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Android Handhelds

Android Tablets Were Born Too Soon 480

Posted by samzenpus
from the before-there-time dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "When you look at the Apple iPad's sales figures, it's not hard to see why every technology company on the planet is jumping on the tablet bandwagon, a lot of which are Android tablets. Unfortunately though, some of these Android tablets were born way too early. They are haunted with a series of problems including flimsy hardware, low-quality resistive touch screens, serious display resolution issues, and old Android versions with limited or non-existent access to apps. Even the Samsung Galaxy Tab came well before its time. Even though it's fast, well-designed, and comes with a decent Android implementation, its functionality is limited to that of an Android smartphone. So here's to hoping that Honeycomb's functionality make up for the lost ground."
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Android Tablets Were Born Too Soon

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    For the opinion adeelarshad82, we'll get back to you on that one.

  • Unlike the iPhone / proprietary equivalents, it will mostly be a non-issue to upgrade older hardware to the new stuff. Thus we'll see android acting as an insurance against near future obsolescence!!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 07, 2011 @03:22AM (#35124068)

      you're kidding right? Have you been hearing all the issues early adopters have been having with getting their Android devices updated? I'm no iToy supporter by any means, but Android is much more fragmented than iOS, both in hardware and software.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by stiggle (649614)

        But its OS so the community can support the hardware the manufacturers drop.

        eg. Samsung dropped support for the original Samsung Galaxy i7500 while the phone was still under contract from some of the networks - the Samsung firmware is stuck on 1.6 with them saying that it won't support 2.2 (Froyo). Fortunately due to Android being OS there is a community GAOSP (Google Android Open Source Platform) build on it which means that despite Samsung's inaction the hardware does still have the latest release on it.

        • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Monday February 07, 2011 @05:33AM (#35124568) Homepage

          The problem with this kind of "support" is that you are relying on the hardware being picked up by the community and developed for. What happens when your hardware isn't picked up by the community and the maker decides to EOL it before the contract ends? Or it ends up like the Motorola or Sony handsets where trying to root it is all but impossible?

          Android tabs are a bit of a joke at the moment, and I'm advising all of my friends keen to get one to wait until their favourite flavour of manufacturer has Honeycomb tabs. Otherwise you're gambling on a possible update by the community should the manufacturer EOL it.

          I was keen to get an Android tab mid last year, but there was nothing about. I got an iPad and have been pleased with my purchase. Sure, it didn't come with os 4.X, but it has it now and I know apple aren't going to drop support for the iPad when the iPad 2 comes out. Just as my iPhone 3G didn't lose support when the 3GS or the 4 came out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by grrrgrrr (945173)
      Are you joking? Look at the situation of android phones vs iphones. Iphones are getting updates the android phones are not doing very well in that regard.
      • by HateBreeder (656491) on Monday February 07, 2011 @04:07AM (#35124234)

        How can you compare 1 type of handset (the iPhone) with about a THOUSAND different handsets from different manufacturers running Android?

        If anything, you should compare the iPhone to a specific brand or manufacturer for instance, the HTC Nexus One - which not only has been getting ALL the android updates officially, but also has INCREDIBLE community support and car run a host of custom ROMs!

        It's sad that misinformation has to be the key tactic to make apple look good.

        • by dafing (753481) on Monday February 07, 2011 @04:18AM (#35124286) Journal
          What the heck are you on about?

          When a new computer update comes out, you get it day one, within the hour, surely? You dont have to wait for your internet provider to decide to give it to you, without your permission, you dont look up at your screen and see "hello, I'm downloading a major OS update in the background! I may appear to have frozen, please dont turn me off, ok?", do you?

          It doesnt matter if you have an HP, or Dell, you get Windows X whenever YOU want to get it.

          Lets face it, apparently only the Nexus One, and its successor the Nexus S, both "by Google" get updates... the rest are SCREWED. You buy a "top of the line device", and its instantly obsolete when a new model comes out with a slightly larger screen, 4.3 inches vs 4, with the new OS update. You feel like a fool when you device doesnt have some obvious new feature enabled through an extra few dozen MB being used.

          Its not good enough, no matter what your brand loyalty.
          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            This is down to the manufacturers rather than the Android OS. If your phone runs vanilla Android you can keep it up to date yourself (e.g. Nexus One, Nexus S). If you buy a phone with a custom Android ROM you have to wait for the manufacturer to release updates, or just replace it with a vanilla one.

            Most popular Android phones can run custom/vanilla ROMs. Often the custom ROMs are better than the official ones, incorporating new features and bug fixes earlier.

            I own a Galaxy S and since the Nexus S is basica

            • by Miamicanes (730264) on Monday February 07, 2011 @09:10AM (#35125710)

              > I own a Galaxy S and since the Nexus S is basically the same phone

              If your Galaxy S is GSM and you don't use T-Mobile 4G, you're mostly right. If your Galaxy S is CDMA, and particularly an Epic4G, you're mostly fucked.

