An iPad or Android tablet would make someone on your Christmas shopping list extremely happy. Unless all of your loved ones already have one, or they have older ones, you’ve got people begging for one for Christmas this year. Trust me, I know. Thankfully, my stepdaughter isn’t asking for an iPad. But she is definitely asking for an Android tablet for Christmas this year.
How do you choose between them, though? That’s a valid question, considering all the hype surrounding them. I’m going to try to shed a little light on the issue for you.
iPad or Android Tablet!?!
Your Apple iPad Choices
Image via Wikimedia Images
When you go out shopping for an iPad, there are three basic models for you to choose from. These are the iPad mini, the iPad (with Retina display), and the iPad 2. In other words, do you want a first-generation 10-inch Apple tablet (iPad with Retina display), a second-generation 10-inch iPad (the iPad 2), or a seven-inch, third-generation iPad mini?
Once you make this determination, your next question will be how much ROM (Read Only Memory) you want. This is the amount of space for apps, movies, music, pictures, and anything else you want to store in the internal memory. With the iPad Mini and the iPad with Retina display, you can choose between 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB of internal memory/storage. With the iPad 2, your choice is 16 GB. Choose wisely, iPads don’t have SD card slots to increase their storage capacity.
Back when Henry Ford started making cars, he made a quote that has since become quite famous: “Any customer can have a car painted any color he wants, so long as it’s black.” With the iPad, Apple has taken a very similar approach: Customers can have any color they like, as long as it’s black or white. However, third-party vendors are making skins/covers galore to decorate them.
Your next choice is whether you want your Internet connection to be Wi-Fi only, or if you want the ability to sign up with a cellular carrier (AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint). If you go with a cellular-capable device, you will also need to choose the network type: GSM (requires a SIM card) and CDMA (no SIM card).
Your Android Choices
The market for Android tablets has so many offerings, from a wide variety of vendors, that it tends to get confusing. First, you have to decide what display size you want. You’ve got four choices here, at least: five inches, seven inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches. Your next choice is whether or not you want to be able to use it as a cell phone. I have two students with tablets, one is a seven-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab and the other is a 10-inch. Both of them use their tablets as cell phones. It’s pretty funny seeing them hold these huge things up to their heads and talking, however, they can use Bluetooth headsets if they choose to.
If you choose to buy a tablet that can be used as a cell phone, you need to choose whether it’s CDMA or GSM, and what carrier. Most devices support Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T. Some CDMA devices also support Virgin, Boost, and some of the other carriers.
When it comes to ROM memory, you’ve got even more choices when you start looking at Android tablets. There are tablets with 1 GB, 4GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB. Most manufacturers offer most of their models with at least three choices in internal capacity. Even better, every Android tablet I’ve seen has a built in Micro SD card reader, allowing you to expand the unit’s capacity by up to 64 GB.
Lastly, when choosing an Android tablet, you need to make a decision about what manufacturer will get your business. In a way, iPad buyers are lucky, they only have to decide what store to go to once they made the three hard decisions. When buying an Android, what store to go to may be the easiest choice you need to make. I can think of about nine different makers of Android tablets — and those are just the ones that reviewers consider in the top 10. There are more that make tablets of lower quality.
- Samsung Tab
- Google Nexus
- Asus Transformer
Some of the makers, like Asus, make transforming tablets that basically convert from netbook (tiny notebook) to tablet by flipping the screen.
iPad or Android Tablet Pros and Cons
The biggest vote against any flavor of the iPad is the fact that you must have iTunes installed on your computer and you must use the iTunes Store to buy your apps. Of course, you CAN jailbreak your device so you can install apps from wherever you want, but in doing so, you void your warranty. And there are a few desktop applications available that let you break the iTunes leash. Again, you can lose your warranty, though.
With the Android tablets, plug in your USB B data cable and the tablet and SD card appear as removable media in your file manager (Windows Explorer). Moving things to and from the tablet and Micro SD card are as simple and copy and paste. However, Apple is a recognized leader in multimedia. This means the sound and video are both better with an iPad, as are both cameras.
Hopefully, I’ve been able to help you make up your mind between buying an iPad or Android tablet, and I didn’t cloud the water any more than it already is. Both will be enjoyable, but you’ll have to figure out which benefits you and your family the most.