back to article HP's fondle-slab dilemma: What to do when you're No 2

After just one year, the iPad is making more revenue than Apple's 30-year-old personal computer division. It's almost bringing in as much as Dell brings in from PCs. This is a huge business, already. And nobody can quite say what their iPad is good for. If ever a computer was a means to an end, then the iPad is it – rather than …


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  1. TeeCee Gold badge


    I saw the advert touting that functionality the other day.

    My first reaction was; "Oh, Apple have included DLNA functionality so if I bought an iPad it would talk to my telly and media streamer. How nice[1] and better late than never.". Then I noticed the little box with an aerial on it hiding under the telly in the ad and the small print at the bottom of the screen saying; "Requires additional hardware....".

    Cue total sense of humour failure.

    Typical. Abso-bloody-lutely typical. Perfectly good standard method for achieving the same results, supported by most of the new kit on the shelves these days and Apple have to do it differently so they can flog you extra kit that you don't really need (Hey! More wires and plugs. Do I get a hole in the head with that too?). They should be shot. And cremated. And then shot again for good measure.

    [1] Well, less "How nice" and more "meh" actually, but it's the thought that counts.....

    1. Thomas Davie

      "perfectly good"

      This is the geek definition of "perfectly good" right? The one where it actually means "well, it works 60% of the time, if you spend 3 hours tinkering with it first". I've never met one single person who actually uses DLNA for anything, and that's not through lack of trying – they just can't get it to work reliably enough to not tear their hair out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Indeed @Thomas Davie

        I've spent an inordinate amount of time finding a media server that would work well with my Panny TV AND Seagate Theater+ box, which would not involve me transcoding all my video collection to some very basic container and codec.

        After trying out more than 8 DNLA servers I finally found one that's acceptable (and costs real ££), but still has some problems like cutting off some streams halfway.

        I guess if you have one of the two typical renderers - PS3 and Xbox360 - you're OK since most stuff has been tweaked for years to support them, but try to use something else and all hell breaks loose.

        That to me is not a "standard".

      2. Jolyon

        Hello, Thomas.

        Nice to meet you.

        I use DLNA to stream music from a cheap Buffalo NAS to my iPod Touch (using PlugPlayer) and my Pure Avanti Flow.

        1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

          Hello, Jolyon

          Nice to meet you.

          What format is your music in? DLNA says that you don't have to do anything, it is plug and play, things will automatically find other things, the player will find media and play it.

          Well I have music in different formats. I have a FLAC library which comes from my CDs, I have some MP3s, some Apple something or other and some windows something or another. I have a set-top which can play all of these, and a DLNA server (QNAP). Nothing on my network can play all my music through DLNA. Some things can play all the MP3s, but not because of DLNA, but because of uPnP.

          Videos are even worse! Even some of the MPEG 2 videos will not play over DLNA when the same file plays locally. I have .TS files which are MPEG2 as from digital TV, but DLNA won't accept them, similarly with 99.99% of my video library. My DLNA certified TV wouldn't play anything from my old DLNA certified NAS (Buffalo), even after spending ages changing settings and re-coding lots of video (read: NOT plug and play). My DLNA certified TV will only play a few MPEG2 files if they are served from the "playstation server app" on a PC, however the same app will not serve anything to my set-top box, nor phone nor ipod touch. Twonky media server will happily serve to the set-top or phone / iPod, but will not play anything on the TV.

          Now give DLNA to someone who doesn't know what a codec or container are. They haven't a hope . DLNA does practically nothing for them.

          1. Anon the mouse

            Decent DLNA software - Samsung Allshare

            I also do all of my home media tasks using DLNA over the network. 2 Jogglers, android phone, ps3, tv, and laptop all work without problems

            Currently I'm using Samsung Allshare (Free and pretty low resource usage). I can't comment on music files as I mainly play mp3's. But for video it seems to play anything that remotely ressembles a video file, I was surprised to see full HD MKV support over wifi with no stuttering/cutout.

            Point it in the direction of your library and let it index the files. Updated the files, just open up allshare again and it will ask if you want it to rebuild the library for you :D

            The only sticking point is enabling devices for playback the first time.

