Toshiba tablet ad sasses iPad, but shows no value yet

The iPad alternatives are a-comin’ this spring, or so we are promised in a bit of web advertising from this vendor and that. The wanna-be’s of mobile desktops range far and wide in price, availability and size. But none of them can top the cheeky sass of Toshiba. The maker of DVD players and Windows laptops wants an iPad user to switch, sending a special nyah-nyah from its website.

When an iPad user arrives at the web page that teases about Toshiba’s tablet, you get greeted by the screen to the left, which is force-fed to you as the website determines you’re an iPad user. Mind you, Toshiba could have served up even more useful information in its we-haven’t-shipped message: Something like an exact date of release, or crucial data such as weight of their Tablet. Or its price. On and on it goes with the competitors to the best mobile computer Apple ever released. They want to remind you that you’re not part of the largest group of web users: the ones that have to swallow the battery-sucking, horsepower-choking Flash.

It’s quite the ad ploy, but Toshiba’s device managers must be hedging their bets, because Daring Fireball reported that lopping off the apple.html on the web page directs you to an HTML 5 page where its snappy movie runs fine. Runs even more apparently than the tablet, which doesn’t even have a video demo on the web. (Toshiba’s reading Daring Fireball, because less than a day after the HTML 5 trick was posted, Toshiba killed off access to everything that didn’t use the “apple.html” on the web page address. Odd though: apparently Toshiba doesn’t own the name to its product on the web; head to to see it’s got nothing to do with mobile computing. More confusing is that Toshiba sold what it called a tablet for months already: the Portege Tablet, all last year at about $1,700, because that sparkler was a Windows PC with a touchscreen interface.

What to buy for a tablet this year? You could wait to see what’s on sale by the time these Android-powered tablets finally clear company tests and go into the market. By that late date, though, Apple will have an iPad 2 ready for you to purchase, a device that now has more than 30,000 apps written for it. Even though it won’t have all those blessed ports (USB, microSD, video output, thick toast), the iPad 2 will be available to everybody on Day One (no shortages this time; Apple’s put in a massive component order and is building the devices now) and we know it will be under $600, somehow. Those two features, availability and value, are likely to be hard to beat by a wave of smarty-pants vendors hooking up with Android.

On that best-mobile-ever claim above: You can use an iPad (model 1) as your travel laptop even today. Starting Wednesday I’ll be posting news and photos using nothing more than my iPad, the 16GB no wi-fi model, a Kensington Bluetooth keyboard and case, and an iPhone for my camera. You’ll be able to read the reports from Macworld Expo — a show just crawling with tablet apps like the new DK Publishing travel guides to major cities, or the Mobile Office Suite that lets you edit PowerPoint presentations. See, while everybody with an iPad is likely to have another computer to watch that sassy Toshiba teaser ad, few of the Toshiba tablet buyers will have 30,000 apps to make their tablets useful. Not this year, or even by this time next year.