Take the time to determine what connectivity ports the tablet has to offer before you buy. You may expect to be able to connect an external keyboard, mouse or monitor, but chances are there will be less here than what you want. An important point to remember is that tablets are not intended to replace laptop PCs, rather to supplement them.
4. Applications. Each of the three platforms will offer a multitude of applications, and you can be sure the collection will grow exponentially over the next few years. The Apple iPad touts 60,000 plus applications. And while Android tablets offer only a small number of tablet-specific applications at this time, there are reportedly more than 150,000 Android phone apps that are compatible with the Android tablets. Windows 7 apps are a different dimension because of the nature of this operating system platform. The market for Windows 7 apps parallels the PC software marketplace.
The key when it comes to business applications will be what the various accounting and tax vendors do to enable their core applications to tap the potential of the tablet device for viewing documents, reports and other information through a browser with a touch-screen display. Using these devices to process production applications, i.e., data entry is not, in my opinion, where they fit best. These are “consumption” devices for accessing, viewing and analyzing information. I fully expect the vendor community will develop applications to extend their current software products to exploit the features of these devices.
In addition to the four categories discussed above, other hardware features to consider range from front-facing cameras for video conferencing, rear-facing cameras for snapping pictures, high-quality audio, battery life and replaceable batteries, and functional buttons for various applications (i.e., volume control, screen brightness, menu control, etc). Don’t forget about the accessories. An entire market is emerging to provide a plethora of accessories for the tablets, just like the smartphone market.
Tablet Product Comparison
Until recently, there have been only a few tablet products in the marketplace, and the Apple iPad has been the de facto gold standard, capturing over 90% of the market in 2010. But that is all about to change with the introduction of the Android Honeycomb platform. I’ve selected tablets from each of the three major platforms previously discussed for a comparative review, but realize there will be dozens of competing products that will be introduced throughout 2011.
Additional review comments:
Apple iPad. This was the product that launched the current generation of tablet devices, much like the iPhone did to the smartpone market. The screen size and display are what have distinguished the iPad from the rest of the pack, until now. The newly announced iPad II will provide new features that will help to ensure that the iPad remains among the top three devices in 2011. Responding to market demands, the iPad II boasts new front and rear cameras for video conferencing and video recording, a faster processor, lighter weight and some additional connectivity options, including a micro SIM card tray.
Interestingly enough, the new and improved iPad II will be sold for the same price as the original iPad. This is one of the first signs that the tablet market will be very competitive in 2011. The biggest disappointments for the iPad are the lack of support for Adobe Flash, which is the format for the vast majority of video and animation presented on the Web.
Motorola Xoom. This device was just being released as this article was being written, so there isn’t a lot of product review material available. The most appealing feature is the support for Honeycomb (Android 3.0.) This has been highly anticipated, and the reviews will have a significant impact on the allocation of tablet sales in 2011 between Apple and Android. The connectivity available positions the Xoom to be a bit more business friendly.
ViewSonic VPAD10. The feature that clearly distinguishes this device is the dual boot. The ability to boot up in Windows 7 means you have the potential to run all of your business applications on this highly portable, touch-screen device. If you want access to the world of Android applications, you simply reboot the device in Android mode. The disappointment is that the current model runs on Android 1.6. This is because ViewSonic wanted to get a 10-inch Android device to market ahead of the competition. I fully expect that now that Honeycomb has arrived, the next model of the VPAD10 will support it.