Tablet Prize Fight
Looking exclusively at the larger form factors of the three tablets, one can see that there are many specifications that are similar or identical. Google has set the minimum specifications in certain areas to ensure that the user has a great experience, but there are a variety of differences that set each tablet apart from the others.
Before we look at the differences however, let’s look at the similarities. These tablets are running Android 3.0, powered by NVIDIA Tegra 2 processors, and have 1GB of RAM. Although each is running Honeycomb OS, each of these tablets have a unique version. All the tablets have 1280×800 displays, can output video at 1080p, and have between 9 to 10 hours of battery life if playing 720p video. These tablets tend to come in 16GB or 32GB flavors of onboard memory, but are generally expandable via slots or cloud services. That’s where the similarities end, however.
Although a great tablet, it was the first tablet released, and is no longer receiving the hype that other tablets enjoy. The issue at hand is unfortunately one of its features; the Xoom was released with 3G connectivity, with a free upgrade to 4G.
However it has now been learned that in order to upgrade it to 4G you need to erase the tablet of its contents and send it back for roughly a week in order to get the new communication equipment installed. It also seems to have the least impressive screen of the group. It still has several features that keep it in the running however. The Xoom can be used as a Wi-Fi Hotspot, eliminating the need for an additional Mi-Fi device.
Another high point is that the Xoom will be running stock Android. This means there is no additional overlay that the user interacts with. Without the need to test and configure an additional overlay, Xoom tablets will receive updates to Android faster than other tablets.
The Transformer is the odd one in this group of tablets as it has what could be considered both a major drawback and a major advantage. The drawback of this tablet is that there is no mobile connectivity other than Wi-Fi. To some, this might be considered an advantage as they’d prefer to use a personal hotspot like a Mi-Fi, but it does limit your ability to always be connected with this device.
However, the Transformer gets its name from the keyboard that can be attached. The keyboard attachment not only greatly increases its functionality, but increases the battery life by about 6 hours and offers additional ports to plug things into. With a LED-backlit IPS screen it looks much better than the Xoom unless you take it in the sun. Like all IPS screens, its highly reflective in sunlight.
The Transformer is also the cheapest of the bunch coming in at $400 for the tablet itself, but expect to pay out an extra $150 if you want the keyboard attachment.
Although unreleased, a lot of the information about it is known already. It will be running TouchWiz atop the stock Android 3.0, and will be the lightest of the bunch at 1.31 pounds. In addition to being the lightest of the group it has a grip patterned rear surface which makes it a little easier to hold then the current 7-inch Tab. It will come with dual Wi-Fi antennas and deliver 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands of communication, supporting 802.11 A/B/G/N connections. It also offers 4G connectivity, and comes in 16GB and 32GB flavors. Unfortunately, the Tab is the only device that doesn’t offer some sort of HDMI out.
Given all the information available right now, the winner of this fight is the Asus Transformer. In addition to the keyboard attachment, the Transformer has even more accessories for it in the pipe, from a standard case that doubles as a tripod to a desktop stand that allows multiple positions to view the screen along with additional ports. The sheer versatility of what this tablet can do is what makes the Asus Transformer stand out from the crowd.
This is absolutely the best tablet out there on the market, if you can find it. With the base price at just $400, it’s no surprise that Asus can’t make these fast enough to fulfill the demand.
These are all great tablets, but another consideration that must be taken into account is technology is always changing and advancing. While you could spend double or more on something besides the Transformer, sometimes the best thing to do is just bite the bullet and buy the best value you can at the time. If you buy the Transformer, you’ll still be pleased with your purchase by the time the next wave of tablets comes around.
Second place goes to the Samsung Tab. If you don’t use a Mi-Fi device and need the tablet itself to be connected, this may enhance this tablet value to you - but considering the price overall versus the value you receive from it, the $100 price difference between this and the Transformer can’t quite put it in the top spot.
Last place goes to the Xoom. It just doesn’t provide the value for money that the other devices manage. It’s only a good choice if having stock Android is of critical importance to you.
ASUS: Eee PC Transformer Specs
Motorola: Motorla Xoom Specs
Samsung: Galaxy Tab Specs
Images are from manufacturer press materials.