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Do you really need the iPad or will any other tablet do?

Ashish Bhatia        Print Edition: December 2011

Circa 2011, everyone and their grandmothers want a tablet. A mobile device that is much bigger than a smartphone, but smaller than a laptop, tablets are fast gaining popularity as a secondary device of choice for anyone looking for the power of a laptop - sans its complexity. 

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Most people jump at the idea of a tablet because its size makes it so much more convenient to carry around, simple to use while serving multiple purposes. Along with the portability and simplicity what appeals to even the non-tech crowd is the intuitiveness of a tablet's natural user interface-touch.

While there is a surfeit of options in the market, the tablet world is predominantly divided between the Apple iPad and Android hemispheres. 

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Apple, the company solely responsible for making the tablet a nearhousehold word today, continues to lead from the front-in both innovation and popularity.

The Android OS, on the other hand, has many torchbearers and spans across the majority of tablets today. (The only exceptions being the BlackBerry PlayBook from RIM and a smattering of Windows offerings).

The wide spread of the Android operating system across varied manufacturers-along with its common pool of apps - serve as Great Equalisers in the non-iOS world.

This makes choosing an Android tablet all the more difficult. So it boils down to looking for subtle, oblique differentiators, personal preferences and peer references. By and large, the whole affairs has become a matter of the iPad vs the Rest.

HEY HONEY, WHERE ARE THE APPS?
Hear ye, hear ye, all and sundry, harken to our tale of woe… While there have been conspicuous strides - nay, almost a swagger-in Android's strides in the past year, it is still far from reaching the promised land.

We've been trawling and tunnelling the Android Market, but we're hard put to find sparkling apps. It's been six months since the birth of Honeycomb, the much ballyhooed tablet-specific version of Android, yet the apps on it are few and far between. It's thumbelievable!

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The war hots up
With the might of almost all global giants behind it, shouldn't the trickle have long become a flood? And then where's the magic? We need some high nitrate fireworks here, guys!

The few score and ten that have managed to emerge are mere me-toos of apps that have been around on the Apple iOS for months. There is nothing arresting, eyecatching or something that will make you go WOW! Not yet, at least. Forget that, the Android developer community is yet to conjure up even something as arresting as Flipboard-an app that have been on the iPad for over a year now.

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Ruefully, instead of attempting to leapfrog the iPad world-as one would expect from Google-app development on the Android tablet platform is still barely there. Until we can see something creative, compelling and breath-taking, Android will continue to swim upstream and play second fiddle. As they say, great results always require great ambitions.

Dear Android, we wish you had more steak to go with your undeniable sizzle. Just as one fat turkey doesn't an eagle make-hardware muscle alone will not help Android tablet manufacturers win this battle.

To reiterate what has already been said a zillion times before: Apple has proved-first with the iPhone and then with the iPad-that it's no longer about the chip with the fastest heartbeat, industrial-strength Tupperware, or bells and whistles that can take you to the top of the heap. 

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It's the whole bloomin' bundle. Or, to use the world's most bloodied and battered buzzterm: the entire ecosystem. And by now no one needs radical intellect to figure that out. Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.

The advent of the Kindle Fire, the $200 Android tablet from Amazon-slated to arrive in mid-November 2011, even as you read this-promises to shake and stir things up. No, it will not dim the dazzle of the iPad sun, not in the short term certainly. But it will cause motion in the Android tab ocean for sure. You can expect the Fire to set the price tags of quite a few competitors aflame. After all, who would want to pay more bucks for for their bang?

THE BOTTOM LINE

Basically, it comes down to what you want from your tablet. If it is a portable computing gadget to check mail, gawk at Facebook, watch a lot of movies by plugging in a USB source and play games, any of the top contenders in this round up will do. Just pick one that suits your preferences, pocket and panache.

You can do all of the aforementioned on the iPad, and then some… If you're looking for something new every now and again, the iPad never disappoints, serving up a dollop of excitement periodically. That monster bank of fascinating apps just keeps growing constantly. Besides, once you've pawed an iPad, you realise it offers the best user experience among everything out there. It also remains the most intuitive, compelling and wellthought-out tablet on the market today.

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Much is made of a tablet's ability to make voice calls over the networks. Yes, this is undoubtedly an advantage. How many times have you seen anyone-other than someone trying to demo it, test it out or simply show off-making a call over a tablet? And no, we are not referring to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) kind of Skyping here.

Apart from the "psychic RAM" the Apple device consumes, the whole iPad package has a lot going for it at the moment. As nothing succeeds like success, the iPad boom is riding the crest of a wave, right from apps to accessories. Saturation and superfluity be damned, developers, publishers and accessories manufacturers are tripping over themselves to push their wares into the iPad market-all to the benefit of consumers.

Courtesy: Gadgets & Gizmos

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