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Summary:

I sold my original iPad after buying the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but I bought an iPad 2 for work purposes a few weeks ago. I ended up keeping the new tablet because there’s room for both slates in the same house. Here’s why.

ipad2-cover-featured

These days, no topic seems to be more polarizing in the mobile space than Apple’s iOS vs Google’s Android. Most people are clearly on one side or the other and any general discussion of which platform is better suited for particular individuals usually degenerates into the “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” line of talk. The thing is,nobody can claim tyou’re wrong in your choice of mobile device or platform. Why? Because, they’re not you!

You have different computing needs than I do and vice versa, so we can both be right, even if we choose different devices or mobile operating systems. Having said that, I want to revisit my post from late January explaining why I dumped the iPad for a smaller Samsung Galaxy Tab. I bought an iPad 2 a few weeks ago, and now my house is home to both. And guess what? That’s not a bad thing.

Sure, most mainstream folks won’t buy multiple tablet devices because of the overlap in device functionality. Part of the reason I did buy the iPad 2 was for work purposes (such as my first impressions video), but I don’t get reimbursed for my gadget habit. The cost of any device I buy comes directly from my own wallet. So yes, I’m quite unique in that regard, and no, I’m not suggesting people rush out and buy several tablets. At least not yet.

There may come a time where owning multiple connected slates does make sense as we migrate to the “post-PC” era. It’s not hard to imagine when you consider that many homes own both a laptop and desktop computer, for example. That’s a situation of clear functional overlap. The difference is in the usage context: a desktop is generally used in one place only while a laptop can be used in many places. And that same contextual idea applies both the 7-inch Galaxy Tab and 9.7-inch iPad 2, although you could potentially substitute any 10-inch tablet for the iPad in the equation.

It turns out each device offers pros and cons depending not only on what I want to do, but more importantly, where I want to be doing it and for how long. To illustrate the point, here’s a simple summary of how each device fits my needs. First, what I prefer about the Galaxy Tab as I use it:

  • Better for use away from the home office, as it’s more portable and fits in a jacket or back pants pocket.
  • Better for any extended use where I have to hold it, because it’s lighter and easier to hold in one or two hands.
  • My preferred e-reader device due to size and weight.
  • Outstanding email machine for two reasons: excellent Gmail service integration and easier to thumb-type in portrait mode (the orientation I use 95 percent of the time).
  • More fun from an enthusiast’s perspective if you like to tinker with the operating system as I do. I realize that for many, this is either a non-issue, but hey, it’s my list.
  • It’s completely untethered from computers, as all apps and media are available over the air.

And now the benefits of the iPad 2:

  • Better for use around the home, especially when I can sit and place it on my lap or a table.
  • Better for media consumption due to larger screen and more mature ecosystem with iTunes, Netflix, etc.
  • Great for gaming due to the larger screen and wider range of available titles.
  • I find a greater number of high-quality apps for the iPad. Both the App Store and Android Market are close in the overall number of apps, but iOS titles generally continue to impress me more than those for Android.
  • Although I prefer to tote a MacBook Air for working outside of the home office, the iPad 2 is better suited for productivity than the Tab.

Mainly, when choosing between the two, I look at where I’ll be. You won’t often find the iPad 2 in my bedroom, for example. The Galaxy Tab is preferable to use in bed before I go to sleep, and it’s what I’ll reach for in the morning when I wake, due to the weight and size. But to check RSS feeds and news over coffee at the kitchen table, the iPad works better for me. And if I’m headed out the door, the Tab generally comes along for the ride.

In essence, the Tab fills the needs of a smartphone for me, minus the voice calls, although I’m still working on that as some hacks have added voice capabilities to certain Galaxy Tab models. I’m already anticipating responses that an iPhone could fit that need, and I won’t argue that point, because it has merit. I simply prefer using the largest display I can while mobile, provided I can fit it into a pocket or easily carry it around. Again: my needs and preference will vary from yours and we can both be “right.”

Looking over my lists above, the original iPad I sold actually meets the same needs as the newer iPad model. But I certainly welcome the additions of the cameras, the dual-core processor that boosts performance and the Apple Smart Cover, which I think is far more useful than the original iPad Case that Apple designed last year.

Could I have been happy with the original iPad? Probably, but not having it for a few months caused me to see what I missing. Like they say: Sometimes you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. And I’m using the iPad 2 differently than the original model. I haven’t set up email or any work-related items on the device at all, which has turned the experience into one of pure entertainment. That, and my preference for cross-platform apps and services, may have influenced my decision to keep it.

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  1. I agree and again. It comes to what works best for everyone. Nice that you picked up the iPad 2. I still use my 1st G iPad for mostly at work office work, which is nicer due to larger screen and the ability to take notes in meetings. Also the ability to markup PDF documents and email them right from the meeting. Again I have the Galaxy Tab as well and it is my on the road device, due to the portability. Both have great battery life and each does what I need very well. Good choice Kevin. If I sell my iPad, I will also get the iPad 2 as well.

  2. Hamranhansenhansen Friday, April 1, 2011

    What is a slate?

