After much speculation and debate, the iPad 2 was finally unveiled. As most people had predicted, it was a very nice update, but nothing was really groundbreaking. It’s now thinner, faster, and has front and rear-facing cameras. The software, screen and price are essentially the same.
On the flip side, I picked up a Xoom last week and I’ve been quite impressed with it. So which one should you get? Read on to help make that decision.
Comparing the 32GB 3G iPad to the Xoom brings you two very similar tablets.
Connection: Both support wifi and 3G, but the Xoom will support 4G in a few months. Edge: Xoom
RAM: The iPad has 512MB, the Xoom has 1GB. While this appears to be an edge for the Xoom, the iPad has never had an issue bogging down, so I don’t think sheer numbers mean too much here. Edge: Even
Cameras: Both have a front and rear-facing camera, though the Xoom has higher quality cameras in both places. However, I don’t think you’ll see much difference in day-to-day use. Edge: Even
Screen: While the iPad 3 is rumored to have a much higher-res screen, right now they’re pretty similar. The iPad is 9.7″ at 1024×768 and the Xoom is 10.1″ at 1280×800. It’s not much of a difference, but it means that the Xoom can play 720p video right on the device and the iPad can’t. Slight Edge: Xoom
Apps: The native Honeycomb apps are quite awesome (Gmail, CNN, YouTube, etc), but there aren’t many of them yet. People estimate around 100 tablet-ready apps for the Xoom, and around 65,000 for the iPad. Even if the email and browser are much better on the Xoom (and they are), and you know they’ll have a ton of apps pretty soon, numbers don’t lie. Edge: iPad
Multi-tasking: While both devices handle multi-tasking, it’s much more friendly on the Xoom. Not only is the task-switching much easier, but the notifications are handled way better. This is rumored to be fixed in iOS 5, but for now Edge: Xoom
Connectivity: Both devices have full HDMI out (which is way cool), but the Xoom does it with a normal mini-HDMI cable. In addition, it has a standard USB cable, can add storage via MicroSD, and gets updates over-the-air. Edge: Xoom
Music/Movies: While the Xoom has a greatly improved music player and the screen resolution was born for high-def movies, Apple has this area locked up for now with the excellent apps included with the iPad. Edge: iPad
Battery Life: They can both go for about 10 hours, which is pretty awesome. Edge: Even
Video chat: The iPad can do FaceTime and the Xoom can do Google Video Chat, so that’s kind of a toss up. However, the Xoom can do chat over wifi or 3G, and the iPad is 3G only. I didn’t think this would matter much, as I expected 3G video chat to be pretty choppy, but it’s shockingly smooth. Edge: Xoom
Other Xoom Advantages
Homescreen widgets — Get a live look at your email, calendar, weather, etc, without having to open each app individually.
Notifications — As mentioned in the “multi-tasking” above, the notification system on Android has always been far better than iOS, and it’s even better now in Honeycomb.
Great phone app handling — The Xoom handles phone-based apps much better than the iPad handles iPhone-based apps. However, considering the iPad has 65,000 apps, the Xoom had better do something like this to balace it out a little bit.
Tethering — If you get the 3G package on the Xoom, you can tether that connection to any other device for free. Just be careful not to use up too much data.
Other iPad 2 Advantages
Screen protector — It’s not a huge deal, but that screen protector thing they unveiled with the iPad 2 looks pretty slick.
Stability — Honeycomb is quite stable and rarely crashes, but iOS is rock solid.
So which one should I get?
That’s not an easy decision. I always bring it back to email. If you use Gmail, it’s 100x better on Android. If you use any other email system, then they’re about the same on both systems and you’ll need other metrics to decide. I find that the Xoom is more of a workhorse (multitasking, etc), and the iPad is more fun to play with (more games).
I think most people would be quite happy with either device. I’m thrilled with my Xoom, and wrote most of this blog entry on it. However, my wife prefers iOS over Android so if she ever gets a tablet it’ll almost certainly be an iPad.
While it’s almost certain that the iPad will outsell everyone else this year, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best.
