When an everyday consumer thinks of a tablet, their mind is likely to go straight to the iPad. Apple is a company that is known for making stylish and trendy gadgets, but are they always the best option? The folks with Android don’t think so. Android is reaching out to non-iOS users in a big way with new features and old friends to make their tablets everyone’s favorite.

The Rise of the Little Green Bot

It seems with the super launch of new smartphones, Android is now a household name for sure. According to a Nielson survey, 31 percent of consumers who are planning to get a new smartphone indicated Android was now their preferred operating system. Unlike its competition, the smartest thing Android has done is make itself open to multiple manufacturing companies and carriers.

Now, that cute little green robot is scuttling over to the tablet races! If you’re picky with what you use to feed your techie cravings, then you will probably love that there is a wide array of Android tablets to choose from. Even the most fickle consumer will find nirvana in an Android because they’ll have the ability to find one to fit them.

Android has incorporated something for every consumer that the iPad2 hasn’t. The savvy business executive will appreciate working on important files on the fly. The money conscious will appreciate getting more versatility and a better bang for their buck. The trend setter will love the uncomplicated and boundless options to customize. The media hoarder that has to have every song, video, movie, and game won’t be able to resist the ability to use just about any digital format.

Tackling the Cupertino Giant

The iPad has set the standard in the tablet market by being simple, quick, and stylish and is definitely the forerunner in the tablet races, but this techie thinks that that might come to an end. The iPad2 is definitely a heavy hitter, with a 1GHz dual-core A5 processor and 512MB of RAM (which means it’s twice as fast as the original). It runs Apple’s new 4.3 iOS and comes in multiple capacities (16GB, 32GB, 64GB) and multiple wireless configurations, including Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi + 3G.

It has front and rear cameras (the front is VGA or 0.3 megapixel and the rear shoots 720p video with no flash), which you can use on Apple’s new FaceTime feature via Wi-Fi. A 9.7-inch LED display with 1024768 pixel resolution at 132ppi and the 720p HD playback is obviously for all your high definition videos and games, and it boasts up to 10 hours of battery life.

Apple’s signature software iTunes is easy to install and the iTunes market is easy to navigate, but can be confusing and frustrating to transfer or convert music and movies. Unlike the numerous tablets that are paired with Android OS, iPads make it hard to get outside data from all your expensive equipment onto your portable tablet device.

iOS only uses proprietary software, which means if you don’t use iTunes, you’re going to have to start using it. The iPad series can only use iOS compatible files. By contrast, Android OS goes well with any of your music formats, like MIDI or MP3, and movie formats, like WMV and MP4. Its iconic white 30-pin USB cable is nice for the iPod or iPhone, which has tons of docking stations made for them. However, it is more of a nuisance for the iPad because it’s not as versatile, plus since the iPad2 is 2.1 amps, none of the charging cables that came with the iPods or iPhones will work.

Motorola’s Claim to Android Tablet Fame

The mightiest contender using Android is Motorola’s Xoom. The Xoom has a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, which is twice the amount of the iPad 2. It has 32GB of built in memory and a microSD card slot for the option to expand, if you like. This makes it a lot easier to store your vacation photos instantly from your camera instead of fumbling with cords and another computer.

The Xoom runs the new Android 3.0 OS, which is also known as Honeycomb. It also offers multiple wireless versions including Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi + 3G and 4G! It also has amazingly crisp front and rear cameras with a piercing dual-LED flash so you can actually see what was going on at last night’s party instead of just having just a bunch of blurry shadows in your video (the front is a 2-megapixel and the rear is a 5-megapixel camera that also shoots 720p video). Use those for Android’s new Google Talk feature, where you can chat with other Android 3.0 device users as well as those on Windows, Mac or Linux PCs. You are limited with FaceTime on the iPad2, because you can only chat with Mac and other iOS device users.

A 10.1″ WXGA HD display with 1280×800 pixel resolution (150ppi) and its 1080p HD playback will tickle your retinas with all its high definition glory and it too boasts up to 10 hours of battery life. The Android Market is just as easy to use and navigate as iTunes. And let’s not forget all Android tablets run Adobe’s Flash, a widely used feature for videos and dynamic website elements and interactive graphics on the Internet. None of Apple’s handheld devices do this.

Xoom Past the Apple iPad?

To excite all the heavy business oriented users, Android now allows you to access all of your important documents as well as create new ones via ThinkFree Office, which is free to download and is compatible with Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. These are accessible for the iPad2, but for a price.

Unlike the iPad2, the Xoom has a plethora of ports in it, including the increasingly popular HDMI out, Micro USB for syncing and charging, and a full 2.0 USB port. Most people these days have an abundance of music and movies, which is fantastic for the Xoom and its multi-format support. The Xoom will run almost any music and movie format and doesn’t have any terms or limits on downloading or transferring your data.

Transferring that data to an Android tablet is a lot easier too. Simply hook your camera or external hard drive up to the tablet via a USB cable in that handy port or slide in your microSD right into the tablet. For iOS users, a frustrating laptop middleman is needed to transfer your data over. Another great feature that Android’s offer is “The App Killer” or an Advanced Task Manager which allows you to completely turn off applications for better performance and see which apps are using up your battery life the most.

The Growing Android Tablet Army

The Xoom is just one of the great Android tablets. There are around 20 on the market. Among some of the more impressive are the 7″ Galaxy Tab from Samsung, the 9″ G-Slate from LG, the 7″ Streak from Dell, and the 7″ Archos 70 from Archos. There is now cutting edge 3D viewing from the Galaxy Tab, Archos 70, and G-Slate too.

The G-Slate has dual rear facing 5 megapixel cameras that allow you to shoot your own 3D HD 720p videos. There are tons of options and sizes of tablets using the Android OS, letting anyone find a perfect fit from a much lower price point of $199.99 to $799.99 on the high end. In comparison, the iPad2 ranges from a $499.99 base to $829.99.

The massive assault from Android has Apple’s grip on the tablet race loosening. Last year, during the third quarter of 2010, Apple held 95 percent of the market while Android accounted for 2 percent. In the fourth quarter of the year, though, Apple has slid down to 75 percent while Android grew to 21 percent. As long as Android keeps advancing as a whole by being innovative and diverse, they will most definitely surpass Apple as the leader in market share.

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