Tablets and Photographers


Super Moderator Emeritus
Sofia, Bulgaria
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Two announcements of forthcoming tablets in the last week point to growing competition for the previously all-conquering iPad. While Samsung, Motorola and others have already joined the fray many more tablets are on the way.

On Tuesday Sony announced their entries, currently code named the S1 and the S2. The S1 follows the by now 'traditional' tablet format while the S2 is a foldable tablet with two smaller screens that can be used together or separately. Both run Android.


A few days previously Toshiba announced pricing and availablity for their Android tablet in the home market. They also gave it a name - the Toshiba Regza AT300. The tablet will be released in Japan in June and the 16GB model will retail at the equivalent of $725.


As interesting as these products may be in their own right, most visitors to Serious Compacts will primarily be interested in how these tablets might function as photographic tools. Last month, DPReview took a look at the iPad from a photographers perspective and discussed some of the better photography related applications available.

Doubtless they and others will in due course do the same for some of the current and planned competitors. Right now details of Sony's tablets are too sketchy to reach any conclusions, but there is plenty of information on the new Toshiba and, personally, I'm interested.

I've never seen the iPad as a convincing photographic tool for two main reasons. First, Apple's decision to exclude support for Flash means that too many websites - including my own - are not fully functional on the iPad.

You can read Apple's reasoning behind their decision to exclude flash but, even if it is all true, the fact remains that Flash is all over the web, including on many photography related webites, and will continue to be for the forseeable future. Whatever problems there may be with Flash on tablets it's better to have the option. The Toshiba (along with all other Android tablets it should be noted) will run Flash.

Second, while Apple has put a lot of energy into the user experience when it comes to software they have taken some strange decisions regarding hardware. The iPad comes with one proprietary port that requires additional connectors if you want to use USB, HDMI, or SD cards. Even then, the USB capability is restricted and these connectors can only be used one at a time.

To be fair, Apple don't market the iPad as a productivity tool, emphasising instead the ability to browse and consume media, where having all that hardware connectivity is less important.

The Toshiba, however, comes with USB, mini USB and HDMI connectors and an SD card slot. To me, this hardware functionality makes the Toshiba a real option for the photographer, especially on the road. Being able to plug your SD card into your tablet, connect it to the TV monitor in your hotel room, sort your images and then download them to your portable hard drive sounds like a great solution.

The Toshiba Tablet


betwixt and between
Real Name
Thanks for this news and write-up, olli. I've managed to remain on the sidelines thus far with any of these tablets/pads but I do imagine there'll be on in my future at some point. I'm sure it's only a matter of time and checkbook balance.:wink:


Hall of Famer
Very interesting, Olli. I love my Motorola Xoom tablet, but I always like to check out what's around the corner. These tablets are a great way to display photography, and I'm looking forward to their evolution as content creation/editing tools.


In all fairness

In all fairness, plugging an SD card or the USB cable of a digital camera into an iPad is as simple as getting tiny adapters that both come as 29 dollar 'camera connection kit'. HDMI cable is 39. And both *can* be used at the same time (hdmi adapter has an extra dock connector on it). True, it's extra 68 for both but it's a one-time cost.

Still can't download to an external hard drive, unfortunately. That much is true. But, at this point, ipads are a tough value to beat.


Super Moderator Emeritus
Sofia, Bulgaria
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BB, sometimes I feel the same way but then I ask myself, do these do anything that I can't do right now? and the answer is, no. Amin's point is the key one, these devices need to evolve into credible content creating and editing tools. Whether that's actually possible given the low levels of memory and processing power is debatable. But for basic management of photographic files on the road as I outlined in the post they could be viable.

To be honest, if I had money to spend a tablet wouldn't be my first choice. I would go instead for a 12"-13" laptop with an SSD, like the very nice Samsung NP900. These are extremely thin, extremely light, extremely tough, have a serious processor and OS - and cost a lot of money.

Fair enough mnp but I still don't understand why I should have any extra 'one time cost' to get a poorer version of the kind of hardware functionality I can get on my $250 netbook. And while you can use USB OR SD with HDMI I can't use USB with SD. And the issue of the limited USB functionality of the iPad remains. I do hope that as the competition hots up Apple will start to include these basic capabilities in future versions of the iPad.


Ontario, Canada
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I would agree that tablets are not (yet) great tools for managing or editing photographs, but great use has been made of the iPad (and no doubt will be of the others too) in creating other content, particularly around design. I feel it's overstating things to say that in general they are not yet content creating / editing tools. Outside photography they are very effective.

I was a reluctant user at first. With a desktop and laptop I did not really see the advantages for me. As a creative director though I did see the possibilities for developing more immersive content (because of the very intimate nature of the device, and the natural process of touch) and so have an iPad. I was surprised how much I appreciated it's usefulness.

One small but significant point for me is that I need to consume a vast amount of content, share that content and make extensive notes about the content. I also do a lot of personal web and book reading. I found that using the tablet meant a different feeling from my 'normal' computers. Without the conventional keyboard and general feel of the computer I did not feel that I was at work. I was able to separate myself more easily from everyday labour. This turned out to be important to me.


I have an iPad and I don't see it yet as much of a photography "tool" but more as a consumption device (browsing, viewing Lenswork digital issues, etc). I've dabbled with minor post processing on it, but vastly prefer my MacBook Pro for such tasks. The lack of Flash is not important to me (I use Flash blockers anyway) nor does the lack of ports. I appreciate the simplicity of tablets and I don't want them to become bloated.

However, like Pelao, in my design work I do use the iPad as a creative tool.


Top Veteran
but vastly prefer my MacBook Pro for such tasks.
Having just bought a new Macbook Pro 13" that performs the same as my iMac, including running Photoshop CS5 at blistering speed, I'm not sure what I would use an iPad or other tablet for photographically. My laptop is small and light with a terrific screen and does pretty much everything I want it to. It works as a storage, editing and display device and I can put it in a bag and take it anywhere. No messing around with touchscreens or virtual keypads. I guess it all depends on whether you want something to look at or work with.

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