Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

Summary: Why is it taking so long for manufacturers to release Android tablets? The demand is there, but they are taking their sweet time.

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The System, by Rosscott

"The System" by Rosscott

Apple's iPad has been a huge hit, but Android tablet devices without a doubt will make a huge impact on the consumer electronics industry. With all of this the pent up consumer demand for the tablet device form factor, customers are eagerly awaiting the release of dozens of Android alternatives.

Right now, however, the only Android tablets available right now are low-powered Chinese knockoffs running an old version of Android, with no apparent warranty or detailed specs. The buyer should definitely beware these devices.

Then there's the Augen Gentouch78 which appeared briefly at various Kmart stores only to sell out before anyone even realized they existed. The takeaway from it is that it's slow, underpowered, and doesn't work properly with the Android app store.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab looks really promising--a well-designed device, with decent specs for a 7-inch tablet. Samsung is geared up to officially announce the device in Berlin on September 2, but there's no set release date for when it will actually be available for sale.

It looks like the Cruz Reader from Velocity Micro will be available for sale in early September. It's fairly low-powered with an 800MHz CPU and 800x600 resolution, but it's low-priced and is an Android-powered 7-inch tablet with WiFi and web capabilities. The Cruz Tablet has the same CPU, faster WiFi networking, more memory and a narrower resolution of 800x480. Both use the Cruz App Market, and there's no way to yet determine if the regular Android app market is available.

Also Read: Tablets Past, Present and Future

Also Read: In Search Of... Android Tablets (Jason Perlow)

The problem is that there is no abundance of tablets to compete with Apple's iPad right now. Every manufacturer is talking about what they have coming, but they really have nothing to show. Google's own Android tablet isn't due to arrive until late November. RIM's projected Blackpad, which has no confirmed specs, and may not run BlackBerry OS6 or Android, also isn't due until November.

Cisco's Cius and the HP Slate (which is based on the Palm WebOS) won't be out until Q1 of 2011. By that time, Apple may have already released their second tablet, which is rumored to be a smaller 7-inch device to fill that missing tablet sweet spot.

Suspiciously absent from all of this are Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I mention them because they both have released mature e-reader devices based on Linux and the Android OS respectively, are WiFi and 3g networking-enabled, and the e-reader market has been greatly successful. It's not that far a stretch to see the Kindle and the Nook re-engineered with a 7" AMOLED screen and a 1GHz CPU. Battery life would shrink, so they would have to add a second battery or use a much larger one.

Both of these companies have released Android versions of their e-reader software for phones. Both companies missed a huge opportunity here to develop lightweight mass-market Android tablets, and they could have done it before Apple got the iPad to market.

With all of these delays, Apple's hold on the tablet market simply grows stronger. It doesn't mean that there won't eventually be competitive alternatives. It does, however, mean that many customers will get frustrated by the long wait and end up buying an iPad, even if it doesn't meet all of their needs.

Admittedly, the Android smartphone market has collectively outsold the iPhone. But that doesn't mean there is one phone that goes toe-to-toe with the iPhone. The same will be true for an Android tablet. Collectively they may outsell the iPad, but there will inevitably be a lot of junk mixed in with the gems.

Honestly, I wish the manufacturers would stop diddling around so we can figure out which ones are the gems sooner rather than later.

Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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93 comments
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  • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

    Maybe that aren't a lot of Android Tablets right now because Google isn't in a position to support them properly and OEMs know this! Look at the continuing Fragmentization/User Angst going on in the Smartphone arena, Tablet support would only MAJORLY compound this issue - How long before Google gets it's act together? It's not like anyone hasn't noticed...
    smoody
    • Why should Google get it's act together???

      I'm not that much of a fan of the spyware called Android, but I don't see why Google should do all the work because OEM's want a feature.

      Google gave them the OS FOR FREE. Why can they do the work themselves?? Why Google has to spend money for their benefit?
      wackoae
      • I still don't see what google gets out of this?

        @wackoae
        Take my fav company Apple. Apple makes money on the iPhone itself. Good solid money i'm told. Apple gets a piece of the contract with AT&T. Apple makes money off of the TV shows, Movies and songs sold to the iPhone owner. I'm not sure if Apple makes money off of the Apps sold but I would not doubt it. I keep hearing that Google makes money on Ads which in my mind translates to commercials and I so HATE commercials.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Good point, but...

