I got an original iPad when it first came out, both because it was something different and so I could support a number of clients who were getting them. It was cool, a very slick toy, but in the end it was a toy, just a larger iPod (which is Exactly what it is). Sure, it had some cool apps, most of which cost $$$ that add up much too quickly. The interface is very polished, as well it should be considering the years of iPod development that came before it. But in the end, it is the glaring lack of some things that make it undesirable (despite what Steve Jobs hype machine will try to make you believe).
It doesn’t support flash, which contrary to Steve’s godlike wishes isn’t going to disappear any time soon. Without flash, a very sizable chunk of the web is not accessible, and I for one am not happy having a device that is that limited when it comes to web browsing – I hate that Steve Jobs is the one to decide what I can and can’t view – it is not that the iPad can’t view flash, it is that Steve will not allow it to, plain and simple. The hardware can handle it, albiet on some sites it might stutter, but at least give me that option. I also hate that I cannot easily transfer files to and from the iPad – both because of the lack of hardware support like the ability to use a SD type card, and the huge limitation of the software of iOS which is after all designed for a toy and not a computing device.
With the growing influx of Tablets running Android, I now have a choice. A choice between a number of devices which easily can view the entire web including flash content. Devices that support external media like SD type cards. Devices that have an actual file system that you can easily transfer to and from other devices (I can even do it very simply over a wireless network). In addition, I like having devices that have a huge development community behind them, a community that is not based on one man’s whim’s. The Android community is constantly striving to provide enhancements (free) to make your device better, more customizable, and more personalized.
I got a Viewsonic Gtablet back in November and considering it was less than 1/2 the cost of an iPad, has full flash support, supports an external SD card, USB, HDMI, and has a huge number of custom software ROMS available, it is a good starting point for Android. I have used this device for months, and while it doesn’t have built in 3G, it is very easy to tether it to my Android phone and use its data plan (and I don’t pay any extra for that either!). While in all honesty, the gtablet’s screen does not have as good a viewing angle as the iPad, and the current Android 2.2 software is not totally tablet optomized, it is one of the first of a new breed of Android devices.
Then comes my Xoom, which has pretty much totally replaced my iPad usage. The Xoom was the first Android 3.0 device, and while still having some growing pains, it is so much better in so many ways than the iPad that in the few areas that it is currently lacking, I can easily get by and actually not get ticked off when using it as I often did with the iPad. Steve Jobs is definitely smart and a Master of deception. One of the biggest complaints of Android devices is what they call Force Closes (FC’s). These happen on apps when something goes wrong, you get a message saying the app has a problem and is closing. This is frustrating for sure, and is often caused by people trying to run apps designed for other devices (phones apps on a tablet etc). Apple was much sneakier – instead of the common practice of coding applications with error code that runs when something goes wrong, Apple apps just disappear when they encounter a problem, or in the rare case, the device just freezes. This has the effect of making many people think that it is They who did something wrong, like accidentally closing the app – smart ploy by Apple that takes advantage of people by making them think it is their fault their device is not working properly.
With my Xoom, I have full access to all of my files, both on it and my home and business computer. I can watch TV shows, movies, browse the FULL web, watch all of the videos on YouTube (something you can’t do on any iOS device), I can even easily write my own apps and install them plus I have access to many different app markets like the Google Android market, the Amazon Android market (which gives away a free paid for app every day!), as well as numerous other smaller app marketplaces. I like having a CHOICE in my devices, in what I can do with them and in how I want to use them. The Xoom even comes stock with the ability to Unlock it to allow you to install any kind of software you want on it!
Despite all of the iPad hype - I think Steve’s ad machine has done a great job duping the public into believing they Need an iPad 2 (come on, it’s a slightly slimmer iPad with crappy cameras that aren’t even a megapixel, as compared to the Xoom’s 5 MP and 1.3 MP cameras). But while people play and PAY with their Apple toys, I will quietly work and enjoy my freedom of choice with Android.
With the success of the iPad, despite its many lacks and drawbacks, many people are discovering the advantages of having a tablet. While they are still something of a luxury item, the technology is evolving rapidly and with new tablets like the soon to be released Motorola Xoom, tablets are poised to become a mainstream item. Earlier Android tablets like the Viewsonic Gtablet with its nVidia tegra 2 processor, ability to play HD video, and thankfully the ability to view the FULL web in all its glory by supporting Adobe Flash, have helped make tablets more and more desirable.
Tablets are consumption devices, and what is great about them is they are extremely portable and easy to carry around – with an abundance of cases that make them more like carrying a book, they are stylish and professional at the same time. I have found that tablets are great to take to a restaurant – nice to be able to browse the news on the internet while waiting for food, or have immediate access to email (much easier to read and respond to than using a smartphone). It is also nice to have a tablet in the car for passengers to browse the internet easily without the bulk of even a netbook.
The Motorola Xoom, while still a bit on the pricey side, has an abundance of features such as front and rear facing cameras, full support for Flash, USB, Wifi, Bluetooth, and the pricier models have 3G (upgradable to 4G). With larger and higher resolution screen than the iPad, and sporting Googles Android 3, the Xoom is looking like the one to beat for the near future (regardless of what Apple comes up with for the iPad 2, as long as they refuse to support Flash it just doesn’t make sense to fork out that kind of money for something that has a limted web experience).
Of course I will probably grab a Xoom when it comes out here in Pensacola, and it will probably replace my iPad and Gtablet as device of choice, and it very well may be the one that I recommend to all those who smartly decided they didn’t want to line Steve Jobs pockets by paying the Apple premium for an iPad.
While I have personally had an iPad since right after they were released, I still stick to my opinion that although it does have its uses and pluses, it is definitely not worth the money as its shortcomings (such as no Flash support, no USB, no camera, and ATT suck service) make it frustrating to use. Apple did beat a lot of companies to the punch by delivering a working (somewhat) model to market that has been embraced by many, however it was in no way Apple’s idea (look at the Pads in Star Trek for a clue), and there are now many new tablets about to hit the market which promise to deliver things that the iPad just can’t do.
Archos has had tablets out for a while now, and while not receiving the attention of the iPad (mostly due to lack of 3G connectivity), their Android based wifi tablets are pretty cool and are packed with all kinds of cool features such as true HD support, and the ability to use many of the apps from the Android store (in my opinion, a much better option than the overcontrolled and rip-off Apple apps market). RIM (the makers of Blackberry’s) is now entering the fray, and their PlayBook tablet promises to be much more business and enterprise useable – the iPad is just not secure and that is a deal breaker when it comes to being able to really use it in a business setting. The Samsung Galaxy is another new tablet that really shines in terms of features. With 3G, Wi-fi, Bluetooth, Android 2.2 OS, front and rear facing cameras, Flash support, HD video support, the Galaxy has many of the things that the iPad currently lacks.
Tablet computers are really designed as consumption devices – they are great for viewing web content, videos, listening to music, etc. They are not the greatest for creating content as it is not very efficient to type on them, nor do they have the precise control which many computer applications need. That being said, I think that tablet devices are certainly going to explode across the market as people WANT consumption devices. They will not replace computers as creation devices, but they will certainly find a place in many people’s technology device arsenal as consumption devices.
My advice for those thinking about a Tablet is to wait a bit to see the what the upcoming crop of tablets will bring – iPads are just too overpriced and limited, and the non 3G tablets are likewise limited in the sense that you can only use them in wi-fi areas. There are sure to be tablets that will use Verizon here in Pensacola, or another wireless 3G or 4G provider other than ATT which has some serious issues in Pensacola (I hate the constant dropped 3G signals on the iPad).