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back to article Ten... high-end Android tablets

With Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich upon us, it's a good time to take stock of the impact - or lack of it - of Android 3 Honeycomb and Nvidia's Tegra 2, the chipset and release of Google’s mobile OS that were hoped would knock the iPad of its perch. They've done no such thing. At the most generous counting, Android tablets account …

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connectivity?

Is it the case, as was said last time we discussed this, that V3 has no bulk storage mode over USB? can one drag-n-drop files from Linux on these? or, come to that, from Windows?

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eeepad transformer

With my wifes eeepad transformer, that is the case, it doesn't seem to do that.

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Anonymous Coward

Honeycomb uses MTP.

In mass storage mode only the tablet *or* the connected PC can see the storage. Obviously this is a problem if the tablet's OS is running from that storage.

So, honeycomb uses Microsoft's Media Transfer Protocol to allow the tablet and the connected machine to see the storage at the same time.

The downside is that MTP is really quite shit. It is horribly slow, does not work very well on Linux (or older versions of windows), and only the gods know what sort of patent nastiness it is encumbered with.

Penguintards should probably be looking for an SSH server for their Android devices. No wires, no mess, no problems.

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WTF?

"An iPad is an iPad is an iPad"

Really? Tell that to my mate who bought an iPad 1 six weeks before Apple launched the iPad 2. Maybe he can take it to his nearest Apple 'temple' to have them retrofit a front-facing camera and a dual-core processor?

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Stop

Not having a pop Mr Vomit but why do some people wail and gnash their teeth when Apple bring out an updated/new product? No one has a go at Ford for changing the shape of the Fiesta or when they add more features with a facelift. I don't moan about Sony bringinging out new TVs since I bought mine three years ago.

It seems to me to be a ludicrous complaint made by the more irrational end of the Apple hating spectrum. But then the whole 'my phone/tablet/PC/whatever is better than yours' argument is childish beyond belief anyway.

I should add that apart from a work issued 3GS I own no Apple products. Or ones of an Android flavour for that matter.

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"An iPad is an iPad is an iPad"

And yet your poor friend's iPad 1 can still use all the same software as an iPad 2 (except FaceTime), is still getting all software updates on day of release (if you're happy to trust Apple's QA), and is still one of the best tablets around even at 18 months old.

How many Android tablets are going to get Android 4 - without having to hack them? Which, remember, is kit that's mostly less than 6 months old. HTC are still selling their Flyer with 2.3, which was out of date when they launched the product! They've not even upgraded it to Android 3 yet...

Equally we can contrast my HTC Wildfire with an iPhone 3GS. Both phones are about the same age (admittedly the Wildfire was never top of the range). The iPhone 3GS is still getting updates and still on sale. HTC were still selling the Wildfire up to a couple of months ago, so they've no excuse for saying it's 'out of support'. The Wildfire got an update from 2.1 to 2.2 (about 6 months late), and that's it. The 3GS has been updated from iOS3, to iOS4 and now iOS5.

And it's not as if I'm cherry picking. Android kit getting timely updates is very unusual. Even Google only seem to update their reference phones once, then dump them.

This is the reason my next tablet will probably be Apple - well that and the Android tablet makers' obsession with widescreen. It's also why I recommend iPhone/iPad to non-geeks.

It's a shame, I was looking forward to going Android. But my experience with the phone OS has been poor, and their first attempt at tablets has been a mess. My only hope to avoid the clutches of Apple seems to be Microsoft. Windows Phone is looking interesting, and Windows 8 on tablets could be quite nice too.

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Anonymous Coward

But I have had lots of updates

From 3.0 to 3.1 to 3.2 on my tablet, and I am fully expecting 4.0 sometime early next year

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Anonymous Coward

"And yet your poor friend's iPad 1 can still use all the same software as an iPad 2 (except FaceTime),..."

Not true. There are plenty of Apps that are iPad 2 only, iMovie is one well-known example.

Funny how this 'isn't that big of a deal' when it's Apple, but when it's Android the iTards are first to point fingers and mock the "Fragmentation".

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Coffee/keyboard

There is a "rational" end of the spectrum?

"It seems to me to be a ludicrous complaint made by the more irrational end of the Apple hating spectrum."

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FAIL

Oh Mr Vomit. Is that really the best you can do?

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Happy

@Philip Lewis

Ha ha. Point taken.

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Six weeks before?

Didn't he wonder what the queue of Apple fanbois outside the shop were waiting for?

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Research before buying

Anyone with an internet connection knows when an Apple product transition is pending, months in advance. Given Apple's dominance of the media these days it's impossible *not* to see news/rumours on pending product launches.

If only the weather was as predictable, eh.

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Alert

from my POV

no-one is going to compete with the iPad until they make a 3G-capable tablet. I wish they would because then I'd buy one.

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I'd prefer the ability to bluetooth (wifi drains power too quickly) tether to my phone.

Fortunately Honeycomb supports it, although my Gingerbread-based Android phone doesn't.

Still, you could always buy a 3G dumbphone with bluetooth and slot your SIM into it for bluetooth tethering if you like; it would cost a lot less than an additional data contract.

