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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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Anonymous Coward

Sorry, but no cigar...

There was no mention of BMW, Lexus or Mercedes, so it doesn't count! :-)

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Anonymous Coward

I bought a tablet for my wife for her birthday back in August. Toddled along to try them out, liked the iPad, also liked the Eee Pad Transformer - very little to separate them, a fractionally better touchscreen on the Apple, much better expansion options on the Asus. I decided that for me, I would buy the Asus, but would get the wife an iPad as it was a Cortina. HOWEVER, they were out of stock - so Asus won out. And she's been very happy with it; she likes a lot about it, including the keyboard if she wants to do anything serious. The quality of the whole package is great, and she also likes not having to fork out for apps that are chargeable on our son's iPod Touch, so I've got plenty of brownie points. Remember that however popular the Cortina was, it wasn't actually a very good car... ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Well thats another good thing about the Transformer, she wont have to worry about getting charged for any apps designed for it.

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Bronze badge

220

I had a 220 model - my first car - which cost a few hundred bucks (AUD) back then.

It was old when I got it and older when i scrapped it. I have only good memories of the vehicle which on the whole did its job of transporting me to uni on a daily basis.

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Anonymous Coward

My point exactly...

"Remember that however popular the Cortina was, it wasn't actually a very good car... ;)"

I agree the Cortina wasn't a great car, but it ticked all the right boxes for the overwhelming majority of potential customers by including the essential and not getting bogged down in Petrol Head requirements.

The iPad pulls of much the same trick and in the short term it's doing fine, but in the longer run perhaps the equivalent of Toyota will arrive? I just can't see where the opportunity to differentiate would come from as for the mass market the iPad doesn't really have an achilles heel.

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Transformer USB

One correction, you don't need the dock for USB host to work, just a cheap adapter from Asus. Last time I checked it was quite a bit below what you'd have to pay for the same from Apple/Samsung, too.

But Asus don't really advertise this which is indicative of the approach to selling Android kit where I livqe. Go in a shop, the ipads are the first thing you'll see. They're on, they're accessable, and you can play to your hearts content. Since launch the high end Androids have been locked away in a small poorly lit glass cabinet. To sell in greater quantities people need to know they're there.

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The Asus Transformer should be getting an updated version released in the next couple of months with the newer faster nvidia processors.

I have one of these with the keyboard and I carry it around most of the time now, web access is done via teethering to my mobile when out, no need for built in 3G as you'd end up paying for two contracts with little gain.

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"Hackers care about Micro SD and full USB support"

you calling my old mum a hacker?!?

If you say so guy.

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Anonymous Coward

Your mum cares about those things? Is she a software developer?

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Anonymous Coward

Yep, pretty much...

If she looks like a hacker, walks like a hacker and wants Micro SD and full USB support, then she *is* a hacker... ;-)

More seriously, at very least she's an unusual tablet customer/potential customer...

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Anonymous Coward

Hackers != users

Expecting a computing device to be able to connect to existing equipment is neither unusual nor is it the hallmark of the hacker.

Having to root a device so you can use your purchased at extra cost adaptor to attach things *is* however, unusual and symbolic of at least a bit of Haxx0r-ism.

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Anonymous Coward

"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?"

And your point is?? Yeah he bought the previous model just before the new one came out - so?

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Facepalm

My point?

My point is that not all iPads are equal, and that iPOS devices are also subject to "Fragmentation".

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Anonymous Coward

Your point fails.

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Stop

Re: "Your point fails."

On the contrary, the facts support it.

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Bronze badge

To quote Top Gun: "[Stike] has no point; it's part of his charm."

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Mushroom

YOU COULDN'T BE MORE WRONG STIKE VOMIT

Stike Vomit "fragmentation" refers to the OS not individual apps. Android phones ship with many different versions of the OS. Shockingly, many to most do not ship with the current version creating havoc in the Android ecosystem. You hymn like a true "Hymn-droid fan" constantly attempting to cloud the truth.

Hymn-droid = those who hymn the praise of android while admonishing other mobile operating systems. Hymn-droids sounds like Hemorrhoids don't you think?

