Tablets are big phones!

I went shopping for a tablet, but I was looking for something really specific. And before I get flooded with iP*d advertisements, I’m not interested because I’m mad at Apple (don’t get me started) and I want Flash.

The specific thing is Tinychat. When I am in the classroom, I wanted to broadcast my class to sick students at home quickly and easily. Tinychat’s “broadcast” button did the trick. My classroom computer is stationary, and on the side of the room. Students could see me and part of the class from the side, but audio was too far away, and the many microphones I tried didn’t work well.

So I started bringing my MacBook, setting it up on a desk at the front, and broadcasting from there. I could turn the laptop around and point it at the class, or bring it to a student’s desk for groupwork. On “lab days”, most students had a laptop, so their group could “bring in” the home-bound student and work with them, also in Tinychat.

But I’m so lazy that my MacBook is too heavy to carry the 75 feet from my office to the classroom. So why not a tablet? Those things can be put on a stand, and they have cameras on the front and back. I could just switch the view back and forth, right?

So I go into Best B*y, and spend three hours trying to bring up Tinychat on each tablet. It was a joke. Most wouldn’t load the program at all. When they did, the login fields kept floating away. I couldn’t click in the login window with my finger to enter my info. When I did, only three actually loaded a Tinychat window (the Motorola Xoom, the HP tablet, and one other that’s slipped my mind). None of the three of these would broadcast from there.

So I spoke with a salesperson who listened carefully, and told me these would do one-on-one chat but not what I was trying to do. As we talked, we go around to the OS. He noted offhandedly that these tablets are based on phone-OSs, expanded for a big screen. I might want to try a small netbook instead.

So I finally got it. Tablets are big phones, not small computers. And now I really don’t want one.