              The loadable kernel modules are what will kill you. Linux doesn't have a stable ABI, which means that drivers (.ko modules) compiled for an older kernel won't necessarily (read: won't) work on a newer kernel (think Win98->WinXP, but worse... like being unable to use a driver made for XP Pro/32 under Vista Business/32. Officially, the Linux kernel could break binary compatibility over the equivalent of going from XPsp1 to XPsp2. Samsung gets partial credit for releasing drivers as proper loadable kernel modules (so they can at least be used with recompiled versions of the same kernel), but source-wise, their drivers are as bad as HTC's -- they aren't directly buildable because they have unsatisfied dependencies. The difference is that HTC at least releases new kernels in a timely manner, so the community can grab them and move forward instead of being stalled for 6 months waiting for 4G drivers that work on a 2.6.32 kernel (needed for Froyo) to metaphorically fall from the sky.

              All we ask is for Samsung to at least practice benign neglect and say, "Look, bitch to Sprint if you want an official 2.2 upgrade, but in the meantime, here's a zipfile of everything proprietary that you can't compile yourself, recompiled against 2.6.32. Same drivers, same bugs, but automatically rebuilt for 2.6.32's ABI. Have fun."

              Of course, Samsung won't do that, because it would mean that by the time the official carrier upgrade makes it out (if ever), it would be *totally* eclipsed by community builds that do more with fewer bugs (because the community versions would have a real-world 4-6 month head start, and several orders of magnitude more hours of developer time behind them). The truth is, though, the carriers would actually have a reasonable excuse to give less technical end users who complained about having to wait: "Our upgrade doesn't make you blow away everything and start over from scratch every time. It lets you upgrade in-place, and should be relatively seamless." Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks.

        • by Ice Tiger (10883)

          And comparing Apple with Motorola? Still misinformation?

          • No. That would be a much fairer comparison.

            If motorola isn't updating their devices and engaging in "apple" tactics, then they are no better than they are.

            They might even be worse.

            What I object to is comparing the iPhone (software+hardware) to Android (Software only).

            If you happen to make a poor consumer decision and buy crappy hardware - it's not Android's fault.
            And if you happen to make a poor consumer decision and go with a manufacturer that will forget he ever sold anything to you - that's not Android's

            • by Ice Tiger (10883)

              If motorola isn't updating their devices and engaging in "apple" tactics, then they are no better than they are.

              What do you mean by Apple tactics as I know of 3G's that are running the latest OS albeit RAM constraints stop them multi-tasking.

              I work on a team that at the company I work for is just starting to produce apps for the smartphone channel and the fragmentation of Android OS's will make things more complex for us as even though Apple will have devices that have never been upgraded the percentages are far less than corresponding Android versions. This means in order to reach a greater percentage of the install

            • by jedrek (79264)

              If motorola isn't updating their devices and engaging in "apple" tactics, then they are no better than they are.

              What "apple tactics"? The 3G runs the current version of iOS, and it was released four months before Android was released. I also have an Android phone from Google's manufacturer HTC that I bought new last year in May and I can't upgrade it past 1.6.

              Honestly, it'd be great if Android headset manufacturers started engaging in "apple tactics": supporting their phones for more than two weeks after release.

        • If anything, you should compare the iPhone to a specific brand or manufacturer for instance, the HTC Nexus One - which not only has been getting ALL the android updates officially, but also has INCREDIBLE community support and car run a host of custom ROMs!

          If you are saying only a handful of phones are "real" Android phones then the market-share figures need some serious revision to reflect the split between phones that will be kept up to date vs. those stuck at a past rev with no help from the carrier to a

          • by HateBreeder (656491) on Monday February 07, 2011 @04:56AM (#35124418)

            All I'm asking is that you compare apples to apples.

            iOS Market share vs. Android Market Share.

            How many times do we need to repeat this: Android is an OS not a Phone!

            iPhone market share is much greater than any single Android based handset.

            • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Monday February 07, 2011 @06:52AM (#35124860)

              This is something I have to explain to customers when we do mobile development, especially explaining our pricing for Android. We only give QA on the Nexus One/(now S). Each additional handset costs extra and typically most will want QA against Droid(Verizon), HTC Evo(Sprint), and Samsung (AT&T/T-Mobile). That makes the Android platform usually between 3 to 5 times the cost to develop for iPhone/iPod. Usually we treat the iPad as a separate device just as we'll treat these new tablets running Android as each being a different "platform".

              Last year we tried to treat "Android" as a platform, but we ended up losing money on that side of the business because every time we turned around there were a half dozen new handsets and a new OS version to deal with.