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Anonymous Coward

"the Xoom has a barometer"

Whoopidy bloody do - great so you know the pressure - why?? I mean I know what a barometer is used for but it's fairly useless on a tablet for 99.5% of people.

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Big Brother

a Mercury columist writes...

...it's for when you're working under pressure

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Barometer can be used to speed up GPS lock

Lots of high-end GPS devices actually include a barometer. Although GPS is very good at locating your position on the surface of the Earth (x, y), it is pretty bad at determining your altitude.

A barometer can be used to get a quite accurate altitude reading which can then be used to speed up the GPS lock.

At least that's one of the reasons the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Note have them; I'm not certain whether the Xoom and other tablets use it for the same thing but I would guess so.

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Silver badge

True, height aiding can help. But so could assuming 50m above the spheroid. something like 90% of the world's population live around 50m above the spheriod. A vanishingly small number live >500m above it.

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Anonymous Coward

You may as well buy an iPad and the iPad keyboard dock.

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Happy

@ Mr Smith

Keep up the good work.

However, I was amused to read that 'only hackers care about MicroSD cards'. My old man has just bought himself a Galaxy Tab, for the sole reason of showing off photos in the pub. Taking a SD card out of his Lumix and sticking it in the Tab (alas, requiring an adaptor) seems the most straightforward and simple method of doing this.

He isn't the techy type. Like a fair few people, he is slightly richer than he is inclined to spend time learning more about technology than he has too. Apple seem to have made a bob or two appealing to the market segment he belongs to.

Showing off photos is one of the tasks a fondleslab is ideally suited to, over say a lap/net/ultrabook, a smartphone or net-connected TV. If he wants to watch a film, he has a TV- with the bonus that he won't drop it when he inevitably falls asleep.

If you meant that 'hackers care about MicroSD [normal people want SD]' then I take your point- a full sized SD slot can allow the use of an adaptor for MicroSD if needs be- and I personally find MicroSD too easy to lose, anyhows. Seems manufactures are too concerned with competing on grams and millimetres, when once it was MBs and Mhz.

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Megaphone

flash

not directly on the subject, but, hmmm, not yet shown in the register, but flash mobile is dead http://www.macrumors.com/2011/11/09/adobe-discontinues-development-on-mobile-flash/. keep a moment of silence.

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Apt-X

Do any have apt-x?

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Anonymous Coward

'the Xoom has a barometer' - why not fit a voltmeter - guess someone would find that useful.

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Silver badge

I'd buy one with a voltmeter, especially if it could be used as a 'scope or chart recorder.

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Moto XOOM has 5GHz WiFi also.

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Archos 80 G9

Any chance of a review of the Archos, 'cos its specs look rather attractive:

size, pixels, connections, GPS, Market, for £200.

Is there a catch?

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Silver badge
Happy

Transformer Prime announced today

It makes all these look like yesterday's breakfast.

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FAIL

All use the failed widscreen tablet format so nothing of interest here.

Not one 4:3 aspect ratio tablet amongst them! But thankfully we are starting to see a trickle of these in the pipeline as the manufactureres realise widescreen doesn't work in portrait and the iPad had the right format all along.

We also need manufacturers to realise that some of us who own digital cameras want a full size SD slot. Sony is the only one to see this (although it's slot is really tight). Everybody used to have them on PDAs so why not on tablets?

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Silver badge

What are you talking about? It works great in portrait!

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Meh

Kobo Vox

I'm not comparing my $199 Kobo Vox to these higher-end tablets, but I thought I would mention a couple of things. (Vox has no cameras, bluetooth or GPS)

It's odd that Android 3.0 doesn't support the use of SD cards, or enable device use as USB mass storage, given that Android 2.3.3 (what the Vox has) does both. (Unfortunately my dang Ubuntu desktop won't recognized either the Vox or my cell phone as storage devices - it *does* recognize my Kindle (keyboard) and Sony PSP however).

I'll wait to hear more about Flash support on portable devices being dropped - that seems like a very strange thing to do - it is a pretty big market, and growing fast.