What do you think? Plan on picking up either tablet any time soon?
As many of you know, I picked up a Motorola Xoom from Verizon last Thursday. It runs the latest version of Google’s Android Operating system, version 3.0, known as “Honeycomb”. The timing worked out well, because I had my wisdom teeth taken out Friday morning and was laid up in the recliner all day with the Xoom at my side. A netbook or phone would have worked in that case as well, but a tablet works so much better.
So what do I think?
For starters, I love it, but it’s not perfect. There are a few missing pieces that will be fixed in future updates — sd card, Flash, 4G support — and a variety of minor bugs. The biggest problem at this point is a lack of tablet-focused apps. It handles the Android phone apps quite well, but there’s a big difference between a scaled up phone app and a native tablet app. The Xoom handles phone apps better than the iPad does, but the iPad has about zillion iPad-specific apps, making it the clear winner in that category.
Here’s a quick video to show you around the system:
While I’m sure there will be some official tests, but Friday gave me a chance to give it a good run for its money. Laying in the recliner all day, the Xoom was on my lap about 90% of the time, and running about 75% of the time. After 10 hours of email, browsing, various apps, watching some videos and doing some video chat, the battery was down to 36%. That seems pretty good to me!
Compared to the iPad?
The Xoom is better than the existing iPad in almost every way — larger screen, higher resolution, faster processor, dual cameras, more memory, etc. However, the iPad 2 is set to be unveiled on Wednesday and will probably knock down a few of those, though they don’t have a release date set for it. I’m thinking it’ll probably be a few months before it comes out, but we’ll find out soon. At that point, the Xoom should have sd card and Flash support, and many more apps will have been written to take advantage of the tablet format. The battle between the iPad and the various Honeycomb tablets should be fun to watch, and we’ll all benefit from the added features that both sides develop.
Should I buy one?
For most people I’d at least wait two more days to see what the iPad 2 has to offer. I’m expecting that I’ll continue to suggest Honeycomb/Xoom as the tablet to get, but you never know what Apple might come up with. Much like my initial reasons for switching from the iPhone to the Nexus One, email is one of the top criteria. The iPad email is certainly solid, but if you use Gmail it’s a much better experience in Honeycomb.
Do you have a tablet yet? Looking to buy one soon? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!
I enjoy tech gadgets, and I tend to have quite a few of them. I have a variety of computers, a Flip video camera, a Verizon Mifi, and I change phones fairly often. With that in mind, people are often surprised I don’t have an iPad, so I thought I’d explain why.
First off, the iPad is great! I’ve used them before, they’re amazingly slick, and some of my favorite apps like Evernote and Nozbe look awesome on there. There is no doubt that right now the iPad is the best tablet out there. If I had to buy a tablet today, I’d certainly get an iPad.
The holdup is Android. I had an iPhone for a few years, but for most of that time I knew I’d switch to Android eventually. I use Gmail a lot, and I knew that Gmail on Android would be far better than the mail app on iPhone — and I was right. However, I was sticking with iPhone until a few things happened on Android:
Waiting for improvements to the Facebook app. At the time, it was awful.
Waiting for the release of the Evernote app.
Waiting for the release of the Dropbox app.
Waiting for some kind of better Twitter app.
Eventually, all of those were met and I’ve moved over to Android and I’m (probably) never coming back.
It’s been no secret that there are Android tablets coming out, and we even saw a few last year (like the Samsung Galaxy Tab). However, they just weren’t very good. I could have picked up an iPad at that point, but it would have been just like when I had an iPhone — counting down the days until there was a decent Android alternative. The time has finally arrived.
The Motorola Xoom
For quite a while, I thought I’d be moving to a Notion Ink Adam. It had the potential to be an awesome tablet, but it’s had shipping delays, screen problems and a host of other minor issues that held me back.
While I was debating whether or not to pre-order an Adam, news of the Motorola Xoom came out and my decision was made. Despite a somewhat higher than anticipated price, the Xoom looks to be an amazing tablet. You may have seen their Super Bowl ad, which clearly took some shots at Apple:
As with the phone, email is the killer app for me. The Xoom has a crazy-good Gmail app, along with some impressive email widgets. All in all, it should be a great machine.
