If the cost of a Samsung Galaxy or iPad or similar tablet is making you lean towards an Android tablet under $200, then be aware that there’s some things you’ll have to give up. Makers have to cut corners somewhere, and some functions might be important to you, some you might not care about. So, here’s some things to keep in mind.
You might not get a smoothly running OS right out of the box. Let’s face it, all sub $200 tablets are pretty much going to be Android, more than likely 2.2 – 2.3. (Froyo or Gingerbread – the multi-device OS, Android 2.4 is due for release Q4 2011) Basically you’re getting a cell phone OS. That’s ok, but an OS designed for a 4 inch cell phone doesn’t always take advantage of the larger, more powerful devices. You can install custom firmware found in many of the Android forums and get a better performance, but if you’re not willing to tinker your options for devices will be smaller.
You also won’t get a multitouch screen more than likely (although there’s a few). That means no pinch to zoom or other gestures that take two fingers or more. You won’t get a super fast processor either, at this time you can find a few 1GHz processors, but you’re not going to get a dual core speedster. You’ll typically find an 800MHz processor to be the average, of course that will get better over time. That means no 3D games, and 720p video is going to push the limit of the device, no multitasking while watching videos.
You’ll need to spend a lot of time going through tablet reviews to get a good sense of what you are looking for.
Another thing you might miss is an accelerometer, commonly known as a gravity sensor. That means games involving tilting the device won’t be playable. Many of the devices have a gravity sensor – but not all. If that’s important to you then make sure it’s got that feature. Without the sensor screen aspect won’t change automatically when you rotate the device.
Keep in mind that Android is a very flexible OS, and a lot of people are improving it constantly. That means you can get a good tablet with a little tweaking, sometimes for much less than $200, but if you’re expecting Galaxy tab performance right out of the box you’ll be dissapointed.