Posted: 03 Mar 2012 11:00 AM PST
Modern tablets offer genuine visual delight. The crisp images, vivid colors, and luscious contrasts make us forget that we are staring at a screen, opening up a universe of images and motion that we can control with a simple swipe. All this eye-candy is made possible by complex technologies that most of us barely understand. Luckily, we don't need to understand them – we can just enjoy our high resolution tablets without worrying about OLEDs, sub-pixels, or in-plane switching.
High and ultra-high resolution tablets are all the rage this year. On March 7, Apple is set to announce the next generation of the iPad, presumably called the iPad 3 or the iPad HD. Why HD? Because, according to the rumors, the new iDevice will boast a whopping 2048 x 1536 resolution, or as Apple marketing calls it, a retina display. That's double the resolution of the current iPad 2 (1024 x 768).
Like it or not, Android slates will always be compared to the iPad, which still holds almost 60% of the tablet market. So how is Android faring in the battle of high resolutions? Will Android tablets play catch-up once more?
We think so. Lenovo, ASUS, Acer, and Huawei have already announced devices that rock high-resolution displays, rising to the challenge of the iPad HD. So, without further ado, we give you The Gang of Four.
1. Lenovo IdeaTab K2
Lenovo's IdeaTab K2 was one of the most impressive devices we saw at CES 2012 in January. Powered by a mighty Tegra 3 quad-core processor that runs at no less than 1.7GHz, the IdeaTab K2 will come later this year, first in its native China, under the LePad K2010 name, and then to the rest of the world. No word on the pricing yet, but with the high-end specs it touts, don't expect it to be a bargain.
We certainly wait for the K2 to reach our shores, mostly for the crazy full HD display that this amazing tablet rocks. Yes, you will be able to delight your eyeballs with no less than 1920 x 1200 pixels, packed into an IPS LCD panel. In case you didn't know, in-plane switching (IPS) is a technology that offers better viewing angles and more vivid colors than traditional LCDs. We gave the Lenovo K2 a run at CES, and even in the prototype stage it was in back then, the K2 was an absolute joy to use.
It's good to see that manufacturers are finally putting those beefy 4-cores-plus-1 Tegra chips to good use. The Lenovo IdeaTab K2 (running Ice Cream Sandwich) is as smooth as they get. With a slower proc, the 1920 x 1200 touchscreen may have been less delightful to use.
Lenovo ThinkPad K2 Specs
Lenovo ThinkPad K2 Price and Availability
You can find more about Lenovo’s latest quad core high-res Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich tablet here.
2. ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity
As you can learn from our ASUS MWC 2012 roundup, ASUS was quite active at this edition of the Mobile World Congress, releasing no less than three Android 4.0 tablet devices (that all dock into keyboards to become netbooks). One member of ASUS' trio was the Transformer Pad Infinity, with its amazing Super IPS+ 10.1-inch display.
Like the Lenovo K2, the Transformer Pad Infinity's display is a source of rich, vibrant, full HD eye-candy. As their mainland rivals, the Taiwanese at ASUS created a stunning display, with a 1920 x 1200 resolution. For the OCD-inclined in the audience, that's about 2.3 million pixels, neatly aligned on your tablet's display.
But the Infinity bests the K2 when it comes to the LCD panel technology. The Transformer employs the latest generation of IPS technology, Super IPS+, which makes 178° viewing angles possible. How cool is that?
ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity Specs
3. Acer Iconia Tab A700
The Acer Iconia Tab A700 is Acer’s latest effort in the high-end tablet area. So, what do you think Acer did to build their high-end slate? They stuffed the A700 with a Tegra 3 quad-core processor, of course, and thrown in, just for good measure, a full HD display.
The 1920 x 1200 display of the Iconia A700 is just as impressive as the Lenovo K2's or the Infinity's. Now, the LCD panel of the A700 does not come with in-plane switching like the other two, but nevertheless, Acer claims that they used a similar technology that yields just about the same results. Indeed, we looked at the tablet from all kinds of weird angles and didn't notice any substantial color modifications.
The Tab A700 has all the bells and whistles that you would expect from a modern upmarket tablet, but we'll let you see them in detail below.
