Apple iPad vs... the rest
Duking it out with the Galaxy Tab et al
2010: it's a wrap
There's no doubt about it, Apple's iPad was the defining product of 2010. No other offering came out of nowhere not only to establish a new category of kit, but to kick an existing one - the netbook - up the proverbial and, into the bargain, scupper another - the smartbook - before it had even established itself in the market.
Genre-defining, then, but has the iPad been able to cope with the competition?
Apple's iPad: genre defining
Well, such as it is. To date, of the big names in computing and electronics only Samsung and Toshiba have entered the fray. Lesser name Viewsonic has stepped in too. Toshiba stumbled early by failing to ship its Folio 100 with the Adobe Flash support it had promised, but Samsung has made a fair stab at the tablet, establishing its Galaxy Tab as the alternative to Apple.
We can probably discount the numerous cheap Chinese tablets released over the past few months from the likes of Next, Morgan, Maplin, Asda and so on. With their relatively low resolution displays, touch panels that use finger-unfriendly resistive technology, old 1.x versions of Android and poor battery life, they certainly won't threaten Apple or Samsung at the quality end of the market. But I'm sure a fair few will fly off the shelves this Christmas, thanks to their low prices.
£100 for a 7in tablet is hard to argue with, though, no matter how insensitive the touchscreen and how many of the apps are presented in Chinese.
That's especially the case when then baseline iPad starts at more than four times that sum.
Toshiba's Folio 100: stumbled out of the gate
Then again, there are plenty of folk willing to pay extra for a tablet that works smoothly and quickly, and for the design aesthetics that Apple brings to the party. Indeed, of all the tablets on the market so far, none can beat the iPad when it comes to looks.
The boxy, chunky Galaxy Tab comes close, but it's not on a par with Apple's fondle slab. The choice between a 7in screen and a 10in one entirely subjective, especially when both devices offer similar resolutions. It's essentially a case of 7in for portability, 10in for size and to put some clear blue water between the tablet and the mobile phone or PMP.
Next page: Spec vs spec
I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab, and it feels like a poor cousin to an iPad.
Comparing the display in terms of the screen diagonal is misleading. What you should say is that the Tab's screen is *half* the size of the iPad's, but it's still too big to carry around in your pocket. So you have all the limitations of a bulky device, but with a screen that doesn't justify it.
The graphics are not as smooth as the iPad, despite having a similar spec processor.
Most annoying feature is the screen rotation detection, which forces you to either: Hold the dvice with all the care of a safe-cracker, lest your hand shake and the screen clunkily re-draws into landscape, you over correct and throw it back the wrong way, repeat; - or - lock it permanently. (Biggest bug bear here, you can't lock the screen in Landscape from the web browser, because it hides the menu bar. You have to quit browsing, go back to the main menu, lock the screen, and then go back. Argh)
The camera may well be a boasted 3MP unit, but there's no zoom and the focus is poor. The less said about the front facing camera, the better, it produces super grainy images with the screen rotation not recorded in the JPEG. The automatic panorama mode is a neat feature, until you find that the images are only 800x600, which makes them pretty much unusable for anything. (The Tab offers no way to showcase them, any at event). Video calling *is* supported, but only with Samsung proprietary platform. There's no standard 3G video calling support. (Which the Reg slammed Apple for, but remained totally silent about on this device. Double standards anyone?)
So you can only call someone else who also has a Galaxy Tab. With them.
Like the iPad, the device will only charge from the supplied charger. Regular USB doesn't pump out enough juice to charge it otherwise. Unlike the iPad, it doesn't use the same cable that all your friends and colleagues already have for there iPhone/iPod/iPads. Lose Samsung's supplied copycat cable, and you have to buy another. (From where, I have no idea).
Somehow the headphones are also proprietary, try to use a (de-facto) standard iPhone headset, and it'll shut off the mic on the device, but not use the one on your 'phones, so you're leaft shouting to no one. The only other option is having the device on loud-speaker and shouting at it Dom Jolly style.
Things I won't even start on, in case I explode. Flash support (ahahahahahahaha, enable at your peril), Swype (note: learning my typing style != remembering every single typo I ever made and substituting real words with them /every/ time). The android marketplace (or beta-shop, as it should be called. I *like* apple weeding out the crappy, unfinished dross, thanks)
Good points, and there are some. it's sturdy. even though it's plastic it feels quality, and mine has taken a few knocks well. The battery is excellent, will easily go all day. The extra screen space really makes some apps come alive.
The Mobile AP support in android 2.2 is excellent, and has helped me out several times already. Email works well (though no push), but the supplied MS Word reader is piss poor, Google Docs and Documents-to-go do a much better job.
I'm looking forward to 2.3 and I hope many of the niggling features can be ironed out.
So, in conclusion, it's 1/2 the size of an iPad; doesn't work quite as well, still needs a bag to be carried in, doesn't do video calling and costs the same.
I got one free* with my mobile contract though, so I'll see where it goes.
How Refreshing ...
... to read informed comment from someone who can make an objective comparison.
Thanks jamie 5.
How about the Vega
No mention of the Advent Vega ! For £250 plus a 30 minutes to add the mods (market and all Google apps) it is an incredible bargain. Paul O'Brien at the Modaco site has worked wonders with the basic machine plus the retailers (Dixons) are providing upgrades and support. If I sound like a fanboy it's because in this case I am.