Monday, January 3, 2011

Android Tablets In 2011: Buy Nothing Yet

A friend has been pressing me on when I will get an Android tablet. When I indicated what some of the criteria are, he asked why I haven't bought anything yet. He generally pointed to stuff fro Kmart or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. So here is a post I hope that would once and for all settle it and answer his questions.

I am going to frame it differently. And hope it serves as advice and framework to understanding what to expected from an Android tablet. Here goes.

This is my advice to my fellow Android fans: Buy nothing until Google gives the green light.

Google and Android is about to enter a new mobile realm and it has had to tread carefully. And if anyone had been paying attention to what Google had been saying over the last six months or so, you would understand what I am talking about.

The reason became clear around the Internet as users and reviewers gave it lukewarm receptions. Reviews generally were about Samsung's Galaxy Tab, a tablet from a first-tier smartphone maker. Before that, there were tablets from the likes of Archos that ran various versions of Android ranging from 1.5 to 2.0.

Simply put, Google said currently Android version is not suited for tablet deployment. And the version that Google sees fit for tablet deployment is code-named Honeycomb, Android 3.

That is the first of many criteria I am looking from a Google approved Android tablet. The second is that the tablet has a current generation CPU. So far, devices have been running on tech that is at least a year old if not more. The Tab is more or less a 7" Galaxy S that is more than a year old.

Why is this important? Just today, a speculation out of CES is that Android 3 will require a minimum of a dual-core CPU like Nvidia's Tegra 2. Given my experience with Samsung and other device makers, they aren't going to accommodate current users when they are more interested in future sales. And since the Tab has an aged CPU, I really don't want to think about the uproar should Samsung truly decide to abandon them in favor of newer tech.

Then there is also quality. This is my third criteria. Whether it's 7" or 10", I don't want some cheap plastic casing. I don't mind paying a premium for better quality when the time comes for me to choose the right tablet for me. I've seen 4 or 5 Android devices first hand and I can't say there was particular build that impressed me.

There have been leaks already by companies claiming to have Android 3 tablets running in Tegra 2. Companies I have never heard of before. Then there is Toshiba, a tier-one PC makers, that will not be releasing their Android 3 tablet until June.

So the question is do I jump the gun and go with a tablet from a company i know nothing about or one of the leading laptop makers in the world?

So, I preach patience. We will likely learning a lot starting on Wednesday, day before CES officially starts and through the weekend.

Ideally, I like to see Google release a framework tablet to showcase. You know, like they did with Nexus One and, now, Nexus S.

I'll call this Nexus Tablet or Nexus Slate. Ideally, it will be the Android tablet to run all Android tablet and give the iPad a run for its money.

So, don't jump the gun. Do nothing until Google says it is okay to get a tablet.

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