Tablet Wars, Looking at the Galaxy Tab, iPad, and BlackBerry PlayBook


This may be a year late for many people, but I am finally at the point that I can clearly review the tablets. Why so long? To put it simply, I needed real experience with the devices. The logic used here should carry to other tablets.

This isn’t about Apple versus Android versus BlackBerry. That isn’t what I found to be the big differences. It was all about the form factor and how the device can be incorporated into your life.

Enter the Galaxy Tab

It was just over a year ago that I got my Samsung Galaxy Tab, the seven inch model. I loved it. I could throw it in my pocket, freeing my hands to carry other items like a child, food, or a drink. If I was on the Metro, I didn’t have to throw it back into my bag to navigate the subway platforms. If I didn’t have a bag, I didn’t have to worry about leaving it behind because it was in my pocket.

As for apps, there were more than enough. I heard that Apple had more apps, but I was always able to find an app to meet any need. Heck, Angry Birds is free on Android. Yes, there are more apps for Apple, but I never felt deprived.

Timeout for the PlayBook

BlackBerry PlaybookAs if it wasn’t a good enough year, I won a BlackBerry PlayBook from Fierce Content Management. When I got it, I noticed several things. While the same size as the Tab, the screen was much nicer, the case was less slick so it slid less, and I could interact with the device by swiping in the margins. It was great, especially as it came with Tetris.

There weren’t a lot of apps though. I never really explored that because of the lack of email. That’s right, no native email support.

This was unfathomable. Here was a device that appeared superior, but my most important application was missing. Sure, I could hook it up to my BlackBerry phone, but as that was slated to be replaced, it wasn’t a real option.

Besides, what if I wanted to check email when my phone wasn’t online? Annoying.

So I gave it to my brother who has been using it fairly happily since. I know because I asked him just the other week. He is a big Apple person and he likes it. That is saying something.

Apple Gets it’s Shot

I finally came into possession of an iPad 2 last month. I’ve been using it regularly since that day. The ability to find an app for anything is pretty nice. At times there are almost too many apps. Twitter and Facebook are better because of the increased screen space. The lack of flash support is extremely annoying as flash is still widespread on the Web.

I haven’t dropped my Tab. In fact, the main reason I use the iPad as much as I do is because it has some currently useful apps missing from the Android market and the increased screen size.

The iPad also seems more fragile. The other tablets have a little lip to the casing over the display. If you put it face down on a desk, the glass doesn’t touch the desk. In an iPad, you constantly feel the urge to have an additional case (I’m still trying to pick the “right” one). I never had that urge with the other tablets.

Three Inches, A World of Difference

A couple weeks ago, I finally nailed down the key difference. It is the size. It’s the size even before I break down and make the iPad larger with a case. The size difference may seem obvious, but hear me out.

When I use the iPad, 80% of the time I am doing things that I have primarily done with my laptop in the past. My laptop doesn’t shift around the house or office anymore. It usually docks and sits until it is time to change locales.

When I need to be mobile, I use my Tab. If I want to read, I use my Tab. When I went on a Metro ride, I took my Tab. When I went to the doctor, I took my Tab. It still fits in my pocket. It is also easier to use with one hand so I can grab on to something in the Metro car.

The only exception is when I want data service. I have it on my iPad, not my Tab. That isn’t a capability issue though, just a subscription thing. I could get service for my Tab if I felt wireless wasn’t ubiquitous enough.

My Tab is my TRUE mobile device. My iPad is my laptop substitute. My laptop has basically replaced my desktop.

This logic applies to other tablets. Those three inches make these completely different devices. The Kindle, seven inches. It is a true mobile device. The Motorola Xoom, just a poor competitor to a market owned by the iPad.

If Apple decides to come out with the mythical seven inch version of the iPad, they win.

6 thoughts on “Tablet Wars, Looking at the Galaxy Tab, iPad, and BlackBerry PlayBook

    • LTE is important but given the wireless availability, not as important as it used to be. 3G doesn’t well enough most times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m never giving up my LTE phone unless it is for something faster.

      As for plans for a 10 inch Playbook. Bad move in my opinion. They need to stick with the current size and just rock out. They can take on the Kindle Fire with more apps. They need to prep for the potential 8 inch iPad. To displace the current iPad, a vendor will need either a significantly better product or one that is nearly equivalent and a much lower price.

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      • I think with native email and bbm on playbook. RIM can compete with Apple on ipad, As for 8 -inch ipad i still doubt Apple will release an ipad that is just 1.7-inch smaller, Doesnt make any sense, 7-inch is more viable. Tablet market is no where near saturation. Apple started the revolution but have to see if it can manage to sustain its dominance.

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  1. JC says:

    I don’t have experience with the Playbook, but do own the Motorola Xoom and original iPad. As much potential as Android has, it fails to deliver the same level of experience as iOS. The size/aspect ratio doesn’t bother me as much as the number and quality of apps. Also the fragmentation within Android continues to get worse with each release. Android 4.0 was supposed to fix this and run on tablets and phone, but Android 5.0 is around the corner and is tablet only again…not to mention that most Android phone vendors still aren’t offering 4.0 devices. I bought the Xoom based on the promises, but gave on Android for the time being and bought an iPhone 4s and waiting to purchase an iPad 3 (selling the Xoom has been a challenge). The gap between the 2 may widen with the new Mac OS this summer when the unify their messaging platform between Mac/iPhone/iPad. The one thing I miss about my old phone was the gchat integration. The apps available for iPhone are marginal at best in that area, but the beta version of the new iMessage is pretty slick.

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    • JC, Thanks. I haven’t used a Xoom myself, so I can’t directly comment. I will say that the iPad is easier to use and I think that anyone introducing a similar sized tablet is going to face a massive hurdle to be successful. I think that at the 7 inch range, things change. There are only Android options and some flavors work better than others. I have liked the Samsung flavors so far and they work well. It is different thought and I find myself looking to do things on one tablet that I work only on the other.

      One last thing on Apps. I find that this will vary from person to person. Some people love apps and download lots of them. I don’t. I get a few entertainment options and ones that will help me do my job. In fact, I have found some nice Android apps for monitoring the wireless airwaves that I haven’t been able to find the equivalent of in the Apple store. Wifi Analyzer rocks!

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  2. Susan says:

    Likewise, my Xoom doesn’t compare to the ease of my iPad in size and function. iPad is overall a more pleasant experience. I gave the Xoom a try, and wanted it to be otherwise, but Apple is winning me over.

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