Tablet and smartphone manufacturers are doing this because they are trying to differentiate their devices. With the Android OS (along with Android apps) and the hardware converging to a dominant design (ARM-based processors, similar form factor), tablets will become commodities (Armdroid). Competitors will be forced to compete on price. Their margins will collapse.
This is what happened in the PC market. With the Wintel standard, PC manufacturers had little opportunity to differentiate their products. The OS and CPU are identical, as are the internal components and peripherals. What's left? The color of the case? Fingerprint readers? Ultimately, PC manufacturers were all forced to compete on price. As a result, while Intel and Microsoft earned margins in the double digits, PC manufacturers' margins were squeezed to the low single digits.
I can walk into a store and see the Apple computers on one side and the Windows computers on the other. All the Apple computers look and feel beautiful, but the Windows computers are plastered with stickers and 'Beats by Dr Dre' branding. They're made out of what looks like the cheapest plastic ever. I can understand why Apple is absolutely killing it at the moment - it's because everything else is shit.
Apple targets people who want their computer to look pretty. Lenovo targets the people who want to get stuff done.
Want to quickly scroll through a document? page up/page down/home/end buttons? Lenovo's got it. Want to change the volume easily and still have access to f1-f12? Lenovo's got dedicated buttons for it. Spill your drink? There's a good chance your drink harmlessly poured out through holes in the bottom (damaging at most the keyboard).
Need more battery life? Buy a second battery and swap them when the first runs out. Need more ram? Just open it up and put it in. Same thing if you want a new HD/etc.
Combine this with great linux support  and Lenovo is a clear win for me.
 At work we have macbook pros, getting it to work with linux was a disaster.
> Apple targets people who want their computer to look pretty.
> Lenovo targets the people who want to get stuff done.
> Want to quickly scroll through a document? page up/page down/home/end buttons? Lenovo's got it.
> Want to change the volume easily and still have access to f1-f12? Lenovo's got dedicated buttons for it.
> Need more battery life? Buy a second battery and swap them when the first runs out.
> Need more ram? Just open it up and put it in. Same thing if you want a new HD/etc.
I have a Late 2008 Macbook Pro, the first unibody they made, and the only reason it still runs strong is because I've swapped the battery, RAM, and HDD (now an SSD). I love the new Retina Display Macbooks, but I don't know if I can put that kind of money down on a computer that isn't upgradeable. Not when it's my primary mode of earning a living.
Fewer buttons isn't necessarily better nor is it even simpler. The simplest thing in the world is a "do exactly what I want" button for every common value of "what I want". It's not pretty or as easy to market or as pretty, but it's highly usable.
(I'll skip the rant about my iPhone, and how it forces me to waste screen real estate on buttons that come built into Android.)
I'm with Apple on this one. The back-arrow button in the toolbar reminds me I'm in a hierarchal app, and the label reminds me what the prior screen was. It's just the opposite for me: every time I use an Android I hunt around the screen for the software back button.
The failure of the Apple hierarchical model is it's app-centric, unlike Android which is activity-centric. In a perfect world we could have software back buttons which worked like Android, but I wouldn't trust developers to implement that consistently.
Besides, just as you can't hide a hardware back button, you can't hide the wasted space sitting to the left and right the iPhone's "go home or randomly open Siri" button.
A single button works great for a gun. A computer does more things than a gun so it needs more buttons.
But I think you're an edge case. Apple targets hard the average consumer, and there are plenty (my parents) who don't understand an arbitrary mapping of a number to a function. The self-explanatory icons (the speaker with lots of sound vs no sound, the universal play triangle, etc.) are far more understandable. So why not save space?
As for "saving space", huh? A thinkpad is the same size as a macbook - both are as wide as their screen plus a little extra. The thinkpad is just covered with ugly buttons instead of pretty metallic empty space.
I'll take a beautiful product that sacrifices minor functionality (in my case) for aesthetics. My point is not that a MacBook is right for you, but that Apple seems to have rightly assumed that most people don't care about the function keys, and spared the ugly buttons.
In any case, you're probably saving a grand every time you buy a laptop, so maybe the joke's on us.
I have the trackpad permamently disabled, because that little red thinkgy among g, h and b keys beats it so badly, it is not even funny.
This is one of the biggest factors for me in getting a PC laptop over a MacBook. When I buy a ThinkPad, I intend to keep it for 5 years. My friends with MacBooks all replace them every 2-3 years.