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Erm...

"no-one is going to compete with the iPad until they make a 3G-capable tablet. I wish they would because then I'd buy one."

The Asus Transformer TF101G?

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Anonymous Coward

@Erm ...

thanks for the info, RTFM I guess...

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@Erm

"thanks for the info, RTFM I guess..."

No probs. Happens to the best of us :)

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The extra features of each tablet are not shown

A number of tablets have special features (e.g. the Xoom has a barometer), these should be mentioned.

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WTF?

Barometer

Surely not that much of a differentiator. On Android it's mainly used to get a quicker GPS fix, and face it how often do you use the GPS on your fondleslab anyway?

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JDX
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Dear Reg...

Please could you add price and ideally review score columns to the table on page 1?

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Trollface

Dear Reg

Can you please forgo writing reviews altogether and just publish a percentage based score for each new bit of kit that comes out?

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Anonymous Coward

Inadequate hardware

Tegra2 looked good on paper prior to the launch. However, it was quickly revealed that it is woefully inadequate wrt decoding of many common video formats. It's inability to handle H.264-high-profile video is a pain. All tablets in this test are based on the same chipset and are thus IMHO equally useless. Androids main problem so far has been inadequate hardware.

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Anonymous Coward

Not really experienced that...

... I have an Asus TF101 and not had any trouble playing any video from media NAS box over WiFi, from films to short episodes. Have even used apps like Skifta to push media through the TF101 to the TV (that was down to being lazy and just sheer convenience).

Prehaps it's just Asus implementation of the Tegra2 that stops it from suffering from this issue.

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Anonymous Coward

TF101- had problems with high-bitrate 720p content but over-clocking to 1.5GHz resolved that just fine. Battery life is barely dented and the extra GPU clock cycles make playback silky smooth.

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FAIL

Written by an iPad owner I think..

I mean comments like"

" At the most generous counting, Android tablets account for around a quarter of all tablets sold"

when the reality is, it's actually much higher than this number, as Google only count market enabled Android tablets, and there are a vast number of cheap and cheerful non-approved Android tablets that never get counted).

"No support for Micro SD expansion or USB peripherals"

My Asus Transformer shipped with Honeycomb 3.0 and had both of these...

May I sugggest the writer doesn't use the iPad forums as his source of (mis)information.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Written by an iPad owner I think..

The writer does not own an iPad, and as much as you might achingly hope that Android has a higher market share than it does, all market data - vendor shipments and sell-through - suggests it does not.

Sorry to puncture your wee bubble, 'Barry'

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I agree with your point about *current* market share.

It probably is no more than about a quarter at the moment. However I would point out that going from 2 - 3% of the market at around about this point in 2010 to somewhere about 25% now in 2011 is a fairly remarkable jump. How it is going to pan out in the next year or so and what effect Win8 may or may not have in tablet space is of course another matter - my crystal ball needs a firmware upgrade.

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"when the reality is"

So good to have concise, dependable information, instead of this clap-trap "researched" bollocks.

I'll be brief: something sitting on a shelf or in a warehouse, is not considered "sold".

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@ Shitpeas

Another downvote vest for you...never mind, one of these days, you'll twig to what you're doing wrong. But it would appear objectivity, research and critical thinking are foreign concepts to you for now.

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FAIL

Bias alert

"The problems have been many. Honeycomb 3.0 was frankly a bit half-baked at the time of release. Example? No support for Micro SD expansion or USB peripherals"

And how exactly is that a problem compared to your ipad is an ipad is a walled garden with no expansion possibe and propietary connector?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Bias alert

Hackers care about Micro SD and full USB support, ordinary punters do not. Ditto the 'walled garden'. Honeycomb, primarily aimed at the techies, should have had this technology; the iPad, aimed at the latter group, does not. As we clearly state in the next line, Android 3.1 fixes those 3.0 failings.

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FAIL

If by "hackers" you mean "anyone who wants to transfer photos from their real camera to their tablet and anybody who wants to expand storage capacity without having to replace their device", then you are absolutely correct. But as you don't, you're not.

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FAIL

Camera Connector kit

For $30 Apple will sell you their Camera Connector kit, which adds a full-size USB and SD card slots to the iPad.

Out of the box and with a virgin iPad, this will enable you to connect up your digital cameras, some USB sticks and even some hard disks for transfer of photos and videos.

There are also countless apps on the App Store for transferring pics/vids/content via WiFi or Bluetooth. Most are free, and arguably far more convenient than carrying a cable around given that every laptop has Wifi these days.

If you jailbreak your iPad, the options are even more numerous- the Camera Connector kit loses the restrictions on voltage and becomes able to support all portable hard drives, memory sticks and so on, together with being able to transfer all content over from your iPad.

And don't complain that "Ah but you have to jailbreak it" because Android users consider this is par for the course. "All you have to do is run Cyanogen/reflash the firmware/sudo:root to $home and change permissions to +R+S+H and you too can change the screen resolution" etc.

