Apple iPad VS. Android Tablet: At Work and at Home

Tablet computing is the wave of the future. Which one is best for your connected environment? 3/14/2012 5:37 AM Eastern

Apple iPad VS. Android Tablet: At Work and at Home

Mar 14, 2012 9:37 AM, By Jason Bovberg

Tablet computing is the wave of the future. Which one is best for your connected environment?

Related Content
Tablets, iOS, and Pro AV
Tablet I/O

The tablet computer has been around for years, but it wasn’t until Apple’s iPad hit the market two years ago that the form factor exploded. Apple infused the notion of tablet computing with the company’s signature focus on hardware quality and beautifully smooth user engagement. Of course, the iPad’s snappy multi-touch capability bested the typical stylus approach of previous tablets, rendering them instantly obsolete. But now that the game has changed, a flurry of gorgeous and functional tablets is vying for a piece of the market—in homes, schools, and workplaces.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying the iPad in their environments. Tablets in general are experiencing “the fastest uptake of any device in the enterprise ever,” according to Forrester analyst Ted Schadler.

There are essentially two viable options in the tablet market—at least until Microsoft’s promising Windows 8 tablets debut. The choice is between Apple’s proprietary iPad iOS and the open-source Google Android OS, which powers any number of tablet systems from various manufacturers. Similar to the way that Android-based smartphones are eating away at iPhone market share thanks to their openness and ubiquity across vendors, Android tablets are rising in prominence thanks to the same kind of open-source market freedom. Apple remains a force to be reckoned with thanks to its very different approach: The iPad’s closed architecture—although it can annoy users and developers alike—has produced a work of polished, snappy, user-friendly art. But what about how iPads and Androids function as professional tools, especially in situations where they integrate with pro AV?

Apple iPad VS. Android Tablet: At Work and at Home

Mar 14, 2012 9:37 AM, By Jason Bovberg

Tablet computing is the wave of the future. Which one is best for your connected environment?


Suppose you take your new iPad to work in order to make a presentation. You need to connect your device to a large display for the meeting. Do you have the right device for that task? After all, the iPad is notorious for its lack of traditional connectivity ports. Although it has the typical, proprietary 30-pin Apple dock connector, it lacks Ethernet and USB ports, which are considered near-essential in modern business scenarios. The only way to connect an iPad to an external projector is to buy an optional accessory, the Apple Digital AV Adapter or VGA adapter—not exactly a convenient solution in the workaday world. But it does blast everything that the iPad is displaying, not just digital video but also the iOS interface and whatever apps you’re using.

This adapter is new to iPad 2, suggesting that Apple is open to the notion of expansion capabilities. Only after customers clamored for such options as integrated USB, SD, and HDMI ports did Apple incorporate the proprietary dongle. But one area where the iPad did not evolve from version 1 to 2 was screen size and resolution. Both the iPad and iPad 2 feature an admittedly glossy but non-HD, 1024x768-pixel, non-widescreen 10in. display. The iPad 2 still isn’t compatible with Flash. If your business needs to visit websites that support Flash components, you’re out of luck. As this article goes to press, rumors are floating that the iPad 3 will include a redesigned, smaller dock connector, posing a problem for existing third-party products that use that dock, even though it will still be a 30-pin port. Although the iPad 3 appears to be headed for the same size screen, resolution is said to be improved for the new device, which should boast a 2048x1536 retina display. There are even rumors of 3D display technology coming to the iPad—with no glasses, thanks to the device’s gyroscope sensor and head-tracking camera software. Finally, we’re encouraged by the recent news from OnLive (, which presents an interesting solution to the Flash problem. OnLive Desktop is a third-party thin-client computing solution that can stream a Windows desktop and full Adobe Flash capability to the iPad.

Another important business area in which the iPad suffers is storage expansion, thanks to its paucity of connectivity options; with the iPad, you get only the storage you initially pay (a premium price) for.

The idea, of course, is who needs storage when you have the cloud? In theory, the cloud holds all your data and media wirelessly in offsite storage, and you can access all that stuff from any device, from any location. You never have to synchronize, and you never have to back anything up. Unfortunately, Apple’s cloud solution, called iCloud, remains a work in progress. In its current iteration, it’s needlessly complicated and chaotic. It’s difficult to configure, and users complain about missing or confusing functionality. In short, iCloud is frustrating from a company that prides itself on the aforementioned “It just works” philosophy. The iCloud solution still seems like the wave of the future, but it’s not quite there yet. And when it is there, will it really make sense to let Apple house and serve all your content in a proprietary Apple cloud?

One piece of functionality that the iPad has down to a science is video chat. An evolution from iChat, FaceTime is an excellent video-calling solution (great for work and home) that is a feature-rich yet user-friendly feature of the OS. As you might have guessed, FaceTime’s limiting feature is that it can connect only with other FaceTime devices.

