Compaq Airlife 100 Versus iPad

Steve Paine — aka Chippy of UMPC Portal and Carrypad fame — received a Compaq Airlife 100 thing — we’re not supposed to called them “smartbooks” because that is a registered trademark.

The Compaq Airlife 100 is currently being tested in Spain. It’s based on Android 1.x and is slightly smaller than a conventional netbook. It’s big thing is 3G inside, which makes it ripe for sales by cellphone operators. Yeah, good luck with that!

Chippy held a live Ustream video last night. I attended (which is why there were no more posts yesterday; these things usually wipe me out; they go on for hours!) and got some screensnaps.

See them with some more text after the break.

Size comparison of the Compaq Airlife 100, top, with a conventional netbook below, from Gigabyte.

iPad on the left with Airlife on the right.

Thickness comparison. Here the iPad is in a rubber case (similar to but not the Apple case). Chippy wanted to show that because he believes most people will carry the iPad in a case of some sort.

More thicknesses compared. This time the iPad is out of its case.

Overall, I thought the Compaq Airlife was rather pathetic. It lacks the ability to play most video (even some MP4!), there’s no YouTube app or client, and — like most devices based on the open source non-Google-branded version of Android — lacks access to the Android Marketplace.

In order to play YouTube, jkk had to send Chippy a copy of TubeDroid. That worked very well, in fact:

In HP/Compaq’s favor, they did add some keyboard buttons dedicated to Android functions. That showed some real thinking, at least. It’s too bad the overall software was rather pathetic.

Chippy showed Aldiko — which can read DRM-free ePub eBooks — running on it:

I asked him to try the Scribd site too. Scribd recently switched over to HTML5 and I wanted to see if the Android browser would render that properly. No, it kept getting the Flash version, which was useless, since there’s no Flash capability in Android right now:

Chippy played with the browser agent ID to see if that would make any difference. It didn’t:

And to confirm this problem with Scribd, jkk called it up on his Milestone (ala Droid) phone:

As usual with these sort of marathons, Chippy got all freaky towards the end. Here he is putting the iPad over the screen of the Airlife, a perverted act if ever there was one!

I don’t think Chippy noticed, but I did: he struggled a lot to make sense of how to use the Airlife. While I didn’t see him use the iPad he was loaned a few hours after he got it, I doubt that experience was anything like his encounter with the Airlife!

From what I understand of the pricing, the Airlife is comparable to an expensive netbook, yet does so much less. The only thing going for it is its battery life and dedicated Android buttons. Other than that, I don’t see any market for it.

Now that HP is buying Palm, it’ll be interesting to see if HP tries an Airlife 200 with webOS. I think that would be a mistake. webOS should be used for tablets/slates, not something that resembles a netbook. Chippy was correct in saying that everyday people will look at the Airlife as if it was a netbook and think it has the same capabilities. It has far less — Chippy couldn’t even upload a photo to his WordPress blog! — and this will doom it to failure.

Additional:

Compaq Airlife 100. Live Session, 2200 CEST on Carrypad/Live
Compaq Airlife 100 Unboxing, Overview, Demo

2 responses to “Compaq Airlife 100 Versus iPad

  1. I get the feeling Apple is the master of usability, and the also-rans try to compete (because they don’t have the ability or time or money to alter the usability of their products) with features. See, features are cheap. Every computer has features. But if its usability sucks, it’s DOA.

  2. The root of good usability is not fearing to ask stupid questions. That’s what Apple does. Like: Why can’t I scroll without a stylus? In the heyday of PalmOS and Pocket PC, such a questioner would have been looked at as a moron. Apple dared to look like a moron and overthrew the existing model.