Let’s be clear from the start: Apple makes the best smartphone money can buy. It also makes the best tablet and the best ultraportable laptop. Beautiful to look at, a delight to use and fashioned with precision from nothing but premium materials, the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air triumvirate represents the very pinnacle of mobile computing.
So why look any further? Well, truth be told, most people shouldn’t. But we’re guessing that our readers, with a gnawing urge for individuality, may share our growing frustration with Apple: the ubiquity of its products.
Look around any London tube carriage, any boardroom, any branch of Starbucks and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Apple (until relatively recently the underdog) was the only game in town. Everyone, it seems, is carrying a gadget designed in Cupertino – prompting us to recall the words of General Patton: “If everyone’s thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
So, what is a thinking man to do?
The iPad is proving a hard nut for competitors to crack. Even some of the more promising alternatives like HP’s TouchPad or BlackBerry’s PlayBook have proven no match for Cupertino’s finest. Both are rumoured to be on the chopping block.
The remaining options, until recently, were pretty dull. The best alternative was the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Impressively thin and light and blessed with a bright, colourful display, Samsung’s tablet is pretty much state of the Android-powered art.
Our money, however, would be on the recently announced Sony Tablet S. It’s great to see the venerable Japanese gadget house get back to its confident best with this design. Courageously refusing to chase Apple in the thinness wars, Sony has opted instead to go its own way: an ergonomic folded-magazine design that has benefits all its own.
The Sony, with its sloped chassis, looks and feels like a comfortable, rolled-back magazine. The slope also acts as a short stand and is heavier than the thin edge, making it particularly natural to hold.
Sony has innovated on the software front too. The Tablet S is littered with original ideas: there’s a Favorites drop-down panel for quickly accessing content, a built-in universal IR remote control and support for PS One and PSP games. These little touches combined with a pleasing design aesthetic and original hardware make the Tablet S the only non Apple tablet we would consider.
Beyond Cupertino: Venturing off the well-trodden path to Apple’s door – Part II
We’re guessing that our readers, with a gnawing urge for individuality, may share our growing frustration with Apple: the ubiquity of its products. So, here’s are guide to the best alternatives. In Part II, we look at tablets.
Our editor-in-chief, the self-proclaimed "greatest wit, raconteur and bon vivant of our age", borders on delusional. Over the years, the fool has squandered more money on fast cars, Swiss watches and electronic gadgetry of all kinds than he – or Mrs Fool – cares to remember. Come nightfall, he can invariably be found stumbling out of Dukes mumbling “just one more Martini; I could have handled just one mmmmm… [thud!]”
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