read lips] someone remotely suggesting Henry Ford invented the automobile; I'm sorry but that is a bad analogy.

Anyway, the iPod is a so-so media player, the iPhone is a so-so mobile phone, the iPad... don't know yet.
I don't see any indication it will be above average when compared to similarly-priced devices, though.

Apple is closer to Nike than to Ford. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457120)

Sorry, you can't compare them at all.

Henry Ford competed on price alone. He did this by vastly improving the efficiency of the manufacturing process. He also paid his workers a better-than-average wage, which helped him attract and keep the best talent, and which had the side effect of basically creating the American middle class.

Apple does not compete on price. After all, its products are typically 3 to 4 times as expensive as its competitors' products, while typically being a fraction as powerful, and a fraction as capable.

Apple is closer to Nike than it is to Ford. Their offering really isn't that special. They do add a few trivial trinkets (like air pumps or air packs in Nike's case), and stick their logo on it (like Nike's swoosh), and slap on huge amounts of marketing to trick stupid people into buying an otherwise overpriced and unremarkable product.

Close... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457074)

Aren't we so lucky to have Apple around to invent everything for us?

It takes Apple to invent the device (hardware). It takes others to get it right (-DRM, etc). :)

Re:And here come the pundits... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457086)

Mods, the parent isn't insightful. It's a strawman and is clearly flamebait...

How are these clones? (4, Insightful)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456660)

How are these clones? The iPad was announced what, 2.5 months ago? Doesn't it take significantly longer than that to engineer, design and develop a device to market? So if these were in the works long before the iPad was announced, how can then POSSIBLY be clones? Or is this just successful Apple marketing to instill the idea that if a "Major Player" is first to press (Which the iPad wasn't by the way), all others become imitators? That's like saying that Apple invented the smart phone, or that MS invented the home computer, or that Google invented online document editing and storage...

Re:How are these clones? (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456920)

How are these clones? The iPad was announced what, 2.5 months ago? Doesn't it take significantly longer than that to engineer, design and develop a device to market?

Not if you can skip the design step.

Re:How are these clones? (2)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457028)

apple isn't exactly a company with inventive, complicated or unique features. How hard is it to make a computer run if all you're changing is some hardware and a few features?

touchscreen, epub, wifi, did I miss anything? none of those are exceptionally hard to program into any device really.

Oh right, actual clones will probably be able to use bluetooth/make calls/tether/be tethered to, as well. whoops.

Cost effective? (1)

Mekkah (1651935) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456678)

The eReaders paved the way, but if they drop down in price to say 75 bucks, which is going to be more useful? I'd rather use the book for a Reader, leave my GPS in the car (or use my iPhone) than use this. Very neat product but I think the average person will get a reader if they want a reader, and a netbook & iPhone if they want apps without the monthly cost addition..

I'm sure it will eventually balance out and be useful.

Re:Cost effective? (2, Informative)

Luthair (847766) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456818)

I agree, the story seems to complain that the cost of eReaders is comparable to the iPad which is blatantly incorrect, the vast majority of readers come in at half the price of the base iPad. I do hope this results in downward pressure on Amazon and Sony to hit the $99 mark, really 3G, wifi, etc. aren't truly necessary in a reader.

Having said all that, I think ebooks have probably been set back significantly with the recent increase in prices.

Re:Cost effective? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457002)

Or even handheld GPS devices won't disappear. Know why? Because my Garmin could drop from my hand/pocket/wherever, bounce off the concrete, land in a pool of water that's somehow still liquid while it's currently -30 celcius outside, and sit there for a while... and it would still work perfectly when I pick it up again.

On two AA batteries.

Yeah, I don't see the Ipad, or any such device, taking its spot.

Software (5, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456686)

Unless the software on the Linux devices has been rewritten for a touch interface I don't see why they're worth bothering with.

That's the genius of the iPad, loads of software apps designed for a touch screen interface. Hence why Apple based it on the iPhone not the Mac.

Tablets with desktop OS software suck and have been around for years, failing to catch on due to poor usability.

Re:Software (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456758)

For at least a few of these tablets, they are equating Linux with Android... So yes, it is designed for a touch screen interface (And multi-touch at that)...

