Hello and welcome to another edition of Tablet Tuesdays where I sit down with you all and narrow the focus to tablets. Over the last few weeks I've brought you a number of ideas and apps on how to put that tablet to better use or how to just get more out of it. Now, this week I'm going to do something a little different, I'm going to into what makes and doesn't make small tablets like these so great. With the Nexus 7 looming 7 inch tablets are on the rise again and I hope that Google puts some tweaks into Jelly Bean to make them that little bit better so, join me for a look at why 7-inch tablets are great and how they'll become even better.
7-inches of Ice Cream Sandwich is Awesome
Since the release of Honeycomb tablets have come a long way, not only in terms of hardware but also the software. I'll be the first to admit that the 3.0 version of Honeycomb was terrible, it was janky and sluggish and there were hardly any apps, aside from the Google apps. 3.2 however, was a jump in the right direction, it enabled 7" tabs to join in on the fun and bought much needed polish to the Honeycomb release – not even if you were to ask me. Now that Ice Cream Sandwich made its way onto the market and now a number of tablets are receiving their updates, Android on tablets has finally got the polish it needs.
3.2 was the build of Honeycomb that came with my Acer A100 when I bought it late last year. It was okay, it was Honeycomb alright and whilst it was a little jumpy, for the most part it was fairly swift. Now, what I liked about my A100 is that the build of Android was relatively stock – something Acer has kept up with in their later tablets. Now, to get the most of the tablet I did have to tweak some stuff, RAM management was hardly easy and the touch was a little off and too sensitive. I did this through some classic build.prop tweak and it led to a smoother experience.
I was lucky enough to have a tablet that enjoyed a leaked ICS update and boy, was it a breath of fresh air. Firstly, the Holo theme looks far better on tablets now than it did on Honeycomb thanks to its step back and focus on subtlety, couple with Roboto which I love and the whole thing was nicer to look at it.
Of course, a lot more changed than the look. The whole thing was a jump in speed, everything was so much smoother, from transitions to loading times everything felt snappy and fresh. An important part of the Ice Cream Sandwich release was open sourcing it, something I felt was a mistake with Honeycomb. This led to alternative launchers, better app design and of course, ROMs.
With all of the little improvements of Android 4.0 to tablets it made me want to use mine more and led to a far better experience. Having this kind of experience on a tablet really makes a difference, like you could actually get some work done on the go and, even if you don't YouTube will get you those cat videos faster than before.
What's Going to Make Them Better
These smaller tablets aren't perfect and, believe me I've be wanting one ever since the original Galaxy Tab but, having a phone OS blown up is crazy – *cough* iPad *cough* – but, with Ice Cream Sandwich it makes them make sense. It's a true middle-ground, they're portable but have more advanced apps and more screen real-estate to get things done and to enjoy content.
The screen resolution of 7-inch tablets has to get better, 1024×600 is okay but, with tablet apps putting more controls on these screens, more pixels is a must. 1280×800 would be the perfect resolution for a couple of important reasons. Firstly; it's going to look a lot better, from reading to photos content will look beautiful and secondly; app compatibility will be a lot better. Whilst higher-resolution displays may well become the norm for larger Android tablets to come, the majority still use 1280×800, making that the resolution to hit for more apps and ease of use.
A perfect balance between power and battery life is essential. I bought the A100 as, at the time, it was the most powerful 7-incher but, the battery life is pretty poor if I'm honest. It gets me through maybe ¾ of a day on heavy use but, after that it'll be screaming for its charger. With Tegra 3 reaching clock speeds of above 1.2Ghz a core with some awesome graphics, getting the hit on battery life just right is going to be key. Having a Tegra 2 in my smaller tab is awesome but, when the battery fades away like a handful of sand it's not all that great for long.
The Nexus 7 and What It'll Do For Smaller Tablets
I'm not going to go into a huge amount of detail here, because you've probably heard it before and besides, our own Justin Diaz has you covered here.
Some more details regarding the tablet came out yesterday and it checked out alright, if the documents were legit then it confirmed a lot of what we were expecting. The screen size, the resolution and it coming with Jelly Bean. What we find out was that the Nexus 7 will come in a couple of storage options of 16GB and 32GB priced at $199 and $249, respectively. Also, the lack of a microSD card slot is looking likely. This all sounds great at that price point and the fact that it's going to be made by ASUS assures us of some quality hardware living up to the Nexus name.
To see Google come out behind 7-inch tablets in such a way would not only show their hand in the fight against the runaway Kindle Fire but, also give app develops an incentive to make polished apps for tablets both small and large. The resolution at 1280×800 is going to make content look sharp and crystal clear, making it more than a capable replacement for your Kindle and the Tegra 3 underneath it all guarantees fantastic gaming capabilities, something we all to do on a 7-inch tablet.
I can't wait to see what Google do with the Nexus 7 this week at I/O and, as always we'll be bringing you the best news the best we know how all week so, keep it Android Headlines this week and join me next week for Tablet Tuesdays!