Android Tablet

I’m shifting to an Android tablet, the Insignia Flex (NS-13T001) from Best Buy for $249 and tax. They hit the stores this past Saturday and I grabbed mine shortly after they opened on Monday.

While it is less capable than the iPad-2 I’ve been using for the past many months, Android’s open source core coupled with Google’s marketing savvy will give Apple a run for the money. Microsoft, on the other hand, has completely bamboozled its customers with Windows 8 and Surface. They are, IMHO, a lost cause at this point.

Ultimately, I think the Linux-based tablets (running Android or some other tablet-centric variant) will have the edge.

There will be some growing pains, of course. Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) has some as I’m discovering. For example, at the moment I’m struggling with a broken download mechanism with Google that others have reported as well. But having been at this computer game for a while and rather than by trying one possible solution after another, I’ll just let it sit a while to see if things will heal without my intervention. (Later: Fixed itself. Downloads are working now.)

In the meantime, I’m exploring what’s already here with Android.

A nice unexpected feature is Android’s typing guesser. As you type, it guesses what you might be spelling and, when appropriate, you can click one of the guesses instead of typing it all in.

But typing on a flat pane of glass with illuminated keys beneath is still not particularly useful with touch typists – you have to look for the key tops instead of feeling for them. So I need to go inside, get one of my wireless keyboards and train up Bluetooth before I get too frustrated. (Later: Done!)

I switched to Chrome for the browser almost immediately and it works very well with WordPress’s web-based editor. The WordPress app on the iPad had been limiting my image size and placement options rather severely but, with Chrome on Android, it looks like I’ll be blogging very nicely, thank you.

(The image is a bit low in contrast and saturation, however. Gotta look into an image editor when the downloads start working.)

The new tablet only has one camera instead of the two on the iPad, and it “looks” back at me instead of out toward you. That’s a definite shortcoming for me – I like lots of pictures and the iPad’s “all in one” solution of camera, image editor and web page writing tool was very nice.. But with the new tablet, I’ll have to go back to the digital Nikon camera and sync it via USB to the Android tablet.

I will also miss the HDR (High Dynamic Range) app on iPad until I find something comparable in a camera at CostCo.

To my instant joy, I found that on Android, I can shove movies back and forth without having to fight iTunes - now that’s a big plus, a very big plus. (Goodbye iTunes; you won’t see me again!)

But after two hours on Android versus many months on iPad, I can hardly call this a definitive review.

And all technology aside, I’ve seen many companies totally blow it in spite of brilliant engineers and great products, or succeed in spite of crappy technology. So there’s no telling who will ultimately win the tablet wars.

  • Microsoft is still the 900 pound gorilla that can dominate by momentum no matter how bad their technology.
  • Apple had the tablet market almost completely to themselves for a while and they made good use of the opportunity, but that time is over. Their surprising release of the iPad Mini so close on the heels of the latest full-size suggests they knew their “only runner on the track” status was about to be challenged.
  • Android tablets are now coming out from more than a dozen manufacturers and the performance and features are eminently usable. I expect the competition and rate of innovation with tablets will be nothing short of breath-taking for the next couple of years. And with this tablet at a price less than half that of an iPad, the Androids may well have the edge.

“Who knows what tomorrow may bring?” (Your Momma was a wise woman, Forrest!)

(Written, photographed and edited on an Android 4.0 tablet.)

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