Tech Talk: Choosing your weapon in the tablet wars

Jun 17 2011 in Science&Tech by Steven R. McEvoy, Reporter

(Alcina Wong)

Many people believe that the iPhone is winning the smartphone race, and that Android devices are in close second.

But neither is very suited to the corporate market because they are both hard to secure and manage en mass.

Now the tablet wars are heating up; the iPad 2 has been on the market for a few months, The BlackBerry Playbook and Motorola Xoom have both just hit the market and there is a variety of Android based devices to choose from. In this week’s Tech Talk we will do a head-to-head comparison between four tablet devices. So let’s put the VPad, Playbook, iPad 2 and Xoom through the paces and see which will come out on top.

As can be seen from the chart (see below), there are a number of differences among the four devices, from OS to screen size, resolution, inputs and outputs.

In fact, the only things these four devices have in common are that they were each 32GB in size, support Wi-Fi connectivity and are tablet devices. So I will give a brief overview of each device and its pros and cons.

Viewsonic
ViewPad 10
To be honest this was my least favourite of the four devices tested. It is very heavy. Both operating systems seem clunky on this device. The battery life was less than projected even with minimal applications running. The only real saving grace for this device is the dual boot; you can have Windows 7 Professional on the device and secure it in a corporate environment. The touch keyboard on the Win7 side was very unruly, and not much better on the Android side. It has the lowest resolution camera and no video recording capability. All in all, not a bad paper weight but not worth much else.

Motorola
Xoom
This device is in the middle of the pack. It is fairly new to the market and with some OS updates it might move up. There seems to be no shortage of these devices, unlike iPad 2, which is hard to lay your hands on, or the Playbook which is selling really well.

It’s not a bad device to work on. It only has one rear facing camera, and can output to 720p display. With decent functionality, it is just up against good competition.

Apple
iPad 2
The second generation device from Apple has a lot going for it: a huge app store, great popularity and by far the largest market share, but there are some drawbacks. First, it is very heavy compared to the Xoom and Playbook. Second, it is hard to secure and manage, especially in a corporate environment.

This device has two cameras, front and back facing, and can record video at 720p. For the most part it is a great device to play on, but based on the price it is not ideal, especially for work.

RIM
Playbook
The  current drawback of this device is that it has a much smaller selection of apps than the iPad 2. The big pluses: it is much faster than any of the competition and it is more responsive.

It can output natively to 1080p and can also do 3-D content output. It can record 1080p video. Once the application market heats up it will be hard to beat.

This device has both front and rear facing cameras. Most of the marketing around the Playbook has been to the end user, the consumer, not the corporate market. It can be secured but still has a long way to go.

The RIM Playbook currently cannot be managed and administered through a BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) but rumours indicate that is not far away.

I am fortunate in working full time in IT. Because of that, I get to play with a lot of different devices and models of laptops and desktops.

Having had the chance to configure and play on each of the four devices above, I have come to the conclusion that if I had to buy one for personal use, I would go with the Playbook. If I was to have a second one in the house, I would choose an iPad 2.

In the end, most of it comes down to personal preference. I encourage you to try different devices, either in store or from someone you know who has one. Don’t just follow the media hype, find the device that will do what you want to do best and go with it.