Why I chose the HTC Jetstream

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I’ve been looking for a long time for a tablet techie’s equivalent of the Holy Grail. I want a tablet I can use for note-taking. That doesn’t sound so tough. But consider this scenario.

I’m in Court standing before a Judge who makes a rhinoceros seem pleasant, patient and even-tempered. Or meeting with a boss who must be that Judge’s sibling. Or with a client who comes from the same gene pool as the Judge and boss.

I can’t afford to wait for the device.  Quick on and resume. No OS crashes or hanging apps. Smooth and responsive to touch. Efficient multi-tasking – I may need to look at my calendar or a document while taking notes.

I also want long battery life; I can’t run out of power during the discussion. The device also needs to be light as I may need to hold it; not just while standing but also while sitting so I can look at the other person rather than down at my device.

So let’s look at the choices – and why I made mine.

iPad

So far I’m describing an iPad; even multi-tasking under iOS 5 is decent. Except … inking on an iPad is like writing with a crayon … because the iPad doesn’t have an active digitizer.

Windows 7

A Windows Tablet PC like my Asus EP121 has an active digitizer and excellent inking. But heavier + shorter battery life. And a touch interface just isn’t very smooth and responsive under Windows 7. This may improve under Windows 8, but that’s next Summer at best.

Android – Which Size?

That pretty much leaves Android. Thought there’re not too many Android options which includes active digitizers.

There’s the HTC Flyer. I like the 7” form factor generally. However, for inking, I find I need more screen real estate. That means the 10” form factor.

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet vs. HTC Jetstream

A 10” form factor + active digitizer means two choices right now, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet and the HTC Jetstream.

Much has been written about the Lenovo tablet. Relatively less has been written about the Jetstream. I gleaned the following from the few comparisons between the two devices:

  • The apps and other scenarios for inking seem more limited on the Lenovo.
  • Jetstream has wireless connectivity (HSPA+ and LTE) which I’ve found I often need where WiFi not available. Currently the Lenovo is WiFi only, though a wireless model (not clear if just 3G) reportedly is coming next month.
  • The few reviews which compare the two devices (price aside) seem to favor the Jetstream, not just on the issue of inking apps (see above) but also on performance.
  • Subjective, but when it comes to Android tablets, I trust HTC more than Lenovo.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the Jetstream is inherently better than the Lenovo. I believe the Lenovo is a solid device, one I almost chose, and would be a good choice. I’m just explaining why I made the difficult choice between the two devices. For someone else, the Lenovo may be the right choice.

Price

Reviews on the Jetstream mostly agree it’s a great device. However, the reviews then dismiss the Jetstream as costing too much. And it isn’t cheap; $849 with no contract commitment (for HSPA+ and LTE). Here’s one typical criticism:

But our biggest issue is the Jetstream’s price. For $699 you get the tablet, as well as a two-year 4G data plan with AT&T. That’s $70 more than a similarly equipped Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 for Verizon, which is lighter and offers faster 4G speeds. And it’s also $70 more than a 3G iPad 2 on AT&T, which has more compelling apps. If AT&T decides to drop the price on the Jetstream, it might be worth picking one up. For now, though, it’s just not worth the premium.

The reviewers often conclude that the Jetstream will be a business failure because, after all, just how many fools are out there with both the money and the stupidity to pay a Windows laptop price for an Android tablet?

Well, we know one now, don’t we? Though I really don’t feel foolish. Regarding the criticism quoted above, given the price you pay for any premium device, isn’t $70 splitting hairs? Especially considering the other devices the criticism discusses lack active digitizers. This HTC Jetstream review sums up my thoughts:

"For a quick price comparison of 10" 32 gig 3G and 4G tablets sold in the US, here’s our table … Yep, they’re all expensive, and you could get a midrange laptop for the same price. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and HTC loaded the Jetstream with top quality components. Where we usually have to say that the tablet could have a better camera or better battery life or *insert high end feature here* if money were no object, the HTC Jetstream has the best of pretty much everything…”

Put another way, you’re spending a lot of money anyway. For an extra $70, or even $100 – $200 (depending on how you do the math), you get a no compromises device. If price really is an object, there are less expensive and serviceable Android tablets. But if you’re already in the “luxury car” range of tablets, I’d rather pay some extra and get exactly what I want (or as close to possible anyway).

Again, I’m not saying that the choice I made would be right for everyone. Rather, my perspective is that an advanced, mission critical device is worth some extra $s to make it as perfect as possible. I may be overpaying, but we’re talking more like $100 than $1,000. So I’ll take the risk.

What’s next?

I’m still configuring the Jetstream. I’m reasonably familiar with many of the apps because of my Samsung Galaxy Tab (which is going to a friend). However, I’m not so familiar with inking apps because the Tab didn’t have an active digitizer. So I have some research to do. Once I install them, I will try them out. If I’m smart, I’ll test them before crunch time with the Judge, boss or client. I’ll then let you know what I learned.

6 Responses to “Why I chose the HTC Jetstream”


  • Great post Jeff. Very well thought out and fair as well. I myself was on the fence about the Jetstream but you may have just convinced me to at least give it a try.

    • Hi Jenna. Thanks for your kind words. The Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet also is worth your consideration. What is both fascinating and puzzling to me is how much has been written on the Lenovo and how little has been written on the Jetstream.

  • I’m also very excited about windows 8 especially because of the app store. I knew htc was a great company since they came up with the “Aria(s)phone.

    • Well, HTC made a spelling mistake on that phone. Though you have to be understanding of a Chinese company spelling a Spanish name.

      Seriously, I too am excited about Windows 8. But it is still at least 9 months away.

      • hahahaha truth be told, I think they went for the “italiano, aria” which means”air” spanish names are far from being used for gadgets 🙁 that all will change when I introduce” Arias Enterprises” 🙂 the first latino tech company to created “mamasita” the improve version of apples siri 🙂

      • Francisco, I’m afraid your version of Siri will be the first software to be arrested.

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