But I do agree that taking something that was designed exclusively for use with a mouse and keyboard and slapping it on something with a touch screen is a recipe for disaster...

Adapting a mouse app for touch control (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456868)

Unless the software on the Linux devices has been rewritten for a touch interface I don't see why they're worth bothering with.

Adapting a mouse app for touch control has two major steps: 1. eliminate anything requiring a hover, and 2. make the controls big so that they're easier to hit. Or what am I missing?

Re:Adapting a mouse app for touch control (1)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456962)

Adapting a mouse app for touch control has two major steps: 1. eliminate anything requiring a hover, and 2. make the controls big so that they're easier to hit. Or what am I missing?

You'll have to enable flicking (in order to not suck).

Re:Adapting a mouse app for touch control (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457096)

adjusting the overall interface for touch screen , not just big controls but proper controls. you can have sliding buttons, etc. You need an on screen keyboard that works the same across all applications, with built in spell check that picks up words as they are entered. Applications themselves need to be able to rotate to deal with changes in resolutions. You need to setup a method of switching to various applications without keyboard combos or other hardware buttons. You need to add gesture support into the ENTIRE interface and every app to allow more input methods.

Oh and you need to make all of that work the same across every app and every interface element that needs or could make sensible use of it.

That is the point Android and current windows mobile fail so badly at. They are still designing interfaces for desktops. Not for multi touch based tablets. People like you who think there is only two steps to make s touch based app to consider when designing the interface, is why apple is kicking android's ass.

Re:Software (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456916)

I'd agree with that. If you're not going to use the command line, there's not much point in using Linux anyway.

Re:Software (1)

repetty (260322) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456982)

> That's the genius of the iPad, loads of software apps designed for
> a touch screen interface. Hence why Apple based it on the iPhone
> not the Mac.

None of that matters on Slashdot. It's all about hardware, here.

Re:Awesome - crappy Linux Gui design with a tablet (1)

waambulance (1766146) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457034)

i cant wait. a decent gui for my cheetos-stained fingers typing out shellcode while watching the newest episode of The Bachelor. i dont even have to leave my bed now.

Forget Linux (4, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456690)

All I want is a low-cost (100$ max), E-ink (reflective, extremely low-power) PDF reader with an SD memory card slot.

No Web browser
No MP3 player
No Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
No keyboard (touch screen would be nice but at that price I would settle for a gamepad-style interface)

Re:Forget Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457016)

They've had those for years ... they're called "printers".

Re:Forget Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457048)

Translation: "I want to pay 1/5 the price for 1/100 the functionality. I'm a real economic whiz."

Re:Forget Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457146)

So... build it?

But what books? (3, Interesting)

OFnow (1098151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456700)

The key is going to be how easy it is to buy and download books.
Kindle gets this right.

And of course how many books are available.
Kindle has a ways to go, though Amazon tries.

Re:But what books? (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456770)

I'm thinking most book sellers will write/sell apps that allow you to download/buy and read their e-books. I'm fairly certain there a several android apps to do just this out or in the works.

Hardware clones - yes. Clones .. no (2, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456704)

I was reading on Macrumors today about the data plan pricing structure. $15/mo for 250MB or $30/mo for unlimited. With NO CONTRACT .. all month to month and you can stop and start on a monthly basis at will, and upgrade/downgrade as you choose.

So I can see the hardware clones coming out of the woodwork, but it is going to take some serious corporate muscle to iron out similar data plans deals like that.

Re:Hardware clones - yes. Clones .. no (3, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456896)

The unlimited is going to be a tough sell on open devices, but there are plans close enough to the $15/250MB available right now:

http://www.virginmobileusa.com/mobile-broadband [virginmobileusa.com]

(Virgin Mobile is owned and operated by Sprint, they bought Virgin out last year and licensed the name)

Re:Hardware clones - yes. Clones .. no (1)

dfgchgfxrjtdhgh.jjhv (951946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457122)

As a UK reader, those tariffs look shocking. I thought 3g was expensive here, but they don't even sell less than 1gb (between £5-£15, depending on plan) here.

I still want a keyboard (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456706)

I have an eeepc 701. Yeah I know the screen is small, but I run ubuntu on it and I get a lot of coding done on the tram with it. I want a keyboard but I could do without the track pad if I had a touch screen instead.

