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Should You Wait For an Android Tablet?
The tablets are coming, the tablets are coming, is there an iPad killer in the group?

Apple’s iPad has unleashed a stampede of tablets. Everyone is getting into the act from laptop makers to phone carriers and most of them will run their tablets on Android. You would think that a massive Android gang would be able to overpower Apple’s one-company team but Android’s current OS 2.2 (aka Froyo) somehow managed to be developed without tablets in mind and now Google is scrambling to bring out a tablet-friendly version, number 3.0 also called Gingerbread. That compounded with the fact that Google may be adding confusion to the market with an alternative OS for “portable” products called Chrome may allow Apple to stay ahead of the pack as they, themselves prepare to bring out some rumored new versions of the iPad early next year that may come in different sizes and hopefully include one that features a camera (or two).

The big question remains; is there an alternative to the iPad that consumers should consider for the upcoming holidays? Although ship dates for most of the announced products have not been specified it looks likely that a Galaxy Tab will be one of the only iPad alternatives available for the holidays but then again, it’s unlikely we’ll see the tablet-friendly Android 3.0 before 2011.

Let’s take a quick look at who’s got what in the way of tablets.

Laptop Manufacturers
are Jumping In

Dell introduced a 5-inch Streak a little while ago that received a luke-warm reception. It’s too small, too expensive and runs a very old version of Android. On the other hand the recently unveiled Windows 7-based Dell Inspiron Duo convertible notebook with a rotating 10-inch screen looks pretty cool. Some late breaking news coming from from Michael Dell at Oracle World says there’s a7-inch Android tablet in the works from Dell.
HP was aggressively developing a Windows
7-based tablet called the Slate and then along came the Palm acquisition and now word on the street says we’ll see a webOS tablet (PalmPad?) complete with an App Store positioned to compete with Apple sometime in 2011.

Whether you consider Samsung more of a laptop manufacturer or smartphone manufacturer they are coming on strong with a 7-inch tablet called the Galaxy Tab which has been in the news lately and will supposedly be available soon from carriers who can’t wait to have something else to sell you a contract for.

2011, The Year of the Tablet

All the other big name laptop manufacturers including Lenovo (LePad), Acer, Asus (Eee Pad), Toshiba and others have all indicated they will be offering a tablet device, most likely running Android. Along with the big laptop vendors, there will be a host of lesser known vendors like ICD Vega, Notion Ink’s Adam, Neofonie’s WePad all promoting their tablets’ unique features. We’re sure this year’s CES will be the year of the tablet.
The Phone Guys’ Tablets
Expect to see tablets from all the major handset manufacturers like HTC who is rumored to be working on an Android 3.0 tablet and Motorola who said they will miss this holiday season but will have something early next year.

RIM is expected to show a new 7-inch tablet the week of Sept 27th in NYC. The so called BlackPad conjuring up images of pirates (in this writers mind) is expected to be running on a brand new highly robust platform from RIM’s recently acquired QNX Software Systems. This could very well become the “enterprise tablet” but we’ll also be interested in seeing how soon Angry Birds is running on it. Maybe you’ll be able to get a good deal on one on Black Friday (haha).

Everybody and Their Brother
Will Be Offering a Tablet

The tablet frenzy will gain momentum as we move into 2011 with the carriers taking on new tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab or possibly the Motorola MZ600. Meanwhile, Cisco has announced an Android tablet called the Cius, the monitor vendor Viewsonic (G Tablet) will have a tablet and even best Best Buy will not only be selling everyone else’s tablets but they plan to private label an Android tablet branded “Rocketfish.”
Anyone Else Out There?
With all the action in the tablet market predicted to cut into netbook, laptop, an
e-reader sales we have to wonder where some of the big players in the industry stand. What are we going to see from Sony, Panasonic, or Microsoft who cleverly included multitouch capability into Windows 7?
The Curtain Will Be Going Up Next Year
on Apple’s Second Act for Tablets

The rumor mill is rife with reports of new tablets coming from Apple in early 2011. After all it will be a year next spring that media swooned over and consumers waited in line for the original iPad. Apple is rumored to be developing three new iPads (5.6-inch, 7-inch and 9.7-inch) with OLED displays and possibly two cameras for FaceTime compatibility.
Which Tablet Will Be Under the Tree This Year?
There’s no doubt an iPad will be on a lot of holiday wish lists but will there be some other tablet that wouldn’t disappoint some lucky gadget enthusiast this holiday season? With all the muscle the Android gang could potentially bring to bear on Apple, sadly, it doesn’t look to us like there will be a very good alternative to an iPad this holiday season. On the other hand if you can wait for the floodgates to open there could be some realistic iPad competitors in 2011.
Retrevo Runs on All Tablets
Whether you’re shopping for a tablet this holiday season or just checking out the latest gadgets and gizmos don’t forget to visit Retrevo where you’ll find reviews and manuals for all the latest gear including HDTV, laptops, cameras, and more.
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Tablets

The iPad and all 7" screen versions are too big!!! Which pocket can you put them in??? none!!!
The iPad and all the others still need to be carried by hand and in a case which is not much of an advance really. A pocket tablet the size of a pocket diary is perfect. Dell Streak is virtually there and fits the bill.

Andrew, what are your

Andrew, what are your thoughts on the Zenithink ePad ZT-180? They've recently secured distribution in Texas, so they don't have to come through customs. 10" screen, Android OS and less that $300....I'm extremely curious but haven't pulled the trigger yet.

Zenithink

It looks like a lot of tablet for the money and also looks a lot like an iPad but I'd be concerned about the Android (2.1)experience on a 10" device. I might be inclined to wait for 3.0. On the other hand for $250, it might be a lot of fun to own.

