Friday, 11 January 2013

2013: THE RISE OF THE ANDROID TABLET... by SYNAPSE CIRCUIT


2013: THE RISE OF THE ANDROID TABLET...

The Archos 9.7" Titanium HD. It looks familiar don't it? Lol! 































Yes, Synapse Circuit Readers... As predicted, 2013 is the rise of the Android tablet. Or should I say, “Quality” Android tablet? As we all know, the iPad exudes an amazing quality not only of build (even though it is prone to scuffs, dents and scratches) but also the Retina display – it is brilliant!  

Again, I really think that Apple shot themselves in the foot by releasing the mini version of the tablet at that price. I think many people opted for the mini instead of going for a proper 10” retina iPad. I think it is a shame that a leading company that Apple was is pandering to greed instead of innovation. The mini is not an innovation, it’s a step backwards and the price point, although cheaper than the retina 10” iPad, is not really good value when it comes to Google Nexus. I would imagine that impoverished and / or budget conscious Apple fans opted for the mini for Christmas last year. I have to say that the mini is tempting just to get at those lovely apps! However, there are signs that points to Apple app developers heading towards developing for Android! It has been inevitable ever since Samsung introduced the 7” Galaxy Tab. I guess that the reason it has taken so long is because many thought that there wouldn’t be such a strong demand for an Android tablet. Anyone – developer or otherwise – were certainly wrong to think that the Android tablet would be pronounced dead after Apple managed to grab a few victories in certain countries to have it removed from the shelves. Kudos to Samsung for persisting; they kept chipping at that wall to help open up an exciting market for Android tablets.

QUALITY CONTROL
Apple is rumoured to have dropped Samsung as a supplier of iPhone and iPad parts. Samsung is investing billions in Austin and I don’t think Apple pulling out of their partnership is going to make any difference to what we’re going to see from Samsung this year and beyond! Samsung has shown the world that Apple can be beaten (see my ‘Samsung’s 2013 Strategy’ blog) and has started an avalanche of high quality cost effective tablets that outclasses the iPad where the hardware is concerned!

Take a look at the company, Archos, they have been around for donkey’s years producing all manner of media players in the past... I used to watch the QVC channel on ‘High Tech’ night and took liking to some of their gear! For at least a couple of years they have been trying to crack the tablet market. I reviewed a mini-tablet – which is funny now when compared to today’s 5” handsets – that featured a 4.3” screen (or at least I think it is 4.3”). And just like Samsung, Archos have been chipping away at the Android tablet market with all manner of tablets that didn’t quite set the world on fire. Archos – back then – was struggling to make a name for itself with the deluge of cheap tablet manufacturers from China!

But I think that Archos have finally cracked the market with their latest range of tablets... The GamePad looks like a great solution for game fans of which I am not one! Lol! Can you imagine what I would be like if I were addicted to games too? I think I would be in big trouble! Lol! The spec seems very reasonable, 1.6GHz dual-core CPU, quad-core graphics, 1GB RAM and a 7” 1024 x 600 screen! Not bad for £129.98! Oh, don’t forget the storage capacity: 8GB + microSD Slot (SDHC compatible up to 32GB). Now why couldn’t the Nexus 7 feature storage capacity? The GamePad runs Jelly Bean 4.1!

Now check out the Titanium HD 9.7” tablet...
The super HD resolution (2048 x 1536) of the ARCHOS 97 Titanium HD delivers sharper text and images so you will see every detail of your pictures and videos. Thanks to IPS technology the ARCHOS 97 Titanium HD has extra wide viewing angles to make sure that you can share your tablet experience in every situation with sharp, truly vivid colours.