    I have an iPad and an iPhone and a MacBook Air and I can’t see how anything is missing from that setup. It’s the same setup I’ve had for 10 years, except in the past instead of mobile phone, mobile computer, and portable computer, it used to be mobile phone, portable computer, and desktop computer. So the computers both got smaller, but they also both got more powerful. And the phone got more powerful, too. I guess there actually used to be an iPod in there, too, but it has merged with the phone.

    I’m looking at this every which way and I’m not buying that Galaxy Tab has a place. The fact that you had to get an iPad when you already had a Galaxy Tab seems like a Galaxy Tab fail to me. If it can’t replace a computer what is the point? Even if I started a job and they issued me a Galaxy Tab for free I would not have a use for it, because I always have an iPad with me. The extra weight and administrative overhead of also having a Galaxy Tab get me what? There has never been a time where I wished my iPad had half the screen area and half the battery life and a fraction of the apps. When has a PC ever had a 7 inch screen and Java apps? I already carry the iPad in the smallest of book bags. It is a map bag, actually, that barely fits a print magazine. A Galaxy Tab is not going to get me into a smaller bag or fit in my pocket.

    So it seems to me like you tried to replace an iPad with a Galaxy Tab, failed, and now are going a long way out of your way to try and justify having both. I am all for more screens, but I can’t see how the Galaxy Tab pays for itself when you have an iPad. Especially when Galaxy Tab data plans are 2x iPad data plans. My iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air pay for themselves so fast it feels like they are free.

    1. It’s people like you that I do not want to associate anything with apple products.
      Such stupid comments. What part of ‘what works best their user’s needs don’t you get?

    2. “I have an iPad and an iPhone and a MacBook Air”

      automatically discredits you & made the rest of your comment predictable.

      you cant miss something you’ve never had & in this case it’s freedom. it’s hard to explain to someone what greener grass is like when they’ve never stepped out of N. Korea.

    3. After reading your comment, I was going to reply about how you missed some key points in the post, but other commenters beat me to it, so I’ll let that go. And I respect your opinion that you’re not buying that Galaxy Tab has a place, at least not in how you use devices. As I said in the post, we can both be “right” for our individual use cases.

      A few factual clarifications to your comment, though.

      “When has a PC ever had a 7 inch screen” Since 2006 with the Microsoft UMPC platform; of which I bought 3 Samsung UMPC’s, probably spending nearly $3,000 in total. What can I say: I’m a helpless gadget addict. ;) IMO, the platform didn’t fail because of the 7-inch screen size, but because of the reliance upon desktop hardware, poor battery life and cramming a desktop UI / OS into a touch-friendly mobile device.

      “A Galaxy Tab is not going to get me into a smaller bag or fit in my pocket” Well, if you never buy or use one, that’s technically correct. ;) But as I’ve demonstrated prior on video, the Tab is half the size of the iPad and fits in a jacket pocket or back pants pocket.

      “So it seems to me like you tried to replace an iPad with a Galaxy Tab, failed, and now are going a long way out of your way to try and justify having both.” I’ve been buying and writing about mobile gadgets since 2003 and often have duplicate device classes. It’s what I do for a living. And I do this both to learn and to share the experiences with readers in hopes that they make better device decisions. I don’t *need* to justify my purchases or device replacements: I choose to in order to share the journey.

      “Galaxy Tab data plans are 2x iPad data plans.” Two ways to look at this and both are correct. You can get an iPad data plan for as little as $15 per month, netting you 250 MB of data. $25 a month bumps you to 2 GB of data. Both are less than the $40 per month I pay for data on the Tab. But that $40 gets me 5 GB per month at full speeds and as much data as I want after that at throttled speeds. And there’s no charge to use the Tab as a 3G hotspot, which is a native feature. I’d rather pay the $40 to have more data usage and the option to share that data with other WiFi devices. To each his or her own.

      1. Hi Kevin,
        Some how I missed that galaxy tab can act as hotspot. Could you provide more details? Is it APP or native 2.2 hotspot. Who is your carrier (Verizon ?)

        BTW I have hobby (with occasional blog) of anything high tech, I bought Nexus1 after owning iphone4, that does not mean iPhone failed. Trust me it’s fun to play with variety of gadgets, you will be surprised how different they all feel, it gets some getting used to before truly comparing devices.

        Best,
        Rajesh

        1. Kevin C. Tofel Rajesh Monday, April 4, 2011

          Hi Rajesh: I have the T-Mobile version of the Galaxy Tab. In my Wireless Settings, there’s a mobile hotspot app that can be used over WiFi or I can USB tether (which I never do). I agree with you: there’s room for both iPhone and Android (I have the Nexus One as well) in one house, provided there’s room in the budget to buy both. ;)

  3. I think the main point to focus on with these tablet devices is what are your expectations when you purchase the device. If you approach a Galaxy Tab from the perspective of trying to replace a laptop, my experience is that you are going to be disappointed. If you take that same device and focus on replacing a smartphone with it then your experience will be totally different and most likely will be very satisfied with it. The iPad, for me at least, seems to come much closer to being a laptop replacement. The screen size and availability of better quality productivity apps seemed to make the difference. There are still times I still need a laptop due to some work related applications that need a full desktop OS to run. I tried going the VNC route for those but it just seemed so clunky. I have settled on a smartphone (alternating between iPhone4 and Evo), iPad2, and MB Air as my standard work kit and sold the Tab. I don’t always travel with the Air but it is sure nice to have when you need it. I can certainly envision a time, hopefully soon, when I won’t need to ever take a laptop along. For me personally though, I really can’t see two tablet devices fitting into the lineup as long as I have a smartphone.

