Android Tablet vs Apple iPad (March 2, 2011)

Posted: February 7, 2011 by Mike Hubbartt in Academia, Hardware Reviews, Rants and Raves
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

iPad versus Android


Freescale aPad IMX515

What is the fuss about tablets? Do we need them? Why or why not? How much do they cost? Which one should we buy? What is the supported hardware and software? How do we get more (software and hardware)? Can the operating system be upgraded? What OS versions to avoid? What do they lack, straight out of the box, and what add-on is worth it’s weight in gold? Let’s find out.

I’ve been tracking tablets since Apple released the iPad, and I have to admit I’m impressed. I’d like an iPad, but the price tag is so much higher than 7″ or 8″ Android OS-based tablets, so my first tablet will probably run Android. I’ve done some online comparisons and see there are 7″, 8″ and 10.1″ Android tablets that run different versions of Android (1.6, 2.1, 2.2) and have different supported hardware/software features.

The hardware features that vary include CPU and clock speed, memory (ranging from 128MB to 1GB), hard drive storage (2 – 8 GB), TF slots for additional memory (max ranging from 16 – 32 GB), cameras (no camera, have web cam, have 1.3 M Pixel cameras – similar to cell phones from 2 – 3 yrs ago), USB Ports (some do, some don’t), and wireless connectivity (a/b/g/n).

The main supported software I’ve seen is probably related to the version of Android installed on the tablet. The types of supported video formats varies considerably – only 1 or 2 I looked at support H.264, and only 1 said it supports Flash 10.1.

The tablet that has caught my eye today is the Freescale aPad IMX515 ARM Cortex A8 8″Android 2.2 tablet. Speed is 1 GHz, it has 512 MB RAM and 4 GB storage (plus TF expansion slot for another 32 GB storage).

My question: Has anyone out there that bought an Android OS tablet be willing to share their experience of using the tablet? Ted, one of the other contributors of this site, has an iPad and loves it. I’m curious if the Android tablets invoke as much appreciation by their owners.

I’d like to learn what owners like and dislike about their tablets, what they cost and what they spent to upgrade them, how long is the battery life on a single charge, what types of applications are bought (vs free downloads), how many use these devices at work or school, and whether or not the owner feels these devices can replace laptops or netbooks.

My impression is that these devices are very handy and can take the place of a lot of stuff being done on laptops (gaming, internet browsing), but I don’t believe they currently can replace a laptop. I cannot imagine writing a long book or developing large software applications on a tablet. I can see them as terrific devices to take out in the field – I know I’d love to take one along when going out at night to observe the skies, as long as the battery life kept it going all night.

If the Android tablets have short battery life and the iPad is much greater, it seems wiser to skip the Android tablet purchase and move right on to the one that will do what I need, because battery life is just as important as supported applications.

I’d like to hear from anyone willing to share about their good or bad experiences using a tablet.


Apple released the new iPad (2.0) on March 2, 2011. It is 2/3 as thick as iPad 1.0, faster dual core A5 processor, better/faster graphic processing (1024×768), lighter (1.3 lb), has front and rear-facing cameras, 3-axis gyro, accelerometer,  runs iOS 4.3, same 10 hr battery life, and ships 3/11/2011 at the same price as the iPad 1.0 models. Mac computers must have a USB 2.0 port and run OS X 10.5.8 or later. Click here to go to the site for product details. Want to see the new model? Here it is:

  1. Ted Bade says:

    I wasn’t very interested in the tablet concept when they first began appearing. I have a Laptop, why would I want a device without a keyboard, limited storage, and so much more fragile? After I got one, I began to learn the value of having it. My top likes are:

    1. Instantly on. I’ve had a laptop for years and rarely take it on the deck or into the kitchen. With the iPad, I push a button and I am on the desktop or returning to the last program I had up. It is up so quickly, that I do find myself sitting in the kitchen or on the deck playing with it.

    2. It makes a great recipe book. I use both a recipe program that has a version for the iPad (Computer Cuisine Deluxe), but also can access web based recipes to try. We even went as far as bringing out a video on how to truss a chicken so we could use our grills rotisserie!