BTW has anybody else in Australia noticed the little linux based netbook in JB? I saw it last week. Screen size seems about the same as the 701. Its ~250 bucks or so.

Re:I still want a keyboard (1)

edelbrp (62429) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456748)

There's an accessory that is a dock/keyboard for the iPad. Actually I thought it was clever to have a way to both prop up the iPad and have a real keyboard at the same time.

DRM (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456710)

On top of that, Apple will be including DRM on some eBooks and other iPad content.

Wait what? You won't buy devices that companies can sell DRM'd content on? I can see not buying devices where the only content is DRM'd, but devices that support both free and DRM'd formats give me more choices, not fewer. I'm not buying an iPad because I don't fit the target market and it would be pretty useless for me, but your DRM reasoning baffles me.

Re:DRM (0, Troll)

Luthair (847766) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457038)

Its Apple, we know everything they can will be locked down until they're dragged kicking and screaming into the open. See their lack of movement on open music until Amazon & co. got involved.

Re:DRM (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457134)

That reasoning excludes all kinds of things like: DVD's and all DVD players [sure they play non-DRMed DVD's, but they have support for DRM, so they're bad], the Kindle and most other e-book readers, as most of the mainstream ones have support for epub 'books' that have DRM, PDF's [as they support DRM], VCR's [macrovision], anything that connects between your cable outlet and your TV that supports HD content, and your HDTV.

Avoiding buying ebooks from iTunes to put on your iPad is a reasonable argument. But not buying a device because it has support for both drm'ed and non-drm'ed content is well, kinda crazy.

Check List (2, Interesting)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456722)

* Can it multi-task?
* Does it have a camera?
* Is it free of the Apple Empire?

I guess not everything is about the technology. The content is important, too. And Apple has a head start on everyone else in that department. Remember, it's not always the best technology that survives the marketplace.

Perhaps Linux can get a better foothold in the tablet market than it has in the desktop arena. That would eventually translate to better desktop penetration.

Re:Check List (3, Funny)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456848)

"Perhaps Linux can get a better foothold in the tablet market than it has in the desktop arena."

Not very likely. Given the restrictions of the tablet form factor UI is even more important than it is on desktops or laptops. Sure linux is free and all that but you tend to have to have a gun to a linux developer's head to get him to spend time on polishing the UI.

Re:Check List (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457000)

Not very likely. Given the restrictions of the tablet form factor UI is even more important than it is on desktops or laptops. Sure linux is free and all that but you tend to have to have a gun to a linux developer's head to get him to spend time on polishing the UI.

Hmmm. Or dangle a bunch of money in front of said head.

Clearly manufacturers are jumping on the tablet bandwagon, and those same manufacturers know that desktop Linux's less than polished interface won't sell too well. I'm sure they'll be willing to spend bucks polishing Linux, since they don't have to buy the OS to begin with. Especially if it means doubling their sales, or more.

Re:Check List (1)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457022)

Sure linux is free and all that but you tend to have to have a gun to a linux developer's head to get him to spend time on polishing the UI.

We have people paid to do that, you know. No weapon needed.

Re:Check List--Not Worth-It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31456890)

From personal experience, I can say that desktop penetration is unhygienic, taboo in almost every culture, and --what's worse--totally unenjoyable.

Needed competition (1)

TwiztidK (1723954) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456744)

I think that if there really are as many iPad competitors as the article suggests that it could possibly do a lot to improve the iPad. If most consumers really want an open application marketplace and they show it with their wallets, Apple may be forced to loosen up their control over the App Store.

..just like Linux took over the desktop? (0, Flamebait)

trevc (1471197) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456754)

Linux will take over the Pad market just like it took over the desktop ? 50 different models, all incompatible with each other, each with a different UI and the user has to compile the app for their version to get it to run....if they can get the right version of the source and the right compile flags...

Re:..just like Linux took over the desktop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31456894)

But thats the beauty of "Open Source". Isn't it?

I can download the latest version of an app's source at Star Bucks, and then spend the next hour on the training compiling it. Perhaps on my ride home I can actually spend the time debugging why it doesn't work right by digging into the code and fixing it (because everyone using linux is capable of modifying source code).

do everything they can do and far more. (4, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456760)

Except run for more than a day without charging. Oh, and be read in full sunlight.