    1. I couldn’t agree more with you. In my case, the Tab is far more a smartphone replacement than that of a laptop. Outside of the U.S. (where the cellular voice capability isn’t stripped out by carriers) some do use the Tab as their only smartphone. If I can get the voice functionality back, I may consider doing the same. I totally understand why you sold the Tab since your two smartphones replicate the functionality… and work for voice as well. ;)

  4. Congratulations – if you dig deep enough, even competing products can be shown to be complementary. A ferrari to go shopping, a maserati to pick up the kids.

    1. Apple n-thusiast JJTG Sunday, April 3, 2011

      @JJTG That is a ridiculous comparison. A 4Dr Porsche Panarama or ML55 to pickup the kids, not Maserati!

      As for Kevin, he has found his “niche” with niche products (I would put a warning on “using back pocket” because when you sit down and forget … oh snap!).

      I’ve considered the tab but hesitated after a colleague found Verizon locked his down and even disabled any bluetooth tethering/device connection (like a keyboard). It had to be rooted and out of contract to fix that. Too much tinkering for me…
      As with the iPad2 I don’t think one should compared that to the iPad (original). The 1st Gen iPad is heavy vs the iPad2. No way one can lay in bed and easily read from something that is as heavy as a 500pg hardcover. But the iPad2 … I can see the tab filling in where its shortcomings are (easy to carry and access).

  5. Even though I am a technology professional, I also don’t get a budget to buy equipment (at least none that I’d want to own). Therefore, I take it upon myself to get new things, and now others have grown to expect it of me. At the moment, my stable has a MacBook Air 11″, NotionInk Adam, Xoom, iPad 2, and 15″ MBP. I have a Playbook on order, though I am not sure why. My phone is an iPhone 4, and I have a bunch of discards that my kids get, including iPhone 3Gs, iPod Touch, Droid Incredible and iPad. People ask me how I choose which device to carry/use, and I retort with, “how do you choose which tie to wear?”

    It is a terrible habit to have – buying new technology – but I don’t have other hobbies/vices that might otherwise take my $$ (no golf clubs, cigars, strip clubs…). There was a good article on timing your eBay sales of the “old” model tech, so that new purchases are less costly. That works well too, as I just sold a bunch of old stuff.

  6. I want to offer a compliment to you Kevin as this article is better than any review. I often ask myself when or if I’ll ever buy a tablet. You certainly paint the picture of usages. It’s helpful to read this because reviews aren’t done from this perspective. You tell us from a lifestyle perspective how these fit in or don’t fit in. Also, I appreciate the fact you reply to comments. I’ve slammed you in the past regarding your Apple slant here, and I owe you a compliment! ;-)

    At the end of the day though, if you could only choose one? Which form factor would you choose or are you predicting will become the norm? Will all manufacturers need both 10″ and 7″ models?

    Thanks again for the excellent write-up. These days it’s hard to find quality or unique perspectives and you delivered.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel gman Monday, April 4, 2011

      Appreciate the thought. Reviews are important, but they’re typically a brief snapshot in time that focuses on specifications and just a few use cases. Ideally, I’d love to have several weeks with a device before actually offering a full review because it takes that long to get through a large number of use cases.

      “At the end of the day though, if you could only choose one? Which form factor would you choose or are you predicting will become the norm? Will all manufacturers need both 10″ and 7″ models?”

      My best answer to that question: I think the iPad offers a more pleasing UI and larger number of high quality apps. However, for my uses, I’d rather drop to a 7-inch Android device like the Tab. It’s a trade-off: having a device that’s close enough to the competition is a bit of a “loss” but the ability to use the device in more places is a net gain for my usage. That’s just me and my needs: anyone else could easily argue the opposite and I’d understand.

      I see the 10″ space as eventually taking over more of the laptop space. Smaller slates are more likely to infringe upon the smartphone market; put another way, I may be WAY ahead of the curve here (or just downright wrong, of course), but I see smartphones increasing in screen size to be become small tablets with voice capability. Maybe I’m just fixated on the PADD from Star Trek: TNG. ;)

  7. Maybe it’s just my butt, but I can’t put anything in my back pocket and expect it to last any length of time. But that’s just me in the end. :-)

    1. Kevin C. Tofel Eric Monday, April 4, 2011

      LOL and of course no comment on your butt, Eric. ;) Obviously, I’m not sitting down with the Tab in my back pocket, but for carrying it around, it works just fine.

  8. I want an ipad that fits in my back pocket. I want a folding tablet like the Kyocera Echo,but the size of the galaxy tablet so when opened up it would be twice the size

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