Saturday, March 15, 2014

Should I get an Apple tablet, an Android tablet, or some other tablet? This is just for fun.

Recently a question came up which comes up often and I felt it was time I share my experience others. The question usually goes along the lines, I'd like a tablet for myself, I'd like to get my partner a tablet, or my partner would like to get me a tablet. The tablet will be for fun and there is no specific requirement from a business point of view. Which tablet would you suggest?

The quick answer is either. If you got a gift without knowing I'm fairly sure you would simply enjoy the gift and enjoy whichever brand you ended up with. Life is short so just enjoy the technology for the pleasure it brings.

Since the question was more about spoiling yourself, or purchasing for a partner, or the partner purchasing for you, then the easy option is to stick to the two main brands which are Apple's iPad and Samsung's Galaxy.

As long as you separate pleasure from business it doesn't matter. Each device will be fun. Each has strengths and weaknesses.

If it were a business decision I'd first suggest working out your requirements. I'd suggest creating a list of pros and cons for each device and put a weighting of how important each feature was to the client. I'd also in particular rate the physical features of the devices so that people could clearly keep in mind the subtle differences. But this isn't usually a business decision, but a fun decision. The only question is, is it this easy to separate business from pleasure? Will the additional device somehow creep into business use later and thus a little more thought may have ended up with a more useful business device as well as giving pleasure. I suspect usage creep more than likely will happen.

My own experience with tablets is the following.

I wanted to use a tablet for presenting my JustLocal service to potential clients and for training clients with online services such as blogger. I purchased an iPad 2 and the WOW factor was there. Fantastic device. Absolutely terrible camera at sub one megapixel which Apple really didn't make obvious, but sharing pictures at high resolution and on a large screen with family and friends was worth the experience alone.

However an Apple iPad doesn't give you the full experience of the internet. I suspect the terse words on Flash by Apple was more about Apple keeping a development tool off Apple devices which would allow apps to be developed without having to go through Apple's store, where Apple gets a 30% commission.  That's just my suspicion. So the iPad didn't do Flash and so quite a few sites didn't work. I then found whilst training people that Apple's browser didn't work with Google blogger and didn't work with other sites. So I was stuck. I could show people the output but not how to enter the information. When it came to training I'd have to use an old Acer netbook as well as the iPad. I was stuck using and carrying around two devices to do the one job. I reluctantly took the iPad back to Apple as I found it wasn't suited to my business needs and to Apple's credit they provided a full refund. No hassles, even though I was outside the return period. To me that was impressive.

I next bought an Acer A200 tablet which ran Android 4.0 and included a free upgrade when available to 4.1. The Acer A200 uses Google's operating system. Now I'll have no problems I thought. How wrong was I. Google's own services such as Blogger and Gmail gave a terrible unworkable experience. I found the hardware to be good but Android severely lacking. The Acer is rarely used now but it has had a second chance at life for one member of the family playing Candy Crush. It is also good for sharing the occasional photo. Not a good purchase decision.

Apart from a very poor experience with an Android device a major concern is with operating system updates. I had an iPhone 3GS and the operating system was updated multiple times until recently where it now sits with iOS 6. In general Apple has shown an easy upgrade path, but they did obsolete some tablets faster than expected. With Android I now assume you can't upgrade an Android device. You buy what you get and if it gets an operating system update that's a bonus. The problem is it is up to the manufacturer of the device to provide the update to Android and the two devices we have which are Android, will never be updated again. Within a year of purchase there's been no updates.

From a user point of view I find Apple devices easier to use and Android a bit clumsy in their design and more difficult to find options. However I feel Android may provide more options. Android is winning in market share, but isn't winning yet in actual usage as an internet device. My stats show even though Apple devices (tablets and mobiles) may now have lower market share, far more people use Apple devices to access the internet. In terms of security I'd be far happier doing my banking on an Apple device where people only download a few apps than using an Android device. That's more about Apple's controlling nature which normally annoys me, but in the case of banking provides confidence. I've never used an Android device for banking but have no problems using my iPhone for banking.

As a result of my experience if someone asked which device I'd recommend, with no background of their needs, I'd suggest an Apple device over an Android device. But I'd also suggest that people seriously consider their needs first. What suits one person's needs is different from another's.

In summary, if you just want a device for fun then it doesn't matter which device you choose. They're both fun. But take a moment to think about the future as well. Will you use your device for business as well as pleasure? Then if it is really to have fun, just have fun. Life is short and you deserve to spoil yourself every now and then.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 901 703 for IT support.

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