[OPINION] Why 2012 will be the year of the Android Tab

I love my iPad, and with the iPad 3 rumoured to be fast approaching, Apple is still on a high in the tablet market, controlling the lion’s share of sales, and having turned around what was seen as a ‘cool concept but impractical’ and roundly plundering the netbook market it’s brought us a handy and cool way to consume media anywhere. But as Apple created the smartphone and slowly lost it’s majority market share, the iPad will do the same and 2012 will be the year the Android tab, took over.

The iPad 2

The iPad still remains the market leader.

Apple’s revolutionary and iconic iPhone is still seen as very much ‘the’ smartphone, however with Ice Cream sandwich and more and more sleek Android devices coming on the scene, it’s now seen as the high-end niche phone. While the iPad continues to dominate the tablet market, we’ve seen some interesting contenders over the past year, from the Sony S to the Galaxy Tab. Most interestingly perhaps, is the Kindle Fire.

While nowhere near the iPad in terms of specs and features, the Fire is cheap, handy and takes advantage of the trusted Amazon marketplace. Shipping over 1 million units each week in the run up to Christmas, cheap Android tablets may see the iPad taking a similar place to the iPhone. The Fire’s big advantage is that people shop so regularly on Amazon, they’re already set up on every service they need, and know and trust these offerings from the online retail giant.

Up until now, Android has been hampered by endless updates and a slew of devices, which have had serious hardware problems (Motorola Xoom, Dell Streak and many more), making the iPad the simpler, more refined choice. However, with Ice Cream Sandwich being a very much more refined and simple OS than previous Android versions, and high-profile companies like Sony, Samsung and Amazon getting involved, we’re beginning to see a new generation of devices which appeal to the mass market, while carrying a certain style of their own.

Sony Tablet S

The Sony S has lots of custom features like Playstation and the Sony Movie store.

One big thing that Android allows is customization of its OS, unlike Apple. Companies like Sony have added in Playstation features to appeal to the large gaming market, while Amazon have added their own Film, Music and book store to take advantage of their huge customer base. While iOS does allow some of this through various apps, the simplicity and appeal of having these natively cannot be under-estimated in their appeal to consumers.

The iPad certainly isn’t going into obscurity, much like the iPhone it may lose out on its overwhelming market-share, but it will very much so, still be seen as the best on offer while Android continues to mature. The mistake industry people tend to make is to label something as an ‘i-killer’ when in reality, no single Android device can kill the iPhone or iPad, but the flood of low to high-end options can. What this means for us, the customers, is a wide range of tablets getting better and better, with more features with every release.

[APP REVIEW] SnapSeed makes photo editing a snap!

If you downloaded the Apple 12 Apps of Christmas, then you’ve been lucky enough to have your phone stocked with some great apps, games and music (One Direction, swoon!). But for me, one app really stood out. Not being much of a gamer, Snapseed was my by far favourite, and an absolute gem in the app store crowd. This handy photo editing app allows you to edit images into any style you like, bringing amateur photography to a whole new level, which Instagram can’t even touch.

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Sony’s Slanty Stab at a Tab

Today I’m having a look at the Sony Tablet S. One of the newest Android tablets on the market, this device really sets itself apart from the competition in so many ways. Let’s look at some of the best and key features on the Sony Tablet.

At first glance, it’s one of the most uniquely designed tablets, with a nice folded and slanting design which creates a much more comfortable usability and browsing experience. The slanted design cleverly hides the huge host of ports, which allow you to connect more devices and share data seamlessly. These include; volume buttons, data ports, SD Card slots, mini USB port, IR Port, headphone jack and power port. This all gives the device a nice seamless look, without distracting you with various buttons and slots from the screen. The screen itself is a gorgeous 9.4″ gloss screen with a 1280-800 resolution.

Sony Tablet S

Smooth, sleek and slanted...

Under the (very) sleek hood, this tablet is packing a lot, with; 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, an impressive NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, gyroscope, DLNA technology and a front and rear facing camera not to mention a solid 8 hours of battery life with standard usage. You really can take everything with you wherever you go. The true black, 9.4″ screen also means that you can browse websites, magazines, newspapers, photos and movies with a crystal clear image in stunning quality.