Re:do everything they can do and far more. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31456954)

you want the NotionInk Adam - http://www.engadget.com/2010/02/16/notion-ink-adam-hands-on-with-video-at-mwc-2010/

ergh (4, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456776)

For the same price as a high-end dedicated device you can get a tablet that will do everything they can do and far more.

No you don't; why are there people that just can't understand that to some of us an e-ink screen provides a superior reading experience to a glowing one?

Re:ergh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31456922)

Also (and related): battery life. Get an iPad, watch it run out of power partway through your flight. Get an eBook reader, watch it run out of power a couple of weeks later.

I bought an eBook reader because I wanted to read, and loaded it with a million books to save me the hassle of copying books on and off it. Same as I bought an iPod to listen to music, and loaded it with my entire collection to save me the hassle of copying music on and off it. Both have batteries that last forever, not least because they're optimised for what I bought them to do, and both have made travelling -- which I do a lot in my job -- much more pleasant. Sure, an iPad does both at the same time, but it does neither as well -- which, for me personally, would defeat the point. Others, I have absolutely no doubt, will have a perfect use for the iPad and other tablets. But trying to flog it to me as an eBook reader, even as one that does "far more" than my current one... nah.

Re:ergh (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456944)

Didn't mean to post that Anonymous Coward. That was me. Though why you'd care that a meaningless pseudonym posted it rather than an anonymous pseudonym, I don't know.

Re:ergh (2, Insightful)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456940)

So you're reading Slashdot on one right now?

Re:ergh (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457082)

Mod parent +1 Insightful.

There's nothing funnier than an e-Ink fan posting "Waaaaah, people will never want to read from an LCD all day long" arguments from his 30" LCD, in front of which he will remain all day, reading.

Only if screens are as eye-friendly as Kindle's (4, Informative)

Brian Stretch (5304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456786)

I can read off my Kindle's e-ink screen with considerably less eye strain than reading off a backlit LCD. Backlights are hard on your eyes.

Some tips: sit ~3 feet away from your monitor, turn the backlight down as low as you can without it becoming counterproductive (wanting to lean forward to view the dim screen is bad), look away every once in a while so your eyes aren't fixed on the same close distance for long periods. For more serious problems you may need vision therapy like I did. I thought I had ADD until I figured that out. Oh, that's why I had so much trouble with reading and why my vision got blurry after marathon gaming sessions...

Why will people buy iPads? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456798)

Are any of those Linux based tablets compatible with the Apple App Store? It's apps that sell hardware, not operating system awesomeness. For geeks that want to micromanage everything their tablet does, a Linux tablet is a better choice. For everyone else, "theirs an app for that" is a better choice. Plus, if you're a geek that wants versatility, wouldn't you be better off with a netbook running Linux? Touchscreen keyboards just slow computer geeks down.

...rejected by Apple. (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456918)

It's apps that sell hardware

True. That's why every time Apple makes the news for rejecting a class of applications, I become less likely to buy a device running iPhone OS.

Re:Why will people buy iPads? (1)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457066)

It's apps that sell hardware, not operating system awesomeness.

Funny, I thought a cheap device with a good browser would land a purchase or two.

GPS devices (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456802)

Sorry, but I reject the notion that things like iPads, iPhones, etc. will replace GPS devices. A dedicated GPS from a company like Garmin is much better at what it does than a smartphone. Try using your iPhone's GPS to map your location when you're in an area with no cell coverage. It won't be able to download the map data, so you're screwed. Smartphones also try to speed up GPS triangulation by downloading ephemeris data over the cell network, but again it depends on your having a data connection.

If you spend all your time in a major city or driving along highways then a GPS in a smartphone might be enough for you, but if you like to travel to places where cellphone service is spotty or non-existent then a dedicated GPS is a MUCH better choice. When I traveled to Australia a couple years ago I took a dedicated GPS with me and it worked great. If I'd relied on my smartphone I would have had to have paid for a local data plan and prayed that there was coverage everywhere I was going.

Yes, I know ephemeris data can be grabbed from the GPS satellites and I know that newer smartphone apps are now storing map data locally, but I still find a full-featured GPS handheld to be much more useful than a GPS app on an iPhone.

