How to build the perfect Android tablet, part 1

Whether it's a tablet, netbook, or cell phone, a battery powered device is useless if the battery runs out. That's why the most important feature of the perfect Android tablet will be a long-lasting battery. Or two.
Written by Ed Burnette, Contributor on
With a slew of Android tablets expected to hit the market over the next several months, I thought I'd take some time to think about what features and qualities I'd like to see them have. If any tablet manufacturers are reading this, I hereby grant you permission to use any or all of these ideas for free in your tablet, as long as you give me one (just kidding on that last part). As an added benefit, many of these qualities will be the same even if your tablet runs some other operating system such as iOS, Blackberry, Windows, and Chrome OS.

Before I get started, I realize not all of you are going to agree with my list, or order them in the same way. So feel free to use the Talkback area below to share your ideas about your *own* perfect tablet.

#1: Long-lasting, hot-swappable batteries

Whether it's a tablet, laptop, netbook, or cell phone, it's not going to do me any good when it runs out of power. So the most important feature of the perfect tablet has to be a power source that lasts a long time. One of the things I like about the Apple iPad is that I can use it as much as I want, all day long, without worrying about the battery running down (assuming I can pry it away from the wife, of course). That's because it has two oversized batteries behind the display with a total rated life of about 10 hours. Therefore, the iPad has set the bar that I challenge the perfect Android tablet to meet or beat.

You what would be nice? Two batteries, with the ability to replace one of them without having to turn off the tablet. For example, I could get an extra battery and keep it in a charger. Whenever one of my onboard batteries starts to run out of juice, I could swap it with the one from the charger and keep going.

A little indicator light above each battery compartment could tell me how much power was left and which battery to replace. Smart power management software would run one battery down completely before tapping the other one, as opposed to using them both and having them both run out at the same time.

This would even work if I just have two batteries: one in the device and one in the charger. When the live one starts to run out, I'd pop in the full one (my hot spare), then take out the empty one and slip it into the charger without skipping a beat. After all, the tablet should be able to run fine for quite a while on only one battery. If it can go for 10 hours on two batteries, it should be able to manage 5 with one.

I can't tell you how many times I've been at a conference or other event with my laptop and the battery has run out right in the middle of an important presentation. I frantically look around for a power strip, but there is not one in reach. There's usually a spare battery in my bag but I'd have to turn the laptop off  in order to replace it. I'll bet this has happened to many of you too. Having two smaller battery compartments, with a total of 10 hours or more battery life and the possibility of more through hot-swapping, would eliminate this problem.

If two batteries is impractical, I could live with one big one, especially if there were some kind of built-in power source that would keep the tablet alive long enough for me to swap the old battery out and the new battery in. However, I'd really prefer the extra flexibility that two battery slots would bring.

See all the articles in the "Perfect Android Tablet" series:

  1. Long lasting battery
  2. Capacitive multi-touch
  3. Android Market and friends
  4. High resolution
  5. Low price

What would you build into *your* perfect Android tablet? Share your thoughts in the comment area below. And check back next week to find out what's second on my list.

Editorial standards