Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why I bought a Fujitsu Arrows tablet

As has been discussed on Google+, I recently bought an Android Tablet, and my choice really surprised some. The best response was this.
Did you really buy ARROWS?!?!?!?!??!??! Seriously?!?!?! Hard to believe...

To answer the question as to why I bought the Arrows Tab (wifi-only), I really can't say. There was no single compelling reason. It was more through process of elimination. First off, I wasn't in the market for a tablet. I still don't quite see where they fit in. If this wasn't for work, I wouldn't have bought any tablet.

I wasn't spending my own money (reason #1).

I had to buy before the end of the fiscal year, which is the absolute worst time. Makers have an incentive not to release new products because it gives them an opportunity to unload remaining stock ahead of anything announced in Barcelona this week. I am certainly not the only person in Japan that needed to complete purchases this quarter.

Hello reason #2, had to go with what is available now.

Normally, I would be looking at something like the Motorola Xoom, which has an unlockable bootloader. I'd of course like to hack around with it, load custom ROMs and kernels, but only if I own the hardware. While I might be the only person to ever use this tablet, this tablet is technically not mine.

 Not hacking something I don't own (reason 3).

I would have preferred a SIM card slot to use with a b-mobile SIM, but that is impossible to do in Japan without starting a data contract, buying used, or buying from overseas. To get one that would work with a b-mobile SIM, I'd have to buy from Docomo or SoftBank. That would add a ¥10,000 cancelation fee. I've been told by Emobile reps that I can buy handsets from them and immediately cancel with no financial penalty, but them I'm stuck with a radio that is likely useless with any other carrier. Buying second-hand gear or from an overseas vendor wasn't an option.

Which bring us to reason #4 - getting a tablet with a 3G/LTE radio wasn't possible.

Actually, that's not true. The Sony S Series Tablet (SGPT113JP/S) is actually available without a mobile contract. You can order direct from Sony or at an electronics store. It will be locked to Docomo but will work with a b-mobile SIM. I was this close to getting it. Until I snapped to my senses and shuddered at the thought that I was actually considering buying a Sony product.

It would have been a premium price for an oddly-shaped tablet with mediocre specs and a cheap, plasticy feel. The 16 GB version is ¥38,800. The 3G version, which is only available with 16 GB of memory is ¥62,880. The wifi-only version is advertised to get 6 hours of usage, well below the other tablets. The 3G version gets a dismal 4.5 hours.

Reason #5: Not buying Sony.

Look at the above photo. Why would I carry around a tablet that is almost the same size as my primary work machine (11-inch, core i7)? The only reason would be if the tablet was 3G, but even that is less compelling because the Nexus One does proper wifi tethering (infrastructure mode) and I have two extra batteries. Even if I bought the Asus Transformer, with detachable keyboard, I'd much prefer to type on my full-size keyboard on my primary machine. Not to mention that the previous transformer was too bulky, even without the keyboard, and with it, weighs 1300 grams (!), more than my MBA. The new transformer is slimmer and sexier but expensive and made of materials that completely attenuate GPS signals, even though it has a receiver (think someone got fired for that?)

I agree with Steve Jobs that the 7-inch form factor is in no man's land (Reason #6). 

There is one place I can think of where a tablet would be better than my notebook. Yup, the bathtub. When it boils down to it, this was an excellent opportunity to buy something GALAPAGOS. I've really got nothing to lose, and I really should become more familiar with the domestic products, since I do run a blog about Japanese mobile stuff.

Reason #7: I wanna watch one seg in the bathtub.

I did consider an iPad, but that would just end in a huge pile of frustration. It wouldn't integrate as well with the other Android devices I have. Less apps are ad-supported, meaning fewer free downloads. iOS users don't have any admin privileges. Trying to use the app store without a credit card can easily turn into an hour long circular click-fest that goes nowhere.

Not to mention reason # 6, iTunes.


  1. Haha, nice post. Does having "Japan-market" features mean that it is waterproof too?

  2. Yes, this one has water resistant features. I think it's currently the only one that does.

  3. I got one too back in November! love the waterproof and one seg feature. Don't like how its very buggy and i can't find any material on how to root it!

  4. I have the original Asus Eee Pad Transformer, and it is heavy. I think the Sony one looks kind of nice, though I don't like heavily skinned Android devices.

    So are you going to use your new tablet strictly for using one seg in the bathtub? :D

  5. Unfortunately, one seg broadcast doesn't penetrate well into the bath. If gets no reception at all unless you hold it. When holding it, the signal comes in and out.

    Thinking of the best was to rig up some sort of external antenna. Anything using headphones isn't a viable solution because that would compromise the water proofing.

    So, maybe I'll see if I can stream to this from xbmc. Hopefully there's nothing in this ROM that prevents that.

    The oneseg tuner can record and save to the SD card, so I could always prerecord and then watch.

  6. so why was it got that arrows tab again?

  7. I'm not criticising your decision to go with the Arrows tab but I think you are selling 7 inch tablets short. Job's comments come more from his arrogance and nazi-like view on competition rather than from 7 inch tablets perceived lack of usefulness. The "no man's land" argument could be applied to basically any mobile device; 10" tablets = too big to be truly portable yet their functions are too limited to serve as a desktop replacement. iphone = the screen is too small to be really productive compared to a tablet yet it is too big and chunky to serve as a dedicated cell phone. The no man's land argument is just a negative way of overlooking the potential a device has.

    IMO 7~8" is the best overall size for a tablet as it offers the best balance between size and portability. 10" tablets do have their benefits, especially to artists, but I feel they really lose out in portability which is one of the primary reasons to use a tablet over a laptop. a 7" can fit inside a jacket pocket and can be held easily in one hand making it more convenient for books and note taking. 10" offer more screen real estate but at the same time generally need to be carried in a larger bag and require two hands, a lap or a desk for operation. In most of those situations you could just as easily carry and use a laptop. It seems 10" tablets tend to get used mostly for lazy situations where you want to browse or watch movies from the sofa, on a train or even on the toilet. but really a 7" functions nearly as well in all those situations with the added benefit of being a lot more comfortable to use.

    Think of it this way what size books do you generally prefer to read; A4 sized texts or A5 and smaller ones? A4 sized books can be useful but in general most people would prefer the convenience of B5 and smaller for the majority of their reading.

    Sorry for the slightly off-topic rant.