John Galea's Blog

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Android tablets

The Apple iPad resurrected the idea of a tablet. Personally I think they made a number of key mistakes, not the least of which is that they used the iPhone’s OS. This can be seen as a plus in that there are tons of apps out their ready to use.

So what can a tablet do? Well the larger screen makes them ideal for watching movies on the go, reading ebooks, surfing the web etc. I’m not convinced they replace any device, simply provide you another device to lug about.

So enter a number of uber cheap Android tablets. These are hitting the market fast and furious. At this time Deal Extreme has the most of them but they are not alone. Expansys , Tiger direct , and Canada computers all have them. Future shop for now does not.

These devices are varying WILDLY. So what are the specs you need to look for? So this is obviously a very subjective thing, but given this is my blog I shall give you my thoughts. As a back ground I have an HTC G1 to act as my point of reference.

Operating system
I am running Android 1.6. 1.6 brought some nice improvements and personally I would not consider a device with less than 1.6 as the OS. I would love to get a device with 2.2 which is a HUGE leap forward in speed and functionality. Whatever you do get be careful to insure the device can be upgraded.

Processor
The device uses a 528MHZ processor which gives adequate performance but can be sluggish sometimes. I would not consider a device with anything less than this. Insure the processor uses an ARM compatible processor so that apps will run.

Battery
Never enough … Mine has an 1150 mAH battery but given mine is a phone it’s hard to compare. The one thing that is clear, bigger = better.

Outputs
A 3.5 mm audio is a MUST for me. I’m sick and tired of these proprietary jacks. Video out would be VERY nice. USB should support both master and slave to allow you to connect USB hard drives, etc.

Bluetooth
This would be VERY handy to allow the connection of headsets, keyboards etc

Memory
There are three kinds of memory you need to be concerned about RAM (for running programs), onboard flash (for storing programs) and MicroSD for movies, music books etc. Be aware that out of the box (assuming the company has not hacked Android to allow this, which can be done by the way) Android does not allow programs to be run from the MicroSD card. So it is important to insure your onboard flash is big enough for your needs. What is enough? Well on my G1 I use about 500M for program storage. In terms of RAM the more you have the more can run in parallel. On my G1 I have 192MB and it is adequate. More would be better. A number of the devices have limits at 16GB on the microSD card rather than 32 which I don’t get. 32G are available now so if the device can support 32G that would be a plus.

Radios
I personally don’t think I would pay for my tablet to have a cell. I don’t want the extra monthly bill. And given that my phone can act as a WIFI access point I don’t need the tablet to do it. WIFI is a MUST. Now whether B/G is good enough or B/G/N is up to you. An FM radio would be nice which some have. None of the ones I looked at have GPS. This becomes problematic in that location based programs are going to be less useful given they have no idea where you are. This is a bit of a downer. I love location aware programs.

Screen
This is an area where you can spend a ton of dough and get the best brightest easiest to read biggest screen. personally I need it to be good enough, but not so good that the price on the device is so high I leave it at home. Most of the new elcheapo devices seem to be 7: 800×480 devices.

Camera
Well the camera is nice to have at best. Lets face it the cameras on most cell phones are useless anyway. Now the would be handy for video conferencing but I am not sure what software you would use to do that anyway and is the camera on the front or the back?

USB slots
pay lots of attention to this. How many and are they both master and slave? The use of these slots will be severely limited by Android so don’t expect every USB device you could possibly plug in to work. More of a level set would be you should be surprised when they do 🙂

Built in speaker (squeaker) and Mic
These are handy to use for VOIP and the like but don’t be surprised if they flat out suck.

Weight
This is an important consideration. If it’s too heavy you will simply leave it at home.

So here is a quick comparison of the devices I found on Deal extreme As of date of writing

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August 27, 2010 - Posted by | Android

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