Crazy Tablet Time

Tablet computers seem to have matured quite a bit in the past two years, giving the market a great deal of options for consumers to pick through. What’s really amazing is to see the older generations showing up on daily deal sites. Today, the DailySteals folks have the original Galaxy Tab (no 2 or 3 or plus) on sale for $100. That may seem like a great deal for a tablet that got middling reviews on its release, until you realize that its release was in 2010. How is there still any stock left of those things?

Meanwhile, over on Nomorerack, the Sony Xperia Tablet S is available for $280. This is a tablet that was launched 10 months ago for $400, so that may seem like a good deal to you as well. Ten months is not so long ago, and it has the same basic guts as the much-loved Google Nexus 7 (along with a full-size SD card slot for the shutterbugs out there). But, the reviews from last fall should make you think about staying away from that one too. It has issues with GPS lock-on and some strange concepts of when wifi should shut off, along with a skin that sucks some of the power out of that Tegra 3 chip. It might be a good deal, if you never use GPS and don’t need background data to run when the tablet is asleep, but then again this does appear to be a time of great new tablets this fall so you may want to wait just a little while.

Google is probably going to introduce the NewNexus 7 or whatever they end up calling it (the only inventory screen I’ve seen calls it the Nexus 2 7″ for what that’s worth) very soon. It’s showing up all over the place, and looks to be a giant leap above the rest of the 7″ tablet pack. And, there are a pack of Tegra 4 and Snapdragon-powered tablets from other manufacturers in the pipeline. If you’re a portable gaming geek, you probably already ordered your Nvidia Shield.

Last August, I bought a Motorola Xoom, not really sure if I’d really use it but willing to drop $200 for an $800 device. It turns out that I use it a lot, with the Chromebook just collecting dust for months now. With that in mind, I’m really looking forward to reading the reviews of the new batch of tablets when they come out. The Asus Transformer is what I’m leaning toward, as I’d certainly get the keyboard dock and then have a decent typing experience on the tablet when I needed it, while Asus has developed a great reputation with their previous tablets (let’s just forget about the TF201 entirely, shall we?). While I was willing to “go cheap” on the Xoom, just to test the waters, I’ll probably consider my next tablet a serious purchase, so no last-year’s refurb for me this time around.

Anyone else watching the tablet wars?

Trayvon Martin

Like anyone else with a functioning neocortex and access to modern media, I have an opinion about the Trayvon Martin shooting. And, like almost everyone else, my opinion was worth exactly zero in the legal proceedings that just ended. This is what is supposed to happen; if you’re not part of the case, your vote is not counted. Also, the media don’t share every iota of information that the jury received, but do add a lot of information that the jury is told to ignore from a legal standpoint. This is just how things work in America. There are rules of evidence that are fundamental to ensuring that innocent people don’t get convicted. These rules don’t always work, to be sure (check out The Innocence Project if you ever feel that police and DAs are infallible), but there are rules nonetheless.

The evidence that is agreed true by all legal experts is that Zimmerman saw Martin walking in the rain at night, in a neighborhood that has had a rash of burglaries. Zimmerman was told by the police dispatcher that they would prefer he not confront Martin directly, but that was not a legal order, just a request. Between that moment and the moment that the police showed up, the only other thing we all know for sure is that Zimmerman fired his pistol and killed Martin. We do not know who the original aggressor was. We do not know if Zimmerman was acting under some racist animus. We do not know what Zimmerman and Martin said to each other. If you claim to know, you’re wrong. If you claim that Martin assaulted Zimmerman before he was killed in self-defense, you are making that up. If you claim that Zimmerman gunned Martin down in cold blood, you are making that up. You just do not know.

I have my own biases and beliefs and feelings about the case, and I think Zimmerman is a well-meaning man who did something stupid that ended tragically. But, I don’t know that for sure, and it’s equally likely that any number of scenarios are true. The problem I had with the case from the beginning was not that a “white” (hispanic is not a race, no matter what Nixon thought) man shot a black “kid” (17 is not a little kid). The problem I had was the lack of a real investigation at the beginning. If Florida did not have a “stand your ground” law, the police would not have been allowed to just let Zimmerman leave the scene that night on his own. If the police weren’t so lenient with their definitions of what “your ground” meant, they would have launched a real strong investigation that night, rather than dropping it until public outcry forced them to investigate. That seems like a problem to me. You may disagree, and that’s fine.

Once the investigation was complete, it seems that the DA didn’t really have a good case but felt compelled to go to trial anyway, because of the same public outcry. This led to the fairly bizarre trial we just saw unfold. If the DA really didn’t think it had a case, it should have dropped it after the investigation. The Zimmerman trial did not help anyone feel good about our justice system.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of posts on Facebook with titles like “What about …” with some other shooting victim’s name at the end. These are all, without exception, some white kid who was killed by a black man. If that isn’t a classic case of race-baiting, the term has no meaning. What about those other people? Well, did their killers get investigated? Did their killers get charged with a crime, if it was deemed appropriate? That’s the difference, not what skin tone the guy with the gun had. If you think the uproar last year was because a white guy shot a black guy and got away with it, you’re not paying attention.

I’m really happy to see that most of the protests about Zimmerman being acquitted are peaceful (what’s up with Los Angeles?). I hope everyone understands that being acquitted in a criminal trial means that the jury found some reasonable doubts about his guilt. It does not mean that he was an angel or a devil, just that there is reasonable doubt. That’s how things are supposed to work. Sometimes, we let people go who might be guilty, rather than lock people up who might be guilty. If you think Zimmerman is a horrible person, it may make you feel better to realize that he’s going to be paranoid about vigilante justice coming for him for a long time to come. That may be irony.