There are a number of reasons why the TouchPad failed, but the quality of WebOS is not one of them. WebOS is a rare exception of improvement in GUI design at the OS level these days and it works quite smoothly. The problems are things like the lack of quality software that runs on the platform. I couldn't care less about having thousands of apps for silly tasks but a tablet that doesn't even have decent support for reading PDFs is just obviously going to fail. The basic apps that come with the TouchPad just never reached a mature stage. As for the management aspect of things, I won't even go there.
This story really needs a link to an original paper.
I've been using a System 76 laptop for a few months and I am very happy with it. You don't lose the service relationship with the seller when you install Linux, because it has Ubuntu by default, and they are generally very helpful. All the hardware works fine. As for backup there are solutions to choose from which do not depend on which type of laptop you buy. As for battery life, I get 3 hours on my Gazelle Professional which is not as much as you get on other operating systems but decent for a 15 inch monitor Linux laptop. There is no Microsoft tax, obviously.
I got one of the TouchPads on the firesale and while I have been pleasantly surprised by how excellent the user interface is in WebOS I must say that the quality of apps available is not good enough. My demands for a tablet are quite modest in terms of available software but, too take an example, since it is a tablet I expect at least a good pdf reading experience. The pdf reader on the TouchPad has no features beyond the definition of a pdf reader. I can't annotate pdfs and I can't invert the colors to make it easier on the eyes. While those are just some arbitrary features that I happen to want they will probably never be available for the TouchPad because nothing at all is happening in terms of development. I still think the deal was good because the price was so low but getting access to current and future choices from the Android platform will be totally different. I haven't actually checked which pdf readers are available for Android but I have no doubt that there are some choices and more will be developed in the future. While $150 (for the 32 GB version) was a steal for a basic tablet experience and despite the generally nice user interface design of WebOS I think I will get more out of Android in the long run. I plan to give this a try.
My first thoughts were equally redundant.
Why not just use Calibre to convert from pdf? It is very easy to use and supports all kinds of formats. See: http://calibre-ebook.com/
I cannot do my work without the two monitor kind of setup where you can easily split your workspace into an actual work area and a documentation area, terminal area, etc. However, this is really about having enough pixels and good shortcuts for positioning windows. I have a 1080p monitor on my 15.6" monitor laptop and using the default window positioning shortcuts in Ubuntu I get my dual monitor feeling without actually having two monitors. Two 17" monitors on a laptop is an overkill for most types of work.
Robadob sends word that the BBC has been granted approval for Project Canvas, "a partnership between the BBC, ITV, BT, Five, Channel 4, and TalkTalk to develop a so-called Internet Protocol Television standard." The approval came with several interesting requirements: "Project Canvas must always remain free-to-air but users 'may be charged for additional pay services that third parties might choose to provide via the Canvas platform, for example video on demand services, as well as the broadband subscription fees.' Access to Project Canvas must not be 'bundled with other products or services' and 'listing on the electronic program guide will be awarded in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory manner." In addition, a preliminary draft of the tech specs for the project must be published within 20 working days, in order to allow broadcasters and manufacturers of set-top boxes to adopt the new standards. Significantly, "Other broadcasters and content providers must have access to the platform."