    • by beelsebob (529313) on Monday February 07, 2011 @03:30AM (#35124108)

      Pardon? Are you serious?

      It's hard to name android devices that even got the bump from 1.6 to 2.0, hell, 90% of them don't even get *minor* OS version updates from the one they started on, there are still plenty of 1.5/2.0/2.1 devices out there for exactly that reason.

      Compare this against iOS devices that are guarenteed to get 2 major OS updates and all minor ones for those major versions. Sure, some functionality is disabled in the newer OSes, but that's typically because the older hardware can't deal with it (e.g. old 3G iPhones with a measly 128MB of RAM and multitasking).

      Basically, you're comparing being at the mercy of {motarola | samsung | ...} to get OS updates (hahahahaha), against a guarentee written into the EULA that you'll get upgrades. I know which I consider to be the non-issue of those two ;).

      • by mjwx (966435) on Monday February 07, 2011 @03:57AM (#35124204)

        Pardon? Are you serious? It's hard to name android devices that even got the bump from 1.6 to 2.0,

        I've got 2.2 on my HTC Dream, the first Android phone to be released. In my nation it was released with Android 1.1. Everything past 1.6 is a community ROM but I've still got 2.2.

        When Apple decided not to release new functionality for the older Iphones and Ipads, what other choice do you have but to buy a new one to get that functionality. Not like you can run unsigned code on an Ipad.

        • hen Apple decided not to release new functionality for the older Iphones and Ipads, what other choice do you have but to buy a new one to get that functionality.

          You jailbreak and load on whatever you like.

          Not like you can run unsigned code on an Ipad.

          Yes you can quite easily, if it's jailbroken.

          You are no worse off than the person who has to fetch a custom Android build for whatever device the manufacturer is not updating, although at least with Apple you;ll be getting official updates for you device longer

          • Jailbreaking will only allow you to run unsigned code at the user level, currently there is no way to run unsigned bootstrap code which is necessary to run any other operating system.
        • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Monday February 07, 2011 @04:09AM (#35124240)

          Wow, good thing you went with the open platform otherwise you might have had to compile your own hacked third party OS update together when the manufacturer bailed on you. Just think of the hours you could have not spent searching through forums and triple checking instructions. Good thing you didn't fall into Apple's trap. /sarcasm

    • by halowolf (692775)
      That doesn't sound like a modern, built in obsolescence, business model where they would rather have you buy new than upgrade....
    • Same as you can upgrade Android smartphones ? oh, wait...

    • by bemymonkey (1244086) on Monday February 07, 2011 @03:52AM (#35124190)

      Are you joking? Don't get me wrong, I love Android and custom ROMs, precisely because with the right hardware I can enjoy all the newest features of Android for a long time to come, but pretending the situation with official updates is anything other than abysmal is, well, insane.

      Froyo: HTC has updated most of their devices. Samsung is halfheartedly lagging behind, and Motorola, well, they've updated like one device (the original Droid), while deliberately sabotaging any chance other handsets had at home-cooked updates by locking up their bootloaders.

      Gingerbread: Nothing to see here, folks. Even the Nexus One hasn't been upgraded yet, and I'm guessing most Nexus One owners are pretty pissed about that, what with having expected to buy a device that would be a supported Android dev phone for a few years (let's say two).

      Sure, I'm enjoying Gingerbread (CyanogenMod 7 nightly builds) on my Desire right now, and I'm sure Honeycomb will be along soon, but Joe Sixpack is up shit creek... and outdated smartphones don't make great paddles.

    • by Ice Tiger (10883)

      Now if only the phone manufacturers would let you actually upgrade instead of making you buy a newer model to get your phone upgraded to the latest OS.

    • by dafing (753481)
      "upgrade older hardware"?,

      You mean you want to swap out the CPU package? Good luck! :-)

      Perhaps you meant updating the OS?

      HA! Thats an even bigger laugh, look at the MASSIVE problems seemingly ALL non Nexus One/S devices seem to have with updates, barely ANY handsets seem to be automatically update-able, the hour the new OS comes out. Meanwhile, with iOS, the update comes out, you hear about it through Engadget, Gizmodo etc, you open iTunes on your computer and it will automatically ask if you wa
    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      Unlike the iPhone / proprietary equivalents, it will mostly be a non-issue to upgrade older hardware to the new stuff. Thus we'll see android acting as an insurance against near future obsolescence!!

      No Llinux por Mi, Ann Droid.

    • you can't change the hardware that is in an existing android tablet, and updating the linux core is difficult when bits of the source is missing. The biggest limitation is the limited ram, it always is.

      However that isn't really a huge problem, because most of us bought our tablets knowing what they could do and not for the things that they can't.