It’s expected to be released on February 24, so look for a full review sometime after that.
Do you have an iPad? Are you waiting for a Xoom? Do you think tablets are a waste of money? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Over the past few months, I’ve been using my Droid X in the car a lot more. It started with just the voice-activated bluetooth calling, which is quite handy.
Then I got the windshield mount and started using Google Navigation for a few trips, leaving my Garmin in the other car for my wife. Google Navigation is quite awesome and it has a few things that I just love:
I can have it show satellite imagery instead of just beige maps, which is great for big parking lots and a little nicer to look at on the screen.
It automatically syncs with my “starred places” in Google Maps, so I can just look up a location in Google Maps on my PC, “star” it, and it’ll automatically be waiting for me on the phone.
It incorporates real-time traffic info into the time estimates, which make them much more accurate than most other GPS models.
It’s free! Free to use, and all of the road/POI updates are free and seamless.
Next, I started using Pandora quite a bit at home, so I loaded the app on the phone and I’ve been using it in the car (again, via bluetooth). I have a variety of stations for myself, but also a few for when the girls are in the car with me (Disney, etc). I pay the few dollars a month for the “plus” version, which means I have stations that:
Have no commercials. Most Sirius/XM stations don’t have commercials, but they still have hosts that interrupt after every song to promote themselves and/or other stations on Sirius.
Are tuned to my tastes. As I rate each song, it gets better and better.
Keep a variety. With my iPod, I tend to be bad about listening to the same songs all the time. Pandora does a nice job of mixing it up with new songs, based on which songs I’ve told it I like.
Even with all of that happening at the same time on the phone, it handles it remarkably well. Here’s a quick video showing how I have things set up in the car and how easy it is to use:
Do you have a similar set-up in your car? Leave a comment and tell me about it.
I’ve been an unashamed Evernote fan for a few years now. I have 650+ notes in there, and I use it multiple times a day.
However, I’ve recently discovered SpringPad and I’ve started moving a few things over there instead. I doubt I’ll move everything over, but it’s quickly creeping into my daily life as well. The last thing I need it another program to keep up with (along with Nozbe, Google Docs, Google Wave, etc), but I did it anyhow.
What first led me to SpringPad was their Android app. For a while now, the Evernote app on Android has been very weak. The new one coming out (it’s currently in beta: get it here) is superb, so they’re coming along. Even so, I think the SpringPad app is still superior.
SpringPad is great at holding stuff — books, recipes, restaurants, etc. For example, a friend was at my house a few days ago and showed me a book from her purse that I needed to get. I opened the SpringPad app, scanned the barcode, and I was done. The next time I opened it on my computer I had the full information in there, including a link to buy it on Amazon. Clicked, purchased, done. It was great!
It’s also great for planning trips. For a recent trip to Savannah, Georgia, I made a “list” to hold all of the necessary items. I put a note in there from my wife with our itinerary, along with individual restaurants, our hotel, and other area attractions. At any point, I could pull out my phone and get the phone number or address for any place that we planned to visit.
Evernote is great for two big things for me; code and photographs. I store a lot of code snippets in Evernote, and the speedy search engine is awesome. It works like iTunes; as you type, it narrows the results in real-time, rather than type the query, press [submit], wait for the results. I leave Evernote open 24/7, so if I ever need a code snippet I can just switch to that window, start typing, and it magically appears. By comparison, SpringPad has a standard search box — type a query, click enter, view the results page. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it slows me way down when searching for code. I’ve spoken to their support team and while they agree it’s a problem, it’s not the list of things to be fixed anytime soon.
Evernote also is wonderful for business cards and other physical notes. If you snap a picture of it, Evernote will read the text within the picture and make it searchable. This makes it very easy to find items that you entered long ago. SpringPad handles images very nicely, but doesn’t scan the text within them so they’re harder to find.
So which one should I use?
