Wednesday, October 31, 2012

5 Things I've Learned About Android Tablets

It's been a week since I took the plunge and it's been quite telling.  I've learned a lot about being an Android tablet user this past week.

1.  Android Without Google Play Just Sucks

Sorry, but it's true.  If you're not on a Google approved device it'll come without Google Play.  What's worse is it comes without other cool Google apps like Maps, Talk, Gmail, and *gasp* YouTube.  It gets worse.  There are some apps you can only install through Google Play.  You can't even sideload them by downloading the apk file externally and running it though your file browser app.  A notable example is Firefox.  Granted, adding Amazon Appstore did fill SOME of the void I longed for a simpler time.  So I ended up rooting that bad boy.

2.  Android Tries REALLY Hard To Keep You From "The Good Stuff"

Not sure if this was a function of the tablet in general or Android but the native file explorer sucked moose balls.  It's weird because ES File Explorer works so well on my rooted Cyanogenmod phone.  Then I found out why it doesn't work as well: The app itself doesn't have superuser privileges by default.  I ended up installing two other file managers before discovering this so now one of them has to go (sorry FX File Explorer).  Turns out that ES is paranoid for a very good reason: messing with the system files can totally screw up your system.  Honestly the only reason I wanted access to the root directory is because on this device that's the only way to browse to the microSD card and it's a pain that I needed to go so far just to do that.

3.  Big Screen = Big Fun

I'm not really one for games, but I have to admit that Android games are way more fun on a bigger screen.  I've only got a few installed but I'm on the lookout for more.  Want to play something really addictive.  Try TripleTown (only available in the Google Play store).  It's also available for Apple devices.

4.  Unless You've Prepared, Tablets Are Useless Without WiFi

I'd say that about 75-80% of the things you really want to do with a Tablet require that you be online.  That's probably why most people say screw it and get 3G/4G enabled devices.  Without a WiFi hookup you're pretty much stuck with the content you've previously downloaded or put in place.  If you've got music and movies and games (that don't need WiFi) set up you can pull out your tablet and entertain yourself anywhere.  But forget about checking email, looking for new apps, viewing online videos or browsing the web.  I see myself looking into ways to share my phone network connection with my tablet sometime in the near future (too bad FoxFi doesn't work on my phone).

5.  I Miss Productivity

I hate to say it but I miss the productivity that one can get from a computer.  It's not that you can't do things with an Android tablet.  You just can't do them better than you can on a computer OS.  Programs like CamScanner for creating PDF documents using your camera and Olive Office Premium for handling MS Office docs get the job done but they aren't my preferred methods.  They're quick and dirty.  It's also not convenient getting files on and off of the table since it lacks a USB port (still waiting on that mini to USB attachment).  On the plus side though it's lightweight and can do actual work in the right hands.  It's going to take some more use from to to decide how well it fits into my day to day routines and how it can be useful to me.

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