Re:GPS devices (2, Informative)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456950)

multipurpose devices will undoubtedly replace single purpose GPS units for anything except very special cases, but for the reasons you say it's not going to happen any time soon. True GPS has to be incorporated into the phones, not the hybrid stuff used now.

try using your iphone Google Maps feature in a dead cell zone. you get el zilcho, nothing, not a thing. Plain old GPS loves wide open spaces, cell phones...not so much.

Ok, where are they??? (5, Insightful)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456822)

"when I consider that there are soon going to be literally dozens of cheaper, Linux-powered iPad devices on the market"

Ok, find I'm sold. can I order one today? Tomorrow? 6 months?

No, well FU then. I've been waiting for a slate computing device like this for YEARS and someone is shipping one next month, that someone happens to be Apple. If something better comes along, fine I'll take one of those too, then ReBay the iPad. If the market floods with them and nothing is any better, I'll keep it.

I can't sit down on the couch with Vaporware, so how long are we supposed to wait? And frankly I'm not poor enough to worry about waiting to save a couple $$ to buy the exact best thing at the exact best time.

The app store/3rd party support (3, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456830)

Those are the secret weapons of Apple. When I buy an iPod I can get any number of gadgets for it, not so with other MP3 players that themselves might be more capable and cheaper but don't have this critical mass that makes it worthwhile for others to produce products for it.

We have yet to see if the Android app market matches up the iPhone one. Probably not. Oh, I get it myself that having a truly open product allows you to install all the real applications you want and that 99% of the apps are toys, but I am a geek, the majority is not.

There will be a docking station for the iPad for your car so you can hook it to the seat as an entertainment hub for the kids in the back. Not so with any of the competitors. And that will sell the iPad (assuming this won't be one of Apples turds, they have had them you know).

A linux pad/tablet/whatever will need to be a whole lot more then an iPad to be considered equal.

It's the software, stupid (1)

edelbrp (62429) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456834)

What gives the iPad its strengths is the software it runs. It's otherwise a fairly simple device (a touchscreen, yay).

So much speculation and hype (2, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456842)

I wonder how much of it will be wrong in the end? 90% 95% 99%?

I'm personally not sold on the iPad yet, but then it rarely pays to buy the first generation product of anything. Who can forget the initial reaction to the iPod? What was the phrase? "Too expensive? No WiFi? Lame?" You know what? That was right on the money. It would take Apple a couple of generations to really make the iPod a household name.

How well it clobbers the Kindle and Nook depend entirely on how easy Apple makes it to buy and read books on the thing. Obviously Amazon and B&N have a pretty good setup already and Apple is going to have to play catchup. It's certainly a possibility that the iPad completely fizzles as an eBook reader, potentially because too many publishers decide not to play ball and make it difficult to find books you actually want to read.

The "Linux clone" argument misses the point entirely as well. Apple isn't selling a device, they're selling an ecology; a lifestyle. It's the same way they don't sell a music player, it sells an integrated portable storefront with a highly polished and easy to use interface. It's completely different, and it's the reason all of those clones are going to sit in tiny niches while the iPad outsells them all.

Android (3, Insightful)

Massacrifice (249974) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456844)

And of all these Linux tablets, more than half will run an Android based distro of some form.

Which is why I've stopped learning Objective-C to concentrate on my embedded Java skills.

All of the iPad's goodies... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31456846)

...except the one that counts--a user interface designed from scratch to be used by fingers. Apple designs their products around users. Everybody else designs their products around bullet-points.

Good for geeks bad for everyone else (1)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456872)

All the freedom of choice and options that we the geeks find fun interesting only confuse the average user and cripple the usability for them. That is why devices like this only fill a niche market and the iPad/iPhone/iTouch make millions. I'm not trying to start a holy war just contrast the difference and why one is currently more successful than the other.