Acer Iconia Tab A700 Specs
4. Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD
At MWC, Huawei seemed really set to make a name for itself, showing off the impressive Ascend D quad, which the Chinese claim to be the world's fastest smartphone. But in the general excitement created by the Ascend D quad announcement, many seemed to have overlooked the fact that Huawei announced an equally impressive tablet. A caveat: the MediaPad 10 FHD may be just vaporware – the model we saw at MWC was a unique prototype handmade for the event, so we should take Huawei's claims with a nice grain of salt. Nevertheless, the Ascend D quad has definitely shown us that Huawei can deliver top-notch devices, so there's no reason to believe that the Chinese can't repeat that performance with a tablet.
As you may suspect, the FHD suffix stands for full HD, and the MediaPad 10 FHD impresses through the same eye-popping resolution of 1920 x 1200, while the pixel-moving duties are covered by Huawei's own quad-core processor (hence, the speed record claims). No word if the production model will come with IPS or IPS+, but the model shown at MWC used an IPS panel with 226ppi.
Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD Specs
Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD Price and Availability
Place Your Bets
So, you've been officially introduced to the Gang of Four Android tablets that will stand up to the iPad HD (whatever it will be called) in the war of high-definition slates. All four tablets on our list boast amazing 10-inch displays with 1920 x 1200 resolution, are powered by quad-core processors, run Ice Cream Sandwich, and we cant wait to take them for a spin.
What do you think? Will the new wave of HD tablets turn the tide in favor of Android? Or will the iPad HD claim the victory again? How will this epic smackdown end?
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This article, HD Smackdown: the Gang of Four vs the iPad HD , was originally published at AndroidAuthority.com - Your Android News Source.
Posted: 03 Mar 2012 09:55 AM PST
Continuing our Majel piece last December on Google's answer for an all-around personal assistant that lives inside your Android smartphones to challenge Siri, we're pleased to inform that some new information has trickled out. As first reported by Tech Crunch, it seems Google is prepping a major release of its voice assistant this year. Gone is the old name Majel that it was initially known as. Removing the Majel name from the equation, Google has possibly decided to call it the 'Assistant' instead.
According to the source, the Android team that is in charge with the development, along with the help of the company's search engineer Amit Singhai, has been hard at work to accomplish three things.
First, create a system that can convert the world's knowledge into a format the computer can understand. Second, create an assistant that can provide personalized recommendation and results based on your interaction on Google Plus and other services of the company. Third, build a voice assistant that helps accomplish real-life goals instead of just returning search results.
It is clear from the three objectives above that the 'Assistant' is meant to do greater things than Siri. Since the project has been in development for quite some time now — it even predates Siri – we should be able to test it for a ride soon. Though the company is apparently aiming for a 4Q introduction of the 'Assistant', details are still scarce.
Another point of differentiation that the 'Assistant' has is the fact Google will allow developers to get in on the fun as well. It is seen as a way to extend the service and for developers to build apps, among other things, that can interact with the 'Assistant'.
To refresh your memory, the now-defunct Majel was to become the heir of Google's Voice Actions – the very same one you have on your Android smartphones and tablets right now. Google's Matias Duarte once described the feature as something more akin to the one on Star Trek. No name, no personality – strictly computer business. So it is not surprising to see the company dropping the Majel name and going with 'Assistant'.
Are you disappointed about the name change as much as we are? Get it off your chest and nominate which name you’d have gone for below.
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This article, Is Google Set to Introduce Siri-like “Assistant” in 4Q 2012? , was originally published at AndroidAuthority.com - Your Android News Source.
Posted: 03 Mar 2012 07:57 AM PST
Another week, another fine set of statistics released by the folks at StatCounter. According to the Internet analytics firm, as reported by Tom's Guide, the Android browser has finally taken the lead over its competitors and is now the top mobile browser in the world. By taking a 22.67 percent share of the pie in February 2012, it bested Opera's 21.7 percent by a small margin.
This was an improvement over the 20.2 percent registered in December of last year for the stock Android browser. On the other hand, Opera suffered a minor slump after hitting 24.22 percent back in December. The iPhone's Safari browser, meanwhile, posted a huge gain from 18.41 percent in December 2011 to 21.06 percent in February. This is good enough to secure third place on the chart.
Other mobile browsers that made some newsworthy dents include the Nokia browser with a share of 11.24 percent and followed by the Blackberry browser with 6.53 percent. The latter continues its free fall trajectory after hitting a high of 14.35 percent in the same month the previous year.
