Best Tablet Computer for Traveling ~ With the recent influx of tablet computers flooding the market, many frequent travelers are excited at the possibility of being able to stay connected without ending up at the chiropractor’s office after carrying a 15 pound laptop bag through airports and in and out of train stations. Every year at CES, one of the largest computer and electronics trade shows, there were more than 80 models of tablet computers and eReaders exhibited. With so many contenders, it can be difficult to know which model is right for you.
Best Tablet Computer for Traveling
To clarify the tale of the tablets, we looked at three of the best selling options on the market from the viewpoint of people on the go. We looked at three basic factors, operating system, portability, and available features. Here is a side by side comparison of Apple’s iPad2, Motorola’s Xoom, and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.
Tablet Computer Operating System
For many people, this is similar to whether you like Coke or Pepsi, it’s all about which operating system you prefer. Both the Xoom and the Galaxy Tab use the Android operating system while the iPad2 uses the Apple OS. Comparing the two operating systems is like comparing apples to androids – it completely depends on your preference. I recommend sticking with the iPad if you are already own an iPhone or a MacBook, and choosing the Xoom or the Galaxy if you aren’t already tied to Apple OS.
Portability for Travel
In looking at what makes one tablet computer more portable than the others, we looked at several factors including weight, screen size, wireless/wi-fi connectivity, battery life, and Bluetooth accessibility. The lightest tablet computer in our comparison is the Galaxy Tab weighing in at 1.2 pounds as compared to the 1.3 pound iPad2 and the 1.6 pound Xoom. The Galaxy Tab and Xoom tie for largest screen, each boast a 10.1 inch HD display which is slightly larger than the 9.7 inch display on the iPad 2. While there are differences in weight and screen size, they are negligible enough that from a best for travel perspective, all three tablets are on equal ground.
Connectivity While Traveling
Next we considered how portable each tablet is in terms of connectivity. All three tablet computers are Wireless N Wi-fi devices, meaning they meet the 802.11n wireless standard. Beyond that, it gets a bit tricky. They all come in a Wi-Fi only version and a 3G version. If you opt for the Wi-Fi only version, you will need to find and connect to a wireless network or purchase your own hotspot, similar to how you would connect remotely with a laptop computer. This option often carries a higher price tag and may limit anytime, all the time accessibility, but it doesn’t require any long term contracts or additional monthly fees for access.
All three tablets also come in 3G models, which operate more like your cell phone and use mobile phone networks to provide service. These models require a contract with one of the mobile phone companies who may offer discounts on the upfront cost of the device but will also require a service contract and monthly fee. Not all tablets are available from all carriers which may dictate which tablet computer will work best for you based on which carriers provide the best service in your area.
With a consistent average of 10 hours of battery life with heavy use, Bluetooth integration for hands-free operation, and the availability of a variety of optional docking stations standard features across all three tablets, from a portability perspective, the three tablets have negligible differences. The only factors than may sway your decision to one tablet over another is which carrier offers the best service in your area and the overall cost to use the tablet once all costs are factored in including the upfront device cost plus either a monthly access fee or the cost of an individual wireless hotspot.
The key difference between the tablets comes down to available features. While all three tablets offer dual cameras to enable you to video chat or participate in video-conference calls, the Xoom and Galaxy Tab have better cameras than the iPad2. Internal memory is another key difference. The iPad2 seems to be the clear winner with 64G of internal memory. However, although the Xoom offers 32G out of the box, it also has the ability to expand that base making it a better option over the longer term. The Galaxy Tab trails at the back of the pack with 16G and limited expansion potential.
Although the Xoom and iPad 2 have comparable processing speeds, the Xoom jumps ahead by providing almost twice as much RAM, 1G versus 520MB and a much better screen resolution, 1280×800 versus 1024×768. Throw in the ability to run Flash and the Xoom begins to set itself apart from the other two tablets in terms of features and functions. The iPad2 does have an advantage in terms of the availability of apps in the market, but Android-based app developers are quickly closing that gap.
Best Option for Traveling
After the side by side review, it is clear that you are really the only one who can decide which tablet best suits your needs both while on the road and in the comfort of your own home. The first factor is operating system preference, followed by carrier service and cost. If neither of those are enough to sway you toward one tablet over the other, deciding which features are the most important to you will point you in the right direction.
Do you travel with a tablet computer? Which one and what do you like about it?