Ask LH: Which Android Tablet Should I Choose?

Dear Lifehacker, I’ve been putting off getting a tablet till a half-decent Android tablet came along. But with the upcoming release of the Motorola Xoom, the Asus Eee Pad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v and the LG G slate in Australia, there seems to be a flood of Android Honeycomb devices coming out. I feel like a kid in a sweetshop, and I don’t know which one to get. I’m also unsure whether to get a 3G one or a Wi-Fi only model. Can you tether them to a Android phone? Please help! Thanks, Spoilt for Choice

Dear Spoilt,

We’ll deal with the second part of your question first. Using your Android phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot is definitely possible (though you might need to gain root access first before using an app such as Android Wi-Fi Tether). If you plan on taking your phone everywhere your tablet gets used and you have a decent data allowance, you might want to save on the cost of a second 3G account. With that said, many of the high-end Android devices you cite actually don’t come in 3G and Wi-Fi only models, so it’s more a question of choosing not to use a SIM in them, rather than electing to buy a different version.

As for which model you want, it’s hard to offer any really specific advice without knowing what your usage patterns and plans are. The only one I’ve had a detailed play with was the Galaxy Tab 10.1v, which I found impressive — but that was down to a mixture of general Honeycomb features and specific Samsung design elements. Tastes vary with tablets, so the best thing to do is try and get some hands-on experience in stores before buying. Recommendations from friends or online reviews are useful starting points, but nothing beats actually feeling the gadget in your hands.

Also make sure you understand the spec variations between the different devices. Nick at our sibling site Gizmodo has a handy summary of the specs for the major devices with confirmed release in Australia, which is a great place to start. In pure grunt and weight terms, the Galaxy Tab 10.1v does come out on top, but as Nick points out, that has to be considered in the context of your planned use, network preferences and other factors.

Finally, shop around to get the best price; if you’re not buying the device on a plan, there’s lots of healthy online competition.

One other thought: You’ll definitely pay for being an early adopter. The price on Android tablets across the spectrum has halved over the last six months. That’s not to say the same pattern will repeat quite as fast with Honeycomb devices, but it is something to bear in mind. Good luck with the tablet shopping!


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