The Top Ten Android Tablets Sept. 2011
Android Tablets are steadily gaining popularity as more manufacturers release variants with different sizes, features, and price points. If you are looking to get in on the tablet action there is definitely a Honeycomb option that will satisfy your needs. The original Honeycomb tablet the Motorola Xoom is still a credible contender against the likes of newer options from Acer and Lenovo.
There are however a number of tablets that stand above the competition and we are going to run down a top ten list of Android Tablets so you can make the best decision when it comes time for your purchase. Whether you want a tablet for work, play, or as a netbook replacement we have you covered.
The Motorola Xoom is the tablet that introduced the world to Google's iteration on what the ideal tablet experience should be. Although it did suffer some woes initially due to price and an early build of Honeycomb both of those problems have been corrected giving way to a formidable tablet. It may not be the cheapest or the lightest, but like most Motorola products you can tell its a quality product when you hold/use one. It comes with the standard set of Honeycomb tablet hardware including the Nvidia Tegra 2 SoC, 1GB of memory, and a 1280 x 800 resolution 10.1" display. While the display and battery life are not the best of the bunch it does come with 32GB of memory can be had in WiFi or with 3G/4G LTE from Verizon all on a completely untouched version of Android Honeycomb 3.2. If you are one who cares about timely updates the Xoom would be a great choice as it has been and should continue to be the first tablet to receive updates just like a Nexus device.
The Asus transformer has seen a success due to its $399 price tag and the availability of a dock that essentially turns the tablet into a laptop. It is a very credible option for someone who would like to replace their laptop entirely with a tablet. It allows you to use your tablet with the clamshell form factor and to take it out of the dock and just have the tablet when wanted. If you want a tablet more for work and school the Transformer should be near the top of your list. It has all of the standard hardware including a 10.1" display that is above average and is really only surpassed by the Galaxy Tab in overall quality.
Galaxy Tab 10.1
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 might be the runaway star when it comes to Android tablets and the closest to the ipad 2 if that is something you are also looking at. It is super thin, super light, and comes with the best display of the bunch with a $499 price tag for the 16GB model. It features Samsung's Tablet version of their TouchWiz UX and it is attractive while adding some extra functionality. Due to its
Acer Iconia A500
The Acer iconia is another option that comes in at $399 with 16GB of memory and it has the added feature of a full size USB port directly on the tablet, something many other options need docks to provide. Display quality is more than adequate and will be acceptable in all but the brightest of conditions. Its aluminum backing makes this an attractive piece of hardware although it is not the thinnest or lightest of the tabs in this comparison. With its low price point and more than adequate feature set this is something many should look at especially if they want a close to stock experience.
The G-Slate is one of the Android tablets that separates itself from pack not only because it comes in at 8.9" rather than the standard 10.1", but its ability to shoot a play 3D video is something none of the others can claim. The only issue is that the 3D playback does require special glasses that are at least included. Its smaller size also means that even though it has a smaller resolution 1280 x 768 compared to the standard 1280 x 800 the screen has a higher pixel density. As a result of the higher density display the G Slate delivers a more crisp display that will not disappoint.
At $530 on contract from T-Mobile you get a HSPA+ 3D tablet and 32GB of memory that can not be expanded.
The Acer A100 is the first 7" Android 3.2 device and it offers a stock Honeycomb experience that brings performance enhancements over the current 3.1 devices with the same hardware. It comes in a budget friendly 8GB version for $329 and a 16GB version for $349 giving the A100 a distinctive price advantage in this comparison. The E-reader shaped tablet features the standard 5 mega-pixel rear camera and 2 mega-pixel front camera that most all of the options here feature and they performed well its most situations with clear pictures and video when shot in quality light. This is a great option for anyone who feels the 7" spot is perfect for them or anyone looking for an E-reader with full tablet functionality. The only real downfall of the tablet is its 5 hour lifespan.
