FIG 1. Apple iPad 2
First of all, I’m not a fanboy of Apple but I admire their products after I decided to use an iPad 2. This post is purely my opinion and I have no intention of judging which platform is the absolute best because I’m certain that no mobile OS is the best for everybody. So I created this post just to share with you, the reader, about my own experience and judgement when I decided that I need (or want) a tablet.
When I decided I wanted a tablet, I have spent pretty much time to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each tablet OS. I asked around and watch a lot video in YouTube about how each platform compared to each other. First, I asked myself what am I going to do with my tablet when I finally buy them. The answers for this question will determine which tablet or which OS will suit your needs best. After I knew the purpose of my tablet for me, then I can compare the pricing between the options to find which is worth buying (again, for me).
I knew that I love reading, either books or news, and I’m having problem (or discomfort) when I try to read long e-book using my laptop. I can’t stand sitting and staring at my laptop screen for too long. I also prefer reading in bed than sitting in chair (yeah, I’m a lazy guy and reading while lying on the bed is not a good position for your eyes). So, I knew that I need to find a tablet that has great quality screen and the screen size is about 10 inches. The tablets in the market have similar pixel density (Honeycomb tablets do have slightly higher pixel density than iPad) so it is not a concern here. I opted out the e-ink because it’s too limited and I’m not going to use my tablet solely as e-book reader and I don’t mind reading on LCD display as long as I don’t read for too long. Beside great quality screen, I also need good sources/applications for books and RSS reader. I’ve read a tweet by Dee Lestari (@deelestari, she’s a famous writer and singer in Indonesia) that she used an application in iPad called Flipboard ans she liked it very much. I have no idea what Flipboard is so I browse the internet to find out. The first time I see its UI, I already fell in love with it. I also found out that Flipboard was iPad exclusive. It wasn’t even available for iPhone (or iPod touch) at that time and it looks great and very unique one. Then I also search about e-book format. I found out that PDF is not optimum for tablet. There were some e-book format that have “elastic” formatting. The size of the letters can be adjusted based on the size of the screen. I know that Amazon sold e-book and they offered a lot of free e-books. So I browse which platforms that Amazon Kindle supported. Luckily, it support most of the tablet OS platforms.
FIG 2. Flipboard in iPad
Next, I also knew that I like to play games and use various apps in my tablet. So I compare each platform application store. Apparently, only iOS appstore is the only compelling application store for tablets. At that time, Appstore hosted more than 60,000 apps (now it’s more than 100 thousand apps) specifically designed for iPad and applications that were made for Google Honeycomb OS were less than a hundred. Applications made for iOS tend to have higher quality than its counterpart in other platform (I can be wrong on this). Beside that, it was very hard to know which application that specifically made for tablet in Android market compared to Apple Appstore. I have read a lot of reviews which stated that their reviewers had a hard time of finding apps for tablets in Google Android Market. Most app developers also seemed to prefer build their apps on iOS platform first before they build for other platforms, including Honeycomb. In my opinion, only applications made specifically for the tablet form factor that really counts for the tablet experience.
FIG 3. Android 3.0 a.k.a Honeycomb
Then about the price. You can get a basic iPad (16 GB Wi-Fi only model) for $499 or in Indonesia, it is sold about 4.9 millions IDR and Motorola Xoom (32 GB, Wi-Fi + 3G/4G) is sold for $799 and in Indonesia it is outrageously sold about 8 -10 million IDR. In my opinion, the closest iPad competitors are Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Asus Eee Pad Transformer. The Samsung Tab basic model is sold at $499 too, exactly like the iPad and Asus Eee Pad Transformer is priced at $399. Tab is easily spotted in some electronic shop in Jakarta but Eee Pad Transformer is kind of rare. I’ve seen a seller priced it at 4.5 million IDR (16 GB, Wi-Fi only model). So, based on the price comparison, I don’t see Honeycomb tablets is compelling enough for me. It is priced either the same or similar with the iPad while having a lot of shortcomings with its OS (Many people complained early version of Honeycomb. It often lagged despite using powerful Nvidia Tegra 2 chipset with 1 GB of RAM) and lacks of apps.
Based on those several points, I have decided to pick an iPad as my first ever tablet but I never said it is a perfect device. iPad also has some shortcomings compared to its competitor (notably Honeycomb). iOS still have limited multitasking (actually it’s not true multi-tasking. It’s more like app-switching) and it doesn’t support standard connectors (like micro-USB or micro-HDMI). The over-dependency on iTunes is another disadvantages as it is kind of tricky to move content from your iPad to your computer. You can only move contents that are allowed and to computer that has been registered. It also don’t (and probably never will) support Flash content and memory expansion slot. For me, I don’t care much about Flash but the missing memory card slot is kind of problem. I have to stuck with the memory I get in my device from the get-go. There is no option to expand the memory (unless you use cloud services).
So, to conclude this short article, what I can suggest t you if you plan to buy a tablet is you have to know what you want to do with it. If you only want a e-book reader, buy Kindle or Barnes and Noble Nook or Sony e-reader. If you want a flexible connection, more customization possibility and more open OS (or you like your tablet has the highest specification ever), choose Android. If you want an intuitive and simple experience with lots of apps, you can’t go wrong with an iPad. There is simply no best OS for everybody, so pick one that suits you best. 🙂
Image sources: Google images