      I've got my android tablet right now and it has enough features for me to be happy with it. I honestly don't care for the ipad and it's walled garden. I like the

  • by lennier1 (264730) on Monday February 07, 2011 @03:15AM (#35124054)

    They didn't include an Archos product, even though their tablets are pretty common in the European entry-level segment?

  • by sjwt (161428)

    No I haven't read the article, but from the summery it's sounds more like shitty engineering and design killed that Android tables.

    • So what? Early adopters will always pay the price for essentially mass-beta testing a product. Furthermore, the iPads and their ilk are hardly essential. No trains are going to have brake failures and plough into a 10 storey building full of war orphans because of a technical issue of Android tablets. It is a mass produced toy, nothing more. If manufacturers of a disposable electronic toy waits until it is "perfect" it is probably already behind the curve. Market forces will whittle down the low quality off
      • Re:wtf (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Telvin_3d (855514) on Monday February 07, 2011 @04:14AM (#35124270)

        Not quite. Everyone else released a beta. Apple released a finished product. And they did it a year ahead of their first real competition's 'beta' products. And yes, while tablets are still more on the toy side of the product category that shouldn't be an excuse to release a half-assed product. The competition is releasing products that are neither ahead of the curve or polished. That's just sloppy and sad.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      No I haven't read the article, but from the summery it's sounds more like shitty engineering and design killed that Android tables.

      And you'd be right, I doubt the poster to writer of TFA has used Android tablets, I have and you're spot on, apart from the assertion that Android tablets are dead.

      I haven't found any to be flimsy but definitely a product designed and made with cheap, low quality components end up as products that are cheap and low quality.

      GIGO is a well known principal amongst engineers, unfortunately not that well known amongst engineering managers.

      BTW, if Android tablets are dead, then the entire tablet market i

      • by halowolf (692775)
        I think that the eBook market is going to help tablets to be a sustainable piece of technology. I got an iPad as an eBook reader for the fact that I don't get locked in to a single eBook service and so that I can do other things with it, not just read books. eBook providers like Amazon (though they have readers of their own) don't get all huffy and say its either their way or the highway and make apps for other platforms so people use their service that otherwise wouldn't. I suppose time will tell :)
      • by Ice Tiger (10883)

        I'm not convinced the tablet thing isn't a fad that will wear off in 12-18 months. Tablets have been around for years yet have not found an actual purpose outside of niche applications.

        I would agree except I use my iPad with it's apps probably more than my gaming PC, XBox and Macbook Pro. Simple things like having all documentation to hand, being able to take notes in a meeting whilst recording the audio (Soundnote) through to using Numbers (Spreadsheet) to crack terminals in Fallout. Being able to stream video's from our NAS of all our DVDs and Blu Rays (Air Video) or using iPlayer works well too.

        All in a package that is light and small and has huge amounts of battery life.

      • by jimicus (737525)

        BTW, if Android tablets are dead, then the entire tablet market is also dead which may not be that far off. I'm not convinced the tablet thing isn't a fad that will wear off in 12-18 months. Tablets have been around for years yet have not found an actual purpose outside of niche applications.

        They have, but not in the very slim, light form factor that things like the iPad enjoy. Mostly, they've been over-engineered laptops which are way too heavy to comfortably hold and use like a clipboard.

        I don't deny it could easily wind up becoming a niche market, but I can see it being a bit odd among niche markets - I can easily see there being lots of niches into which they could fit.

      • Re:wtf (Score:4, Funny)

        by tehcyder (746570) on Monday February 07, 2011 @07:34AM (#35125036) Journal

        Tablets have been around for years yet have not found an actual purpose outside of niche applications.

        Their main purpose is to facilitate flexible, mobile one-handed web surfing, if you know what I mean, and I'm sure that you do.

    • by halowolf (692775)
      Oh don't worry, the actual article wasn't much longer than the summary anyway.
  • by mjwx (966435) on Monday February 07, 2011 @03:22AM (#35124066)
    I don't think they were released too soon. They were the teething stage of tablets, the infancy where mistakes could be made. Thanks to this Google, Motorola and others have learned valuable lessons. Some of the previous Android tablets are hardly failures. Dell's Streak turned a profit, Samsung's Galaxy Tab sold well with a small return rate not to mention the Archos products which others have pointed out.

    Basically the demand was there, proven by the 22% of tablets sold that were not made by Apple. So now armed with this knowledge, the multitude of manufacturers can create a truly competitive tablet market.

    Personally I'm still not convinced tablets aren't a fad, much like an overpriced Tamigotchi or flares.
    • by Cinder6 (894572) on Monday February 07, 2011 @03:29AM (#35124100)

      If you can't match the quality of a competitor that launched eight months before you, then you probably rushed the thing. (Yes, it is an oversimplification, but it's also hard to excuse a latecomer that offers little to recommend it over the Other Guy's first-generation product.)