It is not at all surprising to see Google's Android stock browser dominating the Android scene since it comes preloaded with the platform. It would be interesting to see how the numbers change in coming months with Chrome and Firefox for Android making their entrance. Dolphin Browser HD is also a popular choice amongst Android owners who want some alternatives.
When it comes to page views from a specific mobile platform, recent statistics by the same firm have shown that Symbian OS was on top with 32 percent, though the trend is downward. Coming behind Symbian OS were iOS and Android OS – both at roughly 24 percent with an upward trend. Blackberry's share plunged to 8 percent from 15 percent that was posted the year before.
What’s your favorite browser for Android? Please don’t say “stock”.
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This article, Android Browser is Now the Most Popular Mobile Browser in the World , was originally published at AndroidAuthority.com - Your Android News Source.
Posted: 03 Mar 2012 07:36 AM PST
There is no doubt that tablets can be included among the greatest inventions of the twentieth century. Of course, as we all know, the iPad raised the bar for all tablets, and still remains the king of sales and ease of use. Regardless of the iPad’s popularity, it appears that more and more people are rooting for Android tablets because of the fantastic utility they possess, and the features they have that the iPad doesn’t – and probably never will. This includes an SD card slot, Flash (I know, I know), USB port(s), and other features that Apple refuses to offer to its customers. If you are after functionality, versatility, and would like to customize what your tablet looks and behaves like, then you would wise to consider an Android tablet.
In all fairness, the iPad is still an excellent choice. Apple was wise to encourage their developer base, long before Google did with theirs, to start building apps for a larger screen format. To this day, there remains significantly more tablet specific apps for Apple’s iPad than there does for Android Tablets. Still, Android has finally matured to become both a powerful, robust, and slick operating system that can compete toe to toe with the Apple’s latest and greatest. As we all know, tablets have become very popular, with many people desiring them. Although tablets themselves aren’t a new phenomenon, and have been around for years, the OS’ powering them (cough, Windoze), lacked the sleek, easy to use and intuitive interface that consumers craved. Apple does deserve a lot of recognition for introducing the iPad to consumers but Android still wins the competition for bringing more options to choose from, varying price points, greater utility, flexibility and more.
If you are considering buying a tablet, consider the reasons below why Android tablets are better than the iPad. Aside from typically being more affordable, below are the top five reasons why you should strongly consider an Android tablet instead of the iPad.
1. Size does matter
A lot of people find it a hassle to bring bulky devices with them wherever they go. The good thing with Android tablets, is that they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. With 5.3 inch being the smallest for the Samsung Galaxy Note, and 10″ as the biggest size, there’s many different sizes to choose from. The iPad on the other hand, comes only in one size with dimensions at 9.56 x 7.47 x .5 inches.
There are many quality manufacturers offering Android tablets of different sizes such as Acer, ASUS, Samsung, LG, Motorola, Toshiba, Archos, and more. With Android tablets you have a lot of choice and you can go big or small, keyboard or keyboard-less, and it all depends on you and your preferences.
2. True Multitasking
One of the biggest downsides of the iPad is that it doesn’t offer true multitasking abilities, which is what we really need in this fast paced life. The reason why the iPad deprives its users with such a feature is due to the device’s battery life. The hardware itself is more than powerful enough to support such a feature, but Apple appears to be unwilling to extend the functionality beyond being just a simple app launcher. Really, iOS 5 is near identical on both the iPhone and iPad, but then so too is Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The fundamental difference, of course, between tablets and smartphones is screen real estate. iOS is great for phones, don’t get me wrong. But for tablets, it’s simply an insult to modern man. If you desire to be able to do more with you mobile device, then you should know that with an iPad it is very easy to become bored and dissatisfied with its limitations. Still though, for certain people, the simplicity will be welcomed and embraced.
Anyway, back to what matters. The clear majority of Android tablets offered on the market today run off dual-core processors, and are soon to have quad core processors as standard fare. This gives them more than enough power to handle multitasking with ease. The latest build of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (much like its predecessor, Android 3.2 Honeycomb) affords the user the ability to access the multitasking panel with just a single tap, so that you can access the recently used applications, and close them with a simple flick of the finger.