Not surprisingly, the iPad also requires that you buy a separate adapter for importing your photos from a digital camera or SD card. The iPad Camera Connection Kit comes with two connectors that plug into the iPad’s dock connector port: One takes SD cards, and the other is the Camera Connector.

Apple iPad VS. Android Tablet: At Work and at Home

Mar 14, 2012 9:37 AM, By Jason Bovberg

Tablet computing is the wave of the future. Which one is best for your connected environment?


OK, suppose you take one of the many Android-based tablets to work in order to make a presentation. You need to connect your device to a large display for the meeting. You’ll understand immediately that, compared with the iPad, you have a wide array of connectivity options built into the device. You can use a generic cable to stream video, view photos, display an app, project PowerPoint presentations, and simply display the Android UI—thanks to standard USB (either mini or full-sized) and HDMI output ports built in. The USB port also obviously gives you unlimited storage-expansion capabilities.

Whereas the iPad locks you into the proprietary Apple approach, Android tablets literally open up your options as a result of Android’s inherently open architecture. An army of hardware manufacturers are today angling to pioneer their own Android-based tablets, creating a competitive atmosphere that’s filled with feature-rich promise. Hot tablets in this market include the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Toshiba Thrive, the Motorola Xoom, the Asus Eee Pad, the Sony Tablet S, the Acer Iconia, the T-Mobile G-Slate, HTC Flyer, and the Amazon Kindle Fire. Display sizes among these models range from 7in. to 10in., and resolutions range from 480x800 standard-definition to 2560x1600 high-definition. More important, the varieties give you a wealth of mini or full-sized USB ports, mini or full-sized HDMI ports, and micro or full-sized SD output—sometimes multiple ports of the same variety. The Android market offers a breadth of options and power, perhaps at the expense of the glossy, “it just works” usability of the proprietary iPad. (Some Android models, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, are also going the proprietary route by offering limited I/O options with non-standard dock connectors.)

Whereas the iPad has FaceTime, Android has a number of video-calling apps to choose from (including Google Voice), but none are as popular or usable as Skype. Skype only recently unveiled two-way video calling on Android tablets at CES 2012. Promising the obvious benefits of cross-platform compatibility and support, Skype is just now becoming an eye-opening advantage to going the Android route. And it supports video calling over 3G—but you’ll have to do your research and make sure your Android tablet has a chip and antenna to connect to a 3G data network.

Apple iPad VS. Android Tablet: At Work and at Home

Mar 14, 2012 9:37 AM, By Jason Bovberg

Tablet computing is the wave of the future. Which one is best for your connected environment?


If you want a glimpse of how tablets may—or may not—be poised to integrate into professional AV systems, let’s consider how each of them integrates into the home AV system.


True to the aforementioned proprietary nature of the iPad, Apple offers the ability to use the device in home AV scenarios, but largely with its own equipment. In the home, once you have invested in Apple TV—which provides a central computing hub for your audio and video media—you can download the Airplay app and turn your iPad (or iPhone or iPod touch) into an entertainment-control device. You can then stream music, photos, and videos to Apple TV from the device, and vice versa. You own the content in each place. But you’re locked into the Apple ecosystem, which, admittedly, many people consider to be a great thing.

However, this presents a true dilemma in the professional world, where systems are guaranteed not to be Apple-centric. Many end-users, and customers of end-users, will be carrying iPads and other iOS devices, in a phenomenon sometimes called BYOD (bring your own device). And there are ingenious professional AV applications already that incorporate the iPad. Presonus Studio Live comes to mind.


Just as the Android tablet in business scenarios provides a multitude of options with various connectivity options and display types, the Android tablet at home provides a messy but powerful range of opportunities. Thanks to the Android tablet’s plethora of I/O ports, you can hook into any number of hardware solutions from many manufacturers, using generic cables, and you can connect wirelessly for remote control. And thanks to the open architecture of the onboard OS, literally anyone can write an app that can transform the tablet into a feature-rich, customizable control center for your home AV.

One of the premier Android media-control app creators is Griffin Technology, whose wireless Beacon universal remote control system pairs with the tablet via Bluetooth to enable complete control over the entire home entertainment system; Vizio is even building an Android tablet with an infra-red blaster and remote-control technology built in. If you’re looking for a home-automation solution for the whole house, check out Control4, whose MyHome apps work securely with your various connected systems over your home Wi-Fi network. These kinds of app innovations are occurring almost daily in the Android world.

Tablet computing in general is not, at the moment, poised to replace desktops and laptops in the business environment. Neither are tablets replacing home systems. The coming tide of ultrabook computers might go further in that regard. But tablets are certainly rising in prominence. Over the next few years, expect them to come into their own both at home and at work. Now’s the time to prepare and do your research.

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