But it isn’t just the hardware that’s impressive. Running Android’s powerful 3.1 Gingerbread, with the option to upgrade to 3.2, this is not only a well designed tablet, it’s also easy to use for a host of different things to suit whatever you need to do. The user interface is sleek, clear and easy to navigate, offering all of your most important apps right where you need them. There’s already a lot of handy apps natively installed on the tablet, including YouTube, Gmail (with an improved interface) and the Android Marketplace which allows you to download any of the thousands of apps available there such as the Universal Remote Control app, allowing you to take control of any of your home devices. The build-in browser offers a web experience, which is second to none, offering full Flash support so that you can see the web as it’s meant to be seen.

Sony decides to run Android Gingerbread

Sony decides to run Android Gingerbread

Sony Tablet is also Playstation certified, meaning that you can play your favourite titles with ease from the online store. This is probably one of the biggest selling points for the app, and really is the big draw for Sony to play on. The iconic and powerful brand really adds weight to what this tab really is all about and helps attract some of the more serious gamers away from the likes of the iPad, which already has a growing reputation for more and more advanced games.

While the Sony has made a really solid attempt at a tablet, there are a few drawbacks; my big one is the shape. While I genuinely find it actually quite attractive, the teardrop slant means that portrait is very uncomfortable, and I like my tablets (along with a lot of people) in Portrait mode, for magazines and newspapers particularly. The other is the overall interface, coming from iOS to Sony’s Android interface; I found it comparatively messy, lacking the organized simplicity that comes naturally to Apple products.

While I won’t be ditching my iPad anytime soon, as the app environment is still that bit ahead of Android, the Sony Tablet isn’t a bad start. But with Amazon having jumped in the game, Sony really have lost out, and it’s a shame as this really is a nice product.

iOS 5, OS X Lion and iCloud but no iPhone 5?

Apple’s WWDC promises to bring in many new features to the range, but just what can we expect?

There’s a lot of buzz at the moment around next week’s World Wide Developer Conference. Steve Jobs, who is still on sick leave from Apple will be announcing a new line of products including the much anticipated OS X Lion and iOS 5 for iPhone and iPad along with a brand new service called iCloud.

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What to Expect from the iPhone 5

It seems like just yesterday that we were all lining up outside stores for the iPhone 4, eagerly awaiting the newest of Apple’s smartphones. Now we’re beginning to speculate over the iPhone 5 which will apparently be the pinnacle of mobile technology.

It’s exected that the iPhone 5 will be released this summer, with a similar date to the iPhone 4, which means we in Ireland should be getting it sometime in early August.  It’s widely believed that there’s going to be a few big changes to the next generation of the world’s most famous handset and in Ireland, should be on all the main networks apart from HTC-tastic Meteor and Emobile.

So, some of the big changes which are being rumoured for the iPhone 5 are the new A5 chip, which is already being used in the iPad 2 so that one pretty much makes sense. Another bunch of changes being rumoured are a better camera, larger memory storage and in the long run the new iOS5 which could potentially be sometime around the iPhone 5 launch.

Some of the more interesting suggestions, which have been put forward, are that there will be two models brought out, one lower end which would be an iPhone Nano with a smaller screen and lower storage capacity and a larger screen version (possibly 5inches) to combat the growing popularity of the HTC Desire HD. This is all speculation, but does seem to fit into Apple looking to take on a more pro-active approach to combat the growth of Android. However, Apple still control one of the largest market shares and the largest app store so whether they really want to branch out beyond their niche is questionable.

Personally, I don’t think Apple will go for a lower-end model. It doesn’t fit in with Apple’s image, and they essentially control the niche market in which they inhabit. Is the iPhone 5 worth buying? Possibly. If you haven’t gotten the iPhone 4, you should definitely upgrade to the iPhone 5 and ditch your 3G/S but if you’re on the iPhone 4 I don’t really see any great advancements being made with the 5th generation.


9 Reasons not to buy an iPhone 5

9 Reasons not to buy the iPhone 5

iPad 2, Just Another Stepping Stone?

The iPad 2, long awaited sequel to the original has finally been announced to the world. The thinner, lighter and altogether slightly more attractive device has been at last shown to us by Steve Jobs.

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iPad 2 hits the production lines.

The rumour mill is churning now, today it has been announced after much expectation that the iPad 2 has begun manufacture. The sequel to the best selling product of 2010, and what is widely seen as one of the pillars of Apple’s success is surrounded by mystery, speculation and curiosity, but not just from the fans.

Many apple shareholders see the iPad 2 as a test of Apples market strength without Steve Jobs at the helm. Still on medical leave, this is the first major product launched without Jobs since he returned to the computer company. Since he went on leave, stocks dived and investors got a little bit panicked over what they see as the company itself taking sick leave. Many still believe that Apple cannot survive without Jobs.

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