      • by mjwx (966435)

        If you can't match the quality of a competitor that launched eight months before you

        When you consider that competitor was designed to crawl and never walk then that changes things.

        The existing Android 2.2 tablets are orders of magnitude more complex than the Ipad. Sorry but the two just aren't compatible in terms of functionality. The tablets built out of old technology like the Ipad such as the Dell Streak and Galaxy Tab performed quite well. Amazing how good things can be when you lower the bar enou

        • by Cinder6 (894572) on Monday February 07, 2011 @03:55AM (#35124198)

          Android may be more complex, but the summary specifically mentions hardware, which has nothing to do with what OS is running. You make a good point about where you set the bar, but it also raises the question: Which is more important--quality and lower-tech or bug-ridden and bleeding edge? There's no real answer to this, as it's a matter of perspective.

          I used to revel in the latter category ("Yeah, there's bugs, but I'm using stuff other guys won't see for months, or maybe even YEARS"), but now I'm closer to the middle. I don't want to be hopelessly obsolete, but I still expect my stuff to work well most of the time, and that includes having quality hardware. It seems like many (certainly not all) Android-based manufacturers neglect the hardware side of things, which is puzzling.

          • Android-based manufacturers neglect the hardware side of things, which is puzzling.

            Not that puzzling. Most of them are just out to make a quick buck by jumping on the iPad hype. They get the software side very cheaply (probably free if they don't add the Android market?), they do the hardware cheap, they sell at a 1/4 of the price of the iPad so that people feel they're getting a good deal, but in reality it's not that great an idea.

            I did buy a cheap tablet to test out Android, it's annoying that I can't get an update to even 1.6 for it because it would work okay as an eBook reader. Happy

          • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Monday February 07, 2011 @06:39AM (#35124806)

            Thing is for Apple, it's not about having the latest and greatest features it's about making sure the features that you do have work and work well. That is why a vast number of consumers are buying their products even when they are more expensive.

        • by rolfwind (528248)

          The existing Android 2.2 tablets are orders of magnitude more complex than the Ipad. Sorry but the two just aren't compatible in terms of functionality.

          Cite some specific examples how, many of us aren't following the releases that closely.

          • by dafing (753481) on Monday February 07, 2011 @04:24AM (#35124318) Journal
            We're waiting :-)

            The problems with the Android tablets, you cant call them EARLY...when they were basically cancelled and restarted after the iPad was announced, which would have TROUNCED the intended designs even further....

            seems to have been the hardware itself. They were all cheap ass plastic, the screens were TERRIBLE, darker, far lower resolution, viewing angles, overall quality...

            The OS used may not have been intended for a tablet formfactor, thats fixable through a free update though...you know, when it comes out? Oh wait, the companies cant be bothered giving you future updates for your top of the line device :-)

            The hardware sucked, lets face it. Having a camera or two did NOT make it "better" than the iPad.

            I'm looking forward to seeing the competition for the iPad 2. As consumers, we win in the end.
        • by Telvin_3d (855514)

          The existing Android 2.2 tablets are orders of magnitude more complex than the Ipad. Sorry but the two just aren't compatible in terms of functionality.

          Yeah, one works out of the box. The other needs to hit the ROM sites every couple months after the manufacturers get bored. I agree, not very comparable at all.

        • by node 3 (115640) on Monday February 07, 2011 @05:56AM (#35124654)

          Um, yeah. The iPad is so awful it only took over the entire market, but those "more powerful" Android tablets only garnered a small percentage.

          For example, the Streak and Galaxy Tab you mentioned doing so well? The iPad outsold them both more than ten times over. Combined.

      • by MrDoh! (71235) on Monday February 07, 2011 @04:02AM (#35124222) Homepage Journal

        Very much so. It's amazing to see what a terrible job is being made, when really, there isn't a mad pressure on to come out with something that quickly.
        We saw Android Tablets before the iPad was even officially announced, and a year and a half later, we're still seeing those same lousy specs being produced.
        And when someone /does/ get something close to a decent competitor to the iPad, they either disable half the functionality in a market (no voice calling on the Galaxy Tab), or throw a bunch of carrier specific nonsense on (Verizon/AT&T), or disable simple features like sideloading apps/hotspot functionality.
        Really looks like they're trying hard to fail.

        They're pushing the Android Tablets with comms functionality when it appears /most/ customers would be happy with wireless and stock Android. Now, considering they're getting the fees for 2 years, how they justify a HIGHER cost than without that cost is... mad.

        I keep waiting for a decent Android Tablet, only to be disappointed by /someone/ (and yeah, the telco's point to the hardware supplier, and the hardware suppliers point to the telcos. Android's getting out there because Google's backing off, but they really need to start throwing their weight around, perhaps that 'Approved by Google' stamp for stock Android?