It’s hard to say. For me, I’m now using both. I use SpringPad for shopping lists, restaurants, books, etc. I use Evernote for code snippets and for most things that I photograph like notes and business cards. Hopefully I can narrow back down to just using one product, but for now I like them both!
What do you use to capture all of your random notes and data?
I was working with a client recently that declared that they didn’t want to use Google Apps because Gmail is too “weird”. While I agree that it’s a lot different than traditional email systems, and certainly isn’t for everyone, most people agree that it makes life easier. This person wasn’t willing to give it a try simply because it was too different, and (in my opinion) missed out on a lot of time savings.
With that in mind, I try to make it a point to try new things out that might make my life easier. I’m often playing with new task management systems, and I hate the thought of living without Dropbox or Evernote. Over the last few years, the incremental changes I’ve made to my daily tasks now save me a lot of time every day.
With that in mind, I’m giving 8pen a solid try on my Droid X. 8pen is a crazy new input method (don’t call it a “keyboard”) that completely changes how you enter letters onto your phone. Here’s a quick video showing how it works:
I’ll admit, I’m skeptical. Even having used it a bit, I’m not convinced it’d be any faster than Swype, which I love. That being said, I’m going to keep playing with it for a few days. I tend to type quite a lot on my phone, and if this can make me even just a little bit faster, it’s worth the time to learn it. For example, if it can save me three minutes throughout the course of a day, that’s over 18 hours I’d save every year. Little time savings like that can really add up!
In the past, teen users were often able to text each other without looking at the screen using T9 on older cell phones. That’s no longer possible with most touch screen phones, but (in theory) would be possibly with 8pen.
On smaller screens 8pen becomes even more valuable as normal keyboards become even more smushed.
So what do you think? Do we need to rethink the handheld keyboard? Is 8pen going to change the world? Or is it just a cool idea that’s a bit too complex for most people?
As many of you already know, I recently switched from my Apple iPhone 3GS to the Nexus One (running Google’s “Android” operating system). The reviews I’d read essentially say that if your life is in Google (Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Voice, etc), it’s a smart move to make. I agree.
However, it’s certainly not better than the iPhone in every category. I’ll try to break some of those down. The main difference I noticed is that the iPhone is more polished (smoother scrolling, etc) while Android has more features. The iPhone OS 4.0 update coming this summer will catch up to some of those, but Android will still have a solid lead.
This one is easy; if you use Gmail, it is awesome on the Nexus One. The iPhone mail app is very nice, but doesn’t have any of the Gmail specific tools in it (conversations, starring, etc). Having all of that on the Nexus is wonderful. If you you any provider other than Gmail, then it’s essentially a tie. Both phones have solid mail apps that do a nice job.
The new iPhone update will finally allow users to set wallpaper behind their icons, but Android can already do that. In fact, you can even set “live wallpaper”, which is animated and reacts to your touch. It’s neat, but it’s a battery drain and it’s pretty much useless. However, Android also allows you to put widgets on your screen to show news, weather, tweets, etc. They’re very slick, and iPhone has nothing that compares to it.
The other neat thing is that applications are given more flexibility to customize other parts of your system that the iPhone doesn’t allow. For example, when I plugged my phone into my car (Ford’s SYNC system), I always had to tell the phone to “mount” to the system. It was a single click, but got old. So, I found an app that could do it automatically. The way Apple controls their applications, it would be impossible to write an app that does something like that.
Apple certainly has a ton more, but Android covers 95% of what you’d need. I miss a few applications (such as “Words With Friends”) and others are still pretty weak (like Evernote), but all in all the selection is pretty solid.
Technically, the Nexus is a faster phone but they feel about the same. Once Android 2.2 “Froyo” arrives on the Nexus, it’ll certainly take the lead. Of course, the new iPhone is due out soon and will likely leapfrog the Nexus. These kinds of battles are great for consumers!
In general, battery life is roughly the same. However, the Nexus gives you two nice advantages:
It’s a removable battery. This means you could carry an extra around with you, or replace yours if it goes bad. No such options with the iPhone.
