Joined: 14 Oct 2002 Posts: 4121 Location: Sheffield, UK
Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:15 pm Post subject: Android Tablet
The news is reporting some of the big Android Tablet manufacturers are refocusing on smart phones after disappointing sales. I don't understand what they were thinking though, most Android Tablets have better spec than the ipad on paper, but that doesn't justify the same, or very nearly the same, price as an ipad. Come on! Only the Samsung Galaxy Tab has had any kind of success, and I'm not sure why that is as it costs exactly the same as an ipad2 £400. My guess is it is purchased by people who feel they must have flash - I can't believe the ipad2 doesn't support flash (I've got that wrong, no?).
I was expecting the Android Tablets to offer similar spec, but an obviously sub-standard (compared to ipad) software experience and be half the price.
I had a look at the Archos7 - a 7inch Android Tablet, it was at the silly price of £80. On paper it sounded quite good:
Android 2.1 (although it seemed to have 1.5 installed???)
800x480 res screen - nice
128MB ram - oh dear
Resistive screen - it means you have to press HARD
8GB memory - fair enough
600MHz Arm9 cpu - oops, a bit weak
If all you wanted to do was watch films on the train/bus then this fantastic. Screen is a bit reflective, but it is HD and plays smooth with nice quality audio. I setup hotmail over wifi in ~2 mins, but email on a wifi device seems a little pointless.
The problems began when I tried to use it as a generic PC device - oh dear
1. It doesn't support flash.
2. Navigating a website is just dreadful, the screen is usable but not pleasant.
3. no google apps store, archos have made their own and it doesn't have a great deal on it.
4. apps that don't run, first game I downloaded for the archos store was unplayably slow (Angry Birds). Even a super simple solitaire seemed to be having problems.
5. it gets uncomfortably warm, so good look reading a book.
I know, I know, you get what you pay for, but come on! How much would it REALLY add to the price to go to a capacitive screen, twice as much ram, and double the CPU speed? It shouldn't jump to £400! Let me know if you've found anything better.
We have a bunch of tablets and smart-phones floating around at work. The scrolling on the Samsung tablet I tried was horrible compared to the iPad. I think it wasn't using hardware acceleration at all for UI and browsing. Let me check...
Ah, apparently Honeycomb fixes this. Maybe we'll get something with Honeycomb on it eventually. I would never buy an Apple iDevice myself, but I will concede that they look lovely and have a very slick feel to the interface. (On the other hand, I still wouldn't call it intuitive.)
Joined: 28 Oct 2006 Posts: 95 Location: Oxford, UK
Posted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:00 am Post subject:
I suspect the Archos is built around a mass-produced all-in-one board (like this one, although that Simtec specialise in small run production): ARM system-on-a-chip and memory packaged into a single module that plugs into a standard (therefore cheap) socket. The RAM is limited to whatever the designers of the board put on, and 128MB seems fairly common. Makes putting together a low-cost low-power system much easier, but because you're buying an off-the-shelf board that the designers didn't start on until all of the components were cheap commodity items, the spec is always a couple of years behind the shiny toys designed in house by the big boys. But as you say, you get what you pay for
Joined: 25 Oct 2003 Posts: 1068 Location: Sydney, Land of Censorship
Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:46 am Post subject:
Proper Android tables run Honeycomb (3.0/3.1). There's a lot of cheaper ones that mostly run Eclair or Froyo, but phone-Android wasn't made for a tablet (although to be fair, I call the iPad a giant iPod Touch all the time... because really, that's what it is).
Android tablets running Honeycomb (and whenever it comes out later, Ice Cream Sandwich), are altogether different. The UI is completely redesigned, the multitasking a joy to use, and altogether I couldn't be happier with my Motorola Xoom.
(Of course, if you're getting one now, I'd recommend a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1... lack of choice is the price I paid for being an early adopter).
The great thing is that since Google is a lot more flexible when it comes to hardware than Apple is, some tablets have neat features. Like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer has a keyboard dock (with a built in battery), adds a keyboard and touchpad, makes it like a small notebook... and you don't have to pair the keyboard over Bluetooth like you have to do for iPad keyboard cases.
Or there's the HTC Flyer, smaller (clocks in at 7" IIRC), currently running Gingerbread but is supposed to be getting a Honeycomb update, but allows you to use a stylus for writing, supposed to work pretty well.
Also one thing worth noting: some of the cheaper tablets don't have access to the Market (something about not lining Google's pockets enough or something, probably). Sometimes you can sideload a Market APK and that works, or else you have to find the APKs for the apps you want manually. I'd suggest the Amazon Appstore, but since that's not available outside the US...
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