> Combine this with great linux support  and Lenovo is a clear win for me.
This is another big factor. I tell anyone who's interested in Linux that the best laptop for Linux is a ThinkPad. Everything works flawlessly out of the box.
> When I buy a ThinkPad, I intend to keep it for 5 years.
> My friends with MacBooks all replace them every 2-3 years.
But I'm confused about what to replace it with, and concerned that I'll miss some of the better OS X stuff. Keynote is fantastic for presentations. Never having to worry about hardware compatibility is pretty convenient.
i have installed a few different distros on my w500 over the years, and it runs hot every time. the ati drivers suck, the os can't seem to control the fans properly, and switchable graphics don't work. tried with opensuse years ago, and ubuntu a few times more recently.
i imagine it's better with a nvidia card, and no switchable graphics.
I wonder what Linus Torvalds uses as a laptop ... Oh noes !!!
It has come a long way then.
In preferences, you can set it so Fn+F1 through Fn+F12 trigger the usual features, so that you can still have easy access to vanilla F1 through F12.
Take some time to dig through the preferences menu on OS X, you'll be surprised how configurable things can be.
This is I guess part of the reason that auto manufacturers will use different brand names for different market segments. Because it's difficult to signal "I am successful and buy nice cars" with a Skoda badge.
An example of a "high end" PC would be Alienware, which whilst they have some nice hardware they just look horrendously tacky. Basically the equivalent of sticking florescent lighting all over your Subaru.
There is also the potential patent minefield if you want to start manufacturing things that look like or use similar materials to Apple devices.
The problem is that no one gives the TrackPoint a chance. I've seen people who've used ThinkPads for years and have never even touched the TrackPoint. But if you spend about 30 minutes working with it, you'll find that it's superior to both mice and trackpads for 99% of tasks (gaming being the one exception, for which I keep a mouse on hand).
That said, I have found that some of the newer models have much more sensitive trackpoints than my T60.
Edit: Changing the cap can be useful as well. The concave tip in particular.
xset m 5 1
But my fingers did hurt a lot after playing for a few days, so I wouldn't recommend it :)
Compared with the "customized" Android phones which were the subject of international marketing campaigns, deeply discounted with contracts, etc etc.
The notion that customized-UI phones outsold the stock, barely public-knowledge Nexus phones does not in any way imply consumer preference.
I suppose the Xoom qualifies here as well though or did you miss the international marketing campaign, massive coverage and then how it sold less units then tabs running gingerbread.
The bottom line is in any of these had really caught fire with real consumers as opposed to the hacker commentariat we'd see a lot more of them.
> These layers were built not just for differentiation but for
> base functionality/gloss that stock eclair/froyo/gingerbread lacked.
But then Android got awesome. 4.0 is good, and 4.1 is great. But manufacturers like Samsung and HTC continue to ship their phones with 4.0 upgrades that aren't upgrades! For example: my brother's Galaxy Note. He recently got the 4.0 upgrade from Samsung, which required him to download software (Kies) from Samsung and leash his phone to his laptop to upgrade. I have no idea why.
Then, we did the upgrade, but he's missing features: the 4.0 panoramic camera comes quickly to mind. The stock dialer and people apps, which are amazing, aren't there. The new in-call UI I believe also isn't there. Seriously, they're shipping 4.0 but holding some of the better UX upgrades back.
He even asked me what the hell was new about his phone. I said I didn't know. The menus look different, some of the UI controls are new, Face Unlock is a cool showoff feature, but besides that he's still running Samsung's diminished-experience crap.
In fact I think there are 3 main reasons why people buy phones in general, and I'm thinking the mass-market here, not the "smartphone savvy" people, who fight over versions of the OS and new features:
1) price (most people have a price range in mind when they buy a phone)
2) design (most people want to either impress their friends or feel good themselves about using it everyday)
3) hardware quality (reliability, feel, display, camera, etc)
I doubt how the software looks is even in the top 5 priorities for most people. Branding is probably a top 5 one, too. When people think of a company that makes "crappy" phones, they generally don't think about how the software looks or works, but about the hardware, and they tend to also buy on brand, just like with many other types of products because branding offers them a level of "trust" that the device will be "good", and won't break a day after purchase.
So I think there's more to it than your simplified view of the market. Also with your logic, then the Windows Phone OS is dead on arrival because it both forces them to use the exact same looking OS, and even worse, it forces them to use the exact same hardware (pretty much).
