Making Sense of Your Tablet Choices

Making Sense of Your Tablet Choices

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 by Thomas Phillips

This post started out very differently. It was going to at look the iPad and its three primary competitors. Then, out of nowhere, HP announced it was going to discontinue the TouchPad after a month and a half on the market and it was going to shutdown its entire mobile unit. How bad was it? AllThingsD reported that Best Buy had only sold 25,000 units of the 270,000 in their inventory. On August 16th Arik Hesseldahl reported:

Best Buy, sources tell us, is so unhappy that it has told HP it is unwilling to pay for all the TouchPads taking up expensive space in its stores and warehouses, and wants HP to take them back.

Two days later, HP said that it would be shutting down its mobile unit.

So what is left? The Register, a UK based tech blog, has been reporting that there is little interest in Europe for Tablets that are not iPads. With so much uncertainty, is getting any tablet that is not the iPad a safe bet? Can you trust that the other tablets are going to be supported after purchase?

iPad

In my opinion, there are really only two options left: The iPad and Android-based tablets. Clearly, the iPad is the benchmark that all other tablet makers see as the biggest competition. Apple sold 500,000 iPad 2s during the first weekend -- twice the number TouchPads that HP shipped. Apple has sold 25 million total iPads. With that many units sold, it is hard to ignore its success. The iPad had a lot going for it even before it shipped in 2010.  Additionally, the iPhone and iOS brought mobile computing and smart phones to a wide audience. Developers flocked to the phone's huge audience and robust development tools. Apple is the second largest company in the world. So it's safe to say that the iPad is not going anywhere.

While Apple is a huge player, there are reasons to look at Android Tablets. Apple keeps tight control over what can be installed on the device. In recent months, Apple has even clamped down on in-app sales. The message to developers: It is Apple's world and their word is final. This philosophy makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

Android

Google's Android takes an opposite approach to development. The mobile OS is based on an open source platform that tablet and handset makers can adapt as they see fit. Hardware makers and retails have all launched competing app marketplaces to compete alongside the official Android Market. Over the past three years Android-based smart phones and handset makers have shaped Android to fit their own image. In the more mature smart phone market, there are a lot of choices. The tablet market is still developing. To keep up with the shifting demands of the Android-based tablet market, Google plans on releasing two more major versions of the OS before the end of 2011.

Currently, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the clear front runner. Based on the popular Galaxy S (Samsung's flagship handset) the Tab has a pretty strong pedigree. Barnes and Noble's Nook Color takes a radically different approach to the tablet space. Instead of scaling up a cell phone, the Nook Color centers its interface on ebook consumption. The third option is Motorola Xoom. The Xoom is the only Android tablet based on version 3 of the OS. Most reviews gave the hardware high marks, but pointed out that the software design did not feel ready for prime time.

The Others

There is also the BlackBerry PlayBook. It has some major limitations. People buy BlackBerries for email and the Playbook (currently) does not have an email application1. You can only get email through the browsers or when it is paired with a Blackberry phone. There were some third party apps, but RIM, the company that owns Blackberry, shut down its app store because of security issues. If you are a hardcore Blackberry user and are strongly committed to BIS (BlackBerry Internet Server) the Playbook should work for you.

Where is Microsoft in all of this? They have stated that Windows Phone 7 is a phone OS. Windows 7 and Windows 8 are going to be the focus of their tablet strategy. Windows 8 is still at least a year away.

Overall, the tablet that will work best for you will depend upon the price, features, and brand loyalty you have towards one of these technology giants.


  1. It is not just email. The PlayBook does not have a calendar app either.

3 comment(s) for “Making Sense of Your Tablet Choices”

