Monday, February 3, 2014

Riding a Tablet for a Buck and a Half

Riding a Tablet for a Buck and a Half 

By Akosua K. Albritton

Call me a techno fool but I got pulled into the commercials and magazine ads when it came to the tablets.  For years, I kept a tablet on my wish list but never went into a big box like Best Buy to get the skinny on my options.

It seemed iPad Air (about $500) and iPad Mini (about $400) were pulling the consumer strings but I wasn't forking over the "four or five bucks" to own a piece of heaven.  I guess the ostrich in me stuck her head and neck deep deep into Terra Firma.  To cement my misconceptions, my experience with a Kindle had me wanting my tried and true desktop.  Yeah, the big screens on the desktop have me hooked.  I don't want to squint and love the dependability of the keyboard.  The Kindle I handled gave me Internet access but the screen narrowed my Facebook experience.

Then, I saw the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 priced at about $380; Microsoft Surface Pro at $900; and the LG G Pad (talk about comeuppance with Apple) at $320.  Still the tablet stayed on the wish list because different tablets had differing functions.  I want one that let's me work on the fly but I wasn't doing my old tech journalist research to uncover it.

Quite recently, I came upon a man named Jermaine Jones sitting at a corner table of a large cafeteria.  It looked like he was set up to watch DVDs but once in front of his table, before me was  an array of compact tech gadgets.  There was an ASUS 16G Tablet. He purchased it at a Walgreen's for $150 (Hey, isn't Walgreens a pharmacy?).  There was a cookie-shaped CLEAR Voyager Mobile 4G Wi-Fi.  Jermaine explained that since CLEAR had been bought out, the device was no longer on the market and now, consumers had to buy mobile Internet access by the gigabyte.  I couldn't conceive of how the average web surfer could estimate his Wi-Fi needs in lots of gigabytes.  This cherished piece gave him 24-hour mobile access to the Internet using the monthly contract price structure.  He paid $50 for the cookie-shaped CLEAR Voyager Wi-Fi and $50 a month for the service. The third piece on his table was an It wireless bluetooth portable speaker which can be used with cellphones, tablets, and MP3 players.  He paid $30 for it. All items used an USB charger.

He had dozens of apps on the ASUS tablet that he downloaded from Google Play.  All apps were free.  He had a GMail account which meant he had access to Google's cloud apps such as Calendar, Wallet, Docs, and Translator. This Walgreen buy had two-way camera shots.

His ease of explaining the gadgets and the apps had me ask Mr. Jones the type of work he did.  He said he was into security and open to other suggestions.  I asked him had he thought about working at an electronics store.  It was obvious that he liked technology and knew how to scour for great and practical tech deals.  No, Mr. Jones hadn't thought about it before.  Sometimes....we need a third party to point out a few of our strengths. 

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