I haven't actually tried to change things on my Vox yet, but you can certainly poke around a lot wih the "Android Terminal" available for free. One thing I'd like to do is turn off a couple of apps that the Vox came pre-supplied with (Globe & Mail, and INQ) - I think they are eating my battery in idle mode. Running "ps" (process list) shows a *lot* of stuff running, including stub processes for apps that are not running.

As for playing videos, well a friend brought some huge 1080i MP4 videos from a military helmet-cam. I put one on my micro SD card via my computer and the Vox plays it. It *does* hang on the video part way though, but so does my Linux desktop. It completes if I scroll past that point.

So, what does Android 3.0 add? Seems like it was a step back from 2.3.3 .

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@Chris Gray 1

Yes to both SD cards and Mass storage, both work fine in Honeycomb - I used them often.

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Anonymous Coward

Android Support

"It's odd that Android 3.0 doesn't support the use of SD cards, or enable device use as USB mass storage, given that Android 2.3.3 (what the Vox has) does both. "

Oddly, my android tablet supports both.

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JDX
Gold badge

re:Funny how this 'isn't that big of a deal' when it's Apple

Um. Apple make basically 2 tablets. v1 & v2. Some things only run on v2. There are dozens of Android tablets with different hardware, and half a dozen different versions of Android, plus vendor-specific overlays.

PLEASE tell me you don't genuinely think Apple tablets are as fragmented as Android?

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Anonymous Coward

Put up or shut up

Name me an App that will not run on ALL of those Honeycomb tablets.

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Joke

@Stike Vomit

Can it be an Apple App? (are we allowed to use App for anything else?)

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Re: Put up or shut up

As of this writing? Edwin, the Wofram-connected "Voice Assistant" will not install on my Samsung Galaxy 10.

<http://www.reghardware.com/2011/11/01/app_of_the_week_special_android_voice_assistant_software/>

I don't know whether it's a locality problem or an OS problem, and perhaps it will be resolved before the month is over, but currently it meets your "put up" challenge.

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Anonymous Coward

Shame USB-on-the-go/USB Host is not standard for attaching mass storage (cloud still in infancy)

It's a shame that, STILL, USB-on-the-go/USB Host is not standard for attaching mass storage devices such as external hard drives is not possible in a standard mode. I believe rooting of some of these products and a special lead will allow it but this ought not to be necessary to tinker like this.

But store your data in the cloud I hear you say? Well, broadband speeds are still in the order of Mb/s, wireless internet (WiFi and mobile) is patchy and bandwidth allowances of fixed and mobile services are sometimes limited. Therefore access to the network storage (i.e. the cloud) for uploading large quantities of data such as photos perhaps isn't as convenient as storing it locally on an external hard disk for backup or even optical media (as well). Couple that with wariness as to the reliability and trust of cloud storage services, and indeed the ongoing space rental costs and it's less appealing.

Until the manufacturers wakeup and add USB-On-the-go/USB hosting to allow the attachment of USB devices such as mass storage, tablet computers aren't going to displace Windows laptops for versatility.

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Big Brother

Transformer rocks!

I have had a TF101 with the docking station for a few months now, and IMHO, it kicks iPad's butt in virtually every way. More storage options, more storage capacity, better battery life, lower price... I absolutely love it and use it all the time. The lack of 3G doesn't bother me at all, since practically everywhere I go has WiFi, and my phone is a 4G hotspot.

I sing with a band...on stage I use it without the docking station for my set lists and lyrics. I travel a lot for my job and I read books and watch movies with no regard for battery life... it's just not an issue. At hotels I use it for email. I can monitor my home security cameras live over 4G (using my phone's hotspot). At night I read my books in bed without the dock. I use it all the time, for many different things, and it works great. In short, I consider it indispensable.

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Anonymous Coward

garage band replacement?

hi, now this is the best advertisement for a non ipad tablet, thanks for sharing such a warm feeling. do you use a garage band replacement or what software do you use for your concerts and music?

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Silver badge

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1... Recommended?