    3. The keyboard that shows on the screen it really big enough. I like that it only appears when needed.

    4. Using it for astronomy. It has a compass and a basic GPS functionality. I can take it outside and it will show me an image of where I point it. This makes it really easy to learn what is up in the sky.

    5. Its great for sharing photos. Sure you can do it with a MacBook, but the iPad is easier.

    6. Apple provides a great program so I can control any of our iTunes libraries, send them to our stereo via a Music Express and listen. Great option for parties. More then that, there are remote function Apps for other things like our Tivo.

    7. This is a really geeky one, but I learned how to use VPN and, from the comfort of my iPad, control my Mac. Heck, I even wrote parts of this comment section controlling the word processor on my Mac from the iPad. How cool is that???

    8. It’s a great size for reading a book. Sure you can buy a dedicated book reader, but that are one trick ponies. The iPad can do other things. Say, while reading my book, I can choose some music t listen to, even on the home stereo. If I need to lok up something, I can hit the internet. Let us not forget that ALL the current book readers have an app version for the iPad. So I can choose from any vendor, including Apple.

    9. This is really, all the above answer. It is multifunction. I can play a game, read a book, listen to music, wach a video, and much more.

    10. Okay, I have to admit, it is cool having one at the house. Just the coolness factor!

    • Ted:

      Nicely said. I have a few questions as I am considering buying an iPad.

      1. How long does the battery last?
      2. How much memory does your iPad have?
      3. Do you have enough memory for your needs? Want more?
      4. How large are typical iPad-specific applications?
      5. How long does it take to install new software?
      6. Are free iPad applications worthwhile? If so, which ones do you like?
      7. Any issues with using it outside in the sunlight?
      8. Have you bought something to protect the unit from scratches?
      9. Has the iPad or an application ever crashed while you used it?
      10. Does it replace your notebook at least 50% of the time?

    • uweb says:

      Have both since January:
      – iPad 32GB and FlyTouch 2 (added 2 x 16GB microSDHC cards
      – iPad “works like a charm” in my Mac WiFi environment (home); NO ISSUES!
      – Android 2.1 FT 2 looks ok; but… 2 days ago the green screen killed the unit. Hard RESET via the button at the bottom did NOTHING… other than turning off the unit. Suggestions to “Reset to Factory Settings” doesn’t work!
      – e-mail from the Chinese Seller BONANZA suggested to contact the “Manufacturer” – that’s a joke; since there was no mentioning of who that might be; how to contact them/CS etc.
      – This garbage being peddled is not worth our hard earned dollars!!
      I am so glad Apple doesn’t have to argue the Microsoft famous “Blue Screen death” or now the Android Tablet “Green Screen Death”!

  2. Ted Bade says:

    Nicely said. I have a few questions as I am considering buying an iPad.
    1. How long does the battery last?
    That’s a tough question, since it really depends upon what the iPad is used for. I was told that the iPads battery was large, essentially the size of the iPad itself. So far we have charged it only a handful of times. I don’t just read books either. I have been playing a few action games, watch internet videos, and other more processor (and thus battery) demanding tasks. My opinion is that the battery lasts a good long while and I a very satisfied with how long it lasts.

2. How much memory does your iPad have?
    We bought the low end model with 16 gigs.

3. Do you have enough memory for your needs? Want more?
    So far we haven’t had any memory issues. We don’t tend to store a lot of music, video, or photos on it. That wasn’t our intent when we purchased it. We use about half of its memory space for the applications and stuff we do put on it. I suppose if I wanted to store a bunch of movies I would want more, but I don’t.

4. How large are typical iPad-specific applications?
    It depends upon the app. Most of the ones I have are around 20 Megs. I have one app with a specific version for both the iPad and one for the iPod. The iPad version is about 17 Megs 3 times bigger then the iPod’s 5 Meg version. But I do have some iPod games that are in the 200 to 300 meg range.

