Thursday, March 8, 2012

Which OS Platform Is For You?

by Anthony Liu

It seems with new innovations and technology, there is also new ways to operate these devices. Today I am going to go over the OS choices available to operate the tablets of today.

The niche for tablets has grown increasingly popular over the last two years. In the beginning Apple introduced the iPad, which revolutionized the industry in what was going to be the new accessory for the social and professional individual. The device allowed users to connect to the internet via wireless or through 3g cell phone connection. This connectivity allowed users to be mobile for the first time with the ability to have any and all online resources available with just one unit. The ease convenience and versatility gave way to many new age workers that were now used to the virtual home office environments and remote options of being productive, without the technical headaches that usually followed after purchasing new age technology. Seeing the demand of the iPad, many other electronic companies followed in the tablet revolution and company after company produced similar looking units, but they lacked the main driving component of the device; the operating system. Here are your choices for operating systems today in the tablet arena.

IOS is the operating system Apple has produced to run the iPad, iPad2 and iPad HD. The environment is very similar to Leopard and is also found on all of the iPhones and iTouch family line. The familiarity of the iOS is the main driving component for the loyalty to the brand. If a consumer is accustomed to using an iPhone or is a Mac user at home, the decision to purchase an iPad is an easy one. The need to learn the new operating system on the iPad is not present. Owning a multitude of Apple branded products means that the Apple functionality is also similar in the way they connect to each other. This is something very important in the tablet environment. Because space is limited to the memory purchased with the model of the unit, having the peace of mind that the ease of connectivity to the unit to a laptop or desktop computer is essential to the use of the unit. If the unit is saturated with pictures, music and apps, the functionality is dramatically decreased due to lack of memory and lack of storage. Knowing that the iPad can connect to your iMac or MacBook compliments the use of the computer or laptop, but also gives the user flexibility on what is on the iPad itself, ranging from pictures to music.

Android is the next tablet option on the list. Android is the operating system owned by Google. This interface for the tablet is a very similar to the operating system on cell phone units that are using the Android operating system. If you are a consumer that has an Android cell phone and are in the market for a tablet, it is very enticing for you as a consumer to purchase an Android tablet because of the familiarity of the operating system. Just like any other software out there, tablet operating systems have different versions along with updates and newer version available for purchase. So, if your cell phone has an older version of Android, picking up a tablet with a newer Android version, you as the consumer will be able to operate the tablet with ease and also be familiar on how to exchange data from the tablet to either laptop or desktop. This will also give you the feeling of the new operating system and may persuade your decision to buy this version. But the ease of mind that you are not going to have to learn how to use your new tablet will also help make you decide on what to purchase.

Windows 7 and soon to be Windows 8 are slowly coming to market. Windows 7 was mainly used on PC’s and laptops with the ability to switch to tablet mode if your hardware allowed it to. All in one units and touchscreen desktops were the only way to access this tablet feature although the medium used was a conventional PC. Windows 6.5 Phone and later Windows 7 Mobile was the Microsoft version of the mobile OS market. Microsoft was an innovator with the use of social media and integration of the mobile market. What Microsoft did was allow the user the ability to connect to their own social network, Xbox Live, through their own software through a mobile device. Not only could you glance at your phone and see who was online, you could check your emails live, place a call and be able to connect to the internet through your phone. I know we are talking about pads here, but the medium that used the Windows 7 and Windows Phone were always PC’s and cell phones; a pad was not present for the market niche Microsoft was looking for. But wait. Windows 8 is on the brink of emerging as a new computer OS that has the ability to have a complement to the traditional PC; a touchscreen tablet. This OS is completely based on the idea that the OS will be used by a laptop or PC with touchscreen capabilities. The idea is that the tablet will complement the PC or laptop, not replace it. Until the official release is available, Windows 8 will have to wait.

Next OS on the market for a tablet is Web OS. Web OS is an operating system that was developed by Palm. The operating system was purchased by HP and used in all their touchpads. The touchpad was introduced in the early stages of the tablet revolution and HP decided to withdraw from the tablet niche and dropped the touchpad. The touchpad is very simple to use and had its own following in applications and uses. The largest attraction for these units was the price. When HP announced the decision to not enter the tablet market, they dumped their inventory to the public and sold the units for $99.99 for the 16 gig and $149.99 for the 32 gig. Regardless of the lack of presence of familiarity of the Palm OS, many people jumped to purchase this because of the price. The unit had all features expected of a pad; WIFI, GPS, touchscreen and ability to read MS documents. This flexibility and generous price makes up for the unfamiliar OS. These units can still be purchased second hand and at a reasonable price. On a positive note, these devices have an open source code which allows the end user to use applications designed by everyday users without the limitations of the original OS.

Alternatives to the tablet are also available. The Kindle Fire is a reader priced at $199.99. What makes this unit different form the other units is that it is considered an e-reader. Essentially, it was developed to house digital books and digital reading material. It also has the ability to connect to WIFI and use a conventional web browser along with the digital reader. The unit has touchscreen capabilities and also a large number of applications for download. Another option available for consumer purchase is the Nook. It is also considered an e-reader and priced below $199.99 depending on the model you purchase. It is mainly used as a digital reader for the digital book-worm. It has WIFI, but again is more for the digital book environment consumer. If entertainment is the main reason for your tablet interest, one of the two listed above may fit your needs better than a tablet and also your budget.

The tablet market is not an easy market to enter. Looking into the different OS options can be confusing, but being informed about specifications on what you desire as a consumer will help you determine the best fit for you needs. The one factor that may weigh the most in considering a tablet will be the cost of the unit initially and the cost of a data plan. Purchasing a tablet without cellphone connectivity will limit your freedom because WIFI is not always available and sometimes it may require a password to get onto the network. This can be addressed by purchasing a tablet with the ability to have 3g or 4g LTE coverage. This option allows data to be accessed by the unit at any time anywhere cell phone connectivity is available. This option is an add-on to the tablet and also carries an extra charge from the data carrier as a data plan to the tablet. The iPad family has 3g and 4g LTE along with WIFI connectivity available through AT&T and also Verizon. The Android tablets that have carrier capabilities are marketed through the data providers. For example, the tablets that are available through T-Mobile have a data plan along with the purchase of the unit, which usually has a two year contract. Or the tablet can be purchased outright with no contract. HP’s touchpad does not offer 3g or 4g LTE connectivity; neither do the Kindle Fire or Nook, but these units are purchased outright and are not committed to a data contract. Windows 8 tablets are not available yet, so we will have to wait to see the options on these tables. These options are up to the consumer, so be wary of your tablet purchase and please don’t purchase for the sake of a purchase. These are luxury items and if finances do not permit, purchase a unit later into the year and be mindful of what you need and not what you want.

Apple iPad new 4G 32gb $729.00
Apple iPad new WiFi 32gb $599.00
Apple iPad new WiFi 16gb $499.00
Apple iPad2 WiFi 16gb $399.00
Lenovo Ideapad Tablet K1 64gb $519.00
Samsung Galaxy 32gb $469.00

The matrix above lists prices for available units. Remember that the prices listed only reflect the cost for the unit, not the cost of operating the unit with a current data plan. As stated before, these are considered luxury purchases not essentials.

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