Why buy an Android Honeycomb tablet?
Android Honeycomb (3.0) is the latest update from Google of their Android operating system. This is the first version built specifically for a tablet PC format rather than a smartphone. This means screen design and usability make full use of the larger screen format and powerful processor. We’ve also covered why you would pick Android over other operating systems in our tablet PC operating systems overview.
What is the best Android Honeycomb tablet available to buy in the UK?
Currently you have 4 options:
We are also expecting the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, running Android Honeycomb, to arrive shortly.
All other Android tablets run a variation of Android 2 although some manufacturers have promised upgrades to 3.0 soon.
If you buy an Android Honeycomb tablet then you’re future proofing your tablet as they can run software designed for earlier versions of Android. Android 2.x tablets can’t run the newer tablet apps designed for Honeycomb.
Android 3.0 Tablet Comparison
The Android Honeycomb tablets launched so far have similar features. All of these tablets have comparable processors, are 10.1-inch tablets (excluding the LG Optimus Pad at 8.9-inches) offer HDMI ports, responsive capacitive multitouch screens, and are similar in weight. However, there are a few killer points that may make or break your decision to buy one over another so here they are.
Why the Motorola Xoom is better than other Android 3.0 tablets…
- The first of the Android 3.0 tablets is highly regarded for its stylish design and all-round strong hardware features.
- There’s a 3G option so you can connect to the 3G mobile network. The Xoom also has the capability to attach to the 4G data network when it becomes more prevalent in the future.
- It also has one of the best battery life (only the Optimus Pad is comparable) of these tablets with up to 10 hours on continuous video playback.
Why the Motorola Xoom is worse than other Android 3.0 tablets…
- The Xoom is higher in price than the Iconia and Eee Pad Transformer.
- It has a MicroSD card slot but it doesn’t work yet as the software doesn’t support it.
Full Motorola Xoom Review
Acer Iconia A500
Why the Acer Iconia is better than other Android 3.0 tablets…
- It’s another all-round strong specification.
- The feature list is as strong as the Xoom for the Wi-Fi version but it’s cheaper.
- The only one of the 4 tablets to have a full-size USB port built in.
Why the Acer Iconia is worse than other Android 3.0 tablets…
- The battery life doesn’t quite match up to the Xoom at approximately 8 hours of continuous video playback.
- There is currently no 3G version available so you’re limited to getting online via a Wi-Fi signal.
Full Acer Iconia Review
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer
Why the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is better than other Android 3.0 tablets…
- It’s currently the lowest price of these 4 tablets but offers extremely similar features.
- There is the option to buy the keyboard docking station which turns the tablet into a netbook. This makes it more versatile – particularly for content creation.
- The screen quality is rated as superior to the other tablets in this comparison.
- The battery performance was only topped by the Xoom.
Why the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is worse than other Android 3.0 tablets…
- No USB port unless you buy the optional keyboard dock station.
- Limited to 16GB on-board storage for files but there is also a microSD port that will allow you to expand this.
- No option to connect to a 3G network, however we believe a 3G version of the Eee Pad Transformer is coming soon.
- WebCam is slightly worse quality than the other tablets – 1.2MP on the Eee Pad Transformer vs 2MP on the others.
LG Optimus Pad
Why the LG Optimus Pad is better than other Android 3.0 tablets…
- The Optimus Pad allows you to record video in 3D. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a 3D screen so you can’t get the full effect unless you watch it back on a 3D TV.
- The camera also allows you to record a higher-definition than the other tablets – 1080p.
- It’s an 8.9-inch tablet so slightly smaller than the other 3 tablets here.
- Comes with 3G so you can get a contract and connect to a 3G mobile data network. It’s also 4G ready for when the 4G network develops in the UK.
- Outside of these features the other specification features are largely in line with those on the other tablets and it does have an excellent battery life in line with the Motorola Xoom.
Why the LG Optimus Pad is worse than other Android 3.0 tablets…
- It’s very expensive – you’re looking at around £750 for a Optimus Pad without a contract so much more than the other tablets.
- Unless you really want the 3D feature, it’s just not worth paying the extra.
Upgrades to Android 3.1
Android 3.1 isn’t a huge step on from 3.0 but includes some refinements such as resizable widgets, and allows you to import photos directly from your digital camera. There’s also improvements to USB ports that means you can now use a number of USB devices such as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 controllers. The web browser is speedier and Google have introduced a Movies app where you can rent a wide range of films. It brings a new eBook and video editing apps too.
The Motorola Xoom has already been upgraded to Android 3.1 in the US but UK owners are still waiting on the update. The Eee Pad Transformer already has the 3.1 update available and the Iconia update is touted to be coming soon. We don’t have an update on plans to upgrade the Optimus Pad.
Android 3.0 Tablets Compared
It really depends what you’re looking for but if you’re trying to keep the cost down and are prepared for a few compromises then the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer nudges ahead of the Acer Iconia.
For all the bells-and-whistles, the Motorola Xoom and Acer Iconia have the best all-round specs at a more palatable price than the Optimus Pad so it just depends on the best deal you can get at the time you buy.