Dont wait 24 months to suggest a windows phone. Suggest they flash a non broken version of android onto their phone.
If they had bought a windows phone those 2 years ago, they would be saying the same thing about their windows phone.
But i agree that most android vendors suck at updates and should be avoided. But you should avoid their phones just as much when they are running windows.
Really, only Apple is doing this right: you get the full ecosystem experience for at least two years.
Those skinned android are often already six months behind and wont be updated.
But to compare a three year old android phone with a fresh new windows phone is unfair and illogial.
They would have no idea what that even means.
On my own phone (Nexus), I just install the Google Korean IME from the markplace and it works fine. But on the HTC device, they've apparently replaced the built-in keyboard with their own thing and it took me about half an hour to figure out that I need to install a complete keyboard replacement (not just an IME) and totally replace the HTC one with this other custom one. In what way does any of this help anyone?
I know that the feedback I usually hear has a huge selection bias in this regard (almost all techies) which is why I'm asking the question.
Even considering the selection biased, I'd be surprised if people preferred these skins. I think that people who are aware of these skins, and the options out there, probably don't like them. If they're not aware of them then they can't prefer them, right?
- It's a tiny tiny bit too heavy to hold comfortably. It feels like just a few grams would make the difference.
- The battery life is fantastic. I've used it for hours and hours and it's still on 80-90%.
- Android 4.1 is fast and efficient. I don't notice any difference in speed or usability from an iPad 2.
- The screen has an incredible resolution. Some text is slightly too small to read comfortably.
- (Not that it matters at all but ...) the box it came in was as hard to open as many people have said.
- I bought GTA III with part of the "free" £15 credit and it's a piece of crap. I haven't even managed to play the game yet because it keeps crashing while downloading half a gig of data files. So I'll be finding out how well refunds work in the Google Play store.
Overall: well worth the money.
And no matter how you concentrate on getting out of box experience, people should really use common sense when it comes to opening boxes.
Only thing i can think of, is maybe there was a defective batch of boxes that were slightly too tight? The complaints I had been reading for days definitely confused me once I got it and opened it with ease.
You can't really blame that on Facebook.
I interact with family and friends I don't often see for geographical reasons quite often on FB. Unfortunately, Zuck et al make the erroneous assumption that this means I care about their daily goings-on. I don't.
My FB feed currently consists of:
1) Instagram pictures from a friend I've known since birth
2) Location checkins from someone I have good banter with but haven't seen in 10 years
3) My cousin's wife talking about getting hammered tonight
4) An ecard
5) Somebody getting tagged.
Conversely, my G+ feed consist of:
1) The same photographer friend, but with better pics
2) Tim O'Reilly talking about MakerCamp
3) Zach Weiner posting an SMBC comic
4) Some random doing something I don't care about
5) Matt Cutts explaining a change in spam detection behaviour.
In short, G+ makes me want to come back because there's interesting stuff to see. FB makes me want to come back so I don't lose touch with some people I care about.
If you had two Facebook accounts, one for your close friends and family, and another for interests, would it be any better?
I'm not sure if there is a G+ algo. If you aren't the stalking kind on Facebook, and don't interact with certain people - then some of your acquaintances end up out of sight. And sometimes the wrong ones end up in plain sight.
Both platforms would benefit from a 'turn this person down switch.'
any suggestions for people like Linus who post well and often to G+ publicly?
"The best camera is the one you have with you" as we say, looking like a dork is irrelevant. The ipad camera is actually usable and if that's what you have in your hand you just take the photo with it. Now I agree at 200$ a super good camera would be asking to much for what seems to be an already very good device.
I personally think people look more like dorks trying to thumb text into their phones and tablets.
Quick Nexus 7 comments..
So far: very positive.
Yes, the camera is front-facing only, and there's a good reason there's not even a camera app on the thing by default: it's pretty nasty. But does anybody really care? You'd look like a complete dork trying to take photos with a tablet anyway. It's probably fine enough for some video conferencing, but since that's not my thing let's just say "whatever".
Software: I prefer the plain android look, and dislike the various skins manufacturers have used (I really don't understand the "pee in the snow" model of skinning android to look and act horrible just so that the different manufacturers can make their mark on it - I'm pretty sure the majority of people tend to prefer plain android). So being a "Nexus" device I'm already fairly happy with it.