            1. Mark 65 Silver badge


              QNAP + WD HDTV Live. Job done.

  2. Thomas Davie

    "No one knows what to do with one" is getting old

    If you asked most people what they do with their computer, they wouldn't be able to tell you. The reason – because they use it for a lot of random small tasks, not one major task.

    Some examples of what I do with my iPad:

    1) Read recipes off it in the kitchen.

    2) Take notes in meetings on it – being able to draw diagrams and take photos as well as just type is bloody useful.

    3) Play games.

    4) Sit in bed and browse about the place.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Thomas Davie

      And with "place" you mean tornpube?

    2. spencer


      replace Ipad with *any * portable computing device and what you said would still make sense.

      The edge that the Ipad has is that it's pretty, both in form and the UI looks nice as well.

  3. Tony Paulazzo


    I might get an eee pad transformer, they put in an sd slot.

    They also have a nice screen, OK battery life and can double as a netbook.

  4. Chris Miller

    It's the badge, stupid

    You'll never persuade an iDolater© to buy a slab without the logo. We're seeing the same triumph of marketing over function that BMW have established with cars. There's no way that any rational choice would lead one to purchase a Beemer, when a Ford or Skoda will do the job equally well (if not better) and cost 30% less. But then no-one ever says - wow, you've got a Skoda!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Jolyon

      Rational choice

      Agree that they've built brand loyalty to a level Lucky Strike would kill (more) for.

      But they do actually make the best product in this category and it isn't the most expensive.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Not without a little irony, anyway.

      Wow. You've got a skoda. That's, like... wow.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Stick and stones

      Maybe one day, I'll see a post on here from a rabid Apple hater who doesn't resort to petty name calling.


      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        @Stick and Stones

        "rabid Apple hater"

        "petty name calling"

        Pot, meet kettle...

    5. Khaptain Silver badge

      Nope its not just a badge

      I have owned quite a few cars in my time and also 2 BMWs. Sorry Chris buts it's not a case of just a badge, have you ever opened up the bonnet of a BMW, if you do you will understand immediately.

      OK the badge does have a certain "stigma" attached to it but in general you get what you pay for.

      I don't think I would say thew same thing about Apple though. They have the outside of the BMW and the inside of a Ford.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        "They have the outside of the BMW and the inside of a Ford."

        Bollocks. Go and look at Slag 'em off all you want, but one area where Apple really do innovate in the electronic devises and computer markets is manufacturing. The parts that they use are generally of high quality too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Apple products are generally short-lived and problematic in my long experience. Of course, with the users being expected to churn their ownership every 12mths anyway it's not such an obvious problem. But for people who want to buy a computer/phone/music player and just forget about the hardware for four or five years Apple is the worst choice. Every office I've worked in that uses Macs has a cupboard full of dead hardware that's hardly been used. Which would be okayish if the stuff was cheap.

          And BMWs are largely the same. Mechanically they are a nightmare; it's like owning some sort of sickly horse; petrol prices are not an issue because the fuel costs are eclipsed by the constant drip-drip of getting the damn things mended and/or towed. Total waste of money.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            "Apple products are generally short-lived and problematic in my long experience"

            Is that why my mid 2007 20" iMac still works perfectly? I won't be looking to replacing it for at least 18 months.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        "the outside of the BMW and the inside of a Ford"

        I think you'll find that's called a Saab.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "...will do the job equally well (if not better) and cost 30% less"

      That hasn't been the case with tables though. To quote from the article; "...note how HP's Bill of Materials costs are higher than Apple's." This has also been the case for the other manufacturers. Competing on price alone is becoming less of an option. We've seen where the race to the bottom takes us and it ain't pretty, after all in business terms market share isn't everything, just look at Apple's last couple of quarters (Yeah, yeah yeah - it won't last et c.) Individually, Apple has a larger market share than Samsung or HTC and other businesses anyway. Ultimately the iPad has *the* killer feature; apps. There are a limited number of "HD" apps for Android and even less for WebOS and QNX based devices. The traditional Windows argument (more choice of apps) applies here. Yes, Android's is slowly expanding, but there is more development and innovation in the Apple app store for very obvious reasons.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      the netbook part doesn't work that well - try drag-select with the mouse in the conventional fashion, or do a post on Facebook - you'll see what I mean - it's lag-tastic, even after the 3.1 update.