5. How long does it take to install new software?
    Adding software to the iPad via the Mac is very quick. Downloading it directly depends on the connection speed. We opted for the WiFi version, so we don’t benefit from a high speed 3G connection, then, of course, we don’t pay for it either! I haven’t been bothered at all waiting for things to load onto the iPad.

6. Are free iPad applications worthwhile? If so, which ones do you like?
    Just like anything, it depends. A lot of the free versions of games are just samples of the full game. Much of the free stuff isn’t really of value, although it can be. For instance, the eBook readers are all free. You can get free books, but also buy current books. They are a good deal. Programs like Skype are free and very useful. I get a lot of milage from a VPN program (Moca VNC lite). It is free and I use it to run applications on my Mac via the iPad a lot. I think my favorite free app is the NASA App HD. Wonderful source of news, images, and movies from NASA!

7. Any issues with using it outside in the sunlight?
    Yes, as with any LCD display. If the sun is shining brightly, the back light of the display will not be able to override the intense light of the sun. But I have rarely used it outside, so for the most part, this isn’t an issue.

8. Have you bought something to protect the unit from scratches?
    We were advised, by the Apple Store salesperson, not to use one of those touch screen covers, since it reduces the effectiveness of the interactive screen. We were hesitant not to, but as adults, we can be carful. So far we haven’t managed to scratch it. I haven’t taken it to the beach or on a wilderness trip. Mostly we use it around the house and there is really no concern about scratches. We keep the Ipad in a nice faux leather case, which protects it pretty well. For cooking tasks, we use a nice cookbook protector. It has a clear plexiglas cover on hinges to protect the screen from splatters, but is easily pulled down to “change pages”.

9. Has the iPad or an application ever crashed while you used it?
    So far, rarely. I have never had an iPad crash, but a couple of apps have just stopped working tossing me back to the desktop.

10. Does it replace your notebook at least 50% of the time?
    Actually, it has replaced my MacBook Pro about 80%. I haven’t booted the MacBook more then a couple of times in the past few months, but have used the iPad almost daily.

  3. Chris says:

    iPad vs Andorid Pad. Right now, go iPad. In a year, there will be android pad apps, but not yet. Bottom line – if you are a geek, go andorid. If you love video and are non-techy, go iPad. iPad just works. Android can do more, if you take the time. If you must have a keyboard and want computer like experience, go with a netbook or macbook air. the Air is much more expensive than a netbook but is also a much different/better animal.

    I have an ipad, macbook air, acer 1410 netbook, android epic 4g, blackberry curve and previously had an ipod.

    In my opinion the, the iPad is a great device. if like my wife, you really want a keyboard, don’t do more than very basic word processing, and like streaming video, the iPad plus bluetooth keyboard is perfect. It is super light and portable, does basic word processing, is super easy to use and streams Netflix, Hulu Plus and YouTube beautifully. The battery lasts anywhere from several hours with heavy video use to a week with light/moderate use. You’ll make it through a day of heavy non-video use no problem. It is great for school, since you will never need a cord. It is fantastic for the the non-savvy tech user. It can sit in standby mode for a month, no joke. If you search Amazon, you can find a folio/cover/keyboard for about $65. That turns your iPad into a basic netbook (with much less functionality, higher price, much better battery, super touch interface and cool factor). Of course, most people who buy the iPad are looking for something different from a netbook.

    The Macbook Air is fantastic for basic laptop use. The 13″ gives you about 7 hours of battery with moderate use. The 10″ gives about 5 hours (smaller battery). These notebook computers are great for the novice user. The app store is especially nice, though you shouldn’t limit yourself to it. This device is fully solid state, so it is super light, never slows down for hard drive read/write or file swapping. Itboots up in about 10 seconds from cold and 2 seconds from sleep mode. Unlike your standard notebook or netbook, you can close the lid and stick it in your bag (no hard drive parking or heat concerns). Like the iPad, it will sleep for about a month, no joke. The Macbook Air is way better (and way more expensive) than a netbook or basic notebook. I don’t know how i lived without it before. If i had to choose one device, it would be a Macbook Air.

