If you are a regular reader of this blog you probably know that two big launches are on tap for this coming Christmas holiday shopping season: Windows Phone 7 and Android tablets. If you are interested in getting a tablet and don’t want an iPad, you may find one of the many Android tablets that appear to be coming to suit your needs. With the possibility of so many Android tablets coming to market from Archos, Samsung, and Toshiba, just to name a few, the question is, how to decide on which one to buy?
The Android Tapp web site has an article titled, Android Tablet Buying Tips, that I think is very good and I suggest that you read it. The article points out some important things to look for, such as support for Android 3.0, that unfortunately may not be easy to find out from product documentation. We will do our best to try and gleam from the information we find whether it supports the things that Android Tapp points out. One thing I don’t think the article is clear on is why these items matter, so I offer the following:
- It is believed that Android 3.0 will include many features such as support for higher resolution screens, which will be important for tablets. Reports are that Android 3.0 will require a minimum of a 1 GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM. If past history is any example, it is likely the new tablets will not ship with Android 3.0 so look for tablets that meet the minimum specs.
- Multi-touch support is an indicator that the tablet has a capacitive touch screen. Most of the Android tablets that have come to market so far do not support multi-touch, which means they have resistive screens that are not as responsive and fluid as tablets with capacitive screens. In short, if you want an Android tablet that is as good as, if not better than the iPad, only buy one that supports multi-touch.
- In an attempt to keep prices low, some manufacturers may use touchscreens with lower pixel resolution. If you want the clearest, most readable display, you want one that supports a high pixel resolution such as 1280 x 760. I agree with Android Tapp in not getting a tablet with a resolution lower than 1024 x 600. If you opt to save money and buy a tablet with a lower resolution, be aware going into the purchase that the screen might not be as crisp as other tablets.
- A problem with many of the current Android phones is that they don’t have enough internal storage space. Owning a tablet with a limited amount of storage space means that you will be limited in how many apps you can install on the tablet. While I agree with Android Tapp that you should also be sure the tablet supports storage cards, be aware that while Android now supports running apps from storage cards, the developers need to make their apps support storage cards. I am finding few developers updating their apps. I think tablets with 8 GB of storage will be good enough, and it is likely that some Android tablets will be sold in different storage capacities.
The remaining items such as camera and USB ports are optional. A front facing camera will enable the tablet to support video conferencing with apps such as Skype, so if video chat is important to you look for tablets with a front facing camera. USB ports enable the tablet to work with peripherals like keyboards and storage devices. If the tablet supports Bluetooth (and I would avoid tablets that don’t support Bluetooth) then you ought to be able to connect an external keyboard, which will be valuable for high amounts of data entry.