      It will improve, but right now, avoid the keyboard bit, and just use as a tablet. Which it is good at, incidentally.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I totally... my EEE Pad Transformer and keyboard dock. There is one caveat though. Never, whatever you do, never, ever play Robo Defense on it. It'll take over your life.

    9. The Brave Sir Robin

      Having owned a BMW...

      I can safely say that both of my current cars, both of which are Skodas (BMW 325i replaced by a Fabia and and an Octavia for financial and practical reasons) , are so much better quality than it was. More reliable, cheaper to run and insure. They just work, and work well whereas I had many issues with the BMW.

      However, it does have to be said that the BMW 325i was a whole lot of fun to drive.

      Would I buy a BMW again? I doubt it. Another Skoda ? Oh yes. Make mine a vRS please.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Stating that a Skoda is cheaper to insure than a BMW is kind of stating the obvious what with insurance premiums being based on the cost to repair and related to market value of the vehicle which is undoubtedly higher.

    10. Warren

      Drivers choice

      Actually, if the person driving the car has any feeling for it, the BMW is one of very few manufacturers who give a toss about RWD and the proper driving feel it gives you.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Rear Wheel Drive

        Which is why I cheer for snow days... I know there won't be a single BMW on the road!

  5. Andrew Martin 1
    Thumb Down

    And the comparison with Andriod tablets?

    I know the iPad has the lion's share of the market, but there are some plausible Honeycomb tablets out there - and they are the ones most likely to be in a deathmatch with HP's offering for the 'non Apple market'. So, in a review, you might have offered some kind of comparison? Just a little bit?

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Hardware is nothing without software

      To use a phrase "it's the software stupid". Android tablets have very little in the way of native tablet applications and some droidtards have been spinning this unfortunate situation by saying "I prefer to just see my phone applications bigger" or "You don't need tablet specific interfaces".

      Of course as soon as Android has loads of native tablet applications (sometime in 2015 probably) they will change their tune.

      1. dogged


        that 2012 sees not only the end of the world (alleged) but also Windows 8 on ARM and Intel, which has, er all the software. All the software ever.

        If your "apps" argument is correct, that will be the end of any other tablet OS. Let's wait and see.

      2. Andrew Martin 1

        @Giles Jones: missing the point

        If the reviewer had made that point, it would have enhanced the article. To overlook such an issue entirely in this comparison just misses the point.

        AFAIK, the HP offering has even fewer tablet applications than Andriod, so the point stands. The more interesting question is which platform is likely to get more, sooner, and how long HP will carry this product if it doesn't rapidly gain enough market share to make the platform attractive to developers. As long as it's in third place behind iOS and Android, the beauty contest won't look pretty.

  6. Rosco

    iPod Docks

    Apple have completely sewn up the portable music player market and part of the secret is the dock connector. There is an enormous variety of iPod docks that let an iPod owner dock their music player wherein it will be charged and can be controlled to some degree by the remote control of the dock. No other portable music players have docks like this. They have only the jack connector which won't charge batteries or provide control.

    The rest of the industry needs to get together to produce a rival, open standard that would stand a fighting chance of adoption by dock manufacturers. That might give their music players a better chance of being noticed. Of course, their players would also have to be halfway decent (which I'm not sure they are right now).

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Point taken, but

      Your bog-standard portable media player interfaces passively to USB port, and many domestic media devices have USB, including TVs and TV set-top boxes as well as hi-fis. So that'll work.

      But you may not get charging, and you almost certainly won't get your media player enthroned in a dock that it controls, that it is a detachable core part of. The iPod gets that because there's a very limited number of iPod models, and because the proprietary interfaces provide for external control buttons.

      And your cheap TV media player software is liable to be rough-edged.

