Battle of the tablets

Thinking of buying an  expensive computer tablet?  Read this first.

By The Gadget Squad
November 24, 2011, 5:14 pm
Battle of the tablets

Over the last few years new gadgets have hit our shelves at an alarming rate and the biggest thing on the market is the hand held tablet.

Parting with several hundred pounds of your hard-earned cash is not a decision that should be made rashly.

We’re here to give you a helping hand into the world of tablets – which one’s do what, which one’s are worth parting your money for and which ones we think aren’t really worth the bother.

The Gadget Squad are Imran, Samad and Hana.


Apple iPad 2

Thinner and lighter than its slightly older brother, the Apple iPad 2 is essentially the same as the original iPad. The screen is incredibly responsive, keeping a very clean, simple interface. The design is similar to the original iPad, albeit substantially thinner and substantially lighter. The interface is clean, simple and learning to use it is very intuitive.

Apple have done a good job in this respect, but it’s worth noting that this has its drawbacks. Android-based devices, although they may not all be as intuitive and recognizable as the iPad 2, are very customizable and packed full of features such as the multi-viewing of applications and such. Apple has only very recently addressed the multi-tasking issue, and is yet to address the issue of looking at more than one application at a time. The new operating system is responsive as ever.

The App store gives you hundreds of thousands of applications to browse through – you’d struggle to get bored using this tablet. The only real issues with the iPad 2 are the fact that there is no native support for Flash content (since Apple and Adobe have had a little spat), and the fact that tasks such as copying and pasting things take a long time. Copying and pasting requires you to slide your fingers across the selected text and place markers either side of it. Very tedious; perhaps a mouse would solve these sorts of problems. All in all, however, it is the king of tablets and rightfully so. Very well priced, packed full of performance and features and, for the most part, will do the things you want from it with ease.


Samsung Galaxy Tab

This 7” Android-based tablet sports a glorious LCD screen and a beautiful flush finished case. Whilst it is considerably smaller than the Apple iPad (which is 9.7”) it is not short of features. The screen is incredibly responsive, and browsing the internet on the Galaxy Tab is nothing short of rapid. It has support for both WiFi and 3G (though, the 3G-compatible devices are slightly more expensive than the WiFi-only). An excellent feature is the dual cameras. The Tab sports a 3-Megapixel on the back and a 1.3-Megapixel camera on the front.

The memory is upgradeable to up to 32GB via microSD, and a 16GB microSD card is included in the purchase. The battery life on the Galaxy Tab is very reasonable. Fair usage will give about 2 days of battery life between charges. 720p/HD videos play flawlessly on the Tab, though there is a slight slowdown in performance when playing Flash videos online. Whether this will be addressed in the future remains to be seen.


Archos 9 PC

Archos are certainly no strangers to the tablet world.

They’ve been creating tablets (or at least portable media players) since before it was cool (a.k.a. before Apple started rolling out the iPad!). The Archos 9 PC is aptly named – it is a Windows 7-based netbook that has been squashed down into tablet form. Seems like a winning recipe. First impressions are great – a thin, solid design with beautiful sleek edges.

The screen is an extraordinary 10.1 inches, which makes this larger than the Apple iPad. It also offers 60GB of internal storage, which is monstrous by tablet standards. However, that’s where all the good points must end. Archos were definitely onto a winning recipe, but fell short somewhere along the lines.

The touch screen is a lot less responsive that it should be and the performance of the device leaves much to be desired.

Online browsing was sluggish and video streaming even more so. It’s a shame to see established portable gadget makers such as Archos fall so short on something that had the potential to be an absolutely fantastic product. At 440, consider going for the iPad instead.


Advent Vega

At only 250, the Advent Vega can often be overlooked as a cheap alternative to a ‘real’ tablet. It would be foolish not to take a look at the Vega, however.  The Vega is an Android-powered device, with a 10.1” screen.

Though the case is made of plastic and may not have the same build quality as the other tablets that cost twice as much, it still has a very sturdy design. It comes with WiFi only (there is no 3G version), but costing 250, it is no surprise.

The tablet is very responsive and, aside from the fact that it does not feel as expensive as other, more expensive tablets, it is still not enough to ruin the enjoyment of using this tablet. It contains all of the features of an Android device, but bizarrely does not include the Market app. It is unsure why this was not included, but for 250, it packs all of the basic features that you would expect from a tablet.

The battery lasts a couple of days on average use, and there is support for Flash on browsers. Light, affordable and very enjoyable.


Motorola Xoom

Upon first glance, this piece of kit looks like the long lost cousin of the iPad. It has a very similar design, but that’s where the similarities end.  At 10.1”, it is slightly larger than the iPad 2, but feels noticeably larger in your hands. The battery is excellent and one of the best on the market; it can go the best part of two days without requiring a charge, which is extra special considering the size of the screen.

The Xoom is an Android-powered device. It runs Android’s newest mobile operating system (3.0). This means the software running on it is incredibly optimized on the Xoom and there are some added interface changes that are sure to be pleasing to the eye.

The web-browsing on this tablet is top-notch; responsive, intuitive and the fact that Flash is supported is an added bonus.

The fact that it is an Android-powered tablet means this tablet must be taken into serious consideration – it is packed full of choices, features and customizability that you will not find on the iPad2. There is something about the Motorola Xoom that suggests it is not quite a polished, completed product. The software, responsive as it may be, has a very ‘beta-testing’ feel to it.

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