I really didn’t want to pay for an iPad Mini. But I really did need a small form-factor tablet, something in between a phablet and a full-sized iPad.
So, naturally, we’ve been on an Android odyssey.
We first picked up a cheap Chinese import $69 tablet on Amazon.com. Works as advertised, for certain values of works. The screen is relatively poor, reminiscent of first-generation active matrix color panels on early color laptops. Narrow viewing angle, low contrast, some flicker and ghosting. The multi-touch is fiddly and misregisters a lot of taps. The glass is mind-numbingly easy to scratch. The battery is good for a couple of hours. On the upside, we didn’t expect much. It’s the living room tablet. But for extended reading or serious, you know, work, it’s just not going to get the job done.
So finally I gave up on my search for a “cheap” iPad Mini on eBay (I’ve had very good luck with tech on eBay over the years, so don’t snicker) and realized that it was time to try to get a “brand name” Android tablet in the 7″ size range that would have better build quality, components, and so on.
First shelled out for a Nexus 7 at retail. This is supposed to be Google’s flagship device, now made by Asus. The thing creaked. Like, a lot. Like, tap on the left edge or pick it up by the left edge and it sounds like a frog. And on that same left edge, tapping visibly distorted the glass, as if there was no support behind it. Cue the broken screen in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Not to mention the gaps between the rear cover and the bezel that you could stick a dime in, or the generally flimsy feel.
The screen was beautiful to read on, very nice pixel density, contrast, and color rendition, I’ll give it that. But the creak? No thanks. And I could see it dying a sudden death in a month or two.
Took it back. Was going to exchange it, but went to the tablet areas at two big-box stores to look at their display units. Guess what all of the Nexus 7 tablets on display at big box stores apparently have? Crrrrrrrrrreak! So if the four that I’ve been able to handle by hand (the display at the store where I made my original purchase, which I assumed to have been rendered creaky due to excessive handling, plus the one I walked out with, plus two more at two other stores) have creaking and flexing glass displays, I’m guessing my chances of getting a solid unit—if they exist—are basically nil.
Got a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 instead. A little cheaper. Display not as nice, but build quality is much better. Problem: bright spot in the lower left corner. Has to go back.
Shelled out for a second Galaxy Tab 2 from a different retailer. I think this one will finally stick. Seems solid, and screen is nice and evenly lit.
But of course the Samsung is full of bloatware and will get updates slowly, and it’s much slower. You get what you pay for. At least I didn’t pay all that much, in comparison to what I’d have paid for an iPad Mini.
The lesson all the way around: Android devices are not Apple devices. Despite what the anti-Apple brand warriors suggest, Apple has the best build quality averages in the industry. Across four iPhones, two iPads, and two Apple laptops, I’ve never had a device that began its life with a single obvious flaw.
No retail return juggling to try and find a “good one.”
I guess that’s what you pay extra for.
— § —
Very weird day. Canada on vacation, so work was odd. Plus whatever did happen happened during the morning while I was teaching class. And class today went oddly as well. There are days when the flow just isn’t right, and after the better part of a decade in the classroom, you can start to recognize them fairly quickly during classroom time.
— § —
I did get another 5,000 words into the dissertation, though. The first half is nearly drafted, at which point I’ll take a moment, revise to something less than total crap, and send it off to my chair for a first real look.
It has been the biggest struggle in my life to get this thing to this stage. Somehow writing a dissertation is about a hundred times more troublesome and fraught than you imagine it will be.
If you walk around with confidence and go into things knowing that you’re going to come out on top, writing a dissertation may just be the thing to put you in your place and knock you down a few pegs.
That’s certainly been the case for me. All of my insecurities in life are wrapped up in it, and it has not once, not a single time, “flowed” in the way that my other writing does as it happens.
— § —
In just over a month, we’ll have relatives here for a month.
And then it will be fall. Again. Already.
The tricky thing about life is, you can’t afford to spend time “working on” or “holding out for” what you want. Because you just don’t have the time.
Every pause is just plain lost time. Days. Weeks. Months. Years.
You get older and you can fucking lose years. Easily. I lost 2012 entirely. I have a sign on my wall, written to motivate myself, about what 2012 was “for.”
2013 is now more than halfway over and the sign on my wall from 2012 is still there, right over my desk, and not a single goddamned thing on it is done.
— § —
Before I know it, all of this will be over and I will be gone.
Every now and then that’s a fascinating sort of thought to have.