I was at the coffee shop with a few friends recently, and realized that one of us was packing a smartphone, one a tablet, the other an in-between-sized mini tablet. A fellow sitting next to our table was working on a full-sized laptop.
There you have it: four basic types of computers to choose from now. It was my first hands-on look at the small tablet, and it was intriguing.
Today, Apple announced it had sold three million iPads in the first three days since launch of its new iPad mini and fourth generation iPad. Some observers had expressed doubts about whether the company would find a hot market for the iPad mini. Would consumers take to the smaller form, for one thing? Do you really need an iPad Mini if you already have a full-sized tablet or a smartphone?
The iPad mini is competing with other down-sized tablets, including 7-inch tablets based on the Android OS--the Google Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD. (Here’s a review of the three: c\net comparision.)
My friend's device is a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus (more info). He likes its size, which allows him to carry it in his pants or coat packet, and the fact that it offers good note taking capability and email message creation. It has a lot of storage, gets good wi-fi reception, and comes bundled with plenty of apps, he says.
It will be interesting to see how this computer choice plays out on the farm. In our last farmer poll on the subject, taken late last winter, nearly the same number of farmers, about 15%, owned tablets as smartphones, and the growth rate for both appeared to be on a sharply upward arc.
Is there a niche between the phone device and the full-sized tablet? As Apple proclaims, the mini’s got the full iPad experience, including a “vivid display,” and it uses iPad apps. Plus, you can easily hold it in one hand.
So imagine being able to check an animal’s ear tag or turn over a plant leaf, while easily holding your computer in the other hand and flipping through an app for tracking animals or plant diseases. Out in the field you’ll be able to juggle a variety of chores--record data, communicate with suppliers, manage equipment; and keep track of weather, news and markets—all while you’re on the go, with a device you can carry in your coat pocket.
However this new technology plays out, for now it’s exciting to consider yet another hardware option that can provide more computing firepower for the farm.
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