      • It really isnt good enough, as you mentioned.

        And to make it seem like the Streak, Galaxy Tab were somehow "pioneers" too, that we should give them a free pass, "well, I didnt want to buy that hipster iPad that everyone loves and talks about..." UNREAL~! :-)
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Not that I think they are the ultimate in hardware, but most companies never match the quality of Apple hardware. And I say this as a known mac hater. A lot of hardware has gone through my hands and little of it has been of such high build quality as the mac stuff (with some notable exceptions... any candy-colored iWhatever can FOAD)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by beelsebob (529313)

      Samsung's Galaxy Tab sold well with a small return rate

      16%? A small return rate? o.O. Compare this to other devices in the same sector having a 2% return rate. No, I don't think this is a small return rate at all.

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Monday February 07, 2011 @03:53AM (#35124192)

      Personally I'm still not convinced tablets aren't a fad, much like an overpriced Tamigotchi or flares.

      From my experience, tablets replaced netbooks. Netbooks were all the rage 2 years ago, and it started what, in 2007? Now they are hardly mentioned anymore. They first came in the 7" screen size and quickly moved up, and for all intents and purposes quickly became your average 12" notebook albeit thinner and with a low-end CPU. My walmart used to have 3 on display a year and a half ago, and since thing chiseled it down to one. They replaced that space with iPads.

      I don't think these type of tablets are fads. It's just a realization you don't always need a keyboard, a physical one at least. When I really want to type, I'm on my desktop with an ergonomic keyboard. It also depends what you're doing with it - a person with a budget for only one computing device probably will take a notebook that can do a little bit of everything. After that, it's all up to your needs. Something will come along eventually that merges these functions in something even more convenient, but that form factor could be at least a decade or two away (I'm thinking disposable sheets with printed on screens that can be folded, etc).

    • by joh (27088) on Monday February 07, 2011 @03:58AM (#35124208)

      Personally I'm still not convinced tablets aren't a fad, much like an overpriced Tamigotchi or flares.

      Judging from the earnest interest I experience from real (non-technophile) people, I'd say no. People are just yearning to turn their backs toward "computers". PCs still are glorified office machinery and except for work everyone hates them. The time has come for "computers" turning into mature appliance-like things for casual use you don't have to waste a single thought on before or after using them.

      And Google should be very careful not to turn Android into another highly complex and confusing OS with an desktop-like interface. This is exactly what most people are running away from. They want something plain, pretty and "magic". There's only a very small part of the population wanting widgets and full customization abilities. For *these* users tablets may well be a fad anyway.

      Well, we will see.

    • by erroneus (253617)

      I'm not convinced either. So far, it seems to be little more than a communications and reading toy for use on a bus, train or in a coffee shop. They look awesome and I want one too... the draw is almost irresistible, but then I ask myself the important question: What would I use this for? After considering it, I would use it for pretty much the same thing I use my little Alienware M11xR2... only with more frustration due to lack of speed, power, keyboard, flexibility, versatility. Tablets are pretty. I

    • by node 3 (115640) on Monday February 07, 2011 @05:52AM (#35124636)

      I don't think they were released too soon. They were the teething stage of tablets, the infancy where mistakes could be made. Thanks to this Google, Motorola and others have learned valuable lessons.

      Yet somehow Apple managed to clean house in the market on their first try. I doubt anyone learned any lessons other than not to run a desktop OS on the tablet. Hell, they even had the iPad itself to look at for inspiration, and still failed to come out with a compelling alternative.

      Some of the previous Android tablets are hardly failures. Dell's Streak turned a profit, Samsung's Galaxy Tab sold well with a small return rate not to mention the Archos products which others have pointed out.

      What? "Turned a profit" is notable praise? Archos a successful tablet maker? Galaxy Tab sold well? With a small return rate? WTF?

      On the Tab specifically, they shipped 2 million, but actually sold very few. Of the 2 million, their return rate may very well have been around 2%, but the actual return rate for Tabs people bought was 16%. That puts the number actually sold more like a quarter of a million, not 2 million.

      Basically the demand was there, proven by the 22% of tablets sold that were not made by Apple. So now armed with this knowledge, the multitude of manufacturers can create a truly competitive tablet market.

      22% was based on the deliberately misleading numbers put forth by Samsung. And even with those completely false numbers, that puts Apple at 78% (and much higher with the actual numbers).

      Personally I'm still not convinced tablets aren't a fad, much like an overpriced Tamigotchi or flares.

      Why would they be a fad? Because people bought too many iPads and not enough Android tablets?

      • by Shimbo (100005)

        Yet somehow Apple managed to clean house in the market on their first try.

        Well, second try. Apple Newton?

