I want a web pad (Part 1)

I want a web pad.  I find myself using my netbooks more and more mostly because they aren’t a pain to lug around, and with an SSD an 9 cell battery I can get 8-9 hours of use (wifi, watching movies, etc.) out of it (basically a full day no problem). Like many people I’m spending more time online, what would have been “offline” tasks in the past (writing an article, replying to email, etc.) are now online activities, fact checking, etc.  in real time rather then leaving a note and waiting until later. This is finally practical, home, coffee shops, etc. all have wireless access, and if they don’t I can use my iPhone (which sucks hard for data speeds downtown but that’s another story) which has free tethering (thanks Fido). If I can’t get online there is precious little work I can do. Even my accountant agrees (they seem to embrace technology, but only if it is reliable, proven and cost effective, so they’re usually a few revs behind everyone), when his network goes out he takes off for a round of golf.

My requirements are:

  • browse the web and support JavaScript well (Gmail, Google Docs, etc.)
  • allow me to view PDF files
  • support rotate (i.e. portrait and landscape view) with no hassle
  • support 802.11 and WEP/WPA/WPA2
  • at least 6 hours of battery life
  • 9 inches minimum
  • audio jack for head phones
  • $500-600 max

My wishlist would be:

  • 11-13 inches screen size
  • audio jacks for microphone
  • as much battery life as possible
  • ability to run software I want to run (basically everything but the iPad)
  • Bluetooth for keyboard/mouse
  • Watch .avi files (movies)
  • Flash would be nice but I suspect I can live without it
  • Android or Linux based

Hardware specs: apart from screen size who gives a flip anymore as long as it does the above tasks. Seriously. Hardware is all pretty mucch fast at this point, the over reliance on specs (this one has a CPU 0.1Ghz faster than this other thing) is a bit dated I think.

Sadly I realize I’m willing to give up the ability to run software of my choosing in order to get this device. I’v already done this with the iPhone (of the 7 SSH clients I tested none are great and half are complete garbage). I am not used to having devices capable of general computing (as opposed to an MP3 player) that I don’t actually control and have the ability to run the software I want to run but I realize I’m willing to give it up for the convenience of devices like the iPhone (I feel so dirty).

So I’ve decided I will be buying a tablet/web pad (whatever we’re calling it now) this year once I can find one that doesn’t suck as bad as the iPad does in some respects.

Current contenders are:

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