May 06 2011

Tablet Or Netbook For Anna?

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 3:56 pm

The portable DVD player we purchased last year for Anna seems to already be having problems reading some discs. Whilst the DVDs definitely have evidence of Anna’s handling skills on them (scratches, smudges that seem persistently stubborn etc.), most of them play fine on our normal DVD player, the Xbox 360 and the PC. I’ve tried cleaning the laser’s lens with a dab of alcohol and cotton bud, but to no avail yet. To be honest, it has already paid for itself, especially on longer journeys through airports etc. If we had bought it in Britain, it would be worth demanding a replacement, but whilst we are in Astana such processes are rarely simple, or in some cases even economically worth it!
So the question I’ve been pondering these last few weeks is whether a new approach would make sense. Rather than buying another optical drive-based device, perhaps looking at some of the cheaper tablets (probably Android based) or netbook PCs would make sense. When looking for a netbook choices are pretty much wide open. It may just be that I know more about the technology and manufacturers involved, and so am more comfortable with that market? I’m a little concerned that tablets would end up being too underpowered to play some videos without re-encoding them to a less demanding codec and resolution.

Netbook On A Laptop For Scale
Tablet

Looking at netbooks (I know, I know, Anna is only two years old, but if we’re being honest, I suspect “Daddy” might end up playing with the device when she is asleep!) the models available seem quite comprehensive. One of the big choices (for me at least) would be the OS – Windows or Linux-based? I’m totally comfortable with using something like Ubuntu, but then if something (software-wise) needed fixing, would I be as capable to perform the task after 20 hours of travelling and a screaming child than I would be with Windows? I’m aware that the Starter Edition of Windows 7 found with a lot of Netbooks only allow 2Gb of RAM, does anyone know if this is a licensing issue – companies can only install W7 Starter on their computers if there is 2Gb or less installed, or actually hard coded so that even if we were to upgrade the RAM ourselves, Windows would still only recognize the first 2Gb? There are some other features crippled with 7, but for playing back movies I’m fairly sure we’d be able to bodge anything missing.
In the end I think it will come down to convenience (not too bulky or heavy to carry), battery life (no point in purchasing something if it won’t play through a few of Anna’s favourite cartoons) and perhaps video rendering performance. So, netbook or tablet? Once we’ve decided we just need to magic the money up from somewhere and hey presto!