If you have any interest in technology whatsoever (even if that only means checking your favorite social network and surfing the web), you probably have noticed lately the trend from desktop computers to laptops to netbooks and NOW to tablets. And If I haven’t lost you yet, then you most likely are familiar with one of the first successful tablets brought to market, the Apple iPad, which has sold nearly 15 million units to date. In just under a year, that’s nothing too shabby, if I might say so myself.
Furthermore, yesterday Apple announced their second generation iPad, iPad 2, which will be available on March 11th. With Apple entering the market first and already setting the bar so high with what they call a “post-pc device,” we are now starting to see other companies follow suit with their best renditions of a tablet. Better late than never, right? So, if you are like me and are very interested in purchasing a tablet soon, you now have choices; which include Apple’s iPad 2, Motorola’s Xoom, LG’s Optimus Pad, Samsung’s Galaxy, HP’s TouchPad, and Blackberry’s Playbook. Let’s see how these different tablet platforms match up!
Now that you have briefly scoped over the specs above and came to the conclusions that these letters and numbers mean nothing to you, just a buch of mumbo jumbo, here are a few key factors that should help narrow your decision when making that purchase. Just for argument sake, I will be focusing on the iPad 2 and Xoom, mainly due to the fact that these are the two tablets available right now, or at least by the end of the month. The other four tablets have been announced, but have yet to have a definitive release date.
Price & Convenience-If you are currently a college student, or a recent grad and are looking to expand your tech line or replace a laptop for an affordable price, then most likely your will go with an iPad 2. Their base-model iPad 2 starts at $499; the Xoom is $599 with a two-year contract and $799 without, for a 32GB. However, many can argue that the $599 is a better value than the iPad 2 because the Xoom comes with 32GB of storage capacity by default, while the iPad 2 is only 16GB. Nonetheless, the iPad 2 still has the lowest price when looking at overall cost of ownership due to the fact that their is no contract required, which coincides with the convenience factor. Even if you were to purchase a 3G version of the iPad 2, you can activate the 3G coverage whenever you like while with the Xoom you would have to wait for a credit check and sign your life away with a potentially pricey two-year contract. So, I would have to go with an iPad 2 for a hassel-free buying experience.
Screen Size, Resolution & Operating Sytem- Now that you have decided on what price fits best for your needs, you probably will focus now on what the tablet looks like. iPad 2 has a 9.7 inch screen with a resolution of 1024 x 768 while the Xoom’s screen is 10.1 inches with a resolution of 1200 x 800. So based on screen size and resolution alone, the Xoom has a slight advantage, but the average person won’t be able to tell the difference. As far as the operating systems go, iPad 2 is running on the latest iOS, 4.3, while the Xoom is operating off Andriod 3.o Honeycomb; a new version of the mobile OS that is geared towards their tablets. Both operating sytems seem to work well and most likely it will come down to personal preference. If you are used to using an android phone then it will feel right at home with the Xoom, while the same goes for current iPad, iPhone, and iPod owners. Getting the chance to play with both devices, I believe the iPad 2 still seems to function a lot smoother and just seems native out of the box. However, it still comes down to if you’re an Apple or an Andriod fan.
Key Features- Both the Xoom and iPad 2 have front and rear facing cameras, video recording capabilities, HDMI tv output, Bluetooth, Wifi, Gps, and Sim Cards. However, there are several features that can make or break the deal for you. For starters, the Xoom will have Adobe flash capablities, allowing the end user to view interactive animations and videos on web pages right on the device, while the iPad 2 will not. This is a pretty big deal if you find yourself on many websites that require flash. This is a big plus for the Xoom. However, Apple insists that flash will soon come to an end and that they are focusing more on something called Html5, an upgraded version of html that will let sites directly embed videos without the usage of plug-ins like flash. For now, most sites support flash rather than Html5, so iPad 2 will be taking a backseat to the Xoom when it comes to viewing any and every web site on your tablet.
Another feature and advantage the Xoom has over the iPad 2 is an sd card slot. The Xoom has the ability to store data like movies, pictures, and other files, and transfer them to other devices like a computer, camera, and other portable devices. Apple has never had this feature on any of its devices and I don’t understand why. However, Apple does provide a subscription service called MobileMe that allows you to access and manage your email, contacts, calendar, photos, and files on the web in one cohesive area. This service can be costly and could have a slight learning curve. So if an sd card is a key component for you, then you might want to lean towards a Xoom.
Last but not least, the app store. Apple is known for its apps while the Android platform, not so much. The Xoom will indeed have what Android calls the market place, where you will be able to purchase and download widgets that will enhance your tablet experience. These widgets are very limited due to very few being designed for a larger format. Most of the widgets in the marketplace for the Xoom are geared towards its smartphone counterpart and don’t look and function as well on a much larger scale. As far as the iPad 2, the app store has over 65,000 apps that are specifically for this device. If you are used to having an app for this, an app for that, most likely you will feel comfortable with an iPad 2. These apps will enhance your overall tablet experience and is a huge advantage over the Xoom.
Now with some knowledge of the key factors and tablets at your fingertips, which one will you choose?