  1. Gravatar of Drake
    Drake Says:
    So I'm in the kitchen, lienitsng to my music library, and typing a review for the I-Pad 2. I have put a little more than 14 hours of research and 6 hours of non-stop use. I'm not gonna waste my time writing the specs for this device because if you are reading this I assume you already know the specifications, if not you can easily access the Apple website and do your own research. This review is aimed more towards the educated consumer. A consumer, who like me, has spent various hours of the night researching and contemplating his or her next moves.First, I want to start off with the word tablet , what is a tablet and who needs it? As an avid P.C. user, I tend to define the device as too short, too little. A underpowered, pre-mature device not ready for this day and age. The truth is, their are more people out there who need a tablet versus a laptop. Having a quad core, overclocked, power hungry P.C. I am like most other users; who tend to have a bias when selecting/comparing portable products. I have been for some time; looking for a laptop with great battery life, portability and power? I first went out and purchased a Macbook pro for about $1199+ some. After a couple weeks of use I was in love. I could not stop showing it off and playing with it. Then I attempted to play games and yes they were playable! But I found myself running to my P.C. whenever I was gonna get serious and then I found myself using my desktop when editing videos. Yet again, I found myself running to my P.C. when it came to doing anything that involved time and effort It was at this point that I realized that I never used my laptop for more than a hour. Utilizing a mere 20-40% of its power. I used it for; writing papers, showing off pictures and Internet browsing. So I decided to return it. In search for something that made sense.I never considered a net-book useful or even worthy of my time, even less a tablet. The Motorola Xoom came out and I thought it had potential compared to last years 256MB I-Pad. It offers 1GB of internal memory and 32GB of storage space, all for $599. It not only had the potential, but also the power I craved. Although, its pre-mature operating system was a deterrence. This is the same thing that turned me away from the original IPad. Dispite the fact that I liked the original, if people didn't demand it, the product would die and I would be left with a 500 dollar piece of silicon or waste. I needed something portable and practical. I just felt the tablet was a little more practical, if not more useful too because of its portability and extended battery life. So I took the plunge and got the Ipad 2.First impressions didn't fall short; it was easy to set up, had a beautiful screen, and gorgeous aesthetics. While Apple boasts about its 60,000 app's, I'll tell you what, it's not enough (way better than android though). While you can download IPhone and ITouch apps; they are simply not the same (a 3.5inch app on a 9inch screen). Face Time also seems to be problem, since it cost money for all your friends who don't have an IPad 2 or new Macbook. Tango or Skype are excellent alternatives, but still only supported in a 3.5 inch window. Despite this, it has some killer apps (e.g gmail, calendar syncing, web browsing and etc). My favorite app is TeamViewer, which gives you remote access to your PC from anywhere. This app is simply amazing. I was able to install some programs to my PC from school! While It doesn't support flash, it plays almost every video stream I've seen from the web. Hey, that's all I needed anyways. So I can't complain, but all you flash gamers might.Now I found this whole touch-typing thing to be an exasperation. Since I am primarily using this product for note taking, its important I am as accurate as possible. Keys kept skipping and words kept missing. So I upgraded to the Apple-wireless-keyboard.. sigh. It was a well spent 69.00 dollars (cheaper models are available). I am able to control volume, brightness and music. Also makes my tablet feel more like a high end net-book. I want to talk a little bit more about writing. I bought this tablet with the intention of using google docs. Well it works, but you have use the mobile version, which has limited functionality. I tried switching to desktop editing, but it was horrendously slow and unworkable. As a matter of fact I'm writing this with google docs now. As long as you are not using bullet points or etc; you should be fine. I do notice some errors that result from a slow ping, so it's worth trying noting it happens. I could more easily recommend using apple's built in note-taker . Its responsive, practical and free.As far as Air-Play goes, simply amazing. Kind of a pain to set up though. One really has to go into every setting in I-Tunes and mark share libraries under preferences and account profile. When the set up is complete, you simply log in with your I-pad and use the same mobile user name and you are good to go. Of course you have to keep your computer running the whole time unless you have a dedicated server of some sort. Air-paly grants you access to your music, videos and HD collection. which makes that whole HDMI out thing really convenient. Granted its only 720p, Ive never noticed a huge difference between 720 and 1080p Additionally stream times are relatively quick. Just keep in mind this depends a whole lot on your network. Which bring me to my next issue of storage. I honestly feel the only thing anyone needs on tablet is, pictures and apps. Unless you are going on a long trip; a couple movies. I am content and don't think I would ever need an I-Pad with more storage. As far as 3G goes, will its just that. A three year old bandwidth solution. If you can get a tethering plan instead, I would highly recommend it, as you can also transplant GPS automatically when tethering.All in all I'm really content I took the I-Pad 2 plunge. A dive, I really never saw myself taking or considering. Having an android phone and P.C.; it would seem like honeycomb would have made more sense; considering the attractive specs and all. None the less, the IPad 2 meets my draconian standards for 2011. Making any other device look over weight and under-spec'd. While the consensus of professional reviewers have voted the camera insufficient, I could honestly say it does what I need it to do, which is provide fun and entertainment. The rear HD camera is similar to the one installed on the new macbook pro models (2011 refresh). Other than that, I don't plan on taking high quality photos with the device. I might do future reviews with the camera though. check out my youtube channel for video reviews, just look up oceansidecreations.
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