      1. Rosco

        Yes, the standard is about much more than hardware

        What I suggest is needed to break Apple's stranglehold could be realised through USB hardware. That would make a lot of sense. But it needs to be backed up with a set of guaranteed functions that both dock and device can rely on. Then it can be given a consumer friendly name (see "Made for iPod") and a shiny badge for packaging so that consumers can buy a PMP from any given vendor knowing that it will work properly in the great sounding/looking dock they read about.

        Note that if any vendor tries to go it alone and make their own proprietary standard for this, they will find that no dock manufacturers will bother implementing it for lack of adoption.

        (Ditto the need for a consumer friendly wireless standard).

    2. Goat Jam

      Don't hold your breath pn that one.

      I wrote much the same thing over a year ago;

      "If these PC and old school phone manufacturers want to play in this market they simply have to get together and create an "open", apple style dock connector (plain USB is simply not enough) that they all use. They need to pay proper attention to interoperability. They will also initially need to start producing some accessories themselves to seed the market until they get enough traction for all the accessories manufacturers to take note and start making stuff too. Then they need to stick with it, and not force people to repurchase things like speaker docks every time they change phones. Until this happens then apple will continue to dominate them."

      Since then I have seen zero evidence that any of the Android OEMs have even a semblance of a clue.

      Fail for HTC, Samsung et al

  7. HP Cynic

    Car Analogy

    There's a difference in the car market: residual value. Pretty sure that a few years ago it was worked out that it was cheaper to buy a BMW 3-Series than a Ford Focus because of the former's ability to retain value.

    I bet they did not take Service/Repair costs into account though...BMW gouge you for parts etc.

    I own neither car and neither tablet by the way.

    When the iPad 3 is announced later this year I will be hoping it corrects many of the flaws present on the current models:

    1. Mono speaker - how dare they say "it's the best way to watch movies" when the sound is output through a crappy, single speaker.

    2. Replaceable battery - I can dream that Apple would allow us to replace a battery ourselves!

    3. Display - it's not great, how did they convince the world that suddenly smaller and lower-res was good after years of screen sizes and resolutions improving.

    4. Decent cameras - if they are going to mount 1, 2 or even 10 cameras on the thing at least make one of them of a reasonable standard.

    So let's hope that the increased competition from Tablets like the HP TouchPad (Stereo Speakers if nothing else!) will give Apple the push. After all, it's believed this is why the iPad 3 will be out before Christmas to ensure it catches all those gift sales.

  8. Gert Selkobi
    Thumb Up

    @ Tony Paulazzo

    I'd recommend it. I've had one for a little while now. It's not perfect and needs a few must have apps, like Hacker's keyboard and the web browser can be a bit flaky at times. It is a nice piece of kit though and I'm satisfied with it overall, despite the slight niggles. Personally not delighted with Android and am waiting for a reliable way of putting a decent Linux onto it that won't get randomly borked by OTA firmware updates.

    If you're in the market for a fondleslab then this is a good one, especially with the dock.

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Lord post

      I won't address the other points, but as for 2., not a chance.

      Unfortunately, in order to have a shape that thin, you need to have battery packs that are spread all over the place. If you put all of them in a single convenient-to-remove block, it will overheat.

      Simply speaking, it is not physically possible with the current technology to have a removable battery without massively reducing the battery life. Or having it catch fire.

    2. gratou

      Obvious flaws

      5. USB ports

      6. SD slot


      1. Mark 65 Silver badge


        Don't care about the USB too much if you could get a dock to USB converter. However the lack of SD slot is the thing that really irritates me as you know they're just trying to push you towards the largest unit as a hedge against filling the device.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    title is *still* required

    DLNA. I use it to stream MPEG2 video (recorded off air) from a mac to a PS3 using a paid for server. It works, so long as you don't try to fast forward or rewind. Pausing is risky. When it fails it sometimes requires a reboot of the server, sometimes the playstation. Both server and PS3 are software driven and frequently updated.

    It's not a good User Experience. Also, the 'music' interface is useless - no playlists and you select from an alphabetical list. Maybe ok with 30 albums but no good with 10,000 songs.