        @wackoae <br><br><br>It is Google's OS and they excersise control over what device can access the market and receive support. Currently only smart phones qualify and get official Google support.<br><br>In order for OEMs to use Android, they have to adhere to certain hardware requirements put forth by Google. In an effort to bring consistency and stability to the platform and app market. Not sure if it is working that well though ;-). Basically OEMs need to include features like a GPS receiver, camera, accelerometer, persistent data connectivity, certain number of navigation buttons, and they're limited by a certain screen resolution. Currently 8oox480 is the max res on Android 2.2 which is again only meant for phones. The iPad screen resolution is 1024-by-768 just to compare. Even the iPhone 4 960-by-640-pixel would best the Android Tablet screen res. <br><br>This is the dirty little secrete not being reported here and the reason we haven't seen any Android Tablets from major OEM's yet. Just the few coming directly from China's factory with obvious defects (not optimized, dog slow, no official Market Place access). Google is holding the key. Dell is able to release the Streak because it's a big clunker of a phone, with all required features to access the app market officially; and it's being sold as if it's a phone with 2 year contract and all. Currently that's the only way OEMs can bring out an Android Tablet, sell it as a big whopping truck of a phone.
        dave95.
      • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

        @wackoae
        I am thinking, if Oracle is correct, Google gave "them" a JAVA based OS for "free". That may be a stumbling block for the market- you dunno if your product will be slammed with a law suit or, as a purchaser, if your OS will be orphaned with your device.
        Jim888
      • What are you on about?

        @wackoae <br><br>What have you got against Android? It works for me at at an overall pricepoint that I'm happy to pay. Some of the apps are loaded with ads I'll admit but they can be quickly removed. Overall I love my HTC Hero and can't understand unsubstantiated comments like yours.<br><br>Back on topic: I want to see a droid tablet as it offers much too business. With the current secure browser I can log into my company network on the hero but the screen is too small for full Virtual Desktop use. That will change with a droid tablet... and I'll be able to work on my business system from anywhere, very quickly. Bring it on !!!!!!

        And I can't do this from an ipad or iphone, and I can't view password protected docs on an ipad/iphone. That's no use to me !
        johnmckay
      • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

        @GetReal-mac.com

        I know the iPad isn't for everyone and some people prefer Android or (like me) BlackBerry. But don't you think it's a little hypocritical to get upset at wackoae for "unsubstantiated comments" and then turn right around and lie about the capabilities of the iPad?

        The iPad supports logging in to business (and other) computers remotely. Ever heard of Citrix? Or Remote Desktop? Or VNC? I could go on....

        Password Protected Docs: I honestly have no idea, and I'll admit to that.

        I'm not sure why you feel insecure enough to lie about the capabilities of the iPad, but... it sure hurts your credibility.

        Me? I'm holding out for the BlackBerry Tablet. (As long as it doesn't run Android... Android does not meet my workplace's stringent security requirements. To be fair, neither does the iPad.)
        eak2000
      • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

        @wackoae well the spyware is everywhere now, expect adverts on your ipod soon.
        sam -<a href="http://house-rental-provence.com">house rental</a>
        soskert
    • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

      @smoody Android 3.0 is rumored to have Tablet supporting features. This makes sense, since a lot of tablets will begin shipping with Android. Android 2.2 supports up to a 7 inch screen natively, so the Galaxy Tab will be able to handle itself on 2.2 until 3.0 is released. Android is actually easier to make apps work on multiple screen sizes than iOS, so tablets should take off, once Google can finish getting Android coded for Tablets. They have most of the phone features pretty stable, so now they'll probably focus on adding new format features.
      superlinkx
      • There is a lie based on no knowledge...

        @superlinkx
        [i]"Android is actually easier to make apps work on multiple screen sizes than iOS"[/i]

        That is why so many apps I have seen on Android are formatted wonky with many having just weird dead space where there should be none.
        Bruizer
      • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

        @Bruizer

        Which apps are these that have dead space? I have never written any games so I wouldn't know about that. But neither of the two apps I have written had to be changed substantially to work across versions and device sizes. The "layout manager' takes care of this.
        os2baba
      • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

        @superlinkx
        <em>Android is actually easier to make apps work on multiple screen sizes than iOS</em>

        And what exactly makes you believe this is true?