    I love my andorid phone better than the iPhone except one aspect. While the Android platform is better suited to media (more open formats), the iPhone actually supports Netflix and HuluPlus, while android lags behind for DRM/license reasons (to easy to bootleg from Android). I really like an android phone with a keyboard. Some people think that defeats the purpose, but i like the extra accuracy of the thumb keyboard for passwords and other specialized tasks. The android is much more customizable in general.

    Android tablet. Most android tablets are not fully functional and don’t have full market access. Many don’t have capacitive touch screens and many are cheaply made. be sure you can test the tablet before buying or have a super good return policy (like Walmart or Amazon). Avoid pressure sensitive screens at all costs. You should only look at devices with multi-touch capacitive screens. Resolution is also a factor. Be sure you have at least 1024×600 resolution on a tab (or 320×480 for a small-screen phone). the only really nice android tab right now is the Samsung galaxy. Anything else is second class. The Galaxy ahs android 2.2, a beautiful touch screen, full market access and is built on the premiere Samsung Galaxy S platform powering the top android phones on the market. right now, it is the only andorid pad i would consider. also, when considering pads, consider wifi and 3g. If you want 3g, AT&T/iPad has a cheap plan. If you avoid video when connected to cell towers and are usually connected to wifi, you can get the $15/month AT&T data plan (200 MB/month). For heavier use away from wifi, pick the $25 plan (25 GB/month). Galaxy Tab data plans are more expensive.

    While I prefer the Android platform, iPad beats Samsung Galaxy Pad for content alone. iPad has Netflix and Hulu (both promised for Android for the last 6 months but not delivered). The iPad has lots more tablet apps, including Apples own word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software. Android just doesn’t have many pad apps yet. That will change (like it did for android phones) if Android pads sell well. There are plenty of video streaming options for android geeks (who don’t mind rooting their phone), but not basic users.

    If you want lots of special accessories, go with Apple products. Because they are standard and popular, there are lots of custom fit cases, chargers, keyboards, docks, stereos, etc for Apple. There are very few high class accessories for android.

    Zagg and Invisishield both work great. They do give a rubbery feel to the screen and make sliding your finger less natural (feels sticky). I recommend a case and a removable acrylic screen protector. the acrylic protectors are really heavy duty, look and feel great and can be easily removed/cleaned/replaced. Skins protect from scratches. A good case adds a little bulk and gives much more protection. Also, be careful about pocket lint and such. It can mess with your dock port. If you use a belt clip (as opposed to a pocket) get a good cover to protect the phone from bumps and scratches. Never put your phone in your pocket with keys or credit cards (keys scratch, credit cards get wiped by the phones magnets).

    Sunlight. The iPad does just fine. you may have to tilt it to a good angle. it is a little hard to read on very bright days. The Epic 4G is about the same. The older model phones and iPods are hard to read in sunlight. The EVO screen is hard to read in sunlight. I would suggest you go with the iPhone, iPad or an andorid phone with a bright OMLED screen. I love, love, love the OMLED screen on my EPIC 4G (a galaxy s phone). The newer moto and samsung phones do fine in sunlight. HTC phones vary.

    There are so many cool free apps. I have over 50 free apps on my android and the same on my ipad. But, the paid apps also tend to be very cheap. you can get a very good app for $1 to $10. Only a few apps are more expensive. Price is not the determining factor. It is better to look at the rating (and number of responses).

    Most iPad and iPod apps are tiny. 50 apps will take about 25% of the space on a 16 GB iPad. I have about 30 apps on my Samsung Galaxy S (Epic 4G) phone (without having to put any of them on my SD Card).

    The battery on an iPod/iPhone lasts much longer in my opinion than an andorid phone. but, you can carry a tiny little extra battery for your android. no such option for the iPhone. The iPhone will most likely last you all day if you don’t do video. The smaller android phones like the Samsung Intercept will last all day. The larger Epic 4G won’t last all day unless you get the extended battery, carry a spare or don’t use it much at all. If you use android, use the Watchdog app, not the auto task killers (trust me). Avoiding the geek speak, the android platform is different than the PC platform. In android world, you care about doing work (CPU); in PC world, you care about doing work and using memory. On an android phone, an open app that isn’t working isn’t doing any harm. leave it be. if you kill it, you are doing work and draining your battery when you could have left it alone. Watchdog will monitor for apps that are doing work and kill them (instead of blindly killing everything).