3. A more improved notification system
While notifications have been substantially improved in iOS 5, they still are far from ideal. In actuality, the notifications are very similar to what Android used in the previous generation for phones – Android 2.3 Gingerbread. With Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, there is a persistent bar across the bottom of the tablet, that allows you to access recently used apps, go back, to go home, and to access the settings wherever you happen to be in the operating system. Simply put, Android tablets give you the ability to control what sort of notifications you receive on your device. Your usage and messages are tucked discreetly at the bottom part of the screen. Either way, both are good, and represent a big step forward in accessibility and offer the user a chance to have a birds eye of view of what is going on with their device.
4. Syncing is not required
One of the biggest grievances that I hear regularly from owners of Apple products is the constant necessity to sync with iTunes to update, sync content, and more. Clearly, Apple likes the owners of their products to stay within their ecosystem. Apple has, historically, always wanted owners of their products to update to the latest revision of their software, for obvious reasons. The most ardent Apple fans that are in possession of iPhones and iPads typically jailbreak them, which is to unlock the bootloader to allow greater customization. Any update from iTunes will break this new-found freedom and once again plunge their device into archaic darkness, forcing them to look at the hapless rows of icons, locking them into a UI prison where no deviance from the exacting symmetry that their Apple overlord dictates, is allowed.
With Android tablets however, you can purchase apps from the Android Market, download them on your computer, and send them to your tablet without the need to sync it to your computer every time you do so. Additionally, you can put widgets of all sizes on the large number of homescreens,
5. USB, Keyboards, and Overall Utility
First off, why no USB connectivity Apple? How about an SD card reader? What if your customers are away from their computer, and have an SD card full of photos they want to unload? What then Apple? The answer to this question, as i’m sure you know by now – connect to iTunes. And forget about trying to connect to someone else’s iTunes – that’s just not going to happen. In another case and point example of Apple’s highly calculated, rigid, and vertically controlled software philosophy, you must connect to iTunes. I will, in no way deny that Apple’s products are marvelously easy to use – but for people wanting a bit more flexibility, it’s a no go.
A small list of absolutely essential functionality that you should be able to get out of an iPad, but can’t:
Both the iPad and some of the Android tablets we have mentioned in this list are very high quality electronics. Though this is the case, the deciding factor should be based on how user-friendly the devices are, their features, and which one will give the most value for your money.
Either way, I’d happily recommend both. The iPad is a revolutionary product, and is a wonderful companion in the morning, on the move, and at night time, particularly for those looking for media consumption. However, if you are the type that likes to tweak and tinker, and get the most out of your device, I truly would recommend an Android tablet anyday.
Best Small Tablets:
Best Alternative to the iPad
If though, you are set on getting an Android tablet, be sure to check out our list of the best upcoming Android tablets for 2012 – some of them are definitely worth the wait. Let us know your thoughts! We’ll be updating this article regularly as more information comes to light, and (most importantly) as more and more awesome Android tablets are released! As we have mentioned before, Apple’s iPad has won some battles, but will not win this war. Google continues to make substantial improvements to the Android operating system, and really hit it out of the park with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, an operating system that unifies both Android tablets and Android phones. Stay tuned for more! Android tablets or Apple’s iPad? Let us know!
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This article, Top 5 Reasons Why Android Tablets are Better than the iPad , was originally published at AndroidAuthority.com - Your Android News Source.
Posted: 03 Mar 2012 07:05 AM PST
Getting tired of the smallish screen on your Android smartphone? Have a fear of commitment for something too big and unwieldy like a 10-inch tablet? Getting a 7-inch Android is without doubt the next best thing. In fact, 7-inch seems to be the sweet spot between portability and screen size. The list below contains what we believe to be an elite group of 7-inch Android tablets that are worthy of some superlatives in front of their names. In no particular order, check out these fine 7-inchers below.
Huawei MediaPadHuawei MediaPad was heavily advertised as the world's first 7-inch tablet running Android 3.2 Honeycomb. Since then, the Android tablet bar has been raised even higher with the introduction of Ice Cream Sandwich. Nevertheless, the MediaPad – also known as T-Mobile Springboard in the US – is a solid piece of machinery cladded in an attractive aluminum exterior that features a crisp display, thanks to the high-res1280 x 800 IPS panel. The 5MP rear-camera produces above-average image quality shots, making it one of the better shooters in the market. Huawei has promised to bump up the OS to Ice Cream Sandwich soon.