It's really all about choice... (1)

jcannonb (1665423) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456912)

I pre-ordered the iPad today. Does it matter to you? Probably not. Does it matter to me that you may not? Probably not. It's all about what people like. If I used Linux as a desktop OS, I probably wouldn't purchase one. I currently use Mac OS X, and have an iPhone, and would prefer to have a consistent user experience. Does that mean I hate linux or Windows? No. Well, maybe Windows :-) The truth is I use linux for the 100 database servers I design and manage at work. But at the end of the day, I like OS X for my desktop (and I have the money to purchase Apple and Apple related products), because it is sleek, elegant, and it does everything I still want it to do. My days of spending endless hours of tweaking my hardware and software are behind me. I built hundreds of systems for me, my family, my customers over the years, and the thrill of doing that is long gone. At the end of the day, I just want to sit down to a computer experience that I don't *have* to mess with. I don't want to keep up with kernel updates, or distro updates linux, or virus updates on Windows. If that is your cup of tea, that is wonderful, and I won't knock you for it. But don't put down the ppl that want an iPad at the end of the day either. It's their choice, just like it's your choice not to purchase one.

iPad is not an eBook reader killer (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456932)

Backlit LCD displays don't work very well in direct sunlight. Reflective eInk displays do just fine. Take your iPad to the beach for reading this summer and tell me how it works out for you. Now, if they put both an eInk display and a backlit LCD in the same device, then that would rock both for reading and for watching videos (isn't there already one device that does that?), and that might signal the death of the dedicated eBook reader.

Kill off e-readers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31456948)

Only by way of growing into a merger between the two. The e-ink screens are the sole reason to get an e-reader, and the lack thereof is also the prime reason the iPad is worthless for heavy reading. Until we have quick rendering high color e-ink screens, which would allow a single device to fill the purposes both an iPad and an e-reader fill now, nobody is killing anybody.

IPS Pannel (2, Interesting)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456968)

This seems like its another attempt at a convergence device, which is really what Apple has become. Apple was touting their iPad as the screen has an IPS pannel. I could see this improving video and graphics quality - for images, games and video. I don't know if this will make it better as an e-book reader.

I don't see this device being a tremendously great e-book reader. I'm waiting for some e-ink ones to come down in price. Nice flashy backlit-LCD screen does not work for me as an ebook reader.

Linux may rule this space quickly... (1, Offtopic)

xeno (2667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457004)

...because it already has a lot of presence. It's not like we're going to be seeing a lot of clunky nerd-only devices in this space, not after years of trial-error-improvement cycles from major device mfrs (HP, IBM, Sharp, etc etc). And it's a natural evolution from the Kindle, Zaurus, your cable box and routers, etc etc and all those doodads that already run Linux behind the scenes. Admittedly, I'm overly impressed with the Nokia N900 -- particularly because of the Debian connection. The N900 is already a small multifunction tablet with gobs of power, memory, and near-laptop-function in a cellphone. If I could have it larger form with a BT headset, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. It's *exactly* the use case scenarios that Apple has in mind for the iPad, but linux takes away the artificial functional limitations.

Add onto that the idea that I could load any of the thousands of linux apps in deb format. Add to that the momentum from Ubuntu and its ilk, and recent news about consolidation of efforts between players such as Nokia & Intel (Moblin & Maemo). And add to that the subtle threshold that Linux has crossed in terms of ease of use. To wit: Adding software? Permissions are managed far less obtrusively than Win7. Connecting a camera & syncing photos? The experience is eerily OSX-like. Using a audio/video player? Eerily Apple-like, but without the DRM bullsh!t. Adding a scanner to Linux is now a no-click experience (Xsane figures out what drivers/interfaces you need and configures anything available automagically). OOo 3.2 is feature-competitive with Office 2007 (with the exception of the playskool ribbon). Linux has been more flexible & stable for the better part of a decade, and is now easier to use than Win7 or even Apple in many, possibly most, instances. With the cost savings, why in the heck would designers NOT move to Linux?

What about the UI (3, Insightful)

MikeMo (521697) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457062)

This post totally ignores the value of the software and user interface on the iPad. It distills the value of all devices down the hardware, and whether or not the applications will have DRM-d data files. Thereby, it devalues the work of all user interfaces and programmers everywhere.

How can it not work out this way? (2, Interesting)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457084)

> I predict with absolute faith that the iPad and its clones are going to kill off single purpose devices like dedicated eReaders such as Amazon's Kindle and GPS devices within the next three years. How can it not work out this way?