    If you want a keyboard and a recent but not killer phone, the Samsung Intercept (Sprint) is great. It is reasonably priced, has android 2.1, works great, and has good battery life.

    If you really want a pad, go with iPad – no question. If you are a geek and want a phone, go android. If you are non-geeky, go with iPhone or iPad; it is easier to learn and a bit more beautiful/sexy to use (and has more video streaming options today). Oh, and syncing with a PC or mac is simpler with an iPad. But, it is really easy on an android if you are a geek. if you go android pad, only go with Samsung Galaxy S Tab. All others pale in comparison.

    Devices are listed below from smallest and least power to biggest and most powerful. The only exception is the Macbook (the 10″ Macbook Air is almost identical size to the iPad – yeah, super small, light and powerful but no touch screen):

    Phone for novice – iPhone
    Phone for geek – android 2.1 or higher. Motorola, Samsung or HTC
    pad for geek – Samsung Galaxy S Tab (the only good android tab on market today)
    Pad for novice – iPad
    econo netbook – atom processor ($300-$350)
    more powerful an ACER or Toshiba i3 notebook (11.6″) for about $450
    super netbook/notebook crossover – Macbook Air (10″ or 13″)

    • Chris:

      Thanks for the great comparison. Based on what you and Ted say, it looks like I’ll go with an iPad for now. Hopefully the Android tablets catch up in a year or two, as I’d like one of those as well.

      I wish more people owning and using Android tablets would comment the way that Ted and Chris have – it would help a lot of people that are reading this article.


  4. sam says:

    Yes I got it: imx515 cortex cap touchscreen cortex a8. F***ing Chinese product s***wed up than Paypal. Sleepless nights – its 3am, going to sleep. Will tell u all horror story tomorrow… chao

  5. Dave Szwec says:

    I just recently purchased the Superpad 2/Flytouch 3. I have not had a lot of experience with the iPad except for playing with them in the store. The Superpad seems to be built well enough but some of the interior electronic connections do no line up perfectly with the exterior case. So some of the cable (headphone, etc.) are a tight squeeze.

    Transfering files and installing apps is a breeze and can be done using memory stcks or usb to usb connection to your computer. Downloading apps straight from the Android store is simple also.

    The video (1080p) is fantastic and with an HDMI output you can connect to a large screen for viewing. Video is smooth but sound sucks through the crappy little speakers. Headphones are a must.

    Battery lasts about 4-5 hours without WIFI on and around 2.5 hours while surfing the net. I just purchased a keyboard/case for $23 off of eBay and we’ll see if this eliminates the frustration of using the onscreen keyboard. The Superpad has to usb ports for a mouse and keyboard if you wish. Internal memory is around 4 gig with 1g used for reqired software. There is one micro sd slot for up to 32g of extra memory.

    The Superpad is not as quick or smooth as the iPad but being able to transfer and install without having to use iTunes is great. I had some specific needs like surfing the web in front of the TV, reading in the dark while my wife sleeps, playing a few games (angry birds) and keeping up with email. This pad fit the trick. GPS comes in handy for travelling and the Google sky works great when I’m outside with my telescope.

    What else could you want for less than $200 delivered to your door in about a week?

    • Dave:
      Thanks for your response. Tablets are not fads; they are here to stay. They are ideal for work, school, and home. One of my grad school classmates at UST buys textbooks for his iPad and he positively raves about it. I have seen Android phones on campus, but not Android tablets and appreciate you commenting about your positive experience with the Superpad 2 tablet.

      There are so many Android tablet vendors that it is difficult to know which ones are worth the money and which ones are best avoided. Most people must take cost into account when making a purchase, and a product that delivers the same core features but at 40% the price of the iPad is worth considering.

      I know there are other people are pleased with their Android tablet purchases and hope they too will respond so our readers see there are less expensive alternatives to Apple iPads.

