There are many tablets on the way. Heaps and heaps of tablets if CES 2011 is anything to go by. So how do we make sense of it all? Which is the best tablet to go for? Is it the Motorola Xoom – the Android 3.0 flagship tablet? Perhaps the almighty Blackberry Playbook? The adored Apple iPad 2? Or maybe something totally different? I can go on because there are many more tabs to choose from.
“The problem is, in hardware you can’t build a computer that’s twice as good as anyone else’s anymore. Too many people know how to do it. You’re lucky if you can do one that’s one and third times better or one and a half times better. And then it’s only six months before everybody catches up. But you can do it in software.”
That quote is right on the money. At the end of the day, software is the greatest differentiator.Take the iPad for example. Its hardware is far from revolutionary. Many phones today have better hardware specifications and many new tablets are having a field day with it. What makes it special and ‘magical’ is not the hardware. It’s the software. The thing about using the iPad, or any other iOS device for that matter, is that it’s a very emotional experience. iOS is driven by emotion. The subtle animations that Apple labours to perfect, the sounds, the graphics, the design of their products; it’s all about emotion. That’s where a lot of other devices fall. They don’t create that pleasant environment that keeps you begging for more.
Android comes across to me as a cold experience. That’s OK though because a lot of cosmetic elements are ignored in favour of raw functionality – functionality that comes free in the name of openness. The same thing can be said about the Symbian and the Nokia N8. It’s a beast when it comes to functionality and features – but it’s devoid of emotion, more so than even Android.
But I digress. Bottom line is, in terms of maturity, elegance and a sprinkle of magic, the iPad 2 is the way to go in 2011. That is if you even want to go the tablet way. The other tablets are more like 1.0 experiments and no one wants to be the guinea pig at a cost. If you’ve already got an iPad, the cameras, the SD card slot and the new design are really not worth the upgrade just yet. You’ll get the latest versions of iOS for at least another 2 years for free, which is more valuable than any hardware perks.