Google is selling pre-Honeycomb tablets short, they work fine

Summary:Every day I hear from people who inform me that tablets running pre-Honeycomb versions of Android are not "real tablets". My own experience with tablets running Froyo, Gingerbread, and Honeycomb tells a very different story.

Google made it clear that the Honeycomb (and later) versions of Android are required for larger screened tablet devices, and unfortunately that has created a false impression with those who follow tablets. Every day I hear from people who inform me that tablets running Froyo or Gingerbread are not "real tablets", as that requires Honeycomb. My hands-on experience with multiple tablets running Froyo, Gingerbread, and Honeycomb tells a very different story.

The main argument I get from folks is that tablets running Froyo or Gingerbread are just big phones, not tablets. That may be accurate but you know what? That's not a bad thing in my experience. When I use a tablet I focus on one task at a time, no matter what platform it is running. I want the app to take over the whole screen and let me do what I need to do. Just because a tablet only displays one app at a time doesn't negate the multi-tasking that sets all versions of Android apart from the competition. Other tasks keep running fine in the background, but get out of my way when I'm busy doing a specific thing.

I find the Samsung Galaxy Tab running Froyo to be a very useful, highly productive device. The HTC Flyer I am testing now with Gingerbread is even better. Neither of these run Honeycomb, and I am glad about that. My foray into the Honeycomb tablet waters has been less than satisfactory so far. The "real tablet" interface of Honeycomb is a confusing mess, with different software controls all over the place on the screen. Using a Honeycomb tablet is not as good for me given the lack of focus that is not found in previous OS versions. Honeycomb is all over the place, and that is not a desirable thing.

Sure Honeycomb is required to use apps optimized for the larger tablet screen, but there's nothing compelling available to make that an issue for me. Regular Android apps display just fine on 7-inch tablet screens, and I'm not missing anything. I would definitely want Honeycomb on 10-inch tablets, but I prefer the smaller 7-inch form so that's not an issue for me either.

I'm sure Honeycomb will get better over time, or perhaps Ice Cream Sandwich will be the version that brings things all together. But for now, there is a misconception that tablets running anything other than Honeycomb are not good, and the reality couldn't be more different. Google is selling partner tablets short by maintaining that Honeycomb is the platform for tablets. It is just not true in my view.

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Topics: Laptops, Google, Hardware, Mobility, Tablets

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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