Lenovo IdeaPad K1
The Lenovo IdeaPad K1 is another 10.1" Honeycomb option this time from the popular computer manufacturer. While the internals are the same as the other tablets where it differentiates itself is in the OS optimizations that Lenovo has put into place. For starters they have put into place is a five app launcher right in the middle of the home screen that has default shortcuts to email, the browser, gallery, and an E-reader application. The launcher goes a long way to help the less techsavy or new tablet users get acclimated to the platform without the need to sift through long lists and scour the market for apps which can be a daunting task for many. Lenovo has added many useful tools for instance the apps in the recent apps menu have a X in the corner so they can be easily closed and there is an icon in the middle of the status bar that gives access to favorite applications.
The IdeaPad K1 is a user-friendly tablet meant to give users a running start when it comes to successful tablet navigation. It is one of the heaviest tablets in the list and doesn't have the best performance or display. Although it does have it shortcomings, it is great for anyone new to the Android or the tablet scene this is a perfect option one that will give users many useful applications including Netflix and games pre-installed and ready for use. Lenovo has even created their own app store with apps that they recommend for use with the tablet. One can be had in a 16GB version for $449 a 32GB version for $499 and a 64GB version for $599 and they can be had in numerous color choices a change from the popular black and silver offerings.
The Thrive is another 10.1" Honeycomb tablet and this one comes with a host of ports including full size USB, HDMI and full SD card slot. It is thick at .62" but it has a fully rubberized backing making it is to hold in the hands despite its relative large size and weight. Though the screen is rather bright and has adequate viewing angles it is not quite up to par with its Honeycomb peers with sometimes visible pixels and just an overall image that lacks the sharpness of its competitors. Toshiba has opted to leave the OS alone and offer a pure Android experience, but thankfully have included a full host of apps pre installed that give you complete functionality out of the box. They key included apps are LogMeIn Ignition, Quickoffice, and a tablet security app together those three alone are valued at more than $70 to add to the value of tablet.The Toshiba file manager is a big plus when using all of the included ports and allows for easy access and moving of files on and off the tablet, another goodie is the included PrintShare app that allows you to print on local WiFi printers. It has the usual cameras but they happen to be some of the worst of the bunch though no option is a real star in that department. There are various options that range from $429 for the 8GB version, 16GB for $479.
Sony Tablet S
The Sony tablet S is the newest offering of the bunch and one that offers quite a bit above and beyond what the others have brought to table. Sony recognized the market was getting crowded with Android tablets and only a few that have been able to truly differentiate themselves. The design of the tablet is impressive, with a wedge design that looks like a folded back book gives it a nice slant when laid down on a desk making it much easier to type on then the competition. Sony also chose to go with a slightly smaller screen size coming in at 9.4" as opposed to 10.1" and it features their TrueBlack technology from the Bravia TV line giving it great contrast on a screen where you would hard pressed to miss the extra centimeters of the competition. The rear 5 megapixel camera is standard tablet fare but the 3 megapixel front facing camera is a step up from the competition and works great for video calls so if that's your thing.
Sony has made valiant effort it terms of software they place on what is close to a stock Honeycomb experience. They include apps for the unlimited video and music service, their ebook store, and their own SelctApp marketplace. They have also tapped into their large ecosystem and offer a remote app for your home entertainment system using the tablets built-in IR transmitter. The remote is easy to set up and should prove very convenient for those with applicable hardware. Another benefit of being a part of the Sony ecosystem is that the Tablet S is PlayStation certified it comes with Crash Bandecout PSOne version installed and you can expect more titles to come. Where the software runs into issues is in the app browser which is fine in standard Honeycomb but Sony decided to replace with their own version that leaves much to be desired. Overall the Sony Tablet S is a stylish tablet and one that takes good use of their installed ecosystem to give benefits that other manufacturers just can't offer. It is a good option if you are already part of that ecosystem, but if you aren't there are a few mishaps and you might be better served elsewhere.
When it comes to choosing an Android tablet you can view the many options as a positive, or as a negative that makes your decision that much harder. The Honeycomb tablet scene as become very similar to the Android phone scene in which there are numerous options and finding the best option for you can be a daunting task. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes out on top because it is the one option that truly offers all of the beauty, slim design, and super lightweight that beats out the iPad in an Android Honeycomb package. It is the most portable and offers great battery life and display quality.