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Tab time…

Since I’m obsessed with mobile devices, I’ve been thinking about adding a “Mobile Beat” category to this blog. Sherry Boylan (of ChesBay360 fame), suggested I do a “choosing tablets” blog. Great first mobile beat topic.

Photographers on the go love to stay in connected. Early this year, a couple of my friends brandished iPads–screens big enough to display photos–better than smartphones. Had to have one, but…

Then, I discovered iPad’s operating system (IOS) didn’t do things like flash (80% of what moves in the Internet), notification panels, over-the-air operating system updates and voice recognition text entry like I’m used to on my Android phone. The Google Android ecosystem nicely integrates contacts, gmail, google calendar, google maps, gps navigation (yes, voice activated with turn by turn audible instructions), etc. I’m spoiled by Android goodness. So, my tablet search then tread in Android waters. Enter the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Why I chose the Tab 10.1 instead of the iPad2? Android, Wide Screen Aspect Ratio, Higher Resolution Screen (1280 x 800 vs iPad’s 1024 x 768), More vivid display, Higher resolution cameras (front and back), Higher resolution video recording, Slightly thinner and lighter, Stereo support (left and right speakers vs iPad’s single speaker), Customizable home screens, Superior browsing experience. Now don’t get me wrong. The iPad is a wonderful device. And if you are already in the Apple IOS ecosystem with an iPhone or iPod Touch, then you may be more at home with an iPad.

I’m loving that Android system updates come over the air. Already an update from Android Honeycomb (Android’s tablet operating system) 3.0 to 3.1 has been pushed out. Soon, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (combining phone and tablet operating systems) will push down. So far, iPads still have to connect to the computer for this. I also like to voice in my text entry on occasion. Just tap the microphone key and speak. Sometimes I have to edit a character or two, but it does save typing.

Use cases? Internet browsing, Facebook, Google+, 500px, Twitter, HRDPC club meetup site, pictures, video, e-mail, reading books and magazines, music via Amazon mp3. I take it with me to restaurants, club meetings and anywhere I may have to wait. Apps? I love the Android Kindle app. I prefer to read kindle books downloaded to my Tab. They’re in color! Great for photography books. Also, I love the Zinio app, my preferred way to subscribe to and read magazines. The Android Netflix app lets me watch movies on the Tab. Oh my gosh!!! Movies are awesome on this Tab (brilliant screen, wide-screen aspect ratio, stereo speakers). The more squarish aspect ratio of the iPad leaves large letter-box lines at the top and bottom of the screen when viewing movies. The iPad’s single speaker? Uh uh. The cloud synchronizes songs from Amazon mp3 on my PC, phone and tablet. And the cloud synchronizes the book pages between all these devices.

I got the Wi-Fi Only version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. This requires you to be somewhere where there’s a wi-fi signal (home, restaurant, etc.). In places that don’t have free wi-fi, I just tap the wi-fi hotspot box (tethering) in the settings of my Android phone, and I’ve got wi-fi for my tablet–provided there’s a data signal (e.g., 3g, etc.) in that area. The wi-fi version frees you from having to sign onto a data plan with a carrier. Caution, some carriers charge extra for tethering.

Negatives? Occasionally, the browser would close and put me at the home screen. This has almost been alleviated with the Android 3.1 update. Also, on one occasion, the back/delete button didn’t work. Note that the Android 4.0 operating system (code name Ice Cream Sandwich :-)) is due out soon, and may resolve these issues. Also, I wish the Tab had a MicroSD card slot (also an iPad failing). The max memory you can have is 32GB and it’s not upgradeable. The iPad can have up to 64GB. Not sure if I’ll ever use 32GB, though. **UPDATE**  I must add that, although I have the apps I like, the number of tablet-optimized apps available for the long-established iPad dwarfs those of the much younger Android tablets so far. If the apps follow suit with the smartphone world, this gap will close at a blistering rate. And the key is not the number of apps, but are the apps you really want available?

Price? $499 wi-fi w/16 GB, $599 wi-fi w/32 GB, $529 wi-fi+4G w/16 GB, $629 wi-fi+4G w/32 GB. Note that some Android devices are 4G capable in areas that broadcast 4G signals. IOS devices (iPhones, etc.) are not.

So now, when I’m on the go and want to see it on a big screen, I put it on my Tab!