    Re Android and 'plausible honeycomb tablets'. That's not enough - they need to be better rather than plausible, with higher quality/nicer feeling HARDWARE, or significantly cheaper (20-25% - £300 against £400 for a equivalent). Hardware specs might sell to geeks but not to the general public.

    Android phones took off when they network operators started giving them away free/significantly cheaper than iPhones more than for any other reason.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPod docks

    In response to Rosco, the Creative Zens used to have a dock port that allowed the device to be charged and controlled, and the sound quality was far better than the iPod.

    Unfotunately, all the rival MP3 makers don't have the marketing clout of Apple, not to mention they've pretty much given up on making high capacity players. Apple seem to be the only manufacturer that makes an MP3 player (I'm not talking movie players here) with a capacity over 64Gb. When my last Zen died, and I was looking for a capacity of 100GB+, the iPod Classic was the only option.

    Whilst the physical size & capacity of the Classic is good, I really don't like their menu system (Creative's original implementation is superior IMO), or the inability to delete files without synchronising the damn thing. And don't get me started on iTunes - I user a plugin for Windows Media Player to sync it, but even that is a pain when compared with being able to just drag and drop files onto it, the way I could with the Zen.

    1. Bullseyed


      The greatest sin of Apple is killing off Creative. They had far superior products, but Apple won by having the iPod in shiny colors to win the id-10T market.

      1. jai


        How did Apple kill Creative? Seems to me they gave them a ton of cash... did the settlement include a clause preventing Creative from continuing to produce mp3 players??

        [from wikipedia]

        Creative applied for U.S. Patent 6,928,433 on January 5, 2001 and was awarded the patent on August 9, 2005.[7] The ZEN Patent was awarded to Creative for the invention of user interface for portable media players. This opened the way for potential legal action against Apple's iPod and the other competing players. Creative took legal actions against Apple in May 2006. In August, 2006, Creative and Apple entered into a broad settlement,[8] with Apple paying Creative $100 million for the license to use the Zen patent. Creative will join the "Made for iPod" program which opens new opportunities for the company.

      2. Dana W

        Not exactly.

        A combination of Creatives blind insistence on Windows only, and its loathsome, device killing firmware updates killed it as much as anything else.

        I used to buy Creative, and "even though I'm using OS X now" I'd buy a different MP3 player than an iPod, but there ARE no other high capacity MP3 players anymore.

    2. Goat Jam

      Creative Zen?

      Don't make me laugh.

      A more unreliable PoS is hard to imagine. Having better sound quality is of no use at all if the damn thing doesn't work half of the time.

      The Zen was crap. The return rate for them in the mid 00's was quadruple that of the alternate brands of the time.

  11. Whitter

    An unlevel playing field true, but that's life.

    When you are trying to break into an established market, particularly one that is so dominated by one player, you have to be both better and cheeper. If you can't do both, then pack up and go home.

    (Ignoring the niche markets of super cheep/low-spec or super high-spec/expensive).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    History tells us what?

    Quote: "History tells us that commodity-priced rivals will take an increasing share of a consumer electronics market, as the market grows bigger."

    What does the history of the iPod tell us? Other manufacturers have never taken a notable chunk of that market.

    History can be useful as a reference, but you can't make sweeping assumptions like that. The phone market isn't the music player market or the tablet market. People are motivated to purchase for different reasons, and discover products in different ways.

    Apple could never have taken the phone market with the iPhone in the way the iPod seized the market. The iPhone is designed to target only a segment of that market - there are many people who simply want to make calls and couldn't care less what else the phone might do. I suspect the low sales of apps to Android users vs the high sales of devices merely reflects the fact that Android phones are being shovelled out to customers who only wanted a phone. The mobile stores are bending over backwards to move these customers up a rung.

    Is this going to happen with tablets? I can't see why. These things will be marketed like computers, not phones. The purchases will be looking for a tablet, not something less with tablet features added on top. If you are looking for a tablet, Apple makes a compelling case with excellent quality, support, features, price, and ecosystem.


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