ViewSonic Airpanel as a web browsing tablet? Better solutions?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Luke_Y, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. Luke_Y

    Luke_Y Second Unit

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    ViewSonic Airpanel as a web browsing tablet? Better solutions?

    I have been waiting and waiting for someone to make a tablet type web browsing appliance for a nice low price, but nothing yet that I know of.

    I dont need any PC functionality, just something small and light with a 10" or so screen, good battery life, and a tablet type form factor that accesses the internet over my wireless network.

    You know, so I can sit on the couch with the wife and browse while she watches TV or wherever I want around the house without lugging a laptop.

    Should I just watch e-bay for a good deal on an Airpanel (say $300) or is there a better solution.

    PS I use my PSP sometimes but it's realy too small and the browser is hardly elegant.
     
  2. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    I just bought a Nokia 770. It's also quite small, but the screen resolution is 800x480 (on a 4-inch screen.) That is sufficient to show most web sites without a need to scroll horizontally. The browser is Opera 8 and the built-in flash version is only 6, which is beginning to become a bit of a worry, but it works excellently for me to surf on. In addition to that, it can also do a lot of other fun things if one adds third-party software.

    The new 2006 OS upgrade for it has built-in Google Talk (including voice chat!) and improves performance noticeably compared to the 2005OS, and as for software - FBReader is a truly excellent e-bookreader, for instance and there is a lot more available already with more on the way, see http://maemo.org/maemowiki/ApplicationCatalog2006 for a list of some of what is available. Minimo, a small variant of Mozilla, is also in the works, there are working releases of it but they aren't very polished yet. There is a screenshot here of it in full-screen mode that is also very representative of what you'd see with the built-in Opera. With Opera you can easily zoom in and out too.

    Will it be as good as a 10-inch screen? Nope, highly unlikely. Is it enjoyable to surf on? Absolutely, especially after you install Privoxy on it so you don't have to wade through ads on the small screen. It is also portable in a way that a remote-control-terminal like the Airpanel isn't, it will work without problems anywhere you can get a WiFi connection or indeed everywhere if you have a phone with bluetooth that can act as a modem. Opera is great at converting web pages on the fly from the normal size to an optimized view where they convert the page so no horizontal scrolling is required, so that is also an option to surfing in normal "desktop-like" mode.

    It's built on Linux so a little bit of geekiness is definitely recommended to get full use out of it, but for me at least it has become a valuable daily tool/toy; not without its little flaws and problems, but all in all not half bad.
     
  3. Luke_Y

    Luke_Y Second Unit

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    Hmm, hadn't seen that. Looks nice, don't know that I could get past the small screen though.
     
  4. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Depends a lot on eye acuity, I'd say. I can read web pages just fine unzoomed and if it gets too small I zoom to 120%. You can then drag the page around with the stylus if you need to go side to side or up or down, or use the hardware buttons of course. In extreme cases, I combine the automatic page reflow thing Opera has with zoom, but that is very rare. It really is quite practical to surf on as-is.

    The high resolution is key. It is roughly three times higher than your PSP, for instance. I had a Pocket PC with 640x480 and the extra pixels to get to 800x480 really make a big difference in day-to-day surfing. With 800 you usually don't need to scroll horizontally, but with 640 you usually do.

    It's not for everybody, but it's pretty cool.
     
  5. Luke_Y

    Luke_Y Second Unit

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    Any other input on this? I am hesitant on the AirPanel as they are a bit old, tech wise. I was hoping someone was aware of something similar but with a bit larger screen than the mentioned Nokia.
     
  6. Vivek_IVB

    Vivek_IVB Stunt Coordinator

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    Is it just for the web? How much typing versus clicking?

    I have a Fujitsu 3400 10" P3-400 that would be fine for just browsing or as a control interface for your HA/HT system. Upside is that it's a real PC, P3-400, now down to $160 on eBay, so it's cheap and re-usable in other areas. Heck, with a wifi card in it, you could even take it to a hot-wifi spot to sit & browse,
     
  7. Luke_Y

    Luke_Y Second Unit

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    We may have a winner there. The price is right, only thing I would worry about is battery life. I would likely use it only on battery and the AirPanels claim 3-4 hours. Whats your experience with battery life?
     
  8. Vivek_IVB

    Vivek_IVB Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry, can't help you there. I usually leave it plugged in, rarely take it out to roam.

    Try the CQC forum (www.charmedquark.com) - there's tons of us using it on there for HA/HT purposes. Perhaps someone else has an opinion.
     

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