There are various “power control” widgets you can use on Android. You can have a single tap to turn on/off things like wifi, bluetooth, gps, etc. Making it so easy means that I can leave those items off when I don’t need them (and save precious battery life). With the iPhone it’s a few more taps to toggle them, so I usually just left them all on.
The Nexus has a considerably better camera (5 megapixel vs 3.2 megapixel), but they really give similar quality shots. I think phones are about to the point where they need bigger and better lenses to take advantage of the increased resolution, which is tough to do when it’s a fight for the skinniest phone.
With the Nexus, you can just drag and drop music onto your phone. You can even drop files into folders like “notifications” and “ringtones” to set those up. Much easier than the cumbersome mess of iTunes.
However, iTunes makes it easier to purchase and load music, and it’s much easier to load podcasts. Also, the iPhone music player blows away the one on the Nexus. The Nexus music player is adequate, but no where near as nice as the iPhone player.
So, should you trade your iPhone for a Nexus One? Probably not. If money and availability were no factor, I’d suggest that around 75% of the country should have iPhones and the other 25% should have Android devices. The Nexus is better for geekier users, but each release is bringing it more mainstream. My guess is that those numbers will flip in a few years (75% should have Android), but the iPhone will always have a place due to it’s simplicity and ease of use. Time will tell…
I’m finding one of the keys to being productive is to be able to take advantage of the small breaks of time during the day. If you found yourself with 5 extra minutes, could you use them? How about an extra 60 seconds?
Those small breaks of time can add up to quite a bit over the course of a day. I have two main suggestions:
Be able to do a lot from your phone.
Keep things open on your computer.
:: Be able to accomplish a lot from your phone
I discussed this a bit in part one of the series (“get control of your email“), but it’s worth mentioning again; a good phone is worth far more than the initial expense. During the day, many of your small breaks of time are found when you’re away from home. Some examples:
Waiting for your child after school/dance/sports
Waiting to see the dentist/doctor
Waiting for food to arrive at a meal
Waiting in line for tickets/check-out
I’m sure you can think of many others, but that’s a start. When I have extra time in one of those cases, I do one of the following on my phone:
Process some email. I don’t usually convert any into tasks (I leave that for when I get home), but I can read, respond, archive, delete, etc.
Catch up on Google Reader. I can knock some reading off my list, and “star” items for later if I need to read them more in-depth or write about them.
Read some Tweets or catch up on Facebook. You can access Twitter and Facebook from almost any phone. If those are important to you, then this gives you a chance to catch up.
Right now the iPhone is still your best bet, but some of the Android phones (like Verizon’s “Droid”) are catching up really quick. Ultimately, any decent smartphone will do the job for you.
:: Keep things open on your computer
If you find yourself with a spare minute or two, you don’t want to waste a chunk of that time opening programs, logging in, etc. If possible, leave those programs open all the time. When you find a spare minute, your tools are right at your fingertips and you can get things done.
The problem with this is that leaving too much stuff open can slow down your computer and cause other issues. I wrote a long post about this back in January, but here are some tips:
Leave it on. Don’t shut down every night. Reboot once or twice a week to keep Windows fresh, though.
Use a fast browser. I use Google Chrome 90% of the time, and Firefox for most of the rest. They use less memory and run much faster than Internet Explorer.
Buy more memory. RAM is dirt cheap, simple to install and will make a huge difference. At this point, you should have at least 2 gigs in your computer. If not, go get more. Not sure what you need? Go to crucial.com and use the “scan my system” tool. They’ll tell you exactly what you have, offer some choices, and they’ll sell it at a fair price. I use them quite a bit.
Get a new computer. This is last on the list for a reason, but it’s worth mentioning. If your computer is more than a few years old, you can get a new one that is much faster for $500 (or less). It’s something to consider.
If you find yourself with a bit more time and you’re caught up on email/reader/etc, Chris Brogan has a list of things to do if you have an extra half hour. It’s got some good tips to try to keep you ahead of the game.
What else do you do to take advantage of those small breaks of time?