Andy Ihnatko Reviews the BlackBerry PlayBook and LG G-Slate

Good (and fair) reviews of the two tablets, but regarding Flash, Ihnatko and I disagree. He writes:

But I think Apple’s completely wrong about Flash. I’ve been watching Conan and Colbert all week long on the PlayBook and the G-Slate; Flash video works perfectly fine. The framerate could be described as “slideshow-esque” until the local buffer fills up, but after no more than thirty seconds, I’m watching an hour of smooth, sound-synced video.

What does Flash video playback do to the battery? It drains down about as much as you’d expect when you play streamed, compressed video for an hour. On both devices, I can watch a couple of hours of video and still have most of the charge left.

Is the Flash plugin stable? Why, my friends, it’s just as stable as the desktop Flash player.

(Yes, thank you; I thought we’d all enjoy a good laugh together. Sorry if you were drinking something when you read that.)

The plugin does crash the mobile browser sometimes. But it rarely happens in the middle of playback and it doesn’t happen frequently enough for any regular desktop Flash user to raise an eyebrow. Hell, I’ve had to restart my desktop browser just while writing this very column.

The quality of desktop Flash Player is not good enough. It’s a reasonable argument to make that any sort of Flash Player support is better than no Flash support — that even with the crashes and lesser-quality playback and the security exploits, it’s better to at least have the option, as a user, to access this content than to be in the position of iOS users and have no say in the matter.

But down this path, we’d never get rid of Flash. The baseline experience for online video would forever remain crashy, lesser-quality, less-power-efficient, insecure, and in the total control of a single company — Adobe — that has shown itself to be incapable of addressing any of these problems.

Apple, by refusing to support Flash on iOS, has done more to motivate publishers and websites to support open-standards-based online video than any other company. And, on the issue of quality, they’ve raised the bar. There are no components in iOS where frequent crashiness is deemed acceptable.

Monday, 25 April 2011