        • by node 3 (115640)

          Yet somehow Apple managed to clean house in the market on their first try.

          Well, second try. Apple Newton?

          Newton wasn't an attempt at a tablet, it was an attempt at a PDA, and they cleaned house there, too. It was canceled not out of failure, but out of a refocusing of Apple after the NeXT acquisition.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Strictly and literally speaking, one does NOT have to learn to crawl before one learns to walk. In the ancestral environment (and in some places today), mothers did not put their babies on the dirty, dangerous ground where babies are likely to put dirty and potentially dangerous bugs in their mouths. Once their legs developed, they could walk. Some babies today do not crawl first, but go straight from sitting to walking. Crawling, it seems, is an ad hoc non-natural form of locomotion some babies figure
  • Or more precisely we will sell no piece of technology before it's time. Doesn't matter how long it's languished in obscurity, hackerdom, or both; only when it is time does it reach critical social mass. What's interesting is we're now getting several basic world/computer interfaces in a relatively short period of time, the i-phones and android phones are that format complete and headed into the realm of 70% of the population will own them in n amount of years. And now possibly the "pad" format traveling in it's own time of being the right time. Although you will never convince me it's going to be necessary to really swoop your arms to drag shit from one screen/device to another, I'm too fucking lazy for that.

    HEX

  • Look, for all the flack they get for the inevitable tweaks made in every X.1 version Apple is about the only tech company that doesn't make a habit of going to the market with beta products and fixing it afterwords. Sometimes you can get away with a paid public beta. Often the advantages of being first in and locking in the early adopters pays off. But in tablets (much like phones) Apple got a jump and did their polishing first. It's harder to get away with launching beta products when the competition has h

    • Apple is about the only tech company that doesn't make a habit of going to the market with beta products and fixing it afterwords.

      Ever seen iTunes for Windows?

  • by thsths (31372) on Monday February 07, 2011 @03:50AM (#35124180)

    ... is not as good at differentiating yourself from the competition as a system that Apple has been working on for over 5 year? (Let's not forget that the iPhone was just a spin-off from the tablet project.) Wow, I am surprised. I thought the blessing of Google would change everything. Are you saying that Google does not change everything?

  • Even though it's fast, well-designed, and comes with a decent Android implementation, its functionality is limited to that of an Android smartphone.

    It's kind of hard to take that seriously when the metric they are comparing against is essentially a scaled up iPhone...

    • Re:As opposed to... (Score:4, Informative)

      by fredmosby (545378) on Monday February 07, 2011 @04:25AM (#35124320)
      Apple re-wrote the built in apps to take advantage of the increased screen size. Android won't do that until Honeycomb comes out.
      • Unlike static UI layout of iOS apps, Android has always promoted dynamic, rescaling/reflowing layouts by default. Given the variety of screen sizes on Android devices, it has been a necessity long before tablets came up, and now this means that many apps written for phones look fairly decent on tablets. Not perfect, mind you, but good enough - certainly much, much better than the "scale pixels 2x" hack you see on iPad for iPhone apps.

  • Not born too soon. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renderer of Evil (604742) on Monday February 07, 2011 @04:01AM (#35124220) Homepage

    Born out of wedlock.

    None of these Android ODMs care about growing and nurturing the platform whether it comes to constant updates or application compatibility. It's only market growth in raw numbers with the thinnest of margins, but that's just a consequence of dumping bargain-basement hardware into the stores by truckloads to see what sticks. See: Augens, Streaks, Galaxy Tab, and whatever Archos is doing.

    On the mobile phone front if you pick up any two Android phones you'll see completely different methodologies, bizarre UI conventions, half-done features that exist for no logical reason for the sake of filling out checkboxes on spec sheets.

    Despite this, Android phones took off because a) there was a vacuum of other more coherent, non-iOS platforms and b) because carriers subsidize the cost of the hardware and everyone needs a phone. It's an essential device.

    Tablets face a much harder battle because majority of consumers are unwilling to sign a contract for a non-essential, secondary devices. Note the historically flaccid Netbook sales coupled with subsidies. This is especially true when most people have prior contracts with their phones. Having 2 mobile contracts doesn't quite gel.

    Motorola XOOM's pricing came out today at $800 USD with additional, carrier specific caveats. You'd be insane to shell out that much money for a 1st gen, untested device with no compelling app ecosystem vis-Ã-vis iPad/2.

    My belief is that the market is wide open right now and the second place is still up for grabs. Could be HP, could be Microsoft's new WP7 thing (if they get their heads out of their ass), or Android.

    But just showing up with a tablet is not enough. You need to have healthy margins, curated app ecosystem, and platform continuity. iOS provides that. Android is too fragmented at the moment to pull it off. Sad thing is, Google is unwilling to exert any control and clean up their cluttered, spam-ridden marketplace or force these manufacturers into shipping devices without silly skins.

