What you should know before taking the plunge
This Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which showcases the newest, most innovative and dreamiest technology, featured well over two dozen tablets — from budget models, to the lightest, to highest definition, to waterproof — this year. How’s a person to choose?
Pick Your Operating System
Tablets come in three basic flavors — iOS, Android and Windows (not including RIM’s BlackBerry OS).
Image from Geek.com
When it comes to device selection, Android wins hands down — there are literally hundreds of devices operating on the Android OS, while only 11 currently run on iOS and about 20 run on Windows mobile.
When it comes to sheer number of apps available, iOS is the winner, with over half a million apps — the Android marketplace is hover just under 400,000, while there about 40,000 apps for Windows Mobile. Chances are pretty good, however, that you won’t want half a million apps. Or even 400 thousand. It’s likely that the apps that are most important to you are available on more than one mobile OS. Check out the app stores and the app reviews — see if what you want is available on the OS of your choice.
Freedom of choice — unlike the Windows and iOS platform, the Android platform places no restrictions on the available apps. You can sideload (download) any app onto your device, unlike iOS and Windows devices, which require that you jailbreak them in order to install “unapproved” apps.
For more comparisons among the three operating systems, see A Mobile Showdown on Geek.com.
Find Your Size
Choosing a tablet is like the Goldilocks and the 7 (or 8 or 9) Bears — tablets come in sizes from 10” (like the iPad, which comes in at 9.7”) to 9” to 8” to 7” to 5” (where the line between phone and tablet becomes so blurry, Samsung has coined the term “phablet”).
Samsung owns the size variety offered by a single manufacturer — Samsung’s Galaxy line comes in five different sizes:
· Galaxy Tab 10.1 — 10”
· Galaxy Tab 8.9 — 9”
· Galaxy Tab 7.7 — 7.7”
· Galaxy Tab 7 and 7 Plus — 7”
· Galaxy Note — 5”
Samsung Galaxy Note– first “phablet”
The introduction of the 7” to 8” tablet — ushered in by Amazon’s 7” Kindle Fire last fall — is the biggest change in the tablet game since the iPad. Lighter, smaller, easier to hold, more portable — the mid-size tablet has been a huge hit, despite Apple’s original and total rejection of the viability of the size as too big to compete with smart phones and too small to compete with the iPad (for Steve Jobs’ 2010 rant against the seven inch tablet, check out this blog post on the Wall Street Journal).
Current rumors in the industry are that Apple is investigating testing a new tablet that will be about eight inches (via The Wall Street Journal).
Some tablets to choose from
Leading entries in the 10” tablet category include:
- Apple iPad (Boy Genius Report review)
- Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Engadget review)
- Asus Transformer Prime (USA Today review)
- Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Phone Arena review)
In the mid-size tablet category, you’ve got:
- Amazon’s Kindle Fire (7”) (Online PR Media Review)
- Samsung Galaxy Tabs (at 8.9”, 7.7” and 7”) (Engadget Galaxy Tab 7.7 review, CNET Galaxy 7 Plus review)
- HTC Flyer (CNET review)
- Acer Iconia Tab A100 (CNET review)
Next week: evaluating tablet specs to find the right one for you.