        Graphics routines under iOS use device independent "points" instead of "pixels". Anything drawn using vectors or a bit of common sense based on screen size will look fine on multiple resolutions. Sure, if your screen resolution changes and you use rasterized images then you need to have multiple images supporting the multiple sizes (that is, if the images don't work properly at all resolutions).

        In terms of straight UI, you can't... or rather I should say, you shouldn't simply take a UI designed for a small form factor screen and simply "scale up" all the UI elements. This may work for *some* views. For example, you can re-use an iOS table view that would normally be full screen on an iPhone, and use it as the left frame of a split view on an iPad, like an index or some other scrolling list/view. If you were to simply display the table view full screen, it would be sized properly (crisp lines and text), but it would just look incredibly odd on the large form factor screen. This isn't a problem with iOS and multiple screen sizes, its just a matter of good UI design.

        Though I haven't used many Android Apps, I've played around with my brothers Droid-X a couple times and from some of the apps I've seen, UI design is something that sometimes seems to be an after-thought (if a thought at all). In this case I guess it could be easier to build an app for multiple screen sizes when you don't even consider that your UI might look "odd" on different sizes. Now, I've seen some pretty decent looking apps on the D-X, but for the most part, the UI was the least interesting part.
        tk_77
      • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

        @ os2baba <br><br>The ones I saw were a very basic Sudoku game and a tile game and some utilities. They were 2.1 based on the droid but formatted to fit the G1. The games were all in the upper left with lots of dead space to the bottom right.<br><br>The kicker is, superlinkx pulled something out his backside with no information or knowledge on the topic because it sounded good. Both OSes have rich tools to deal with varying screen resolutions.
        Bruizer
      • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

        Both of these companies have released Android versions of their e-reader software for phones. Both companies missed a huge opportunity here to develop lightweight mass-market Android tablets, and they could have done it before Apple got the iPad to market.
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        halilturker
    • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

      @smoody Fragmentation? really? The iphone has fragmentation. Why don't you talk about that? Oh because it's the iphone. Apple can do no wrong. So the fact that the iphone 4 runs on ios4 and the 3gs can upgrade, but not have everything the iphone 4 has and the 3g can upgrade it's OS but it's only a partial upgrade because the hardware doesn't support it? All smart phones will have fragmentation. Google just moves faster than Apple.
      Guyver21
      • Um.. Where have you been all these years?

        @Guyver21
        New products as a rule come out with new features and abilities that their older siblings do not. That has been the norm since the start of tech. Oh and Apple will be coming out with an iOS4 fix for the 3g. As a rule that is not considered fragmentation. Silly.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Google just moves faster than Apple????

        @Guyver21

        That's why they have cut back to one update a year.. for all Roids... LOL

        That's a long time to wait for a bug to get fixed... But in your little world, that's faster than Apple???

        Oh wait.. I get it... It's opposites day... LOL
        i8thecat
    • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

      @smoody
      I have been watching a group at slatedroid.com work over the PanDigital Novel into a tablet. Google may have a lot of work to do the OS (barring Oracle's complaints) but the assembly process leaves a lot to be desired. There is a group of dedicated hobbyists/professionals working on solving the melding of froyo to this hardware with no source code and little direction for over the last 30 days. They have been doing things nothing short of remarkable, and they have been having to lay waste and start over many times due to the crummy and obscure coding that is in this device. They are basically reverse engineering the software to fit the features in this device. This unit was to be a 7 inch e-reader, but they are making it into a real tablet so that may be part of the issue with original design. However, the slip shod work in the controls of the hardware via android by the developers of this device does not bode well for the market as a whole if this is common place. FYI - This tablet is about $130 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond of all places.
      Jim888
  • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

    Probably because its linux based and therefore needs others to implement their features properly so linux can copy them.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Dude, Where's My Android Tablet?

      @Loverock Davidson That is just soooo right. Perhaps if Google had more money, they would be able to hire programmers just like Microsoft. But they are poor, and must rely on hobbyists to do their work for them. I think we both get twenty bucks for saying this stuff, right?
      Robert Hahn