    It's been said before that Android is a meta-platform, and I tend to agree with that. This gives hope to other OSes into jumping into the fray and becoming second to Apple. I truly believe that iPad has an iPod-like lock on the tablets for years to come (check above about subsidies).

  • We haven't seen a device come out that's really cost competitive with the iPad. Sure you can get cheaper Android devices, but with a wide variety of flaws including slow UI and bad battery life.

    The Tab looked OK, but is kind of small, and there's the upgrade issue... for whatever reason, it doesn't seem to be selling at a huge clip, but I think mainly because it requires a contract.

    The first Android tablet I thought looked like it might be really good was the Xoom. But now we know it's $800, and if a Best

  • Well, I think it was going to happen regardless really, obviously they want to get in on the action now Apple has driven everyone tablet crazy.

    Still, every time I see an announcement saying a company is releasing an Android 2.3 tablet I groan. I for one wouldn't consider buying any tablets that aren't released with 3.0. I don't really need something with identical functionality to my phone, with a bigger screen

    That said, I'm not sure 3.0 even brings enough to the table - and the same goes for the iPad (I do

  • Maemo was killed too early. Would had loved to see a bigger-than-n900 tablet/netvertible with it, The remaining hope is Meego, and is coming very late to the party.
  • Fashion accessory (Score:4, Interesting)

    by angus77 (1520151) on Monday February 07, 2011 @05:35AM (#35124576)
    What's this talk about technology? The iPad is a fashion accessory. Android tablets are not fashionable.

    Seriously, what is the point of a tablet device? At the high school I work at, we're going to be made to use iPad's starting in April. I've played around with one of the test devices and I can't imagine actually getting work done on these things. I'm dreading April. If it were an Android device it wouldn't be any better.
    • > I've played around with one of the test devices and I
      > can't imagine actually getting work done on these things.

      Only morons choose tools and then go to look for jobs to do with them.

      I'm a programmer, I would have a very hard time getting work done on a hammer.

      This does not mean a hammer is not a useful tool.

      As an amateur musician, I find the iPad to be pretty close to the ideal form-factor for displaying sheet music. The only thing I think I would change is better dedicated software (which is comin

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      Seriously, what is the point of a tablet device?

      • Browse the web, check email, read ebooks, watch video, play casual games while sitting in a comfy chair.
      • Email/web/games/ebooks on the move - much better than a phone-sized device, still more portable than a netbook.
      • Take notes in meetings & have all the papers you need cached in DropBox - far less obtrusive than having a laptop on the desk in front of you. You can even run presentations from it.

      Sensible combination is a tablet plus a full-fat laptop if/when you need it and maybe a phone that just, y

  • It has no front or back camera and thus is a non-starter as a netbook replacement, since you can't do video calls with it.

    The lack of normal, mini, or micro USB without a giant dongle is also a big problem.

    The fact that these things are going to be addressed in the iPad 2 just points to the fact that they should have been included in the iPad 1.

    You can point out the same kinds of batently obvious things (like video recording and cut / paste) lacking from the first iPhone OS.

    No V1 product is really ready, the difference is that Apple has the marketing and fan-base to sell a V 1.0 product before it actually is.

    • There's a difference between a device that doesn't have ever feature you wished it did and

      "flimsy hardware, low-quality resistive touch screens, serious display resolution issues, and poorly skinned or old Android versions with limited or non-existent access to apps." ...which is the accusation made of the Android tablets in TFA.

      The iPad was certainly ready. Android tablets, apparently not.

  • by DrXym (126579) on Monday February 07, 2011 @08:50AM (#35125532)
    Android has a compatible device document [android.com] which determines if a device is eligible to receive the marketplace app and by extension all the google apps. Features like compass, GPS, camera etc. were all mandatory in So the market has split into two camps. The el cheapo tablets and Archos tablets sit in the incompatible camp and suffer from lack of marketplace. The Galaxy Tab and Dell Streak sit in the compatible camp but suffer from bloated price which is unattractive to buyers. This probably explains why the Tab is suffering so much. Apparently the 2.3 CDD loosens up some requirements, but it's too late for most tablets. Perhaps the Archos devices might be able to upgrade to 2.3 become certified.

    So I hope when Android 3.0 turns up that in addition to making the UI more friendly it also addresses the CDD. GPS, compass etc. are nice to haves. The basic tablet spec should not force them. But perhaps it should specify extended profiles for PMPs, ereaders etc. For example, perhaps a "media" tablet profile might mandate more codecs, while an ereader tablet might specify certain screen visibility characteristics, possibly even allowing for e-ink displays.

    The point being that Android is growing up but the CDD has long been an impediment and it needs to be improved.

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