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!

Cheers Lifehacker

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    I bought an Acer Iconia A500 in Australia a few days ago. I've written up my experience with it here, it might help someone trying to decide what Android tablet they get:

    Samsung Galaxy Tab's are cheap now at $300, for Telstra.

      I thought you could use these on other networks? Aren't JB selling them?

        Ops, I meant "from telstra", which is unlocked anyway.

        Yeah most places have lowered there price now I think. Also there are different models (based on antenas) the telstra ones are the 2100mhz ones, think vodaphone are a 900mhz model, not sure what JB is. Probably the 2100.

    Still waiting on that $150-ish tablet with 1024 res so I can read pdf books and surf the web. Kogan came close and the galaxy almost hit the price point.

      This comes close:

    What about the Asus Eee Pad Transformer?
    It has the same kit as the Xoom but cheaper.
    $399US for the 16GB wifi, $499US for 32GB.

    And the keyboard "dock" is only $150US.

    Good setup there for ~$525AUD inc shipping from the states.

    I don't need 3G in a tablet, that's what hotspot on my phone is for (or usb tether), I don't need to be locked into and paying for ANOTHER internet connection!

      Can anyone tell me where we can purchase the Asus EEE transformer or Acer Iconica from the USA that will post to Australia?

    I'm confused why the Notion Ink Adam hasn't got more coverage. It's really a geek's dream device. Expecting mine to be delivered tomorrow.

      Any chance you can post some thoughts on it when you get it? I took a look at the specs and while the camera and screen resolution are lower than other tablets it has an impressive number of slots/ports. Can you also let us know what the "mystery bonus feature" is?

    Is there anywhere you can actually get hands on time with the new round of android tablets?

    I know people have panned it, but i LOVE my galaxy tab, the older 7" model. The only thing im not happy with is that i bought it 3 months ago, on contract. With Telstra... Other than that, i want Plants vs zombies for android! Oh, and replace the default browser with dolphin browser HD, so much better.

    Tried all the Android flavours except 3.1 and settled on 2.3.3 Cyanogen Phiremod.
    Amazing for $250 + some of my time.
    Ginger Nooking Awesome.

    i get 20 unit wholesale give my School the cheap 7 inch android tablet

    +1 the android tablet processor high !!

      thanks ! i get wholesale 7 inch cheap tablet 20 unit !!!

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