Well, one way it wouldn't work out that way is if the general purpose devices really suck at things like ereaders and GPS and so forth. It's not enough to have the device, the applications have to be there, and they have to work well, and in some cases they have to work well together. And both the hardware and applications have to be reasonably priced. These things are not assured.

ARM tablet (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457108)

I'd like to see a NetBSD powered ARM tablet, myself. Or ARM netbook. My guess is you could squeeze it in a smaller footprint, thus have more resources for user apps.

The article says a power cord costs extra. (2, Informative)

fredmosby (545378) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457110)

From the Article:
I tell a lie though. The Apple iPad isn't really $499. Just adding a power cord to the iPad will cost you $29.00. No, I'm not making that up. Really, Apple, you couldn't throw in a power cord? Shame on you.

This guy doesn't know what he is talking about. According to the tech specs [apple.com] 10 watt USB power adapter is included in the box.

Always tradeoffs (1)

proxima (165692) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457124)

I'm a big fan of Linux (been running it as my primary OS for over a decade), yet I'm still getting an iPad. I don't like Apple's closed nature at all, but I've been on the lookout for a way to nicely read (and annotate) PDFs since the Kindle DX came out. My price point is about $500, and right up until they announced the price I thought that there was no way Apple would have the cheapest model be that price. I really like eink screens, but they seem better suited to linear reading of books rather than referencing PDFs.

The one really nice thing about the Apple store model and Apple's general market share is that you can be sure there will be serious app support. My Nokia phone (e63) runs Symbian and lets me run whatever I want on it, but most of the software out there (including the included software) is really bad. So it's not enough for a company (especially a small one) to release a device - it needs to have good software. The Barnes and Noble Nook is another example - great hardware (relative to the Kindle), but the initial software was terrible (didn't even support bookmarks after turning it off!).

Real tablets - that is, computers running full OSes like Windows or Linux - just aren't compelling to me. I want something thin and light for reading with good battery life, not a replacement for my 14" laptop. Aside from that, the Linux software I use would be absolutely horrid with a touch screen (you'd basically need a stylus for everything). I have some hope for various Android devices, but as of January most of these were still basically rough prototypes.

That said, it was clear when the iPad was announced that this wasn't a product for everybody. Not everyone wants or needs a separate device primarily for consuming media. I suspect the keyboard will be painful for all but the shortest of sessions; even movie watching will be somewhat awkward without a case helping to hold it in place at a good angle. Some people do legitimately need multitasking support the iPad doesn't provide (at least not yet). But relative to the Kindle DX, it seems much more compelling for my use. This is especially due to the app support: two [mekentosj.com] companies [ajidev.com] have already announced iPad-specific PDF readers as replacements for the built-in reader (and the latter program supports annotations).

Apple's mobile devices get good app support because the install base is large and the number of devices are small. As I understand it, UI layout is done by pixel, allowing for very precise placement but horrible problems if you try to support many resolutions. With Android on everything from 3" smartphones to 5" Dell minis to 10" netbooks/tablets all at various resolutions even within a screen size (see, e.g. the Droid's awesome resolution), it's going to be tricky.

As an ereader (provided you're okay with the better-than-netbook-worse-than-eink IPS screen), the iPad looks almost ideal. You get Apple's bookstore, BN's bookstore (they officially announced they'll have an ipad-specific version ready about the time of the release), and likely an Amazon Kindle app (among other smaller ebook stores). If they drop the price on a Nook or Kindle within a year or two I can totally see picking one of those up to complement the iPad for pleasure reading. The Kindle app (and probably the BN app, I'm not sure), keeps track of what page you're on. You use any device and pick up where you left off. There is not (yet) any BN or Kindle app for Android or Linux/X11. If you don't like DRM books, that's fine - you'll be able to read whatever non-DRM ebooks you can find on the iPad (as opposed to more limited ebook readers).

As for the app store, I agree that Apple's effective censorship is very annoying. I'd love to have ssh/scp and a few other apps without needing to jailbreak the device. At this point Apple can't just open it up though, they'd get a lot of flack for that. Instead, they need a way out; I'd love to see them make the Developer kit free instead of $100/yr. That way the 1% of users who want to can compile and run apps for their specific device (requires a modern Mac though, unfortunately) while most users stay within Apple's ecosystem. I don't expect them to do it though, at least not until antitrust regulators crack down on it.

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