Just a few years ago, seeing a tablet computer in the hands of a consumer was a rare experience. There's a certain wow factor that goes along with holding a flat screen with a touch interface -- it feels like something out of "Star Trek." But it wasn't until Apple introduced the iPad in 2010 that tablets became more than just a curiosity.

Hot on the heels of Apple's runaway success in the tablet market was Google. Google introduced the Android operating system a few months after Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone. While Google optimized the original build of Android for smartphone devices, the company continued to develop the mobile operating system. In 2011, Google introduced Honeycomb, also known as Android 3.0. Google designed this build of Android with tablet devices in mind.

Tablet computers fill a niche between smartphones and personal computers -- tablets tend to have faster processors than your typical smartphone but fall short of the processing power you'll find in an average computer. You can watch videos, listen to music, surf the Web, read electronic documents, play games and launch apps from a tablet. Many companies are working hard to create apps, services and content geared specifically for the tablet form factor. It's not a stretch to say that tablets are part of a new model for content creation.

In the tablet market, there are two primary philosophies when it comes to device design. On one side you have the Apple iPad. Apple has strict control over the entire design of the iPad from the user interface (UI) all the way down to the actual hardware. Every design decision comes from Apple itself. On the other side, you have Android tablets. While Google is responsible for the Android operating system (OS), other companies produce the hardware. Hardware manufacturers may even alter the UI without changing the functionality of the operating system. The bottom line is that if you look at two iPad devices side by side, they'll essentially be identical. But pick any two Android tablets and you may notice some big differences. Google doesn't set standards for a tablet's size, weight or screen dimensions.

Which philosophy is better? That depends upon your own point of view. If you like sleek design aesthetics and an operating system that works in a clean, predictable way, the Apple iPad may appeal to you. But if you like to tweak settings and change things around, the Android approach may suit you best. In the end, both types of tablets will let you perform similar tasks on the go.

A device is really only as good as the applications it can run. Android owners now have access to just as many if not more apps available to iPad owners. But Apple limits iPad owners to purchasing apps from the official App Store exclusively. With an Android device, you can install any app designed for Android whether you find it in the Android Market or elsewhere. You may have to change your device's settings to allow it to accept apps from unofficial sources but the freedom is there.

It boils down to this: An Android tablet is a touch-screen, mobile device that runs some version of the Android operating system on it. It connects to the internet, reads email, plays movies and music, updates your Facebook status etc etc. So one really needs to consider whethere is makes economical sense to spend big on an Applie iPad or do the same job on an Android tablet at half the price.

Come in and see our range of Android tablets at our Coburg store and see for yourself how Android can entertain and fulfill your every need.

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