And yes, it's smoother, and "plain android" is picking up some of the best extensions (like app folder shortcuts). Yes, resizable widgets etc. And a lot of small improvement just in general.
The gmail app has "Mark unread" as a button (although the icon wasn't totally obvious to me), which I like. But the %^$ thing still cannot be set to send just plain-text emails. Why, google, why? Good technical mailing lists all know that html email is just spam or marketing people, and auto-delete html crap. Just give me the option to send text-only, ok? *
The size: I think the 10" tablets are too big. The 8.9" form factor is better. And I think the 7" one is better yet, although I wouldn't dismiss something in between those two (ie the rumored apple mini-tablet size of 7.85" doesn't sound bad either).
And it has enough pixels to make small text readable. I had to change the font-sizes to be smaller, but I can understand why the default would be the medium-sized text. I prefer my text small, so that I see more of it at a time.
That said, I've used it as a kindle replacement for a few evenings, and for pure reading, the kindle still beats it handily for that (although when I want a light, the Nexus 7 comes close). They are comparable in size, but e-Ink really is nicer for reading. And the kindle is lighter, which to me is a big deal while reading. I've got the Kindle Touch, but I think I'll switch to the even lighter Kindle 4 ("Kindle 5"?) if it gets a front-light.
But the Nexus 7 is a perfectly fine reader, and with color, magazines etc work. That's when you notice the smoothness, apparently. At least Tove says that the difference between the Nexus 7 and her Galaxy Tab 8.9 is quite noticeable. And quite frankly, I could never use the Motorola Xoom for reading - too big, too heavy, but the Nexus 7 I had no trouble with.
Verdict: it's solid. If you simply don't like tablets (or android), I doubt the Nexus 7 will really change your mind, but if you were borderline, the new price-point (for a quality device - there's been cheap tablets before, but they've really been pretty bad) and the incremental improvements might be enough to push people over the line.
I have the opposite problem: My Gmail app only sends in plain text, and I have no way to change that on my Galaxy Nexus. Perhaps it's taking the default from my web Gmail sessions?
I am in the market for a tablet that I am going to replace my dead Sony e-reader(6 inch I think). But i think the 7-inch ones are just too small for reading. Has anyone tried to compare both sizes?
I am mainly interested in using it for reading tech books and the occasional email. Currently leaning towards a transformer.
If you're a heavy reader, don't compromise: just get a DX or something that size.
I don't even try to read more than a page on my Galaxy Tablet.
I also much prefer the 4:3 ratio - the narrow 16:9 devices give you much less area for the same diagonal measure, as this chart accurately points out:
https://twitter.com/trojankitten/status/221270669273468930 (or http://a.yfrog.com/img615/4234/6j2n.png for just the image).
Incidentally, the Archos G9-80 is a nice 8 inch Android tablet sporting a 1024x768 screen, currently selling for around 200 euros. I think the rumored mini iPad will be the same form factor.
As a consumer, you generally want a high DPI screen, with a specific aspect ratio, and a certain amount of screen area. The current spec reporting is not helping people out in this regard.
I watched someone trying to read Hacker news on their Android phone's web browser and it looked like the most horrific experience. Doesn't seem to put people off of smartphones though.
For me it's between the iPad and Galaxy Nexus, the Galaxy Nexus is the best Android tablet right now by far.
Since iOS has always been shipped without Flash-support, many popular sites target iOS specifically with HTML5-video. Android however, only recently lost support for Flash and is still likely getting the Flash-versions of videos instead of the HTML5 ones.
I'm just sad Microsoft back-peddled on no plugins in IE10.
It's really quite nice how well Android 4 and up work n multiple form factors. This just reconvinces me that there are a host of people that would adopt Android if they gave a more modern version a chance. I took the night off for some drinks and some TV shows and this has been nice to have over my Macbook Air for casual chatting.
I've ignored all the tablets that came out, iPads, Android tablets, all of them... then when I saw this one, I figured "at that price, i'll give it a shot"... I'm SO glad I did. Absolutely loving my Nexus 7, and it has 100% converted me to being a tablet fan.
It won't mount USB Flash drives out of the box, but that's why you root it and install stickmount.
I think Google is trying to force feed us using them as the cloud since people aren't buying Chromebook paperweights in the numbers they had hoped.
The people who would know and care about this stuff are exactly the kind of people who would have wrote the app: programmers.
Wow, I just got called a dork by linus. This is going on my resume.