Comparison of Android Tablets

Introduction

The iPad dominates tablet sales around the world but it isn’t your only option. There are a number of tablets sporting Android out and they’re usually less expensive and come in a wider range of sorts and sizes.

Build

One of the big differences between iPads and Android tablets are the materials used and quality of finish. You wont find aluminium bodies here as most tablets opt for a glass screen and plastic body. This design keeps the weight and cost down but can make some devices can feel a little cheap. With a broader range of manufacturers not all brands are created equal and some brands will offer superior fit and finish, nicer plastics and more ergonomic designs. Shopping for an Android tablet should include a visit to your local electronics store to sample the array of devices and feel them in hand.

Size

Unlike the iPad, which only has two sizes, Android devices come every size imaginable. From 5 through to 11 inches you can find a device to fit your purpose. You can find an option to suit every requirement you might have – from fitting into a handbag (or a really big pocket!), something able to be carried all day or relaxing on the couch. There are many more options when looking at Android.

Ecosystem

Android itself shouldn’t really be thought of a singular operating system. One of its great strengths is its ability to be customised and a lot of vendors put their own mark on their device. Options like handwriting recognition might be available on a certain brands devices and not on others, despite sharing the same version of Android. Be careful when trying to compare like-for-like!

The other caveat is there are different App, Music and Video ecosystem that’s supports a device. While Google Play is the major shop front for Android it’s not the only one, and some brands may block you using the one you might want to. Devices like the Kindle Fire force you to use the Kindle App Store rather than Google Play so it’s important to know which systems are supported on your device.

Storage Capacity

Storage capacity is usually generous but many Android tablets also allow you to use SD cards to increase the available space. This feature might reduce the internal space available but is extremely handy for those looking to move files around – especially between desktops, cameras or shared computers.

WiFi & 4G

All tablets come with built-in WiFi but there are only few Android tablets equipped for 4G connectivity. For those using them away from home, on the road or on their commute 4G expands the functionality and can be of great benefit. Those of you with a smartphone (and a generous data allowance) can get around this by creating a WiFi hotspot on your phone. You could also look at getting a portable 4G Hotspot device (like these) on a plan or prepaid

Peripherals and Accessories

One area where there is a downside to the diversity of Android devices is in Peripherals and Accessories. In terms of cases you’re often limited to those made by the manufacturer themselves but there are very few docking devices like speakers or chargers. That said most of the generic peripherals, like a stylus or bluetooth keyboard, should work fine, but its a good idea to check before purchasing.

Recommendations

The Google Nexus 7 is a great all-round device. Its smaller size (7 inches) makes it extremely portable and easy to hold in your hand, it has a great screen and an in-built camera. It lacks an SD card slot but the latest update has doubled the internal memory and it comes in at an extremely good price.

If you’re looking for something bigger then a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is more up your alley. A big screen and a built-in stylus offer some really useful functions right out of the box. You get a microSD card slot and the Samsung customised installation of Android which adds some great features that you won’t find anywhere else.

Another good choice would be the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity or Sony Xperia Tablet Z. Your local electronics shop will have an extensive range of tablets to choose from so pay a visit, have a play, ask questions and you’re sure to find something to suit your needs.

I’m the Innovation Technology Officer here at CSU where I make, think, help, support, train and advise on technology in Education.

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