Episode 38: July 19, 2012
News and Trends
by Eric Escobar
Technology is moving faster than ever into the mobile realm and with that the market for tablets has gone from one option (the Apple iPad which released in April 2010) to a ton of options in just the course of a few years. It’s interesting to think that before the iPad, there was no market for tablet devices and then overnight, tech companies fell behind Apple’s innovation!
This is great for us consumers because competition creates better and better products with more and more features. However, as we all know, the problem arises when you’re trying to decide which of these tablets is best for you and your lifestyle.
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In this episode I hope to make things a bit easier by going over the pros and cons of the top 3 tablets out on the market today so you can decide which one is right for you:
Option #1: iPad
First and foremost is Apple’s iPad. As I mentioned before, the iPad paved the way for the tablet revolution and has had three generations of this product so far. The third generation is called “The New iPad”—which seems like a really short-sighted name. Don’t ask me what they’re going to name the next iPad when it comes out. Perhaps “The Newer” or even “The Newest iPad”?
Semantic failings aside, the iPad is the standard against which all other tablets are judged. Its main strength is that it can fulfill many of the functions of a laptop computer. You can watch movies, play games, read ebooks, browse the web, edit files, Skype, Facebook, and much more. It also has WiFi, 3G, and true GPS for those of you well-versed in last week’s episode on how smartphones communicate. If you missed that one, check it out here.
It truly excels with its beautiful screen, 10-hour battery life, two cameras (front and back), and the ability to capture video at 1080p (which is full high definition). The iPad is packed with features and capabilities that make the other tablets on this list seem pretty plain, but just keep in mind that The New iPad can easily run you $500 before any accessories, memory upgrades, or internet connectivity fees! So that’s the main downside.
Best for…Those who want a tablet to take the place of their laptop. The iPad lets you shoot photos and videos, watch YouTube and Netflix, check email, and surf the internet. It’s also great for travelers because it breezes through security and gives you the option of walking into an Apple store anywhere you go if you have a problem or question. However, all of these features come with a hefty price tag.
Option #2: Kindle Fire
Released in November of 2011, the Kindle Fire was the first entry in the tablet market by online retailer Amazon. This tablet is cheap compared to the iPad, with a starting price of $199. The strengths of the Kindle fire are that it is tiny—about half the size of the iPad—and has all of Amazon’s content backing it. However, it does not come with 3G, Bluetooth, GPS, or cameras.
For less than half the price of an iPad, and half the size, it was pretty obvious that Amazon was going to cut some things out, but this tablet is a content powerhouse. Amazon has tons of ebooks, music, videos, and movies that work perfectly on this device.
Best for…Those who want an easy, small, and affordable device on which to consume all of their digital content without the need to always be web connected.
Option #3: Nexus 7
This is a brand new tablet releasing later this summer (Google is being pretty cagey on the exact date). The Nexus 7 will be running Google’s brand new version of Android Jellybean. This will include an awesome voice recognition system, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS.
This tablet is about the same size as the Kindle Fire and shares the same price tag of $199. Its content and apps come from Google’s content engine and also has tie-ins for many of Google’s services such as Gmail, Google Plus, and YouTube. The Nexus 7 also has a front facing camera of 1.2 megapixels, which isn’t that impressive—but at least it has a camera, whereas the Kindle Fire has none. Google’s content engine (known as Google Play) can compete with Amazon’s and will be able to provide you with ebooks, music, and movies to your heart’s content.
Best for…Those who already use many of Google’s services as it will provide you with the best experience and allow you to integrate all of these services into one spot. This tablet is a direct competitor to the Kindle Fire and is great for users who want a smaller and cheaper tablet option mainly for consuming (rather than interacting with) their digital content. This isn’t for gamers or photo and video editors.
Option #4: Microsoft Surface
I’ve mentioned 3 devices so far: the iPad, the Kindle Fire, and the Nexus 7. Each of these is created by a large tech company (Apple, Amazon, and Google). Do you notice that one is missing? Microsoft! Microsoft does not have a tablet to call its own at this point in time, but that will soon change! Later this year Microsoft will be releasing a new tablet called the Microsoft Surface. This tablet will be more in the range of the iPad, with a high price tag, but it will have a full operating system. This is different than any other tablet on the market as of right now because all other tablets have a mobile version of the operating system and can’t be used completely as a standalone computer.
Here’s what this means for you: On an iPad or Android tablet, you can have apps that you download from their respective apps. But with the Surface, Microsoft has announced two versions. One version will be like an iPad, with approved apps that users can download from the app store. It will be designated as Windows RT. But the second version will be the higher end model, with the full brand new Windows 8 operating system, which will allow you to install any software you want just like with a normal computer. That’s a huge departure from all other tablet devices available today.
The Surface won’t be out for a few months, but if you can manage to wait on purchasing a tablet, it might be an interesting contender.
I’ll keep you updated on this tablet as more information comes out, so be sure to join the Tech Talker Facebook community for updates.
So here’s the Quick and Dirty on Apple’s, Amazon’s, and Google’s tablets:
The iPad is pricey but you get a ton of features, including full email and web browsing capabilities, and great support.
The Kindle Fire is less than half the cost and size of the iPad, but lacks many features such as Bluetooth, 3G, and a camera. It’s perfect for avid readers.
The Nexus 7 is powered by Android and is also relatively inexpensive. It’s an awesome compact device optimized for a Google user who consumes lots of media.
Well, that’s it for today. Be sure to check out all my posts on the Quick and Dirty Tips website. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future podcast, post your comments on the Tech Talker Facebook page.
Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!
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Man with iPad and Woman with Kindle images from Shutterstock