I would wait until the price

I would wait until the price of this product will fall under 100$

Sort of …

Yeah, it looks almost identical to the iPad on the outside, but the pictures and videos of the actual interface look horrid! Zenithink were able to steal the easily reproducible outsides, but not any of the well designed interfaces—at least as far as I can tell without owning one. However, from what I've seen online, the couple hundred less spent definitely shows — I'd rather have nothing than a cheap imitation that is found wanting.

I tend to agree

Good points and more arguments to hold off until Q1 of 2011 to see what materializes in the Android tablet department. I think we'll see a lot of iPad alternatives to consider many of which could come in under $300 and even under $200.

Android tablets

I decided to take the plunge and spend $130 on an Irobot Apad 7" running Android 1.6. It's made in China and came with bad batteries so it can't recharge. I did try buying an app from the Android appstore and had extreme difficulty getting it to download and install. I researched online and tried every suggestion, but to no avail. This device probably would have been fine if the batteries could recharge and it had a different O.S.

Android tablets

I decided to take the plunge and spend $130 on an Irobot Apad 7" running Android 1.6. It's made in China and came with bad batteries so it can't recharge. I did try buying an app from the Android appstore and had extreme difficulty getting it to download and install. I researched online and tried every suggestion, but to no avail. This device probably would have been fine if the batteries could recharge and it had a different O.S.

Android and Tablets

One thing you only barely touched on is the fact that Google never intended Android to be a Tablet OS, reserving Chrome (which you did mention) for that particular market. Google's been focusing on Android as a phone OS and was caught with their pants down when Android took off the way it did, Google itself claiming they didn't plan on slowing down development until 3.0, when they felt they'd finally have a stable product. That they're feeling pushed to make Android a Tablet OS says a lot for the lack of communications between the developer and hardware manufacturers.

That said, most of the professional reviews of Android devices seem to emphasize that they fall short of their Apple competitors in all but one area--features. Nearly every one points out that photo and video quality are lower despite higher-pixel cameras, call quality on average seems worse, construction on average seems flimsier and OS stability seems lacking. However, the Android phones do have the ability to play Flash video and multitask--though at the cost of battery life. The iPhone has its own issues, but they tend to pale in comparison when you consider that less than 2% of buyers either complained or returned their purchases when 'antennagate' hit the news while every service provider reported 10% or higher levels of complaints and returns of all other platforms.

Simply put, Android is not designed for devices with larger displays and this alone means that certain applications won't look as good or work as well as they will on the phone-sized devices. Maybe these newer tablets will compete in some areas--again mostly in features rather than user experience. Whether they will garner the customer loyalty that Apple has managed or not will totally depend on how well these devices perform over the long run. Spending $200 for a tablet that dies after only three or four months when spending more could get you one that lasts for years will separate the toys from the tools. If I want something to be a tool, I don't want to have to replace it even once a year, much less three or four times a year. Why should I spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a set of high-tech 'digital' speakers for my HEC (Home Entertainment Center) when a pair of 30-year-old $150 Radio Shack speakers sound better?

Yes, we'll be seeing a lot of tablet devices hit the market this next year, but don't expect any kind of quality from something priced hundreds less. And don't expect to get 'something for nothing' when the 3G/4G service providers subsidize those devices, either. Just because you might pay $200 up front doesn't mean you're not paying another thousand or more on that two-year contract. What I pay for my connectivity is significantly less than anyone else's package so far, and that's because my iPad is paid for. I don't have or need a contract and I can adjust that package based on the needs of the time, from nothing when I plan on staying home to $15 for occasional outside use to $25 if I need a connection full-time for a while; and while slow, it can even use an Edge connection if necessary.

The iPad is 'a bird in the hand'; at the moment, the competition is 'two in the bush.'

Tablets and Android

What about the Asian OEM's? China has been selling Android 7" and 10" tablets by the million during the past 12 months or more.

I just bought a$160 800Mhz 4Gb with Android 2.2 - it's brilliant for the money - OK not as slick as the iPad but at 20% of the cost - it does everything it can do and a whople lot more. That coupled with cloud computing services and I will never buy a PC again.

Long live Android.

I have always been a big fan

I have always been a big fan of the droid products. I love my droid incredible phone and I would really like to buy some kind of tablet because they're really cool and handy because I travel so much but would me having a droid tablet be any better than a regular ipad???

Net book touch screen

This apad..epad..whatever is exactly what I want. Where can I find one?

tablet

hi the ipad is a tablet pc as opposed to a net-book (which actually a mini-laptop). the apple ipad is a bit pricey (but then forefront technology always comes at a high price, until clones start appearing...the same hapened with the pc in the mid 80s with ibm's being too expensive for home purchase, but withing 2 yrs clones like compaq started appearing and the price tumbled). you can be sure the tablet price will do the same by summer 2011.

i bought at the low (price) end of the market...an archos 7 (french company) and i'm delighted with it at around $250 about a 3rd the price of the ipad. i reckong in a year i'll be replacing it with something much better. visit www.archos.com. good luck

Pricey?

Pricey?????
None of this string even comes close to describing all that an iPad can do and since it is all really about the apps and the os nothing comes close to the iPad. It was revealed today that android is sharing personal info and gps locations via unsecured open source apps. Nice. Perhaps google will rethink the free and open strategy. It is only hurting consumers and making motorola and htc rich by not forcing them to pay to use the os...

Pricey?

In case you didn't notice there is a decidedly anti Apple bias at Retrevo and is mostly a troll site for Android fanboys. A lot of folks reluctantly accepting a mediocre device because it is a few bucks cheaper than an iPad or it isn't a Apple product. Too bad!