I got an unexpected check in the mail. I thought I would just put it aside and then a bright idea struck me. I could buy something fun. Then I had to think of something fun I might want to buy. The next idea came tumbling past in a flash – an Android tablet.

An example of a tablet

I took myself to Best Buy and looked at what was offered. The nicest Android or Droid Tablet cost more than Dick’s new laptop we bought a couple weeks ago. It did have a nice screen about the size of my Kindle. It was a bright LED screen which would make it difficult to use as a book reader, but it was crisply clear.

It had the advantage of turning from landscape to profile layout as one manipulated the tablet itself. It would only show the touch keyboard when in landscape mode.

It had the disadvantage of having to purchase airtime for it. If I wanted to only use WiFi connection, I had to pay more for the tablet. If I was going to use 3G connection, it would have cost at a minimum, $50 per month for 5 GB of data transfer with corresponding over charges should I lose my mind and do something data heavy.

So, if I was going to buy one of these cute little fancy toys, it would cost me over $1,000 for a year’s use and the extra cost of whatever apps I wished to buy. While some apps for Droids are free, many of the more than 300,000 apps are sold for a small price, usually under $5.

I looked at a cheaper model for only $200 that did not have as clear of a screen, did not rotate ever to portrait, and had only WiFi connectivity. Which meant I could use it at home or at work or wherever I can use my netbook.

According to the Los Angeles Times, tablets were the big thing at the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas. The Apple iPad has been a huge success even though it, too, costs more than a traditional laptop. And the 3G connection is an added expense each month of use. Apple has fewer apps available and they must all be purchased from the Apple App Store.

I’m not sure what the advantage of the iPad is because the advantage of the Droid tablet was it was the size of my Kindle. The iPad is larger and won’t fit easily in my purse. It is thinner than my netbook and so lighter, and the iPad rotates from portrait to landscape. It also has a touch screen. But it is too large, at least to me, to be completely portable. It is the same size as a Kindle DX, something else that seems to get in its own way.

I did not buy the tablet because they were not in stock. I got home and called my sister to see what possible use she could see for one of these things. She has a smart phone of some sort and so has many of the same features but with a smaller screen and no touch keyboard.

I wanted to know what apps would be useful. I was disappointed to learn she was using only one app, something I was not interested in.

The article does mention that these gadgets will become more popular as the price goes down. What it doesn’t talk about is the issue of net neutrality. Those who provide the airwaves or whatever it is that makes all our gadgets work when we aren’t in our own homes, are trying to manage the amount of data we can use across their system. Verizon and other phone carriers along with cable networks and ISP providers believe the wireless always connected gadgets are the wave of the future. And they want to make sure they are making a bazillion dollars on this venture by charging for data load rather than an open faucet. Perhaps that makes sense, perhaps it is usury.

Some of the uses for these toys are listed in the article as watching movies at home (where you have a seven inch screen sitting right next to your 59 inch TV screen) or maybe as a cook book (because who wouldn’t want sticky cooking substances all over their touch screen as they scroll through the recipe). If they are more durable, maybe they can be used by children for educational purposes because why use the laptop, especially since Windows 7 has technology to attach that to the 59-inch TV.

I really would like one of these toys. Maybe someday I will get one. But I have no idea what, exactly, I would use it for.