NOOK TabletThe savior of Barnes and Noble, the NOOK Tablet was able to sneak in and steal some sparks from Kindle's Fire. This 7-inch tablet is perfect for casual reading, gaming, and browsing. One of its unique features is the ability to record your own voice-over narration for children's books on the NOOK Tablet by using the built-in mic. Barnes and Noble have recently introduced a cheaper NOOK Tablet 8GB model for $199 — setting up for an even more intense showdown with the Kindle Fire. We, as consumers, are the winners, of course. High five, competition!
Kindle FireMeet the new king budget Android tablet. Though Amazon rarely releases sales figures, analysts believe that this is the second-best selling tablet in the market after you-know-what. The Kindle Fire is as basic as it gets for a tablet – no mic, GPS, camera — but it does an adequate job as a reading and entertainment device under the Amazon umbrella. You'll get plenty of entertainment alright, what with the availability of Amazon AppStore (for all your apps needs) and Amazon Prime (to keep up with TV series and movies). Keep in mind that the Fire doesn't have an expandable storage, so you're stuck with 8GB. You get to back-up all your contents to the cloud though. Though there are rumors of a Kindle Fire successor being on the way, while the current $199 price point for the Kindle Fire is definitely a good deal.
AINOL Novo7 AuroraCompared to other manufacturers on the list, the name Ainol Aurora does give a reason to raise an eyebrow or two. Truth be told, this is one of the better Chinese tablet manufacturers in the market. The solid specs of the Ainol Novo7 Aurora speak for themselves: IPS display, 1GB RAM, mini HDMI output, and Ice Cream Sandwich. As for the price, well, it certainly is one that is highly competitive. If you value functions over brand name, the Ainol Novo7 Aurora makes a great alternative from the usual crowd.
Toshiba Thrive 7The Toshiba Thrive 7 won't win any aesthetic award due to its clunky design. But look beyond that, and you have a great Honeycomb tablet that comes with a high-res 1280 x 800 screen able to render sharp text display and vivid imageries. This makes it a perfect companion for some travel reading and movie watching while you're hitting the road. At 360 grams, the robust Thrive 7 is among one of the lightest slates around that has microSD card slot, micro USB and micro HDMI ports.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 PlusThe dual-core Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is yet another sequel to the popular Tab lineup from Samsung. The 7.0 Plus continues the sleek design of its 7-inch predecessor, save for the dark matte back. It also loses some weight, height, and depth in the process. The main selling point of the Tab 7.0 Plus is the inclusion of Infrared port and Peel Smart Remote app, which turns the Tab into a remote control for your TV. Faster, thinner and lighter – the tablet is worthy of a spin the second time around, especially if you have a Samsung TV, and plan on being near it often.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7Out of the gazillion Tab series out there, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is the one model that will turn heads – for a good reason. With gorgeous and ridiculously over-the-top colors, the Super AMOLED Plus screen used on the tablet is something that you need to experience first-hand to believe. The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is a thin, light, and powerful tablet with amazing battery life. The fact that you can use the Galaxy Tab 7.7 (3G model) to make phone calls and send text messages is another plus point. Look elsewhere, penny-pinchers, this one’s going to hurt the wallet but be oh-so-easy on your eyes. Life will never look as good.
Upcoming Android Tablets in 2012Having trouble making up your mind despite the rich concoction of 7-inch Android tablets above? Have no fear, as a ton more are heading towards your direction in the next couple of months. One of our favorites include the upcoming Asus MeMo 370T. Can you say Tegra 3 quad-core processor and 1280 x 800 IPS panel for a mere $250? Praise the lord! The MeMo 370T will definitely help put Asus name firmly on the Android tablet map. We're also excited about the Toshiba AT270 tablet for its super sleek and thin body (7.7mm or less) and Super AMOLED Plus display. The tablet packs some serious quad-core processor power as well. Expect Asus MeMo 370T to launch in Q2 2012 and Toshiba AT270 to follow soon.
You may want to hold on to your cushioned seats, folks, as 2012 is bound to a mighty fine year for Android tablets. If you’re interested in knowing more about some of the best Android tablets of 2012 – check out our feature piece! Let us know which ones are on your radar, and we’ll get them and review them as soon as is inhumanly possible.
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This article, Best 7-Inch Android Tablets of 2012 , was originally published at AndroidAuthority.com - Your Android News Source.