The resolution is an amazing 2048 x 1536 IPS screen that promises to deliver viewing experience every bit as sharp as the iPad! Let’s have a look at the spec:

• Display 9.7’’: up to 2048 x 1536 pixels, IPS, 10 point capacitive multitouch
• Operating system: Android 4.1, "Jelly Bean"
• Processor: Dual-core A9 @ 1.6GHz Quad-core GPU Mali 400 MP4
• Capacity: Memory 8GB* + port micro SD (up to 64GB)
• Cameras: Front 2MP / Back 5MP with auto focus

It also is USB 2 and Wi-Fi compatible. There’s no information on the battery capacity. It does look like a very attractive proposition! Oh, there’s no HDMI port. It’s not clear whether the camera is a capable of capturing full HD videos. But does £249.98 make you forget HDMI and (maybe) no full HD video recording? Hmmm... I like it very much! I think it beats the Nexus 7 easily! It is better than the iPad mini! But would I want a 9.7” model? I don’t know... I think 8” is more like me! Well, apparently, Archos plans to launch a Titanium HD series of tablets that include: 7”, 8”, 9.7” and 10.1”! I think these tablets will sell like hot potatoes!

But Archos isn’t the only player on the block... Uh-uh... ...there’s Vizio!

Vizio’s 10.1-inch Android tablet is one of the first devices with an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, with the extra graphics oomph helping to power a 2560 x 1600 resolution display. Judging by the Nvidia Tegra 4 demo at the CES this tablet is going to have a remarkable user experience.

Specs for Vizio’s 10.1-inch tablet include 32 GB of storage with a MicroSD slot for added capacity, a 5-megapixel camera in back, a 1.3-megapixel camera up front, Micro-USB and Micro-HDMI output. Such spec makes it another Nexus 7 beater - but this is what Google wants... Competition!

Vizio 7" tablet; it looks pretty good... It looks a little like the Nexus 7. Hmmm... I wanna know the price and availability! 























We'll just have to wait for more announcements from Vizio regarding price and availability! 

ANDROID vs. WINDOWS TABLETS
Look, it’s no secret that Android tablets have suffered from two factors: Price and build quality. If the tablet is cheap it comes at the cost of the build quality, old version of Android and a crap screen. If the tablet is priced high then you bet that a big company is behind it and therefore it’s we, the consumers, which suffer as a result.

Again, we don’t want to pay to over the odds to consume. Essentially that’s what the Android tablet is about, entertainment. Sure, sure... ...the productivity apps are there, but, as I keep saying, it’s not enough to make us give up the PC – at least I am not quite sold yet! Yes, it’s great that I have the possibility to work on Microsoft Office documents on the fly but is it really worth paying more than £300 for the privilege? No!

I am very thankful for Google to have stepped in and provide the consumer with the Nexus range of tablet! Now that the Nexus 7 has sold quite well other manufacturers are realizing that the best way to produce a cost effective tablet is to mass produce it. It’s like photocopying; the more copies the cheaper it becomes. The consumer has demanded better displays, higher quality builds and a reasonable price tag then the industry has to meet the demand. This is what’s happening now; the industry is raising the standards and being realistic with the pricing. I will definitely be getting a tablet this year! Oddly enough, I think Google has messed up a little by having no microSD slot on the Nexus 7 and yet the 16GB edition has sold out on the Google online PlayStore! So, go figure! I’ve read some ludicrous headlines stating that the Android tablet is dead... No way! I guess these headlines come from the Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT tablets.

Let’s talk about Windows tablets for a moment, shall we?

Last year I attended the Gadget Show @ Christmas Expo and I talked to some representatives of the Windows 8 tablet manufacturers about their products. I almost wished that I wore diapers when I was told the cost of these “tablets” – over £700!!!! Are you nuts???? The only attractive thing about the full Windows 8 tablet is that it is a full blown PC and therefore one can run real programs instead of little “apps”. But do I really need a Windows tablet at that price? No! If I am going to shell out over £500 on a computer then I am pretty sure that I would be better off with either a decent laptop or desktop! I think I can get decent, powerful components if I decided to build the PC myself!