      • Dave Szwec says:

        If anybody has any questions concerning the Superpad just send an email and I’ll try to answer your questions to the best of my ability. I think for the price you get a decent piece of hardware that fits the needs of most people.

  6. Diane says:

    Dave Szwec are you still liking the super pad 2/fly touch 3? I am assuming the super pad 2 is the same as the fly touch 3?

  7. Dave Szwec says:

    Some days yes and some days no. I updated the software and all seemed ok but then the little buggy things start to happen. Won’t hook up to the wifi, small crashes and then it gets to the point you have to reinstall the firmware. Then all the apps you loaded are gone and you’ve lost your books, etc. I guess you get what you pay for. If there is stable firmware for this flytouch 3 then it would be a great buy. It almost seems like the more apps you load the more overwhelmed the pad becomes. It always runs great until you shut it off and then turn it on. Then the little buggy crappy things start. Probably not as much thought put into the firmware for this unit as was the IPad.

  8. Tra Cy says:

    In the first place, ipad grabbed the whole technology market, but android devices have revolutionized the whole concept of digital technology. A couple of companies, including samsung and even OziTechnology, have shown their skills at making high quality android tablet devices.

    • L. Steward says:

      I would have to agree with the above comment (Tra Cy). I have a Android and love it. My son has significant special needs and I have seen the apps and limited potential of the Ipad in the school setting first hand. In order to add new words to learn, they would have to strip the ones from the week before. On the education side, I have just become a Behavioral Therapist and have been involved in many schools and seen what a limit the Ipad is due to memory and the fact that users are afraid of some of the “old technology.” The Android is a significantly better, faster product. I have had non of the problems that the other users have listed and I am not a computer wizard, but I cannot stand by and let someone dictate when one will get a certain amount of memory as was done with the cameras on Iphone in order to keep demand strong. It is great that the Company has done so well, however, I also have an MBA in Finance and find it irritating to have a company run this way. The Android is an excellent machine, and do anything you would want to do and users have listed on an Ipad (unless Apple licenced). Even the Apple only apps and products have been copied. I use Cyanogen 7 on it. I hope this helps someone make an informed decision. I am not one to follow the masses unless there is data behind it.

      • I have to admit I’m glad to start seeing some positive comments about Android tablets. I’ve worked with another programmer that loved his Android tablet and have hoped to get more pro-Android people to comment about their products. Due to the large number of models, it helps to mention specific models that perform well or with few/no errors.

        – Mike

  9. ohmygodthecat:O says:

    wont contribute much other than saying I have an android 2.2 10.1 advent pad over an ipad, really for reasons of cost outlay for an occasional device.

    doesn’t matter at the moment which pads are better apple or none apple as the environment they dip there toes into are miles apart, you’ve got a choice of a dedicated apple architecture targeted to getting the most out of your tablet or being the poor relation of the android ‘mobile phone’ market. (officially android market doesn’t even support 10.1 pads), for instance there isn’t even a competent word processor for the android tablet and that’s just one example..

    that said I love my advent and after tons of hacks and mods wouldn’t swap it for a truck load of ipads. and that’s a pretty big say from a OSX user.

  10. Trish says:

    New 7 MID Tablet Android 2.2 2G 256M WIFI/Cam/USB

    Hi all, I have just received the above tablet as a gift and would like to know if this is any good? I am not really computer literate and would appreciate any comments. Thanks 🙂

  11. Jacob says:

    Whoever is reading I am purchasing a flytouch 3 from ebay but the reason is why are they so cheap ? the average price is around $120 and can u like jailbreak them or its impossible

    Thanx in advance

  12. Kathie G says:

    I am thinking about buying a tablet or a laptop. I want to play facebook games like Bejewelled Blitz and Gardens of Time, web surfing, email, reading, skyping, and playing my itunes library. Anyone have any experience with the android tablet Asus Transformer tablets? Why would I need a 32GB over a 16GB model? Thanks all.

  13. shop android says:

    I need to to thank you for this very good read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it. I’ve got you book marked to check out new stuff you post…

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