So after mentioning the lack of removable storage, badly placed charge socket, no HDMI, proprietary connectors etc etc, it still gets a recommended?

Weird. You can't really give them plus points for Swype when you can go and download it yourself, for free - 'tis good though, got I put it on my phone.

Companies that insist of daft connectors when there are plenty of nice standard ones which are equally small and neat don't get much of a look-in with me... and no removable storage is just the nail in the coffin.

As you say - copying all the wrong things about the ipad.

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Anonymous Coward

Asus Transformer USB Host from Pad

Not quite as stated the Dock is not the only way to get full sized USB host. An adapter to allow USB Host without the Keyboard Dock is being manufactured its just slow to market...(that's pretty poor asus!)

see here: http://liliputing.com/2011/08/asus-eee-pad-transformer-usb-adapter-other-accessories-coming-soon.html

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Anonymous Coward

Can the author clear up a confusion.

Can you clarify the review/rating for the Asus Transformer TF101 Is That

£330 Tablet only Rating 85%

OR

£430 Tablet-cum-netbook Rating 85%

or are they both 85% where the additional battery and keyboard balance the value for money?

Seems that the competition (two other 85% rated tablet only devices) are £400 so the Asus TF101 at £330 looks to be a bargain, and so the £430 combo is effectively £30 more for a keyboard which is acceptable. if however the £330 device only, is rated much less than the others (say 75% without dock), then I won't want to splash the extra on inferior..

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Thumb Up

Thumbs up...

..for using a TouchPad running webOS as the icon on the top stories on the homepage :-)

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That's what i like about Android!

Firstly. nice article. You mention that there is no such thing as an 'Android' system - they are all different. You are correct but I actually think this uniqueness is a nice feature. We don't really want all phones to work *exactly* the same do we in the same way we don't all want to drive the same car. And you also have to give us a little credit for some intelligence as even though I have changed from a HTC android to a SE android it was hardly a massive learning curve. Incidentally, one of my iPhone friends moans about the fact he can't have a nice HTC-type interface with stuff updating in real-time like the weather. At least, with Android, we have a certain amount of choice with different interfaces. It makes us individual.

One final point. I *prefer* a smaller screen tablet and kind of fed up that somehow bigger is deemed to be 'better'. There is a welcome trend with phones now to get back to respectable sizes and there is a good choice for whatever size rocks your boat (another friend who has a Samsung Galaxy S2 also moans as he now regards the phone as too big!!!) .I don't see that tablets are any different I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab (7 inch) and this is great for carrying around in my suit pocket. You need that Tesco bag for your iPad. The display is sharper than an iPad due to higher DPI and I love it. I use it all the time and have never cursed the 'small' screen. Indeed, I am looking to get a Galaxy note. It's not just about size neccessarily - it's also about the number of pixels within that size. Anyway, enjoyed your article despite these minor niggles (sorry).

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Bronze badge
Meh

It's the price, stupid

The problem with "premium Android fondleslabs" is that they cost the same as an iPad. Look at the way HP's slabs flew off the shelves once they were reduced to fire sale price. As soon as one or more manufacturers start releasing decent tablets at realistic price points, the effects of the commodity market will kick in.

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For the quality of the device and the use I get from it, my Transformer was at a realistic price point

They did put the speakers in a crap place though, my hands mute them when holding it in landscape mode...

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Anonymous Coward

iPad vs Others?

I feel like I am swimming against the current here, I *was* an iPad owner but I moved to the Asus eee Transformer simply because it did the things I wanted it to do.

It connects to the devices I need it to connect to (HDTV via Mini-HDMI, USB ports for other equipment) right out of the box and, importantly for my usage, it has the detachable keyboard so when I need to type things on it (comments on webpages for example), I dont spent ten minutes stubbing my fingers on the screen.

What tipped me over the edge was the prospect of having to shell out for dozens of additional devices and go through complicated processes (such as rooting ...?) when all I wanted was a tool to simplify my activities.

YMMV (and I would never claim to be the most technically savvy person on Earth) but I felt the iPad delivered more hype than substance and the Asus tablet reversed the situation.

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