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@ Lord Elpuss

"There are also countless apps on the App Store for transferring pics/vids/content via WiFi or Bluetooth. Most are free, and arguably far more convenient than carrying a cable around given that every laptop has Wifi these days."

So, if you *don't* want to stump-up $30 to Apple (on top of the $499+ you paid for the iPad), you have the alternative of lugging a laptop around just to transfer photos from a camera? Also, please explain to us exactly how carrying a laptop is more convenient than carrying a cable?

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Not sure why this was downvoted

Upvoted

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It's a problem because you expect software to support the hardware it's installed on.

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Anonymous Coward

The only 'bias' I see here is the ridiculous fandroid caterwauling! You lot really to make Apple fanbois look rational. All the historic slurs thrown at the Apple faithful are an order of magnitude worse for you lot. Woe betide anyone that dares question Android. Honestly, it's beyond pathetic.

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Mushroom

"Par for the course"

I don't consider rooting, remodding and flashing to be "par for the course" when it comes to transferring files from an external source. So, it's just as well that Android devices generally don't need these things to be done to achieve that.

However, Apple charging $30 to deliver basic functionality that every other manufacturer provides for free is most definitely par for the course.

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@Stike Vomit

"So, if you *don't* want to stump-up $30 to Apple (on top of the $499+ you paid for the iPad), you have the alternative of lugging a laptop around just to transfer photos from a camera? Also, please explain to us exactly how carrying a laptop is more convenient than carrying a cable?"

Don't be so patronising.

The complaint was that the iPad doesn't have full-size USB for connecting digital cameras or for transferring stuff. I was saying you can add USB (and SD) to iPad for $30 (or use WiFi/Bluetooth for free if your camera supports it). The programs for sending/receiving from a laptop are for sending your content back and forward between your iDevice(s) and your laptop.

If you don't want to pay $30 for the connector, then don't; there are other options available. And complaining that Apple charge $30 for a USB connector is like complaining that you have to buy a 32GB MicroSD card to upgrade your Android tablet to iPad 64GB spec. If you don't need it, don't buy it. Some things will always be an optional purchase, because the company that makes it has done a careful calculation of the market return value attached to including/omitting a particular feature. On iPad, it may be the USB connector. On Android, it's maybe the 'missing' 32GB of storage space. All depends what floats your boat/fits your particular use case.

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@Stike Vomit - Come back to the future

you seem to have a cable fetish. be honest with yourself and think - do you really want to have cables? Put a wifi enabled sd card in your camera and you can instantly see the pictures from the card on your ipad. Why should there be a laptop around? Gee think outside your square box.

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My reply above

was aimed at Lord Elpuss, didn't notice it was a reply.

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Anonymous Coward

Assumptions

"you seem to have a cable fetish. be honest with yourself and think - do you really want to have cables? Put a wifi enabled sd card in your camera and you can instantly see the pictures from the card on your ipad."

My camera doesnt have a SD card slot but it came with a USB cable included in the price.

You appear to be suggesting here, that the iPad is so inherently wonderful that I only need to spend even more money to make it do the things a droid tablet can do out of the box.

I am not sure how that makes sense.

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Flex

I've had a play with a few of the tested tablets on the high street and the one thing that astonished me about most of them (HTC Flyer and Asus Transformer aside) was the lack of rigidity in them, especially compared to an iPad. Hand on each side, there's a good deal of twist in most of them, which on a £300+ product doesn't inspire confidence at all.

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Pretty good round up of the tablets on the market today even if, due to the brevity of the mini reviews, some features of the tablets are missed out, such as the industry leading screen on the galaxy or the inclusion of a battery, full SD port and full usb ports on the transformer keyboard to name two. The thing i miss most with tablet reviews is information about the individual power supplies. One of the main reasons I ended up choosing a transformer over the Toshiba was that it didn't require a charger brick. for a portable device that can be a real deal breaker.

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Facepalm

Eh...

From the Transformer review:

"£430 with the detachable keyboard and battery pack...."

"There’s no full-size USB port unless you cough up for the very fine but not exactly cheap keyboard extra"

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Acer A500

I got one of these and I am pretty happy with it, less than £350 for a 32GB model with 1GB RAM. They don't all come with this. Yes its not as sexy as a Galaxy but it does have the extra ports and micro SD card, certainly worth more than the 75% review score.

One thing to notice is that its not a HDMI connector its a micro HDMI connector.

Its a shame that google have not specified a common connector, that would be a big win, so I can buy a stand or whatever from anyone. Its also a shame that you cannot charge over the micro USB port as that would be one less cable to take on holiday.

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Anonymous Coward

Ford Cortina...

This whole comments thread reminds me on an advertising campaign for the Cortina back in the late 70's.

The Cortina sure had Market share, number one seller year in year out and more or less every car ad in the press or on TV used the "More leg room than a Cortina", "Bigger boot than a Cortina" or similar lines.

Ford just took a one page press ad with a photo of the car and the copy "They can all make comparisons, but they can't make Cortinas".

:-)

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Bingo!

The inevitable Apple car analogy in it's usual first page slot :)

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