Quite often you hear people ask “What tablet PC should I buy?” or “What is the coolest tablet right now?”. These are reasonable questions, however isn’t it just as important to ask “What tablet operating system will best suit my needs?”. In a lot of cases it’s the software that makes the tablet. Of course hardware does go hand in hand with overall performance and capabilities but today I’m going to focus on some of the pros and cons for various tablet operating systems available today.
Before I begin I want to stress how important it is to understand what you need your touch-screen tablet to do. This will help determine which portable tablet is best for you. Software and operating systems are not the only deciding factors, however they will have a big impact on how productive and useful your tablet will be. For example, will you need it for school, business and/or games? Keep in mind these are only a few examples of areas in which your tablet can assist you.
The following list of tablet OS pros and cons is not in any particular order of rank or popularity. It’s just good to compare the different tablet computer operating systems that are out there before making such a big investment. Ok, let’s begin.
BlackBerry PlayBook QNX Tablet OS Pros & Cons
It uses a new and modern microkernel with QNX. It’s fresh and user friendly for the most part and has a great interface. It also comes equipped with a very solid WebKit browser. Another key feature is the fact that it is compatible with the entire suite of Microsoft Office software.
No built-in spell check
Ok, so this may not be a critical thing for most PlayBook users, and you could always use the BlackBerry bridge software and check your spelling via your smartphone. However, not everyone who owns a PlayBook will necessarily own a BlackBerry smartphone. Also, if you are using the PlayBook tablet pc for school or business then proper spelling is important for documents, essays etc.
No built-in calendar app
No calendar app came with the Table OS 1.0 from BlackBerry, but this is just a temporary thing. In the meantime there are alternatives such as the cloud-based Tungle.me app.
Lacking basic apps
This OS lacks a few basic and commonly used apps. Keep in mind RIM has recently announced they will in fact be including a native email client, calendar and contacts app in a future update.
Overall the future looks bright for the BlackBerry’s QNX-based Tablet OS. This is something RIM has been planning to launch for about a decade. Believe it or not and they have put a lot of work into it. Sure there is always room for improvement, but this is no different from any other initial operating system launch all throughout history no matter who the company is.
Regarding the lack of essential apps, consider the amount of pressure RIM was under to launch their first ever tablet pc. Thinking long-term it’s actually better that they released the PlayBook when they did even if it could have used a bit of improvement first. This is mainly software related though, not hardware, so it’s still a good investment for consumers even if they have to wait a short while for OS updates, at least they can be reassured they are coming. You have to consider the fact that RIM is very well known for creating devices that help people stay both organized and on schedule. With that said, it’s no surprise they are working quickly to correct this for their new PlayBook.
Apple iOS 4.3 Pros & Cons
Faster Safari web browsing
With AirPlay wireless technology you can easily stream movies, music and photos to your HDTV using Apple TV. Also, with iOS v4.3 the Photos app is now supported so you can show off your photo collections using slide shows on your big screen.
Customize Your iPad 2 Switch
With iOS 4.3 you now have the option to use the switch on your iPad 2 for locking your screen orientation or use it to mute your device.
No Flash Support
Since day one Steve Jobs has made it very clear that the iPad will not support Flash. This has been the topic of many discussions which I wont get into since I’d end up writing a novel. Let’s just say it’s time to accept this fact and move forward.
Overall iOS 4.3 is a pretty stable operating system. It’s unique in many ways and offers a wide range of useful features. It’s not specifically a tablet OS since it also runs on the iPhone, but it’s still considered a tablet OS nonetheless. When it comes to the iPad there’s very few things you can’t do with it plus there are tons of apps to choose from in several different categories. It’s a powerful OS which is great for school, work or pretty much whatever you decide to use it for.
Microsoft Windows 7 Pros & Cons
Microsoft Office Suite
Makes using your portable tablet pc for work and office related tasks a breeze.
Many people use their tablet devices for media sharing and consumption. Windows 7 based tablets are great for this, of course partly depending on hardware.
Great multitasking abilities
From your Windows 7 based tablet you can quickly switch between applications and tasks including anything from writing emails, making a purchase online, video conferencing to browsing the Internet.
Not originally designed for tablets
Windows 7 was primarily created for home PC’s and laptops. Touchscreen features were added later on enabling it to be compatible with tablet pc’s. Nonetheless it’s still the first OS from Microsoft to have multitouch capabilities.
Microsoft Windows 7 is highly advanced, diverse and capable of performing pretty much any common tasks you can imagine. One advantage is that Windows based operating systems are something people are already familiar with. Some new tablet operating systems can be tricky and confusing at first but the Windows environment is one people have enjoyed for many years, long before tablet computers were even thought of or on the market.
HP webOS 3.0 Pros & Cons
Multitasking made easier than ever
HP’s webOS 3.0 is unique in it’s ability to make multitasking more easy than ever before. This is done in part by merging certain applications in one easy to access location.
Currently no available tablets use webOS 3.0 yet. This will no longer be the case of course when HP does eventually release the TouchPad which will be the world’s first ever webOS 3.0 tablet. In other words, I have not yet had any hands on experience with this particular OS therefor have no disadvantages to mention.
From what I gather a lot of people are looking forward to webOS 3.0. It will bring something new to tablet devices and it’s all about innovation. Of course I will cover more about this OS once the opportunity arises.
Android Honeycomb 3.1 Pros & Cons
Designed from the ground up specifically for tablets
Honeycomb is based on the Google Android platform and from day one has been optimized and enhanced for tablet based devices.
Great user interface
Along with the Honeycomb OS comes a UI that is both easy to use and navigate. Plenty of new extended UI objects have been made available which makes it easy to customize your applications.
Resizable Homescreen Widgets
Make widgets larger and resize them as you see fit.
Use Touchscreen or Pointer Device
Android Honeycomb 3.1 gives you the option to connect and use a wireless Bluetooth mouse, not something all tablets are capable of.
The number of Honeycomb specific Android apps are rather limited at this time but of course this particular version of the Android OS is still fairly new and the number of available apps is growing more each day.
Get use to seeing Honeycomb tablets because they are here to stay and will continue to advance. If you’re looking for a well rounded OS than Honeycomb is a great choice.
Last month statistics were revealed by the Nielsen Company which proves that among smartphone users the most desired and popular OS is of course Android. See chart below.
With that being the case it’s not far fetched to say this will have an effect on the tablet market as well. More highly capable Android based tablets are becoming available and in many cases for a much more affordable price than the likes of other popular tablets such as the iPad for example.