However, if you happen to be a PC professional then the prospect of a tablet is the icing on your pro status! It would be great if the average person would be able to afford a Windows tablet. Could it be that the better competitor to the Windows 8 tablet (I don’t know why they call it Windows 8 tablet because give it a couple of years it’ll be Windows 9) is the iPad? Well, the iPad, for me at least, is too costly for me to junk each time they bring out a new one. I would imagine that I’d get more mileage out of the Windows tablet. I don’t understand why Apple would produce a tablet that has a different operating system from their computers. For the iPhone I can understand, but iPad... No! I think it’s weird that the iPad costs so much for what it is and it’s out of date within 6 months. I know that tech changes, but c’mon... Give me a break! Give me some breathing space! And this is why the mini will supersede sales of the 10” iPad. Again, I am still not sold on the iPad. It is said that there will be a new version of the mini in March! Lol! Roll on!

So, this is why the Android tablet is the best option for most people! Think about it... ...the Android tablet comes with basic apps on it for entertainment: YouTube, Gmail and a web browser. What more do you really want? Well, I am sure that you’ll find it on Google PlayStore! Honestly, there’s way too much emphasis on “apps” when, in my experience, I just need a handful of them. I have a decent email client; I use an assistant to set my alarms, put dates in my diary, etc. I have several different keyboards; free messaging and calling apps and so on. Oh, the Facebook app for Android has improved so, so very much! I do feel that Google PlayStore is on par with Apple App Store in many, many ways. I wish to take up piano lessons or at least have a better understanding of music and I intend to do this with an Android app! I don’t need Garageband! It would be nice if I could get the equivalent and, in fact, there are great music making programs for the Android platform. I have to ask myself, “Do I need to be making music on a tablet with headphones while I am travelling?” Not really. The ear is very sensitive and with prolonged usage of the headphones I am just asking to go deaf when I am older! Somebody please invent the bionic ear... I’m gonna need it!

Not only is the Android tablet a growing reality one has to take into account the “phablet” phenomenon. Just about every Android handset manufacturer are about to drop the 5” plus handset on us this year! I believe that one manufacturer, ZTE, are working on a 6.3” handset to be released this year! ZTE Nubia Z7 is reported to feature a monster of a 6.3" screen with an incredible 2560 x 1440 pixels resolution. Anything is possible!

Again, there have been complaints from Android tablet users that there aren’t enough apps with the tablet in mind. Apple snorts derision and laughs at apps that are scaled up from the phone to the larger tablet screen... So, what’s the way to overcome this problem? Produce handsets that are effectively mini-tablets! Certainly, the resolutions on these phablet things are anything but mini! Even though I have the gorgeous Samsung Galaxy Note II, I still want a tablet! I will probably have one by the summer!

I really do think that Android is the best tablet format because it has the best of all computing worlds and has a convenient mix of entertainment and productivity.

Don’t forget that if you only want a larger tablet screen for browsing the web, Facebook, etc, you are able to pick up a tablet for around £60!!!! My brother has a 7” tablet because of a web offer – one of those voucher things – and he’s very happy with it! It runs Ice Cream Sandwich, but it’s quite a functional little thing! You cannot do this with Windows 8 or the iPad!

You can pick up inexpensive tablets for children! This is where Android reigns supreme over the other platforms! There are some great educational apps and games for children. The only thing that beats all the tablets is the Windows laptop; you can get some amazing laptops for around £350! Ok, so it may not feature a touchscreen but you have a proper storage space – 1TB! Then you have 4GB of RAM; USB ports, WiFi and so on!

But make no mistake; this is the year of the Android tablet!

SYNAPSE CIRCUIT NEW FORMAT
Synapse Circuit Readers! Just to let you know that I am busy working on a new format... Bear with me! I hope to get it up online in time to coincide with the end of this month... In the meantime please check out the Interactive PDF right here:
Synapse Circuit Dot Com!